Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

30 June, 2019

Summertime Perambulations Part II

Previous perambulation

Heading down Atwood Avenue the air is sweetly scented as I pass homes with front yards adorned with flowers. Once you get west of Starkweather Creek (which always makes me think of the great Starkweather-Moore expedition of 1933 - and are in the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood, the houses become pre-war with smaller lots and the cookie cutter designs of my own Eastmorland dissolve into an array of styles.

I take a detour to the north and head to Wirth Court Park where another Sid Boyum sculpture lives. Curiously enough, I walked by a gentleman who looked an awful lot like Brian Standing, the president of the Friends of Sid Boyum, a group dedicated to preserving his art and legacy.


I am not sure if the artist himself entitled this work "Hippopotamus" or if that is simply how it is referred to today. The inlaid tile border is really beautiful.

Heading back south I discover that the Madison-Kipp Corporation has some new, well new-ish, murals.


Plus the Goodman Community Center has revitalized the Madison Brass Works ghost sign on their shiny new expansion.


It had been a while since I ambled down Waubesa Street and I found that the Goodman Center had a really need yard with a large water hoolie for people to cool down under, seating, and one of those ubiquitous cow statues.

Whilst trekking back to Atwood Avenue, I find myself walking by Boyum's home.


A sculpture (or was it two?) was sitting in the long grass alongside the driveway.

Continuing south I end up at my next destination which was Elmside Circle Park, home to Boyum's "Polar Bear Chair".


Sadly, it resides on the south side of the park away from the swings and slides. I hope the neighborhood kids give it some love and attention.

Back on Atwood Ave., I walk by the metallic statuary on the perimeter of Daisy Café & Cupcakery's parking lot.


Across the street I spot the first of several ghost signs that I'd encounter on my walk.


The Thorson Store Fixture Co. was in business from 1935-1970 and this ghost sign is a relatively new find. More for a bit more history of the business, check out this post at the East Side History Madison's Blog. While I'm at it, check out the Facebook page of Ghost Signs of Madison, Wisconsin which is run by Maureen Janson Heintz.

I stopped in at the BP on Atwood and Miller for some refreshment and saw this holiday/memento mori decoration on the door.


On the interior was an Easter drawing. Nice dichotomy of the sacred and profane – circle of life and all that. You know, that Jungian thing.

I spied these on the facade of Atwood Studios.


The heads are new additions but the light fixtures are surely old. I had never noticed these before despite having driven by and ridden by on the bus countless times. Plus I've even frequented a business in the building yet they never drew my attention. That, I suppose, is the joy of perambulating. Being cognizant of your surroundings as opposed to focusing on your destination. It's a shame that the newer buildings here in Madison have no such detail.

Next door to Atwood Studios is The Victory, coffeehouse. It has a funkadelic mural on the Corry Street side of the building.


Sadly, I've never been to The Victory but they have (had?) a sign on their windows proudly announcing that they lacked wireless and so patrons would have to socialize with one another.

Across the street at Next Door Brewing Co. they have a mural for their outdoor seating area.


It's been a while since I've stepped inside. They have good food, including some items that use their beer/spent grains as an ingredient, and a decent beer selection, as far as my taste goes. Like most breweries and brewpubs, they have more their fair share of IPAs but they also find time to throw a Czech dark lager into the rotation. Plus they brew a fine Berliner Weisse, even if it is kettle soured, during the summer. In years past an array of Schlüsse have been on offer from the traditional raspberry and woodruff to mango and other tropical fruit flavors. (Because pretty much everything in craft beer these days revolves around tasting like fruit punch.)

Continuing down Atwood I pass the lovely St. Bernard church. My assumption is that it is named after Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the big dogs of 12th century Catholicism.


Not being Catholic I must admit I don't know much about the church beyond their brat stands which are a fixture of weekends during the summer. Does anyone know what you call that kind of exterior? I am assuming it's not actual pieces of slate or whatever kind of rock it may be stacked atop one another. Must be something that comes in sheets that you can just slap on the walls. This is not the only church I encountered on this walk to look like this. Plus it seems that at least a few of Madison's wells have this same kind of exterior.

