There are so many items I wanted talk up on this blog before 2019 becomes 2020 that I know I won’t get to them all. But at least one of those topics will be brought up in this post. The topic comes from the realm of… soccer! The world’s game! The most beautiful game! Whatever other superlatives the rest of the planet gives applies to it! And the topic of that corny title I just made you read (I may be 50, but I still have an 8-year-old’s sense of humor).
Yep, you read that post title correctly: Madison is such a cool city artistic-wise that we have not one but two separate, neighboring, coexisting — and free — art fairs that occur downtown on the 2nd weekend of July every year.
I want to devote this quick post to a comment a reader left on a couple of my posts this week. I did not approve their comments as I thought the comments section wasn’t an appropriate place to address their pretty good inquiry. Luckily, I’m one to think long and hard about their questions can devote a new post to the answers.
I won’t single out this person by name or gender, but I will describe what they said they were: They are into crossdressing; they had recently relocated to the Madison, Wisconsin area; and they were inquiring about crossdresser-friendly social groups and organizations in Madison. They also asked about any places in Madison where a crossdresser would be socially accepted.
So, it’s a Friday night. You need to go out after a very, very long week. And you need to get away from all that’s been going on in the world. The natural thing would be to go out and perhaps see a show. And that’s what I did last night (December 2), when after a long day and week of work, I went here:
That’s the front marquis for the Barrymore Theatre, which is located in the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood on Madison’s near east side. The Barrymore (named in tribute to the Barrymore acting family) has had a long and varied yet rich history since first opening in 1929 as the Eastwood Theater. It served primarily as a movie theater for much of its first 6 decades, offering the latest Hollywood fare and even featuring an occasional live performance. But competition from newer, multi-screen cinemas, combined with a declining neighborhood surrounding it, would leave the theater resorting to showing X-rated fare exclusively by the early 1980s.
New ownership and the adoption of its current name in 1987 would transform the Barrymore. With it began a gradual transformation from a second-run budget cinema to the live performance venue it’s known as today. The screening of films would stop completely by 1992, when its current nonprofit ownership began concentrating exclusively on concerts by various touring artists of wide-ranging styles (from rock and folk to world beat and stand-up comedy), along with an occasional art house film. A much-improved Schenk-Atwood neighborhood has certainly helped, with many restaurants and small businesses sprouting up since the Barrymore’s revitalization.
If you recall from August of last year, I had plans to march, as Allison, in Madison’s LGBT pride parade. However, a very last-minute familial situation scrapped those hopes. (At least I did dress up for the public one month later.) But I still love a (pride) parade, and I wanted to take in this year’s edition of Madison’s pride parade, which took place on August 21.
The event is technically billed as the Outreach Pride Parade & Rally. The Outreach of the name is the LGBT community resource center here in Madison (mission statement: “To promote equality and quality of life for LGBT people”). Outreach, which just moved to a newer, more expanded office in Madison earlier this summer (memo to self: check it out very soon), puts on noteworthy LGBT-oriented events in the Madison area every year, including an awards banquet that is scheduled to take place this coming week, and, since 2014, a parade and rally every August.
You’re probably seeing that “since 2014” part in that last paragraph and are wondering to yourself, “Really? Madison is so open and progressive, yet they’ve only had a pride parade since 2014?” Well, that’s not true. Other groups have put on pride parades in the past, including a group called Capitol Pride that put on a small parade in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Those groups, for various financial and/or organizational reasons, have come and gone. Some of the previous pride parades and rallies in Madison have been different than what Outreach puts on. Some years it was just a parade; a parade followed by a picnic or rally; and, as I recall one year, just a picnic since there wasn’t enough money in the budget for a parade (a city parade license and police logistics can cost a pretty penny).
Time for another edition of “Allison in Madison,” and this entry will be one part City of Madison highlight, one part dive into the deep recessions of my memory bank. I’ll start with a little teaser question for you: How would you think the site pictured below would connect to one the greatest, most popular, and legendary entertainers of all time? (No spoilers from the Madison audience, please!)
I’ll get into the hows and whys later in this post, but I’ll start by telling you upfront who the entertainer in question is: Elvis Presley. When Elvis hit the big time in the mid-1950s, it was with an energetic, provocative stage presence and a combination of upbeat country, rhythm and blues into a new form of popular music — rock and roll — that:
[A] drove the kids of the time into a wild frenzy (much more of a frenzy than what the prefab pop stars of today would generate), and
[B] drove the older generations into having fits when they realized that his music and performance styles were not the same as the tried-and-true entertainment they enjoyed for decades.
