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

Tue
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Thu
Hi: 59
Lo: 51
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Goodbye, Goldmann's

Goldmann's Department Store closed on Friday, and this bums me out. Granted, Goldmann's had a somewhat odd selection of merchandise (as in floral muumuus and a bin full of rabbits foot key chains), but it was also home to a great lunch counter, candy counter, lighting department, fabric store, clothing shop -- and it was my favorite place to buy socks.

However, with more than 100 years in business, all I can really say is that it had a great run. Here are my top reasons why I will never forget Goldmann's:

1. On my very first day as an OnMilwaukee.com writer (June 15, 2002), Publisher Andy Tarnoff sent me to Goldmann's to interview Milt Pivar, owner of Goldmann's, and to write an article about the funky store. Hence, it became my first OnMilwaukee.com article. (I had written a few as a freelancer prior to it, but this was my first one as a full-time staff writer.) I was already a longtime patron of Goldmann's, and when I got this assignment, I knew I landed in the right place at OnMilwaukee.com and never looked back. (Here's the article.)

2. My parents and I used to eat at the lunch counter together when I was a kid. We were lovers of lunch counter grilled cheese sandwiches and fries, so when we out and about, away from The Oriental lunch counter (our usual haunt), we would stop at Goldmann's for a bite.

3. During a difficult phase of our life, my husband and I restored a 1970 Airstream camper. It took eight years to complete, but we worked on the bulk of it in from 2001-'02, which was when we did the interior. All of the fabric to cover the cushions (deep red velvet and shaggy turquoise) and the fabric used to make the curtains (red and black Japanese fans) was from Goldmann's. Tragically, the Airstream was totaled in an accident last year, so -- like Goldmann's -- it's history now.

4. Friends of mine own a four-story building across the street from Goldmann's, and over the years, many other friends have lived in the units. From a couple of the spa…

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The MoBoleez breastfeeding hat.
The MoBoleez breastfeeding hat.

Wish this were around when I was breastfeeding

I breastfed my son for two years, and during that time, I was always reaching for whatever I could find to “cover up” in public. Anything from the shirt off my husband’s back to napkins from Dairy Queen was fair game to shield the world from the natural process of lactation.

Anyway, a Vancouver-based company called MoBoleez recently introduced this “breastfeeding hat” that’s basically a little bonnet for the baby with a big brim to cover up mom’s rack. The hats are soft and made from eco-friendly materials with cute expressions like “Milky Way” and “Bee-licious” stitched into the top of the hat that are visible during breastfeeding.

I love the practicality and the humor of the product, and I definitely will remember it for future shower gifts since my breastfeeding days are over.

MoBoleez breastfeeding hats cost $29.99 and are available on-line.

Dentist office art: who makes it and why?

I just got back from taking my son to the dentist, and for the hundredth time, I wondered who on earth makes all of the "dental art" you see in dentist offices across America. You know what I'm taking about: the piece of stained glass in the shape of a molar; the needle-pointed smiling mouth; the dentist figurine holding a little sign that reads, "I was dentist of the year and all I got was a little plaque."

I have been in a dozen dentists' -- and orthodontists' -- offices, and every single one of them has some sort of "dental art." What makes it slightly perplexing is that I  know hundreds of artists, and have never heard of one who specializes, or even dabbles, in tooth art. Nor have I ever seen any of these anti-cavity crafts for sale at a craft show.

It must be friends and family members of the dentists who make this stuff, but for all I know, there's a huge dental art movement going on, and I'm the last to know. 

Suzanne Vega circa summer 2007.
Suzanne Vega circa summer 2007.

Suzanne Vega: Still lovely and playing at The Pabst

From the moment I heard the first few lines of the first song on Suzanne Vega's self-titled record, I was a fan. It was 1985, I was 14, and the only female singer-songwriters I knew were those piping from my mother's speakers: Cary Simon, Joan Baez, Helen Reddy.

But Vega's music was different -- edgy and poetic lyrics -- with a voice both girlish and womanly, a quality I would later love in so many others, notably Bjork, Karen Peris and Joanna Newsom.

In her latest effort, called "Beauty and Crime," Vega conjures up an upbeat collection of folk-torch songs to New York City. When I first read that the Big Apple was her muse for the new record, I instantly lowered my expectations. It reminded me too much of a "Sex In The City" episode five years ago called "I Heart New York" where Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) forgets about men for a moment and metaphorically types a love letter to NYC.

However, after listening to Vega's record just one time, I bagged my skepticism. There's something very familiar about "Beauty," especially since her voice is as pure and sweet as it was 20 years ago. In fact, "Edith Wharton's Figurines" could have been on the first record, right after "Small Blue Thing."

But the 11 songs on "Beauty & Crime" are far from recycled versions of "Marlene on the Wall." Vega continues to add instrumentation and technology to her alt-folk narratives, creating danceable tunes like "Unbound" and "Zephyr & I." Critics and fans originally realized the dance club potential in her music in the early '90s, when Soul II Soul remixed Vega's popular song "Tom's Diner" (named for an Upper West Side Manhattan diner, the facade of which features in most episodes of "Seinfeld") into an infectious dance beat.

Since her early days singing about an abused kid named "Luka," Vega was in tune with the melancholy aspects of life. And indeed, the past few years dished up a few cold plates worthy of sullen reflection -- Vega lost her younger brother Tim to alcoh…

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