Friday, Sep. 25th, 2009
Thursday, Sep. 24th, 2009

(Window) dressing up Water St.

Many of you probably have wandered past a shop on the corner of Water Street and Sixth Avenue at some point and wondered what it was – or if it was even open. Boarded up windows might have kept you from peeking inside, or discouraged you from taking the risk of venturing in. Well, not any more. The bookstore known as Wax Paper is trying to change that with a big helping hand from local muralist and illustrator Cyndee Kaiser.

Bringing some extra color and a lot of creativity to the storefront, (hopefully) questioning what this shop has to offer will be a thing of the past. Since you still cannot actually look into the business, the mural is supposed to give you a sense that the place is not only open, but also that the famous authors portrayed are almost inviting you in to read with them. (Test your literary knowledge and see if you can name all six of them before coming inside.)

You can read more about this in next week’s issue of Volume One. Or you can go look at it, like, now.

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Wednesday, Sep. 23rd, 2009

Old Depot

Living in a new city is a strange and wonderful thing. When I first moved to Menomonie I prayed that I would be able to find the same kind of beautiful and old structures that Eau Claire has a wealth of. Well my prayers we're answered on a long walk that led to a disused train depot. It was littered with old Vinyl's, distorted by the sun and shattered by who knows what. There was a sign that said "Leave only footprints, take only pictures". And so I did.

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Local roller derby status: Searching for concrete

Local Jessi Wright was the first person to bypass the notion that "someone" should start a roller derby team in the Chippewa Valley and actually set the skate in motion. Spurred by comments on this post, Jessi set up an e-mail account for those who want to make this happen (ecrollerderby@gmail.com). She was then contacted by Natalie Matz, who shared her enthusiasm for getting a team together locally. They have been in contact with the Mississippi Valley Mayhem to discuss the logistics, from non-profit status to membership dues. They have received feedback from people who would like to participate as skaters and volunteers. They have not, however, been able to find a suitable space for the events to happen.

Following the Women's Flat Track Derby Association guidelines, they need a smooth concrete skating surface that is 88 feet by 48 feet. More importantly, they need permission from the owners. Initial attempts to secure space at Hoffy's Skate America in Eau Claire and Visionquest Entertainment Center in Menomonie have been unsuccessful. They are currently looking at warehouses, town halls, and sports centers. Wright said the intention is to start practicing in whatever space is available until a regulation rink is found. She added that since many people may not have skated before, they will likely practice for six months before getting to a competitive level. For now, Matz created a Chippewa Valley Roller Girls Facebook fan page to keep the communication rolling.

Obviously, any help would be much appreciated.

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Tuesday, Sep. 22nd, 2009

Was It A Spook?
September 26th, 1906

Was It A Spook?
Eau Claire Leader | September 26, 1906

At Park Place Thursday night, as Ralph Atkinson and younger Fletcher, son of Dr. Fletcher, were discussing a new kind of rubber band, that sends peas and pellets with an unerring certainty into the corners of eyes, ears, and etc., their ears were assailed with a terrible clash, and most unheard of noise. Ralph dashed back into the house, and Fletcher fled in all directions. Having fastened the doors the young major ran for the Leader office with “Oh pa!” this and “Oh pa!” that. “Well my boy,” was the reply, “If it is as bad as that, we’ll just take Officer Johnson with us, and we three will be in Park Place in a jiffy, and the ghost or whatever it is had better shuffle off again.”

Owing to over-crowded Interurbans that memorable fair day and night, the Third ward cars were putting in “dead-licks” to make up time, but they couldn’t go too fast for our purpose. On the way up Policeman Johnson remarked: “I never had no faith in ghosts.” Conductor Roy Vaughn differed with him materially, and was on speaking terms with a respectable elderly ghost and a couple of goblins near the corner of Bellinger and Randall. After putting his car in the barn and on his way to his home, especially during the dark of the moon, it was Roy’s custom to whistle most of the way in order to keep his courage up. Arriving at Park Place, as soon as the stable lantern was obtainable the following was the order of procession.


Chad’s Take:
An extremely bizarre article, at least I think it is.

After having pored over this article several times I can honestly say that I have absolutely no idea what is taking place. I can somewhat make out a foggy ghost story hidden somewhere in the last few sentences of the article, but all of the “Oh pa, well my boy,” writing certainly threw me off the case. After a few hours of deciphering this article I finally determined that something paranormal was thought to be taking place on the corner of Bellinger and Randall Streets. Talk of ghosts and goblins seemed to be quickly spreading around the ninth ward.

The talk of bizarre activity taking place in the ninth ward area triggered my memory of a previous article I wrote here titled “Poisoning must stop,” which detailed the problem of some unknown source poisoning the neighborhood pets, which ended up killing numerous cats and dogs. Perhaps the poison was actually meant for the ghosts and goblins, not the harmless critters roaming the ninth ward. And maybe this article somehow ties into a larger ninth ward conspiracy involving mythical creatures, phantom animal killers, and meandering spirits. But then again, I still really have no idea what the hell this article is about.

