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Chicago.  (photo: Centro)
Chicago. (photo: Centro)
The author on the roof of The Chicago Tribune building. (photo: Centro)
The author on the roof of The Chicago Tribune building. (photo: Centro)
On Milwaukee!  (photo:
On Milwaukee! (photo:

Just ask for the sale, Milwaukee

I'm a big pro-Milwaukee guy. I love its lack of pretense and, of course, everything it has to offer.

So, I relish opportunities to spread the Milwaukee love. It's in my DNA, and as I've always said, a city is only as good as the stories it tells.  And, I truly believe we all have a civic responsibility to be better Milwaukee story tellers.

So, when I see blogs like this I take notice. Read it and form your own opinion. The author, Michael Doyle, told me via Twitter that he "loves Milwaukee" and his here often. He suggested that I ask readers for a "better campaign." So, have at it.

I love fun, creative messages as much as the next guy. And, beer and brats are important to Milwaukee.  But, today they are side dishes. Frankly, creativity in advertising can too often be too creative. If we want to tell the Milwaukee story and get people to visit, just ask them to. It's sales 101. Tell the story, make the ask.

I love Chicago, and its incredibly important to Milwaukee's economy. Chicago already loves Milwaukee and, as I just said, the feeling is mutual (take away sports teams).  

Marquette University has a great event, Milwaukee's Future in the Chicago Megacity, planned for July 17. Take note of it as the Chicago-Milwaukee megacity needs to flourish and expand, and Milwaukee must leverage it properly.

Maybe, though, when Milwaukee is talking tourism to Chicago it needs to tone down its creative messages and just ask for the sale.


"Envisioning the Scene" event at The Pabst Theater.
"Envisioning the Scene" event at The Pabst Theater. (Photo: Erik Ljung)
Talking Milwaukee.
Talking Milwaukee. (Photo: Erik Ljung)
Fox 6's Ted Perry opened and moderated the event with Bruce Murphy of
Fox 6's Ted Perry opened and moderated the event with Bruce Murphy of (Photo: Erik Ljung)

Why "just talking" about Milwaukee matters

A few years into the enormous success of YPM (Young Professionals of Milwaukee, now called Fuel Milwaukee), we started to get criticism for "just talking," "only holding networking events" and, oddly, for being 'too positive."

As the first president of the group, the critics (for me) were a sign that we were making a difference and having an impact. Soon, the group became one the largest of its kind in the country and spawned countless replicas in the area and around the nation. Nice work, Milwaukee!

It's interesting what success brings, isn't it? I, for one, find it brings more success and encourages more people to make stuff happen. This is why more of what Fuel Milwaukee – and now nearly 10 years later groups like Newaukee, Young Milwaukee and Art Milwaukee – have done is needed. Cities need chest thumping and often it's the newer civic groups that can bring it, unbridled.

So, it was great to hear several locals on stage Monday night at The Pabst Theater not only trumpet their successes but push the community to better promote Milwaukee's stories, people, places and things.

The second "Envisioning the Seen" was a roundtable, of sorts, on various civic issues. It was people talking, building relationships, pontificating and having fun. It was Milwaukee, on stage.

And, of course, many will say the group was "just talking." But through talking, relationships are built and even harsh realities can be made right. I've never been shy to promote greater Milwaukee and you shouldn't be either. This was, as it usually is at these types of events, a strong message from many of the panelists.

So today, I challenge you to better show case our fine city and area. Don't hate, don't long for what's not here but appreciate and promote all that greater Milwaukee has to offer. It's summer, after all, and life here is darn good and more people deserve to hear about it.

Dishes like this are "hot" at C. 1880.
Dishes like this are "hot" at C. 1880.

What are Milwaukee's "hottest" restaurants?

Several times per week, someone asks me for a restaurant recommendation. I always offer a list of my favorites and love talking about the ever-changing dining business.

Yesterday, though, a friend asked me for a list of the "hottest" restaurants in the area. An easy answer on the 94-degree day was "all of them," but after thinking a bit and interpreting "hottest" to mean "most recently opened and still generating good buzz" I came up the following list:

C. 1880
Rumpus Room
The Noble
Odd Duck

I'm sure 8-twelve and Kanpai will be "hot" once they open and, of course, there are several other places around town that are always "hot."  We all have our favorites.  

What's your answer to this question? Chime in and tell us what's "hot" in your Milwaukee dining world.

Sydney HIH glistens in the sun.
Sydney HIH glistens in the sun.
Opportunity surounds.
Opportunity surounds.

Why weird works

My wife - who is on the Historic Third Ward executive committee, is a former business improvement district director and co-founder of Lela - and I were discussing the Sydney HIH building recently. And, she made a very Austin-type comment. Milwaukee needs more weird. So, of course, I told her to blog her thoughts. Here they are.

Why Weird Works
by Stephanie Sherman

Milwaukee is home to beautiful architecture, rich history and new cutting edge development and art. We also have our share of weird; the Bronze Fonz, that car ("God Mobile") that drives on Downtown covered in opinions, deceased icons like Dick Bacon and Pepperoni Cannoli Guy, and, one could even argue for Nyjer Morgan.

And, with all of its charm and pending death sentence, the Sydney HIH building is weird and we should embrace it.

Sydney HIH has become something people talk about, tell urban legends about and brag about being a part of. Why tear it down? I understand the City's desire to clear the way for something new. But how about embracing it and making it truly art?  It's time for more Milwaukee leaders to take risks.

It was the home of artists, musicians and so much more.  Now, could it, the building itself, become public art?   Think something better than "plop art" like the Beasties or temporary sculptures.  Let's make it a formal tribute to what it created. Fill it with sand if it is uninhabitable. Cover it in color. Let's let artist Reggie Baylor cover it once again with bold color!

I understand the desire to clear the way for a large, pinnacle development. And I understand that no developer is interested in purchasing and redeveloping the building given its uninhabitable condition. So, develop around it.

This is Milwaukee. Every day tourists stop in amazement at the beauty of the old architecture in our Downtown. We need every last bit of the past. It is our competitive edge. It is what makes us better than other cities.

I saw the owner of Zappos speak several years ago on what …