Milwaukee Record launched on April 7, 2014. Since then, we’ve published more than 2,400 stories, reached millions upon millions of internet-weary eyeballs, created an awesome annual benefit concert, launched an awesome monthly music video series, helped brew an awesome beer, and ate at every fucking George Webb on planet Earth for some reason. Not bad for a website run by two dopes and born out of a drunken conversation at Mad Planet one cold December night.

Anyway, as our second full year of existence comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some of the best shit we published in 2016. It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our many, many incredible ad partners and sponsors, both the ones that have been with us since the beginning and the ones that lent their support this year. And, of course, a huge thanks to our ridiculously talented writers, and to you, our readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Could a cat change the trajectory of the Milwaukee Bucks’ season? (January 12)
“Even if none of these scenarios pans out (a highly dubious assumption), we’re hoping that as the league grows enlightened of the joys, life longevity, and general good times keeping a cat around entails, our Bucks will come forth off the hardwood to proclaim their fondness for felines. As @NBACatwatch has assured us all, we’re inching closer, ever closer, to the first Buck to reveal himself. In the offseason we may have been coerced to ‘Own the Future,’ but today, couldn’t we all agree it’s sufficient to paw at it instead?” [Rachel Seis]

Here’s what was changed to make that non-anti-Semitic Shorewood sculpture even more non-anti-Semitic (January 18)
“So yeah, unless we’re missing something, they changed an ‘E’ into a ‘B.’ After all the drama and headlines, after all the people claiming it was statistically impossible for random letters to form these particular words even though it’s extremely possible when you get to decide which letters you use and discard, they changed an ‘E’ into a ‘B.’ So there you go.” [Matt Wild]

shorewoodreinstall

Milwaukeeists: 1996-2006 or: What Made Milwaukee Famous (January 19)
“What is a ‘Milwaukeeist?’ If one quality set this particular group of artists and venue-makers apart, it was seeing various lacks common to mid-sized, off-center cities for their positive potential. Not enough places to show or perform? Well, open one yourself! It was clear no one was going to do it for us. There wasn’t enough money in town to flow beyond the bigger institutions, and the city’s funders weren’t interested in homespun experimentation. All this only took the pressure off. Not much was at stake, but we who made the work readily admitted this, and saw it not as an obstacle but as freedom from the normal pressures of success and failure. We could readily embrace our sense of marginalization and turn it into fool’s gold, shifting the definitions of value.” [Nicholas Frank]

Parents: It’s cold and the Domes are closed, so take your kids to the Shops of Grand Avenue (February 11)
“And go nuts she did. She squealed in delight as she trotted up and down the empty halls. She laughed as she explored the nooks and crannies of the old Radio Shack, the old GAP, and the old Old Navy. She guffawed as she dicked around in the lonely doorway of what used to be that pen store (it’s now a temporary tax return place or something). She marveled at the hidden basement wishing well, right next to the offices of TRUE Skool, NEWaukee, the Underground Collaborative, and the terrifying ghost of the International Clown Hall of Fame. Remember that scene in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise is running around an empty Times Square? IT WAS TOTALLY LIKE THAT.” [MW]

grandavekid8

We went to every George Webb in the world on February 29 (March 2)
“When we’d finished up in New Berlin, we weaved through back roads and wound up on North in Tosa. I was feeling a bit better, so I had a regular hamburger with nothing on it. Josh had a double cheeseburger. The smiling George Webb logo was beginning to taunt me with each unnecessary bite I took. As a thing people eat once every now and then (usually when lack of time, shortage of money, or after-bar desperation to sober up are involved), George Webb is passable as food. When eaten more than once a month, let alone SIXTEEN times in a day, it becomes abundantly clear that 1. Nothing on the menu is actually good, and 2. There’s probably no god.” [Tyler Maas]

Grand Ave. barber Tony Pullara wants to cut your hair (and be your mayor) (March 29)
“‘I want to bring back Milwaukee in the most positive way,’ he explains. ‘The best way to get to that point is to go back to simplicity in life. Many years ago, when I was a little boy, kids could touch the police officer, or the priest, or the teacher in a positive way. Now, you’re being chased by the police officer with a gun. It’s wrong.'” [MW]