Keep an eye out…

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UFO Wisconsin’s interactive UFO map of Wisconsin

I know there are plenty of you out there who think about UFOs pretty much year round, but with Halloween fast approaching, many people who’ve never even seen an episode of The X-Files start getting alien-obsessed. Well, both of you groups should like this …

Hurtling towards us at the speed of awesome is UFO Wisconsin’s more or less interactive “UFO Reports by County” map. It details Wisconsin UFO reports. By county. The last sighting they have for Eau Claire County is 2005, but Chippewa County has an ’08 sighting.

I believe all the reports listed are made directly to UFO Wisconsin and they’re … well, many of them sound kinda crazy. They’re just straight up reports from people like you and me, and they run the gamut from “weird lights moving fast in the distance” to “aliens visit my backyard all the time.” For me, believability isn’t really part of the equation. It’s just fun to hear your neighbors talk about this stuff.

UFO Wisconsin has a book out with a forward from our good buddy Chad Lewis, who does this terrific blog.

Photo: Historical arcive photo, downtown Eau Claire, looking west from East Side Hill

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Eau Claire safer than Chippewa, Altoona and Menomonie?

In a move that’s sure to elicit “in your face” style showboating, Eau Claire has lowered its crime rate while violent crimes have increased slightly in Chippewa Falls, Altoona, and Menomonie. Based on recently released statistics by the Office of Justice (awesome business cards), Eau Claire has improved in all areas. Comparing 2008 to 2007, EC showed large decreases in both auto thefts (98 in 2007 versus 59 in 2008) and violent crimes (only one murder, and 56 aggravated assaults compared to 72 the year prior). While crime fell in Eau Claire, the state overall, and even the nation overall, violent crimes increased a bit in surrounding communities (Chippewa Falls, Altoona, and Menomonie). These towns had slight increases in robberies, rapes, assaults, and arson. In fact, car thefts more than doubled in Chippewa Falls, soaring from six cars to a whopping 13.

In a recent phone interview, Eau Claire told Volume One, “I’m not a hero here. Just doing my job, trying to keep safe. But I’m really proud of my auto theft decrease.” Eau Claire added, “In your face, Chippewa Falls.”

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Monday, Sep. 21st, 2009

Cameron Wisconsin to get giant arts center?

I have no idea how legit this project is, but Rice Lake Online has an article about a nonprofit organization called Northwestern Wisconsin Performing Arts Center and their plans to build a performing arts center in Northwestern Wisconsin. Specifically, they’re planning on Cameron, Wis. From the article:

  • Randall Read, executive director for Northwestern Wisconsin Performing Arts Center, told village trustees that the nonprofit organization has plans to build a three-story, 86,000 square foot theater complex on 50 acres in the village.
  • Read said the facility, which is targeted to open in the time frame of 2015 to 2017, would include three theaters, a conference center, banquet room, audio-visual classroom facilities and an outdoor plaza area for special events.
  • The largest theater would seat 1,200 spectators; another would seat 500; and the third would be a 150-seat children's theater.
  • The plaza would be used for events such as polka fests, arts and craft fairs, antique car shows and a winter carnival with snow and ice sculptures, Read said.

Right now, plans are just being presented to Cameron’s village board. As far as where the money’s gonna come from, the article says Northwestern Wisconsin Performing Arts Center is “mainly supported by private donations, but will also make use of any public grant monies available.” They want to purchase the land in 2012, and it could support 12 full time employees and a bunch of part timers.

Cameron does seem like a somewhat central location between a handfull of lage-ish Wisconsin bergs, but it still seems relatively far away from audiences. I’m not sure the surrounding rural areas and small towns would have enough ticket buyers to sustain this thing. But I’ve never built a three-story, 86,000 square foot theater complex before, so what do I know?

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A Semester at Sea goes swimmingly

The members of local Dashboard Confessional-inspired trio A Semester at Sea haven’t even known one another for more than ten weeks, but they’ve already recorded an eight-track EP, played an overbooked show at Oakwood Mall’s Hot Topic, toured Wisconsin and Minnesota for a week without the use of electronics, and hit #2 on Pure Volume.

If it sounds like more than just a fluke, it’s probably because of ASaS’ canny ability to wear the hip hop-est outfits for the emo kids. Whether it’s forlornly strumming acoustics to an Auto-Tune warble, or sardonically belting: “The playing cards are gone / But your poker face is on,” the band has ‘crossover success’ written all over it. Kyle Culver states in an email: “We’re just all about progress, really… like a ‘where do we go from here’ type of attitude.”

Prolific? Yes. Another EP is scheduled for release this December. So hopefully the band lasts longer than its name implies.

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Sunday, Sep. 20th, 2009