So much that when BusinessWeek wrote up Waukesha as one of the best affordable suburbs in the Midwest (a judgment the Brawler would contest, hotly), it had to illustrate the piece with a picture of Downtown Milwaukee!
Apparently BusinessWeek thought an image of an SUV-choked strip mall parking lot would undercut the premise of their article -- a belief the Brawler shares.
Yes, hundreds of thousands agree: the 'sha sucks. And the Brawler has enjoyed Xoff's and Mike Plaisted's ripostes to the brain dead "Milwaukee Sucks" column by a former editor of the august Waukesha Freeman. The Brawler's favorite piece, though, was by an anonymous commenter at Plaisted Writes, which I'm reprinting in full here:
See, the thing is that no Milwaukeean ever would write anything like this:
Waukesha County can’t be defended any longer
Critics from Milwaukee proven correct
Waukesha County sucks.
Many of you Milwaukeeans have known this for years. You told me time and time again, but I wouldn’t listen. What can I say? I’m a slow learner.
I always liked Waukesha County for its rich history of progressive reform a century and a half ago, and I rolled my eyes when people from Milwaukee talked about their fear of the bland and boring county to the west -- mostly because they’ve been doing so since I went to see its largest city’s so-called downtown and couldn’t get through it or around it or escape it.
That Waukesha downtown is gone – well, sort of; the gazebo in the middle of the main intersection is gone, but the street grid imposed on old Indian trails around that freeky river loop still don’t make a lot of sense. But the talk about Waukesha County never really subsided, even though there was so little to talk about there. People in Milwaukee have forever felt Waukesha County was ground zero of the apocalyptic end that awaits us all, but some just reach brain death sooner by living there. The change, for me, is that now I believe them.
It’s a radical departure. In fact, I missed Waukesha when I didn’t live in southeastern Wisconsin. Waukesha has a down-to-earth feel that typically can’t be found elsewhere (or at least that street plan has never been emulated elsewhere, and we can be grateful for that).
Other places have nice Italian restaurants in neighborhoods, not shacks on Main Street without anyplace to sit down or even bathrooms required by law. At one point I lived in the city with no trendy entertainment area, just the restaurant called Jimmy’s Grotto, known as “Guido’s Slime Pit.” During a visit to Milwaukee, I asked a buddy what was in the warehouse buildings in Milwaukee. "Amazing artists’ lofts and restaurants below street level -- they don't flood here, like the basements in Waukesha by those fly-by-night builders -- and other spaces that haven’t been discovered yet,” he said then. “So move fast before the word gets out to Waukesha, and all those people on the way to Summerfest realize how trendy it already is and how hot it’s going to be. Of course, they’re so drunk that they probably won’t realize it – or be able to see it, since they treat the area like a toilet and pee in the Third Ward streets.” Frankly, I preferred peeing in Waukesha County, where parts of it smell like manure, so nobody will notice if humans join the cows by just dumping anywhere.
Sure, there was crime in Waukesha County. But you could say that about any place that was gaining population rapidly but giving all those people nothing to do. And by most standards, Waukesha County was safe.
Then there would be an alarming yet seemingly isolated incident, like the crazy guy who shot up the “church” in a hotel in Brookfield and killed eight people in minutes, more than die in Milwaukee any day. (You didn’t already forget about that incident, did you? Waukesha County did.)
Then another isolated incident, like last year’s, when a resourceful young "kid" in Kettle Moraine used an axe as a weapon on his mother.
How about the gang rape of the environment? It’s increasingly overlooked because something else comes along and gets our attention. Of course, that includes this year’s debacle about Waukesha water, when the mob there again pulled a fast one to get around international agreements to preserve the Great Lakes for at least another generation, unlike Waukesha County, which already has had the heaven beat out of it and bulldozed over.
What a mess.
It amazes me that mobs of officials are so often involved, and that few arrests are ever made. But I suppose the cops are too busy forming their own mob and beating up all those illegal immigrants in Waukesha to make an arrest of an official. (It’s pretty amazing how the Waukesha County cops criticize the public for not coming forward to disclose illegal immigrants but for the most part keep silent when it’s their turn to be witnesses, since they eat at the Mexican restaurants there. Hmmmm.)
