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Ben Masel

Letter To The People - May 2011

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

This Month: Ben Masel, Bastard Den, Faces For Radio, Adventures With Elizabeth


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Nikolai with goggles

Letter To The People - April 2011

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

SUPREME COURT: Wisconsin’s politics have been out of hand lately, and one of the underlying reasons is that the many people who have voices didn’t get out to vote in the last election cycle. Including Wisconsin’s current governor, a portion of the politicians across the state won by a small margin. I even heard one person say that she didn’t vote because she “assumed” her candidate would win. Not true.

As the current legislature makes the act of voting more difficult, now more than ever the greater public must keep its vigilance and go to the polls. Voting now is better than protesting later.

April fifth brings Wisconsin to a vote for a new State Supreme Court judge. This position carries a 10 year term, a very long term in comparison to the four year term for governor. Not many think about the State Supreme Court because much of their business happens without fanfare but not for long.

Federal Supreme Court decisions are more often in the thoughts of the public. Citizens can see the effects of their decisions clearer in their daily life. Miranda Rights, Legalized Abortion, and the 2000 Presidential Election of George Bush were all decisions by that federal court. Federal justices are appointed by the President of the United States, and their term is for life. However, State Supreme Court justices are elected. Yet, their decisions carry an enormous weight as well, even if the public is not paying attention. The State Supreme Court is a large part of the ‘“checks and balances” system.

Wisconsin’s current state of politics is in great peril as the parties in control of the legislature are in heated battles and do not trust each other. As these partisan battles rage, and tactics are taken that might appear less than lawful, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court will likely have a few cases moved to the front of their load. The recent “meeting law” violation is one example that could not only allow the current “repair bill” items to pass, but change the actual meeting law itself- perpetuating more of the same type of political tactics seen in the last few months.

Wisconsin’s citizens have the honor and duty to educate themselves about the current candidates and cast a vote. If transportation to the voting polls is an issue, those living in Madison have the opportunity for free transportation from Union Cab and Badger Cab. There are no excuses, only votes or no votes. There are people who will benefit from not voting, please deny that benefit.

MAX INK RADIO: Maximum Ink is entering new territories in April as we begin to launch an internet radio station. The radio station, like the magazine, will feature many genres of music from local, national, and international artists.

Our station will bring some of the music already heard on various commercial radio stations, and it offers a lot of music they would never touch.

For instance, every morning at 9:00am is the “Morning Ragas” show. Ragas are traditional, instrumental Indian music that are uplifting and inspirational. Ragas employ two main instruments, sitar and tabla.

Stay on from 10:00am-noon for Wisconsin Local, a mix of Wisconsin based bands. We’re building up songs for that show, so if you would like to submit music for consideration, please send a 128k MP3 to mp3 (at) Please only attach and send one song per email.

There will also be rock, metal, reggae, blues, world, and maybe even a little talk radio down the line, which brings us to The Bastard Den.

The Bastard Den was a local radio show that was featured in a story on in Maximum Ink a few months back. The Bastard Den will be moving their show to Max Ink Radio, and the show will air every Tuesday from 4:00pm-9:00pm. The Bastard Den will feature local music, interviews of local bands, comedy, sports, and some talk radio.

The show’s host, JimmyK, is joined by co-hosts Edub and local comedian Steve Percell, known as Stolley. Listeners will be able to chat and interact with the show by clicking “chat” on the website.

Their first show for Max Ink Radio will premier on Tuesday, April 12th and will feature interviews with local bands Wall of Funk, 4 Aspirin Morning, and Chaos Revolution Theory. These bands will also appear live at The Bastard Den’s first anniversary party at The Annex on Friday, April 15th.

The following Tuesday, April 19th will feature The Mother Hive Syndicate, Subatomic, and The Pinch on the show as those bands will also be performing live at BomBlastica 2011.

Hairtopia, an 80s hair-metal show, mixed with comedy and hosted by Stolley, will be airing on Sunday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm. This show has also moved to Max Ink Radio and will simulcast on the Uber Radio Network.

