Is This What You Wanted was uploaded to Flickr

Blue Line El Train as seen from the 606 bridge over Milwaukee Ave

embiggen by clicking

I took Is This What You Wanted on July 21, 2015 at 08:49PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 27, 2015 at 06:08PM

PBR 1844


Ok, if you’re doing the math at home, 300 RMB is about $44 US, or looking at this from another angle, about $43 dollars more than a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon should cost, no matter where you are.

1844 was the year that the Pabst Brewing Company was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the US, the beer’s lack of pretension led to a recent upswing in popularity among hipsters.

With 1844, the brand seems to be targeting a different demographic in the Chinese market.

The ad copy (on the facing page) begins with comparisons to the finest of alcohols:

It’s not just Scotch that’s put into wooden casks. There’s also Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1844

Many world-famous spirits Are matured in precious wooden casks Scotch whisky, French brandy, Bordeaux wine… They all spend long days inside wooden casks

It goes on to describe how the premium wood and craftsmanship of the casks creates the beer’s wondrous color and flavor, and ends by calling Pabst “truly a treasure among beers.”

Does Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844 truly merit such comparisons? It’ll cost you around 300 RMB to try a bottle for yourself, according to a Beijing Youth Daily article from last November, when the product was launched.

The article quoted Ni Chunlin, head of Blue Ribbon Beer, which produced Pabst in China:

“China’s beer market has an annual sales volume of 40 million tons. So why is the price of beer always around 5 or 10 yuan?” … Ni Chunlin said that the release of Blue Ribbon 1844 is aimed at changing consumers’ ideas about beer. “The high-end market is occupied by baijiu and wine. Chinese people can afford to drink baijiu that costs tens of thousands, and I believe that a 300-yuan beer won’t be a problem either.”

(click to continue reading A blue-collar beer goes upmarket.)

Pabst Theater

Temple for lease

Temple for lease
Temple for lease, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Film: Pistil
Flash: Off


spent a few hours in Milwaukee on Sunday. Mostly doing work related things, but squeezed in a photo-stroll for about an hour right at dusk.

I really like Milwaukee for some reason, probably because at least from an outsider’s perspective, Milwaukee still has so many buildings left from the industrial age. Most of these structures no longer exist in Chicago, especially downtown.

Reading Around on March 17th

Some additional reading March 17th from 13:38 to 14:12:

  • Taste of a thousand lemons – Los Angeles Times – On a wiltingly hot late summer evening, when all the plants are fainting and there’s not a breath of wind, you pour a tiny glass of limoncello straight from the freezer. It’s colder than ice, and it explodes in your mouth with all the freshness and optimism of lemon. Each sip seems to say, “Poor kid! Poor kid! What a scorcher that was! But everything’s all right now — your old friend night is on the way.”They know a lot about hot summer evenings in Sicily, where limoncello was invented about 100 years ago. It might just be the most sympathetic after-dinner drink there is, as bracing as a gin and tonic but more cheerful and fragrant. Limoncello’s fans have found a lot of other uses for it too: spiking lemonade, flavoring cocktails and splashing onto ice cream, poundcake or fresh fruit
  • Pallini Limoncello

  • Seattle Food – After Homemade Limoncello, You’ll Accept No Other – page 1 – Limoncello, the southern Italian after-dinner treat, is an invigorating refresher with an aroma and flavor unmatched by any citrus-flavored vodka or dessert wine. It’s the sensory equivalent of eating lemon meringue pie on a lazy Sunday picnic in the middle of Paolo’s lemon grove. It’s a potion that gets you to stop and live in the sun-drenched moment, even when it’s cloudy outside.

    The Luxardo brand that your state liquor store may carry is all fine and well, but once you’ve had homemade limoncello, you’ll accept no other. This recipe is a monthlong project that yields huge rewards for just a little patience and hardly any work.

  • Swanksalot’s Solipsism: Fifth Ward – Milwaukee, with biker – “As a billionaire, there would be a lot of buildings I would purchase in Milwaukee. This was one, for some reason. I’d turn most into art collectives – cheap studio space for artsy-fartsy types”

Amtrak and Milwaukee

Two items, commingled: Amtrak should be fully funded, and some photos from my recent trip to Milwaukee.

First, we took an impromptu day trip to Milwaukee to visit a friend who used to live in Chicago. We didn’t want to drive, so decided to take the train. What an absolute pleasure. We left our house 15 minutes before the train departed, purchased tickets from an automated kiosk1 and squeaked through the final gate just in time. Cannot imagine doing that flying. Either Chicago airport is 45 minutes or more away, plus security lines, baggage search, the seemingly interminable delays of departure, and mechanical failures.

Once we made it to our train, we stumbled into the so-called “Quiet Car” which was exactly that. We didn’t realize at first there was such a designation, but our snotty, aging car-mate loudly asked the ticket collector to enforce the rules. We were happy to oblige with the idea of treating the car as a library, actually, especially after changing seats to avoid looking at our nemesis. Quiet is good, no cell-phones, no loud conversation, perfect for reading the newspaper. The train car was exceedingly quieter than an airplane, and you could stand and stretch as necessary without airline stewards glaring at you with the stink-eye.

