An unofficial trip to the Twilight Zone. Madison, Wisconsin and the University of the 1960’s.
But my time was the ‘70’s. A researcher died the week before I arrived, in the The Sterling Hall bombing. Vietnam War. Nixon. Protests. Tear gas. Impeachment. Bars usually placed chicken wire over televisions during the evening newscasts to protect them from flying beer bottles.
A place noted for winter and lots of snow. I was promised that UW never closed for a snow day. Until one day during my first January it snowed. I stayed under the covers until I received a call from my cousin: Did you hear? Classes cancelled. When opportunity knocks, get out of bed. Not to waste that opportunity, I walked around the empty campus. Ended up at an eerily empty student union.
But there was a movie playing at the Play Circle – a tiny theater with 35mm projectors. I, and a few others, watched Don’t Look Back- my first close up view of Bob Dylan in the documentary of his 1965 England Tour. Touting ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ over the opening credits.
There are chronicles of the era in Madison, such as the documentary movie The War at Home.
Notwithstanding the background politics, it was my opportunity to learn a helluva lot. Two published papers in 7 years. Computer Science. Danish and French. The I Ching. It was my liberation from high school and Brooklyn. I was free. Thursday night escapades at Rusty’s, a dive bar in Middleton followed by Days and Nights in DeForest.
A few of my best friends are still there. (One - my dentist at the time whom I met at the adjacent bar stool at Bob'n Gene's - got smart and purchased a winter house in Santa Barbara.)
I’ve returned to Madison many times since then, but it’s been about 7 years. I’ll report back.