Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - ca­role@mil­wau­keemag.com @CaroleNicksin Ca­role Nicksin

The quirk fac­tor.

WHEN I WAS IN my 20s, I lived in Hobo­ken, N.J., and spent much of my free time ex­plor­ing old places and odd­i­ties with a few close friends. New Jer­sey had a wealth of them. Our fa­vorites in­cluded a drive-in movie theater ad­ja­cent to Ne­wark Lib­erty In­ter­na­tional Air­port, where the big jet­lin­ers as­cended and de­scended over the screen, adding an ex­tra layer of en­ter­tain­ment to the third-run fea­tures they showed. There was a cir­cu­lar-shaped diner (we re­ferred to it as “The Place That Fell From the Sky”) that looked to be from the early 1950’s, where a griz­zled grill cook ma­neu­vered mounds of home fries on the grid­dle, hurl­ing pound-sized bricks of but­ter onto the sliced pota­toes with pal­pa­ble ag­gres­sion. (They tasted de­li­cious!) A few blocks from my apart­ment, hu­mon­gous pro­pel­lers for ships were stored in a fenced-in yard be­hind the de­funct fac­tory that had pro­duced them. They were strik­ingly sculp­tural, and seemed like the de­bris of an an­cient civ­i­liza­tion. Tucked away in a for­got­ten cor­ner of the town was a place called Acre of Fun. With its mea­ger of­fer­ing of flea-bit­ten ponies and rusted kid­die rides, it did not over-de­liver on the mod­est propo­si­tion of its name.

Quirk­i­ness held great ap­peal to me then, and work­ing on our “Hid­den Mil­wau­kee” fea­ture (page 38) reignited that in­ter­est. Matt Hrodey, the edi­tor of the story, did a phe­nom­e­nal job dig­ging up lit­tle-known gems all around town. From for­mer speakeasies, to un­sung mu­se­ums, to Jeffrey Dah­mer’s fa­vorite hang­outs, there’s plenty to ex­plore for any­one who prefers to travel off the beaten path.

Sev­eral other sto­ries in this is­sue also fall un­der the “hid­den” rubric. “Skin in the Game” (page 56), a pro­file of Jon Fer­raro, the owner of Silk Ex­otic, lets you peek into the world of gen­tle­men’s clubs. Mean­while, “Go­ing Coastal” (page 50) takes you to the sunken ru­ins of ships on the floor of Lake Michi­gan, and tells about new ef­forts to pro­tect them.

This month, we in­tro­duce a new col­umn in the Din­ing sec­tion called “Notes From Brandy­land.” It’s penned by Robert Si­mon­son, a for­mer Mil­wau­keean who writes about cock­tails and spir­its for The New York Times and other pub­li­ca­tions. There’s more to drink­ing in Wis­con­sin than just old fash­ioneds, ac­cord­ing to Si­mon­son, who ad­mits it wasn’t un­til he moved away from the state that he was able to fully ap­pre­ci­ate its unique im­bib­ing cul­ture.

As for me, I’ve lived here for a lit­tle over a year now, and I feel that I’m in the sweet spot of be­ing fairly well ac­quainted with the city, but still able to see it with the fresh eyes of an out­sider. I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing my ex­plo­ration of what makes Mil­wau­kee so unique and won­der­ful, hid­den and oth­er­wise. Un­til next month, cheers!

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