The train was nearly empty. On our return journey, we quizzed the train conductor, I could tell he wanted to talk a little. He had worked for Amtrak for 21 years, initially the Hiawatha was three cars long, then four, now five, and considering adding one more. The train used to travel over 100 miles an hour, but with the advent of cars, the signal system necessitated slowing the train down to a more stately pace of 80 miles an hour. Amtrak engineers have almost figured out how to reconfigure the signal system so the top speeds could be achieved again. Our conductor expected that to occur within a year or two, knocking 25% or so off of the travel time2.

Our ticket cost $44 round trip, each. Quick mental arithmetic confirmed this was slightly more expensive than taking the company car, but we didn’t want to drive in traffic, and our friend was picking us up anyway. I am baffled that the United States does not give Amtrak as much budget as it needs to run a first class national train system. Most people3 factor in costs of travel rather simply – how much gasoline would it take to go where I am going, how long will it take, or should I fly. Riding the rails should be encouraged – if the price of a train ticket was significantly lower than the cost of driving, more people would take the train, lessening the congestion on the highways, reducing pollution, reducing gasoline (and rubber, asphalt and whatever else is consumed by automobile travel), reducing the need to constantly repair highways, and so on. Good for the whole society in other words.

I am enough of a student of history to appreciate the role trains used to have in America, but most travelers don’t even consider riding Amtrak for local trips. I priced a trip to Denver, with a sleeping car, and it would cost nearly $2,000 for the two of us. Crazy. How about4 instead of government bailouts for investment bankers and pasta-forbid, Detroit automotive corporations, we invest in encouraging train travel? Increase staffing so the trains and stations are spotless, add WiFi5, add engineers, invest in tracks and signals so the train can go faster!

We both really liked Milwaukee, we are considering renting space there for a summer house. Though my sample size is small6 I think Milwaukee is way more interesting than the city often mentioned, Madison. Madison seems very small, with not much going on for non-students. Milwaukee has a more varied character – a loft district like where I live now, but cleaner, with more preservation of historic facades, a large park along Lake Michigan, and with a bonus that the Amtrak to Chicago is sleek and efficient.

Anyway, here are a few annotated photos from Saturday:

The Quiet Car

The Quiet Car

perfect for us introverts. We both brought plenty of reading material, spread out to adjoining seats, and before you realized, we were pulling into Milwaukee.

Amtrak Hiawatha Depot Entrance – Milwaukee
Depot Entrance - Milwaukee
Amtrak Station, Milwaukee.

View from the Hiawatha
View from the Hiawatha
The route took us through fields of resplendent fall folliage, nature preserves, and farms. I took a bunch of photos, using the wrong lens7 and with various other camera settings fracked8, most did not turn out well. By the time I realized my errors, we were almost in Milwaukee. Oh well, next time.

Factory of Rex
Factory of Rex
“Factory of Rex” – sounds like a band name.Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee. Their first EP could be called, “King of Bitter”.

Wedding Party – North Water Street
Wedding Party - North Water Street
The dresses look a lot like these dresses (at least to my uneducated, and unmarried eye):

I was wearing a light coat, but they had bare backs, arms. Must sacrifice for fashion, presumedly. I wouldn’t know.

Wisconsin Cold Storage
Wisconsin Cold Storage
I think the other side of the river is called the Fifth Ward.

Historic Third Ward
Historic Third Ward
as it claims: nearly every building seemingly has a historic marker on it (Registered on the National Registry of Historic Places).

Menomonee River, South – Third Ward
Menomonee River, South - Third Ward
or whatever it is called. Slightly modified in Photoshop to warm the colors.

Menomonee River – Third Ward
Menomonee River - Third Ward
or whatever it is called.

Fred Vogel Building
Fred Vogel Building
yet another historical marker in the aptly-named Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee.

Fifth Ward – Milwaukee, with biker
Fifth Ward - Milwaukee, with biker
As a billionaire, there would be a lot of buildings I would purchase in Milwaukee. This was one, for some reason. I’d turn most into art collectives – cheap studio space for artsy-fartsy types, an under-served demographic, and hire management to figure out logistics.

Moderne Aire
Moderne Aire
a coffee house and/or bar, didn’t have time to stop and check. Fifth Ward, Milwaukee.

I Threw Up
I Threw Up
luckily, I did not.Street art, Historic Fifth Ward, Milwaukee.

a quickr pickr post

  1. which in retrospect was a little too close: we were galloping through Union Station as the announcements called out, “Train 333 leaving in 3 minutes!” “Train 333 departing in 1 minute!” “Train 333 departing in :30 seconds!” []
  2. 90 minutes down to something less. I doubt the top speed could be achieved the entire journey – there are too many road crossings and stations. I am no expert however. []
  3. myself included []
  4. to use the rapidly becoming cliché phrase []
  5. there are already electrical outlets, which was pleasantly pleasing, though I didn’t bring any electronic devices this time, next time I’d bring a portable DVD player []
  6. I’ve been three times to Madison, Wisconsin, and three times to Milwaukee []
  7. not fast enough []
  8. maybe mistakenly pressed some buttons while in my camera bag, or else I’m just an idiot []