Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Wisconsin

Eater just interviewed the new owner of the beloved and shuttered Fedora, about his reaction to nostalgics' Fedora criticism and his vision for that slice of Greenwich Village.

He said: "...We want to rebrand this like little pocket, the three blocks from West 4th street down where Fedora is all the way down to like Christopher and Sixth Avenue. I’d like to rename this little area 'Little Wisco,' because we’ve got the oldest and most prominent, Kettle of Fish (a true Wisco bar), we’re here, Jeffrey’s is here, Fedora will have Wisconsin people and a friend of mine that I went to college with is opening up a clothing shop on Christopher and Gay so it’s a lot of Wisconsin. You know they’ve got a Little Italy, I think we should make a Little Wisco in the West Village."



Joking or not, in this last statement, equating a Little Wisconsin with Little Italy, he inadvertently illuminates a powerful phenomenon at work in the city. For generations, the fabric of New York was woven by poor immigrants from foreign countries. They brought their cultures and created ethnic neighborhoods where they felt safe. Americans who migrated to the city, on the other hand, gladly left their own small-town cultures behind and assimilated into the urban.

Today, that is no longer the case. Especially in Manhattan, we're seeing middle-class and affluent immigrants from America's Heartland coming to recreate their hometowns. What will the city look like as Little Italy and Chinatown give way to Little Michigan and Ohiotown?



I've never been to Wisconsin, so I had to Google it to see what we might expect for Greenwich Village's future. Part of the Midwest, Wisconsin is known as "America's Dairyland." People in Wisconsin wear their dairy pride by sporting large chunks of cheese on their heads, thus becoming known, somewhat derisively, as "cheeseheads."



The state's largest employer is Wal-Mart. Wikipedia also tells us that "A large part of the state's manufacturing sector includes commercial food processing, including well-known brands such as Oscar Mayer [and] Tombstone frozen pizza."

Not only that, they also have "more country music festivals than any other state, including Miller Lite Presents Country Fest, Bud Light Presents Country Jam USA, the Coors Hodag Country Festival, Porterfield Country Music Festival, Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Log Jam Fest in Phillips and Ford Presents Country USA."



The population of Wisconsin is 80% Christian and 91.52% Caucasian, mostly of German descent, a fact that shows up in the state's second-best love, right behind cheese: Beer.

They make a lot of beer in Wisconsin and they drink a lot, too. The state leads the country for the most fatal accidents due to drunk driving.



So get ready, Greenwich Villagers, Little Wisconsin is coming your way. Before long, you'll be boiling fish, dressing in camouflage, rooting for the Packers, and running around with foam wedges of cheese on your head. Don't doubt it. The Kettle of Fish, once a Beatnik bar favored by Jack Kerouac, is now "the Big Apple's number one spot for Packer backers." Fedora is next.

Say it now, "Go Pack Go!"



Further reading:
The Joneses
Suburbanizing the city

53 comments:

Suburban Guy said...

Kill me now.

Tricia said...

Hilarious photo. Wisconsin is very quirky. I once flew into Appleton, Wisc,hometown of Harry Houdini and the Houdini Museum and a local beer with a Houdini label. What struck me at the airport was 99% of the people were natural blondes. If Wisco'ization succeeds, we may witness the blonding of W 4th St.

Melanie said...

Oh Gee!

Anonymous said...

Well it is much better than the whole the area turning into Chinatown or Little Thailand like Chelsea has with a Thai restaurant on every block of 8th Avenue in Chelsea

EV Grieve said...

As if NYC needs to get any more cheesy.

Anonymous said...

Funny story!
I was just in Milwaukee for work last week. I was struck by how diverse the city is (I guess the immigrants are heading inland these days since NYC is so expensive) with lots of recent Hmong and Somali. The architecture was awesome, and I was struck by the lack of franchise and chains (they were there, but WAY more mom and pops than anywhere I have been lately).

Okay, I've also been to the Dells. Let's not talk about that.

NYSconie said...

Too late. We've already taken over. We're moving to the LES next.

NYSconie said...

To be accurate, The Kettle of Fish JK frequented was at a different location. I believe Patrick moved the bar to it's current spot in the early 80's? Can't remember. Stop in, it's a great neighborhood tavern. And Patrick can give you the history.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Makes me wanna throw up, eech! ptui!

