Friday, March 14, 2008
Old traditions share space with latest technology
By Tea Krulos, Photos by Paul Kjelland
When the new Discovery World opens at Pier Wisconsin on September 9, it will feature a stunning array of cutting edge technology. But one of the main attractions, a replica of the 1852 schooner The Challenge, was built in the old, traditional craft of wooden boat building. It’s an art that has few practioners left.
One of the crew of boat builders working on The Challenge was Amy “Shredder” Schaub. Unlike many people her age, Amy has decided to pursue a career in boat building, sailing, and teaching these skills to others.
“SHREDDER’S” SEA CHANTY
Amy began as a volunteer crewmember on the S/V Denis Sullivan, a recreation of an 1880’s era three masted schooner that now calls Pier Wisconsin home. The schooner was built under the direction of shipwright Rob Stevens, who has been building boats for over 25 years. He has built a replica of a Viking boat, the Snorri, among others. Amy took a basic boat building and sailing class. When the Denis Sullivan was set to cruise on it’s second voyage, Amy joined the crew as a deckhand. The voyage took the boat up through the St. Lawrence Seaway, and then down the East coast as far South as Florida. It was here in Florida that she took a test and received her Captain’s license.
The following year, Amy again voyaged with the Denis Sullivan, this time as Second Mate. They stopped at the Tall Ships Festival in Green Bay, and then again headed through the St. Lawrence Seaway, stopping in Halifax, and then heading to the Bahamas and Bermuda. The crew met Bermuda’s Governor, who joined them in a round of Bermuda’s official drink- the Dark and Stormy. This delicious cocktail consists of Gosling’s rum mixed with ginger beer and lime.
The next spring, Amy returned to Caribbean shores to teach Semester at Sea, a six week program for High school girls, who learned new skills as well as experiencing seasickness first hand. Subjects for the class included Sail Training, Water Science, Navigation, Maritime History, and Weather. Returning to Milwaukee, she taught on the ship Neeskay for the UWM Great Lakes Water Institute.
A TRAINING IN MYSTERY BAY
Amy decided to advance her boat building skills at the Northwest School of Boat Building in Port Hadlock, which lies on Mystery Bay in Washington State. After a semester she graduated with an associate’s degree in large vessel construction. The skills she obtained would be useful for her return to Milwaukee.
While in Port Hadlock, she received a call from Rob Stevens. He had work for her helping to build the Challenge. William Wallace Bates originally built the boat in 1852 in Manitowoc. It was built for speed, delivering cargo throughout the Great Lakes area. The ship met its fate in 1910 when it began to take water. The crew tried to pump the water out, but soon had to run the ship aground in the Milwaukee River. Folklore says the ship crashed into a shoreline saloon, but there is no official record of this.
BUILDING THE BOAT
Hundreds of steps, big and small go into building the schooner. Amy began working on the boat October of last year, after she graduated. Construction of the boat started with the “backbone” which includes the stem and keel. Next the frames or “ribs” are added to form the skeleton of the ship.
Planking begins. The planking is the wood that makes up the hull, the skin of the ship. The rudder is added. Deck beams, which support the deck floor, are placed.
A system of spars, masts, the jib boom, and bowsprit are constructed. All of these are parts, which hold the sails and the ropes, and parts that help move the sails, known as rigging. The pilothouses and cabins start to be constructed, and the deck is laid down. The anchor windlass, which houses the anchor and chain, and the anchor support system, is built. Lots and lots of sanding, painting, and detail work happen. One of the last steps is to add the sails and rigging. In order to get an authentic look, the shipwrights wanted to get pieces made for the ship, from the same source the original builders of the Challenge would have gone, a blacksmith.
CALLING IN THE BLACKSMITH
Like Amy, Nathaniel Reinartz is practicing a career in an uncommon art- blacksmithing. He was contracted to build several small working pieces for the Challenge, straps, plates, runners, and other parts. Some of the UnderCurrents crew traveled to Kewaskum, where Nathaniel was working in the Bighorn Forge on a piece called the traveler, a device that helps move the boom, which helps move a sail. The forge is on a pleasant farm housed inside a barn with dirt floors. The shop is filled with fiery furnaces, anvils, and racks and shelves full of hammers, tongs, rulers and various other tools and materials. A cow skull hangs above the doorway, and a rooster crows periodically in the background.
“The definition of Blacksmith has changed a lot over the years. The craft has always been somewhat ornamental, but now it’s 100 percent ornamental.” Nathaniel tells us. He’s glad to be working on functioning pieces, even if the ship isn’t setting sail. The Challenge is suspended from the ceiling inside Discovery World. People can walk underneath the ship and then board it on the second level of the museum. I asked Amy how she felt about putting so much work into a ship that will never sail the high seas. She said basically that she was just glad to practice her boat building skills.
