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The Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular is a trip-tacular tribute to the life of the King of Pop.
The Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular is a trip-tacular tribute to the life of the King of Pop.

Celebrating with Michael Jackson

Exactly one year ago on Friday, two friends and I decided to meet in a Riverwest basement with our instruments and a few bottles of beer to make some noise.

And noise we made.

We recorded these early sessions and they are, at best, an anti-symphony of flat singing and fumbling fingers.

However, long story short, we kept meeting and we drank less and focused more. Now, the band, called Cackle, has a CD, a couple of gigs and yesterday we heard our song on the radio for the first time.

So, how should a scrappy, pagan-flavored post-punk band celebrate its one-year anniversary? At the Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular, of course! It's this Friday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. 

I scored these tickets for the love of Grant Gunn, Cackle’s guitar player, who is -- in my world, anyway -- the biggest M.J. fan of all time. His ability to pull off so many of Michael’s famous moves is impressive for anyone, particularly a fair-skinned red head.

I have fond early-MTV memories of Michael Jackson, including sneaking out of bed to catch his much-hyped, 14-minute "Thriller" video in 1983.

That said, I never thought I would find myself at a trippy tribute to the King of Pop. However, I  learned that life is a surprising unfurling of strange and wonderful events if you let it. And so, I'll be in the midst of lasers and moon walkers on a February Friday night. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Is your life ridiculously busy? Maybe it's time to stop and smell The Black Rose.
Is your life ridiculously busy? Maybe it's time to stop and smell The Black Rose.

Rapid review: The Black Rose

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

The Black Rose
2856 N. Oakland Ave.
(414) 763-6526

"The Black Rose" is one of Ireland’s most legendary political songs that symbolizes change and new developments. It works well as a Milwaukee bar name, too, because the East Side pub brings a fresh taste of Ireland to the always-dynamic neighborhood.

Although The Black Rose has a full menu featuring comfort food goodies like Irish stew, fish & chips and burgers, it is also a great place to stop in for a WSB Black Lager, Guinness or Smithwick’s. 

Menu: The Black Rose has a fab selection of beers and ciders from Ireland and beyond, including Harp, Strongbow, Guinness, Smithwick’s, WSB Black Lager, Hoegaarden, Murphy’s Stout, Newcastle and more. The Black Rose also features a nice array of domestic beers,  including Spotted Cow, New Belgium Fat Tire and Blue Moon.

Price: Average.

When to go: Of course, the best time to go to The Black Rose is on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on Wednesday, March 17 this year. Otherwise, the bar / restaurant is open for lunch or dinner.

Dress: Casual.

Don't miss: The Guinness is usually very fresh. Have one with a spicy Sriracha burger hot off the grill.

Parking: Basically, it’s whatever you can find on the street.

White tequila comes right from the distillery, whereas gold tequila is aged in oak.
White tequila comes right from the distillery, whereas gold tequila is aged in oak.

White tequila = my new amigo

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

After a couple of bad experiences, I swore off tequila unless it was mixed into a margarita. I thought tequila made me too mouthy and extremely hungover. Recently, my friend Holly introduced me to white tequila, and I realized the Mexican potent potable could go back on my personal drink menu.

(And actually, the night I tried a shot of white tequila for the first time, it led me to do a body shot for the first time, too. Probably shouldn’t have agreed to the third shot. Note to self.)

While tequila is simply unaged, uncolored tequila. Most of the high-end tequilas have "100 percent blue agave" embossed on the bottle. Patron, for example, is one of the most popular 100-percent blue agave white tequilas and my personal favorite.

For the love of extraneous information, might I add that tequila comes from the distillation of the blue agave cactus grown in the town of Tequila -- and surrounding areas -- in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The red volcanic soil in that area is ideal for the cacti to grow.

So, if you have sworn off tequila, you might want to give white tequila a whirl. Order it as a shot next time someone offers to buy you one -- it's pricier than the gold tequilas -- and you might be amazed at how smooth it is, and how easily it goes down. Careful.

Stop in for a White Mexican or a Hot Tito or a Bloody Maria.
Stop in for a White Mexican or a Hot Tito or a Bloody Maria.

Rapid Review: Cafe CorazĂłn

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Cafe CorazĂłn
3129 N. Bremen St.
(414) 810-3941

Cafe CorazĂłn opened at the end of 2009, and already garnered a reputation as a cozy bar and restaurant with consistently good food and a creative drink menu.

Owners John Kelly, George Mireles and Wendy Mireles take turns behind the bar and are open to customer input for their ever-evolving list of beverages. Much of their menu is Latin inspired, but good ol’ American comfort food and drink is also available.

"There’s always something new," says Wendy.

What to order: Corazón’s drink menu includes 23 different bottled beers -- including $2 Coronitas -- along with five different Latin wines. Also, specialty drinks cost $5 or $7.

The $5 menu features the White Mexican, an amigo of the White Russian that’s made with vodka, Kahlua and homemade horchata, as well as a version of the Hot Toddy, called the Hot Tito, and the unique calimocho made with red wine and cola.

The $7 menu includes the bar’s signature margarita, made with Corazón tequila and freshly squeezed lime juice, along with the pinata, a mix of rum, banana liqueur, pineapple and orange juice, and the woo woo, which includes vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice.

Prices: Affordable.

When to go: Whether customers stop in for dinner, brunch (Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or a Sunday football game, the drinks flow freely and the vibe is friendly. CorazĂłn is open everyday from 4 p.m. to midnight during the week and from 4 p.m. until bar time on weekends. The bar and restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Dress: Casual to fancy. Anything goes. It’s Riverwest.

Don't miss: The Bloody Maria features dilly beans from Wendy’s partially…

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