The Weekly Ups and Downs: Street Art and Talking Smart

Florida Street got a new mural, Pleasant Street got a new restaurant and Logan Avenue lost a street festival, this week in MKE.

MKE’s Latest Mural

Florida Street welcomed a new mural. The mural’s skeletal outline has been waiting on the side of Luci Boutique since January, and with some warm weather in recent week, the artist, Fred Kaem, finally had the chance to finish it off. It’s a gem – “Greetings From MKE” in yellow across a blue background, with our skyline inside the MKE.  But I do have one gripe. When this guy goes and paints a mural, everyone says it’s “artistic” and “cool” and “a beautiful celebration of the city.” Whenever I go out and try to paint a mural, everyone says, “Oh, dear God, no,” and “That’s obscene. Put some pants on,” and “Someone call the cops.” It’s not fair.


We got ourselves a new restaurant on the East Side. The one-time home of Birch & Butcher is now welcoming Birch. This new joint is “hyper seasonal,” which is good because I’m so damn tired of “somewhat seasonal” restaurants. Chef Kyle Knall has worked in New Orleans and New York before arriving on the MKE scene, and we’re pretty excited to see what new twists he brings to Birch’s hearth-based menu.  

Photo by Kevin Miyazaki/PLATE

A Bigger, Better East Side Art Lot

Summer 2020 is a big, sweaty sun blot on the surface of our collective mind. I recall it as a sort of bewildered fever state, sunburned, staring at the grass while Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” played in the background and hope crumbled. But despite that, there were in fact nice things. The East Side set up an art lot in an unused parking lot. It had hand-painted tables by local artists and became a nice gathering spot for folks to eat their carryout. Well, now the East Side is bringing it back for Summer 2021, but this time we get live music, an art market and mothertruckin’ yoga classes. A little bit of beautification, a little bit of community – it’s a nice thing. Also, please click on the link because I wrote that story and if my stories don’t do well, the digital editor sends my loved ones dead fish.

A photo of artist, Annah Horst and I sealing the completed tables (taken by Tom Hillmeyer)

No Pabst Street Party

Another day, another cancelled thing. Burnhearts’ Pabst Street Party is down for the count with an official cancellation coming this past Tuesday. The party’s return was slated for June 20th, but now all that’s slated for June 20th is sadness.

Snow in Late April

I already wrote a Down a few weeks ago about it snowing this late in the year. I did that, not expecting it to happen again. But here we are – 2:19 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21st, and I’m looking out my window at fat flakes of pure winter snow falling on my shoebill stork lawn ornament. My neighbor, William Gugenspoogen, is standing outside with a lawn mower on one side and a shovel on the other. “Should I shovel or mow the lawn?” he yells up to me with a grin. “This Wisco weather man. It’s bananas.”  

“Attend to the business of your household, William, not the petty whims of capricious nature,” I call out to him. “I hear word that you spend your nights drunken and foolish, when a better man would be attending to his responsibilities. Your children are become slovenly and ill-mannered, and your wife indignant and riotous. Be to them the father and husband you foreswore on the day you made those sacred vows. Disgrace not the name of the house Gugenspoogen. Attend to yourself, and step forth as a man of worthy of honor, not this impudent and useless child I see before me.”

“…well, screw you too, buddy,” Will says and gets to mowing.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.