The Challenge has helped Amy and Nathaniel apply their trade, but where can they go from here? Amy is returning to Port Townsend to teach on the schooner Martha, a two masted schooner that has survived since it was built in 1905. It has had a lot of work done, and although it can’t make long voyages, it can go on short class length trips. Nathaniel will carry on seeking freelance work, ornamental fences and other work.
MORE ATTRACTIONS AT DISCOVERY WORLD
In addition to the Challenge and the S/V Denis Sullivan, displays will include saltwater and freshwater aquariums, and touch tanks with sturgeons, sharks and stingrays. More displays-
* The HIVE is a “multimedia experience that immerges you in an exciting virtual environment.”
* Rockwell Automation’s Dream Machine “build your own 3-D object”
* Techno Jungle “join the hunt for the next great idea”
* Great Lakes Future, a scale representation of the Great Lakes waterway.
* Health Satellite “ explore modern medicine and it’s tools by diagnosing an astronaut on a mission to Mars”
* Energy and Ingenuity, “explore energy and it’s uses and sources”
* Life Jet City “an interactive display that teaches you how to get your ideas into the Marketplace.”
Discovery World’s Exhibit Grand opening is September 9t After Sept 10, Discovery World will be open every day 9-5
GOT A MOUTH LIKE A SAILOR?
Schooner- A boat with two or more masts with the main mast taller than the rest.
Transom- The bow of the ship.
Windlass- Drum that hauls the anchor up.
Capston- Wheel turned in a circle by sailors that hauls the anchor up.
Spar- Sticks that support the sails and rigging.
Jib Boom- A spar that sticks out in front of the boat.
Jib- Small forward sail.
Starboard- Right hand side facing forward.
Port- Left hand side facing forward.
Cut of your jib- As in “I don’t like the cut of your jib.”
This article originally appeared in UnderCurrents
photo by Paul Kjelland
“Circle A is an entity of it’s own. I love what it’s become, and that’s mostly the people.” –Warwick
I remember rocking out the Doctor Who pinball machine while slamming Blatz in the back room of the Stork Club. The space is now Nessun Dorma, and the back room is usually full of people enjoying wine, imports, and antipasta. Onopa “cleaned up its act” and became Stonefly. Quarters is still Quarters, but it went from a sonic boom blasting rock and roll palace to a hip hop palace.
And consider this: The Unicorn was a rock club that used to be housed in the basement of the Sydney Hih building. Some of the acts included pre superstardom groups like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, etc. and a ton of great punk bands. The club closed mid nineties. Gus Hosseini, who ran the club, now owns Club Belize (among other businesses), a Caribbean themed bar with card-carrying members and a dress code. There are other great Milwaukee clubs that closed before I got a chance to experience them.
Circle A, which opened five and a half years ago, has closed for set business hours, although it will be open sporadically for special events, at least until the bar’s license is up for renewal in Fall. Warwick Sealy, the bar’s owner has a “wait and see what happens then” attitude toward that date. Warwick lives upstairs from the bar, which rests at the end of Chambers Street next to the lot occupied by North Side Lumber and Fuel Company.
Inside flyers from 80’s punk shows featuring bands like The Cramps, Bad Brains, UK Subs, TSOL and others decorate the wall. Three Television sets play nothing but static. The beautiful Jukebox, a treasure, has an unusual mix of Hank Williams, The Ventures, Bow Wow Wow, Led Zepplin, and The Buzzcocks, as well as local bands like The Mistreaters (who released a Live At Circle A 7”), Rusty P’s, and Bear Proof Suit. This isn’t just a place of great music, but great thinking. And if you can’t find the right word for your thought, a double box set of the Oxford English Dictionary rests next to the cash register.
Circle A has become famous locally for a couple things, the first being it’s cramped “Alive At 8” series. This music showcase featured dozens and dozens of local bands. It was early enough that it didn’t piss off the neighbors, didn’t conflict with other shows, and was a great alternative to those who wanted to check out a band they liked but didn’t want to stay up until bar close to see them. Many of these performances were taped and Warwick hopes some of these are released in some form.
The other thing that energized Circle A was a solid line up of DJs spinning pop records, which wasn’t common at the time they opened. The bar had DJs almost every night of the week, many of which have developed their own following.
I went to the Circle A to hang out for the last night they were open on a regular basis, Sunday, February 25. It was a dark and snowy night. Just after 9 p.m., photographer Paul Kjelland and I showed up. The “Alive At 8” set is halfway through. Aaron Schleicher of the local band Juniper Tar is playing an acoustic set, and his brother Ryan will play after him.
9:45 p.m. Warwick pops in and greets the patrons. He has the gift of conversation, which makes him a favorite bartender to many.
10 p.m. In the men’s room the writing on the wall is, “Death to the Weird” and, uh-oh, “It Burns When I Pee”.