We checked out the Trump rally in Janesville and it was a shit show (March 31)
“Presidential candidates were running every which way through the state on Tuesday: Sanders was at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, Clinton was cruising through La Crosse and Green Bay, Kasich and Cruz arrived in Milwaukee for a CNN Town Hall session at the Riverside Theater with Anderson Cooper. Trump would join them later, but not before making a pit stop in Janesville. Thousands of Trump supporters, a couple hundred protesters, and hundreds of police showed up at the Janesville Conference Center (attached to a Holiday Inn Express). It was sure to be the most exciting rally in Janesville since that time in 1992 when Geraldo Rivera showed up at a white power rally and punched a Nazi.” [Tea Krulos and Wendy Schreier]

Another often overlooked demographic, Cats 4 Trump.

Another often overlooked demographic, Cats 4 Trump.

Remembering the world’s largest Pac-Man tournament at County Stadium in 1982 (April 7)
“I remember getting there and they had the [PM Magazine] crew following me around in the stadium. A lot of the kids were cool. The one who was expected to win was the Asian guy in the video. He was the oldest player [28 years old]. He was really cool. He talked to everybody. The person I beat in the first round, he was really cool. But the person who actually ended up winning was the least sociable one. I mean, it was some guy I crossed paths with for an hour, so I don’t want to say too much. He was the one that all the other contestants…I don’t want to say it was jealousy, but no one really talked to him that much. It didn’t seem…I want to say he had some arrogance to him. This guy seemed a little standoffish, and not in a computer geek, ‘I’m shy’ way. I think we were all disappointed that he ended up winning.” [MW]

A Milwaukee Day ode to Bob Uecker (April 14)
“If you’ve followed this website over the past two years, you’ve seen plenty of Uecker gracing its digital pages. Personally speaking, my love for Uecker is deep, unequivocal, and without irony. His is the voice of my childhood summers, my teenage drives to the next town over, my current-day afternoons with my daughter. Long before I became a baseball fan, I was a Uecker fan. Against all odds and reason, I was a member of the Mr. Belvedere Fan Club, which, yes, was a real thing and not just a fitfully remembered SNL skit with Tom Hanks. Later, in college, I cut my teeth on web design by creating a Mr. Belvedere site. (I’ll never reveal its location, but it’s still possible to dig it up on the UW-Milwaukee servers.) All of that because of Uecker. Why? I’m honestly not sure. For me, Uecker is a foundation. Uecker is a pillar. Uecker is a fact.” [MW]

A different kind of Purple Rain: Prince’s damp message to a Milwaukee fan (April 22)
“Your own office parties can carry an air of forced interaction. Attending someone else’s office get-together removes one layer of humanity from this equation and in its place slaps on all the enjoyment of applying for a grocery store rewards card. Sometimes, at some parties, there is that great reveal or incident which eradicates drab conversation. Butt-cheek photocopies or the acknowledgement of a dishonorable discharge from the Eagle Scouts, those types of things. And sometimes there is a nasty, first-hand story about Prince.” [Justin Kern]

The last (alleyway) picture show? Paul’s Alley Cinema and the dying art of renegade showmanship (May 5)
“Paul Dorobialski saw the light. The blaring white light from a city utility pole, to be precise, the one that had been burned out or smashed or painted over since the early 1990s. The existence of this light meant Dorobialski could not go on with his theater in the true spirit of ‘showmanship.’ No matter that Dorobialski’s theater was a half-paved outdoor alley with a few rows of folding chairs and a film rear-projected onto a slat of discarded screen hung from a loading dock. A fresh city light bulb: such a flimsy thing to end this theater’s run, Dorobialski thought, mulling the discovery during caretaker rounds at the warehouse next door. ‘I came out to do my janitorials, then out to the loading dock, and I looked up and said, “Where the hell did all that light come from? Oh no!” And there it was, bright as could be,’ Dorobialski says. ‘Oh shit.'” [JK]

