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The Times remains relevant.
The Times remains relevant.

The times they are a changin' in Wisconsin

Say what you will about the death of the daily newspaper, The New York Times still occupies a very special place in the fragmented world of journalism.

Despite the political praise and criticism regularly directed at the paper, it is acknowledged universally to have the best reporting staff in the world and covers the news like nobody else.

In Wisconsin we love being mentioned in the Times. Recently the Milwaukee Symphony played at Carnegie Hall and you could feel the bated breath waiting for the review in the Times. When it came out and was a great review, people swelled with pride.

Wisconsin is in the Times once again this week, with a long article with the headline; "How Did Wisconsin Become the Most Politically Divisive Place in America?"

It is a thorough read and perhaps should be required of all citizens before they go to the polls June 5. It is not particularly one-sided or the other but after finishing I'd be surprised if you, like me, didn't feel a little sadness about how we are being portrayed.

One thing it might do is help spur some action to deal with and cure the Hatfield and McCoy mentality of "us or them" that's in this state. That profound and rabid distrust and ridicule serves nothing well. We don't want to be a real-life version of a talk radio show, but that's kind of what we've become.

The Times article doesn't really offer much in the way of solution suggestions. But it's a good and insightful record of how we got to where we are.

Jing's is a Milwaukee gem.
Jing's is a Milwaukee gem.

Jing's rocks

In the famous movie "Flower Drum Song," a musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, there is a short scene that has stayed with me for many, many years.

Two of the characters in the film, fresh from a scene of chaos, find peace inside a restaurant. The place, where they share some food, is the memory that is so vivid in my mind. It was serene and I've looked for that place in Chinese restaurants over the years.

Now, I've found it at Jing's, a Chinese restaurant that features food from Shanghai. It's located at 207 E. Buffalo in the heart of the Third Ward. And for five years it must be one of the best kept secrets in the city.

I had dinner there the other night and a chance to talk with owner Jing Wang, a lovely woman who has created an oasis of peaceful joy in the middle of a big, bustling city.

Jing's has soft lighting that bathes the minimalist d├ęcor in warmth and makes it easy to catch your breath. The other thing is that it's a quiet restaurant. Even with other diners present, there is something about Jing's that inspires you to speak softly with your companions.

There are two menus at Jing's and each of them offers an array of delights that are prepared with care and presented at a well-paced comfort level.

One menu is filled with the kind of American-Chinese food you find at many area restaurants. I had a sweet and sour pork that was as good as I've had anywhere.

There is also a much smaller menu, printed on a single red card.

"This is a more traditional Chinese menu," explained Jing Wang, who has operated the restaurant for five years. "These are our special entrees."

This menu is so special to the restaurant that she would barely let a copy out to go with me and would only do so after I pledged on the graves of my fathers that I wouldn't reveal any of the items on the menu.

And lest you think that a menu this special would break the bank, be dissuaded from that notion. The most expensive item is $16.95 and the lowest is $5.95.

There is one item on that…

Kent Wainscott delivers quality reporting on a daily basis.
Kent Wainscott delivers quality reporting on a daily basis.

Wainscott is a winner

A very wise man named Newton Minnow once called television a "vast wasteland" and I've always pretty much agreed with him when it comes to local television news.

But today I've got to take my hat off to Kent Wainscott of Channel 12.

I was the managing editor of the newsroom when Wainscott came to Milwaukee as a consumer affairs reporter. He was like a lot of young reporters, more concerned with how he looked on camera than anything else.

Now, however, he has grown into the best television political reporter in this market. And it's not even a close contest.

Channel 12, alone among the local stations, devotes time and resources to political coverage. But none of that would be worth a hoot unless you have someone to be the face of the coverage.

Mike Gousha leads the way with his normal brilliance, but Wainscott does the day-in, day-out coverage with a sense of leadership that is a real treat for the viewers.

The hardest thing for local television news to do is to have some sense of context around the news story. Wainscott knows the canvas upon which he is painting his story and makes sure that viewers aren't shortchanged.

In a world where newcomers dot the screen and try to pretend they know what they are screaming about Wainscott is a real breath of fresh air. He's lucky that he works in a newsroom where they actually care about real news and the trust the station has put in him is not misplaced.

If there were a lot of reporters like this in Milwaukee we'd all be a lot better off.

Donald Driver dancing his way to victory.
Donald Driver dancing his way to victory.

Driver brings home the gold on "DWTS"

The triumph of Donald Driver last night in "Dancing With The Stars" was, as much as anything, a triumph of charm over beauty.

Driver went into the finals against Katherine Jenkins, a gorgeous classical singer, and William Levy, a gorgeous Cuban actor. They are each so beautiful they took your breath away.

But Driver had ... That Smile. We in Packers Nation have seen it many times before. It's a wide grin with sparkling white teeth and eyes that crinkle up in joy. If you needed a picture to go along with the word "happy" in the dictionary, you could use the picture of Driver smiling.

Make no mistake about it. Driver can dance. Over the 10 weeks of the program he improved constantly. One of the advantages he had over the others was that he is used to listening to coaching and then trying to put suggestions into practice.

You could tell each week that he heard what the judges said and did what they told him. It's like running precise pass patterns, something for which he's famous in the NFL.

I'm certain Packers fan votes helped him win the title. It may be no coincidence that the three football players who have won the title have been from the three favorite NFL franchises: Dallas, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

Driver showed surprising grace as he danced each week with his lovely partner, Peta Murgatroyd, who may have set a "DWTS" record for using less material for costumes than any former contestant.

It was an outstanding ride for Driver and for Packers fans. I also think it would be a great idea for Brett Favre to make his apologies and amends to Packer fans by being a contestant on the show in an upcoming season.