Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
113

It's Cute That New York is Slowly Catching Up with Wisconsin

When I moved from Wisconsin to the Lower East Side in January, I quickly discovered my deep Midwest roots were very uncool. After a few smirks and condescending remarks about how I must be feeling “culture shock” in the big city, I learned not to broadcast the fact that I was raised and educated in, as our license plates proudly proclaim, America’s Dairyland.

It wasn’t always easy. When my date at Max Fish ordered a can of PBR, I didn’t tell him that my grandpa and his VFW friends considered it treason to drink anything that hadn’t been bottled in Milwaukee. When my neighbor wore a Green Bay Packer jersey over her skinny jeans, I kept quiet about the fact that my father, like all decent men born and bred in Wisconsin, owned a small piece of the team. And when a photographer at a birthday party in Brooklyn patiently explained to me how she recently canned garlic scapes, I refrained from sharing my mother’s recipe for pepper jelly.

But what a year! With Bon Iver’s second Wisconsin-recorded album in heavy hipster rotation and Chad Harbach’s Wisconsin-set The Art of Fielding on seemingly every Kindle on the L train, a strange realization occurred to me: Instead of leaving my tiny hometown in central Wisconsin to live in the white-hot center of cool, I could have just stayed in Waupaca (population 6,265) and churned out Styles section pieces for the New York Times until the cows came home—because, literally, there are cows down the street from the house. Without even trying, it seems, I was born in the coolest place on earth—and now everyone is trying to catch up.

To wit:

Cornholing

The New York Times credited Bill Hemmer, a Fox news anchor, with bringing the traditional backyard game of Cornhole—along with, one imagines, countless bad ‘cornhole’ jokes—to New York. Hemmer said, “I find it to be a very charming, passive, social summer game.” But my dad could have brought his monogrammed Cornhole set to the big city years ago. Like my old man always says, “You know it’s summer when it’s warm enough to Cornhole in the yard.” And while on the subject of corn, it's worth mentioning that while some New Yorkers have no problem waiting on line at Cafe Habana for the Brooklyn eatery's "famous" corn, my parents have an actual entire cornfield in their backyard. No waiting required. Except for the actual growing.

Cheese Curds

Earlier this summer, the Times excitedly announced the opening of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a cheese factory and retail store, in the Flatiron District. Beecher’s sells fresh cheese curds for the princely sum of $22-a-pound. Maybe these curds are so fresh they squeak when you bite into them, as required, but Cheesie Bob, of Cheesie Bob’s Bleu Cheese House boasts that “In Wisconsin cheese making is not only an art but a significant part of Wisconsin’s heritage.” Oh, and Cheesie charges $5.25 for a pound of fresh cheese curds. For non-locals who don’t know that Friday is the best day for curds, Cheesie puts out a sign letting tourists know.

Canoeing

All summer long my Brooklyn boyfriend has been begging me to go canoeing on the Gowanus Canal with the Gowanus Dredgers, a group that offers paddling trips on the highly polluted water. "We’ll have to be careful not to splash ourselves,” he keeps telling me. I grew up on the Chain O’ Lakes, a series of 22 glacial lakes, where it's still safe to get mildly moist. And at least there I can go for a dip and never see a single "Coney Island whitefish."

Deer Hunting

According to the Times, the closest most young New Yorkers get to deer hunting is playing Big Buck Hunter, an arcade game with a dedicated subculture. One of the game's champions, Alex DerHohannesian, was quoted in the Styles section back in May, saying “I’ve never really hunted before." Although DerHohannesian ("DerHo," to his friends) admitted that he "shot a squirrel once for Pioneer Day in middle school… cooked it and ate it, and it was god awful.” In June, in a Times magazine profile of Justin Vernon (yes, Bon Iver), Jon Caramanica went for what could only be described as a bit of Wisco porn, quoting the indie howler and Kanye West protégé on hunting: “The first time I ever did it, it was kind of beautiful… I was like, wow, I feel more mortal. I feel less important.” Well, three of my uncles have decorated their basements with head trophies (likely years before Taavo Somer raided his first country rummage sale) and boast that their venison is the best in Waupaca county.

