Thursday, Sep. 3rd, 2015

Blowout Deals at The Local Store's Fall Tent Sale!

The Local Store is saying goodbye to the summer of 2015 with a HUGE tent sale on Friday and Saturday – September 11 and 12! Stop by the Volume One parking lot (kitty corner from the shop at 205 N. Dewey St.) to check out tons of popular t-shirts, great décor, and more. All tent sale items are buy one, get one free! In the store, select art and apparel will be buy one, get one half off!

➜ We're open 9am–9pm Sept. 11, and 10am–5pm Sept. 12.

Also! We'll be hosting an opening reception for Betsy Olaussen's new “STIMULI.” art show in the Volume One Gallery on Friday night (Sept. 11, 6:30-8:30pm) – complete with music, food, and other refreshments. Read more!

Students! You can get 15% OFF all merchandise with your Student ID during the "UW Meets EC" event – Friday Sept. 11, 5–9pm – excluding all tent sale items. 

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Tuesday, Sep. 1st, 2015

Local Groups: City's Red Tape Stalls Special Events

A SHOT AT GLORY. The Buckshot Run, held each Labor Day weekend in Carson Park, is one of scores of special events that require city approval every year.
A SHOT AT GLORY. The Buckshot Run, held each Labor Day weekend in Carson Park, is one of scores of special events requiring city approval every year.

Organizing a special event in the city of Eau Claire is sometimes unnecessarily complicated because of bureaucratic red tape and an adversarial relationship with city staff, event organizers said during a recent listening session held by city officials.

Lengthy applications, repetitive meetings, and tight restrictions on serving alcohol were all cited as reasons that it’s no walk in the part to schedule a walk in the park. In fact, representatives of several organizations said they’d scheduled events outside the city in part because of such hassles.

“Especially if you’re a new event planner, it looks like a new mountain that might not be worth it to climb.” – Michael Strubel, Visit Eau Claire, on the challenge of planning a special event in the city of Eau Claire

Michael Strubel, director of sales and events for Visit Eau Claire, said his organization had recently met with event organizers who had concerns about how the city operates. “The most common theme out of that meeting is the process is daunting,” he said. Based on his conversations with event organizers elsewhere in Wisconsin, Strubel said arranging a special event is a one-step process is some cities, and applications are sometimes only two or three pages long, compared with 29 pages in Eau Claire. Furthermore, getting approval is a three-step process in Eau Claire, with a thumbs-up needed from the Special Events Committee, the Waterways and Parks Commission, and finally the City Council. In addition, the rules in Eau Claire are particularly restrictive when alcohol is involved: Two additional hearings are held, and alcohol can only be served inside fenced-in areas. Many other cities – including larger ones – don’t require fences and control access to alcohol with wristbands, Strubel explained.

In a subsequent interview, Strubel summed up the process like this: “Especially if you’re a new event planner, it looks like a new mountain that might not be worth it to climb.”

Brian Sandy, marketing and promotions manager for the Eau Claire Press Co., which publishes the Leader-Telegram newspaper, said he’s found it is easier to hold special events in Altoona than in Eau Claire. He said rules for serving alcohol at events his company sponsors – such as the Taste of the Valley – are too restrictive and complicated. “What I am here to say is where is the common sense?” he asked.

Numerous event organizers spoke at the Aug. 26 listening session that was attended by representatives of numerous city agencies, including the Police and Fire departments and the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department.

Several event organizers expressed displeasure with a requirement that they pay $90 per hour for police services at events where alcohol is sold, even when police aren’t present. Karen Kraus, director of development for the local branch of Special Olympics Wisconsin, said she’d prefer to pay the fee and actually have officers present or be able to avoid the fee and regulate the event herself.

Kraus agreed that the special event process in Eau Claire is more lengthy and complicated than in other cities, such as Altoona, where the Special Olympics is relocating its annual Polar Plunge. However, she sounded hopeful that policy changes could be made. “I don’t think we’re looking at reinventing the wheel here by any means,” she added.

Ken Van Es, executive director of the Eau Claire YMCA, noted that fees have grown expensive for using city parks and trails for special events, adding that event organizers are sometimes required to pay to rent adjacent pavilions and venues even if they aren’t using them. For example, the YMCA uses the trail in Owen Park for its Kids of Steel Triathlon, and is required to pay for the park’s band shell, even though it isn’t used.

“The (City) Council has to decide whether they want to encourage special events or discourage special events,” said Van Es, a former city parks director. He noted that the profusion of requirements for event coordinators sometimes leads to an adversarial relationship with the city.