Down the street I find this little ditty.


It's a box that holds those little flags you wave when you want to cross the street which were apparently all across the street in its sister box.

My first stop in search of music – the ostensible purpose of my journey - would be at Sugar Shack Records

Ensuing perambulation

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29 June, 2019

Summertime Perambulations

Recently I found myself in a peripatetic frame of mind and took a little walk. I had it in mind to accomplish a couple of things that I'd been meaning to do for a while: 1) do some music shopping and 2) head over to Tangent and try their gruit. Since it was a nice day, I decided to hoof it down to my local purveyors of CDs and then over to Tangent for a drink.

WARNING! Tangent (no pun intended) ahead.

There were three albums that I was keen on adding to my collection. First there was Adrian Belew's Pop-Sided which I'd only heard of the day before. I am falling behind on new stuff by proggy legends. 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul came next in line because I had heard a bit of "Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)" the week before and realized I should probably have that album in my collection. Lastly and most covetously was Terry Riley's A Rainbow in Curved Air.

I'm sure that I first heard of A Rainbow in Curved Air, like many fans of The Who, in reference to its influence on Pete Townshend in 1970 when he was composing the tunes for Who's Next. After all, the "Riley" in "Baba O'Riley" is Terry. I've known about the influence of the avant-garde composer/musician and his electronic minimalist album for years, decades really. But having read about it while in high school, I assumed it was an obscure bit of experimentalism known only to the select few initiates of the Cult of Riley. Presumably Pete Townshend had found a rare copy while on tour at a Brigadoon-like record store in New York or Chicago that only appeared to customers on nights when the moon was full between the summer and winter solstices. I mentally filed it away as an album to listen to someday, if it could ever be found.

That was some time in the second half of the 1980s. Along comes the Internet making much obscure music available and even for free in most cases. But it didn't occur to me to scour YouTube for it until a few months ago while I was in media res of a The Who binge. I was listening to some of Pete Townshend's demos, specifically the one for "Baba O'Riley", when it suddenly occurred to me to seek out A Rainbow in Curved Air. And so I did and holy Christ was it good.

You can listen to it here. Once you've done that, check out Townshend's demo for "Baba O'Riley" to hear the influence. I learned fairly recently that the keyboard parts to "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", which I've always assumed to be synthesizers, were, in fact, Lowrey organs. For the former a repeat setting was used while the organ was run through a synthesizer for the latter. To top things off, I have also discovered that bits from A Rainbow in Curved Air were used in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio show. I believe they are to be heard during the entries to the Guide itself.

Tangent over.

So, with my goals set, I struck out on foot.

I live in the Eastmorland neighborhood. It's a fairly sleepy bedroom community. The kind of place that realtors would tell prospective buyers is close to urban amenities to elide over the fact that it doesn't actually have many of them within its boundaries. One thing it does have, however, is Olbrich Park, an expanse of green on both sides of Atwood Avenue with a goodly amount of shoreline on Lake Monona. So I began by traipsing by the new park shelter still under construction.


Crossing Starkweather Creek meant that I was outside Olbrich Gardens. Evergreens line the fence that borders the sidewalk.



This stretch along the sidewalk not only looks wonderful with all of the trees and flowers decorating the perimeter of the gardens but smells magnificent as well. Indeed, this was the first of a few times that my nose caught a floral scent while I was walking that day. I'd look over at the nearest bed of flowers only to not recognize them and be saddened that our lilacs were not particularly fragrant this year.

At the corner of Atwood and Oakridge is a sign announcing that I was entering the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood and a short distance away was this:


Just as the Poles have their kapliczka, Schenk-Atwood has its sculptures announcing that you are entering Sid Boyum territory. Boyum was a Madison artist who resided in the neighborhood. He died in 1991 and his concrete sculptuary now dots the landscape of the Schenk-Atwood and Marquette neighborhoods. His departure from this world left a house full of art and a backyard full of sculptures. With efforts underway to preserve his legacy, I presume we'll be seeing more of his work put on public display.

Subsequent perambulation

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