Volume One Contributors

writers, photographers, artists

Mike Paulus


Content By This Contributor:

The Quiet Rolls In

sitting in the trees right before dark, and listening

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Things calm down right before dark. Out in the woods. Yes, things are already pretty calm, but when you’ve been out in the woods all day, kind of just sitting around, you tune in to the gentle bustle of the wilderness. The small but explosive chatter of animals the size of your fist. The clattering of dark tree branches and ...

5 Meaningful Holiday Traditions (you can start this year!)

Mike Paulus

You’ve probably heard that the key to cutting through the stress and overstimulation of the holiday season is to keep things simple. But that’s easier said than done, especially when most of the season is geared around impossible visions of perfection which will probably cost a fortune and leave you ...

Probable Gobble

an unsolicited tour through my holiday dinner

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

My dad occasionally shoots turkeys, but I’ve never eaten one of them. I’m not against eating wild turkey, I’ve just never been at the house when they’ve cooked one. Turkey hunting is something my dad took up well after I’d left home, so I’ve never tried it. He’s got the big tail feathers up on the wall in the sun room ...

All Across the Floor

our eyes can play tricks on us, but so can something else

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It wasn’t “shag” carpet. But it was shaggier than most of the carpet you see nowadays. Inch-long carpet fibers, ranging in color from dark brown to very dark brown. It had rivers of shorter fibers running throughout, corralling the taller bits into irregular shapes and landmasses. Staring down at it, you could see a vast collection ...

Best of 2015 - Staff Pick: Most Outstanding Sue Orfield

Mike Paulus

Every year we do this Best Of poll, local saxophonist Sue Orfield (either by herself or in one of her various bands) tops the Best Blues Band and Best Jazz Band categories, usually placing first or second – as she did this year, when she also ranked in the top 10 of the Best Rock Band category ...

Best of 2015 - Staff Pick: "Highest" Bridge

Mike Paulus

With no less than four different bridge repair and reconstruction projects underway this year, the summer of 2015 was quite a time for Eau Claire – a.k.a. the “City of Bridges.” However, one bridge in particular stands tallest amongst its spantastic brethren. You can’t deny it ...

The Best of the Me 2015

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was a craa-zee!

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The votes are in, the polls have been slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it’s with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2015 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll wherein I polled only myself. Strenuously. There might be a few surprise winners ...

Target Troll/Chippewa Valley Native Mike Melgaard Strikes Again!

Mike Paulus

Hey, remember Altoona High School graduate Mike Melgaard? He's mostly known as the "Target Troll," because last month he posed as a Target customer service representative to troll people leaving hateful comments and boycott threats on Target's Facebook page – in response to the company's decision ...

Do Locals Leave Eau Claire to Find Love? Indeed They Do.

Mike Paulus

Recently, the Star Tribune ran an essay from local UW-Eau Claire English professor Katie Vagnino entitled, Lonely in Eau Claire: Why I started commuting to Minneapolis for romance. The essay details the quest of a local 33-year-old serial monogamist who ...

Take a Look: Water Street Bridge Demolition

Mike Paulus, photos by Tina Ecker

Eau Claire photographer Tina Ecker was out and about this week when she snapped some shots of this demolition crew in their nutty-looking space suits, cutting apart the old Water Street bridge to make way for its replacement.

Pull Your Shelf Together

these books don't have to go home, but they can't stay here

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

We finally just did it one day. After almost nine years of shoving books into the nice, built-in shelves flanking our living room fireplace, we pulled our entire book collection down onto the floor, stacking them up according to genre, and we started weeding through the mess ...

Get On That: Menomonie's castle playground

Mike Paulus, photos by Leah Dunbar

The public playground located next to River Heights Elementary in Menomonie would be a fantastic place to romp even without its centerpiece – a super cool, multistory castle. It’s got great swings and bridges, a fun climbing wall, and more than enough classic jungle gym action to keep your kids moving. But the sprawling castle is definitely the belle of the playground ball.

Carcassonne: weird name, great game

Mike Paulus

If you’re looking to ratchet up family game night (and explore the new breed of “Tabletop” board games roaring into popularity), try Carcassonne. Originally published in Germany and named after a medieval French city, Carcassonne offers the addictive “building” gameplay found in mega-hit Settlers of Catan but ...

Megan Sauk loves flying on skis

Mike Paulus, photos by Kelsey Smith

The ski jump perched atop Mt. Washington right outside of Eau Claire is hard to miss. But for 10-year-old Megan Sauk, it’s an absolute can’t-miss destination. “Since I was eight months old I have lived in Eau Claire,” she said. “I began ski jumping at age eight.”

