BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- I didn't grow up in Milwaukee and I'm not a football fan, so I don't know much about Vince Lombardi. I do know that he's a legend in Titletown and his hat and trench coat were trademarks. He also, apparently, didn't smile much and had a head full of tough-as-nails maxims ready to hurl at his players.
But being in my hometown -- it feels weird to call Brooklyn a "hometown" since it never felt like a town at all to me, then or now -- uncovering Milwaukee stories in the Big Apple reminds me that I do know one fact about Lombardi, albeit a mostly worthless one.
He was born and raised on East 14th Street. I learned that from (Wisconsin author) David Maraniss' book "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi." It caught my eye when the book was published because I was born and raised on East 15th Street, although the Tanzilos lived about 10 blocks north of the Lombardis, who were more than likely gone by the time I arrived on scene (Lombardi was hanging out in ice-ville by the bay when I was born in the off-season).
So, if you're ever wondering what New York and Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) have in common, remember that Wisconsin's most legendary football figure probably ice skated in Coney Island, played in the surf at Brighton Beach and kicked cans along East 14th Street.
And remember to watch OnMilwaukee.com in the coming weeks for some Milwaukee Big Apple stories written by someone who ice skated in Coney Island, played in the surf at Brighton Beach and kicked cans along East 14th Street.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.