The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?
Huckleby
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The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Huckleby » Fri May 14, 2010 9:19 pm

It seems like Madison became a totally different city sometime during the Reagan years.
The drugs switched from pot & lsd to alchohol and cocaine. Large events like the Halloween party went from being a giant, mellow festival to punks pushing and shoving.
The farmers market used to be funky, people who live on the isthmus wandering around greeting each other. Now its well-dressed people from the suburbs. Nothing wrong with them, but its drawing on a much larger pool of people who aren't so familar with each other.
There still are wonderful festivals in MAdison like Orton, ATwood, Willie, etc. It seems like there were more informal outdoor concerts back then. Lots of street musicians. Paul Black might just appear on the library mall.
The only Madison phenomena I don't miss from the 70's is that there was dog shit everywhere.

Madison is cleaner now, the housing is less run-down. That's good. But sometimes I miss the old dump.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby markkay » Mon May 17, 2010 8:58 am

I didn't move to Madison until 1988 and I was disappointed with the lack of street musicians. In recent years, it seems there's been more and more street music, which I think is a good thing. However, I moved here after a short stint in Boston, where you could go down to Havard Square on a Friday or Saturday night and watch a lot of great music, so that is the gold standard, as far as I'm concerned. (Maybe Austin TX has something comparable?) So, was there a lot of street music in town in the seventies that evaporated throughout the eighties? (I was in Ann Arbor in the late seventies to early eighties, and the only street music I recall was Shakey Jake, but I wasn't a big fan.)

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby narcoleptish » Mon May 17, 2010 7:58 pm

I came of age in the Reagan years in Madison. I think the nightclub/danceclub scene was better then but the bar scene in general is better now. The festivals were definitely more laid-back, now everything's a big multi-day affair and the beer tent is all ambers and wheats. On a 90 degree day in July I just want a cold fucking High Life!

Fashion haunts me from the 80's though. I was a weight lifter and I wore ridiculously tight clothes. I squeezed into skin-tight pocket T's and straight leg Levi's in high school and a couple years later it was Spandex. Somewhere around 1988 I tended bar one night in leopard print spandex shorts and a tank top. I'd give anything to know what was in my head that night before work when I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "oh yeah, that'll work."

The worst was about a year before that when I went to Baraboo to meet my new girlfriend's family. They were having some big gathering at their farm. We arrived and I walked into the kitchen in the tightest.....shortest.....whitest....tennis shorts....any of those people had ever seen. High top sneakers, a button up Chess King shirt, the beginnings of a mullet, some acne, and to top it all off I had pink eye. Her dad took one look at me and my crusty eye and told her to keep me away from his cows.

Can't beat the 80's man.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby fennel » Mon May 17, 2010 8:41 pm

narcoleptish wrote:High-top sneakers, a button-up Chess King shirt ...
Chess King was still around in the 80's? That can't be right!

narcoleptish wrote:Can't beat the 80's man.
Because the 80's man is dead. (Too much bacon quiche and dicey Riesling.)

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby snoqueen » Mon May 17, 2010 8:57 pm

Street musicians took off fairly late in Madison. I think it might be the weather, which only gives you about six good months out of a year, maybe eight.

If you wanted to know more about this you could ask Catfish at one of his east side gigs. He was in the original bunch of street musicians and he'd know the whole story -- I seem to remember he was out on State Street way back in the 70s. Someone should do an in-depth interview with him and write the whole story up, or at least find the version Isthmus did a number of years ago. It's definitely part of Madison's cultural history.

The eighties and clothes... oh god. My 20-year high school reunion was in 1985 (I'm old) and I went to great pains to dress all up for it. I ended up selecting an expensive baggy sweater with no sleeves and something underneath that made it look like I was running around in my underpants. Of course, everyone else who showed up looked equally weird, including one guy who was dressed pretty much the way Narco looked tending bar. We're lucky that whole decade is over with.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Bwis53 » Mon May 17, 2010 9:32 pm

Hmmm, you must have inspired me to hand-deliver a letter, to an office on the Square, today. I rewarded myself, with a BLT platter and a beer, at Nick's. I love the few old bars we have left. State St. doesn't charm me like it used to. I had time to kill, so I walked all the way to Park & University. Enroute, I noticed a doorway, next to the Brothers Bar, with Cardinal over it. I wonder what that denotes? I'm not terribly impressed by Fresh Market, but have learned to like that building. I wonder just how much density we need, to have a working downtown?

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 17, 2010 10:44 pm

The Cardinal Bar was definitely the place to be in the 70's, 80's. Nice dance club, good music bookings. At some point it got kinda druggy and rough.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Ducatista » Tue May 18, 2010 6:39 am

In the 80s, the New Bar was the place to be, along with the rest of the Hotel Wash.

I moved here in '85, and back then Madison was still a pot town, or at least a pot/coke crossover town. I lived up near the top of State, worked and went to school at the bottom, and my several-times-daily State St trek was pungent with the smell of weed. The lakeside windowed wall of the Rat was wreathed in a weedy haze, too. The fine for possession of less than an ounce back then was $6, IIRC.

I don't share the oh-my-god-what-happened-to-my-beloved-homespun-Madison sentiment I sometimes see on TDPF. I've lived right downtown for the past 25 years, so the changes feel like the natural ebb and flow of a small city, not the freaky all-at-once shift some perceive when they venture back in from the suburbs.

