Monday, April 30, 2007

[Re]Construction season

I'm in the process of reorganizing and restructuring this blog, so it may be a week or so before I start writing new posts -- including an update on some favorite local bars from the 1960s.

In the meantime, I will be adding new material to the Madison Central High School history blog and updating the Madison Central High School alumni obituary archives on a regular basis.

I will also be posting photos to my Flickr account several times a week. Most of them will be photos of the Madison area. Although they will not necessarily have a "Central connection," I hope you'll find some of them to be of interest. Lately, for instance, I've been dashing about town at night taking photos of neon signs to add to my signage set.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Madison Public Library: Then, now, and starting today...

The Central Branch (Downtown) of the Madison Public Library:



Click HERE for recent photo posted on Flickr


Note: Double click on the image to enlarge it in your browser window for easier reading.

Hey! I not only wrote this article (published last week in the Neighbors supplement to The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal) about the big book sale that starts today at the Madison Public Library, I took the photo of the president of the board of directors of The Friends of the Madison Public Library that accompanies it.

If you're in the Madison area and want to make some additions to your personal library, be sure to check out the sale, which runs through Saturday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another venue for commenting

Signing up for a Flickr account may change your life -- or at least give you something else to do in your spare time. It's easy to sign up, it's free, and if you sign up you can leave comments on photos.

I know a lot of you have visited the Class of 1966 Reunion Flickr photo stream and the Central Alumni photo stream, and some of you have even taken a peek at my Flickr photo stream (which, as of early this morning, includes the earthworm photo accompanying this post. Wouldn't you like to leave a comment or two? Maybe let someone know you were glad to see them again? Or perhaps you could leave a note about who's who in some of those photos Gerhard Ellerkamp submitted that have no identifying labels.

And, of course, if you sign up for Flickr, you can upload your own digital photos for all the world to see (or label them so that only family or friends can see them). You can post a lot of photos for free. But if, like me, you want to create sets and upload lots and lots of photos, you'll eventually pay the relatively modest annual fee charged for a "Pro" account.

All you need to sign up for a free Flickr account and start commenting is a Yahoo e-mail address (if you don't have one, go to and sign up). Then just head on over to and sign up for a free account. You'll have to pick a display name, so you can be creative about what you call yourself in the Flickr universe. I'm Central Historian, but you can be Captain of the Football Team or Cutest Cheerleader if you want (providing no one else has claimed that name).

Still dazed and confused by all this Internet stuff? If you're a Central alumnus, I'll try to help you navigate the system. If you're not, I suggest getting in touch with a teenager -- most of them know more about all this than you or I will ever know.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Party photos from Thursday (and why you might want to look at them)

Most of the time, I'm not willing to share details of my social life on this blog (and you probably don't want to read about it anyway), so you may have wondered why I commented on my upcoming party plans in the previous post. There was a reason...

But instead of writing about it here, I've written about it on one of my Flicker sets, which you can access by clicking HERE. Even if you're not interested in photos of hors d'oeuvres and people you don't know, you may still find some photos of interest among the 25 I posted. That's because the party was held atop the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on State Street, and, as a result, I was able to take some really interesting shots that allow you to see parts of State Street from an all-new perspective.

I spent a lot of time adding descriptions to the photos in this set and you'll find interesting links to old photos included in some of the descriptions. Click on the links and you'll find photos of what a building I photographed yesterday looked like 80 or more years ago. Have fun!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some (but certainly not all) of what I do the rest of the time...

Even though it seemed for a while that all I did was blog, I do have a life outside the blogosphere. Right now, I'm taking a brief break, but here are some of the things I've been up to lately besides worrying what I'm going to wear to a party tonight: Interviewing people for articles I'm writing, taking photographs, editing other people's writing, designing a web site, and, as always, pitching stories and trying to obtain more work, more assignments (if you want to hire a good writer, definitely get in touch with me!).

Yesterday, Neighbors, a special Wednesday section of the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, featured one of my articles (see scanned image below). Since it focuses on an upcoming Friends of the Madison Public Library book sale, I wanted to bring that event to your attention in case you need to increase the size of your personal library. But I also wanted to call your attention to the tiny print under the large photo of the president of the Friends organization: I took that photo. And while, as I wrote on my Flickr profile, I consider myself to be a writer, not a photographer, I've learned that a good photo will help draw a reader into my story, so I'm increasing my efforts to take photos -- and trying to become a better photographer in the process (really, the photos I take at the 45th reunion will be much better than those I've taken at other reunions).

And now its time to end this break and return to working on a report that needs to be finished by tomorrow. And, yeah, worrying about what to wear to that party...

Note: If that little photo of the library doesn't look familiar, it may be that you haven't been in Madison for a long time. The wonderful building on North Carroll Street behind Central High School was demolished years ago.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When I finally set aside a bit of time to blog...

