Every Friday, Off The Record looks to other Milwaukee publications (and beyond) for bits of news we missed throughout the week.
• Though there’s never a shortage of #SceneBeef to go around, the Milwaukee music scene of 2017 is a relatively calm and taciturn place. Venues book shows, artists play shows, people attend shows. Fun times. But 10 years ago, behind the scenes, the shit was hitting the fan. Venue owners were threatening to beat people up, anonymous sources were talking trash, and everyone just kind of hated each other. Fun times!
Yes, a 2007 Milwaukee Magazine piece entitled “Combat Rock” sheds a light on the insanity of yesteryear. It starts with the tale of Miramar Theatre owner Bill Stace, who had recently challenged his rival, Shank Hall owner Peter Jest, to a boxing match. “I find out when he’s with other people, he talks real big about it,” Stace, then 53, says in the article. “Well, come on, dude, I’m ready to rock. You’re younger than me, you’re bigger than me, I don’t care. I’ll smack you down.”
It only gets crazier from there, with ego-fueled shit-talking about Jest and recent Pabst Theater hire Gary Witt, some nice comments from Cactus Club owner Eric Uecke, and even more shit-talking about Jest and Witt. Some highlights:
So will Jest ever box Bill Stace? “I don’t want to do it. I’d kill him,” Jest says. “I’m not a violent person. That’s all I need—I’d knock the poor guy out, and then it would be, ‘Peter Jest Wallops Club Owner.'”
Insiders peg Gary Witt, executive director of the Pabst and Riverside theaters, as a controlling, arrogant bully. “He’s a brat with his hands in Michael Cudahy’s pockets,” says one source.
Witt never referred to [Jest] by name in our interviews, only as “that guy who runs Shank Hall” or by the needling nickname he coined for his competitor: “Jack Ruby.”
For some, the self-congratulatory tone is too much. “[Witt’s] not revolutionizing shit,” says one insider. “You can’t herald him a hero—he’s just doing his job. These are popular bands he’s bringing in and they sell records.”
It would probably come as a great shock to both of them because they don’t get along, but Jest and Gary Witt are a lot alike, says one source. “They’ve got the same mindset. They don’t treat people very well, they’re both conceited and have big egos.”
Eric Uecke of the Cactus Club also got repeat nominations for nice guy status, as did Bill Stace. But in the midst of all the back-patting came a shocker. “I will surprise you, and I will put Peter [Jest] in the nice guy category,” says a source. [Milwaukee Magazine]
• Speaking of Bill Stace, the now-former Miramar owner is seeking some cash for a project to remix and remaster a treasure trove of Milwaukee albums and songs from 1982 on. “Once this is underway, I would give them to a radio station or stations that support local music: WMSE or 88.9FM,” Stace says. [OnMilwaukee]
• More Oak and Loc news (no one calls it that)? Yes, more Oak and Loc news (seriously, no one call it that). That junky Cousins Subs on the corner of Oakland and Locust is officially set to be demolished and replaced with—say it with us!—a five-story, 55-unit, mixed-use apartment building. Rent for one- and two-bedroom units will clock in at $900-$1,800 per month. [Urban Milwaukee]
• Bed Of Nails, the new full-length album from (ORB), is currently streaming. It’s also currently great. [Bandcamp]
• If Milwaukee hasn’t reached peak streetcar yet, it has now. Here’s a look at the Cudahy-based company that’s making (and donating) the floors for the thing. [Urban Milwaukee]
• More streetcar news? Yes, more streetcar news. Milwaukee has made a second bid for a $20 million federal grant to extend the thing. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Twenty of the 22 Sculpture Milwaukee pieces are being packed up and shipped away for the season. Three of the pieces were purchased, and work is already underway for the 2018 installment. [Urban Milwaukee]
• Twisted Path, 2018 S. First St., is planning to add 1,500 square feet to its tasting room. That tasting room, formerly Dock 18 Cocktail Lounge, will now be known as Twisted Path Distillery. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Over at Urban Milwaukee, Bruce Murphy looked into the seeeeeecrets of Foxconn. [Urban Milwaukee]
• More Conan news? Yes, more Conan news. Here’s the full “Clueless Gamer” segment with Conan O’Brien and Aaron Rodgers. [YouTube]
• Fancy supper club Supper (natch), 1962 N. Prospect Ave., has changed its concept to a “supper table.” Oh, and it’s added less expensive menu options. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• From the “Some things never change, thank god” department: The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been screening at the Oriental Theatre for more than 30 years, and shows no sign of slowing down. [WUWM]
• Italian restaurant Osteria—on hiatus for six years—will return to downtown Milwaukee as early as next spring. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Milwaukee apparel company Brew City Brand has added a second retail kiosk at the General Mitchell International Airport. It’s the company’s fifth location overall. Brew City Brand is best known for its “Good Land” T-shirts. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Maroon 5 is coming to the soon-to-be new Bucks arena! [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• The soon-to-be old Bucks arena is going to be demolished! [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Have a great weekend, Milwaukee!