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The feminine Phair was backed up by a bunch of boys.
The feminine Phair was backed up by a bunch of boys. (Photo: Royal Bonde-Griggs)

A Phair review

Last night, Liz Phair fans showed up at Turner Hall Ballroom to check in with the iconic ‘90s rocker who dominated the indie scene, then the college radio scene, then clamored for pop princess status -- fell on her pretty face -- and disappeared for years while she produced music for television among other projects.

Last July, she self-released an album called "Funstyle," and then apologized on her Web site for doing so.

"You were never supposed to hear these songs. These songs lost me my management, my record deal and a lot of nights of sleep. Yes, I rapped one of them. I'm as surprised as you are. But here is the thing you need to know about these songs and the ones coming next: These are all me. Love them, or hate them, but don't mistake them for anything other than an entirely personal, un-tethered-from-the-machine, free for all view of the world, refracted through my own crazy lens. This is my journey. I'll keep sending you postcards. - Liz"

So the big question last night for some Phair fans was, "Where is she now?"

Not surprisingly, like all of us, Phair doesn’t easily fit into a niche. On the one hand, she looked like a total L.A. girl with long blond hair and a skinny girl body in a tight bodice. She referenced her all-raw diet, but also poked fun at it. "Am I glowing yet?" she asked. "No? And why do I keep running to the bathroom? I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. I have a little bit of Tourette’s."

She also complained about the Milwaukee weather and invited fans to visit her in L.A. We can’t blame her for that, it was negative degrees outside last night.

But on the other hand, she delivered a 90-minute concert of pure rock ‘n’ roll, opening with "Supernova" from her successful 1994 "Whip-Smart" album. She sounded great (despite the questionable acoustics in Turner Hall), looked like she was having a blast ("I used to be terrified, but now I really enjoy being here," she said) and proved to be conscious of her predominantly aging hipster fan base by ch…

The Bruisers have a new floor to flatten.
The Bruisers have a new floor to flatten.

BrewCity Bruisers and Trek have something in common

According to a recent press release from real estate group Cassidy Turley Barry, both the BrewCity Bruisers and the Trek Bicycle Corporation have leased new spaces.

BrewCity Bruisers leased 9,696 square feet of practice warehouse space at 415 S. 3rd St.

The Trek Bicycle Corporation leased 82,800 square feet of industrial space at 1007 S. 12th St. in Watertown. Trek will use the space to manufacture and distribute bicycles.

The Pfister will soon announce its third artist in residence.
The Pfister will soon announce its third artist in residence.

Vote for a Milwaukee artist

I learned two things about The Pfister this morning: that it houses more Victorian art than any other hotel in the world and that it has an artist in residence program. In fact, it has had one for two years, and now, you can vote for one of six local artists to win the honor for the third year.

The finalists include local artists Shelby Keefe, Stephen P. Ohlrich, Jeremy Plunkett, Kate Pfeiffer, Anthony Suminski and Jim Zwadlo.

To vote, just log onto the Pfister’s Web site or you can do it via Twitter (#ArtistInResidence) or by texting 22333. The voting closes on Saturday, Feb. 13 and the selection committee will announce the winner soon after.

In the meantime, check out the work of these six finalists at Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, during January Gallery Night on Friday, Jan. 21.

The Pfister’s artist-in-residence program features a working art studio and gallery that's open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and experience the art-making process for themselves.

Art therapy is good stuff at any age.
Art therapy is good stuff at any age.

Midlife Isis: Loss is not a naughty word

In the beginning of 2010, when my former husband and I decided to separate, we translated the situation to our sons by saying our family was transforming and that everything changes. I didn’t know at the time that by the end of the year, my father -- the "papa" whom my boys adored -- would die and we would be forced to again speak of change and transformation.

Only this time, there was no way to avoid another word: loss.

This is a word we brushed over during our separation. The loss of our nuclear family was noted, but not dwelled on. But the loss of my father was too great to ignore. After all, this is the guy who picked up the teenage me and my friends from hospitals and dark houses and asked one question: "Are you OK?" The man who took my vehicle-obsessed sons on an Amtrak train just to watch planes at the airport.

This was not a loss to gloss over.

At first, I tried to sweeten up the Story Of Death for my sons, just 7 and 8. I attempted euphemistic yammer about life’s seasons, but like your kids, mine are too stinkin’ smart. They knew my dad was dead, that he wasn’t coming back -- just like the hamsters named Lavender and Lavender Two -- and that it sucks.

So we ducked into grief’s dark corner and sat there, cross legged, for a while. I’m not sure for how long, but eventually, calming little fireflies blinked around our sad hearts and we all started sleeping through the night again.

Then, the boys drew pictures with neon markers of super sad faces, wrote letters with unpunctuated sentences like "I wish you could come back to the earth" and spoke openly of their thoughts and feelings, even at the discomfort of others. My younger son called my mom on the phone and said, "Papa is dead. He is in the ground, in a grave. And even if we dug him up, it would not be Papa. And it would be gross."

My 7-year-old tapped into what every person who suffers loss and experiences grief says: "it comes in waves." He asked me why it is that he feels fine for a lo…