Listen to the names of the lives lost to police violence

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These are 100 names of victims that have lost their lives due to systematic racism and police brutality. This is a limited list of deaths, curated by NPR, since Eric Garner’s death in July 2014. We are taking the time to #saytheirnames because it is more than a hashtag. To create transformative change and acknowledge that racism and mass violence is prevalent. Say their names and remember their stories. 

#saytheirnames | Courtesy of NRP
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Hundreds of Milwaukee protesters demand justice for George Floyd

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Protests erupted across the nation this week in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man from Minneapolis who was killed while in police custody on Monday, May 25. Today, one of the officers involved was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Earlier this week, bystander video of his death circulated online, where multiple officers were seen kneeling on Floyd’s body. In the days following, protesters hit the streets in Minneapolis, with the situation eventually escalating to riots and looting in some areas.

But here in Milwaukee today, it was a much different picture.

Hundreds of protesters turned out — peacefully — at 27th and Center streets Friday afternoon. Community leaders led the crowd in chants at the busy intersection, prompting those driving by to sound their horns in solidarity.

After the assembly, the group marched in the streets, walking for miles along Fond Du Lac Avenue and assembling at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. As of the time of this writing, all protests have remained nonviolent.

88Nine was on scene at the beginning of the gathering and talked to participants. Listen to the audio story below.

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Elevating Milwaukee’s Asian Pacific Americans doesn’t end with the close of Asian Pacific Heritage Month

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While Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is coming to a close, there are organizations and groups working in our city to continue to raise the visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders all year long. One such group is ElevAsian

Founded four years ago by local advocates May yer Thao, Erik Kennedy, Shary Tran, and Jessica Boling, ElevAsian’s mission statement reads, “ElevAsian is a collective of Asian Pacific Americans in Greater Milwaukee coming together to elevate the visibility and success of our Asian community.”

Before the group was officially formed, the local advocates often saw one another at events around the city and noticed that they were frequently being asked to join committees or boards as representatives of Milwaukee’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population. After building a friendship, they decided that they wanted to help open doors for other AAPI professionals and to create a sense of community and unity among AAPIs in Milwaukee and, thus, ElevAsian was created.

Using a private Facebook group, ElevAsian has over 100 members who utilize the Facebook page to “show up and stand together as a group.” Their page also offers a way for Milwaukee’s AAPI professionals to connect and build relationships based on trust, community, and a shared purpose, which is why the group remains private. 

ElevAsian also works with community partners, key stakeholders and local businesses to educate and advocate for representation and visibility of AAPI professionals across sectors in a variety of ways. The group has adopted the hashtag #ElevAsian that they utilize to show their support for events and groups that are in alignment with their mission and who offer reciprocal support, with the intention of creating community.

Kennedy states that they “didn’t realize how fast the group would organically grow” and that numerous people have reached out to learn more about ElevAsian and to highlight the organization on their platforms – from podcasters to local media organizations. AAPIs from outside of Milwaukee are also taking notice of ElevAsian. Individuals from the Fox Valley, Eau Claire, and Central Wisconsin have reached out to the group to learn about the impact that they’re having here in our city and how those successes can span to other parts of our state.

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the group has used social media to raise awareness regarding the history and leadership of AAPIs both in Milwaukee and in the United States. During May, the group posted once per day, highlighting stories that aimed to reflect all the different cultures within the Asian identity and leveraging other things that were happening to celebrate the month, like PBS’s month-long programming, to create conversation.

ElevAsian has received copious amounts of positive feedback from their posts, often shared on founders’ personal Facebook pages, which, in turn, has created conversation, awareness, and sharing.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian sentiments and xenophobic attacks towards AAPIs have been on the rise. Because of this, Boling states that she, along with many AAPIs, are feeling on-edge and are unsure of how to navigate this unfamiliar environment. In response to this, members of ElevAsian have worked with other community members to create a task force called the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin. Boling states that the coalition is meant to be “proactive instead of reactive to the situation. Bringing the coalition together allows us to really have some sense of control over the situation.”

Thao says, “This is probably the first time in our history here in Milwaukee that as many, as diverse of a group within our Asian American community that we’ve come together to form this coalition. I am really excited to see the relationships because this isn’t just to address the anti-Asian sentiments. We hope that it will be sustainable so that we can all support each other…. And how that contributes to our Asian American movement here in Milwaukee.”

