Madison Archives

Saturday afternoon showers that didn’t dampen


Saturday afternoon.
Corner of East Washington and Stoughton Road.
Traffic light is out.
I’m in the long line of cars waiting to turn right. Sigh. 

The rain is pouring,
I watch as it beats down on the traffic cop’s bald head.
His smile is brighter and stands out even more than
His neon yellow vest.
You can tell that even if offered a poncho and hat
He would decline.
Stuck alone to direct traffic at this busiest of intersections, his movements almost look like dancing.

Finally it’s our turn to go.
He gestures wildly, waving us on as if we were kids
Waiting to get into Disneyland.
Blowing a whistle none of us can hear.
A living example of don’t follow your passion,
let it follow you instead.


Photo: Nataraj Hauser

It’s a nice day to start again

Two kids.
Two museums.
Day 3 of staycation.
Do I have to go? I was having fun.
Oh oh.
Good thing we’re stopping at Shopko first.
Maybe this brief indulgence in consumerism to get comfy flip flops will appease her.
I’d rather spend the money on clothes than flip flops.
I guess not.
We come to a swift and terrible sartorial decision and are on our way. Placated. For now.

DSC00060Museum #1.
Wisconsin Natural History Museum.
The bedspread from Lincoln’s bedspread is on display.
There is a lumberjack exhibit.
My great grandfather worked as a lumberjack in Wisconsin well over 100 years ago, I say.
Moving on to the Progressive exhibit.
My great great grandfather, a pastor, was considered a progressive in Wisconsin at that time.
He helped start an insurance company that protected churches from fires, which was very controversial at the time.
More silence.
It was progressives in Wisconsin that started unions, giving us 40 hour work weeks, and helped abolish child labor.
Still silent.
But taking it in, I think.

DSC00068Walk down State Street.
The Soap Opera beckons.
Brief indulgence of consumer impulses again.
I try to talk them into getting an owl shirt.
You could totally rock that shirt, mom.
Nah, not age-appropriate.
Sconnie store next.

DSC00061Lunch at Five Guys.
Can’t we go to Subway?
I’d prefer a more State Street-specific locale for lunch, I say.
Gives you a more authentic experience.
Maybe one or both of you will go to UW.
If Walker doesn’t ruin it.
Or the tuition doesn’t get even more sky high by then.
Billy Idol blares through the loudspeaker as we dine.
A perfect day for a white wedding.
Sorry Billy, that was last Saturday. But I get your point.
Hey little sister, what have you done?
The two little sisters ruminate over their purchases.
Compare the burgers to those at other restaurants.

irelandMuseum #2.
Madison Museum of Modern Art.
Wisconsin Pastorale exhibit.
Splendid paintings of rural Wisconsin by Lois Ireland.
Youngest daughter liked the Coordinates exhibit the best.
Let’s go up the stairs!
Let’s not and say we did. Open staircase. I’m afraid of heights.
Everyone’s chicken of something.
There is nothing safe in this world
And there’s nothing sure in this world.

DSC00067A brief stop at the Capitol.
A dozen protesters singing in the middle.
“We won’t leave until it gets better” banner hangs – it has a graphic of the state of Wisconsin with a broken heart.
I give them a brief history of Act 10.
Silence, but listening closely.
There is nothing fair in this world.
Even Monk (Tony Shalhoub) came to those protests.
Got their attention.
Hey little sister, who’s the only one?
Hey little sister, who’s your superman?

We leave for home.
DSC00031Balloon fight ensues in backyard.
Then escalates briefly into a real fight.
Plans made to get slushies later.
And watch reruns of Monk, a summer tradition.
A Northern Cardinal sings hello to us.
Everyone placated again.
Take me back home, yeah.
It’s a nice day to start again.                                                                                     Yep.


Elvis Was Here!

I never would have expected I’d be writing a post about Elvis today, but last week The Isthmus published a cool article about little-known spots in Madison.

I decided to visit each of the east side ones (and maybe some of the others) and write a post about each. And maybe follow that up with a series on little-known Monona spots too.

Yesterday I went to visit the “Elvis Presley Fight Scene” marker at the site on the northwest corner of Hwy 51 and East Washington.  It marks the spot where Elvis, who was wearing a powder blue jumpsuit, hopped out of a limousine on June 23, 1977 to stop a fight at a gas station. He assumed a karate stance and said, “I’ll take you on.”

Elvis Presley Fight Scene marker in Madison, WI

He was in town for a concert. His first concert in Madison was the previous fall. It’s interesting that it took him so long to give a concert here, and then he did two concerts in less than a year. Here’s a review of that June 1977 concert.

I’m not an Elvis fan – I was only 11 years old when died. Although I vividly recall feeling sad while hearing the news of his death on the radio, my childhood memories of him are as an overweight man in jumpsuits who was way past his prime. He seemed old, even though he was only 42 when he died… a year younger than I am now. Yikes.

Elvis’s last concert was in Indianapolis, just two days after this Madison concert. He died 50 days later. He was in shockingly poor health in his final months but it’s nice to know he still had a little bit of fight in him near the end.