After the meeting, city Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Director Phil Fieber said the feedback would be provided to members of the City Council. He said he hopes they consider making changes to city ordinances to make the event planning process simpler. For example, he said, he doesn’t believe all special events need direct approval from the City Council.

Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle, who attended the listening session, also expressed hope that procedures could be streamlined. She said she’s heard from some groups that the special event application process is overwhelming. “The cost that we could be looking at is that if we don’t change things, some of the special events might say they don’t want to come back to Eau Claire,” Emmanuelle said in an interview.

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Monday, Aug. 31st, 2015

6 Vintage Wisconsin TV Commercials so Bad They're Awesome

Through the magic of You Tube, please enjoy this video time capsule of Wisconsin’s commercial past. These old TV ads reveal a lot about the days of yore, and if we were to send anything up into space as a greeting to possible alien life, this should be it. After all, it pretty much sums up everything about Wisconsin: cowboys, balloons, lumberjacks, duck boats, and mid-nineties rap music. 


1) Wisconsin Dells (1981)

This ad takes advantage of many, many quick cuts to mimic the neverending excitement to be found in good ole’ Wisconsin Dells. The only problem is, many of the cuts are so quick it leaves the viewer a bit bewildered, especially when going from a pow-wow to a mechanical spider preying on an innocent girl. It also includes the killer tagline "Scream around Wisconsin's tightest curves." Watch!

Awesome hat party!
Awesome hat party ladies!

2) Wausau Center Mall (1983)

Although it lacks for any sort of narrative, this commercial still captivates the viewer with its jolly cast of characters. Why, there’s Grandpa! And boy does he look confused by a baseball glove. And there’s silly Uncle Joe, hiding his presents in all sorts of boxes! Ha ha what fun! Balloons! Watch!

"You gotta be schlitzing me."

3) Schlitz Party (1967)

Based on this ad alone, I feel 1967 was a prime year for commercial jingles. Aside from that, this ad is chock full of elegance, wit, and a shot of sass. Who wouldn’t want to be at this little party? In fact, if you weren’t there, well cue the ashamed 1960s female with hand on cheek whispering, “Embarrassing.” Watch!

Jaunty caps and ascots all day long, dudes.
Jaunty caps and ascots all day long, dudes.

4) Old Milwaukee Log Rolling (Year Unknown)

Here we have a classic story. There’s the logrolling underdog who just can’t rise to the challenge against his heckling opponents, only to come out the hero at the very end – indeed, our hero is better at selecting crowd-pleasing beer than he is at that trendy logrolling.  This commercial is pretty much a Greek tragedy. But with '70s era faux lumberjacks. Watch!

Time to rustle up so premiums, ma.
Time to rustle up so premiums, ma.

5) Wausau Insurance Company (1978)

Here we have the tale of Rosie and Tom (not these guys) – two downhome folks who conquered the Ol' West through visual metaphors for different kinds of insurance coverage. This ad comes across more like a high school teaching aid than a commercial. Somewhat dry and a bit too long, one can imagine passing notes to your BFF across the aisle. But clearly the producers were dedicated to the concept, so you gotta give them some credit. Bonus points for the closing stampede. Watch!

Apparently rapping about safe driving means not having to wear your seatbelt.
You'd think a group of guys rapping about safe driving would be wearing their seatbelts.

6) Drive Wise (Umm, early 90s?)

This video leaves me speechless. It would appear as though the Wisconsin Department of Tourism hired 4th-string hip-hop group "Fresh Force" to rap about safe driving. Between the hypnotic illustrations dancing across the back-drop to the rhythmic perfection of the head bops, I see no flaws. Plus, the lyrics alone master the art of conveying information while still being catchy. “The road is like a jungle, *car horn* animal instincts.” Pure poetry. Watch!

See ya later, tailgater.

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Basically, the Real Indiana Jones Was from Beloit

Left: Indiana Jones. Wore a fedora and fought Nazis to discover relics. Right: Roy Andrew Chapman. Wore a cowboy hat and fought off Mongolian raiders to discover dinosaur eggs.
Left: Indiana Jones. Wore a fedora and fought Nazis to discover relics. Not real. Right: Roy Andrew Chapman. Wore a cowboy hat and fought off Mongolian raiders to discover dinosaur eggs. Totally real.

While Indiana Jones and his archeological exploits are certainly fictional, the inspiration for him wasn't. Adventure, thy name is Roy Chapman Andrews.

Okay. He didn't have a fedora and a whip. But he did have a cowboy hat and revolver.