Jeremiah Moss said...

yeah, Kettle of Fish was moved. like the Cedar Tavern, and others, when these places move or change hands, the personality changes too, though, somehow, the ghost of its history clings.

esquared said...

well, should they have a country fest here, i wouldn't mind as long as they're selling tube socks.

upper east side (or at least the 'new' upper east side -- 96th st. and above) is already a li'l wisconsin, well not just wisconsin, but midwest -- indiana, michigan, ohio, ...
it's now the midwestville or the upper east midwest

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Why are people from the midwest unacceptable while people from other countries are?

cat said...

I'm sure there are good things about Wisconsin but... wait... was he really serious in his comment? Is he from Wisconsin and all those others too?? I've often thought people who move from the MidWest to NYC are actually more 'cut-throat' in their ambitions than people from the NorthEast and the West Coast too. Just a little observation... not sure if it's accurate. just noted. (Don't want to offend MidWest folks and not sure where you're from Jeremiah ... but something to think about.. :) )

Jeremiah Moss said...

it doesn't have anything to do with people from the midwest being unacceptable, but rather: what is the motivation for bringing one's culture to recreate the city?

for disempowered people from foreign countries, the motivation is security, basically. if you don't speak English and don't know the culture, you are often uneasy, and discriminated against. so it makes sense to initially form a ghetto of your peers.

this phenomenon of people from within the US coming to the city with the wish to recreate their native milieu is new and curious. are they as uneasy here as immigrants from foreign, non-English speaking lands? or is something else going on?

NYSconie said...

J-
Trust me. There is nothing more disempowering than being from WI.

RE: wishing to recreate their native milieu- You obviously don't know any Packer fans.

Anonymous said...

Fucking white people...

VisuaLingual said...

LOL!!! As a Brooklynite currently living in Cincinnati [don't ask; it's not that bad], I find this really amusing. Although, from the little that I know about Milwaukee, I have to second the comment about its relative virtues. The Midwest isn't a bad place but, Jeremiah, you're right to question the need [or want] to import its culture.

I've got two little tidbits to add. One, Grey Dog Cafe's owners are from Michigan [or went to college there], and their sandwiches fall under "The Michigan Collection" on the menu. Two, you may find this article from Cincinnati Magazine interesting -- it lists all the Cincinnati-centered things someone might find in NYC.

NYSconie said...

Alternatively, the University of Wisconsin is having their own problems with "coasties".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw9ODIZj40w

Anonymous said...

I'm a Milwaukee native now living in Harlem. Previously lived in TriBeCa and FiDi. There a tons of Wisconsinites in NYC. I have 3 friends from college here, and several friends of friends. In fact, my old landlady in tirBeCa was also from Milwuakee. We're here! We're querr! ... oh, wrong chant.

Mark said...

If I remember correctly, the bar he refers to as The Kettle of Fish was actually the Lion's Den for many, many years. Village Voice writers hung out there and the drinking was mythical. The Kettle of Fish used to be on MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and 3rd, I think, not to far from Bob Dylan's old house.

I don't understand the need for this sort of banding together in meaningless groups. I think Kurt Vonnegut used to refer to this kind of thing as a Granfalloon or false karass.

Think it's time to read Cat's Cradle again.

Anonymous said...

With a few hours of research, I could easily cherry pick enough tidbits to write an equally disparaging post about the State of New York.

Goggla said...

About carrying your culture everywhere with you...I think this is an unconscious thing. When my family immigrated from Italy, they wanted to be 'American' and not 'Italian'. That said, they spoke Italian, so grouped together with others who spoke the same language. All their cooking, history and worldly knowledge was based in their Italian past, and that's not something you can just forget when you move to a new place. As majority rules, the largest groups tend to have the most influence over an area, so I'd be curious to know who our biggest 'immigrant' group is these days - those from overseas or other regions of the US?

BTW, I welcome 'Sconies to bring as much cheese as they can carry...

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon 1:07, we're not talking about New York State, we're talking about the city. almost all these Wisconsin tidbits came from Wikipedia, so what does Wiki have to say about NYC?

