Here’s what you missed in Milwaukee this week: September 17
Homage of the Avalon Theater to Norm Macdonald
Norm Macdonald was the funniest comedian we have ever had. The laughter he could get out of a long pause or a weird over-pronunciation was a sight to behold. Not to mention his elaborate and bizarre jokes, his phenomenal talk show appearances, his inspired comic novel / memoir, or just all his hilarious philosophy. In 2019, I went to Cleveland to see him do a show. After the set, he announced that he was at the end of his career and that he was not going to tour anymore. He said it in his ridiculous way, and I assumed it was a joke. When I received the notice that he had passed on Tuesday, I learned that he had actually been battling cancer since 2012. Wait, bad word. Don’t “fight”. To quote Norm himself: “They used to say, ‘Hey! This old man is dead. Now they say ‘Hey he lost his battle.’ This is no way to end your life. “What a loser this guy was. The last thing he did was lose.
Norm was the best, and I don’t say that lightly. Do not believe me ? Start with his run on Weekend Update, which was shamefully cut short when he was fired for joking that OJ Simpson was too much of a murderer. Then witness his triumphant and vengeful return as a guest host. Or that 12 minute serial killer joke. Then the Mangrate. And, of course, his magnum opus: The Moth Joke. And this is just a small sample of Norm’s work.
And here in Milwaukee, the Avalon Theater is showing Norm’s 1998 film. Dirty work This weekend. We’re sad he’s gone, but we’re happy that Milwaukee is paying a well-deserved tribute to this king of comedy.
Roll train skates under the highway
Roll Train, a local skating / exercise company run by Terrance Clarke and Ellen Fine, has had a difficult pandemic year. They lost their studio after COVID and ran out of skates to sell due to supply chain failures. But recently, they’ve found a new way to bring skating to people. They held their classes under I-794 near the Milwaukee Public Market with high intensity skating workouts to lively music.
Now, I would never include a story in this column just for the purpose of using it as a sequence for a rambling and totally unnecessary anecdote about my childhood, but this story reminds me of my first and only skating experience.
I was nine years old. My eyes were wide. My heart was full. And I had not yet crossed that painful border between the cute and the strange. I went to a garage sale, where I bought an old pair of bright orange inline skates. When I returned home full of confidence, I tied them to my feet and started to stumble awkwardly into the block in spurts. I reached the corner, a hundred yards from my house, before the left skate flew under me. I flew to the sidewalk below, scraping my right leg from ankle to knee and brutally twisting my ankle. I cried out in anguish. I tried detaching the pads and found that I could only remove the left one. My right ankle hurt too much to force the skate off. I tried to stay upright, but with a skate still in place, it was hopeless. Desperate, I looked at the houses around me and shouted, “HELP. And God laughed. Kitty Genovese’s ghost shook its head sadly. I was myself. I crawled home, dragging my injured, bloody leg behind me. And as I crawled, naivety left my young soul like hot butter from a freshly baked Kiev chicken. I saw that we are doomed to pain and that the world will watch with indifference. I saw the bitter self-confidence that is due to every man until his cruel and unworthy death. I saw that Suzie from school would never love me because I ripped my shorts while playing dodge ball and everyone laughed. I looked into the abyss, and when I finally got home and my dad pulled that damn skate off my foot, the abyss looked at me too.
So yes… this story reminded me of that.
Christian Yelich offers 10,000 tickets
Christian Yelich spent about double my annual salary on Brewers tickets for the next series against the Cardinals. The star player then gave them all to the fans as a thank you for our kindness. I would have grabbed one, but the online giveaway encountered some technical difficulties that messed up the process. By the time I returned to the site, the tickets had all been claimed. It is as my old great-uncle always said: “The industrial revolution and its consequences were a disaster for the human race. I wonder what happened to him?
The return of Shamrock Shuffle
The majestic and plump Archer Parquette came from the masthead, carrying a column with ups and downs printed on it. A yellow, beltless dressing gown gently supported itself behind him in the soft morning air. He held the column up and intoned:
–After being delayed in March, the annual Shamrock Shuffle pub crawl returns on September 18 (“halfway to St. Patrick’s Day”). This off-season celebration fills me with the desire to celebrate Irish culture the only way I know of: unnecessary and unwarranted for literary references.
Santa got a hay to his jaw this week when the Christkindlmarket in Milwaukee was canceled for the second year in a row. They had been planning for months now, officials said, but there just weren’t enough vendors interested in participating. (I would just like to point out that my supplier request was rejected. Apparently: “Big Frank’s Used Socks Emporium” is not good enough for their small market.)
The announcement ends by pointing out that there will be another Christkindlmarket in Chicago this year. I realize this has been included to usefully point out that there is always an option nearby for people who want to go, but to my sensitive Milwaukeean ears, it sounds a bit like a taunt.