The Shape of Things That Were

bow your heads to mourn the loss of goofy local landmarks

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Let’s clear this up right away. I like the pagoda. I like it. The fake pagoda that used to sit atop the now-destroyed Woo’s Pagoda restaurant up on Hastings? Yes, I like it. I’m so glad the Chippewa Valley Museum was able to save it, and I hope they can do something awesome with it ...

Infamous "Target Troll" Originally from the Chippewa Valley

Mike Paulus

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 ...

WPR Covers the Economic Impact of Eau Claire's Music Scene

Mike Paulus

Do yourself a favor and listen to Volume One co-managing editors Tom Giffey and Eric Christenson on Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time (which aired August 10). They were invited on to discuss the economic impact of Eau Claire's Music scene, as outlined in our huge Music Capital of the North issue.

Last Call on the Wagner's Shortcut

Mike Paulus, photos by Nick Meyer

Today! Tuesday, August 11 is the very last day you can cruise through the weird little shortcut running behind Wagner's Lanes in Eau Claire, connecting Brackett Avenue to Fairfax Street. On Wednesday, the often pothole ridden path (which is really a parking lot) will be ...

Like Moths to the Name

why do we insist on giving each other stupid/awesome nicknames?

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

It’s time for a confidential confession from your good friend Mike Paulus. Many years ago, at Regis High School here in Eau Claire, people called me “Aqua Blue.” Shocking, I know. And like most nicknames, the origins of Aqua Blue are utterly unexciting ...

GALLERY: Eaux Claires 2015 at 360°

Mike Paulus, photos by Luong Huynh

Volume One contributing photographers Luong Huynh and Lee Butterworth worked hard over a sweltering two days of live shows at the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival (July 17 and 18). Luong took a little time to grab these fun 360° shots of some of the shows, letting you look around at one of the most talked about music festivals of the summer.

One Guy One Night

the bar looks empty, but it’s definitely full of it

Mike Paulus

There were not many people in the bar, I remember that. And if I’d been the one on stage, I’d have been disappointed. But seeing as I have no musical ability and the stage presence of a drowsy wildebeest, I am not one to talk ...

Fowl Behavior: Giant Duckie Stages Adorable Aquatic Invasion

Mike Paulus

On Saturday (June 27) a large, adorable duckie appeared floating in the Chippewa River, right at the Confluence, off the tip of Phoenix Park's tube landing. From what we're told, this is the work of infamous ...

Quick Trip: LARK Toys in Minnesota

Mike Paulus

Kellogg, Minnesota’s famed LARK Toys toy store ain’t your average Toys “R” Us. One of the largest independent specialty stores in the country, LARK houses over 20,000(!) square feet of mind-blowing kid spectacular-ness. Besides room after room of unique toys and games, they’ve got an amazing ...

Take It on the Road! Local parents spark summer fun with playground tours

Mike Paulus, photos by Andrea Paulseth

One summer, a group of turkeys meandered up next to the North River Fronts Neighborhood Park and a little boy took off running to see/pet/snuggle the big birds. He was too young to go galavanting on his own, but his worried mom was too pregnant to run down a sprinting, turkey-obsessed toddler. And that’s when everyone else came to the rescue.

Kiernan Lepp takes leaps and bounds

Mike Paulus, photos by Kelsey Smith

“I love performance because I get to show off all the hard work from practicing and get to express myself. It gives me exercise, and it helped me gain a good work ethic and learn how to work on a team.” That’s Kiernan Lepp talking ...

Rocks and Rivers

the most fun you can have doing almost nothing

Mike Paulus

You try to find the biggest rock. Within reason. After all, you’ll need to carry it to the water’s edge, and you must toss it a visually satisfying distance into the deep. The “biggest rock” is not a boulder. It’s a size and weight you can handle. The biggest rock is just right ...

I Am The Bat Man

a tale of courageous heroic bravery in the face of easily surmountable odds

Mike Paulus

My wife Shannon and I used to live in a big old house on Lake Street in Eau Claire. That whole neighborhood – with all of its great old houses and rickety rooftops – is pretty much infested with bats. If you’re walking around down there at dusk, just look up. Those aren’t birds.

Props for the "S" Bridge

Mike Paulus, photos by Janae Breunig

Check it out – Travel Wisconsin put together a list of "11 Unique Wisconsin Bridges You Have to See" and the very first unique Wisconsin bridges you have to see is Eau Claire's own Soo Line "S" Bridge, making for a wavy crossing of the Eau Claire River near Banbury Place. They say …

Twin Cities TV News Covers Eaux Claires Festival

Mike Paulus

KARE 11 news out of the Twin Cities ran a whopping 6-minute story ("whopping" for a large market news program) last night on the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, featuring a long interview with co-organizer Justin Vernon – and shorter segments with the festival's artistic director Michael Brown ...