As I write this, I'm sitting at my parent’s kitchen table, wearing my Grandfather’s old flannel shirt and looking out at the cornfield. The salt lick my dad placed out in the yard earlier this summer has been licked to nearly a nub by deer and I'm finding myself at a bit of a crossroads: Should I go back to New York to live among the squares? After all, everyone in New York is just so exceedingly tardy to discover trends. Maybe I'll just stay here and finally start that pie shop with my mom on the site of the old Waupaca Café. Together we can count down the days until the Styles reporters show up for a profile.


Megan L. Wood has written for the Matador Network, Centro y Sur and CNN.com. She's still waiting for Cribbage to make it big.

Photo by Claire L. Evans.

113 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#713)

I just visited the lovely state of Wisconsin a few weeks ago and finally had cheese curds and … really didn't enjoy them? I was kind of sad, because they seemed exactly like the kind of thing I would like (which is to say, something cheesy and fatty that is bad for you). Should i have held out for the fried kind?

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

@jfruh, yes, if you like fried things then fried curds are wonderful–crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside. And they make neat shapes. The trick is to use a thin batter and then dip them in homemade ranch sauce because they will never be terribly flavorful by themselves.

Operalala (#10,518)

@jfruh The whole idea is that they're supposed be so fresh they squeak. Once past the squeaky stage, they are very good fried.

illcommunication (#13,090)

@jfruh I'm from Montreal. I know cheese curds. They're good with french fries and gravy. I may have to check out this "Wisconsin" place…

@jfruh oh friend you either put the cheese curds on a plate and microwave them till they melt and put salt on them or you hold out for the fried cheese curds…deep fried are better if you can find them (loyal Northwest Sconnie for 16 years) :)

Phil Koesterer (#2,708)

Needs more euchre.

@Phil K. Sheepshead is the one true German-deck card game. All other are posers.

Also, cheese curds are amazing. Is it possible to find a good fishfry (Friday or otherwise) in NYC?

iantenna (#5,160)

@Phil K. i was gonna say. i thought euchre was the antiquated card game of choice in the midwest.

gfrblxt (#11,113)

@Phil K. As somebody who grew up in Wisconsin (elem. sch.) & Ohio (jr. high & HS), I got the impression that euchre was big from, approximately, Indiana to about Syracuse. New York.

Which leads to the question: what _is_ the Midwest, anyway? I remember getting into a huge argument once with a guy from Kansas – he was insisting that Ohio was part of the Northeast and not the Midwest, and I was insisting that Kansas was part of the Great Plains and not the Midwest. I'll stick to my US History: unless your state was part of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, you aren't Midwestern.

KenWheaton (#401)

Big Buck Hunter … because nothing says deer hunting like shooting at multiple deer with a pump-action gun from a standing position. LOVE THAT GAME!

But it's that these things are done with a winking inauthenticity that makes them "cool" in certain settings and everyday in others. Like, we're playing cornhole, but we're not REALLY playing cornhole. But also, we are. Get it? Neither do we.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@James Hamblin@twitter What is "James Hamblin" supposed to be a wink to?

@Niko Bellic it's this play on the name I was given at birth. In that it is. I use it in everyday life, also, in a kind of vintage "this is what my birth certificate says" sort of way.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

@James Hamblin@twitter truth. the flannel shirt and cowboy boots i wore around New York last fall to fit in with the hipsters helped me fit in at Menards when I went home over the holidays. all i was missing was a bright orange jacket for hunting season. keep an eye out on the streets of fort greene this winter…

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Even I know that if I wanted to point out how cool something is (even when a lot less dumb sounding than "Big Buck Hunter"), I wouldn't try to do it by saying NYT wrote about it, and I've been living here less than six years. On the other hand, The Awl wrote about it now. But then again, it's getting pooed on in the comments…

iplaudius (#1,066)

I love Wisconsin. And the crazy thing is, there is still so much more for them to plunder. (Has there been anything about Leine's? Now, sadly, not locally owned.)

I was a California boy from an unfashionable inland city who fled to small-town Wisconsin for college (Appleton). I was lucky enough to make friends from the surrounding areas. I had friends from Waupaca and stopped there once or twice. I stayed in Appleton an extra year after college, to work and be with friends. These were some of the richest years of my life.

People looked at me askance for choosing not to go to a UC school. And, later, I had to endure remarks about having "escaped" Wisconsin for, ha ha, Connecticut. (One of my colleagues in grad school actually laughed in my face on hearing the town name "Appleton.")

All the "stuff" of Wisconsin is great, but what I miss most is the people.

