Sunday, Aug. 16th, 2009

Weekly Shakedown: What you might have missed

The Internet is becoming a huge phenomenon in our culture. I'm guessing that soon, it will be a big part of our lives, as it is so convenient when we are trying to communicate with large numbers of people. For instance, see how we can summarize all these website articles from the last week consolidated into a single posting!

I'm still astounded at this incredible technology.

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Saturday, Aug. 15th, 2009

This Weekend: Man and Dog and Nature

You've all seen this on television at some point. I know you have, because I don't watch any TV, but I've still seen it. It's the outdoor games, of course. This weekend at the Eau Claire Rod & Gun club, we'll have our very own Chippewa Valley Outdoor Games, each competition testing skills of varying on-the-job practicality. The competitions include: The Lumberjack Competition, 5-Stand Shooting, Archery, Big Splash Dogs, Retrieving Series, Flyball (what is it?), Agility Dogs, and Speed Balls. Yep, you read that right.

As you can see, many events involve dogs. These require no pre-registration, so if you've only just discovered the Outdoor Games, you can certainly still compete! Find more information about the festival in our calendar entry.

Also on Saturday: Family Fun Day in Menomonie, LBGT Pride Picnic, Midwest Music Fest, balladeer Brian Bethke, Cheap Antics Sketch Comedy, Saved (LBGT movie), Dorf Kapelle (traditional European village music), and metal acts Kaptivating Kate + Entropy + Novus Inceptum.

And on Sunday: Jason O'Dea and His Barefoot Symphony, Taste of Harmony music festival, Big Backyard Menomonie music fest, Howard "Guitar" Luedtke and drummer Jim Schuh, and Christian rocker Phil Wickham.

Art Show: Art & the Blues, Roger Adams, August Artists: Suzanne Schroeder and Peg Breitzman, Drawings by Geta Otto, Roger Adams, Landscape Photography by Tim Burns and Scott Wuerch, Let's Go to the Circus!, Story Lines: Narrative and Sequential Images, and Watercolors Plus by Tere Hering.

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Friday, Aug. 14th, 2009

Four Second Firestorm

Four Second Firestorm makes even pacman look decaf. The idea couldn't be simpler: you have four seconds to play a hilariously ridiculous, often far-too-difficult-to-understand-how-to-play 'microgame.' You either win or lose, and then you play another. Over and over again.

For those of you who have played Warioware for the Nintendo Wii, you get the idea. Even if you're waiting in that tiny gap in which your boss brings over a stapler that works, that's time enough for at least six or seven of these things.


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Thursday, Aug. 13th, 2009

Concert Cancelled: 75% chance of rain, soggy gear

Though it's sunny now, local meteorologists are telling us that unfortunately right in the middle of tonight's concert everyone has at least a 75% chance of getting very wet.  That's no good for electronic equipment and thousands of dollars worth of big band intstruments, so we're regrettably having to cancel tonight's performance. The photo above shows what the storm looks like now, and it's forecasted to hit EC fully around 7:30. Sorry, there's no rain site for tonight's event. But there's good news in that The Chippewa Valley Big Band will be playing September 19 at 3:15pm at the Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest. So check them out there! And please join us next week!

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Trendy small town gun picnics are all the rage

Man, “open carry gun picnics” seem to be all the rage these days. Never heard of them? Basically, people looking to educate the public on Second Amendment rights organize a good ol’ fashioned cookout where everyone is encouraged to attend, and hey, if you own a gun, bring ’er along! There was one in Onalaska back in May. I’m assuming the more important goal of these events is to combat negative perceptions of gun owners. At any rate, it’s just kind of a whacky concept, and much to organizers’ delight, grabs a lot of attention.

Personally, I do not have a negative perception of most gun owners (I actually own a hunting rifle), yet I can’t help but giggle at the mental image of a small town picnic where everyone’s wearing hip holsters as they stand in line for a brat and some potato salad. If you’re interested, the next nearby open carry picnic is in Glenwood City. And the cops are cool with it. From Chuck Rupnow’s article in the L-T

  • Glenwood City Police Chief Robert Darwin said he's not overly concerned about hundreds of people coming to the St. Croix County Fairgrounds on Aug. 23 armed with loaded sidearms.
  • "I don't have a problem with what they want to do," he said. "They have the lawful right to do that.
  • "My concern is how the general public will respond," Darwin said Wednesday. "I hope they will respect it, since it is lawful. The people coming to this are not the kind of people we need to worry about."

