Milwaukee Record launched on April 7, 2014. Since then, we’ve published nearly 8,000 stories and reached millions upon millions of internet-weary eyeballs. Like the year itself, our output in 2021 was all over the map. Articles of hope and whimsy shared space with cries of fear and frustration. One minute we were pairing Sheryl Crow songs with Bucks players (GO BUCKS), and the next we were watching a 14-hour video of a man sitting in a chair and contemplating the cruel indifference of the universe. It was another hell of a year.

January 13
The night an MCTS driver saved my life (maybe)
“‘What the [EXPLETIVE] do you want?! Get the [EXPLETIVE] out of here!’ I yelled. But before he could respond, like a giant deus ex machina with a Gruber Law Offices ad on the side of it, a bus pulled up and groaned to a halt next to us. The door hissed open, and the driver leaned over with her head cocked in my direction. ‘What are you doing?’ she asked. But she wasn’t talking to me.” [Emily Johnson]

January 19
Why does Milwaukee call Nike Air Force 1s “Dookies”?
“Brandon Reyes, lead bartender and overall Willy Wonka of Bittercube Bar & Bazaar, remembers ‘Dookieman,’ a man who sold them at festivals. ‘Dookieman had flyers everywhere, and would show up with a van full of them along with a bunch of Girbaud jeans,’ he says. ‘He would set up at the Locust Street Festival. I remember someone asked him if the merchandise was fake. He just replied, “I don’t sell fake shit,” and kept it moving.'” [Juan Miguel Martinez]

January 21
We made up a bunch of cocktails using LeRoy Butler’s Leap Premium Vodka
“Wet your whistle and honor two ’90s era Packers at the time with the Wisconsin take on a White Russian. The Reggie White Rushin’ features five parts Leap Premium Vodka, two parts coffee liqueur (we recommend Great Lakes Distillery’s Good Land Coffee Liqueur), and three parts RumChata. Serve over ice in an old fashioned glass. You might not like it, but that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” [Tyler Maas]

March 9
11 Wisconsin Elvises can’t be wrong: Conversations with Elvis impersonators and tribute artists
“Elvis impersonators have been around since shortly after Elvis shook onto the scene in the mid-1950s. They range from informal impersonators to professional Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs). In Wisconsin, they are almost universally optimistic about the future of both the profession and Elvis’s legacy, and they have carried that legacy through the pandemic in their own unique ways. The following list does not include every artist currently performing as Elvis in Wisconsin—which in itself demonstrates how strong the profession is. For the sake of brevity and focus, the list only includes active Elvis performers, not retired ones. Without further adieu, the Elvises of Wisconsin.” [Caleb Westphal]

March 10
Trixie Mattel’s Chipotle burrito bowl and 13 should-be ‘Drag Race’ fast food pairings
“On episode 9 of season 7, self-described ‘glamor toad’ Ginger Minj, along with partner Trixie Mattel, shone in a musical parody where she portrayed egg lady Edith Massey from John Waters’ 1972 film Pink Flamingos. Ginger’s performance in ‘Eggs’ led to a challenge win, and now, has earned her the right to claim a breakfast-menu masterwork as her own. When it comes to both Ginger Minj and the Egg McMuffin, one thing holds true: They’re both ‘neat, petite, and ready to eat.'” [Rachel Seis]

March 12
I wrote about Shellac’s Turner Hall show a year ago (and left out some important details)
“Reading it back, the review now feels incomplete. In describing the typical rote aspects of your typical rote Shellac-brand rock show (what albums were represented in the set, how the question-and-answer banter went, the amount of pummel Todd Trainer delivered behind his drums, etc.), I ended up writing a huge elephant into the room. So let me make up for that now, as the memories of the last show I saw before the world went to shit flood back into my mind.” [DJ Hostettler]

March 18
I did not handle this well
“Is it absurd that I wrote such a raw and nakedly emotional piece a mere week into this thing? In hindsight, yes. But we were all there, weren’t we? Unsure of what was happening, unmoored, out of our element. This was something new, something—sigh—unprecedented. How were we to know it would last longer than a few weeks or months? Hell, that awful celebrity ‘Imagine’ video came out before my piece.” [Matt Wild]

March 29
Mandatory Milwaukee: Facing the nightmare of the Lincoln Memorial lakefront intersection
“Wait…is that another layer of signs down that hill and to the left? So if I want to go west…I have to go east first? That can’t possibly be the case. I want to go west! Guess I have to make a sudden lane change to the right… Aaaaaaand I’m in Bay View. End scene.” [MW]