Goggla, i'd guess our biggest overseas immigrant group these days is coming from E. Europe (the -stans) and Asia. but since they can only afford the outer reaches of the city, there won't be any Little Uzbekistan in the Village.

it's interesting, and disorienting, to think of a future city made of neighborhoods built according to where people went to college.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah,
I'm not sure how you make the assumption that people coming here from other countries are "disempowered," while those from other parts of the country are not, but my guess is that you never had to survive childhood or adolescence in the Midwest while having been born, in heart and mind, a New Yorker. The motivations I felt for leaving Ohio more than 20 years ago were very much the same as those I have heard from people who came here from across the ocean. As for the discrimination faced by people who come here from other countries, would you be willing to admit that it is based on a lot of group stereotyping and prejudice akin to that displayed toward Mid-westerners in your original post?

Jeremiah Moss said...

once again, we're talking here about the phenomenon of people from outside of NYC, from other parts of the US, usually from comfortable backgrounds, who come to NYC and set forth to recreate their often suburban cultures here. there is ample evidence for this.

had the speaker said "let's turn the Village into Little Maine" or Little California, etc., that would have been the focus and not the Midwest.

i came from a conservative, working class small town where i felt very oppressed and disempowered. the last thing i wanted to do was to recreate that culture here. NYC was a safe harbor from all that.

but it is less so these days as the American Heartland, and all it entails, is enveloping the city.

should we not talk about that? is it better to ignore it?

John said...

I only ever knew one person from Wisconsin, when I was a young child in school, and he was extremely obese, even for a kid. By the way, I love how you had to Google and Wikipedia Wisconsin, like it was some obscure Asian country like Bhutan. "Part of the Midwest, Wisconsin is known..." Really, it's part of the midwest? It's not next to California or something? Come on, let's not be completely asinine.

Anonymous said...

When my father arrived in Queens from a third world country, it was because of lack of opportunity there. He was highly educated in a technical field, but only able to find work in that field once he got here. People from other parts of the country have been coming here for generations in order to pursue a career in the field of their choice, whether it be finance or media or theater or whatever. These people range from dirt poor to extremely privileged.

A lot of native New Yorkers (not all) love football. A lot of transplants (definitely not all) love football and have not changed their sports allegiances. Is it really that bad to want to watch a game with other people rooting for the same team? How much different is that culture, really?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the cultural contributions of people who come from "comfortable" suburban areas across the US are any less valid than those from people who come from overseas. And to the extent I, apparently like you, prefer that some aspects of that culture be left behind, there are myriad aspects of many of the overseas cultures that I witness every day in NY that I would have preferred were discarded upon those new-comers passing through customs. I find your double-standard problematic.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the questions we then need to ask are: what IS the culture of the American heartland? can it even be defined? and what does a diverse city look like when that culture becomes dominant?

maybe the contributions of Heartland culture are valuable--as much as the former Village culture of radical politics, literature, sexual liberation--but what are they? someone mentioned football. what else comes to mind?

Anonymous said...

J-

to ask what is the culture of the midwest is like asking what is the culture of the east coast? Is it the same in Boston as Atlanta or Utica?

But in an effort to answer you, let's start with honesty and hard work. Both cultural traits that are far more pronounced there than in the east

NYSconie said...

J-
You learned a valuable lesson here today. If you're going to pigeonhole the midwest with blanket statements go ahead, but if you single out the 'Sconies, you're gonna get cheese in your eye.

NYSconie said...

And all this while Lombardi is on Broadway!

Anonymous said...

This post made me cry.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i am a longtime fan of cheese and cheese-related products.

Anonymous said...

Fuck wisconsin, and everyone who lives there or comes from there or was born there!

JakeGould said...

Wow, this disturbs me. Here is my perspective.

I grew up in NYC. In 1995 I decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin because the rent was cheap, the place was nice and I needed a break from NYC.

So I moved there. Nice place. But someone who is 25 (like I was at the time) moving to Madison was treated like a weirdo. Fair enough. It seems everyone in the $%@!# world believes NYC is the only destination. Okay, I'll roll with it.

But after a while it became a real pain. I really liked the place. I really like the pace of living and the ability to “slack”, but every now and then someone would drill me on whether I thought NYC was better than Madison. Such low self-esteem! I’d honestly say I’d like the place, and enjoyed it and people still tagged me with some faux NYer superiority complex. Which I never had because I grew up in a poor area in Brooklyn. They wouldn’t have it.

