Category Archives: Overheard in Milwaukee

At a remove

Lunch today, 12:45 or something like that.  Sitting at a duce and just tucking into my meal.

A young couple are seated at a four-top nearby.  She slender, Asian, angular.  He buff, scruffy, hipster-ish.  They sit and glance at their menus.

I return to my meal.

Something catches my eye, a movement or something.  I look up.

He, on my left, has his right arm outstretched.  His hand holding her lower jaw.

She, on my right, is crying, sobbing.

His hand is holding her lower jaw still, as if by doing so, this very act of agency revokes whatever guilt or role he has in whatever has induced this tremble.

Her head is rocking, oddly.  Her sobs, though dampened by his right hand’s grip on her jaw, still rack her, and constrained in one axis, her head heaves in another.  How does he feel about this?  Is he responsible?  Has he just dumped her, for example, or just what?

This goes on.  I eat a few bites, but I do not look away.  She is unaware of my gaze.  He might be, I don’t really care.  I don’t care if he knows I am watching whatever it is he is doing to her — comforting, silencing, cajoling — I am not afraid of his reaction to my involvement.  I keep watching.

A drop, a tear drop, falls from her face and I imagine I can even see the splash as it hits the table.

She, in perfect profile, is not looking at him.  She is looking up, and to her right, so her gaze escapes my own.

He, likewise in profile, is alternately staring at her, and staring at the table.

She winces.  She squints her eyes and I see the tell-tale folds in the corner of her eye.  Another drop falls.  The table seems to shake as it lands.

He looks down, drops his arm, he is disarmed.

She shrugs and says something, but I cannot hear. I don’t care to, either.  This is pantomime to me.

Just as he raises his arm to once again grasp her jaw (whatever compels this act??) the waitress approaches.  They both miraculously collect themselves and order.  She a fish fry, and shrimp bisque.  He, a sandwich with fries.

The waitress leaves.  I am willing her to offer a napkin, a tissue, something with which this young woman, Asian and angular, sad and dripping, may dab at her face.  I am willing it, but I am powerless, acting at a remove.

Making Use Of Local Artisans

Interesting review in the Shepherd Express most recent issue.  Jeff Beutner reviews INdustri Café, which besides its twee spelling indulges in a surfeit of locally produced ingredients.  In this early paragraph Beutner describes some of the local favorites for the cannibals amongst us:

The menu at INdustri Café is interesting and thoughtful. In a nod to Milwaukee, there is a liverwurst sandwich and an appetizer of kabobs made with kielbasa and white cheddar cheese. The liverwurst and sausage are made from local artisans.
INdustri Café Highlights Local Ingredients

Pawn was fortunate enough to have visited INdustri on their opening night, along with buddy T, and thoroughly enjoyed the free appetizers.  One wonders how many artisans perished for that snack.

Mixed Messages

Fortune Cookie

Lunch at the Chinese buffet around the corner, seated next to two men from India and one from Australia.  They are all co-workers, just getting to know each other.  One of the Indian men has a much thinker accent and the other one seems to be trying to help him with cultural acclimation.

One thing they have in common, aside from all being Unix geeks to one degree or another, is cricket.  The bulk of their table chatter was about the superiority of one or another team or captain or manager.

At the end of the meal the waitress brings fortune cookies.  The more seasoned Indian gentleman helpfully clues the other into the old trick, “When you read your fortune cookie you have to add ‘in bed’ to the end of whatever it says.”

The Aussie pipes up,  “The Austrailian National Team will best India in their next test match…in bed!”

After a round of chuckles the younger Indian reads his, “You can make that special someone happy with a gift of flowers…in bed.”

They leave, and I read my own fortune, “Your lucky number for this week is the number five…in bed.”

An Evening of Jazz

This evening Pawn found himself wandering over to The Jazz Estate on Milwaukee’s East Side for a little respite of delightful music.  The bookings read “Jeanne Woodall w/ The Jim Poalo Trio”  I have never heard them, but what the hell.

On the walk over the nice man sitting outside Beans & Barley says, “Hey white nigger!”  It’s always pleasant when strangers take it upon themselves to break the ice with a friendly greeting.

At the club, $5 cover paid, I settle into a seat at the bar and crack open my New Yorker under the dim green bulb for a little read whilst I await the trio.  The night unfolds with a wonderful journey through the mid-century songbook of American jazz.  Ms. Woodall favors Sarah Vaugn with some lovely renditions of old standards.  The pianist is inspired, Poalo on bass is steady and smooth.  Krause on drums is just the right prescription.

The arab in the corner nurses his Beck’s and speaks in resonant tones.  The hipster on the end works his Guiness and worries his mustache.  The black trombonist in the middle, his torso a short cubic yard of flesh, sipping a Cosmopolitan, the stem of the Martini glass impossibly small in his hefty mitt, mediates between them.

After two sets I strolled back home, towards Jupitor as he marches across the sky, my appetite for jazz sated for one night.  I’ll be back again soon.  I had forgotten how much I love this club.

Bad Political Jokes

Pawn was in a deli this morning, having breakfast, and another diner came in and took his seat at the counter. He leaned in conspiratorially and asked the waitress if she wanted to hear an Obama joke. He then proceeded to tell it.

Obama goes up to heaven and approaches the Pearly Gates. St. Peter is there waiting for him.
St. Peter: Can I help you?
Obama: I’m President Barack Obama.
St. Peter: You were president? I don’t think so.
Obama: Yes sir, I was.
St. Peter: When were you inaugurated?
Obama: Ten minutes ago.

The waitress looked at him with a blank expression. “Get it – he got assassinated. Ha, haha”

Pawn was inclined to offer this version of the joke:

McCain goes up to heaven and approaches the Pearly Gates. St. Peter is there waiting for him.
St. Peter: Can I help you?
McCain: I’m President John McCain.
St. Peter: You were president? I don’t think so.
McCain: Yes sir, I was.
St. Peter: When were you inaugurated?
McCain: Ten minutes ago.

Get it – he keeled over dead with a heart attack, or was it cancer…

Let’s face it, if the joke is offensive and just as unfunny when the shoe is on the other foot, then maybe it doesn’t need to be told.

The Saddest Things


Nellie McKay to audience, during interactive portion of concert: Now try to cry if you can… Think of the saddest thing you can… Like Anne Coulter holding a puppy… or Dick Cheney’s smile.

( Audience member groans loudly)

Nellie: What, you like Dick Cheney? (under her breath) Ugh, Midwest…Dick Cheney’s smile

*Note: I would have included a photo of Anne Coulter holding a puppy, but such an image apparently doesn’t exist.

No really, where?

Overdressed, pretty-lady: I don’t want to eat too much and get fat, you know. There’s only one place you want fat, and that’s here. I have just enough there, don’t you think?

Older gentleman: (mumbled response)

Pretty-lday: Oh, so you like Sherrie do you?

Overheard at Dehli restaurant during lunch buffet. Couple was seated behind Pawn.