When asked what ways others can support our AAPI population, Tran says, “…being open to learning and open to hearing our stories, seeking out those stories and those opportunities to learn about the different cultures, and also to stand as an ally with us when you do hear comments or things that are happening to people that are discriminatory and being able to speak up….”

In addition to these action items, Kennedy states that “…removing your lens to understand others and who they are as individuals is important.” Purchasing from local Asian-owned businesses and restaurants is another way to support Milwaukee’s AAPI community. Check out ElevAsian’s website for a full catalog of Asian-owned restaurants and businesses to support.

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Peek backstage at the Washington Park bandshell

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With the weather getting warmer, you might be spending more time — at a safe distance, of course — in the local parks.

And if Washington Park is on your list of parks to visit this summer, be sure to check out the Blatz Temple of Music, better known as the Washington Park Bandshell, a beautiful art-deco attraction in one of Milwaukee largest parks.

Washington Park Bandshell. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com.

The bandshell was constructed in in 1938 thanks to a donation from Emil Blatz. A lifelong music lover, he aimed to attract a professional orchestra to Milwaukee, on par with fine arts found in larger cities.

In its nearly 100 year history, the bandshell has welcomed former president Barack Obama, plus jazz legends, live opera and theater. Recently, it found new use with an ongoing concert series, Washington Park Wednesdays, which is currently on pause.

Backstage, there are dressing rooms for performers and orchestra members, enough to accommodate larger casts and productions.

Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com.
Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com.

OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dug into the history of the Milwaukee landmark, and we spend this entire episode of Urban Spelunking on its history and use.

Listen to the episode, and read much more in Bobby’s expanded story posted at OnMilwaukee.

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Milky Way Drive-In will screen ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Knives Out, ‘Shrek’ and more its opening week

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It’s opening day for Franklin’s Milky Way Drive-In. Last week the Milwaukee Milkmen baseball team announced it was hosting the first Milwaukee-area drive-in theater in nearly 20 years at Franklin’s Ballpark Commons starting Memorial Day weekend, and now we know what’s playing. Its opening week schedule features classic and recent blockbusters including “Jurassic Park,” “Knives Out,” “Shrek” and “Sonic The Hedgehog.”

Admission is $35 per car. Tickets can be purchased at the theater’s website, and food and drinks will be sold through the ballpark’s concessions stands and from food trucks via app. There will be several ways to listen to the movies, either through outdoor speakers, the radio or an app.

More information is available at the drive-in’s website; the complete opening week schedule is below.

Some of the opening week movies

May 22

6 p.m. – “Abominable”
8:45 p.m. – “Hobbs & Shaw”

May 23

5 p.m. – “Shrek”
7:45 p.m. – “Super 8”
10:30 p.m. – “The Gentlemen”

May 24

3 p.m. – “The Boss Baby”
6 p.m. – “Sonic the Hedgehog”
8:45 p.m. – “Knives Out”

May 25

3 p.m. – “The Secret Life of Pets 2”
6 p.m. – “Men in Black International”
8:45 p.m. – “Jurassic Park”

May 26

6 p.m. – “Hotel for Dogs”
8:45 p.m. – “The Gentlemen”

May 27

6 p.m. – “Sonic the Hedgehog”
8:45 p.m. – “Knives Out”

May 28

6 p.m. – “The Secret Life of Pets 2”
8:45 p.m. – “Hobbs & Shaw”

May 29

6 p.m. – “Shrek”
8:45 p.m. – “The Goonies”

May 30

5 p.m. – “The Boss Baby”
7:45 p.m. – “Men in Black International”
10:30 p.m. – “The Lodge”

May 31

3 p.m. – “Abominable”
6 p.m. – “Mamma Mia”
8:45 p.m. – “Ted”

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50 years ago, Jimi Hendrix played his final show in Milwaukee

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During this time when a live concert experience seems so far away, it has been oddly comforting to reminisce about past live shows. More than ever before, I’m finding myself spending time going through my media library on my iPhone, zooming in on old concert photos, doing my best to reimagine the in-person experience.

But 50 years ago, a concert was an entirely different experience. We didn’t have supercomputers in our pockets, set lists weren’t leaked online; the concert was a moment in time, meant to exist only there, for those in the room.

And just imagine being in the room for a Jimi Hendrix show.