So after 6 years of cold (I endured it that long due to work) I moved back to NYC and learned a lesson: There are really people in the U.S. who have no respect, love, understanding or pride about where they come from. I’m not talking gung-ho, “Go team!” pride, but rather respect that others could find something nice about where they live. Subtle difference, but it exists. And man, what low self-esteem.

I love NYC because I grew up here and I lament the aspects of NYC life that are gone. But I would never question or drill someone the way I got it in the midwest.

People need to respect where they come from and get some self-respect.

And man, that Fedora quote is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Why not just open the place and do a good job? Stop posing and posturing.

Anonymous said...

i went to "kettle of fish" 1964-65. dylan was there & the rest. that entire street was full of the best & brilliant minds of the 20th century. i had to show a fake ID to get in to kettle, as i was under age. there was a cafe on corner diagnally across from figaros where andy & his friends would go. the energy in the village was something i cant even describe. you knew you in the center of something that was altering the universe. then i had to take the train back to midwood brooklyn. which was so boring & very repressive. i was like a freak. very few of my school mates moved to the city, most out to long island. people knew their "place" those days. the cool the post is disgusting, these are the types who usually move to boston. creepy. i have no problem about mid westerners moving in, & opening businesses in the village. but they want to change it.

Map of the Sidewalk said...

Interestingly, the original Kettle of Fish was a folk music club, so it actually was a place where transplants from other parts of the U.S.--including Upper Midwesterners like Bob Dylan--brought a form of rural U.S. culture to the city.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling like that Talking Heads song, Stop, or rather Stopped Making Sense. I move here from a small town b/c i want to get the h*ll out, don't believe in god, am sick of being treated like a freak, hate church, like art, but my working class family with no college education and who work in service and factory jobs won't have it. I do not come here with a chip on my shoulder or try to support the United Fro-Yo-flipflops-yunnie-nations of America. I get NY, one of those who understand it, its diversity, belong here. Whats strange is that I end up in the most religious 'hood in nyc with a church on every corner because that is affordable, almost far enough to qualify as a place to "move from" - which in fact my 50something landlord did at one point - moving from the edge of the outer boroughs to nyc (which you could once do as a working class person) was a big deal. now the closest you can get is the edge of the most outer boroughs if you have no connections, no extra money, no trust fund, no nobody. What is strange is in the East Village they are kick out rent controlled tenants so some family can have a whole building. then in queens they are wrecking beautiful, sound old homes (not fancy, just very historic and nicely made) so poorly made big apt buildings can be built in between 2 homes. in both instances it doesn't seem right and reeks of the most annoying parts of americana that i think hard core nyers disagree with. why can't people respect new york for new york? how did myself, a rebel against everything anti god everything end up in a more religious 'hood than where i grew up? in the most old school way i would like to live closer to the city - not because it's cool - it's just that the cultural groups i spend so much time at are there - places that i never see annoying hipsters. i do run into people i know in manhattan & bklyn. it seems like a luxury to just be able to live in a hood with folks you might run into, who are locked in old rent rates. i can never go back to my small town & i don't fit anywhere else.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Map of the Sidewalk, thanks, that's a good example of something valuable from within the US being brought to the city's culture.

it makes me think about how traditional, regional cultures are dying out everywhere in the tsunami of American consumer monoculture. New York was beyond the reach of that wave for a long time. no more.

Sean said...

I am a life-long NYer, who has pioneered cutting-edge neighborhoods. I travel to Wisconsin for vacations.

It is a lot like Massachusetts or upstate.

It's nice. Nice architecture and scenery, inexpensive, good beer and different food, and the people are very friendly and courteous.

All the "critics" here should learn first before spouting off nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a conservative part of Wisconsin. I moved to NYC for the same reasons many other do (opportunity, energy, art). I do not miss living in Wisconsin one bit. I do not wish NYC to be like where I grew up. I do, however, enjoy watching the Packers and drinking beer. These do not seem to be contradictory impulses to me.

Anonymous said...

To all those midwesterners who move to NYC because it is well, NYC. Why are you trying to transform it back in to the place that you say is so terrible and difficult to be from???

And, by the way. I am a New Yorker and I have no idea what "FiDi" is.