Simply put, Elvis helped usher in a changing of the guard in popular music as well as culture: Older, more conservative styles and morals were on their way out; in its place was a new “youth culture” with its own beliefs, opinions, and political and cultural stances. Combine that with the growing popularity of television and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and it really made the grownups’ heads spin. They needn’t have worried, though, for Elvis always seemed, to me at least, to be one who, despite breaking away from his elders stylistically, still had true respect for them. (“That’s all right now mama” indeed.)
Ho, ho, ho, peoples! Time for another edition of “Allison in Madison,” and this time around it’s also “Allison’s word.” I’ll tell you the word (or phrase, actually) in a bit, but I start by noting that yesterday (Monday) was the 15th day of August. I was a pretty busy beaver on Monday, what with a full day of work, errands, and typing up my previous blog entry. So busy, in fact, that I forgot that the 15th was a very important day in Madison.
“And you still had to work, huh?”
No, it wasn’t an official holiday by any means. August 15th (or 14th depending on the landlords’ terms) is the day when new lease periods for apartments in Madison’s central core simultaneously begin. I refer to “central core” as the areas in or near the University of Wisconsin campus, including downtown. And, yeah, a lot of UW students occupy those apartments during the academic year. It’s not so much about the rent, of course (apartment rent can be pretty steep in many spots throughout this town, as I can attest) but the close proximity of these apartments to the UW campus area.
Okay, I have to admit it: I have a little bit of writer’s block at the moment. I had been hoping to respond in chronological order to these “June Jour” prompts F.C. has been putting out so far this month. However, I’m a little bit stumped to think of responses to a couple of them. Oh, I do have an idea on a response to at least one of them, but I’m thinking I want to really stretch it out a little bit. So, I’ll jump ahead to this prompt F.C. put out that inquires about “a place or sanctuary where you like to go to ‘get away’ from everything.”
Well, where do I go to “get away”? Well, here’s a photo of that spot from a few years ago:
Okay, so a photo of a hiking trail doesn’t float your boat? Well, then, how about this view?
Both of these pics are of spots at a city park near my neighborhood, Owen Park. As the City of Madison website describes it, Owen Park was once “the farm and personal retreat” of Edward T. Owen, a University of Wisconsin professor. Today, it is under the ownership of the city’s parks division.
Time for another edition of “Allison in Madison.” For the most part, the previous entries in this category feature things about this fair city that I truly admire, appreciate, and downright love. However, this entry profiles something about the Mad City that, well, leaves me scratching my head a little bit (although, to be upfront, I refrain from holding my nose and raising a stink over it). It has to do with this:
That, for those unfamiliar with meat products, is bratwurst. And before you let your mind drift into the gutter (this is not that kind of a post, or a website for that matter), bratwurst is a meat product. That you grill. And put on a bun. And eat. Along with a plate full of potato salad or chips. And wash down with beer. Bratwurst (or just “brats” in American English) originated in Germany as far back as the 14th century. There are many varieties and *ahem* lengths of bratwurst, but inside that hard casing is mostly veal, beef, and pork. There is also the “beer brat,” in which the bratwurst is simmered in beer before being grilled. Continue reading
Time for another addition to my “Allison in Madison” category, in which I highlight something unique about my hometown. In a previous entry, I talked about the impending departure of Oscar Mayer from our fair city. This time around, I talk about another notable Madison institution that is about to depart… the airwaves.
I don’t believe I’ve previously brought up this topic very much on this blog, but my radio is regularly (though admittedly not exclusively) tuned into a public radio station. No, please don’t consider me a snob and an elitist; it’s just that I appreciate radio content that doesn’t underestimate its audience’s intelligence level. That’s something that you don’t really get from other (commercial-oriented) stations on the dial. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the public radio outlet here in our fair state, Wisconsin Public Radio, produces its fair share of outstanding programming recognized both in Wisconsin and nationwide. One of those programs is Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? The show has been a Saturday morning fixture since its modest beginnings in June 1985, and originates almost every week from Madison’s Monona Terrace (a place that will merit its own “Allison in Madison” post when I get around to it). And while you think public broadcasting is meant only for an elite, opera- and symphony-loving audience, Whad’Ya Know? runs counter to that. It’s quite irreverent in its humor and topics (even its official website URL, NotMuch.com, is a part of that), and it connects to people from all walks of life, especially the common folk who are delivering the mail, doing yard work, or shuttling the kids to soccer practice during the two hours Whad’Ya Know? airs every Saturday morning.