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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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Fans celebrated when U.S. scored an early goal against Portugal.
Fans celebrated when U.S. scored an early goal against Portugal. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

World Cup unites diverse mix of soccer lovers

As I sit recovering from the USA vs. Germany match – yes, I was at the Highbury and yes, I had a few to many tall beers while watching the game – but it was a beautiful day to watch an incredibly thrilling game. 

For me, the World Cup brings back great memories of living in Toronto watching with my friends who were supporting everyone from Croatia – my pal Andy Krsic is the first Croat I’ve ever met – Italy, Belgium, Portugal and The Netherlands. I pulled for the USA. No one believed they would make it very far, but I believed and still do that they will make it to the finals. They obviously didn’t make it, but I will once again have faith. I am a true believer.

Now let's reflect on The World Cup. Why do I love it? I love it because you have countries as small as Costa Rica battling against much richer countries like Italy – whom they beat!  These teams don’t just magically make it to the playing field – they have to win their position by playing and winning matches within their own countries and confederations.

The USA is part of CONCACAF or Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. This Confederation includes nations from the Caribbean, Central America, North America and part of South America. To qualify, you must earn enough points from playing in your group to earn the right to take part in World Cup. Not an easy task.

Watching the World Cup games at the Highbury really showcases the diversity Milwaukee has to offer. During the Ecuadorian vs. Honduras match – we had fans from both countries hooting and hollering for their team. Ecuador won and their celebration was infectious. I immediately decided I need to go visit cause they really know how to celebrate. There is a high contingency of Mexicans – one of my all time favorites of both people and country – Mexico is playing and they turn out. 

It might seem obvious, but I’ve run into some locals that don’t really see the diversity in Milwaukee …

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Milwaukee's got pride.
Milwaukee's got pride.

Milwaukee pride shines brightly

As hundreds of people went to the courthouse to embrace their right to get married and I see the efforts Pride Milwaukee has gone through to make sure we have this right, it makes me think of the pride that Milwaukeeans have in their city.  

You are a proud people.  

You tattoo your state, city and even your team on your body. My recent favorites is the tat Kent "The Colonel" Knapp has on his forearm that reads "Milwaukee Feeds and Supplies The World."  

My pal Billiam (although I call him "Billing-Ham") has a tattoo of the state of Wisconsin with a baseball mitt on Milwaukee.  It’s a double whammy – he loves Milwaukee and he also loves the Brewers. 

When you are asked where you are from, you say you are from Milwaukee!  You don’t say Grafton, Racine, Third Ward, etc. – you say "Milwaukee."  

You are a hearty bunch that deals with extreme temperature changes. (Hello, polar vortex!)  Does this stop you? No, you go ice fishing.  You don’t ride just any motorcycle,  you ride a Harley. And you know why? 'Cause you are the home of Harley-Davidson. 

Living in New York City there wasn’t a pride, but an air of coolness about where you lived.  You didn’t say "New York City" you said Chelsea, Upper West Side, or like me, the East Village.  

Because when I moved to the East Village (in the early ‘90s), it was still full of artists, musicians, punks and drug addicts.  I loved it. Patty Smith, The Cro-Mags, Allen Ginsberg, The Stooges and Richard Hell called it home.   

It was not the "pretty part of NYC" – it was the gritty part. Now, through gentrification and rents, I don’t know how anyone can afford it. The old East Village is gone, only to be replaced by glass and concrete buildings, 7-11s and high-end restaurants.  

In a way, Bay View is very similar.

I did not grow up in Bay View but I do know some locals who were born and raised here.  They refer to a time where crime was up, prostitution and drugs at an all-time hi…

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Coffee connects this Milwaukee author back to her memories in New York City and home in Florida.
Coffee connects this Milwaukee author back to her memories in New York City and home in Florida. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Coffee supplies a hot cup of memories and experiences

Let’s talk coffee – obviously a very hot button issue among you achievers out there. I like coffee, but I am not sure I share the passion for it the way my friends do. Still, I do enjoy a good cup of joe every now and then. 

My mother was one of the original coffee elites in the tiny town of Orange Park, Fla. We had a Char Grill Drive-In burger joint, a Holiday Inn and for some exotic fare, a Chinese restaurant, House Of Loo.

My mom was, and still is, quite the hip chick. She had a Vidal Sassoon A-line haircut that this tiny town had never seen anything like. She was always at the top of fashion. She also drank Medaglia d’Oro coffee, not the Maxell House or Folgers that could be found in most households at that time. 

Medaglia d’Oro is Italian espresso that comes in a white can with green and red writing (it was very exotic). To this day if I ever see a can, I always buy it, though it’s been harder and harder to find. Mom still drinks this brand to this day but mixes in a can of Café Du Monde from New Orleans every now and then. See, she’s totally cool. 

I, on the other hand, like old school NYC diner or even bodega (deli) coffee. They all tend to use the same brand, and trust me, it’s delicious. It also brings back memories of early morning breakfast hangovers at the Odessa on Avenue A. Pierogies, grits, scrambled eggs and a hot cup of coffee with all the refills required to get you feeling normal again. 

When Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, we were without power for a week. Living on the 9th floor, days were planned around the dog and figuring out how to get her proper walks with the least amount of trips up and down those flights of stairs.

Now a quick geographical break down. When Sandy hit, only below 33rd Street was affected on the Island; outer areas – Long Island, New Jersey – were completely devastated. We were lucky to only lose our power, unlike others.

Anyways, after day three of listening to NPR and hanging out with my dog, it…

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The Brewers squared off against the Yankees last weekend.
The Brewers squared off against the Yankees last weekend. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Yankees fan has a fever for more Brewers baseball

So I’ve got the fever and it’s not more cowbell, but Brewers baseball! I am a Yankees fan. Living in NYC, one of the greatest ways to spend time is at Yankees Stadium – although I like the old stadium better than the new one – most diehard fans do.  

Now I’d like to say I became a fan because my family are huge baseball fans – my dad loves Ted Williams and my brother Andy loves Hank Aaron, but that is not the case. When I first moved to NYC, I was a receptionist at ATCO Records (home to AC/DC). This job did not pay a lot of money – in fact, after rent I had about $75 for everything for the month. Knowing where you can drink on the cheap, two-for-one happy hours, best slice of pizza or where they had free nuts on the bar was key.

My roommate and I also figured out the ability to get up to Yankees stadium early so you can get a seat in the bleachers for $5. Yes, I became a bleacher creature. What is a bleacher creature? Basically it’s a rowdy bunch that leads the stadium in cheers and drinks copious amounts of stadium beer. It was a blast and a great way to fall in love with one of baseball's most legendary teams.

So fast-forward to May 9 – Yankees vs. Brewers at Miller Park. I went with excitement and a heavy heart as it would most likely be the last time I would get to see my favorite player – Yankees captain, Derek Jeter. The Brewers have been on fire and I knew it was going to be a great game.  And it was. I got to see Tanaka’s first bat in MLB and a fan with a Ryan Braun jersey run onto the field looking to give Jeter a hug. That wasn’t going to happen and I sort of felt bad for the guy as security pounced on him. The Yankees won 5-3; it would be the only game they would win out of that series. 

The difference between going to a Yankees game and Brewers game is the pre-game warm up. At Yankees Stadium we would meet at Stan’s Bowling Ally Bar – $5 tall boys  and lots of old men telling tales of games they’d seen and legends they m…

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