Tell me about your favourite MKE and PHI pop culture!
April 8, 2020 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I had a trip planned to Chicago and Milwaukee, and now that's been obviously postponed, I am reconfiguring it to also include DC and Philadelphia. Chicago/DC are pretty well served by popular culture - are there any books, films, documentaries or series about Philadelphia and Milwaukee that I can get into whilst proper planning is on hold?

I have already done:
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- most of Jennifer Weiner's novels
- Happy Days (well, as a kid)

I will be:
- checking out Atlas Obscura, especially as I like weird spots and abandoned/old buildings
- watching more ER, which we are doing from the start at the moment - well, they mention Milwaukee?

I do not have:
- any tourist guides for either city, as they don't seem to be a thing for the UK market

I especially like 70s/80s stuff - I've really enjoyed reading the archive copies of New York Magazine that are on Google Books - if there is something similar out there for any of these cities then I'd love to see them, as I find this kind of thing gives me a feel for cities that Lonely Planet guides don't provide.
posted by mippy to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Since you mention Happy Days, do you know about Laverne & Shirley?

My hometown of Milwaukee only really gets an honorable mention while Chicago gets the starring role, and you watch it for the music and jokes more than the midwestern culture...but The Blues Brothers is a great film that you should definitely watch.

There's also the amazing Ferris Bueller's Day Off which gives a more authentic feel for life in Chicago.

If you want anything about current day life in Milwaukee, there are a few online newspapers (OnMilwaukee, Milwaukee Record) doing retrospectives of top articles from the past several years so we can all remember the things we're missing out on while we're isolated.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:08 AM on April 8, 2020

For DC, I recommend this film, which you may not have come across: The Legend of Cool Disco Dan
posted by wicked_sassy at 7:24 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you want some movies that take place in Philadelphia, you could do a lot worse than the Rocky series, Trading Places and Philadelphia.
posted by General Malaise at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Creed does a really good job of capturing modern Philly, and the original Rocky is good for the ‘70s. The sequels, not so much (though good in other ways). I haven’t watched it yet but from the trailers and other collateral from Dispatches from Elsewhere show a ton of promise—lots and lots of real Philly locations especially from the neighborhoods.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's a series airing now that was filmed in Philadelphia last summer, and while it's not about the city, they spend a lot of time outside, in the city: ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’: Seeing Philadelphia while you’re stuck inside
posted by gladly at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2020

For people in Philly day to day, you, uh, could do worse than Parking Wars.
posted by supercres at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I really like Curbed Philadelphia for stories on local architecture and interesting landmarks.
posted by gladly at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2020

Ha, someone else overcomes the shame to admit Parking Wars. The bulk of the earlier series are based there, and, while it's stylized, it's very much a street-level, mundane view. I really don't know of anything else quite like it.
posted by praemunire at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2020

You won't see them in most of Philadelphia, but reading up on the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club might interest you. Idris Elba is in a film about them, though goodness knows when Concrete Cowboys will actually be released.

The Art of the Steal is an amazing documentary about the Barnes Foundation and the moving of the museum. It is extremely Philadelphia, and then you can go visit the museum at its new location on the Parkway :)

Can confirm that a good chunk of the Rocky movies were filmed in Philly, since I still remember when they shut my street down to film in the Italian Market. The crew were very nice!
posted by kalimac at 8:20 AM on April 8, 2020

+1 Art of the Steal

The movie Mannequin and the John Edgar Wideman book Philadelphia Fire may have never been recommended in the same sentence before, so I am pleased to do it.
posted by mahorn at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Milwaukee's own Queer Zine Archive Project might be of interest; you can browse some of the zines they have online.

You might also be interested in the output of Belt Publishing, an excellent small press which focuses on America's Rust Belt. They have published more about Chicago than Milwaukee (and apparently have a nontraditional guidebook about Milwaukee in the works) but do have this Milwaukee anthology, available as a book or ebook.
posted by carrienation at 8:54 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Probably obvious , but since you asked for 70's/80's

Trading Places
And keep this song on repeat
posted by Mchelly at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2020

There's also this previous Ask, which still tickles me.

And I once made a post about "jawn"
posted by Mchelly at 9:33 AM on April 8, 2020

The Making of Milwaukee documentary miniseries has a nice overview of the city's history, and some of the other Milwaukee Public Television offerings have local history and culture as well. Maybe some of the Milwaukee neighborhood episodes of Around the Corner with John McGivern?
posted by abeja bicicleta at 9:57 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ha, someone else overcomes the shame to admit Parking Wars

Well, I literally just moved from South Philly to the PNW 😆
posted by supercres at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Brief but memorable cameo from Alice Cooper in 'Wayne's World' mentions the history of Milwaukee.
posted by ovvl at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ooh one more—David Lynch’s Eraserhead was a direct result of his time living in Philly for art school at PAFA at the very end of the 60s. Here’s more info.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 6:27 PM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older Should I report a non-essential business that...   |   In search of language self-studying how tos Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.