Max Ink Radio is a work in progress, and listeners will receive updates here regularly as we add shows and DJ’s. If you are an aspiring Radio DJ and have an idea for a show, please send an email to programdirector (at)

BOMBLASTICA 2011: Maximum Ink’s 15 year anniversary party will happen on Friday, April 22nd at The Annex in Madison. There is free admission all night long, and the party will kick off at 9:00pm with free Ale Asylum Hopalicious, a Yahara Bay Vodka tasting, and pizza from Bellini Italian Restaurant until everything is gone.

Music will kick off at 9:00pm with Lyden Moon, the guitar wizard from Kenosha, along with The Mother Hive Syndicate doing Black Sabbath, Subatomic doing AC/DC, and the Pinch as Neil Young.

WAMI: The Annual WAMI award show is back in Milwaukee this year at Turner Hall on Sunday, April 17th. Find all the nominees and information at their site:

Milwaukee punkers Die Kruezen (prounounced De Kroytzen) are being inducted into WAMI’s hall of fame. Congratulations to Dan Kubinski and the boys.

ADVENTURES WITH NIKOLAI: Nikko participated in his first science fair at school. All of the students were asked to come up with an experiment and hypothesis. The little “engineer boy” in me screamed for complexity, but it was Elizabeth’s voice of simplicity that saved the day. Thank goodness for big sisters.

What happens to air when heated and cooled? The experiment would test the fundamentals of the weather system. The equipment list was fairly simple: an empty two liter bottle, a balloon, two cooking pots, 20-40 ice cubes, and tap water. The action was fairly simple. Place the balloon over the opening of the bottle, place the bottle in a cold water bath, observe what happens, then the hot water bath, observe what happens, and back to the cold water bath.

After many conversations on heat rising, air expanding, and their opposite states, Nikko was ready to deliver his first public speech. As the assistant, my job was to hold the poster board and fetch the water.

This science fair invited all the parents to the school to see the presentations. Nikko said he had a few butterflies, but when his turn came, he jumped into action with his first step ... safety goggles.

As he immersed the balloon tipped bottle in cold water, the crowd was silent. As anticipated, there was not any action. Nikko then pulled the bottle from the cold water and immersed it into the hot water bath. Again, nothing happened, as anticipated. But, after a pause of silence, the crowd’s reaction was filled with oohs and ahhs (and a little laughter from the adults) as the balloon perked up to attention, filling with the warmer air that was heated by the water.

The bottle and balloon went back into the cold water bath, and it quickly responded by deflating, which was followed with another round of oohs and aahs from the crowd. This experiment was a total success for Junior Scientist Nikolai.


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Darth Walker, Mini-Vader, Lizzie & Allison Rocker

Letter To The People - March 2011

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

15 YEARS OF MAXIMUM INK: As I think back to the beginning of 1996, I remember the Pack losing to Dallas in the NFC Championship, I remember the final months of Max Ink’s predecessor, Night Sites & Sounds, and the establishment of Maximum Ink that spring.

It wasn’t easy. My friend and co-owner of Maximum Ink, Michael “Black-n-Tan” and I were not the biggest players in the bid to take over NS&S. Madison Newspapers, Woodward Communications, and even a group of local yokels were ahead in the game. It pained me to see a big corporation take over a local music magazine, so we hung in there.

When the dogs were done fighting over the scraps and it was obvious that Night Sites could not continue under that flag, Maximum Ink was born out of passion to keep a local, music magazine on the streets to help promote Wisconsin’s music scenes to its fans.

We honor Black n Tan’s brother, Max Ward (see Voice Box story inside), by including his name in the name of the company and magazine. Max Ward passed away on the day after Maximum Ink’s first issue (March 7, 1996) after a long battle with AIDS.

Here’s to 15 years of Maximum Ink, and from a message in an ad from Randy’s Recording from our first issue… “Live long and prosper.”

