How many of you have ever taken a stroll down the Riverwalk at night, past the Bronz Fonz?
There’s a creepy restaurant there, long closed, that still plays music at night. So, you’re walking past the Fonz, thumbs up, smiling wide, and this weird music sort of floats about him. In any other setting it would be soothing, but not so much when the only light comes from dim streetlights.
Not too long ago, I made this walk in the rain. I always walk with my head on a swivel, but as I came down the steps past the Fonz, I noticed a large pool of water collecting at the base of the stairs. So, I looked down, and stepped around it.
As I did that, something caught my eye through the rain and the dim lighting – a smiley face.
It stopped me in my tracks, rain and all.
Now, normally, sidewalk/building graffiti doesn’t catch my eye (unless it’s well done). It’s literally just part of the landscape.
But this – this was creepy.
My colleague Eugene Kane wrote about the "Killer no one wants to talk about" earlier this month when another young man was pulled from a river, and I’ll be honest – it was something I had thought about. Since I moved to Wisconsin, let alone Milwaukee, multiple young men have been found in this state’s rivers.
I had wondered if they were connected. How could you not?
No doubt this smiley face is just a prank, poking fun at the idea.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t creepy, and that it wouldn’t send a chill down your back if you saw it. It did for me.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.