I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On, Wisconsin!

We had protests. We had sit-ins at Bascom Hall. We had Jesse Jackson speak to us on Library Mall before the Bush v. Gore election debacle. But when I went to UW-Madison, the stories we heard about the Vietnam Protests and the bombing of Sterling Hall were the stuff of myth and legend - things that happened thirty years before, and were whitewashed over with thirty-years worth of cheap apartment paint.

I am so. jealous. of the kids living in Mad-Town right now. Well, I'm jealous of them always, but especially right now.

What happens on the Capitol, happens in the University. And vice-versa. For anyone un-acquainted with the layout of the City (everyone), it's an isthmus - a land-bridge between two large lakes - Monona, and Mendota. On that isthmus is the Capital, on Capital Square, which is connected to campus via State Street, a sloping mile-long bus-and-cop only street lined with bars, restaurants, art and clothing stores, and headshops. Like Lincoln Road used to be, before it sold out. I understand State Street is also selling out, which is a shame. I was there when the first Starbucks opened on State. There were protests. As usual.

State Street slopes down from Capitol square, to Library Mall, where there's a quarter-mile of flat terrain, before it dead-ends into Bascom Hill, the hill on which the University was first built. Climbing Bascom Hill sucked. But undergrads don't need to do that anymore, because the bus pass issued by the University gets you up the hill for free. It used to cost .50. And was worth every penny.

The capitol, the University and the student body are beautifully inextricably intertwined. It's like a mini-D.C. Madison is a pulsating, utopian, surprisingly cosmopolitan, gorgeous little town.

But it's a little town that crackles with energy, both good and bad. George Bush was "elected" while I was there, and shortly thereafter I was there when September 11 happened. We bombed Kosovo while I was there, and Columbine happened my Freshman year. There were always protests and people chaining themselves to things, or wearing sandwich boards, or trying to get us to sign petitions for... whatever. It was annoying, but it was awesome.

In Madison, everything felt like it mattered.

Which is why I'm so jealous of everyone there right now. This is another chapter being written in the City's history. I lived four blocks away from the square where people are camped out. (In an AWESOME 1911 apartment with wood floors, original molding, and a huge red-brick fireplace that was lit in September and didn't go out until Thanksgiving, when I went home...)

People are passionate about...stuff. As students, we just took it for granted that we lived in the legislative center of the State - it was just another one of the million things that made Madison AWESOME (like Dotty's Dumpling Dowry, or the State Bar & Grill, or the Plaza, or Nick's Restaurant, or The Pub, or , but that faded into the background. Like how the first bite of a Coldstone Birthday Cake Ice Cream is an explosion of different amazing tastes, but by the end, you're like "Yeah, it's a delicious combination. Can I taste any one terrific thing right now? No."

That's sort of how Madison is.

And for the first time since I've left, it's in the National spotlight. And I wish I was there taking part in a lil' bit o' history.