Jimi Hendrix onstage at the Milwaukee Auditorium, May 1, 1970. Photo courtesy of Mark Richards / Rob Lewis Collection.

During his terribly short career, Jimi Hendrix made only two stops in Milwaukee. His first stage was inside a downtown Milwaukee hotel ballroom in 1968. Then, just two years later, he played his final concert at the Milwaukee Auditorium (now the Miller High Life Theater) on May 1, 1970.

By all accounts, the show was a rowdy one. Newspaper reviews noted the exceptional loudness of the concert but were lukewarm on Hendrix’s performance. And, of course, no one knew it would be his last time in Milwaukee.

The concert poster, designed by Brad Cantwell, featured the same artwork as the newspaper ad. The design was used in multiple cities. Photo courtesy of Steve Orth/Facebook.

This week on Urban Spelunking, we’re going back 50 years in Milwaukee history to revisit the music icon’s final show in the city. OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo uncovered original concert reviews published after both of Hendrix’s shows, plus a fuzzy recording of the actual 1970 concert at the Auditorium.

Listen to this week’s podcast below, and go to OnMilwaukee.com to read Bobby’s complete story with pictures, additional interviews and archive audio.

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Hear from the class of 2020 on how they are getting through their graduation season

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The act of graduating is monumental. No matter how long it takes for an individual to obtain a degree or even your grade point average, completing an education is an accomplishment.

This season, schools across the country have postponed or canceled their graduation ceremonies to practice safety measures. Although students are unable to celebrate in person, we talked to a few students from the class of 2020 to hear from them personally.

University graduate Claire Neville | Courtesy of Claire Neville

I virtually connected with our spring intern, Claire Neville, who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, receiving a degree in Digital Arts and Culture, as well as Advertising and Public Relations. Below is the transcribed interview.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a ceremony and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is extending it to October. How are you feeling about that?

I’ve known ever since elementary school that I’m going to high school, going to graduate college but I didn’t realize I wanted to (walk across the stage) until we were told it wasn’t going to be a possibility. Now it’s moved to October. I feel it’s going to be so far removed. I’ve heard this from so many of our friends as well. It’s never going to be the same. 

Yeah, it’s not even just about walking down the stage. During your last months, you’re on campus, hanging out with friends and savoring those memories. I did want to go on the plus side, are you doing anything with family or friends?

I got a care package from my mom yesterday because I am staying in Milwaukee. She sent a makeshift graduation party with a sign that said, “Congrats Grad,” and champagne glasses and confetti.

That’s super cute, I love that! I know people hate this question, “You’re graduating, what’s next?,” but is there any excitement or fear? What’s the main emotion when entering this new chapter of adulthood?

 I don’t even know if fear is the right word, it’s a lot of uncertainty. I know in the end it will end up fine. It’s an interesting time to be looking for a job and it’s like all the stress of graduating with 10 times more pressure.

In general, what is something that you are looking forward to? 

I am forward to the summer in Milwaukee. Summer in Milwaukee is my favorite thing but this summer will look different, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad one. 

It wouldn’t be a representation of the class of 2020 if we didn’t consider the high school graduating class. High school is a tremendous time and senior year is the closing chapter separating someone from adolescence to adulthood.

Our media culture emphasis on an individual “coming-of-age” story. What happens when that part of your life never happens? When you don’t get go to prom, plan a senior skip day, write “see ya later,” in everyone’s yearbook page and walk through those school hallways one last time?

I spoke with high school seniors Elizabeth Bocksenbaum and Huda Saqib to get their perspective. Bocksenbaum said when they have first been informed the rest of the school year would be online, she still had a glimmer of hope, once the realization hit, Bocksenbaum was overwhelmed.

“I was the lead in my school play and that got completely shut down,” said Bocksenbaum. “Athletes all throughout four years of high school have been looking forward to never got to play their final season.”

Although it may seem like the world is on pause, Saqib said she’s trying to make the best of the situation, focusing her attention on attending university.

Saqib will be attending University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee next fall while Bocksenbaum opted on the out of-state route by enrolling in Butler University in Indiana. In Saqib’s case, she the first individual in her immediate family to graduate high school.

“My mom’s first daughter is graduating so she’s a bit sad,” said Saqib. “It’s not the same but I know my immediate family will celebrate with me.”

Both Bocksenbaum said that being in transitional age and dealing with a global pandemic gave them insight into the world they are entering. 

