Those who long
for more innocent times were probably not in Milwaukee from 1840 into
the 1940s. Even then, says author Matthew Prigge, the city had its
share of mysteries, crimes, disasters and murders.
began discussing strange tidbits of local history while conducting
Mondo Milwaukee riverboat tours. He says he took about two years to
fully research the stories he tells in "Milwaukee Mayhem."
The more he dug, the more scuttlebutt emerged.
includes the story of Mary Ann Wheeler, who was seduced by an older,
married man named John M.W. Lace. When she became pregnant, Lace
treated her with cruelty, rejecting her and mocking her in public. One
morning, while Lace was standing in front of a downtown shop window,
Wheeler walked up and shot him in the head in front of a dozen
insanity at her 1853 trial, and, Prigge says, from news reports of the
day, "you get the idea that nobody really liked (Lace)."
knowledge, it was the first use of the insanity defense in the
U.S.," Prigge says.
Mayhem" also covers disasters such as the Newhall House hotel
fire and the sinking of the SS Milwaukee car ferry, as well as the
events and characters that make Milwaukee’s early urban history a
rough and tumble ride.
By Dick Blau and
Working on a
commission from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Dick Blau, co-founder of the
Department of Film at UW-Milwaukee, was struck by the intimacy of the
scene before him. He was making a series of photographs documenting
life at work, when veterinarian Rick Tully began to do a serious
dental procedure on a horse.
got to anesthetize the horse," Blau says. "And he’s
completely welded with this horse and taking his tooth out. It was
form and content welded in one instance."
Blau had always
focused his lens on people, and though he was interested in the
relationship between man and animal, hadn’t planned on exploring it
further. But he met writer Nigel Rothfels and the two agreed to work
together on a book about elephants.
charming and a great storyteller and also an internationally
recognized historian of the zoo," Blau says.
"Elephant House," Blau’s photographs and Rothfels’
narrative take the reader to the Oregon Zoo in Portland to examine the
delicate dance that happens when enormous, sometimes unpredictably
dangerous, animals interact with their keepers. Blau says the
50-year-old elephant house was "a barn, a prison and a cathedral.
The way they treat the elephants, it’s a devotional activity."
The zoo recently
razed the elephant house and built Elephant Lands, designed to be a
more natural, engaging habitat for its fascinating herd.
Shui and Charlotte Nightingale"
By Pam Ferderbar
There are coins
on the windowsill, and the south-facing doors of Pam Ferderbar’s
Delafield home are painted red. After writing her novel, "Feng
Shui and Charlotte Nightingale," she’s leaving little to
fun-filled fable first manifested itself as a short story, creating a
buzz. She sold the movie rights but, in a stroke of bad luck, her
patrons at the film company lost their jobs within two weeks, and the
project fizzled. Almost three years later, Ferderbar gave it another
shot — this time as a book.
So can feng shui,
an ancient Chinese system of creating harmony in the home, affect one’s
fortune? The Chinese food deliveryman in Ferderbar’s tale has no
doubt. As Charlotte, the down-on-her-luck protagonist, leaves the room
to scrounge up the money to pay for dinner, he begins to clear the
story progresses and he keeps coming back, he starts crushing on her.
So he starts doing love stuff," Ferderbar says.
acts of feng shui kindness, perpetrated with each delivery, seem to
backfire as Charlotte’s luck goes from lousy to lousier. But
Charlotte’s bad luck, like Ferderbar’s, isn’t the end of the
The book was
recently named a finalist in the USA Book Awards, and Ferderbar is
working on a sequel: "I’m really looking forward to spending
time with these characters again. They’re so real to me," she
Toast to 12 Poets"
One of the
reasons Elliot Lipchik took an early retirement as a doctor and
professor of radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin was to
pursue his avocation of reading and writing poetry. But a dinner with
friends, with a discussion about food and wine pairings, nudged him in
a new direction.
Since he is a
poet, Lipchik reasoned, why not pair wine with well-known poets?
Lipchik researched the topic for two years, searching for drinking
references in the poets’ pieces and in their biographies. In "A
Toast to 12 Poets," he writes about their lives, their work,
their deaths and their connection to the drink with which they are
Edgar Allan Poe,
an alcoholic, drank cheap wine. Lipchik toasts Poe with an excellent
glass of cognac, a nod to the unknown person who, for 60 years, left a
half-empty bottle of cognac on the poet’s grave.
Not all poets in
the book were drinkers. Lipchik toasts Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska
with mead because it is thought to be distilled in Poland, and in the
1600s and 1700s, drinking mead was believed to turn the drinker into
an intellectual and poet.
"But I also
toasted her with slivovitz," he says, because it is a kosher
Jewish drink. "Poland was very anti-Semitic at one time, but she
was a poet against anti-Semitism and a great humanist."