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An invite to a brat party means friendship in MKE.
An invite to a brat party means friendship in MKE.

On new Milwaukee friends, brats and drinking

Making friends in a new town can be difficult. I am not saying Milwaukeeans are standoffish but they definitely run in cliques. Breaking into one of these social circles can be difficult but once you’re in, you’re in. 

Our friends The Colonel and Ms. Red seem to be a center for social activity. As I’ve said before, everyone has a nickname. It was at one of their notorious "Dinghy Parties" we got out first invite to a party outside of our current new Milwaukee social circle, which consisted of Win the bartender at The Highbury (he also works his magic at Club Garibaldi), MF Lee, Jim, Silky Pete and Bernard. 

But, back to the party invite. Of course this party was a brat party so we ventured out of Bay View to the land of dragons – that’s Bay View speak for anything south of Morgan Avenue or west of Howell. 

This being my first brat party, I was very excited – I mean what does one wear to such an occasion?  We arrived and the place was packed. We were greeted with hugs and brats – so there’s one catch here: I don’t eat pig (pigs are smart, Google it) – but nonetheless we had fun and we finally felt like we made some in roads into the social scene of Milwaukee. Guess it's all about the brats. Or, of course, as I like brats. 

Event socializing in Milwaukee is the best – be it the Bay View Bash, tailgating at a Brewers game – it's something you just don’t do at a Yankees game – or checking out some local music (something near and dear to my heart). 

You Milwaukeeans indeed live by the creed – go big or go home! Be it a beer chaser with your Bloody Mary, which also includes a beef stick, a shot of Powers with your beer or a roll of the dice for who buys the next shot. 

You, wonderful Milwaukeeans, put the D in drinking. All of which will be explored in another column coming very soon. Until then, cheers. 

Summer brings Frolics and more. But first we wait out spring.
Summer brings Frolics and more. But first we wait out spring.

My first Milwaukee spring

It's spring according to the Farmer's Almanac, but you wouldn't fully know it. Sure we've had a tiny taste here and there. I've seen folks out in shorts when we hit highs in the 50s, but then Mother Nature can be cruel and we sink right back to the 30s and 40s. I can't help but think my husband hoodwinked me when he moved us here in June.

June in Milwaukee. Farmers markets, volleyball on the lakefront, everyone is in a fantastic mood. You want to go out and explore, find out what the word is on the street and it kills you to come back inside. 

When we move here, we immediately fell in love with the South Shore Farmers Market.  The bleary eyed Sven's boys serving coffee, the breakfast burritos and Nye's Big Sky – whose breakfast sandwiches are insanely delicious and all made from humanely raised animals. Whenever I hear "humanely raised" I think of personal masseuses going from cow to cow and asking, "where does it hurt ... does that feel better?"

Summer in Milwaukee also brings parade season. Who doesn't love a parade?  Every weekend I would scout out who was marching where.  Fish Day in Port Washington had the best marching band by far – they were imports from Chicago, is that cheating? And my lovely neighborhood has the South Shore Frolics. Last year we not only had Fox 6's man about town Chip Brewster, but we also had Mayor Tom Barrett riding proudly.  We are big time.  I can't wait to see what local celebrities show up this year.

So, for now we'll hold onto our memories of last summer and look forward to this one while we keep our parkas and mittens close, our sunblock unopened and our dreams focused on what will be. That is corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, and all the goodies yet to come.

Sid's new to MKE.
Sid's new to MKE. (Photo:

(Fried) Fish out of water, from NYC to MKE

I have been given the great honor to share with you my stories about moving from Manhattan's Lower East Side to Milwaukee's Bay View. Each blog will cover something new and exciting to me about Milwaukee – fish fries, supper clubs, tailgating at Brewers games, local characters and everything else that makes this city great.

Let's start from the beginning.  I met my husband, Milwaukee native Jason Sweet, at a bar in New York City. He proceeded to make fun of my sports team hat and I made fun of him for telling me he's a blues musician. You could say it was love at first sight but I wouldn't. The bar where we met, Tom and Jerry's, also happens to be a Packers Bar – something I didn't know even after going there for over 15 years.

Milwaukee was never on my list of cities to visit – much less live.  My thoughts on Milwaukee quickly changed when I visited for the first time in the glorious summer time.  We sat outside the Palomino with one of Jason's oldest friends – Kent "The Colonel" Knapp. I soon found out everyone has a nickname in this group of friends. Kent's wife Shannon is "Mrs. Red." So you get the picture.

We enjoyed the afternoon drinking "baggers" orange juice, vodka and seltzer (named after a local band called The Carpetbaggers)  this was followed up by meeting Jason's entire family – I should have probably paced myself as drinking in Milwaukee is about endurance. Nothing like meeting the family half in the bag from baggers.

Fast forward to May 2013.  I had been laid off from my corporate job in the Big Apple and Jason was ready to go home, so we packed up the apartment and the dog to start our adventure in Milwaukee.

This began with apartment searching and job seeking. We knew we wanted to be in Bay View as that is where the only two people besides family I knew lived; and it had all my other pre-set requirements – we had to be walking distance to decent restaurants, watering holes and convenience stores. Little did I realize we basic…