Legend (noun) - Someone or something very famous and admired, usually because of their ability in a particular area
Those of us who have spent most of our lives in Milwaukee remember the legendary figures that were once, and in many cases still are, a part of what makes our city great.
Some of the names that come to mind are the late Al McGuire and Dick Bacon, the still-kickin' Bob Uecker, Johnny Logan and Tom Collins. You can utter single names like Saz, Witliff, Bingo and Derry and immediately thousands of Milwaukeeans can tell a first-hand story of their exploits. And it probably isn't a stretch to assume that a great many of their legendary deeds were accomplished in the presence of Milwaukee's favorite beverage of choice (which, according to this writer, earns bonus points in the quest for ascension to legendary status).
But who are the new Milwaukee legends? Who will fill the shoes of these classic Milwaukeeans once their time has passed? Never mind the shoes, who can fill the hi-ball glasses, the sports arenas or the taverns that are no longer populated by the characters that made Milwaukee great?
The purpose of this article is not to crown the new legends, but merely to stimulate discussion. So, in the paragraphs that follow I will present my list of who I believe are the new Milwaukee legends. Figures that years from now we will still recall with great fondness as people who gave Milwaukee character and made this the best city on earth.
It is important to note that inclusion of any people on this list does not imply any negative or anti-social behavior on their part. They are simply people whose personality and charisma have made them stand out among all others.
Anyone who has closed down the bars on Brady St. and Water St. knows Mr. Pecoraro. Not by his name, but by his call of "Pepperoni! Cannoli!" Yes, Frank Pecoraro is the Pepperoni Cannoli guy who peddles his fresh made Italian foods to the bar crowds on the East Side.
I have crossed paths with the Pepperoni Cannoli guy on several occasions over the last 15 years. I am thoroughly convinced that the only English words he knows, in addition to Pepperoni and Cannoli, are spicy, mild, two dollars and thank you.
Mr. Pecoraro was robbed and beaten a few years back, which left him with a large welt on his forehead. It is hard for me to fathom a crime more heinous than injuring a man that has brought so much joy and sausage to hungry drunks.
If you've ever been to a Milwaukee Bucks or Marquette Basketball game you have probably been exposed to the eclectic dancing style of Freeway. A huge basketball fan, Freeway, a.k.a. Mike McCarter is at more games than not. His presence has transcended the floor of the Bradley Center, as he is featured prominently in promotional videos run on the jumbotron during Bradley Center events.
Ask any current or former Milwaukee Bucks player or Marquette basketball coach what Freeway means to them and I guarantee they will not respond with I-43.
Mike Wojciechowski, known to thousands as simply Woj, is the VP of Marketing and Sales for the Milwaukee Admirals. Up until recently, Woj would have been easily recognized by his protruding lower torso which at any point may have housed a considerable amount of Milwaukee's Finest. However, a strict diet and exercise plan has led to the shedding of over 90 pounds and brought Woj down to his college playing weight.
But Woj is noted more for his summer presence as he spearheads one of the greatest single day social events in Milwaukee. Woj's Walk for the Arts is held at the Wisconsin State Fair and brings together the brightest in Milwaukee media, advertising, sports and hospitality for an extended tour of the Fair food and beverage stands.
The evening begins at the Budweiser Pavilion and concludes at Saz's, with Woj joining Pork and the Havana Ducks on stage for several songs. Awards are given for MVP and Rookie of the Year, and it was not uncommon for the Walk to cross paths with then Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.
The impetuous news woman on the Bob and Brian morning show is the only female to have made the list of Milwaukee legends. Carrie, a.k.a. "Queen of the Gimlets," has become domesticated as of late, and subsequently the frequency and range of her exploits have been reduced dramatically. But that is not to say that she is not worthy of the title of legend.
As the only person to ever win MVP and Rookie of the Year honors on Woj's Walk, Carrie has been known to completely change clothes with men in public. This is a sight I have witnessed personally at Arts Performing Center, Lukas' on State and the Wisconsin State Fair. The latter quick-change prompted Fair security to immediately warn Tommy Thompson's bodyguards to keep the governor away from the area. That, my friends, is what legends are made of.
Richard "Slim" McGinn is carrying on the tradition of the great Irish bartending legends of Derry Hegarty. Slim began his career at The Harp on Juneau before branching off on his own and opening Slims in the building of the former Smugglers on 1st and Florida. In my world, I give Slim credit for coining the word "sammich" (what about Ray Charles? -ed.) As The Harp crowd aged it followed Slim to his new location, and The Harp was reborn.
Success in Walker's Point allowed Slim to open McGinn's on 58th and Bluemound Rd. McGinn's West features great food, bountiful drinks with easy on easy off freeway access and the ability to rub elbows on occasion with Milwaukee sportswriters such as Tom Endlund and Drew Olson.
McGinns is also home to the "Slimousine," personalized transportation to and from major sporting events for all patrons.
This is the beginning of my list of new legends. There are many that I have overlooked that are an important part of this city. Kick-boxing champs Rick and Duke Roufus, Dan Jansen, Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank, Pat McCurdy, Art Kumbalek, the Jesus car guy, Jimmy Lombardo, John Lucas, Omar Andreitsch, Stevie Vento, the Have a Nice Day Cafe midget, the Brady Street Elvis guy, Bo Black, Dr. Love and Usher Mike.
I am sure I have missed many, but nonetheless, the criteria is subjective. These are my legends. Now, it's your turn to tell me yours. Use the talkback feature below to cast your votes.