More than a few people have professed their love of our fair city on this site before. Singing the praises of Milwaukee's unique offerings like bratwurst and bubblers, da Brewers and "der hey," Harleys and hops, the lake and ahhh, the cheese.
And now it is time for my love note to this town. My ballad to the place I always call home no matter where I'm actually living.
Living in New York, people I'd meet would listen to my strange colloquial lilt and ask me where I was from to which I would proudly answer, "Mwahkee." Then would follow the inevitable, "aren't there a lot of cows there?" question. I would promptly assure them that I was from the city, that Milwaukee was an urban paradise, bustling with culture, great food and amazing people.
Residing in Los Angeles, the question of the origin of my "accent" often arose. This was around the time California started their "Happy Cows" campaign. These conversations often turned into a great debate of whether Wisconsin still was the true dairy state. This is obviously not up for discussion and never was. We are the great dairy state and our cheese tastes better – no matter how happy those West Coast cows are.
Recently, calling Reno home has led to new rumblings for me. No one really asks me about my dialect because I don't really encounter enough people there to listen to me long enough to ask, but I am constantly going on about how living in a city like Milwaukee gives you all of the advantages of living in a big, major hub city – without any of the inconveniences like inflated rent or real traffic. (Yes, I know with the current construction one may beg to differ on this, but seriously, until you've sat on the 405 in 105-degree heat for two hours to go two miles or tried getting a cab in the rain in Times Square, you don't know what traffic is. Sorry, you don't.)
And by the way, there are a lot of cows in Reno. I see more cows in Reno just driving to the grocery store than I have ever encountered in Milwaukee proper.
In between all these places, I've been to every state – including Alaska – to Australia, Europe and beyond. I have the resources and flexibility to live anywhere in the world I want to, but I choose here: Miltown, Brew City, MKE.
So, what is this mysterious pull that brings so many of us wanderers back here? Yes, there's familial pull, but it's more than that. It's like this place is my family. Milwaukee gets so under your skin that it is ingrained in you. Or it gets on your skin judging from the amount of tattoo shops in this town. (Note to self: still need to get that "Made in Milwaukee" tattoo.)
Maybe as a chameleon myself, I identify with Milwaukee's continually changing climate, social scene and general growth. "Mileewaukay" kind of goes with the flow, being exactly what it needs to be to each of its inhabitants. Whether it's suburban paradise, urban hipster, East side hippie or conservative classic.
It sure ain't the weather bringin' me back.
I retract that statement. In summer and fall, it is the weather. The lake, Lake Drive, Prospect and Brady, Tosa ... ahhhh, the romance, beauty and paradise of our walking paths and streets.
Needless to say, when my plane landed safely on Mitchell International's all too familiar runway last Thursday, a sense of relief and coming home washed over me. Sometimes, to find your way, you have to get a little lost and take a bit of an adventure.
Baby, I'm hooooooooome!
Its why many are nostalgic for that old channel 12 jingle..."Makes no difference where I go...yer the best hometown I know...Hello Milwaukee..." Still sticks with me. Unfamiliar? Check this out...kitchy, catchy, genius to this day - from 1977: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4gNMOGrO0U
Updated photos w/ song:
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