Wednesday, Sep. 30th, 2009

Minnesota: Where you can major in hip hop

It’s 2009, folks, and hip hop has finally earned enough respect and legitimacy to find a rightful place among academia. McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul recently added a degree in hip-hop, the first university in the nation to do so. I know it seems strange to think that Dr. Dre could actually be a doctor, but hey, things are headed in that direction. The program offers students education in language, music history, recording technology, and the music business. Despite being new, the program has 14 students looking to be the first graduating class of hip-hop – but they're all dudes.

In an effort to expand the hip-hop base to women, McNally is offering a scholarship program called – wait for it – B-Girl Be Hip-Hop Diploma Scholarship. The program gives hip-hop a chance to spread from the East and West coasts, making way for the next queen of hip-hop to come from the Midwest. Check out the program and scholarship.

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Tuesday, Sep. 29th, 2009

Wisconsin Tourism Federation
alerted to its own acronym

Hey, speaking of Wisconsin tourism logos – it’s official – WTF has become TFW. Never heard of the Wisconsin Tourism Federation (WTF)? Before today, neither had I. The newly named Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (TFW) is “a lobbying coalition of trade and promotional associations and organizations actively involved in Wisconsin's tourism industry.” So, what the frak are they doing changing their name? I’ll let the United Kingdom’s Telegraph explain:

  • The body charged with attracting more visitors to the midwestern state will now be known as the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (TFW), in an attempt to put a stop to the jokes.
  • It seems that the federation was unaware of - or unconcerned by - the modern meaning of WTF until its acronym featured on a blog that compiles unfortunate corporate logos earlier this year.
  • Commenters wondered whether an expression of foul-mouthed astonishment was the best way of boosting tourism to a state that would not be an obvious choice for most holidaymakers.

The federation held its WTF moniker since its inception in 1979, but the times, they have a-changed. I haven’t been able to track down to logo blog mentioned in the story. Let me know if you can.

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Get in on EC bike planning

At the risk of banding myself as a bike loving dirty hippie, you all should check out Eau Claire’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Informational Meeting on Thursday at 7pm (details). If y’all are serious about a bike and foot-friendly Eau Claire, activate your involvement engine and set your systems to GO. Description:

  • The City of Eau Claire is looking for input regarding its Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which intends to establish on- and off-road routes that form a transportation network linking neighborhoods and major destinations. In addition, it sets forth the framework for examining the current environment in the community and outlining public and private initiatives over the next 20 or more years.

We do end up talking about bike stuff a lot in this blog, but we really believe it’s important to the area’s future identity, as well as its ability to attract businesses and residents. Also, biking helps you not be so fat from all the beer, and that is a cause that is nestled comfortably next to my red-blooded American heart.

Also, most of the people pushing for bike friendliness around here are not hippies, and from what I've heard, most area hippies are not that dirty.

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Don't pass Passing Shadows

By the mid to late 90s, the musical sands were shifting in punk rock land yet again. The resultant ennui of a scene saturated with bands either vociferously sermonizing on their politically correct values or rocketing listeners into a sugar coma through their saccharin pop anthems (mostly) about girls gave birth to bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Sense Field, Hot Water Music, Knapsack, The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World and eventually would lead to that musical nadir known as Emo. For a time, though, these sounds were fresh, without the weight of labels, and these bands were consistently spinning in my home and in my car. And perhaps it is the Siren of nostalgia beguiling me here, but Eau Claire’s Passing Shadows share a kinship in sound with those days. The music is difficult to categorize while at the same time it feels familiar. It is brimming with the exuberance of youth, from the charm of the “not-always-in-tune-with-the-rest-of-the-music” vocals (think J Church or Wig Out era Dag Nasty) to the “hair’s-breath-of-falling-off-the-rails” drumming to the catchy and urgent melody lines of the guitars (check out the Buzzcock’s “Airwaves Dreams” moment of song “27 Percent Satisfied”).  And you can check the band out for yourself this Saturday October 3rd at the House of Rock and name drop your own semi-obscure band references.

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Monday, Sep. 28th, 2009

Wisconsin ditches $50k slogan/logo in fall campaign

Hey! Remember when the taxpayers of Wisconsin paid $50,000 for a new tourism slogan and a logo that your booger-eating 9 year old nephew could have made with MS Paint? Remember that? (1min. 10 sec.) It was all part of the $250,000 we spent early this year to rebrand the state to potential tourists. We wanted to get past the ol’ “beer-n-cheese” stigma. Now we have a lame logo stigma.

Anyways, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is currently touting how cool Wisconsin is in Autumn, and guess what’s missing from their efforts? Yep, the new slogan and logo. From Channel3000.com:

  • … both are missing from the latest commercial, print advertisement and the state's tourism Web site.
  • "The fall campaign is all about bringing out the fun and the unique experience that you can find in Wisconsin," said Janet DesChenes, marketing manager for the Department of Tourism.
  • DesChenes said she doesn't think the phrase "Live like you mean it" fit with want they wanted to accomplish with the fall campaign.

At least they’re not spending money on a new fall-ish logo. If that were the case, I’d like to put in a bid for my 10 year old niece. She’ll slap some orange leaves on the current logo using her free trial copy of Photoshop Elements in exchange the complete series of That’s So Raven on DVD.

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Fun Wisconsin Blog:
As Seen in Wisconsin

I’ve pilfered a funny story of two from this blog in the past few weeks, so I guess it’s time to give it a proper plug. AsSeenInWi.com (As Seen in Wisconsin dot com) assembles great stories and photos from around our amazing state and slaps them all on one page like a tasty, cheesy, mayonnaisey casserole with French onions thrown on top.

It’s a great snapshot of Wisconsin life for Wisconsinites who don’t take themselves too seriously (but can’t stand to hear another Ole and Lena). If that makes sense. Recent post include:

Super short posts you’re probably nod your head at, enjoying some quiet amusement.

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Tainter Lake Stinks

Tainter Lake in Dunn County is experiencing algae-blooms which cause an incredible stench to hang heavy on the air that could hold its own in a stinking contest with a baby’s diaper. I haven’t been there, but according to what I have read, the problem goes way beyond the inconvenience it causes to residents of the area (“We can’t even go out into our back yard,” says Carol Hake) It poses a serious health problem as well. Residents of the lake have been complaining of eye, nose, and throat irritation, diarrhea and coughing. The lake’s toxic state has even been linked to the death of a dog in Menomonie.

Two representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services toxicology team came from Madison to take air samples and they found elevated levels of ammonia. This is a cause of concern and further research is necessary. Unfortunately, there is yet to be any improvement to the situation. This is one of those times that as citizens, we need to stand up and be vocal. It’s up to you to make a big stink large enough to reach the attention of those in Madison. Call your representative! We need their help if we are going to clean up this mess.

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Don't Look Down

Every town has an old, unused train bridge. Always the same, always completely unique. "Bebop," the graffiti says, "F**k college". The beams are broken, burnt, rotting. The walk is treacherous. The wind doesn't help my vertigo, but it sends the faint scent of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix into my eyes. Every town has a smelly mill, only one smells like cocoa.

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Sunday, Sep. 27th, 2009

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