Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Then came the sadness

On Sunday Ereck and I took his Pilates instructor's advice and went to Overture Center to see Kanopy, the Madison dance troupe. Unfortunately, when we arrived, there was a throng of people easily twice the size of Promenade Hall's 200 capacity, so we were out of luck. That left us with some time to kill before the next event I was covering for the newspaper, a performance by Madison saxophonist Hanah Jon Taylor. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to stroll over to Monona Terrace for some lake breezes.

I had just read that a memorial to Otis Redding is on the terrace, which surprised me as I'd visited the place many times but had never seen this. (Redding died in 1967 at age 26 when, shortly before he was to play a show in Madison, his plane crashed into Lake Monona.) We searched, and I had all but given up when, as we approached the terrace's northwest corner, Ereck spotted the memorial, a bronze plaque and a semicircle of marble benches whose legs are sturdy, stylized R's with inset circles that look like O's: O.R.

We sat and read the inscription, which among other things has a joke to the effect that it was the only gig Redding ever missed. Then I looked out at the lake and thought about Redding and the other musicians the plaque mentions: Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles. I grieved. I thought about "Pain in My Heart" and "Try a Little Tenderness," and I wondered why Redding had to die so young--why anyone has to die so young.

Then I thought about Lawrence Olivier as Zeus in Clash of the Titans. The gods sure can be capricious.

Only as I sat to write this did it occur to me why the Redding memorial is a place to sit: because his most famous song is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." As always, I'm a little slow on the uptake.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Good word

"Satire doesn't have to be fair to be funny."

--Pauline Kael

I just banged out a piece about the two full days I spent taking in opening weekend at Overture Center, the gleaming new arts facility downtown. I also saw Broom Street Theatre's new play, Flowers for Dubya, on Friday, which means that if I consume much more local culture in the next few hours, my heart will explode.

Read all about both events in this week's Isthmus.