Anna Weber@facebook (#100,826)

@iplaudius Many of my besties went to theatre school in Appleton. I think they are all great, so I am assuming you must be by association.

Bittersweet (#765)

@iplaudius: If you're really good, one day they let you escape Connecticut for Massachusetts.

iplaudius (#1,066)

Also beloved by New Yorkers and the New Yorker alike: Lorrie Moore. Although not a Wisconsin native, she lives in Madison and sets a lot of stories in Wisconsin.

There's a passage in "People Like That Are the Only People Here" where she muses on the quaint names of Fox Valley towns.

And then there is that university professor in "You're Ugly, Too" who insults her students through the narrator, saying: "Her students were by and large good midwesterners, spacey with estrogen from large quantities of meat and eggs." On second thought, maybe Lorrie Moore is not the best example of a Wisconsin product.

Katjusa (#6,632)

@iplaudius Lorrie Moore's "A Gate at the Stairs" is set in my hometown of Madison and drips with disdain for the city, the people and Wisconsin. I have my own conflicted feelings about Madison, but I thought she took it too far and lost sight of the humanity involved.

Katie Scarlett (#100,410)

As a lady who grew up slightly south of the Illinois-Wisconsin border and spent nearly every childhood summer vacation in Door County ("The Cape Cod of the Midwest!"), I just want to say that I LIKED WISCONSIN BEFORE IT WAS COOL.

Also, I often feel a little… uneasy? maybe? when non-Midwesterners start to wax poetic about the region. It's like they're trying to be complimentary, but then they go and use words like "earnest" to describe the people, and it just comes off as patronizing. But perhaps I just have a big chip on my shoulder.

melis (#1,854)

@Katie Scarlett So you liked it in August???

Here all week. Tip your waitress. Try the etcetera.

Katie Scarlett (#100,410)

@melis Ooooh ZING!

Bittersweet (#765)

@Katie Scarlett: Totally off-topic – there are six-digit commenter numbers now, holy crap! Choire and Balk must be psyched.

Katie Scarlett (#100,410)

@Bittersweet I know, right?! Took me by surprise too. I've been a creeper for about a year and a half and I feel a strange sort of pride when I see evidence of the awl's growing popularity and success… even though I contributed nothing to it but page views and links from my facebook page. (YOU'RE WELCOME, GUYS)

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Katie Scarlett Richmond, IL is my hometown. Doesn't get much closer to the border, and sure is quite a place to be from. I've lived many other places besides NYC since moving away and look at my commenter number! It's almost a whole order of magnitude lower than yours. Humble-brag? Earnest goes to Chicago.

melis (#1,854)

@whizz_dumb TRY A LITTLE BIT OF 1854 ON FOR SIZE, COWBOY

It practically doesn't even need a COMMA. Your move, bitchass.

@Katie Scarlett Comma?

SeanP (#4,058)

@Katie Scarlett Door county is truly the bomb.

katesilver (#3,792)

I am from Racine, just south of Milwaukee. When I went home recently, my mother hyped the Bayview area as the "Brooklyn of Milwaukee." Maybe she wants me to move home from New York. And I would, because Milwaukee is pretty great.

Anna Jayne@twitter (#11,365)

@katesilver My sister lives in Bay View (and my mom lives in Racine) and I think that's probably accurate.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Curds in NY? now what am I going to bring people when I visit? (A: summer sausage)

And you forgot taxidermy http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703493504576007860555954534.html

And, of course, all the rage: privatizing social security.

hockeymom (#143)

@Abe Sauer Bring them a cheesehead and something in blaze orange.

Abe Sauer (#148)

ALSO, just to be servicey: If you are a homesick Wisc. native looking for an authentic Packer-watching experience, go to Kettle of Fish in the west village, an old Kerouac haunt I believe that on Sundays becomes like something you'd find anywhere from Wausau to Baraboo. Get there early–at least an hour so, more for big games– as there's often a line.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

Ah cornhole. It's like horseshoes for children.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Ham_Snadwich BAGS! I call it bags. Because you can flaunt your accent(s) better that way. bAAgs are so soft compared to horseshoes.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Ham_Snadwich My theory is that people like to say cornhole.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

I like Wisconsin as I grew up there and admit my public schooling in the Wisconsin system was stellar. I think the Green Bay Packers are unique enough of a franchise to have a respected place in sports but in civilization. The people, by and large, are wonderful. The punk scene in Madison during the late 80s was great. The State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee? Amazing.

