Insider Reviews: July

Jaill’s new album, Material Fix at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, a new book on ‘Major League,” 42 Ale House, and Rock Paper Scissors.

Milwaukee Proud

This new Milwaukee Street shop brings to mind small home décor and accessory stores like Bay View’s Sparrow Collective, Shorewood’s The Waxwing, and Hometown Established in Walker’s Point. It’s also a little bit like Water Street’s short-lived Third Coast Style in its variety of Milwaukee-made offerings that includes candles, jewelry and bees wax lip balm. But what sets Rock Paper Scissors (757 N. Milwaukee St.) apart are its impressionistic hand-painted glass vases by Dye Drop, Badseed’s concrete home décor pieces, and the hand-woven throw blankets and rugs by One Who Weaves. These reasonably priced pieces, among others, are helpful reminders that Milwaukee pride doesn’t always have to be screen-printed on your sleeve. (Claire Hanan)

Dose of Fiber

We used to call it “fiber art,” a term that isolated this art practice within craft. But these boundaries have dissolved. John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Material Fix (through Oct. 11, part of the Toward Textiles series) embraces textiles and fibers in a tactile triumph of a show centered on notions of the sensual, the physical and the felt. Polly Apfelbaum’s Bring Back the Funk (2013) looks like a crazy quilt sprawled on the floor. We can’t touch, but we can marvel over the material’s mercurial brilliance. Louise Bourgeois’ fabric wall compositions are terse and suggestive of the domestic – threadbare and stained. Room after room features artwork made with linen, hair, recycled Starbucks cups, lace, knitting and silk, providing a haptic experience seen and felt in equal parts. (Debra Brehmer)

0715_JAILL_coverJaill Time

After receiving its big break from Sub Pop, the renowned Seattle independent record label that put out the band’s last two albums (2010’s That’s How We Burn and 2012’s Traps), Jaill returns, shirt untucked, slightly slouched and eyes glazed on the delirious and downright fun Brain Cream, which comes courtesy of its new label, SoCal’s Burger Records. The surreal garage-pop four-piece sounds more loose and carefree than before, especially on self-effacing, confessional ballad “Chocolate Poison Time” and the relaxed, jangly guitar pop of “Symptoms,” which laments the effects of staying out in the sun too long. In fact, the 12-track, 39-minute album flutters by like a gentle Lake Michigan breeze that cools down a sweltering summer afternoon. (Kevin Mueller)

Geek Squad

The force is strong with the 42 Lounge. So much so that the Downtown bar, which caters to all things nerdy, has expanded its empire to St. Francis. 42 Ale House (3807 S. Packard Ave.) is a geeky extension that blends PlayStation and Xbox playing, gaming and a pub food menu that references characters from video games, comic books, and The Hobbit and Harry Potter books. You get the idea. When I sat down at the bar, I was pleasantly surprised by a solid tap list of 24 beers and quite a few bottle choices. TVs surrounding the bar were showing either the “Futurama” animated sitcom or live streams of people competing in a role-playing video game that I wasn’t familiar with – the 42 Ale House version of sports. Whether or not you’re into “World of Warcraft,” I expect that the spot’s welcoming vibe, ample space and huge patio will prove to be a tractor beam for nerd and non-nerd alike. (Dan Murphy)

Major Memories

During the long, 100-degree-hot summer of 1988, a Hollywood film crew descended on MKE to shoot a baseball comedy, not about the Brewers, but the Cleveland Indians, who were beloved by die-hard fans but best known for losing. Major League’s cast featured a few big Hollywood names, and even a local legend – Bob Uecker – in the pivotal role of sportscaster Harry Doyle (who coined the nugget, “Juuuust a bit outside.”). Author Jonathan Knight did the vital legwork to bring The Making of Major League (Gray & Company) to life. Of the cast and crew interviews, the most vivid quotes come from Charlie Sheen, who plays volatile (naturally) pitcher Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn. Miller Park pays movie homage on July 21 with its “Major League Night” promotion, in which select ticket holders receive a talking Harry Doyle bobblehead. (Ann Christenson)




Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.