Tea’s Weird Week: A Big Week for the TWW “Please Clap Dept.”
I don’t know why this moment cracked me up so much, but it sure did. While out campaigning for the presidential nomination in 2016, candidate Jeb Bush faced a less-than-enthusiastic room. After making a point to the sleepy audience, he looked at them and asked them to “please clap.” That was unofficially the end of his campaign and the Bush presidential dynasty.
It’s strange to admit, but in that moment…I kinda felt for him. Well, maybe not him, but the situation he was in. It sometimes feels rough, exhausting, futile, frustrating trying to get attention for things you do. It makes you feel invisible, underrated, like you’re begging the world to notice you. Please clap, dammit— I put a lot of work into this.
At some point in the life of this column, I knew what I would call the little blurb I sometimes add to the end of Tea’s Weird Week to mention things I’ve worked on that are published, recognitions I receive, big media appearances, etc.– the Please Clap Dept. (the “Dept.” part is probably engrained in my brain from Mad Magazine, where they’d call different features “departments.” “Spy vs Spy,” for example was listed as being in their “Joke and Dagger Dept.”
This week, there was a lot of incoming good news for the Please Clap Dept. so I’m going to share these items.
I won two Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Awards. These are my 2nd and 3rd MPC awards. It’s an honor– unlike a popularity “Best of” contest, this one is judged by peers at different press clubs around the country. MPC says 2022 was one of the most competitive in their award history– over 900 entries (across all categories). My article “The Last Frame” won in the Short Soft Feature Story category and “Wanna Buy a Famous Tugboat?” got in the Best Soft Feature Story (Online Exclusively). I will find out if these stories won gold, silver, or bronze at an award ceremony in May. But as I said on Facebook, a double bronze would not be seen as sad to me. I will be writing a column looking behind the scenes of these stories and thanking people who helped after the award ceremony. I’ll also be hosting a party at Falcon Bowl (subject of “The Last Frame.”)
I wrote an article for Atlas Obscura. Longtime fan, first time contributor. I wrote an article following local treasure hunters Tom and Molly as they search for a hidden treasure buried somewhere in Milwaukee in the 80s: “Hunting for ‘The Secret’ Treasure Buried in Milwaukee.” This was a great experience from me and I hope it leads to more freelancing with AO. I’ve already gotten a few emails from people on their theories of where the Milwaukee and other Secret treasures in other cities are. I’m telling everyone the same thing– put me on speed dial and if you dig one of those up, let me break the story!
Pull tabs! I also wrote a feature for Milwaukee Magazine on the Wisconsin pastime of playing pull tabs and the interesting story behind the legality of it. You can read the article here: How Are Pull-Tabs Legal in Wisconsin? | Milwaukee Magazine
I also got a chance to stop by the WUWM studios to discuss the article with Joy Powers on Lake Effect. You can hear that segment here: The history and legality behind Pull-Tabs in Wisconsin tavern culture | WUWM 89.7 FM – Milwaukee’s NPR
Please clap. Thank you.
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My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, VA Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)