Photo: Paul Dorobialski

Photo: Paul Dorobialski

I humiliated myself in front of one of the dudes from Cherry Pie (May 26)
“Trouble starts to brew, however, when one of the musicians, the boyfriend of one of my mom’s friends, spots me in the crowd. ‘Hey, is that Matt Wild?’ he asks into the mic as the final notes of a CCR song or whatever ring out. ‘Get up here and play something!’ My mom and her friends look at me, beaming. ‘Yeah! Get up there!’ they say. ‘No, that’s not a good idea,’ I say. ‘Oh, come on!’ they say. ‘I’m not very good,’ I say. They all laugh, as if to say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous! You’re great!'” [MW]

I ate Dave Begel’s “Top 10 Milwaukee foods to eat while you are driving” while I was driving (June 2)
“While I respect his long career in Milwaukee media and his theater criticism is normally insightful, OnMilwaukee columnist Dave Begel’s culture columns can sometimes be so rife with stodgy takes and sloppy wordplay that I can’t finish them. But why do I routinely check out his work when I so often disagree with what he says and how he says it? It’s not because I willfully disregard the tenets of internet culture. No, it’s because I’m hoping Dave Begel writes something nearly as great as when he stumbled upon what I consider the best listicle of all time: Top 10 Milwaukee foods to eat while you are driving.” [Kevin Mueller]

BegelBenjis

We tried (and failed) “Wisconsin’s Largest Pizza Challenge” at Pizza Shuttle (June 9)
“The since-discontinued challenge tasks two participants with taking down a 12-pound, 28-inch diameter hand-tossed pizza (which is still available for purchase on the menu) in just 45 minutes, without being able to leave the table or drink more than a single cup of water. Those who have the intestinal fortitude to finish this imposing pizza in the allotted time take home $500 and, perhaps more valuable, glory. Wanting a chance at the distinction of doing something only a select few people have done (and a bunch of free Pizza Shuttle), Milwaukee Record co-founders/editors Tyler Maas and Matt Wild, and Director of Advertising Josh Hoppert tried, then absolutely failed, Wisconsin’s Largest Pizza Challenge.” [Milwaukee Record staff]

I got a Milwaukee flag tattoo (June 13)
“On June 1, I went to Shogun Tattoo in Bay View and sat in a chair across from Meredith Hall, who gussied up my right forearm with the principal-bucking and highly debated symbol of the city I love. I asked her for one minor modification: to swap out the Native American that, justifiably, has upset some for a Milwaukee Record logo. Hey, I never said the flag was perfect as-is! After about three hours and minimal discomfort, I was left with my first tattoo, zero regrets, and a timeless emblem of what Milwaukee means to me.” [TM]

I hung out with the mayor of Cudahy (June 15)
“‘People say Cudahy stinks,’ Hohenfeldt said, inhaling deeply mid-thought and cracking a smile. ‘Sure do!'” [TM]

I used Summerfest shuttles as my personal taxi service (July 7)
“I paced back and forth down shuttle row, debating where I would go with my few remaining trips. The stupidity of this endeavor had set in hours ago. There was still time to forget this self-assigned joyless ride. ‘Should I go into Summerfest and see some bands?’ I pondered. Suddenly, I overheard a cover band playing Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ To quote the band, ‘Never mind.’ Maybe this bus thing wasn’t so bad after all. Finally, I settled on a shuttle shared by Nomad, Malone’s Club Brady, Hi Hat, and Garage. Dope Folks co-owner John Kuester walked off that same bus and asked me what I was there to see. ‘The shuttles,’ I said, embarrassed.” [TM]

I beaned Milwaukee Brewers great Geoff Jenkins with a wiffle ball (July 14)
“Our first match-up was against Major Goolsby’s 1, which was naturally the first of two teams fielded (carpeted?) by the downtown sports bar. A potential Goolsby’s 1 vs. Goolsby’s 2 match-up had the crowd salivating, but with Gumby and Jenks waiting, we were poised to send these guys down Canal Street crying.” [Mark Flehmer]

