Friday, July 29, 2005

Butts, butts and more butts

As this story reports, one of the consequences of the smoking ban Madison implemented July 1 is a profusion of cigarette butts on the sidewalks outside bars. In that article, Shamrock Bar owner Glenn Jahns says that in protest of the ban, he won't clean up the mess in front of his establishment. I understand his frustration--business is down for bars, though my hunch is that once the school year begins, things will start to get back to normal.

But implicit in Jahns' protest is a line of thinking I've heard elsewhere: this mess of butts on the sidewalks is the city's fault. What I've not heard so much is the obvious, which is that the mess is the fault of the slobs who throw the butts on the ground.

Perhaps this ban will finally draw attention to something that has long bothered me: smokers who toss their butts anywhere they please. What is up with this? I regularly see them fly from car windows, and they littered our streets, parks and beaches long before the ban went into effect. Is it another kind of denial? Just as smokers smoke despite knowing the habit is fatal, do litterbug smokers also kid themselves about the fact that littering is littering and therefore profoundly antisocial?

This has been a rant. I thank you.

(Of course, it looks as though Jahns has bigger things to worry about right now, like whether the guy he bought the bar from actually owned the bar. Will Madison lose another gay bar? Will anyone care?)
Searching high and low

A reader's question to Walter Mossberg, technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal:

"I'm at a loss as to where to find blogs on the Web. Are there blog search engines that help compile and categorize blogs for public perusal?"

Yes. Where are all those darn blogs? Reassuring to know Journal readers are so on top of things.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Up with people

My friend Mitchum used to throw backyard barbecues at which, once the feasting was done, guests were expected to perform a little something, sing a song or recite a poem or tell an amusing story. No stage, no curtain, no vaudeville hook, just a bunch of game revelers sitting around in lawn chairs and watching each other create a little art.

Hilarious and and awkward moments ensued, as you might imagine, and also moments of transcendent beauty. One of the most beautiful was when Melissa, our friend from the Great White North, gave an a cappella rendering of "O Canada." Brought the house down. Great, too, was Liz's striking interpretation of "Copacabana," also a cappella.

More of this sort of thing, please.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Who will teach the teacher

Headline in the Local section of today's Wisconsin State Journal: "Firearms instructor accidentally shoots himself in the thigh."

In other area news, the State Journal reports that Monday night the big top blew over at Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Fortunately, no animals were harmed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Good word

"I've never heard of a fireman who didn't like the poles."

--Madison fireman Clay Christenson

Monday, July 25, 2005

Good word

"David Bowie loves the Junkers."

--Matt McNeil

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Like a man obsessed

Every few minutes I check Google News to see if there are any new stories about the Karl Rove scandal. And every few minutes, there are.