Friday, February 25, 2011

Mad City

During my wandering ronin-scientist period I spent a year and a half in Madison, WI.  Due to a series of unfortunate events, that time period encompassed two winters and I still have nightmares about that.  Nothing cheers me more than having to scrape my car windows twice a day.  The above is one of my favorite postcards from that town, and it fits.

Most Madisonians are pretty laid-back and while not effusive in friendship (would violate the Scandihoovian code or something) are quietly generous.  There are a few odd ducks that feel by congregating in Madison it makes it, and them, "cool" and hip and things.  Cold, definitely.  The University has a nice terrace for drinking beer on during the month of summer, but beyond that it provides a nice view of the yearly ice sculpture contest on the lake.  The frozen lake. 

They want to be seen as the Berkely of the midwest, but I have sad news for them.  I've lived in Berkeley too.  Being able to buy tie-dye t-shirts doesn't make you Berkeley.  A handful of head shops doesn't make you Berkeley.  Maybe they don't understand what they need to add to reach that rarified level.  I think even the rampaging leftists might be a bit taken aback by what *I* saw in Berkeley.  Like a savage beatdown of one homeless person against another in, wait for it, the Peace Park.  At least they weren't using nuclear weapons (forbidden by city ordinance ...).  The guy who wore an amazing turban consisting entirely of hundreds and hundreds of panties.  The Hitler clone (who seriously skeeved me out).  The decay and the poverty and the dirt.  There were some good things too, but usually they were leftovers from a prosperous, non-hippy time.  The town was puzzled why people with money didn't want to come in and spend it in their grubby shops, stepping over smelly "counterculture" adherents to do so.  And strangely, communist-manques don't spend a lot of money! Capitalists don't care to support causes dedicated to destroying them and everything they stand for!

I'm not surprised there are rampaging hordes of whiny leftists wailing to the heavens in Madison right now.  Those mean conservatives are trying to destroy their dream of destroying Wisconsin.  And making Madison truly into Berkeley.


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