September 18, 2023
📝 From Coachella to WI: A shelter dog story
And WTF are pull-tabs?
Text version for screen readers:
Monday, September 18
69° F / 51° F
¡Buenos días, Madison!
If you’re a fan of diet soda I have good news for you: A Wisconsin biochemist says aspartame — the artificial sweetener typically used in diet cola — is “likely safe” to consume if you take it easy. This comes after the World Health Organization labeled aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic.”
And speaking of sweets, we have a delightful new feature that lets you easily share Madison Minutes with your besties. Give it a try! Forward this newsletter to a friend.
What Madison’s Talking About
The team at the Dane County Humane Society welcomes rescued shelter dogs.
The team at the Dane County Humane Society welcomes rescued shelter dogs. (@dchsgiveshelter / Instagram)
🐾 Coachella Dogs Transferred to Wisconsin Shelter
Recent damage from tropical storm Hilary forced the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in California to shut down, and as a result, twenty dogs were transferred to the Dane County Humane Society last week, where they’ll be available for adoption. [Dane County Humane Society]
Flying high: The pups were flown from California via a chartered plane operated by nonprofit Wings of Rescue, which specializes in transporting animals in need.
When will they be available for adoption? No word on that yet, but you can keep tabs on the DCHS website for updates.
🗺️ Redistricting Proposal Advances
The Republican-controlled state Assembly in Wisconsin voted last week to advance a fast-tracked bill that changes the process of drawing political districts in the state ahead of the 2024 election. Under the proposed bill, nonpartisan staff would draw political districts, subject to approval by state lawmakers and the governor. [WPR]
But the bill’s fate is uncertain, given that Governor Tony Evers has threatened to veto it. [AP]
Learn why Wisconsin’s political districts are considered gerrymandered. [City Cast Madison]
🏫 Your Lunchtime Read:
There are fewer than 40 vinyl-pressing facilities in the country and one of them is located just a half hour west of Madison. Dave Eck and Jennifer Jurgensen opened Waxxy Poodle last November, where they turn molten PVC into high-fidelity musical goodness. [Cap Times]
Let the good times roll: U.S. record sales have risen in each of the last 17 years, with vinyl producers struggling to meet the continuing demand.
👕 Screenprint Union Dispute and Rebrand Raise Questions
The workers at Crushin’ It Apparel voted to unionize last fall, only to be fired by owner Jeremy Kruk, who then claimed the business shut down after being ordered to settle unpaid wages and bargain with their union. It appears the company rebranded and will continue to do business as Thunder Bay. Kruk has yet to comply with orders from local and federal officials.
In a now deleted Facebook post, Kruk is introduced by an employee as the owner of Thunder Bay — Kruk says the business was sold and he is only acting as an adviser through the transition. [Cap Times]
WTF are Pull-Tabs?
Wisconsin pull-tab cards at the Main Depot bar in Madison.
Wisconsin pull-tab cards at the Main Depot bar in Madison. (Dylan Brogan / City Cast Madison)
Nothing pairs better with a beer at a Madison bar than pull-tabs, the small cardboard game pieces ubiquitous across the state. We asked freelance author and journalist Tea Krulos to help us uncover the bizarre backstory of this unofficial — yet legal — lottery.
Feed a dollar into a machine and out comes a Wisconsin Souvenir Milkcap — that’s the full government name. Pull on the tabs to reveal a collection of slot-machine-like icons that could win you up to $250. Krulos says the most he’s won is $2.
The Origin Story
“The story is really convoluted and strange, and kind of a rabbit hole,” says Krulos, who recently wrote about pull-tabs for Milwaukee Magazine and says he’s still unsure if he fully understands it.
The game was invented in 1955 by Walter Bohrer, who was in the business of providing bars with coin-operated machines like jukeboxes and pinball — it was his “retirement hobby business.”
A machine named “The Master” that contains Wisconsin Souvenir Milkcaps.
Behold the machine that contains these “souvenirs.” (Dylan Brogan / City Cast Madison)
A Nostalgic Loophole
The sale of gambling devices is illegal in Wisconsin, so how are pull-tabs allowed? According to state statute 100.16, a gambling piece is legal if it is attached to an item of value in addition to a potential prize — like the fries you got with McDonald’s Monopoly game. Walter Bohrer remembered that when he was a child, delivered milk bottles had a tab underneath the cap that you could pull and potentially win a free dairy product. This gave him an idea.
Fellow 90s kids will remember Pogs, decorated circular cardboard pieces that you could collect — and collect, I did. Enter the Wisconsin Souvenir Milkcap, a collectible item that just so happens to come with the opportunity to win some money.
This might be my favorite instance of utilizing nostalgia to exploit a loophole.
“I find it to be clever. He saw the law, he studied it, and it was a way that he could work his way through it.”
Freelance Writer and Journalist
You can click (not pull) the button below to hear more about pull-tabs.
Why Madison Bars Have Pull-tab Machines
Finances 101, sponsored by our friends at Bank of Sun Prairie.
Retire Early: A Guide for Average Income Levels
City Cast Bank of Sun Prairie ad
Stocks 101: How to Get Started
Retire Early: A Guide for Average Income Levels
Rising from the Dead: Understanding Zombie Debt
Tips to manage financial stress
What to Do if Your Credit Card Has Been Compromised
What to Do
Black and white photo of musician David Landau in front of a microphone. He has a long white beard and a trucker hat.
David Landau’s kid show is tons of fun for the kids and totally tolerable for the adults. (Courtesy of The Harmony Bar and Grill)
David Landau Kids Show at The Harmony Bar and Grill
Fred Mascherino Acoustic (The Color Fred, ex-Taking Back Sunday) at The Bur Oak
The Science of Meditation with Dr. Richie Davidson at Discovery Building
Today on City Cast Madison
City staff plant a new tree along a downtown sidewalk.
City staff plant a new tree along a downtown sidewalk. The City of Madison plants over 3,000 trees every year. (City of Madison)
What City Trees Do and Who Cares For Them
Madison is known as a Tree City for its efforts to care for urban trees. City trees in Madison have to be able to withstand freezing winters, sidewalk salt, power lines above, concrete all around, and the occasional car crashing into them. Not to mention insect pests like Emerald Ash Borer. Urban trees deliver enumerable benefits: shade, shelter, beauty, fresh oxygen, homes for animals. But who speaks for those trees? City Forester Ian Brown does.
Today, we’re peeking behind the curtain of Madison’s City Forestry department.
Make Like a Tree and Listen 🍃