Essay

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Playwright and Lake Effect essayist Alvaro Saar Rios has told many powerful stories through his work over the years. But it was a play he didn’t write that guides his work today:

Ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I was living in Texas working on commission for a new play. My first draft deadline was weeks away and I still had no idea what the play was going to be about.

No. That’s not true. I did have a title.

Cari Taylor-Carlson

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. Friday is the day after, known in the retail world as Black Friday. Where will you be on that day? Just as significantly, Lake Effect essayist Cari Taylor Carlson knows where she won’t be:

In my opinion, REI, a purveyor of outdoor equipment and clothing, got it right when they announced they would close all one-hundred-forty-three stores and pay twelve thousand employees to take Black Friday off. They call it #OPTOUTSIDE. I say, instead of shopping, go find a micro adventure.

Lynn Friedman, flickr

For almost a hundred years, the descendants of a German immigrant owned the meat company he founded in Chicago in 1904. But the Oscar Mayer company was eventually sold – several times – and is now owned by Kraft Heinz. Its headquarters are currently in Madison. But as Lake Effect essayist Avi Lank notes, that, too, will soon change.

Essay: I Just Think About Not Thinking About Baseball

Nov 13, 2015
jypsygen / Flickr

Lake Effect essayist Jonathan West is not our regular sports contributor, and here’s why:

Truth be told, I can't every imagine being interested in uttering the words, "I think about baseball," to explain a clever tactic to tamp down some lusty passion. And with another World Series tidily wrapped up and put away for the season, you could say that I hit for the cycle once again.

Minerva Studio / Fotolia

We’re approaching the Thanksgiving season, a time when we give thought to the abundance of food on our tables.  Lake Effect essayist Mark Siegrist knows there are some who can’t take that abundance for granted:

She stands by her mother as the grocery cart is wheeled in their direction.

A beautiful child about 7-years of age.

She has meticulously braided hair.

And a smile that stops you in your tracks.

The grocery cart is full of promise.

And she knows it.

Essay: Oprah & Me

Oct 29, 2015
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Have you ever thought about your personal brand? How you present yourself to the world?  Probably not, but then again, as essayist Joanne Weintraub points out, you’re not an iconic TV star:

How do I love thee, Oprah Winfrey? Let me count the ways.

 

You’re a self-made woman who’s conquered New York and Hollywood by way of Milwaukee and Nashville, and who gives her hard-earned money away by the fistful,  including something like half a billion dollars to educational causes alone. I love you for that.

 

Essay: The Day Bacon Died

Oct 28, 2015
cookbookman17 / Flickr

The news that World Health Organization scientists linked bacon and other processed meats to cancer shocked the world this week...or maybe it didn’t. 

But it saddened many carnivores, among them Lake Effect essayist Jonathan West:

Years from now, dour faced people will huddle around piles of roughly chopped kale and ask one question.

“Where were you the day bacon died?”

This week, bacon is begging for a do over. 

pixonomy, flickr

Earlier this month a potential seismic shift occurred in the restaurant world. American restauranteur Danny Meyer announced he was eliminating tipping in all thirteen of his restaurants.

Lake Effect contributor Kyle Cherek wonders if this heralds the end of the world as we know it:

KatLevPhoto / Flickr

If we’re very lucky, one of our enduring memories is being read to by one or both of our parents. Lake Effect essayist Joanne Nelson was fortunate enough to have that experience:

At night my mother and I would crawl into her bed with potato chips and a bowl of her homemade dip between us, the family dog at our feet, tail thumping, always hopeful. We ignored his begging and concentrated on our reading material; me with my Little House books, Mom with her Good Housekeeping and McCall’s.

pml2008 / Flickr

Pope Francis’s visit to the United States and Cuba has passed into history.  Its impact is still being felt – but Lake Effect essayist Art Cyr says in looking at history, there are other milestones we should examine to understand the intersection of Catholicism and Western politics:

Ryan Dickey / Flickr

If the various kinds of writers in the world all have one thing in common, it’s the hope their words have an effect on people. But Lake Effect essayist Alvaro Saar Rios offers a cautionary tale:

Earlier this year, I wrote a "recycling" musical about a pair of Milwaukee teens who learn how to repurpose trash into musical instruments.

Essay: Three Little Questions

Oct 7, 2015
Joakim Wahlander / Flickr

The Milwaukee Film Festival is into the homestretch, with two more days of short and feature-length films at a variety of locations. 

The festival has attracted thousands of film buffs, among them Lake Effect essayist Joanne Weintraub:

I’ve never run a marathon, but for the last 2 weeks I’ve been sitting through one. Determined to get the most out of my prized Milwaukee Film Festival all-access pass, I’ve put myself on a rigorous high-popcorn diet and pledged to watch as many movies as I can take in 15 exhausting days.

Pedro Ribeiro Simões / Flickr

We all have our quirks, which can sometimes make us endearing to others, and sometimes, not so much. 

At any rate, Lake Effect essayist Linda Benjamin has been considering those quirks – flaws, some might say – and how they affect our interpersonal relationships:

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Even as the Democratic front-runner will visit Wisconsin today, it is dynamics of the GOP field that interest Lake Effect essayist Art Cyr:

The 2016 presidential campaign seems different. Traditionally, the Republicans have nominated a known-quantity candidate with extensive government experience. The Democrats are more given to surprises.

Essay: These are the Days

Sep 8, 2015
Matt Brown / Flickr

A lot of us look at the transitional month of September wistfully.  The carefree days of summer are over, and we’re on to another grade – even if that means 28th or 36th grade. 

But Lake Effect essayist Joanne Weintraub is happy to see the post-Labor Day edition of our fair city:

These are the days, my friends! These SEPTEMBER days in Milwaukee. They're not so cool and they’re not so hot, and I mean both of those in a GOOD way. They're also not so crowded with THIS fest and THAT fest and the OTHER fest, and I mean THAT in a good way, too.

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