two Madison stories

We lived in Madison from the time we met in the early eighties until 1988. Here are a couple of stories from those days.

1. We wandered into a sub shop on State Street one evening, I think around 8 p.m. A little while after we’d arrived, a very drunk guy probably in his late twenties. He stumbled around the store a bit – he might have tried to order something – but mostly he kept shouting “Semper Fi! Semper Fi!” Eventually, he let on that it was “the Marines’ birthday, man.” (I was unaware that organizations had “birthdays,” or that the anniversary of their founding was celebrated – but hey, it’s the Marines, so who knows what goofy unit-cohesion propaganda they come up with.) Apparently the other people in the restaurant weren’t paying enough attention to him, or weren’t joining him in his joyous revelry in re Marine Corps anniversary – because soon every other word was “fuckin'” and, to enhance his prominence in the place, he picked up a medium-sized metal garbage can in the corner (it was pretty much empty) and began smashing it against his forehead, while yelling “It’s the Marines’ fuckin’ birthday, man! Semper fuckin’ Fi!”

We left.

2. More stories about drunks and cussin’… Madison’s Halloween celebrations have become notorious, and well out of hand, given that they attract idiot drunks from a multi-state area. But back then, they were still pretty much local affairs, and the drunkenness and property destruction remained within generally acceptable limits (like, say, restaurants’ garbage cans being destroyed). It was actually possible to walk on State Street on Halloween and amuse oneself observing the clever costumes. Our all-time favorite costume set was worn by two guys. One guy, a tallish, very skinny guy, had a sort of bedraggled look to him, but his main prop was a crumpled, half-opened umbrella, which he kept jabbing skyward at random while yelling “Fuck you! Fuck you!” His buddy, rather more fleshy and saturnine a fellow, moped along beside him, dressed in large brown plastic garbage bags from shoulder to ankles, muttering grumpily “Shit. Shit. Shit.” What were their costumes signifying? Why, the very spirit of “Shit” and “Fuck You,” of course.

The soundtrack:

The Ray Bryant Combo “The Madison Time (Part 1)” – This song reads as a sort of surrealist version of a dance-catalog record, either by virtue of entirely obscure and outdated references or because it actually is a surrealistic version of a dance-catalog record.

The Blow Pops “Halloween” – Charm pop.


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