However, here are the reasons I could never live there – yellow jackets ruining any type of fun outside during the summer, my daughter requires shots when she gets mosquito bites, and the complete lack of diversity outside city centers. It's a Yankee state, and some of my own relatives look at me funny for having a non-white wife.

Plus, UGH, Lutherans. And mega-churches. And now Paul Ryan. As a child, Wisconsin to me was a "liberal" state; and it seems like every time I return, it wants to be more and more like Arkansas. Not to take away from any of its unique majesty or appealing traits; it certainly has them.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

also worth mentioning I play cornhole, for real, when I visit friends for long camping trips in other midwestern states. I never even heard of this when I grew up there.

seattleist (#14,743)

Beecher's is from Seattle…where all the hipster bars have stuffed deer heads on the wall. PBR holds its own here against Rainier and Olympia, but I have a feeling that Tecate is fast becoming the new hipster beer.

I recently brought a friend from Milwaukee to my favorite local, pre-hipster, pre-Nirvana bar here in Ballard, The Viking, and he said it reminded him of home. Skål!

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@seattleist Tecate is overpriced and not as good. Rainier is great because it's just like Hamms and Oly and PBR and Schlitts and… hipster schmitster

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@whizz_dumb I kind of like the new orange Oly tall boy cans. Plus drinking Oly reminds me of my gramps, who was never without a can of Golden Oly in hand.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

As a current New Yorker who grew up in Appleton (dad's a Lawrence prof), first I wanna say hollaaa to @iplaudius. College Ave, what what? Secondly, where's the love for the Friday Fish Fries at the VFW? Also, perhaps more importantly, if NY is really so hip to the trends, why have I yet to find a Culver's in the tri-city area?

iplaudius (#1,066)

@EmmyPo : College Avenue bars were the best. Wooden Nickel, Dr. Jekyll’s (was Pat’s Tap ’til 1999). I had a job at Peggy’s senior year, a cafe that probably doesn't exist any more. I did do the Friday Fish Fry at VFW. My friend from Waupaca took me there and to one of those breakfast “clubs”—Mr & Mrs K’s in Greenville, I think.

You’re totally right about Culver’s: I don’t think anyone out there in New York knows about frozen custard. (Recently, I was in West Virginia, and frozen custard was everywhere. I was surprised by that.)

I won't ask who your father is! Though I really really want to know!

@EmmyPo @iplaudius Lawrence grads/townies represent! I'm Class of '99. I have a beer stein from the Viking Room to prove it.

iplaudius (#1,066)

@The Dependent Clause Ha ha WE ARE THE SAME CLASS whoa.

Carrie Frye (#9,863)

@EmmyPo @iplaudius @The Dependent Clause Yay, Appleton talk! I grew up there too (and spent a lot of time in high school studying at Seeley G. Mudd at Lawrence). Sort of magical to wake up to discussion at The Awl of the bars along College Avenue (Cleo's!).

@iplaudius Which means we almost certainly know/knew each other IRL. (Oh, and hi Carrie!)

EmmyPo (#101,382)

@iplaudius @The Dependent Clause @Carrie Frye love this! i agree, totally magical. @iplaudius how much math did you take in college? that's your hint. & i miss peggy's! it is now some rando cafe. and beaners has a new name now, too. the horror! the second best thing (after driving my parents minivan w/ packer sticker to target) about going home to visit is that i live w/i walking distance of the ave.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

also, i registered on the Awl solely to comment on this article. which i've now done, like, 6 times.

@EmmyPo Culvers = amazing needs to go national soon, and honestly the best place to go for a pub crawl is Eau Claire on the water st. circuit, plenty of bar diversity their and theres always parties in the "Student Ghetto", just make sure you go during the school year always packed.

@EmmyPo @iplaudius although, Kopps is the place to go for true Wisconsin frozen custard…

famous (#2,401)

@Jabril Faraj@twitter +1 on Kopps. So good. There used to be a pretty good custard place called Timmy O's in Corona, Queens, but it seems to have closed down within the past several months. Very sad.

beatrixkiddo1 (#2,988)

Hmm, I dunno WIsconsin. I would blame the corn hole thing on the fact that half of Ohio now lives in Brooklyn.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

Wow, they wait "on line" for things in Wisconsin too? It IS just like New York!

