I live in the Regent neighborhood, and I'm skeptical of Chris Berge's proposal to build a cafe on the southwest bike path. I worry about a commercial use for a peaceful natural area that's precious to the neighborhood. I understand that others feel differently, and that's fine.
What I don't understand is a response like columnist John Roach's in the current Madison Magazine. Roach damns the near west side, as if our concerns were the ravings of crazy, fun-hating fascists. In this neighborhood, he says, "democracy regularly devolves into gang narcissism."
As an example, he cites a pedestrian crossing on Monroe Street, where families can carry flags to get across the busy street: "These villagers form the sharp end of the Pedestrian Rights spear. They chastise any driver who has the audacity to go from work in an automobile on their Monroe Street by angrily waving a red flag as they announce to all the world that they have decided to cross a street." So who's the real crazy person here: the kid trying to cross the street safely or John Roach fuming about it in his car?
Roach is also outraged that the neighborhood cared what kind of business replaced the Ken Kopp's grocery story on Monroe Street. What is the alternative - shutting up and letting developers do whatever they please? The fact that Madison is full of people who want to preserve their quality of life is one of the city's good qualities, not one of its problems. If Roach wants to live in a place where business interests can plop down any kind of building anywhere they choose, he should move to Bloomington, Ill., or some other ugly, uninhabitable place. Maybe that's where he'll find the "fun" that's apparently lacking in our stick-in-the-mud town. My question is: Why does someone who hates Madison so much write for a publication called MADISON Magazine?
Dear Narcissist: I can't really answer your question, but I would advise you to avoid walking on Monroe Street when John Roach is driving home from work.