“Newscasters, politicians and people always mention the youth and how we are thing big movement that always pushes forward these new ideas,” said Bocksenbaum. “In that sense, I am very excited because we’re loud, we’re active and we’re angry. We are ready for change.”   

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How are Milwaukee parents surviving this new normal?

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Families can look different from household to household. One thing that’s similar, though, is during this critical time, we are all going through this together.

We wanted to give parents an opportunity to check in, voice their struggles, share their moments of beauty and have some time to just talk. These are their stories.

Amber Storm and Morgan Bischoff

There’s always the pressure to be the perfect parent. Whether you are a single parent of one or a parent of four, the stress is constant. While many quarantining at home are dealing with boredom and actively looking for entertainment, that’s not the case for many parents, who feel there’s not enough time in the day.

We spoke with Amber Storm, 88Nine’s development systems manager and mother of four and Morgan Bischoff single mother of her four-year-old daughter to hear how their routines have changed.

Tarek Zraik and Kobina Shaffa

Together with his wife, Tareq Zraik has been working from home while raising their three-year-old son. Before quarantine, Zraik always left his work and home life separate. Now his days are described as a “mad dash.”

When I asked Kobina Shaffa if he faced any anxieties while balancing life as a father and essential worker, he responded that the better term to describe his state was more aware. As a precaution, Shaffa changes out of his scrubs before hanging out with his family, something he’s never done before.

Martha Cannon and Dave Zylstra

When her daughter’s high school abruptly closed last year, Martha Cannon decided to give homeschooling a try while planning their next move. Martha also runs her own business from home, so adding teaching a high school sophomore into her daily routine, she says, was quite an adjustment. One upside is that when the pandemic hit in March, her family already had an efficient system established at home. Hear what she learned early on as a homeschooling parent in the audio story below.

Along with his wife who is a certified teacher, Dave Zylstra already had experience teaching at home. As the new art teacher to his daughters, ages 9 and 12, Dave has spent his days splitting time between cooking and teaching, all while keeping his children creative and occupied. He has been furloughed during the pandemic, but he is eager to get back to work in his position as art director for the Shepherd Express. In the meantime, he shares how his family has been getting by during the quarantine, all under one roof.

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The Milwaukee area is finally getting a drive-in theater, the Milky Way Drive-In

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It’s been nearly 20 years since the Milwaukee area’s last drive-in movie theater, Franklin’s 41 Twin Outdoor, shut down in 2001, but a new theater is coming to finally fill that void. The Milwaukee Milkmen baseball team announced today a new pop-up drive-in called Milky Way Drive-In will open at Franklin’s Ballpark Commons Memorial Day weekend.

The theater will run Friday, May 22 through Labor Day, with two shows daily when the Milwaukee Milkmen are playing out of town, a family-oriented early show and more mature movies in the evening. There will also be a late-night feature planned for teens and young adults.

Courtesy Milwaukee Milkmen

According the Milkmen, the Milky Way Drive-In will accommodate 150 vehicles and will screen movies on an outdoor LED screen.

Before the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’ stay at home order, the governor had loosened restrictions on drive-in theaters, allowing them to reopen provided they follow safety precautions and social-distancing guidelines.

“Given our current shared challenge in combating COVID-19 via social distancing, the drive-in concept is a great way to gradually and safely ‘return to community,’” Milwaukee Milkmen owner Mike Zimmerman said in a statement. “The Milky Way Drive-In offers a terrific food-and-entertainment ‘night out’ experience in a safe environment.”

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Newly renovated West Bend theater anxiously awaits reopening

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For one night only — its grand opening — the newly renovated West Bend theater was open to the public.

Then, the pandemic hit. The coronavirus forced the closure of most businesses, including movie theaters, leaving The Bend theater all dressed up with no one able to visit.

A view from the stage. Photo courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com.

The 1929 vaudeville theater recently underwent a massive transformation to the tune of about $4 million, including new seating, projection and restoration of the original artwork.

On the outside, the iconic “WEST BEND” marquee remains. And inside, new paint, restored metal work and modern lighting add charm and beauty.

Photo courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com.

When the theatre is able to reopen, it will curate a lineup of classic movies and nostalgic family films, plus live comedy performances.

Listen to this week’s podcasts for more about the renovation and the owners’ future plans. And be sure read Bobby’s story at OnMilwaukee for pictures and more details.

Photo courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com.
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