Neopythia (#353)

@stuffisthings Do NOT get me started on this. I've adopted "soda" since moving out here but I will never, ever, say "on" line.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Neopythia Thank you.

@stuffisthings They do? Not in western Wisconsin (Eau Claire region).

sigerson (#179)

A beer brat on State Street in Madison changed my life in 1996. That is all.

hockeymom (#143)

@sigerson Beer brats before the game….gyros after bar time. Ice-cream at the Union in between.

WaityKatie (#79,377)

I had a lot of people condescendingly ask me if I had "culture shock" too when I moved here…from Philadelphia. It's 80 minutes away on Amtrak, people!

grandpa27 (#804)

In my midwestern youth corn holing referred to a perverse sexual practice. How times have changed.

Having Culver's (or Michael's!) nearby would be amazing. Sigh.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I'm gonna pop into this thread just to say HA HA HA ENJOY NOT HAVING CULVER'S IN YOUR LIVES ALL YOU SUCKERS FROM THE MIDWEST THAT EVACUATED TO NEW YORK.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

@Chris Timmerman@twitter there's a Michael's at 97th and columbus. you're welcome.

and @Art Yucko thanks. thanks a whole lot. i'd like one butterburger and a large flavor of the day to go.

EmmyPo, I don't live in New York. If you're being serious though, thanks. Also, I'm fairly sure that Michael's only has the four locations in and around Madison.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

@Chris Timmerman@twitter color me embarrassed. thought you meant michael's, the mecca of craft stores, which just opened up a branch. guess that was only exciting to me (and other people who like crafts and cats etc etc)

CatsInBags (#3,656)

@Art Yucko truth

Dan Kois (#646)

Wisconsin is a wonderful place to be from.

alphabetnyc (#102,716)

no one has a kindle on the L train you fuckwit.

jasonnn (#5,180)

"…owned a small piece of the team"

And that, folks, is when I clicked close tab.

EmmyPo (#101,382)

@jasonnn ?? commonly known fact that the packers are the only 'fan-owned' team. everyone within a 200 mile radius 'owns' part of the team. and everyone has season tickets. or knows someone who does!

@jasonnn yah dude the packers are publicly owned and run by a board of directors, no Jerry Jones or Steinbrenners here. Why else would the packers still be in Green Bay if it werent for the community buying a stock that doesnt pay dividends, on 3 seperate occassions to bail them out. They actually call and ask when these stocks will be offered again because people just want to own a percent of the packers…see how many Yankee fans try and buy stock in the team once they hear theres no dividend…"WHAT?!"

hungrybee (#2,091)

I'm waiting for the Times to do a trend piece on Stump. Then I will know that the Wisconsin bar game scene has truly arrived. (Also, big ups to Chain O' Lakes!)

SeanP (#4,058)

@hungrybee I want to play this right now.

hungrybee (#2,091)

@SeanP Is it weird that my father introduced me to this game?

SeanP (#4,058)

@hungrybee My God, now I want to get adopted into your family too.

black rabbit (#10,816)

I've always found the PBR thing hilarious, though my fondest wish is for Wiedemann to get the same treatment, so that they'll start making it in hand grenades again.

Also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T_CdoPowgo

SeanP (#4,058)

Holy crap, it's a small world. I'm from Waupaca (WHS class of '82… go Comets!). I lived just a few miles down the road from Cheesie Bob's, and have often visited the Waupaca Cafe. And yes, I've often felt culturally superior to the rubes out here in the hinterlands of the East Coast.

Do we know each other?

neologism (#4,822)

Why is this story illustrated with a photo of Matt McCormick?

dokuchan (#540)

@neologism SO FUNNY since Matt lives in Oregon (as does Claire Evans) and we have been canning veggies + shooting deer for DECADES before NYC decided we were cool and stole our beardy mountain man look.

If by "New York", you mean "New York City," then I support this article. About 90% of the landmass of New York is rural, with town that sounds a lot like Waupaca. I grew up in one (Cambridge, NY – pop. 2000) with a cornfield in my back yard and cleaned deer hung from yard trees in town. Most visitors reduce New York to New York City. Not the same thing.

Bittersweet (#765)

@Hannah Thornton@facebook: My husband grew up on a farm outside of Ithaca, and sometimes he gets frustrated with constantly having to add "upstate" to "New York" when people ask him where he's from.

