Now I have nothing that I can keep
'cause every place I go takes another place with me -
Love is love's critique..."
I was singing in a band the other weekend. We had a full house, the audience were up for it, the band sounded, like, incredible and all I could think of was grabbing the mic at the front of the stage, punching the air and yelling "Good evening Milwaukee!"
I have absolutely no idea why I associate Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, with rock music. I suppose it needs something to keep its head above water. Bustling Chicago is further south on Lake Michigan and we saw The Blues Brothers showcase that city's musical pedigree. Detroit, home of Motown and Eminem's 8 Mile is to the east. Even to the north-west there is the funk fusion of Prince's Purple Rain. So why do I think of rock when I think of Milwaukee? Maybe it's just the name of the city - it is kinda funny. Or maybe my overwhelming first impression of Wisconsin - like my overwhelming first impression of Delaware - comes from Wayne's World. In that film Wayne and Garth travel to see a very erudite Alice Cooper play. As Alice says:
"I'm a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 1600s to trade with the Native Americans."
"In fact, isn't 'Milwaukee' an Indian name?" "
Yes, Pete, it is. Actually, it's pronounced 'Mil-e-wah-que', which is Algonquin for 'the Good Land'."
That bizarre interlude aside, I'm not sure I know that much about Wisconsin. Whenever I tried (prior to this year) to name all fifty American states Wisconsin was always the one I forgot. It's east coast is provided by Lake Michigan, and its northern pokes its toes into Lake Superior, but I feel that it is overshadowed by Chicago to the south. Even the peninsula of land between those two lakes belongs elsewhere - it is Michigan's detached Upper Peninsula (where Anatomy of a Murder was set). A little research reveals that it does have its sport, but even there the Badger State seems quite humble. Compared to the braggadocio displayed by the naming of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings Wisconsin is represented in the NFL by the Green Bay Packers. Named, presumably, after people who pack things. It seems a small town team isolated from the overly-testosterone driven machismo of more butch teams from larger cities. And Packers fans are known as 'Cheeseheads'. Wisconsin is, apparently, the largest cheese-producing state in the Union. And its inhabitants have turned this term of scorn into a proud characteristic. And go around wearing giant foam hats shaped like chunks of cheese. Bless.
So if Wisconsin, more than any other, is my 'forgotten state' I have more need than most to find out what makes it tick. My three films for this week are:
- Bridesmaids (2011)
- The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)
- BASEketball (1998)
So let's rock Milwaukee!