Pulse of the City

Editor Kurt Chandler’s monthly letter to our readers.

In two of our stories this month, I came across the word “pulse” when used to describe the city’s rhythm and excitement. In our biking guide, Mauriah Kraker talks about getting around daily by bicycle while living in New York, Taiwan, Thailand and, now, in her hometown of Milwaukee. As she told freelance writer Jenna Kashou, “For me, walking and biking a city allows me to feel a city’s pulse in a way cars do not.”

The devotion to two-wheeling has come a long way in southeastern Wisconsin. Although the Oak Leaf Trail that encircles Milwaukee County dates back to 1939, we’ve seen a big addition in the past decade of paved off-street trails and dedicated on-street lanes, from the Hank Aaron State Trail and Beerline Trail to green bike lanes in Riverwest and Wauwatosa. The robust biking scene adds a distinct texture to the fabric of city life.

For “Country Homes, City Ties,” writer Sara Rae Lancaster interviewed four couples who live in rural homes, yet keep strong connections to Milwaukee. Some work and volunteer in the city; one couple owns a small Downtown condo.

Ken and Cindy Gear live in western Waukesha County, but they visit the city often. Writes Lancaster: “To strike a balance between the solace of their rural retreat and their intent to stay in rhythm with the pulse of the city, the Gears take a mini-getaway every few months to one of Milwaukee’s Downtown hotels. ‘We can go Downtown for an event, stay at the Pfister for a night or two,’” says Cindy.

They also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

“Milwaukee is a great city,” Cindy says. “We recognize the challenge faced in Milwaukee’s disadvantaged areas and feel blessed we can give back.”

Metro Milwaukee often is portrayed against a backdrop of political divisiveness. But like the cycling community, these “country neighbors” add to the beat and pulse of Milwaukee in their own rite. No matter the ZIP code, the gravitational pull of a city can fulfill and enrich a person’s life.

Contest alert!

Last month, with our “Epicure’s Guide to Milwaukee,” I challenged readers to come up with a replacement for the overused term “foodie.” As an incentive for readers, I offered a free subscription to the magazine and lunch at Shorewood’s Three Lion’s Pub for the best alternative.

I’m happy to report we received a number of, um, interesting suggestions.

Some readers relied on the thesaurus, suggesting Gourmand, Gastronomist, Food Culturist. (Been there, used that.) Others were more inventive, maybe too inventive, with Pablum Pursuer, Cuizinartiste and Delivour – a combination of “delicious” and “devour.”

Still others tried epic alliteration: Veggievittle Vivants, as a term for vegetarians. Vishnuvittle Vivants, for Indian food lovers. Vittle Vigilantes, for food inspectors…. You get the idea.

And some were just plain weird: Platterpup? Gastroperp? Foodpope? Huh?

I took the high road, choosing an original and sophisticated word: Afoodionado.

Although it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, it has a pleasant foreign sound to it. (Italian?) And it gets the point across.

So congratulations to winner Chris Genellie from Sussex. We’ll try to work your “afoodionado” into our food stories in the future.

‘Pulse of the City’ appears in the April, 2015, issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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Kurt Chandler began working at Milwaukee Magazine in 1998 as a senior editor, writing investigative articles, profiles, narratives and commentaries. He was editor in chief from August 2013-November 2015. An award-winning writer, Chandler has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, editor and author. He has been published in a number of metro newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Minneapolis Star Tribune, to Marie Claire, The Writer, and Salon.com. He also has authored, coauthored or edited 12 books. His writing awards are many: He has won the National Headliners Award for magazine writing five times. He has been named Writer of the Year by the City & Regional Magazine Association, and Journalist of the Year by the Milwaukee Press Club. As a staff writer with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and chosen as a finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Award. In previous lives, Chandler worked construction, drove a cab and played the banjo (not necessarily at the same time). He has toiled as a writer and journalist for three decades now and, unmindful of his sage father’s advice, has nothing to fall back on. Yet he is not without a specialized set of skills: He can take notes in the dark and is pretty good with active verbs.