The organizer is actually fronting $2,000 of his own money to feed about 400 people with barbecue beef sandwiches, beans, coleslaw, and more. And in case you’re curious, sidearms are not required to attend. And also, in case you’re more curious, firearms can be loaded but must be holstered. And no, alcohol is not permitted.

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Wednesday, Aug. 12th, 2009

Weird Eau Claire Laws

This ran as a “High Five” in the July 23 issue of the magazine, and since it never made it online, we thought we’d post it here, with a few extras. Every town has weird and/or outdated laws on the books – here’s what V1 intern Brianna Krantz dug up:

“Do not let your bull mount any cow, or your horse mount any mare within the city limits, unless in an enclosed place out of public view, far enough away from other private residences as to not be offensive.” (Gratuitous cow sex must have been a big problem at some point in local history.)

“Do not unnecessarily, inhumanely, or cruelly beat, injure, or otherwise abuse any dumb animal, within city limits.” (We couldn’t find a similar statute prohibiting the beating intelligent animals, so, apparently, that border collie is fair game.)

“No person shall spit, expectorate or deposit any sputum, spittle, saliva, phlegm, mucus, tobacco juice, or wads of tobacco upon the floors or stairways or any part of a public hall or building, upon the floor or any part of a railroad car or street car, or any other public conveyance, avenue, or highway in the city, or upon the sidewalks of any public street.” (Sputum?)

“No person shall throw or shoot any object, arrow, stone, snowball, or other missile or projectile by hand or by any other means at any person or at, in or into any building, street sidewalk, alley, highway, park, playground, or other public place within the City, provided the Chief of Police may grant a permit for archery for not more than one year.” (Yep – snowball fighting’s illegal. But if you really want to shoot some arrows, there’s a permit.)

“Don’t rig your gun, pistol, or any other firearm to discharge or come in contact with string, wire, or other contrivance attached, whether to kill game or for any other purpose.” (Seriously, no more shotgun booby-traps, guys.)


• If you leave the keys in your unlocked car over night, the cops are supposed to remove the keys and take them to the police station. Probably just to annoy you.

• “Obstructing or diverting the natural flow of surface water or of water in a natural watercourse so as to hold such water or cause the same to flow or stand upon any street, alley or public ground is illegal.” So stop building that dam.

• “It is illegal to play games such as baseball, football, softball, or any other violent or rough games in any park not designated for such activities.” Softball is violent?

• It’s illegal for a practicing fortuneteller, plamister, astrologer, or clairvoyant, do not try to set up shop in Eau Claire. For some reason, the cops have a hard time arresting these people – they’re always one step ahead.


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Tuesday, Aug. 11th, 2009

Contemporary art space brews in eastern Wisconsin

Some cool Wisconsin art news. Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam – the people behind The Suburban, one of Chicago’s most highly regarded alternative art galleries – have purchased the Waupaca County Home (an old “poor farm” located in tiny Manawa, Wis.) and will be renovating the main building and surrounding farmland into what sounds like an amazing art-n-literary space. It’ll include 8,000-square feet of exhibition space, a residency program (with 2500 square feet of dormitory space), and probably a printing press/publishing operation. For now, they’re calling it “the Great Poor Farm Experiment” and staging a series of works (performance, installation, sculpture, painting) as they carry out the renovation. Just last weekend, they had a big open house to kick things off. From JSOnline

  • A year from now, the Great Poor Farm Experiment will be transformed into a more formal and finished place … Grabner said. In the meantime, it's more in flux.
  • "It's when it feels like it could . . . exciting to be here in the beginning be anything," said Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, a painter and gallery owner from Chicago. "It still has all of the flutter of possibility. By next year it will be a thing."
  • About 30 of the artists arrived several days early to help with the renovation.
  • "That's artists, right?" said Killam, who with Grabner is funding the rehab. "They understand the generosity factor that's necessary to make things happen."