Always fun to see the town I grew up in highlighted where you don't expect it. Also nice to see the "little" sis of a classmate writing something I might have read anyway :)

"Waiting for cribbage to make it big?" Is there ever a time when it wasn't?!

Glad I saw this article thanks to @crimmings & @Stuart_Keith on twitter.
Great American cheese isn't just from Wisconsin anymore. The American Cheese Society is celebrating American Cheese Month next month to highlight artisan cheese from everywhere from Wisconsin to Seattle, New York to California. Big thanks go to Wisconsin to being a big part of the founding of that movement, though.
To be fair, our curds are only $13 a pound, not $22, which I agree would be exorbitant at best. Not sure where that other price might have come from. Admittedly, $13 is over twice Cheesey Bob's $5.25, but economically, New York prices are (unfortunately) not Wisconsin prices.

Bonus Facts: PBR "competitors" in the NW, Rainier and Olympia, are both bottled by SABMiller, with the Rainier brand owned by PBR and the Olympia brand owned by Miller itself.

Matt
Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Claire Zulkey (#7,101)

I have a theory, and please chime in if this is incorrect, that the biggest "Oh where you're from is flyover country" offenders are not actually native New Yorkers, who are over it already, but New York transplants.

john.rambow (#703)

@Claire Zulkey When I got here I think I heard that attitude the most from suburbanites. I always thought the Ohioans/Iowans got it worse, though, for obvious reasons.

(Confidential to everyone from Wisconsin living in NYC: I just heard there's a place in New York where cheese curds are selling for only $13 a pound!!!)

hungrybee (#2,091)

@john.rambow Can you drop a hint? I need these for Sunday at Angry Wade's!

john.rambow (#703)

@hungrybee Beecher's (above) would enjoy providing them.

hungrybee (#2,091)

@john.rambow True – I thought you were talking about some Mars Cheese Castle stuff at Murray's or something. Carry on…

Never understood the desire to canoe on the Gowanus. You're basically paddling on — and being exposed to — an open sewer. I live a block from the Canal and after seeing what the surface of that water looks like on many a morning I have zero need to prove my brooklyn cred by risking severe skin rashes or contact with carcinogenic waste.

Lauri (#10,588)

@mattspiegler Years (and by years I mean actual decades) ago when I had recently moved to Boerum Hill, the powerful, unmistakable smell of a gas leak woke me up one night. I fretted for several hours while trying to pinpoint the origin of the stench and finally called 911 at roughly 4 am, convinced an explosion was imminent. The police came by about an hour later, and one of the cops opened the back door of my second-floor apartment, stepped out onto the little deck, and motioned to me. "Come here. Come here. Step out here. Do you smell that?" I sure did — the smell was *really* strong on the deck. Yes, I said, pleased that my alarm appeared to be justified, that's it! I felt like such a good, proactive citizen. I was saving the whole neighborhood from fiery death. I now imagine that detecting my faint Texas accent only added to the weary contempt the cop had for me at that moment. "LADY. That's the GOWANUS CANAL."

Michael@twitter (#103,390)

3 of the 4 topics she talks about (cornholing, canoeing, and deer hunting) are things that are popular among the entire Midwest (more accurately the country or even world)….not JUST Wisconsin. Was traveling to NY the first time this author has ever been outside of Wisconsin? If so, I’d believe it.

It’s not that New York is “catching up to Wisconsin”, but it is fair to say that food/activities enjoyed by people in the Midwest are also enjoyed by people in New York. Let’s not make a big deal out of it people.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Michael@twitter Call me when Williamsburg is waking up early to listen to Michael Feldman.

MaryPS (#5,688)

@Abe Sauer At the risk of sounding earnest, I will say that I never paid Wisconsin much heed until I started reading your writing about it, so I am grateful to you! (But I was listening to Michael Feldman before that, so.)

@Michael@twitter "Was traveling to NY the first time this author has ever been outside of Wisconsin?" Answer: No. I have lived in Los Angeles, London, Paraguay, and visited over 20 countries on five continents.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Megan L Wood@facebook Yeah, I think what he means is the first time outside Wisc's immediate areas. I'm sympathetic to his line of reasoning. This piece is indeed "cute," but I'm not sure I would say cornholing is "of Wisc" any more than tire chains are. I spent almost my entire youth in Wisc. and I never even heard of the game once, except for when it was called "bean bags" in kindergarten, which by the way, IS a thing "of Wisconsin" (the concept of Kindergarten that is).