TV: Wisconsin Discovers Eau Claire

Mike Paulus

Last weekend (April 25), Discover Wisconsin – a statewide tourism TV show – ran its episode on Eau Claire (which you may have heard about here). You can watch the episode (which they've broken into four parts), check out some photos, and quite possible learn a few things you didn't know before – on Discover Wisconsin's website.

WATCH: Irie Sol does F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mike Paulus

Irie Sol's next album is about Bernice, the eponymous character from Eau Claire found in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." So to write the album they steeped themselves in Fitzgerald and 1920s jazz and history of St. Paul and Eau Claire ...

The Ones in the Backyard

my closest neighbors aren’t exactly human

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

They think I can’t see them. But I can. Very early in the morning, I’m the first one up, staring out my windows into the grey-washed backyard. I’m barely awake, but there I am, watching. And I totally see them. Shadowy beasts lopping from here to ...

Big Orange Crane

welcoming downtown EC’s tall, but temporary guest

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Joe Maurer

Driving on Main Street into downtown Eau Claire, you can see it. Up ahead, the Big Orange Crane stands tall and proud at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. When it first arrived a few months back, it was a delightful surprise, ...

Steak and Fake Lobster

Breaking bread with mom and dad, supper club style

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

Poor man’s lobster. It’s more than a great name for a funk band. Poor man’s lobster is what my mom usually ordered when dad took the whole family out to eat on a Friday night, back in the day. This is a seafood dish that usually comes with its ...

Local artist Eric Lee on Wisconsin Life

Mike Paulus

In case you missed it on Wisconsin Public Television a few weeks back, check out this clip from Wisconsin Life, showing off the work and inspirations of fantastic Eau Claire artist Eric Lee. You'll learn about his unique art, which often blends ...

Staring at the Cherries

an Eau Claire eatery’s mundanely meaningful decor

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Always, I’d find myself staring at it. A repeating pattern of dots, quietly crawling down the wall. As wallpaper from the 1980s goes, it was subtle. Each dot on the wall, each link in the pattern was actually a small picture of fruit, drawn in ...

The End of a Cat

a furry Eau Clairian has come and gone

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Joe Maurer

In January I added a weird thing to my daily to-do list. Right there between paying some bills and sending some emails, I’d added death. Yep, death. I needed to schedule some death. For my cat. Over the phone. ...

National buzz builds around Eaux Claires

Mike Paulus

Here's a quick roundup of articles about and lists including the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, all set for July this summer. Please do check out Volume One's own interview with Justin Vernon and Arron Dessner, as well as our infographic ...


today I grant you permission to use a new word

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

So my son invented the word “sledderboard.” If you’re tempted to use this word in everyday conversation, be my guest. It’s not like my son – who is all of five years old – has bothered to copyright or trademark it. But if you decide to utter ...

Hands Down

there’s a price for grabbing onto life

Mike Paulus

The skin on my knuckles has been dry and cracked for weeks. My fingertips, too. I’ve got little scabs from all the little places my skin has split open, letting little drops of blood slip through. It hurts to type.

Local snow carvers win U.S. Nationals three-peat

Mike Paulus

Last weekend at the United States National Snow Carving Competition in Lake Geneva, Wis., Eau Claire artists Steve Bateman and Jason Anhorn teamed up with Wauwatosa artist David Andrews to win First Place … for the third year in a row.

The Full-on Fiasco on Half Moon Lake (1964)

Mike Paulus

Thank you, internet! Above is just one of the many fantastic color photographs posted by John A. Anderson over on the You Know You are From Eau Claire When... Facebook group. He says, "Camera pointed east, back toward Half Moon Beach area. Sunday..."

The River's Breath

Here in the dead of winter, why do our rivers smoke?

Mike Paulus, photos by Andrea Paulseth

If you live here long enough, you’ll see it. The river smoke. In the raw stretches of winter, when the air is thin and the sun is a cold, white fire ... the smoke will rise from the water. It hangs there, brooding along the river’s frigid spine.

Pretty much every building on Chippewa Falls's main drag

Mike Paulus

Local photographer/chronicler of Chippewa Valley buildings-n-architecture Travis Dewitz is at it again with a massive online gallery he calls "The View From Chippewa Falls’ Mainstreet." At over 450 images (many with descriptions), it's part of a ...

The Menards Jingle (Sung By the Man Who Wrote It)

Mike Paulus

After posting about the City Pages's look at the history of the Menards jingle (here and here), Jeni Grouws left a comment about her father – Bob Holtan – the lyric writer for the home improvement-hawking jingle. We reached out to Jeni, who then ...

Eau Claire: 5th whizzin’ cold city in America

Mike Paulus

You've no doubt seen this little trivia tidbit floating around the internet in the past few weeks, posted to Facebook by your aunt or touted on the local news: Eau Claire is ranked as the 5th “coldest city in America.”