Though I was born and raised about 1,000 miles from Milwaukee, I grew up knowing the words to Mad Man Michaels' cream city classics – the A- and B-sides to his 1950s-era single: a "Dragnet" take-off called "The Czarnina Kid" and "Michaels Market (Kobasa Song)."
Thanks to my South Side (but not Polish) mom, that is, who carried the 7" single with her when she moved to New York City to marry my dad. I don't think she brought much with her, so perhaps it says a lot that the record made the journey.
Johnny "Mad Man" Michaels launched his program on Milwaukee's WOKY-AM in July 1953, spinning records, and sharing the news and weather. In 1961, Michaels moved over to WEMP – prompting a lawsuit by Bartell Broadcasters, which owned WOKY.
I haven't been able to find much about the man behind the music, but I trust you'll tell me what you know using the Talkback feature below or via Facebook or email. (One Facebook poster suggested that Michaels used to host the South Shore Water Frolics in Bay View. Surely one of you knows more about that.)
In 1954, Michaels released "The Czarnina Kid" and the following year he issued another 45 with "Gwiazdor" and "Snack for Santa" – both on his own Michaels imprint and both also potentially issued on 78s.
Why I found this hilarious as a little kid in 1970s Brooklyn is a mystery – though he does mention a "tooshie bone" in "Michaels Market," so there's that – but I loved both sides and still do. Enjoy...
Here's "Gwiazdor" ...
And, finally, here's "Snack for Santa" ...
My friend Duane Dudek has also posted about these songs, and some related ones, including Frankie Yankovic's brilliant, "Who Stole the Keeshka," here. There are more posts about Michaels at Milwaukee Polonia Project and Budding Ventriloquist.
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