10:30 p.m. It’s not a place where everyone knows your name, but you’re sure to run into someone you know. Big Terrible Easy, a Brew City Bruiser, recently voted “Best Party Animal” by her league shows up. By now it has cleared out some because the “Alive At 8” set has ended. A DJ has set up and plays straight up 1950’s rock and roll on the ones and twos. Paul and I grab some theater seats against the wall and take it all in.
11 p.m. I’m looking at a giant poster by the window for a Ramones gig in London. As if on cue, the DJ cranks “I Wanna Be Sedated”.
11:10 p.m. The crowd has had enough drinks to start dancing, cutting a rug to Gene “The Duke” Chandler’s Duke-Duke-Duke of Earl-Earl-Earl, followed by “Book of Love” by The Monotones. I tried to write down the lyrics in real time for some reason, and the page is just a scribble of “boop boopy doops”. I see faded, scratched lettering on the window, “The New Wheel”. I ask the bartender about this artifact and she says the bar was “The New Wheel” and then “A Likely Story” in its past lives.
Midnight. I’m having a blast and my handwriting is barely legible, but I can read a note about people dancing to “Short Shorts.” It’s by The Royal Teens, and yes, we like short shorts. I go to the bar to get another beer and knock it over when I hand Warwick the money. Beer spills across the bar. Warwick’s unfazed. He’s seen worse.
Around 1:30 a.m., as best I can tell, I’m in the bag. I’m three sheets to the wind as they say. I say goodbye to everyone, even strangers.
One week later, and I’m again sitting at the bar of the Circle A. It is empty now, except for Warwick and I, and really quiet. The coolers, the neon signs, the static filled Televisions are all shut down. A pile of shredded cardboard covers part of the floor, chewed up by Warwick’s pitbull Hazelnut. I start the conversation by trying to backtrack to why he opened the bar in the first place. He tells me it was largely inspired by his love of music.
I ask him what the first memorable shows he attended were. He started out going to coliseum shows by monsters of metal like Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, and Kiss. He soon came across punk rock when he moved to New York City in the late 1970’s. There he was blown away by The Ramones at a small bar called Zappa’s, and saw The Cramps and Richard Hell and the Voidoids at Max’s Kansas City.
Warwick moved to Milwaukee in 1996 and quickly became part of the local basement scene. At that point there were maybe four or five houses having basement shows on a regular basis. He even played in a band briefly himself as the keyboardist for the short lived but well loved band The Moles, which also featured a bass player and a percussionist playing oil drums.
“Playing a show at Circle A is like playing a basement show, minus the furnace, leaky pipes, and washer and dryer.”
So why close?
“I’ve been edging this way for awhile, I’ve gotten tired of it and the work involved. I’m not whining, I’ve had a great staff. Its just time for something new.” The non stop party has distracted him from other projects he wants to take on, although he’s quick to add that he’s grateful for all the people who have showed up regularly to support Circle A over the last five years.
“For all the things that could go wrong running a bar, thankfully few of those things happened to us.” I asked him if crime was a factor in his decision. Circle A has been held up twice, the last time a year and half ago.
“No it didn’t. It sucks, but it didn’t sway my decision. It’s a concern, but a separate concern.”
Is Circle A the last of the great rock bars in Milwaukee? Where can the masses turn?
This article originally appeared in UnderCurrents
Sunday, March 9, 2008
LEAH JEE ROCKS BBC
By Tea Krulos
Talking to Leah Jee is a cheerful experience and you get the impression she spends a great deal of time happily rocking out. She has carried this attitude with her from her home in sunny California, moving here in 2000 with a scholarship to Marquette.
Jee plays an infectious, energetic, poppy punky Orange county-y sound, a ray of South Cali supersonic sunlight that blinds the frozen no-fun-niks of the local scene.
Leah Jee and The Boys (her back up band, Jim Sinicki, bass, Lior Dar, drums, Bryan Burch, guitar) have played it all, from the sweat soaked, beer swilling masses at Summerfest to intimate serenades on a stormy night at the Riverwest Commons.
The band toured in November, playing dozens of gigs in home, sweet home, California, from San Francisco to San Diego.
“The California music scene was absolutely receptive to us, and we had a great fan response every show we played.” Jee told me.
The band will hit the road again in May for a mid atlantic and east coast tour. On March 8, Jee will rock the BBC, celebrating the release of her new EP, All The Things I Forgot To Mention, recorded at Studio Z in Milwaukee over several months.
Leah Jee and the boys always has an energetic live performance, and if the audience is lucky, they’ll hear a rockin’ cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” which wowed the crowd so much at one performance, that they demanded the band play it a second time.
Speaking of Paula Abdul, Miss Jee will be one of three guest judges for the Alverno College Idol contest, a replica of American Idol.
Jee will certainly bring a healthy dose of Vitamin C to the contest.
The CD is available at www.leahjeemusic.com.
This story originally appeared at www.vitalsourcemag.com