These transplants are ruining the place that they tried to escape to and turn it into the place they escaped from. VERY TWISTED INDEED.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon 12:00pm, i totally agree. there's a big difference between rooting for the home team in your new city, and wanting to turn that city in your hometown.

Anonymous said...

but the 'wurst' thing is they're going to bring their goddamn weird-ass albino Wisco white hot dogs here (bratwurst) and take over the Papaya Kings all "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"-like! Run for your lives and don't go to sleep!

Erika said...

Oh for fucks' sake.
The problem is with gentrification. If you're rich (and if you're middle class in the US you ARE automatically richer than a lot of immigrants from third or second world countries) and you move to NY, you displace people who are already living here...especially if you act like "pioneers" who move into places that have a lot of "culture" (ie we non-white folk) to get the "authentic NY experience".

Also, this is NEW YORK FUCKING CITY, not the Midwest! We have a distinct culture here which is unlike anywhere else. Our attitudes are different, and we take pride in the fact that we're so diverse. It is really painful to see everything and every place I get nostalgic for be torn down and replaced with yet another expensive coffee joint or an organic grocery.
WE ARE NOT MIDDLE AMERICA. STOP TURNING US INTO ONE.

Anonymous said...

Basically, this post, and this whole blog, is about "the wrong kind of white people." Things that non-white people do can be "problematic" but they will never merit the rage reserved for the wrong kind of white people. Jeremiah has long been the unironic general of "stuff white people like." I mean, that blog describes his whole "philosophy" so perfectly that why even bother trying to replicate it?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous on September 15, 2010 10:53 AM ...

They just are, NYC does not need any attention seeking hipsters.

Foreigners are much more welcome than you inbred, hayseed midwestern folks!

Ned Berke | Sheepshead Bites said...

Well, my day is ruined. Thanks JM!

;)

Jeremiah Moss said...

R. Crumb on America being taken over by suburban culture:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/mar/09/robertcrumb.comics

Anonymous said...

I just saw this and think the entire post is off the mark. Gabriel Stulman went to UW Madison, moved to NY, opened The Little Owl, followed by The Market table, followed by Joseph Leonard-- look at these places and tell me what is so Wisco about them? Jeffery's Grocery and Fedora will have persons from Wisco working there however unless you ask, you will not know you are in a Wisco owned establishment. Gabe is not trying to recreate Wisconsin Culture in NY-- ludicrous accusation. Little Wisco. simply draws attention to the small pocket of brilliant people from Wisconsin doing good things in the West Village. BTW, look at Madison not Wisconsin as a whole.

Anonymous said...

People have been moving to and out of NYC for years, from other countries, states, etc, and for the same amount of time, the people here have been shitting their pants about it. The East Village used to be a German neighborhood. Little Italy used to have...Italians. Even people in the outer boroughs, Long Island, Jersey, etc, look upon Manhattan's bright lights and opportunity with eagerness. Midwesterners aren't trying to change the city anymore than southerners are with Egg or westcoasters are with Pacific Standard. They're not bringing "suburbia" with them, they're escaping it. Kind of like Bob Dylan (Minnesota), Orson Welles (WI), Willem Dafoe (Appleton WI), Chris Noth (Madison), or Guggenheim architect Frank Lloyed Wright (WI). So they want a brat once in a while and to watch the Packers game - I've got news for you: brats are bavarian food, and last I checked no one was running off Germans from the city. At least not recently. And everyone loves cheese.

As for the wiki facts run-down on Wisconsin, I could probably come up with as many facts off of the top of my head for any state in the US. As is typical of many NYC-centric folks I've known, they are a little unaware of the rest of their fellow coutnry-folk (like how bucolic and conservative the rest of their own state can be) and see things in red v blue rather than shades of purple. If a few WI-bars bring a little more geographic and cultural awareness to this blogger, it can't be a bad thing. After all, how many states' largest employers AREN'T Walmart? Closely followed by the public state schools system and the post office. Pretty radical. They also drive on the right side of the road.

As for Madison, I am from there and it has as much pride in it's city and culture as anywhere. A lot of people are going to look upon NYC with stars in their eyes - quite frankly no city in the US can compete.

Go Pack Go said...

This is what the Wisconsin culture has brought to the Village -- sad Packer fans
http://youtu.be/ZjvXxwvg8mc