See? It’s not so hard to have cool art stuff happen in your community! All you need is some forward thinking people, a large network of generous artists with lots of free time, about $150,000 in start-up cash, and a perfect piece of property! Easy!

OK, so that sarcasm stems from a fertile plot of jealousy. This thing sounds really cool, and it’s happening without any kind of city, state, or federal funding (as far as I can tell). But I’m going to stop dreaming about it happening up in these parts because our current art facilities seem fairly underutilized.

Photo by Mary-Louise Schumacher.

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Monday, Aug. 10th, 2009

Chalkfest 2009: The Recap

Saturday saw an amazing (if wet) Chalkfest 2009. This year’s Chalkfest brought 75 artists to Eau Claire’s Wilson Park for a firestorm of creativity – 56 panels of sidewalk became concrete canvases for the artists, most of whom were locals. The event weathered a number of storms and bunch of rainfall, but the park was packed all day long with people viewing the art and enjoying the side activities, food, music, and fun. Since the rain had (poetically) washed away much of the art (and strings of electric lights don’t play well with lots of water), this year’s “Nightlight Reception” awards ceremony was cancelled and replaced with a brief ceremony earlier in the evening (the judges for the juried awards graciously came early).

We all regret the event had to be cut short, but considering the water-logging storm the night before, an early-morning flooding of the Wilson Park fountain, and the afternoon rain, we think Chalkfest 2009 fared about as well as it could have. Between all the water, the threat of more, and a tornado watch, canceling the rest of the event was a tough but important call to make. Spirits were still high, and we had several dry hours for many of the artists to complete some amazing work. The caliber of art surpassed last year’s fest, and we were once again delighted and inspired by the sheer amount of local artistic talent. Thanks to all who came!


Local Coverage: Leader-Telegram, WEAU TV13, WQOW TV18 (see video in "Local News Video")

A big thanks to our 2009 sponsors: Downtown Eau Claire Inc., Deborah Becker (State Farm Insurance), B-Framed Galleries, MEP Associates LLC, Chippewa Valley Museum, Cap-N-Corks, Yankee Jack's Pub and Grille, Midwest Dental, Benny HaHa, Matistry, Caradori Pottery, Truckers Union, and the Eau Claire YMCA.

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Water Street Neglected
August 10, 1906

Water Street Neglected
City Authorities Have Not Seen Fit to Clean Streets for Over Two Months.
Eau Claire Leader | August 10, 1906

Eau Claire- Some measures on the part of the city authorities should be taken to see that Water street is not entirely wiped off the city map. Citizens in this part of the municipality are loyal and pat regularly their stipulated taxes into the city treasury for which consideration they should receive benefits in proportion to those of other citizens of their parts of the city.

The streets are supposed to be kept in a sanitary condition by sweeping and cleaning them within reasonable intervals. It is reported by residents along Water street that no efforts have been made to clean the streets for nearly three months. The accumulation of rubbish and filth that has gathered within that time, during the hot summer months, makes it essential they think that something should be done toward removing said refuse from the street that sanitary conditions may again be restored. Citizens are conscious of neglect and feel that some effort at reparation should at once be made, that the matter may not become a more serious grievance.

Chad’s Take: Filth and rubbish on Water Street!

I admit that this case is not overly bizarre, but it does give us a unique glimpse of the history of what was (is) one of the most important streets in Eau Claire. In previous articles I have written that during the early 1900s Water Street was a main business thoroughfare that contained many important community businesses, which makes it difficult to believe that the city would allow it to overflow with filth and rubbish to the extent described in this article. Today the street is kept relatively clean and even after a rambunctious Saturday night the place is somewhat presentable by noon the following day. I wonder if any of the outraged residents happened to take a photograph of garbage lined street.

The next time you happen to be wandering along on Water Street let your mind drift back a hundred years and imagine the street covered in rotting trash. However, if you really want to re-create the good ol’ feeling of Water Street being a dirty place stop in and have a beer at the Joynt. Here they will allow you to relive history as you get to throw your empty peanut shells on the floor thereby, in a small but fun way, ensuring that Water Street will always be a filthy place.

Keep an eye out.

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