Blogger seems to be hiccuping again today. I've been trying without success to upload some photos to Blogger. No photos, no commentary. Maybe tomorrow...

In the meantime, if you haven't visited the Central History blog lately, you probably haven't read my most recent post or noticed that almost all the old, faded-looking photos have finally been replaced. I've adjusted the settings for the Central History blog so that all the posts now appear on a single page. If you want to read the whole blog from beginning to end, you may now do so without having to click through the archives links.

And if you really want to see the photo of the bear wearing a hot pink bra I took on Sunday, you'll have to check out my Flickr account. Unlike Blogger, Flickr was letting me upload photos tonight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring Snow in Wingra Park

Check out Madison Guy's Flickr photostream to see what else he's been up to lately. I've stayed inside all day, but his photo may inspire me to head outside with my camera.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Madison Signage

The Madison, Wisconsin Flickr pool recently held a photo contest on signage. The winner hasn't been announced yet, but I thought you might be interested in viewing the entries, which you may do by clicking HERE.

You'll see some familiar and not-so familiar signs among the contest entries, as well as some "only-in-Madison stories" told in photos. It may take a while for the entire set of photos to download, but it's worth the wait.

I've been too busy to take many photos lately. Saturday's Easter candy extravaganza was an exception. I did, however, take one photo on Easter that may stir a couple of memories. You can see it if you click HERE to be taken to my Flickr account.

Remembering the Shangri-Las and catching up with the former Leader of the Pack,

No, the woman in this scan from isn't a Central alumnus: She's Mary Weiss, former lead singer for my all-time favorite Girl Group, The Shangri-Las. Last month, she was the subject of a feature story in New York magazine because she's staging a comeback as a solo artist.

There was a time in my life when I knew all the words to songs such as "Leader of the Pack" and and "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)" -- and after chugging down beer and raw clams at a party on the grounds of a college not far from where J.D. Salinger was reportedly living, I seem to recall singing the lyrics with a band. Or perhaps that story is apocryphal. In any case, I digress.

I'm in the process of pulling together all the information I want to include in an upcoming "Oldies But Goodies" post about a local band most Central alumni of a certain age are bound to remember, but until that task is complete, I thought I'd direct your attention towards Mary Weiss.

For those of you who, for whatever reason, can't remember the Shangri-Las, here are a couple of YouTube videos to refresh your memory. The sound on the first one isn't terrific, so you'll really have to turn up the volume. The sound on the second one is much better, but it doesn't show the Shangri-Las in performance.

In addition to reading the New York magazine article about Weiss, you may want to visit her MySpace site, which includes songs from her new CD. Really! You didn't think MySpace was just for kids, did you?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sharing my Easter candy: Part 2

Late Saturday afternoon: My kitchen floor is full of pastel shredded Mylar. My dining table is covered with an odd assortment of things: a white banker's box cover, a shiny decorated serving platter, some green Tupperware, a blue plastic cutting board, lots more pastel shredded Mylar, and a tempting collection of chocolates from James J. Chocolate Shop. Who knew photographing Easter candy could be so time-consuming?

Blame it on Flickr. Blame it on maki in Switzerland, whose illustrated story about making a chocolate Easter bunny on a Vespa started me thinking about Easter candy. Blame it on one of my Flickr contacts, sirwiseowl. He's the chap in New Zealand who invited me to join the Creative Tabletop Photography pool. And if I started out to be a bit of a contrarian, blame it on Bolobilly in Minnesota, whose "Got Milk?" photo started me thinking about cows.

I didn't have time to make my own chocolate Easter bunny. I wanted to contribute to the pool. And I wanted to stand out from the pack, show a little Wisconsin pride. Hmmm. How about an Easter cow from America's Dairyland?

Drove over to James J. Chocolate Shop on Friday afternoon. Was diverted from my mission by some Canada Geese across the street in the Arboretum. Took lots of photographs, then back to business: Bought a chocolate cow, some tiny white and dark bunnies for decoration. Couldn't resist temptation: Bought four coffee caramels with little beans on top that looked a bit like eggs, and two chocolate bunnies. I really didn't intend to buy any large bunnies, but I couldn't resist the saxophone player and the drummer.

Almost gave up when I couldn't find Easter grass (see Part 1 of this saga).

Back to Saturday afternoon. Checked out the action on Flickr. It seemed as if almost everyone was posting cool Easter photos. I forged ahead.

It's not easy being a food stylist. I took 85 photos: Decided there were five I was willing to show the world. One of them is near the top of this post. You'll have to head over to my Flickr account to see the other four. All I can say is thank goodness someone else is preparing Easter dinner. I'm bringing wine, chocolate, and, of course, my digital camera.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sharing my Easter candy: Part 1

It's a little after 6 p.m. on Good Friday and there's a traffic jam at my local Target store. Scores of red plastic shopping carts, anxious grown-ups, and whiny children are moving towards the rear of the store. Gridlock seems imminent.