April 14
The 8 other flags on Milwaukee’s flag, ranked
“To be quite honest, the Milwaukee Flag does have its flaws. The offensive depiction of a Native American and the use of a religious symbol are two examples that come to mind when thinking of ways the otherwise outstanding flag could and should be changed. On the other hand, the fact that there are a total of EIGHT other flags visible on the Milwaukee Flag is one of its absolute best attributes. As you hopefully take some time to celebrate some of your favorite local things this Milwaukee Day, please enjoy these comprehensive and painstakingly thorough rankings of the eight other flags that appear on Milwaukee’s official city flag.” [TM]

May 25
Review: Those cookies from Milwaukee Public Market that Coach Budenholzer likes
“We chased the Brookie with a Peanut Butter Cookie, one of our favorite cookie flavors in general. The C. Adam’s Bakery version did not disappoint whatsoever. The thick and decadent dessert was packed with rich, salty, and glorious peanut butter flavor. Much like Budenholzer himself, this cookie was not flashy in the slightest, but got the job done at a high level. Well worth the $2.75 cost.” [TM]

June 9
Comparing Riverwest Stein NA to R.L. Stine YA
“We missed last week’s announcement because we were recording a podcast or shipping Milwaukee Record tank tops or some shit, but we didn’t want to let this groundbreaking and all-inclusive bit of brewing news pass without some type of acknowledgement. So we picked up a six-pack last weekend, put our regrettable UW-Oshkosh English major we’re still paying for at age 36 to good use, and did what came naturally: pitted the “Amber Near Beer” against the life and work of young adult novelist R.L. Stine.” [TM]

June 11
MKE SEX: Oh yes, let’s talk about pronouns
“Beyond pronouns, it’s becoming more and more important to be very careful and respectful about names. Trans and non-binary (and a whole lot of other folks, too) often choose a new name for themselves that is a reflection of their identity. The birth name they were given is referred to as a ‘dead name,’ and it can be incredibly damaging to the person when it’s used.” [Lucky Tomaszek]

June 15
I thought I’d hate these bird sculptures in Lakeshore State Park but I kinda like them
“Downtown? Cool! But in Lakeshore State Park, a stunningly gorgeous and not-at-all-junked-up island of open fields and prairies and actual birds? WHY? So I biked out to the park this morning. I planned to snap some pictures, scoff at the people surely taking selfies alongside the infernal flock, and then return home to write a withering takedown. ‘Lakeshore State Park finally has some stuff in it,’ the headline would read, or maybe ‘What is this crap?’ A bunch of people would probably get pissed, but oh well. THE TRUTH MUST BE TOLD.” [MW]

June 21
Sheryl Crow likes the Bucks, so we paired players with some of her songs
“Plain and simple: Khris Middleton is the reason the Bucks are still alive. After yet another great regular season, Khash Money truly stepped up when Milwaukee’s back was against the wall against Brooklyn to will the Bucks to the Conference Finals. Much like the song ‘If It Makes You Happy,’ Middleton is overshadowed and under-appreciated, but is quietly very VERY good. Middleton might be our favorite Bucks player and ‘If It Makes You Happy’ is absolutely our favorite Sheryl Crow song.” [TM]

June 30
When Laverne and Shirley met Pennywise: 4 Milwaukee-related stories on FanFiction.net
“Let me say this upfront: I am not here to poke fun at fan fiction, and I am not here to poke fun at people who may have written, say, a steamy Harry Potter story called ‘Harry Potter And The Curse Of The Feminine Attack’ that ships Harry and Hermione and involves a young Voldemort visiting Milwaukee to see Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (don’t ask). It takes a lot of guts to post something you wrote on the internet (I should know), and it takes a TON of guts to post something when you’re not exactly a terrific writer (again, I should know). I applaud these brave souls. The internet would be a less interesting place without them.” [MW]

July 12
The end of quarantine or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Cudahy
“Since I moved to Milwaukee, haven’t I been told that Cudahy is, has ever only been, and will only ever be a blue-collar town, unable or unwilling to support any business that isn’t a bar? Hasn’t it always been used as regional shorthand for ‘unsophisticated’? Are people only moving to Cudahy because they can’t afford Bay View? Is it really losing businesses left and right, unable to support even a Gatorade dispensary? Does it really always smell like bacon?” [Paul Bestul]

