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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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This is an issue of overviews, both literal and figurative, which give us perspective on both what is and what has been. This is not as mysterious as I'm making it sound, and it's a lot of fun for the student of all things Madison.

So when contributor Ann Grauvogl writes about "High Over Madison," she is talking about the attempts over the last century and a half to get a bird's-eye view of the Capital City. Photographers, both professional and amateur, have used a variety of means to achieve this, from kites and balloons to pigeons. They've also used airplanes and satellites, vastly increasing the amount of information, and intrusion, they are able to generate, much to some folks' chagrin.

This penchant for seeing things from above goes far back into history. The Nazca Lines, pictographs of animals and designs, some bigger than two football fields, were produced on the Nazca plateau of Peru probably about 1,500 years ago. It is supposed that no one at the time could actually see the complete figures save for the putative gods they were meant to be seen by.

The other overview is a compilation of the top 25 Madison pop albums of all time by Rich Albertoni (with a little help from some friends), which coincidentally serves as a retrospective of the Madison pop music scene over the last nearly half-century. As Albertoni points out, at one time producing an "album" was the overriding obsession of the band on the make. Today, anybody can make one.

These 25 constitute a nice stroll through the phases of Madison rock, from the Fendermen's 1962 effort, Mule Skinner Blues, to the Blueheels' 2008 release, Lessons in Sunday Driving. The list includes not only enduring Madison music personalities like Ben Sidran and Butch Vig, but also groups iconic for their time but long gone now, like Fire Town and the Tayles. If you're not afraid of heights, or the passage of years, these stories are for you.

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