What's left of the Easter treats and supplies has been stowed in a small area behind the food section. There are blue and pink Peeps, but nary a yellow one in sight. There are cream-filled chocolate eggs of the so-sweet they make your teeth ache variety. There are a few Easter baskets, an assortment tacky knick-knacks, and some packages of Easter egg dye. There is no, I repeat no! Easter grass.

I scurry over to the gift-wrap section, but crinkly, shredded green paper just won't do. Perhaps this is a sign. Perhaps I should just abandon my grandiose plans and just serve my chocolate bunnies Easter Bunny 2 for dessert on Easter Sunday. Forget about the photographs. Forget about posting some Easter photos on my Flickr account.

Can't do it -- at least not yet. One more stop: the discount greeting card and party store.

Find something labeled "Easter Grass" and it's absolutely disgusting looking: Looks like slimy Shamrock green noodles clumped together under great duress. Finally settle for some pastel shredded Mylar from the gift wrap section. The cellophane Easter grass from the days when I still believed in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny exists only in my memory.

Tomorrow I'll preserve those bunnies for posterity.

To be continued...

A dog on the roof isn't always a sure sign Spring has arrived in Madison...

On March 26, 2007 this photo, which is also included in my Flickr photostream, was featured on schnaufblog as part of a post titled "it's getting warmer." But Spring remains elusive in Madison. Check out this amazing photo taken at James Madison Park, if you want to see what the weather was like yesterday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A story about Purgolder John Verwiel

If you're reading this, you're probably among the millions of people who've used Google to search for someone -- a former teacher, a relative, an old boyfriend, or even yourself.

Last Fall, John Verwiel, a Purgolder (Madison East Class of 1965), entered his own name into a Google search and found this post about the East High Junior cagers. He sent me an e-mail and I went to visit him. That's when I learned about his volunteer work for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

As a writer, I'm always on the lookout for great story ideas, and when I learned what John had been up to recently, I knew his was a story that needed to be told. Lots of people do volunteer work, but what makes John's story so remarkable is that he's actively engaged in helping others even though he's battling Parkinson's disease.

My story about John is in the current (April 2007) issue of 50 Plus Lifestyles. I hope you'll pick up a copy and read about John. The magazine is available in the Madison area at most grocery stores and public libraries, as well as some Walgreen's store. It's free and filled with interesting articles.

Many of the stories are also published on the magazine's web site, but as of today stories from the April issue haven't yet been posted. If you're not in the Madison area but want to read the story, send me an e-mail and I'll send you a copy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What did you do when you received a copy of the Yellow Book?

I've been working hard the past few days -- too busy to blog, and definitely too busy to head outside with my camera.

There are some things I'm eager to post, but they need a bit more research before I'm ready to launch them into cyberspace. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a very funny YouTube video I discovered during a late afternoon break. I was looking at The Chronicle of Higher Education web site and stumbled across a short article about college pranks. I'd noticed some wonderful examples of "TP parties" around Madison this winter, but never seemed to have my camera with me at the right time to take photographs of trees enshrouded with toilet paper. Since I only had time to check out one of the videos mentioned in pranks post, I went for the one about paper. Here it is:

Hope you enjoy it (I laughed out loud). I'm off to a meeting. Hope to post something with a bit more local flavor soon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tornado warnings, April Fool's Day and some Dr. Evermor sculptures

Another sign Spring has arrived in Madison: The tornado warning alarms blared last night. It rained most of yesterday and it's still raining this morning, so I'm getting a lot of work done, since I haven't been eager to brave the elements (i.e., go outside and play).

There's reportedly going to be a zombie lurch this afternoon in Downtown Madison, but I'm not inclined to grab my camera and rush out to take photos because today is also April Fool's Day and it's difficult to know what's real. There are, for instance, reports on the Internet that Google will offer free in-home wireless broadband service and GMail paper.

But read the find print and you may not find yourself celebrating these exciting developements. Notice that the wireless broadband service is "offered entirely free to any consumer with a WiFi-capable PC and a toilet connected to a local municipal sewage system" and "Gmail Paper is made out of 96% post-consumer organic soybean sputum."

This post is not my version of an April Fool's prank, so I want to warn you that by the time you read this post, the folks at Google may have realized they've been punked and the links in the second paragraph may reach dead ends.

The photo accompanying this post is not an April Fool's joke. It's part of set of photos I took of the Dreamkeeper sculptures by Dr. Evermor that now reside at 211 S. Paterson Street. You can view all nine photos in the Dr. Evermor set on my Flickr photostream.