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Tell All: Madison's culture war
Pro and con about the near west side

We recently ran a letter from "Gang Narcissist," who deplored John Roach's disdain for the near west side ("Does John Roach Hate Madison?" 8/6/2010). In a column for Madison Magazine, Roach ridiculed the neighbors opposed to a proposed restaurant for the southwest bike path. He accused the neighborhood of "regularly devolv[ing] into gang narcissism," citing its previous opposition to a Walgreens in the old Ken Kopp's grocery space. A resident of the Regent neighborhood, Gang Narcissist marveled over Roach's contempt for an essential local trait: "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."

Here are two responses, one on Gang Narcissist's side and one on Roach's. Do we have our own little culture war brewing here?

Dear Tell All: I am pretty certain that I would not want to spend any time with Gang Narcissist. John Roach does not hate Madison. More likely, he has disdain for people like you who insulate themselves from things they feel are below them. When there was talk about replacing Ken Kopp's with a Walgreens chain store, it was like there was a suggestion to put a brothel in its place. There were protests, cries and letters to the editor.

Seriously? Get over yourself.


Dear Tell All: I'm dismayed by the anti-neighborhood sentiment flaring up in Madison this summer, typified by John Roach's column. In fact, this sentiment is not just anti-neighborhood; it's anti-Madison. Because who are Madisonians if not thoughtful people dedicated to democratic decision-making? Roach would prefer that we be less involved in decisions that affect the city; so would the developers currently fighting to "streamline" the approval process post-Edgewater. Okay, that's their right, but why the intense hatred for us concerned citizens?

This point of view found its most grotesque expression in a recent Wisconsin State Journal editorial cartoon portraying "Neighborhood Groups" as elitists with hippie-style ponytails and their noses in the air. "The term NIMBY is unfair and inaccurate," says a guy with an effete earring. "We are also opposed to development in our side yards and front yards."

Good Neighbor

Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or email

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