Chapman seen here making the world's first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Probably because he was bored.
Chapman, seen here making the world's first discovery of dinosaur eggs. WIth a gun.

Like many raised in the Badger State who thirst for adventure, Roy Chapman Andrews left Beloit for New York in 1906 with money saved up from his brief career as a taxidermist. He wanted so much to work at the American Museum of Natural History that he worked as a janitor in the taxidermy department until openings were available. He also went to Columbia University and earned a master in mammalogy. He also collected taxidermy samples on the weekend. Probably because he hated free time.

Once the museum took him on, he began an amazing thirty year career of archeology, paleontology, and international adventure. The press of the time knew just how captivating his stories were, and portrayed him as a swashbuckling scientist who  conquered the Gobi Desert and discovered dinosaur eggs.

A photo of Chapman during his yearly five minutes of sitting down.
Chapman in the Gobi Desert during his one five minute break per month.

But just how incredible could this real life adventurer have been? During his career, Mr. Andrews survived encounters with armed bandits, led desert expeditions into previously unexplored territory, was the first to discover dinosaur eggs, battled venomous pythons and hungry arctic orcas, and was once mistakenly reported dead.

Chapman, shown here staring down a camel-rider with his steely gaze. For science!
Chapman, shown here staring down a camel-rider with his steely gaze. For science!

Andrews would later serve as president of the Explorer's Club, director of the Natural History Museum, and publish several books about his exploits. He claimed that he was "born to be an explorer," and while Spielberg and Lucas never said Chapman was the basis for their whip-cracking, pistol spinning, Nazi-punching archeologist, the comparison is a little too clear to ignore.

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Tuesday, Aug. 25th, 2015

6 of the Weirdest, Biggest Things in the World ... Are in Wisconsin

While Wisconsin's most widely served beer might be Miller Lite, and its favorite restaurant "American Casual," let us never forget that the state is brimming with character and oddity. Furthermore, some of the state's most curious oddities are oversized versions of normal things, as if someone started making it and just got a little carried away. We all know about La Crosse's "world's largest six pack," the giant muskie, and the mustard temple. Boring. Let's get weird.

1. Talking Cow – Neillsville

Steer on over to Neillsville to chat with Belle.
Steer on over to Neillsville to chat with Belle.

Located in Neillsville, Chatty Belle is one of Wisconsin's most famous cows. If you put a quarter into the machine at her feet, a voice tells you facts about things like Wisconsin's dairy production. We've heard it through the bovine that while she's the biggest "talking cow," bigger cattle exist. Salem Sue of North Dakota is the biggest cow statue in the world. But Chatty still stands. A monument to milk.

The clock is having a grand ol' time in its new home.
The clock is having a grand ol' time in its new home.

2. Grandfather Clock – Kewaunee

Located in downtown Kewaunee at the Ahnapee Trailhead, the world's tallest grandfather clock stands at 36 feet tall. It was originally built in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial, but was turned off in the mid 1980s. In 2013, the city disassembled and rebuilt the clock in its current location, and in July of 2015 the clock resumed timekeeping after almost twenty years.  Talk about making it to the big time.

3. Penny – Woodruff

In 1953, the world's largest penny was built to commemorate the dedication of Woodruff's Dr. Kate Newcomb.

It must be worth at least 17,000 thoughts.
It must be worth at least 17,000 thoughts.

Dr. Newcomb was known to Woodruff as the "angel on snowshoes" because she would trudge through harsh Wisconsin winters on her trusty snowshoes to make house calls. Woodruff desperately needed a hospital, and she started a fundraising campaign with the slogan "save your pennies" to get one. The campaign succeeded, collecting over $17,000 in pennies (1.7 million pennies).  

4. Badger – Birnamwood

The end is nigh. The demon badger has risen.
The end is nigh. The demon badger has risen.

Not to badger the good folks of Birnamwood, but this look like an old, once-chained evil that burrowed its way from the center of the Earth into a parking lot. He was once part of Badger County, a gas station and gift shop where you would drive inside of a massive hollowed log to fill up your tank. In the 1990s, Badger County closed and was replaced with perhaps the strangest possible establishment for an enormous demon badger to be the mascot of: a gentleman's club.

5. Soup Kettle – Laona

This kettle is really souped up.
This kettle is really souped up.

The community soup event in Laona started with this soup-er sized kettle nearly a century ago. In the 1920s, the Russel Family started serving over 300 people out of this massive, cast-iron kettle. Now the event has grown, and is operated by the local Lions club, serving out of several much smaller cooking containers, but still serves the entire community.