I do look back fondly on my grungier Madison memories from visiting my big sister in the late 70s/early 80s. I loved waiting to climb the stairs for breakfast at Baker's Rooms and then watching the bakers make croissants in the kitchen below, shopping at the original hole-in-the-wall Soap Opera, venturing into the crazy-exotic (to me, then) Mifflin St Co-op.
Last edited by Ducatista on Tue May 18, 2010 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Bwis53 » Tue May 18, 2010 6:44 am

Huckleby wrote:The Cardinal Bar was definitely the place to be in the 70's, 80's. Nice dance club, good music bookings. At some point it got kinda druggy and rough.


Just the word Cardinal was carved into the top of the doorway, like it was built that way. I'm wondering if this doesn't go back much further?

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Ducatista » Tue May 18, 2010 7:17 am

Different buildings. You were on University Ave, right? Not near the Cardinal Bar.

The Daily Cardinal started in the late 1800s... maybe its first offices were there? Seems like a stretch, but who knows.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue May 18, 2010 9:13 am

Stanley Jordan used to play in the library mall, circa 1980, before he left town and went to NYC where his career took off. He played everything from Hendrix to Broadway show tunes with his unusual two hand tapping style, guitar on his lap.

Best street musician I've ever hear.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Huckleby » Tue May 18, 2010 9:29 am

Henry Vilas wrote:Stanley Jordan used to play in the library mall, circa 1980, before he left town and went to NYC where his career took off. He played everything from Hendrix to Broadway show tunes with his unusual two hand tapping style, guitar on his lap.

Best street musician I've ever hear.
Oh ya, I remember that. Ben Sidran used to be part of some great impromptu, bluesy jam sessions.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby Ned Flanders » Tue May 18, 2010 9:43 am

narcoleptish wrote:I came of age in the Reagan years in Madison. I think the nightclub/danceclub scene was better then but the bar scene in general is better now. The festivals were definitely more laid-back, now everything's a big multi-day affair and the beer tent is all ambers and wheats. On a 90 degree day in July I just want a cold fucking High Life!

Fashion haunts me from the 80's though. I was a weight lifter and I wore ridiculously tight clothes. I squeezed into skin-tight pocket T's and straight leg Levi's in high school and a couple years later it was Spandex. Somewhere around 1988 I tended bar one night in leopard print spandex shorts and a tank top. I'd give anything to know what was in my head that night before work when I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "oh yeah, that'll work."

The worst was about a year before that when I went to Baraboo to meet my new girlfriend's family. They were having some big gathering at their farm. We arrived and I walked into the kitchen in the tightest.....shortest.....whitest....tennis shorts....any of those people had ever seen. High top sneakers, a button up Chess King shirt, the beginnings of a mullet, some acne, and to top it all off I had pink eye. Her dad took one look at me and my crusty eye and told her to keep me away from his cows.

Can't beat the 80's man.

Reading this was cringe-worthy good fun. Thanks for opening a vein for us dude.

Most striking to me is how State Street has really become homogenized. No more head shops, junk dealers or clothing stores reeking of patchouli. Some of the old bars from my youth are still around: KK, Pub, but the real kings of 80's fun, the Stone Hearth, Headliners and the Black Bear are long-gone. Also, we used to do a lot of hanging out at "the beach" :Tenney, James Madison and Vilas cruising chicks and drinking warm Old Style. Do kids still do that?

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:06 pm

Ned Flanders wrote:
narcoleptish wrote:I came of age in the Reagan years in Madison. I think the nightclub/danceclub scene was better then but the bar scene in general is better now. The festivals were definitely more laid-back, now everything's a big multi-day affair and the beer tent is all ambers and wheats. On a 90 degree day in July I just want a cold fucking High Life!

Fashion haunts me from the 80's though. I was a weight lifter and I wore ridiculously tight clothes. I squeezed into skin-tight pocket T's and straight leg Levi's in high school and a couple years later it was Spandex. Somewhere around 1988 I tended bar one night in leopard print spandex shorts and a tank top. I'd give anything to know what was in my head that night before work when I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "oh yeah, that'll work."

The worst was about a year before that when I went to Baraboo to meet my new girlfriend's family. They were having some big gathering at their farm. We arrived and I walked into the kitchen in the tightest.....shortest.....whitest....tennis shorts....any of those people had ever seen. High top sneakers, a button up Chess King shirt, the beginnings of a mullet, some acne, and to top it all off I had pink eye. Her dad took one look at me and my crusty eye and told her to keep me away from his cows.

Can't beat the 80's man.

Reading this was cringe-worthy good fun. Thanks for opening a vein for us dude.

Most striking to me is how State Street has really become homogenized. No more head shops, junk dealers or clothing stores reeking of patchouli. Some of the old bars from my youth are still around: KK, Pub, but the real kings of 80's fun, the Stone Hearth, Headliners and the Black Bear are long-gone. Also, we used to do a lot of hanging out at "the beach" :Tenney, James Madison and Vilas cruising chicks and drinking warm Old Style. Do kids still do that?


The Pub is gone:
http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/artic ... icle=29373

... and the number of city parks you can legally drink in continues to shrink. I think the only one downtown or near campus is what remains of Law Park. Otherwise you have to go out to Vilas or Tenney.

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Re: The Good Old Days - calling all old farts

Postby chainsawcurtis » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:01 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Stanley Jordan used to play in the library mall, circa 1980, before he left town and went to NYC where his career took off. He played everything from Hendrix to Broadway show tunes with his unusual two hand tapping style, guitar on his lap.

Best street musician I've ever hear.


I engineered a demo tape for Stanley in a small studio in Ithaca NY in 1981. He had been crashing with student buddies that were going to school at Cornell and did a couple of gigs around town. I'm not certain but I think it was his first ever demo. I was flabbergasted.

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