Lake Park’s Pokemon Go meeting was boring, livid, and gloriously absurd (September 8)
“Then came the Q&A. Oh dear, the Q&A. It was a Q&A that Peltz introduced with the kind of wariness and caution usually reserved for scenes in movies where someone walks someone else through a bomb diffusion over the phone. Peltz asked for calm. She asked for respect. She asked for concise questions. She asked for questions, period. She got none of it.” [MW]

The “Milwaukee Fuck It List”: My city through my mom’s eyes (September 14)
“Beverages and burgers in our bellies, we made our way to Veterans Park to…yep, fly fucking kites. Our group of grown-ass adults gathered between a jogging path and a fenced off area where a car show was taking place to try to fly cheap kites on a hot and humid day that was utterly devoid of anything resembling wind. It sucked. My mom tried to make the most of it, as puzzled strangers looked on. My sister scolded me for complaining. I think we all hated it. After one awful hour, we gave our kites to kids in our vicinity and got the fuck out of there.” [TM]

Expire bow out with love, not regret (September 22)
“‘I know what hardcore did for me, being a kid that didn’t know what was going on,’ Dear says. ‘If we potentially were that band for just one kid every night, a band that turned them onto the music and showed them something new, I couldn’t ask for anything more.'” [Sahan Jayasuriya]

St. Francis needs to step up its bench game (September 27)
“Given its pious past, the small southeastern Wisconsin city has only recently come around to making a concerted effort to add amenities like bars, restaurants, a brew pub, and retailers. Though quiet, this saintly suburb is home to some of the most striking views of Lake Michigan metro Milwaukee has to offer. It’s home to lush, untouched landscapes. It hosts quaint tree-covered neighborhoods. Of course, most of those views can only be enjoyed whilst standing or with necks craned at unnatural angles. You see, St. Francis needs to step up its bench game.” [TM]

stfrancisbench6

Hey Milwaukee: If we want to save the Domes we should probably start going to the Domes (October 5)
“The doors to the still-closed Desert Dome, meanwhile, were blocked off with some plants. No matter—after my daughter pushed the automatic door button (kids love these things), one of the doors simply swung open. Huh. Nearby was a bulletin board filled with ‘Desert Dome Observations’ and pictures of blooming cacti. ‘Since you can’t experience the cacti this season,’ a sign read, ‘we’re bringing their flowers to you! (In pictures, anyway!)’ It was the kind of delightfully adorable and vaguely heartbreaking display that perfectly summed up the ever-so-quaint and kitschy Domes, and a bit of DIY craftiness that reminded me of my daughter’s day care project where her class took a walk in the woods and some kid saw a worm or something.” [MW]

tropicaldome1

I watched American Movie for the first time: A minute-by-minute recap (October 26)
“Living in Milwaukee for the past six years, being a member of the arts community, and having a general interest in weird-ass shit, it’s astounding that I’ve never seen Chris Smith’s 1999 documentary American Movie. I see the film’s star and subject Mark Borchardt all over Milwaukee, but have remained unaware of how he gained such notoriety. After hearing Mark blurt out something about a peanut monster at the recent Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, I decided to embark on a journey to find out why this man is the poster boy of the city’s ’90s film scene. Here’s a minute-by-minute recap of my first viewing of American Movie.” [Maggie Iken]

Hot ‘n Now or never: Driving thru the edge of extinction (November 17)
“As we were taking our last bites, a funeral procession passed. As the motorcade slowly rolled by, I came to realize this entire trip—sobering and disappointing as it was—was a four-state, 500-mile funeral procession of sorts. In a way, I was saying farewell to one of the few pieces of my youth that, until that very moment, didn’t have the chance to have its flavors, smells, associated feelings, and augmented memories marred by adulthood. While I’m ecstatic for Nick and his wife, I think I was also saying goodbye to the carefree friendship we built when we had our whole lives ahead of us.” [TM]

hotnnowend

X