Saturday, Nov. 28th, 2009

Saturday: Getting Intimate
with Lorie Line

Well, Thanksgiving is over, and if you're ready to have CHRISTMASTIME shoved all up in your face, then it's time for Lorie Line. The piano playing space alien prolific and accomplished pianist/songstress is returning to Eau Claire for another installment of her annual Christmas show. It's called An Intimate Christmas with Lorie Line, and it promises to be her "most intimate Christmas show ever." I believe "intimate" here means "less band than normal." She'll be joined by five other musicians as opposed to her normal orchestra. At any rate, this is the 20th anniversary of Line's touring show and locals have grown to love her flare for Christmas. Expect lots of holiday hoopla. There're two shows on Saturday, one at 3pm and one at 7:30pm.

And then on Sunday, there's a great art show by Andy Schansberg opening at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library with a reception a 2pm. And if you loves you some a cappella singin' then check out Tonic Sol-Fa at the State Theatre at 7:30pm.

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Thursday, Nov. 26th, 2009

We Give Thanks

Listen up. Here’s a bunch of stuff for which Volume One is thankful:

And golly gee, we’re thankful for you, Chippewa Valley, just because you’re you. Keep it up.

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Wednesday, Nov. 25th, 2009

Stubborn WI general store says “Screw you, Big Box Stores!” and stays open for 137 years

Here’s the story of a little general store in Utica, Wisconsin (I’m too lazy to Google the location, so you do it), that’s been open since 1872. It’s located out on a county road intersection with a few other buildings, and it has somehow stayed open for 137 despite, you know, all them nasty evil big box stores and whatnot. From JSOnline

  • The siding is wood, the roof is tin and the beer sign stuck in the window is illuminated at midday.
  • Outside, there is a single gas pump and a modest front porch that once accommodated shoppers loading up horse-drawn carriages.
  • Step inside through double doors that swing open and you step back in time, to a world of handwritten prices on cereal boxes and Norwegian flatbread on shelves.
  • The Utica Country Store is a threadbare throwback. It's nothing fancy, just a one-stop shop in this one-shop town in Dane County, at the corner of County Road B and County Highway W.

From the article, it sounds like the store's just barely hanging on, but hang it does. Are there any business around here with that kind of age? Seems like Eau Claire’s East Side Hill’s Timm’s Dairy (so many apostrophe s’s!) was the last true general in the area (politely correct me if I’m wrong) but that’s gone.

Photo by MadTownGuy2009

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Tuesday, Nov. 24th, 2009

Show Review: "Chad's Birthday"

If there is a date a patron of the Snout Saloon keeps track of better than Christmas, it is in the third week of November. Not for the big meal on Thursday, but because of the birthday of Chad Kruger. Chad is bartender, manager and director of music for the bar. If you are a music fan, you pay attention. Because when the guy who books the bands throws himself a party, life is good.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying its a guaranteed mind blowing musical experience, because it has an element of risk. You see, it is never just a bigger named band. Booked for the night. The band shows up. The band plays. Everyone is happy. No, no, it tends to be more of a cherry picked, throw together band. Amazing musicians all; But also a bunch of guys with no real commitment to the night, other than some after-show, "Hell yeah, I'll come play your birthday party!"

Sometimes it works out. And this is amazing. One birthday I saw Howard Luedtke play in a set with the Lacrosse based Smokin' Bandits. An event, perhaps in my lifetime high five. On the other hand, one year after waiting around an hour or so, one of the bar regulars drove home and got his guitar. This was not a good night. So, there is the spectrum. You understand the risk ...

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Can we be a “winter city?”

Last February, we ran a feature story on “Winter Cities,” talking about what cities around the world do to keep things a-rockin’ all year long. It seems like, once the holiday parades and sleigh rides are over, most of the Chippewa Valley goes into hibernation. Sure, we’ve got a few bright spots like the Silver Mine Invitational ski jump, our local curling club, and lots of nice trails. Last year, we even had a freestyle ski and snowboard competition.

But those things are islands in a frozen see of inactivity. Heck, our outdoor skating rinks are on thebrink of extinction (view helpful infographic). With winter rushing towards us at the speed of a really fast bullet made of ice shot from a cannon also made of ice, it’s got us thinking about what kinds of winter events might work around this neck of the frigid woods. A snow sculpting contest? An icy skating trail? An igloo town? A hot chocolate brew-off? Not sure. Is there anything you guys would like to see? Does anyone care?

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The Valley shoots Jamie Yanda

Jamie Yanda was one of the musicians I had in mind when I began formulating The Valley. For years, I had seen Jamie’s boisterous energy fill coffee shops, basements, and living rooms playing with Arto. This is the same energy that can break through a camera lens and communicate across a computer screen.