July 20
Why not Milwaukee and why not now?
“What if a city that lost its opportunity to host the DNC on account of a pandemic, a city that still celebrates the time it lost the World Series nearly 40 years earlier, a city that is misunderstood and maligned on a national level and despised by much of the very state it supports, a city that’s conditioned to wait for the other shoe to drop and to brace for the absolute worst case scenario finally got its moment of glory? What if the Milwaukee Bucks—be it tonight or on Thursday—took the court and just won the whole goddamn thing?” [TM]

July 22
Relive Thursday’s Bucks parade with these photos and videos
“Things to look for in the first video: a David Gruber cameo, Giannis shooting a basketball into the crowd, and that incredible sense of being surrounded by a zillion people and a championship NBA team and still feeling like Milwaukee is a small, personal, intimate city. What a day.” [Milwaukee Record Staff]

August 2
Reflecting on the time Ron Johnson made me a mix CD
“While scrolling through the listings of local folk gatherings, I came across a group calling itself The Oshkosh Friends of Folk Music. I had no idea what this group was, but it listed someone named Ron Johnson as the contact person. I sent an email explaining that I was a student who ran a folk show on the local college radio station, and that I might be interested in working together with the Oshkosh Friends of Folk Music if the stars aligned. Ron called me back pretty quickly. He seemed rather curious, if not suspicious. ‘So, what kind of music do you play on your show?’ he asked. I explained that the show focused on a lot of traditional folk and blues recordings from the 1920s and 1930s. At first, silence. Then Ron declared, ‘Well, I happen to think that a lot of that old folk music is horseshit.'” [Barry Robert Weber]

August 11
Watch and weep as the old La Fuente on 5th gets knocked down
“We visited the demolition site Tuesday afternoon and witnessed the knocking-down of the remaining chunk of the north half of La Fuente. The warehouse was already gone. ‘Taste La Fun’ the La Fuente sign read before it crumbled into dust, a holdover from its Nomad Nacional days. Taste the fun, indeed.” [MW]

August 24
Blue Ox Music Festival returns beautifully in 2021
“2 p.m.: We see a guy with a Kool-Aid tattoo on his calf and an older gentleman who looks like the Monopoly guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Plus, One Way Traffic drops some great folky bluegrass on the Side Stage. All’s well today!” [Josh Hoppert]

September 3
Taped Music Review: Turning My Luck Around
“While taking my pre-review lap around the Summerfest grounds, I noticed a significant number of vendors had prize wheels. Not being a fan of promotional gimmicks or being actively marketed to, I typically avoid these things. However, I made the sudden decision to abandon my Taped Music review and a site that I associated with perennial disappointment and, instead, try to turn my luck around by spinning every one of these wheels to see what gifts the universe might offer.” [TM]

September 10
The sound effects Michael Winslow did at Summerfest, ranked
“In total, ‘The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects’ treated a crowd of—unfounded estimation alert!—upwards of 300 people at the show’s peak to 35 minutes of celebrity impersonations, electronic impressions, song parodies, vocal chord-defying beatboxing, and otherworldly guitar mimicry. Sure, it was no Wilco. Hell, it wasn’t even the Goo Goo Dolls, but it was fun to see and actually quite impressive to watch in person.” [TM]

September 25
Pizza Man plumbing has been leaking into bar next door; Pizza Man employees “voluntarily resign”
“After spying some water-logged chatter on social media, we stopped by Henry’s Friday night and discovered a tale of two establishments. On one side (Henry’s), we found a bar that had been putting up with leaks from its neighbor for years. On the other side (Pizza Man), we found a group of about eight employees that had refused to work hours earlier because of those leaks. Those employees were now former employees, and they had stopped by Henry’s in a show of solidarity with the beleaguered bar. Henry’s, in turn, was treating them to a round of shots.” [MW]

October 14
I watched a 14-hour video of a man sitting in a chair
“I suppose I should answer the question that 8,000 people who won’t read this article will ask anyway: Why? Why am I watching a 14-hour video of a man sitting in a chair? I don’t know, but I do know that I wouldn’t subject myself to just any 14-hour video. When I read the original email from the Portrait Society (‘Is this the most boring film ever made?’) I was intrigued that this would be a 14-hour video involving a person. If it had been a 14-hour video of, say, a tree or a field or a chair without a dad, I wouldn’t have bothered. But the prospect of spending time with another human being for a full day appealed to me. Sure, that other human being would be on a screen, but the idea of that distance appealed to me, too. Maybe that distance appeals to me more than I’d like to admit. I don’t know. Maybe I just want to sit in a chair all day and watch TV.” [MW]

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