Tuesday, Sep. 16th, 2008

What's the Local Effect of More Bad Financial News?

Thousands of Wall Street hot shots are sitting home today in their undies while their expensive suits hang in the closet because on Monday, the nation’s already rocky economy just got even worse. They’re calling it “The Worst Financial Crisis in Modern Times,” a “Once in a Century Economic Event,” and “The End of an Era in American Business.” The Dow, NASDAQ, and the S&P all took major dives. Several companies that most of us have never heard of are either gone or clinging by their fingernails. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG – many of the companies that make the entire financial market go ‘round have hit the dirt. Talking heads all over the media are spelling out certain doom.

Ok, now pretend you didn’t hear about any of that. What’s the climate of our own local economy? Several local finance and mortgage big wigs are telling the Leader-Telegram that the people and the economy around here are just fine. But even in a financially “low-risk” environment like the Chippewa Valley, this sort of repeatedly bad news must have some local effect on the thoughts of us as individuals. From job security to small business to the housing market, locals have opinions just like the fat cats on Wall Street.

Throughout all the recession talk of the last several months, its seemed to me that the Chippewa Valley economy has been just fine. But more waves of bad news do give good reason for pause if nothing else. But this naïve optimist thinks (and hopes) we’ll be solid.

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Monday, Sep. 15th, 2008

Leinie's Makes the Map ... And That’s It

If you like passing references to locally-made beer in large, progressive online magazines, then get ready – happy rainbows are about to blast from your nostrils. The beer-guzzling reporters over at Salon.com recently posted a rundown of their favorite brews in a piece called “The United States of cheap beer.” (To read, you’ll need to click through an ad.)

Well, Leinenkugel's did not make the cut. I guess that’s good, right? Not sure. But! They thought the vintage Leinie’s label was pretty enough for the article’s main graphic, as you can see above. And they did see fit to plug Midwest standards like Old Style from La Crosse, Old Milwaukee, Blatz, Milwaukee’s Best (The Beast), Hamm’s from St. Paul, and the first beer I ever drank in large quantities with my dad – Grain Belt from Minneapolis.

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Saturday, Sep. 13th, 2008

The Weekly Shakedown

What's up, our esteemed readers? Here's a whole bunch of stuff you might have missed last week. Dig:

  • We’ve got a new blog – local paranormal investigator Chad Lewis digs up really weird news stories from the area’s past and provides commentary.
  • The Peer Validated guys listen to Ryan Adams, David Carsten Daniels, the Black Eyed Snakes, and many more.
  • The newest issue is online, along with extra stuff like tunes from FanOffBirdSafe and pictures from Mark Aumann.
  • Local Independence host Scott Morfitt interviews local photographer Drew Kaiser.
  • You guys have been adding restaurant reviews like crazy.
  • Here’s a little something from the video galleries to get you all excited for Autumn in the Chippewa Valley.
  • And, of course, our Best of the Chippewa Valley 2008 is up, and you guys seem to be voting maniacs. I guess that bodes well for that big voting-based event in November.

Oh, and we’d like to give a big, hearty, double-handed handshake to our site sponsors, like these guys over here.

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Friday, Sep. 12th, 2008

Screaming Jet Engines

UPDATE: Most of Saturday's show was cancelled due to the weather. Sunday's show is said to still be on.

Question: How many “Highway to the Danger Zone” references do you think we can pack into this post? Answer: Far more than most humans can possibly endure. So let’s just say this – on Saturday, pull onto Highway 53 and then take the Melby Street exit to the Danger Zone, because the Chippewa Valley Airshow is back.

After a long hiatus, he Chippewa Valley Regional Airport will once again host that wonder of wonders: an air show. You’ve probably heard the engines roaring over your house/apartment/dorm room/underground lair all week as the performers practice. Most of that noise has been coming from the Blue Angels. These guys are the U2 of the air show circuit. Or, the Cirque du Soleil of the acrobat circuit. Or whatever. Check it out.

Bonus air show tip: Get pumped by watching this.

Also on Saturday, check out S-S-Shark Week, the Coalition Blues Festival, The Pimps, the Irie Sol CD Release Party, and/or see the House of Rock live up to its name.

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Wednesday, Sep. 10th, 2008

Local Presidential Campaigns Taken to Actual Streets

A whole new political fight has busted out in downtown Eau Claire. We’ve all seen the TV commercials, the yard signs, and the bumper stickers – but the latest weapon in the arsenal of the local political foot soldier? Stencil art. This form of subversive (and illegal) political advertising isn’t necessarily new to Eau Claire, but this is the first I’ve seen it this go around. This one was spotted just outside the Acoustic Café – but as with all stencil art, if there’s one there’s bound to be several more nearby. As can often be the case with stencils like these – it’s dark in its imagery and message. The stencil, sprayed on with black paint, shows John McCain above the words: “Don’t believe the lies.” 