6. The Letter M – UW-Platteville

I wonder if it's just actually been a giant W the whole time.
I wonder if it's actually been a giant W the whole time.

 And finally, this list was brought to you by the letter M. In 1936, a pair of mining students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville got the idea to make a giant letter M on the Platte Mound after having seen one on a mine in Colorado. At first they just dug into the snow, but eventually the head of the engineering department called a field day to complete the project with borrowed tools from a local CCC camp. The final version of the M was finished in 1937 after considerable investigation to make sure that it was, in fact, bigger the Colorado's. Take that, Colorado M!

Now the area M-anates civic pride.


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Wednesday, Aug. 19th, 2015

Outside Magazine Names Eau Claire 4th 'Best' Place to Live

Remember last spring when you were furiously voting for Eau Claire as “America’s Best Town” in an NCAA tourney-style online poll sponsored by Outside Magazine? If you don’t remember, maybe YOU’RE the reason our fair city fell to Chattanooga, Tenn., in the Final Four. Nonetheless, advancing that far in a nationwide competition demonstrated a huge amount of civic pride and a growing recognition that we’re a pretty awesome place to put down roots, what with our natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, thriving arts scene, and more.

That competition’s results prompted a cover story in the latest issue of Outside, which trumpets “16 Perfect Places to Live Now.” Spoiler Alert: While Chattanooga took first place, Eau Claire is No. 4. “Stop at this riverside city of 68,000 on a summer Saturday and you’ll see families lazily tubing and cyclists tackling the 30-mile rail-trail system,” the magazine stated about Eau Claire before name-checking Justin Vernon, Bon Iver, and the recent debut of the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, which brought new international attention to the Valley’s music and natural beauty. Check out the article for a short Q&A with Vernon about his Sconnie love.

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This Naughty Naughty Town: Eau Claire's History of Logging and Red Lights

Loggers didn't have much to do when the rivers froze over. That's when the <br>World's Oldest Profession stepped in.
The World's Oldest Profession can tolerate the cold.

The logging origins of Eau Claire are well known to its residents. Perhaps less well known is a rather scandalous byproduct of the booming logging industry in the 19th century: the town became a hotbed for houses of ill repute. In spring, after the winter's harvest was safely in the river, hundreds of loggers would leave their camps and swarm back into town to wait until the ice floes melted—and they could send the logs downstream.  Because Eau Claire was disproportionately home to more men than women, and since loggers didn't have a whole lot to do in the Northwoods whilst not logging, one thing led to another.

Logging isn't much fun in the summer, either.<br>
Logging isn't much fun in the summer, either.
Photo: Chippewa Valley Museum

In 1893, the Eau Claire Weekly Leader claimed that one "could not travel 100 to 150 feet…without passing the entrance to a house of ill fame." Whether that's an exaggeration or not, the Eau Claire Weekly Press went on to call the town "This Naughty Naughty City." In the early 20th century, Wisconsin had almost 50 statutes regarding prostitution. Punishments were harsh, and ranged anywhere from six months to a year in jail. But in Eau Claire, "...two naughty people found occupying but one bed, where they should have had two" could only be fined – the man $7.15 and the woman $19.15. 

Let's just take a few moments to appreciate the fact that "naughty" was a part of the legal vernacular in 1910, and then a few more moments to wonder what exactly defines a person as naughty. By the 1920s the population had balanced out more betwixt men and women, and the red light districts mostly faded away.

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Tuesday, Aug. 18th, 2015

Judge Shoots Down Anti-Confluence Lawsuit

Haymarket Landing construction in downtown Eau Claire.
Haymarket Landing construction in downtown Eau Claire.

A lawsuit filed by a group opposed to the Confluence Project won’t stand in the way of the public-private performing arts development, an Eau Claire County judge ruled Monday.

Judge Paul Lenz dismissed a lawsuit by a citizens’ group and a Milwaukee law firm that challenged the city of Eau Claire’s use of money from two special tax districts to help pay for the performing arts-centered project in downtown Eau Claire.

Voters With Facts, which has campaigned against the Confluence Project, claimed in the lawsuit that the city acted unlawfully when it created one Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district and modified another. New tax revenues generated by development in those TIF districts will pay for the city’s $5 million investment in the Confluence performing arts center and $5.9 million spent toward the mixed-use Haymarket Landing, which is under construction on Barstow Street.

In his ruling, Lenz said that the debate over the Confluence commitment “is a legislative decision of the City Council, not one for courts to decide,” the Leader-Telegram reported ...

