A crashing wave got me good on my lakefront run today.
A crashing wave got me good on my lakefront run today.

A Lake Week communion

Every Milwaukeean has a Lake Michigan story and for the next seven days OnMilwaukee will share as many as possible during "MKE Lake Week," sponsored by the Harbor District. Love our lake? You're in the right place.

In honor of OnMilwaukee's Lake Week this week, I decided to commune with Lake Michigan the best way I know how these days: I went for a run.

I run wherever I can. Whatever is convenient each day. It might be near home, or near work, or near the school my kids attend, near my hotel if I'm traveling. But my favorite route is any one that includes a view of Lake Michigan.

Despite what my kids say – based on my dislike or disinterest in waterpark tube slides – I am, in fact, a beach and water person. I spent the first 17 years of my life living fewer than three miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the crowded Manhattan and Brighton Beaches on a summer Sunday, the Mets game or Paul McCartney & Wings blaring from transistor radios, the sound of the surf, that sandy, sunburned, salt-air-whipped feeling on your entire body.

Now, at just under seven miles from Lake Michigan, my current home is the farthest I've ever lived from an ocean or the inland sea that is our engulfing eastern neighbor. Luckily, I find myself at or near the lake nearly every day anyway.

Today, the next-to-last day of summer before autumn's arrival Friday was a gorgeous day to run at the lake, so I did. It was warm but breezy, the sun's rays tempered by the wind.

There was a smell of fish in the air, the caw of the lake gulls – some of whom were diving to peck away at an impressive catch on the wharf – and, while I was out on the breakwater, the sound of waves crashing up onto the wall.

In fact, I got nearly to the end of the jetty when one of those waves leaped up from behind the barricades and surprised me, giving me a good soak. That turned me around, feeling a little shocked and more than a little reinvigorated, helping spark me…

Webster Secondary School is now once again Webster Middle School.
Webster Secondary School is now once again Webster Middle School. (Photo: Edgar Mendez, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service)

Webster returns to its former status as a traditional middle school

After considering closing Daniel Webster Secondary School altogether, just a couple weeks after starting its first school year, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted last Thursday to "reconfigure" the program as a traditional middle school.

Webster, 6850 N. 53rd St., had been a middle school until 2007, when it closed. Most recently, the building was leased to Universal Academy for the College Bound, run by a Philadelphia charter operator launched by former Philly soul pioneer Kenny Gamble.

Universal abruptly closed the grades 6-10 program in April and the building was returned to the district – just months after it returned two other buildings to MPS – which re-opened Webster as a program for students in grades 6-11. (Grade 12 was to be added next year.)

At the time, enrollment was about 650. But, this year, enrollment was low – reportedly at just 40 percent of projections as of last week – and the district moved to close it, saying it couldn't provide the resources necessary to run the school with such a low enrollment.

"MPS is committed to ensuring that all children have the highest quality education possible and every chance for success," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver, in a statement. "Webster’s enrollment was not sufficient enough to provide the robust academic programs every student in Milwaukee Public Schools deserves. This was a difficult, but necessary decision."

The school board disagreed, however, and voted, 9-0, to keep the school open, but as a traditional middle school. All enrolled students in grades 6-8 were told they could remain at the school or select a new school, while 9-11 graders were alerted that they must enroll in another high school program.

"MPS will ensure that students have the best educational option and will work with families to select the most appropriate school available," the district said in a statement.

"The district will continue dialogue with families and the school community to get fe…

Last year's contest winner, The Lambeau: chocolate and vanilla custard with dark chocolate flakes, peanut butter cups and caramel.
Last year's contest winner, The Lambeau: chocolate and vanilla custard with dark chocolate flakes, peanut butter cups and caramel. (Photo: Georgie Porgie's Facebook)

Finalists named in tonight's frozen custard contest at Georgie Porgie's

Monday is the final tasting to pick a winner for Georgie Porgie's frozen custard flavor contest, held in honor of National Frozen Custard Day, which takes place annually on Aug. 8.

OnMilwaukee is a sponsor of the second annual event.

Details of the contest, which wraps up tonight with free samples of all five finalist flavors at the Oak Creek restaurant so that folks can vote to select the winner, can be found here

Georgie Porgie's Gina Esch says 155 entries were received, from which staff selected the top five finalists. Now, everyone is invited to stop in tonight at 6:30 to taste the samples and vote for their favorite.

Here are the finalists:

  1. White Chocolate Raspberry Nutella Cheesecake: Vanilla custard with white chocolate sauce, raspberries, Nutella and cheesecake pieces.
  2. Blueberry Lemon Pie: Vanilla custard with lemon pudding, blueberry pie filling and pie crust pieces.
  3. Yabba Dabba Dino Doo: Twist custard with chocolate pebble cereal, chopped peanuts, hot fudge and brownie bits.
  4. Krispy Delight: Vanilla custard with marshmallow crème, marshmallow puffs and krispy treat crumbles
  5. Sticky Bun: Vanilla custard with chocolate sauce, yellow cake pieces, cinnamon, pecans and caramel.

I'll be there tonight with Kathleen McCann, co-author of the book, "Milwaukee Frozen Custard," to taste and vote, too.  

It's wine o'clock, folks.
It's wine o'clock, folks.

Taking a break from summer beer to taste new wines ... and one vodka

With beer season in full swing – though of course it’s always beer season in Brew City – I admit I’ve fallen a bit behind on tasting new wines.

This, despite having committed to spending a little extra time with white wines this summer. Since I naturally reach for red wines, prioritizing whites once in a while is something I have to do.

But I have set my mind to the task – and I know you’re thinking, hard work there, Tanzilo – and uncorked a few that I’m sharing with you here. (Prices are suggested retail or approximate retail.)


Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montacino 2012 – I know, I'm starting with the splurge wine, but trust me. Wine Spectator raved about this 100 percent sangiovese – which averages about $57 retail – calling it, "Rich and expressive, with cherry, strawberry and earth flavors and plenty of flesh to cover the solid structure. Spice and tobacco notes add depth as this plays out on the long finish." The legendary Gaja family blended the best of its grapes for a single 2012 wine, and the results are delicious. Pair it with a thick, medium rare grilled steak or just kick back and enjoy it by itself.

Beronia Rioja Reserva 2011 – This Spanish gem from the Rioja valley – one of the world's great wine regions – has an oaky, smoky vibe, ripe fruit and bright acidity (but with a good tannic balance), making it super-drinkable. At about $20, this wine feels a bit like a steal.

Ciu Ciu Oppidium Marche Rosso IGT – I love to taste wines from Italy's Le Marche region because of its ties to Milwaukee. A large contingent of Marchegiani settled in Bay View to work at the Rolling Mills and helped found the Italian community there. But their descendants aren't the only ones who will enjoy this full-bodied, purple-ish red made entirely from montepulciano grapes. It's got a dark color – Italians might call it vino nero – a bouquet packed with fruit, smooth tannins and a bit of oak. Around $20.

Ventisquero Cabernet S…