The picture really gets ugly when you consider the horrendous crimes that aren’t mob-related -- including private developers of places like Pabst Farms who made the fatal mistake anywhere else of planning a mall without a freeway exit in the middle of nowhere. So they figure they’ll stiff taxpayers – no doubt of Milwaukee, too – with the $20 million cost. And then there are the incidents of residents -- wearing guns and schooled in the art of self-defense, weapons and conflict from years of soccer games -- who gunned down some local punks knocking down mailboxes just for something do in Waukesha County, other than drugs. Or maybe also drugs. Hmmmmm.
How about the innocent bystanders who get carcinogenic levels of radium from their faucets every day, even every hour or so – the ones who can’t afford the cases of bottled designer water that fill shelves and entire aisles in stores there?
It appears that no one is in charge in that county, and it’s not the headline-grabbing crime that Milwaukee gets, but it’s crime all the same, and it proves this point. How many people visit Waukesha to take in a game or have dinner -- well, okay, no one does. But if they did, they would only have their ubiquitous SUVs get low on gas, guzzling it as those monsters do, and they get stuck with freeway-priced fill-ups. How many people work in Waukesha County and suffer the same fate? Oh, that’s right, it’s supposed to be hard for Milwaukeeans to get work in Waukesha County, since it refuses to put in real mass transit but just wants to keep taking millions in federal funding that was supposed to go to cities with mass transit, like Milwaukee.
Sure, it’s little stuff, at least when you have the income levels of a lot of Waukesha County. But it’s also personal experience -- which changes habits. So Milwaukeeans can take mass transit or walk to work, school, and the store, so they don’t even have to worry about anyone breaking into their cars.
Waukesha County didn’t join in the warning this week to the public not to leave anything of value at park-and-rides out there when heading into Summerfest. It’s good advice, but sad that they had to hear it from Milwaukee County, which just wants them to have a good time in a great city and not have to end their night with cars broken into in Waukesha County. (Speaking of those endless acres of park-and-ride lots, how long until something goes really wrong there, without what urban planners call “eyes on the street” that keep so many of our city neighborhoods safe?)
There is debate about who is to blame -- the politicians, the cops, broken homes, including the homes of the politicans with the cop mentality, a lack of leadership in the white community of Waukesha County – which, of course, is 99 per cent of Waukesha County. I realize it’s a tough situation, and I don’t have any answers myself - short of staying out of Waukesha whenever possible. How about all those "leaders" give us a call when they figure it out? Maybe we’ll stop by for dinner then -- if they don’t put a gazebo in the middle of the downtown of their largest city again. But it still beat the ambience of dining in a strip mall.
It’s not just the boredom, either. The county can’t get through a water balloon fight without wanting to take Lake Michigan but not give it back. Let’s go to the backyard swimming pool! Who needs a beach? There are all of "those people" there, so we'd rather consume chlorine. Then again, if Waukesha gets its way and water levels drop, there will be even more beach on Milwaukee’s lakefront. And that will make more room for an even bigger Summerfest for even more Waukesha County residents to come here to get drunk and drive up our crime rates, before they head west on the freeway to nowhere to their vandalized cars in park-and-rides.
So I won’t argue with those of you from Milwaukee who say Waukesha is a rotten excuse for a city. You win. What can I say, that there are good restaurants as long as you don’t mind being in a soulless strip mall, surrounded by acres of blond people, more than there are cars in a park-and-ride lot? But it’s more likely there than most other places in the United States.
OK, than any other place in the United States. After all, Waukesha was the fourth-reddest county in the country in recent elections, so it's responsible for even more messes in the country and the world.
Defending the county just doesn’t work anymore. It makes me sound like the guy who says the war in Iraq is going well. Especially when he’s one of those guys with a three-car garage for his three SUVs, each with a yellow “Support the Troops” magnet.
In the case of Iraq, you can judge the "progress" by counting the bodies. Unfortunately, you can apply the same method to Waukesha. If you did, you would learn that as of Wednesday, probably 46 people died in Iraq this year for the cause of filling gas tanks in SUVs alone in Waukesha County. Or this week, more black people were subjected to profiling and racist remarks, including by Waukesha County cops. And that doesn’t count the church shooting, the axe murder, the hot-tub rape, the car break-ins or the cancerous radium water.
All right, all right, stop it -- I’m convinced. As much as it hurts, I can’t deny the truth anymore.
Waukesha County sucks.