Though I’m sure it’s a pain-in-the-ass for property owners and city workers, personally, I love this stuff. Anytime I spot some street art in this town I love it whether its temporary paste-up posters, spray stencils, or even simple stickers. But to be clear, I’m talking about the art stuff, the smart stuff, not the idiot-tags all over town (though I’ll admit it can be a fine line and that the whole issue is pretty delicate). The good stuff feels like a pedestrian’s reward for walking down the street rather than driving. And if it has some political or social punch, all the better. All those cars can keep their massive billboards, I’ll take some subtle street advertising any day.

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Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll Arrives

Our big, giant, massive, Valley-wide Best of the Chippewa Valley reader poll is now up and firing on all cylynders. It covers everything from local restaurants to local media to news issues to arts & entertainment and eveything inbetween. Basically, it gives you  way to tell the rest of the Valley what you like – and don't like.

This year, the Best Of poll is using the same engine that powers our web poll (bottom of this page) – Yayboo.com. It allows you to simply vote "Yay" or "Boo" for the responses that your fellow citizens have provided. A yay vote helps your choice move towards the top of the list, and a boo does the opposite. And! You get to add your own responses that can, in turn, be voted on by everyone else. We hope you like it.

Another change we made this year is that you don't need to complete the poll start to finish – you can just skip around, "yaying" and "booing" all willy-nilly in whatever order you want. You can keep voting over the next few weeks, and the only limitation is that you can only yay or boo something once per 24-hour period.

So have fun, and shoot us an email if you have any questions.

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Tuesday, Sep. 9th, 2008

Local Boys Get Pitchfork Praise

Music mega-site Pitchfork sure loves them our Chippewa Valley exports. On Tuesday, the often-critical opinion maker posted a rather impressive review of Megafaun’s new effort: Bury the Square. Megafaun, currently based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, is made up of longtime Chippewa Valley music scenesters Phil Cook, Brad Cook and Joe Westerlund –known around these parts as 75% of the former local supergroup DeYarmond Edison (the other 25% appeared on Conan earlier this week). Making a serious name for themselves in their own right with a brand of banjo-based hootin’, hollerin’, and harmonizin’ art-folk, Megafaun has been managing to grab the attention of blogs like Pitchfork (known as a tough one to crack) for some time now. The band will appear later this month with our own Daredevil Christopher Wright at the Mabel Tainter in Menomonie. Details here.

Megafaun’s myspace is here, and you can buy Bury the Square here.

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Chick Has Three Legs In Good Workin Order

Chick Has Three Legs In Good Workin Order
– Eau Claire Leader | September 9, 1909

Great is the excitement on the North side these days. When P.T. Barnum traveled around the world with a circus full of all manner of freaks from a stuffed mermaid to a goat with the tincaneatis, he did not believe the day would come when Mrs. Anna Schwartz, a widow, living at 1304 Richards Street this city, would be exhibiting a three-legged chicken.

Looks like a mix between a bantam and an absinthe frappe, said one of the admiring throng yesterday, as they gathered about in the rear yard of Mrs. Schwartz’s home and gazed in wonder at the freak, each one with a theory to advance, but the three-legged chicken strutted about the crowd with utter disdain. Its three perfect legs work progressively thus adding materially to its pedestrian capacity. “It’s a rooster chicken, too,” said the small boy, this intelligence bursting upon him when the three legged freak tossed back its head and crowed in a most alarming manner. The chicken’s modus operandi does not differ from that of the other members of the flock, except that one foot follows the other progressively back and forth, the extra leg growing out between the two. Mrs. Schwartz is quite proud of her new possession, and it has become the object of joy and envy to every small boy in the entire neighborhood.

It is on exhibition at any all times and the owner is very glad to display it for the amusement of those who wish to get a glimpse of the freak. B.A. Giese, Mrs. Schwartz’s son-in-law, who lives next door, has become press agent for the fowl, and never tires of telling of its wondrous performance. When the chicken struts around the yard it affords infinite amusement to the youngsters and the adults stand by and try to figure it out. The chicken arrived one day with a dozen other chicks over the same route. It kicked and pecked its way through the shell and after its tiny eyes had ceased blinking, and becoming accustomed to the daylight, it lifted its tiny wings, stretched forth three perfect chicken legs, uttered a tiny squeak, and from then on proceeded to grow and develop in a most satisfying manner.


Chad’s Take: This Was Their American Idol
A three-legged chicken, what is the big deal? Well keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of people of the day lived on farms, meaning that agricultural and animal information was big news. I have hundreds of stories of two-headed or three-legged animals that truly amazed the community. Also remember that this was a time without TV or the iPod so people sought out their entertainment with what was around them at the time.
In many cases when a freak of nature like this was discovered, some dime museum operator would offer the owner a nice chunk of money to display the creature in his museum. The fact that this chicken was discovered on the north side of town is no surprise to me as it seemed like a lot of strange stories from the paper took place out on the north side. Having spent many years living out on the planet streets of the north side I can honesty say that things haven’t changed all that much.

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