Lenz said the city acted within authority granted by Wisconsin’s laws on TIF districts. Furthermore, he ruled the 14 individual taxpayers and four small corporations that filed the lawsuit did not have a stake in the controversy or suffer actual damages.

“The alleged harms are highly speculative injuries,” he said. “The courts do not deal with hypothetical questions.”

In a Facebook message, Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid praised the ruling. “Once again, the City proves that it is a responsible governing body, neither exceeding its power nor skirting its duty,” she wrote. “I am very grateful to the City's legal department for their excellent arguments in defense of City Council action.”

In a press release, Voters With Facts said its law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, will appeal the judge’s decision.

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Monday, Aug. 17th, 2015

5 Local Ad Slogans of Years Gone By

1. “The beer that is beer”

Advertisers have been known to make exaggerated claims about their products, but back in the day Walter’s Brewing Co. of Eau Claire went with a 100 percent factual approach to promote its signature brew. “The Beer That is Beer” indeed was beer, and local drinkers loved it. When Northwoods Brewing revived the classic label a few years ago, they brought back the motto, too.

2. “A bear for wear”

The Chippewa Valley Museum restored this plaster bear donated by the the Uniroyal-Goodrich Tire Company in 1992.
The Chippewa Valley Museum restored this plaster bear donated by the the Uniroyal-Goodrich Tire Company in 1992.

This slogan is another golden oldie from a classic Chippewa Valley business, namely the Gillette Safety Tire Co. – eventually known as Uniroyal-Goodrich. Nearly a century ago, founder Raymond B. Gillette reportedly used this phrase to describe the toughness of his tires. The motto, accompanied by a fierce-looking polar bear, was used for decades.

3. “Shoot some slices, shoot some shreds, shoot some salad ...”

All together now: “… Salad Shoo-terrrrrrrrrrr!” Technically, this is a jingle, not a slogan, but anyone who was near a TV during the Salad Shooter’s 1980s and ’90s heyday probably remembers it. The Salad Shooter was a big hit for Eau Claire’s own National Presto Industries.

4. “Save big money!”

Speaking of unforgettable jingles, Menards’ long-running claim that you can “Save Big Money!” has made the Eau Claire-based home improvement chain famous to millions across the Midwest. The immortal jingle was penned in 1972 by Bob Holtan, who was station manager at WAXX/WAYY radio in Eau Claire.

5. “TV-13 loves yooooooou!”

It makes no difference where you go, Eau Claire is the best hometown you know – at least if you believe the sentiment from WEAU-TV’s “Hello Wisconsin!” campaign, which began in 1988 and went through several incarnations. Even today, a variation on the tune is used. What you may not know is that the “Hello” jingle, which originated at Milwaukee’s WISN-TV in 1977, has been used by stations in at least 167 cities worldwide (like this!), from Melbourne, Australia, to Calgary, Canada. Apparently, it really does make no difference where you go …

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Friday, Aug. 14th, 2015

Infamous "Target Troll" Originally from the Chippewa Valley

Mike Melgaard Image:

You've probably seen this story floating around the internet and your Facebook feed: Man Poses as Target on Facebook, Trolls Haters of Its Gender-Neutral Move With Epic Replies. That's AdWeek's headline, but you'll find the story on Mashable, Buzzfeed, Today, Time, Paste, and countless others. Basically, in response to a flood of hateful comments and threats of boycotts after Target's decision to remove gender labeling from its toy and bedding aisles, a man named Mike Melgaard began replying to the comments – left by people on Target's Facebook page – pretending to be a Target customer service representative. (All he did was create an account using a target profile picture and the user name "Ask ForHelp," and people assumed they were talking to an official Target rep.)

Melgaard maintained his sarcastic, humorous interactions with outraged shoppers for about 16 hours this week, commenting on about 50 posts until his account was shut down. The story of Melgaard's trolling blew up on Friday (8/14), as a multitude of sites posted screenshots of the conversations. Like so:

Homegrown Troller?

Well, as it turns out Mike Melgaard's name might sound familiar to some of you – he's originally from the Chippewa Valley, having graduated from Altoona High School. He no longer lives in the area.

As to how it all started, Melgaard said this to AdWeek:

“Immediately, I knew there would be your typical outraged American spouting emotional reactions on their Facebook page. After taking a look, I was literally laughing out loud at my computer. A few more minutes in and it struck me how hilarious it would be to portray myself as a parody customer service rep.”

They add, "… on Thursday night, Target offered a pretty clear endorsement of Melgaard's antics by posting this genious photo to Facebook—an ode to trolls if ever there was one."

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