Thursday, Sep. 18th, 2008


I took this at the 4th of July event at Carson Park. They have a bunch of houses and buildings you can look through to get a glimpse of life in the "good 'ol days". Looking at the blackboard, I don't know how good a student I would have been back then. Note the kid running away from his grandma for extra irony.

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Local Man in Desperate Need of a Hobby, Jail Time

Can you think of a better way to celebrate your wedding than throwing a knife at your son’s friend who is duct taped to a chair? I can! From the Chippewa Herald:

  • A Chippewa Falls man is facing felony charges after throwing a knife and stabbing a young man who had been wrapped in duct tape.
  • Matthew J. Willi, 46, 109 Chippewa Street, was celebrating his wedding when the incident took place, which resulted in Willi being arrested the next day.He has been charged with second degree reckless endangerment and negligent handling of a weapon. Read more.

I guess Willi hasn’t heard of the Dollar Dance or, like, throwing a bouquet or something. Is this a family of FBI agents or what? Zing!

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Wednesday, Sep. 17th, 2008

State of the Pavement

Driving home from work last night, snaking around the street construction on Farwell Street, I was listening to Mary Jo Wagner (that little minx) chatting with Mike Schatz and Geoff Moeding about the new Phoenix Parkside construction in downtown Eau Claire. They were talking about downtown in general when “Bruce from Chippewa Falls” called in to comment on the state of downtown’s streets. He said the streets are horrible.

OK, what?

The streets are not pristine, not by a long shot. But “horrible?” Maybe Bruce was born in a city paved in layers of smooth, solid gold (where guys named "Bruce" are treated like rockstars). Not sure. At any rate, there seems to be a horribly large pile of people around here absolutely obsessed with street conditions. What gives? I’m no fan of potholes, but I rarely find a street I’d call “horrible.” I guess beautiful roads are a sign of a community with high self esteem, and that’s cool, but if the streets are a little bumpy, um … drive slower?

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Tuesday, Sep. 16th, 2008

V1 Says "Domo Arigatoo" to Japan

Volume One Reader/Distribution Guy Nate Dimit recently visited Japan as a part of Memorial High School's Japanese program and snapped this pagoda-laden picture on Miyajima island, near Hiroshima.

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Local RNC Protester Takes Home Painful Souvenirs

This is old news by now, as the Republican National Convention was a few weeks ago, but I just found a (very) tiny twist to the story. Basically, Kevin Smith, a 17-year-old from Menomonie, was at the convention to protest the war in Iraq when he got arrested amid the general protesting. (He wasn’t actually protesting when he got arrested.) During his arrest he sustained a bunch of injuries and bruises and whatnot. An article in the L-T from Sept. 5 relies on comments from Smith's family, saying the cops used unnecessary force – that’s pretty much the only side of the story shown. Commenters (scroll to the bottom of the article) are quick to point out the one-sided-ness of the article. Many of the comments center on this paragraph:

  • Earlier this week, Smith told Minnesota Public Radio that after police grabbed him without saying why, he tried to pull his arm away and that's when he was beaten.

That arm-pull might say a lot about what happened. But even if the (rough) arrest was warranted, it seems that, against normal St. Paul police procedure, Smith was released with untreated, serious injuries – sans phone call. I’m assuming that kind of thing was pretty common during the (very large) convention.

Adding another twist largely unrelated detail to the story is the City Pages. In its current issue, the magazine features a comic by Ward Sutton using RNC photos. Check out the fourth panel (second down on the left). Doesn’t say anything about what happened, but what a coincidence.

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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 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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