You also take Pabst to task but I don't understand why. That is a former Milwaukee brand. Now owned by Miller, which is in turn HQed in Milwaukee still but partnered with Coors and under the UK's SAB umbrella. Unless you're drinking a Leinies or Cap Brew or whatever, you're no longer drinking a purely Wisc. beer.

Minnesotans, especially those in the Ely area, may take issue with Wisc. claiming canoeing. Deer hunting? See also Iowa, MN etc.

They're waiting in Brooklyn for corn while your parents have a whole backyard full, except, I've got $10 that says that cornfield is full of an inedible crop (i.e. not sweetcorn) destined for gas tanks, beef feed or some other of the 17 million uses for corn byproduct.

Curds. Yes, that is the one thing that is absolutely Wisconsin.

Finally, while I know he's popular in Brooklyn (and certainly around many of the Wisc. universities) very few in Wisc have any idea who Bon Iver is. When he played in Milwaukee in July the venue had fewer than 2500 seats. In fact, a great deal of his in-state popularity came AFTER he became a darling of the East Coast indie music kingmaker set, so, you know, IRONY.

I'm sure I come across as a dick and the self-appointed gatekeeper of all things Wisconsin or something but A)I don't care really, and B) when you write completely untrue and wildly stereotypical things such as having Packers stock is "like all decent men born and bred in Wisconsin" I feel it necessary to note corrections: there are currently just 112,100 or so Packer stockholders. Wisc. population is approx 5.6 million. But I would LOVE to own Packer stock like a decent boy born in Wisconsin so if your father would like to sell his, let me know.

CatsInBags (#3,656)

As a FIB that grew up working in Northern Wisconsin who moved East and then came back to Wisconsin (with my canoe) — I can tell you the cynical responses to hometowns, cultural "mimicry" (or whatever) and patronizing attitidues goes both ways. Also, the Farmer's Market in Madison is just not as great as everyone makes it out to be.

Chris M.@twitter (#103,562)

So who should be more offended? Wisc. for inadvertently being labeled as a fad only cheap hipsters would care to emulate…or NYC for being compared to Wisc.? I think everyone loses…

Bittersweet (#765)

@Chris M.@twitter: Or, no one needs to be offended and everyone can have a good laugh at themselves. Win-win!

Elisabeth Redmon A. (#104,112)

Megan, I love this article. Very true, indeed. As a New Yorker who gave it up for Milwaukee, I've been observing some of this from the opposite perspective in the art domain, and wrote a short piece about it on my blog called, " You Should Visit New York, and Come Home to Milwaukee: A Call For Cross-Culturization in the Arts" It's a topic felt and talked about more and more back in the MKE.

http://eralive.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/you-should-go-to-new-york-and-come-home-to-milwaukee-a-call-for-cross-culturalization-in-the-arts/.

theborderbattle (#104,180)

This was perfectly written. As a kid from Wisconsin Rapids, WI I have always felt like people thought I was quaint or sheltered ,or just a farm when I told them where I was from. It's great to see that the things we love and have had for a long time are finally working their way out of the midwest, maybe that term fly over country can go next. Also $22 for a bag of cheese curds? Holy crap, I now have great plan to run cheese curds from wisconsin to new york, now if I can only find a mail truck

Sheesh. The edge? Let's talk about the edge. Let's talk about getting your hands dirty, up to the blood and guts and shit of a 200lb deer or bear. Eating what you kill. Let's talk about the emptiness, the disconnect that everyone feels. It ain't just WI or NY or CA. Everyone has to choose for themselves the long-term or short-term perspective.

kit (#104,493)

http://www.oldfashionedthemovie.com/ This is worth keeping an eye out for. Now if I can just find someone to play Canasta with, and take the boat across the lake to the casino. (A Washingtonian, but a summer Wisconsin girl.)

wstokes518 (#106,401)

Yup. Deer hunting – that's what New Yorkers need.

James John (#110,970)

A beer brat on State Street in Madison changed my life in 1998.

Kevin S. (#186,905)

@James John How about a burger and brat from State Street Brats on the same bun? I'd advise that if you're looking for further life-changing culinary moments.

Sam Nulton@facebook (#114,500)

People who move from Waupaca to NYC are the coolest! Go Comets!

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