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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
The first four.
The first four.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
Stools and floorboards.
Stools and floorboards.

District 14 Brewery & Pub swings open its doors

We barged in on Matt McCulloch today with only three hours before the soft opening of his new pub and brewery, District 14, at 2273 S. Howell Ave. in the former Custom Designed Lighting space.

Although McCulloch was still finishing up the flooring, he was kind enough to take a break for a few minutes to tell us more about his venture.

District 14, located next door to Cafe Lulu, will have a soft opening tonight, starting at 7 p.m. For now, all sales are cash-only.

McCulloch will brew all of the beer at District 14. He will open tonight with a brown ale, dark chocolate ale, American pale and Kolsch. Eventually, he will have 10 different beers on tap which will be available in pints and growlers.

District 14 beer might be available at Lulu, but for the most part, will be sold exclusively from the bar.

"I have a small system," he says.

District 14 will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the grand opening that will take place in October. (The exact date is TBA.) It will then be open every night of the week.

McCulloch, who is originally from Kenosha and now lives in Muskego, has been brewing for a decade, but says he got serious about it three years ago. Prior to the brewery, McCulloch had a small recording business and worked as a freelance wedding photographer.

District 14 is cozy and warm with an acacia hardwood floor and a large basswood bar. McCulloch did all of the woodwork himself – with help from his friend, Gary. It has taken about a year and a half to go from concept to opening day.

"I’ve been working on it for so long that I’m anxious to get it open now," he says. "I’m pretty proud."

Hello, old friend.
Hello, old friend.

What do Johnson's Park, Farrell's Ice Cream and Showbiz Pizza have in common?

Earlier this week, I was tooling around the Northwest Side to interview a woman for an article, and I drove by a massive, weather-beaten dinosaur sculpture. I took a photo of it, put it on social media, and many people identified it correctly as the only remaining sign of what was once the thriving Johnson’s Park that featured a mini golf course, go-karts, batting cages, food stand and an arcade.

There’s a fence surrounding the property, which is now just patches of weeds and piles of rubble. I stared at it for a long time until I could muster memories of what it once looked like.

Eventually, I could remember other details from the mini golf course like the hole featuring a large bird bent over with his beak buried in the AstroTurf and the tiny pencils attached to chains on the red, wooden stands next to the holes to provide a surface for mini golfers to keep score.

I also remembered that I had a birthday party at Johnson's Park in the early '80s during which I and my sister and a few friends played mini golf, zipped around on the go-karts and ate a cake that my mother brought in on a picnic table.

Later, I remembered a few more now-defunct places where I had birthday parties. So I made a list. Not with a small golf pencil, but on my iPhone.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour – There was a Farrell’s in Northridge and Southridge malls, but as a child growing up on the East Side, we always went to the Northridge location. I celebrated my fourth birthday at Farrell's, but was slightly traumatized by this event. I was a very shy kid and Farrell’s was known for banging a massive drum and making a big noisy deal around the birthday child and I told my father before the party that I did not want this to happen. However, the next thing I knew, a staff member was lifting me out of my seat (imagine that happening now?!) and, proclaiming it was my birthday, got the entire restaurant to sing to me. I was mortified, started crying and then felt embarrassed for crying during …

Arin Bert was a coveted lunchtime spot for Downtown employees.
Arin Bert was a coveted lunchtime spot for Downtown employees.

Arin Bert Coffee and Grill is closed

According to a sign on the door, Arin Bert Coffee and Grill, 222 W. Wells St., is closed.

The cafe / Armenian restaurant opened in 2012, as reported by, and served Colectivo products, baked goods, frappes, smoothies and Italian sodas, along with traditional cuisine from the Caucasus Mountains.

Personally, I was a big fan of the cafe’s lentil soup, hummus and lavash (flat bread). The space, however, has a history of turnover and has been home to Finch's Corned Beef, Five Dollar Deli, Philly Way, Wingz and more.

Whether or not Arin Bert is closed for good has not been confirmed at this point. Stay tuned to for more information when it becomes available.

"You Should Have Seen The Other Guy" by Nathaniel Rateliff is pretty dang depressing. And awesome.
"You Should Have Seen The Other Guy" by Nathaniel Rateliff is pretty dang depressing. And awesome.

The most melancholy songs ever

I am an avid Facebooker. I spend hours every day, seven days a week, writing – predominately for but also personal, creative projects. Hence, Facebook – and Twitter and Instagram, too – has always served as the perfect "mini break" from composing content.

I know, I know. I should stretch or do chair yoga, but for some reason, status updates and brunch photos clear my mind and relax me. I probably need help.

Anyway, it never fails to amaze me what goes bonkers on my Facebook page.

The most recent example of this was recently, when I was listening to the song "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, declared it in my head the most melancholy song of all time, and then posted, "Name a song that’s more melancholy than ‘Landslide.’ Go."

Within minutes, there were two dozen responses and within a few hours, there were more than 300 suggestions.

Apparently, some of us, myself included, take our melancholy music very seriously.

I know, I know. Staying positive is important in life, but I believe it's unrealistic to expect this from ourselves or others all the time. 

Plus, by insisting on seeing only the sunshine, we miss the beauty of the rain. 

I ended up having an impromptu "DJ session" of depressing songs and, as the macabre girl that I am, enjoyed every minute of it. Here’s a sampling of the doleful ditties from my Facebook friends. 

"Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel.

"Love’s Vigilantes" by New Order.

"Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem" by Peter Murphy.

"Walk Away Renee" by Left Bank.

"Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen.

"Diamonds In The Mine" by Leonard Cohen.

"Please Please Please" by The Smiths.

"Father and Son" by Cat Stevens.

"Raining In Baltimore" by The Counting Crows.

"Leader of The Band" by Dan Fogelberg.

"Black" by Pearl Jam.

"Come Pick Me Up" by Ryan Adams.

"Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.

"Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star.

"To Be Alone With You" by Sufjan Stevens.

"You Should Have Seen The Other Guy" by Nathaniel …