DOROTHY WARD: As it’s a happy time for Maximum Ink, it’s also sad as we always remember Max Ward. It is also sad because in February, Dorothy Ward, Michael Black n Tan and Max’s mother, passed away. We honor her memory and dedicate this issue to Dorothy.

MADTOWN BASH: The Bastard Den, that local internet radio show at is putting on another of their events to promote Madison bands. Stop down to the Frequency in Madison on Friday, March 25th where they’ll be broadcasting live featuring Madison bands Beefus, Transient, Helliphant, and Milwaukeeans The Black Saints and comedians Ryan Casey, Rick Yoose, and Sean Moore. Doors open at 7pm and it is an 18+ show. The show is sponsored by Maximum Ink, Megatone Studios, and

BOMBLASTICA 2001: This year’s Max Ink birthday party will take place on Friday, April 22 at the Annex in Madison. As usual, it will be FREE ADMISSION and FREE BEER and MUNCHIES while supplies last. Beer will be provided by my favorite brewer, The Ale Asylum.

Bands will include spoofs of Black Sabbath done by Mother Hive Syndicate with Erik of Baghdad Scuba Review on bass, AC/DC by recent Max Ink cover artists Subatomic, NEIL YOUNG by Madisonian’s Pinch, as well as a set by Lyden Moon, the extraordinary guitarist whom I first met after he won the Steve Vai guitar player contest at the Barrymore.

We will also feature two comedians, Steve Purcell and Stephanie Sherlund. Come celebrate 15 years of Maximum Ink.

ADVENTURES WITH NIKOLIA AND ELIZABETH: First, Allison went down to the protests with her friend Leelee and got coverage on The Ed Show. So the next day I had Lizzy make a sign on a big piece of cardboard, “Stop Darth Walker.” I put on my Darth Rökker uniform and became “Darth Walker.” With Lizzy holding the signj, I proceeded to Force-choke protesting Wisconsin citizens and pose for pictures, a lot of pictures. Then Saturday came around and the whole family went up to the rally and Nikko dressed as mini-Vader and I as Darth Walker.

Sure enough, a picture of all of us ends up as high as #3 in the best protest signs on the Huffington Post’s website, and on and Next a friend chimed in that he saw Darth Walker on the O’Reilly Factor and another who saw DW on Fox News in Milwaukee. Then came Fox Financial and finally the CBS Nightly News. I’m sure there are more I don’t know about. It’s been a lot of fun with the family and very educational. I asked Nikko if he had a good time and he said, “I got to dress up in costumes and hang out with my dad, yeah, that’s fun.”


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Lizzy in her new pointe shoes - photo by Rökker

Letter To The People - February 2011

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

This Month: Max Ink’s 15 year birthday coming, Green Bay Packers Superbowl, Sunspot gets national publicity, Reptile Palace in Oshkosh burns… back when repairs done, The Bastard Den internet radio show, Bradley Fish, and Adventures with Elizabeth


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Ken Adell

Letter To The People - January 2011

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

When Ken jumped into a lake and broke his neck it changed his life forever, little did I know that it would change mine too.

I lived as a roommate of Ken’s for a few years in the mid-1990’s and at the time worked close with him helping out with his voice assisted computers and software. Back then, it was a pretty big deal to control an operating system like Windows without a mouse (he always called me “Mouseman”). But Ken was determined to get that pecking stick out of his mouth and “just talk to the damn computer.” Read more….

Marty Lamphier also passed away last month. Some of you may have seen him at the Last Crack show in November hanging with his g-friend Lisa H. He was a lover of music and a friend of Maximum Ink. He will be missed.

Adventures with Nikolai: Everybody knows Nikko loves Lego’s. Especially “Star Wars” Lego’s. And that’s exactly what he got during the holidays and his birthday. The Star Wars Turbo Tank was the crown jewel and it contained two large books of instructions as well as 1141 pieces.

