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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

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I've held on to all of the autographs I collected as a kid.
I've held on to all of the autographs I collected as a kid.

Autographs provide a trip down memory lane

I was (OK, still am) a sports nut. I love the games. I have an appreciation for the players and respect what they do. But when I was a kid, the athletes (and some coaches) were superheroes. I only saw them on TV, or maybe a couple times a year at a ballpark. One way for a younger me to connect was to write letters and ask for autographs.

I came across those old mementos recently, and it was a flashback to a simpler time. An avid baseball card collector as a kid, I learned from publications like Beckett Baseball Card Monthly that if you sent a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to a player at the stadium, you might get it sent back signed.

This idea blew my mind. I don't remember who the first player was that I wrote to, but it did work -- and I was hooked. I've got a random assortment of autographs, from former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart to former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver J.J. Stokes to Washington Redskins (and eventual Packer) Desmond Howard.

I've also got some "good" ones this way: Karl Malone, Jerry Rice, Herschel Walker and Phil Jackson.

Not all came by way of mail, though.

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s autograph came through a trade with a childhood friend whose dad used to play with the Baltimore Orioles. To get it, I gave him a Gregg Jefferies Upper Deck rookie card. I broke the New York Mets team set to do it, but I think it was the right decision.

I first met Sammy Sosa when I was 10 years old, at an autograph signing. I had a card, and my dad had a ball. My dad tried to say something to him, but Sosa's representative said not to talk to him. Sosa, who wore a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, sandals and dark sunglasses never looked up, signed both and we moved on.

It's still the prettiest signature I've ever seen, and my dad never liked him from then on.

Obviously I've never forgotten it, and I could never have imagined I'd be interviewing him a decade later in the Wrigley Field clubhouse.

We saw former Chicago Cubs and Philadelp…

Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers have struggled the last two months.
Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers have struggled the last two months. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Brewers out of top spot for first time since April

The Milwaukee Brewers fell, 4-2, to the Chicago Cubs Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago, their sixth straight loss and ninth out of their last 11 to fall one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central divisional race.

It is the first time the Brewers have not occupied the top spot in the division since April 5.

By occupying the top spot from April 5 through Aug. 31, the Brewers owned (or shared ownership) of the division lead for 149 straight days, or 4 months and 27 days. Or 3,552 hours. Or 213,120 minutes.

(Note: Saying the Brewers were in first for 150 days isn’t wrong, either – they began Sept. 1 in the top spot. Fun with numbers!)

The Brewers will begin play Tuesday in the hopes of snapping their losing streak, as another "L" would match their season-high stretch of seven, set July 6-12.

A loss Tuesday (and a Cardinals win) would also push the Brewers the furthest behind in the divison they have been all year – their previous depth behind the leaders was 1 ½ games way back on April 2.

Since ending April with a 20-8 mark, the Brewers have gone 53-56. Since they were a season-high 19 games over .500 on June 28, they have gone 22-32.

So, how long ago was April 5? In the sporting sense, it was a while ago.

That same day ...

  • The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team lost 74-73 that night to the University of Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four.
  • Toronto beat the Milwaukee Bucks 102-98 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Two players who started, Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien, are no longer with the team.
  • Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson pitched. Both have had their seasons ended due to injury.
  • Matt Flynn wasn’t a member of the Green Bay Packers.

April 5 was, indeed, a long time ago.

But there is only one other number to chew on, really: 29.

That is Sept. 30, the end of the regular season. That is not a long time from now.

I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Why I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this week, and it went out over Facebook and Twitter, but I’m fortunate to have larger platform here at to explain why.

I’m in my early 30s. My life has been affected directly by the following:

Dengue Fever
Non-smoker’s lung cancer
Brain cancer
Lung cancer
Heart disease
Prostate cancer
Breast cancer
Driving under the influence

I first heard about the ice bucket challenge through a cousin, who did it to raise money for VH1’s "Save The Music" campaign. He’s in college now due in large part to his high school music programs. That was pretty cool. Apparently, others attached their own charities to the challenge along the way, too.

Then, in the last month or so, the challenge was attached to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

As someone whose life has been directly affected by it, this campaign has been heartwarming and reinvigorating. So many people now know of the disease, are talking about it, and donating to its research and awareness efforts.

But, we’ve also seen the inevitable backlash to raising money for charity online. I get it. What helped raise millions upon millions upon millions of dollars over the last few weeks are the same avenues for snark, cynicism and skepticism.

You can’t have one internet "thing" without the other.

But I wonder though – for those trolling their friends or followers for participating, or hating on celebrities they don’t like, do you do that for all campaigns of awareness?

Is one disease or global issue more important than another? Are the hundreds of thousands of new donors to wrong for choosing to donate now, because they participated in an ice bucket challenge fueled by social media and not before when they likely didn't know this disease existed?


But, if you do then I can't help but think you’re often the one standing on the edges calling out the fouls …

The Jamaican Kitchen and Grill is a popular downtown food truck choice.
The Jamaican Kitchen and Grill is a popular downtown food truck choice.
The big smoker on the back of the Jamaican Kitchen and Grill Food Truck prepares the food just right.
The big smoker on the back of the Jamaican Kitchen and Grill Food Truck prepares the food just right.
The curry chicken is a juicy specialty.
The curry chicken is a juicy specialty.

Food Truck Week: Jamaican Kitchen and Grill

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

I typically don't run across many food trucks day-to-day as I'm running between Lambeau Field, Miller Park and the Bradley Center -- but on my way to Green Bay today I shot down Wells toward I-43 for a quick bite, and the Jamaican Kitchen and Grill Food Truck was a nice surprise.

I was first in line, and was quickly joined by nearly a dozen others as the truck opened up just out in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The daily special was written on a white board -- today was jerk and curry chicken as well as ox tail. 

I decided on the curry chicken, and while I like spicy dishes, I have never found a curry to my liking. So, I'll be completely honest -- I was skeptical with this order.

The dish was served quickly, and I was more than pleasantly surprised with how tender the meat was and how well seasoned this dish was as a whole. The curry had the right amount of heat -- perfectly done, at least for my palate. Spicy, but not overwhelming.

The meat was very soft (fall of the bone soft) and juicy, and the rice, beans, orange and red peppers, onions and carrots underneath were great complement.

It was also at a great "to go" temperature in that it was hot, but not so hot that you had to wait to eat it. After all, I needed to get this and go! The small dish is only $5.99 and it comes with the veggies and rice and beans, and it's more than filling. A large is $10.99.

But, one thing to know about this dish, though -- don't eat it too quickly because the bone is soft, too, and pieces did break off into the dish.

It's Food Truck Week here at, so I can only encourage you to do what I did today: Jump in the car, or take a walk out of t…