Jamie played three songs for our session–one older Arto song, a newly debuted track by the band, and a cover by Tim Kasher (Cursive’s frontman). We took advantage of the wide-open spaces near the Chippewa River, where Jamie’s voice could float above the downtown.

The Valley was created for musicians like Jamie, whose energy should never be confined under a ceiling.

... for more videos and photos of Jamie, check out The Valley.

  • The Valley is a collection of musical performances with the Chippewa Valley as a backdrop. The project is headed by three students at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire who may have only minimal experience, but a passion for their community and the art that surrounds it. (The Valley is inspired by Vincent Moon's Takeaway shows, available at La Blogotheque.)

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Monday, Nov. 23rd, 2009

Former local’s fiancé the object of worldwide jealousy

Former Eau Clairian Justin Johnson (talked about in the very first issue of Volume One) proposed to his girlfriend through a complicated rigging of the social media/blogging platform Tumblr – and through one hell of a sweet video (72,700 views and counting). It helps that Johnson is a filmmaker and it helps that he started filming his fiancé Marissa since the first time he met her, but still … this puts a lot of lovestruck dudes to shame. The proposal was basically the social media equivalent of a public proposal at a baseball game via JumboTron, except, you know, way cooler.

Simply googling "Justin and Marissa" produces pages and pages of articles and blog posts on the proposal, ranging from congratulatory odes to hoax theories to jealous rants. Here’s a “behind the scenes” article on how it happened from NewTeeVee.com:

  • Justin Johnson, creative services lead at Next New Networks and one of the original writers for College Humor, was sitting at home yesterday with his girlfriend of six years, Marissa Nystrom. It was about 6:30 p.m. EST, their sixth anniversary as a couple, and a quiet night. They were making spaghetti for dinner, Nystrom was checking her Facebook and Tumblr accounts, and Johnson was nervous as hell.
  • About a month prior, Johnson had begun working with the team at Tumblr to create a wedding proposal that suited them as a couple — a big, splashy takeover of every Tumblr user’s dashboard, in which he’d pop the question in a post only Nystrom could respond to. That night, Johnson had just used a “secret link” to activate the proposal post, meaning that soon the entire Tumblr universe would be able to see it…except that his first attempt to activate it didn’t work … Read more.

Spoiler: she said yes. Big thanks to Johnson’s brother Jesse (who takes photos for Volume One) for the tip. And big congrats, of course, to the happy couple.

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The Porcupine Came Down
(Nov. 27th, 1902)

The Porcupine Came Down
Prickly animal belonging to J.M. Charles is shot.
Eau Claire Weekly Telegram November 27th, 1902

For some time J.M. Charles has been the possessor of a porcupine- at least the animal made his abode in the yard adjoining Mr. Charles’ residence on South Farwell street. “Porky” was quite a pet and would go through a number of tricks at Mr. Charles’ command. The little fellow was a familiar sight to the neighbors and passers-by, and it was with curiosity that he was observed, nearly a week ago, to ascend into the higher branches of a tree in the yard, and remain there. Everything possible was done to persuade him to descend; he declined to do so. The tree was so tall and slender, and yesterday believing further effort to be futile, and rather than to allow the animal to starve Mr. Charles secured a rifle and brought him tumbling to the ground. The residents of that portion of the city will know little “Porky” no more, but some secured sharp little quills to remember him.


Chad’s Take- Eau Claire’s Old Yeller

I hate to admit that I had never head of “Porky” before I read this article. How could a story featuring a pet porcupine capable of performing multiple tricks escape me? I guess it just shows that the Chippewa Valley can always surprise you, no matter how many weird stories you have been privy to. However, I suspect that there had to be more to this story than the article included. How else could the neighborhood become so attached to a porcupine that they felt the need to secure some of his lifeless quills as remembrances?

I dug up this article a little over a week ago, and now that I have had some time to sit with it, I can truly say that I wish I never heard of Porky. My reasoning for turning on this article is due to the fact that for the last week my mind has been overloaded with questions about Porky. Usually when I find these stories I write about them and have no trouble moving on to the next article.

Yet this story about Porky the porcupine was different somehow. Instead of simply forgetting about it and moving on, I found myself on numerous occasions throughout the previous week wishing that I had a little more information about Porky. What tricks could he perform? How long did Mr. Charles have him? Where did he come from? Where did he sleep? Was he buried somewhere? Did they have a funeral service? Was a marker placed at his grave? What did the neighbors do with the quills? Now you can see why I do not like this article, because I continue to obsess about these questions nearly two weeks later, which perhaps answers my own question as to how the neighborhood got so attached to Porky in the first place. Damn this article.

Keep an eye out,
Chad Lewis

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Sunday, Nov. 22nd, 2009