Read more…


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Lizzie & Nikko Goofballs - photo by Rökker

Letter To The People - December 2010

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker

BAGHDAD SCUBA REVIEW: If you haven’t seen Madison jam band the Baghdad Scuba Review live and ever wanted to, you had best get down to the Harmony Bar on Atwood Avenue in Madison on December 11th. The band is going on a “hiatus” for 2011 and this show is their final show before said hiatus. Show up or shut up.

I know, but we’ve increased shows this year in other months and I need a break, lol. In it’s stead, I am sponsoring a few local events that help out local bands, an internet radio station and a local Christmas album. You will party in December, trust me!

A local Madison Christmas CD is coming out and its release party happens Saturday, December 18th at the Annex. The show is 18+ and features The 4am, Axiom, Government Zero, Lot 74, YLAB, 626, Kill Junior, and Wall of Funk. Dan Stoffels, drummer mixed the album and the event is also sponsored by and will be broadcast live over the internet. To find a link to the event page, go to Dan O’s wall, and don’t forget to friend him…

Infernal Rock Radio DJ'sMADTOWN BASH: is featured here in an article and the local madison DJ group that make up a large share of the Kansas City based station have put together a show to benefit the station and keep it on the air. Mad Town Bash happens Saturday, December 11th at the Frequency in Madison. The show features Wisconsin stalwarts, Brainerd, as well as well established Madison acts Kill Junior, Subatomic, Unusual Hurts, and Lords of the Trident. There will also be 4 comedians including IRR’s own Steve Purcell. The event is $5 bucks and proceeds go to keep the internet radio station on the air or you can donate at the above website.

Brad Van has been jamming in Madison bands for at least the 15+ years I’ve known him. For the last few years he’s thrown a local holiday show featuring great rock and metal bands. This, his sixth year, will feature his stoner-rock band Droids Attack with Kentucky Beltfight from Minneaplis and Sinking Suns from Madison on Saturday, December 18th at the Crystal Corner on Williamson Street in Madison.

As follows with their tradition, naughty elves will pass out Christmas treats, bands will hand out presents to the audience, and you’ll see a robot Santa Clause. I’m sure there will be a few drink specials and the Crystal Corner is always a blow out time! The event is also sponsored by Mad City Music Exchange and Capital City Comics. Hit the Droids up at

Comedian/DJ Steve PurcellINFERNAL ROCK RADIO:
You can read the interview we’re featuring here in Max Ink, but my story is a little different. Steve Purcell, the comedian deejay of the bunch, contacted me regarding the upcoming Madtown Bash show, intrigued I listened more about their home radio studios and legal “rogue” radio station called InfernalRockRadio. As it turns out SlamminAlvin lives and has his studio down the street from me, we’re neighbors. They invite me down to the weekly BOA show every Friday night that is broadcast from his abode. The BOA is a loose show of a bunch of working professionals (the Madison based deejays from IRR) get together to blow off a little steam, jam some tunes, call each other bastards, and make calls of football games. It’s a whole lot of fun and SlamminAlvin has been doing it for a long time, you could say he’s been a “pioneer” of intenet radio.

During my interview, another local deejay, Jimmy K, asked if they could broadcast the upcoming Last Crack show over the internet on their station. The next week saw the planning and execution of broadcasting Last Crack to the world live in concert from Scatz. The pre-show started earlier and a select group of fans and cohorts were interviewed live along with a band interview before the concert.

Since (the industry leading metal news site) picked it up, we could see tons of people across the world tuning in on a google map, and many joining in the chat room. Although it was early in the morning for a lot of people in far away countries, it was a unique experience for them to be connected to the show in such a way.

Thru that week, and a bunch of interviews and shows on IRR to promote the event, I saw how these group of Madison deejays work together as a team to promote local music and each other’s shows. Every show I’ve listened to plays or interviews local bands. It was nice to see a bright spot in the local music scene by people motivated by nothing more than passion.

A recent homework assignment required Nikolai to write a letter to Senator Herb Kohl. He said “hello” and “happy holidays” and “please say hello to Mr. Obama for me.” What a kid and he turns 8 in December! Happy Birthday Nikolai!
See you next month! Rökker


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