2017 Reading List: Live and Let Live
6. Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict, and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood, by Evelyn M. Perry (2017, The University of North Carolina Press)
I took a break to read my first title this year that wasn’t related to The End of the World as We Know It in fiction or non-fiction form, and what a treat it was. Live and Let Live is a sociological examination of the neighborhood I’ve lived in, Riverwest…oh, for about 17 years now. Author Evelyn M. Perry moved to Riverwest for three years to work on her study, in a style known as ethnography, or as I describe it, “hey, can I hang out with you guys for a couple years?” As she rolls through the chapters, she investigates the neighborhood– warts and all– and if you live in the neighborhood (or one similar) you’ll see a lot of issues examined that are common discussion here: gentrification, diversity, violent crime, public intoxication, “live and let live.” Perry has pulled a lot of great quotes on the neighborhood from a variety of local characters (disclosure: part of a jokey thing I wrote about Riverwest drinking culture is the epigraph for Chapter 6).
I have a Q & A set with Perry for the April issue of the Riverwest Currents and she makes an in-store appearance Friday, March 31, 7pm at Woodland Pattern Book Center here in Riverwest.
Recommended? Definitely. If you live in the neighborhood, you’ll learn a new perspective. And if you want to read a well written sociological examine of a diverse neighborhood, this is it.
The Strange Case of the Oak Leaf Man
You can imagine my excitement this last winter when the fearless editor of the Riverwest Currents, Alice, messaged me to say that I had received a mystery letter at the office talking about an urban legend of Riverwest. Wow!
I made my way over to the office ASAP and Alice handed me an envelope with no return address. Inside was typewritten letter that read:
Attn: Tea Krulos
Dear Sir or Madam:
Hello, have you seen the enclosed flyer has been posted all over the east side? The one enclosed was posted on a bulletin board on Prospect Ave. The story mentions Riverwest. I thought it might be of interest since it mentions “specters and ghouls” but I cannot find any information about it- nobody around seems to know anything about it.
Thank you very much.
No signature. Enclosed was the said flyer, a photocopy of an “article.” It was smudged with grime and pocked with staple holes. The article was titled “More ‘Oak Leaf Man’ Sightings Reported.” Handwritten at the bottom in black marker was an asterisk with the words “Neighborhood Alert.” The article included a black and white photo “taken by two anonymous cross country skiers” of what looked maybe like a pumpkin or basketball in a hoodie peeking through snowy tree branches.
Reading through it, I rolled my eyes and assumed it had been the shoddy work of a college paper, doing what skeptics would call “mystery mongering.” It seemed immediately obvious to me that the story here was not a supernatural one, but possibly young college kids new to an urban environment. Young Johnny or Susie moved to the dorms from Mequon or Appleton or Whitefish Bay and were terrified to see the apparition of…a homeless man wearing a hoodie, wandering the Oak Leaf Trail…ooo-weee-woo!
But when I read through it again, several things jumped out at me as being too fake for any publication (at least I would hope so!) and I believe this is a hoax.
There is no attribution as to where the article is from and nothing came up on Google. The hoaxer shot themselves in the foot by listing it as being on page A3 of a State & Local section of an unknown publication, with a date of September 29, 2014. “State & Local” means it would have to be a Wisconsin paper, however the style matches nothing I am familiar with. I consulted with two librarians at the Central Library periodical department and they agreed the style was unfamiliar.
Then there is the fact that the article isn’t credited with a byline, but is signed off at the end as “-t.k.” Um, are you trying to rip off the supernatural reporting style of one Tea Krulos? Your kung fu is weak!
I suppose there is a small possibility this is from some small town Wisconsin paper, but I don’t think so. I think it was created in Photoshop.
Another red flag here is the quotes from “some Riverside High School students,” “a group of college students at UW-Milwaukee’s Riverview Hall,” and “some long-term residents of Milwaukee’s upper east side and Riverwest neighborhoods.” See the problem? There are no actual names listed as sources anywhere in the article.
Through my connections to local paranormal investigators, I soon discovered the same article had also been mailed or e-mailed to Allison Jornlin, a local ghost story expert, as well as local groups Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee and Brew City Paranormal.
Why? I think someone was maybe bored and wanted to create their own urban legend, a myth for the ages, and possibly have fun freaking out some college kids.The “report” says this Oak Leaf Man, a “man with a lot of scars, wearing a long coat” had been spotted staring into a dorm window at Riverview Hall “during a party.” I think trying to spread this tale is a Halloweeny prank.
As for exploring the Oak Leaf Trail this Halloween season— I would be a little cautious walking down there, especially at night. Unfortunately, there have been incidents of crime on occasion, but it is a beautiful place to walk with a friend. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Oak Leaf Man swooping in to steal your soul, or whatever he’s supposed to do.
Happy Halloween, my friends!
My book Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators has been a popular topic this Halloween season. It made Cult of Weird’s 2015 Fall Reading List and was recently featured on Wisconsin Life. You can order a copy here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php
My New Year’s resolution was to keep better track of what I’m doing. I’ll be listing what I get published each month and at the end of 2015 I’ll be able to see how many articles and a rough word count of what I did over the year.
I spent a lot of January working behind the scenes. I read over proofs for my upcoming book Monster Hunters (out June 2015, Chicago Review Press) and spent a lot of time working on the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (June 6, 2015), and working on promo material for Ballyhoo (a comic I wrote and David Beyer Jr. illustrated).
I did have three articles published this month.
1. “Testing and Taxing Your Brain,” M: Milwaukee’s Lifestyle Magazine, January 2015. Article about local trivia nights, built on trivia questions with answer key at bottom of the article. The link will take you to their digital edition, the article is on page 96.
2. “the Soil & the Sun @ Turner Hall Ballroom,” Shepherd Express, Jan. 29. Concert review.
3. “Neighborhood Spotlight: Boen Richardson: The Right Side of the Tracks,” Riverwest Currents, February 2015. I’m including it here, despite Feb. cover date because it is out on the street (but not online yet).
Total 2015 word count: 2,070 words.
SPACE COLLECTOR s/t
From the August 2013 Riverwest Currents
The Space Collector sound—imagine this, a heavy metal pterodactyl flapping its wings and shrieking violently, then lazily sailing along on a current of power chords. They stomp like a tyrannosaurus, sting like a velociraptor. Is this prehistoric metaphoric ooze—“From Fin to Foot” too much? Okay then, lets move it into space.
Interlude: DUN DUN DUN DUN! Dundadundaladalada dun—DUN DUN DUN DUN!
In the dystopian future, the world is a junk heap. Hope is lost, but that interlude you just heard was the “Flight of the Space Collector.” It’s a lost space cruiser collecting cosmic debris with the most bumpin’ boombox in the galaxy. The captains of this ship are Ed Osburg (bass/ vocals), Chris Valenti (guitar/ vocals), Miles Harbury (guitar/vocals), and Patrick Haga (drums/vocals.) They’ll lead you through a self titled album of controlled chaos, math metal tracks like “Gnomeland Security/ Pretension Bracket,” “Nothing Survives in a Vacuum,” and “Grandma Ash.”
Some of the songs are for headbangers, others are for philosophers.
My favorite tracks include the previously mentioned heavy stoner sludge “From Fin to Foot,” and the instrumental roller coaster “Flight of the Space Collector,” but the whole album is great and works well in its entirety in addition to individual tracks.
One more thing about this album—volume must be cranked to 11.