Dan Goldstein: Downtown Madison, and its Bright White Exurbs Too

Not long after Madison’s legendary spring bacchanal known as “Mifflin Street Block Party” was canceled [or was it?] the following commentary emerged on Dan Goldstein’s facebook wall. He gave me permission to reprint it after checking for spelling errors. Which I did. But I’m not touching anything else.

April 18
I’m on a roll tonight, had multiple cups of caffeinated bliss earlier.
So here’s an extension of an earlier theme: “Downtown Madison, and its Bright White Exurbs too:”

A free-speech violating “anti-panhandling ordinance” in effect that covers all of State Street and the Capitol Square. A formerly liberal mayor who proposes buying Madtown’s homeless a bunch of one-way bus tickets to anywhere else. A popular frat-boy pastime: kicking and yelling at people sleeping on cardboard boxes just after bar-time. And thousands of understandably insecure college students, mostly looking over their shoulders with a worried expression, lest they should commit the slightest transgression against the new National Security Paradise we all inhabit. Or, to end up right where we started from, anticipating someone may be lurking in an alley or bus shelter, with sinister thoughts of stealing your I-Phone. Other than that, a pretty civil place. And of course, the homeless aren’t even left in peace when they occupy our frozen tundra county parks, miles from the nearest bus stop, or the privately-owned cornfield of a good man, threatened with $17,000 in fines merely for trying to help out people in need.

Then there are those upstanding, respectable multitudes of well-scrubbed, law-abiding, “grown-up” working stiffs, who know better than before that if you “work hard and play by the rules,” all will be well. That’s what Bill Clinton told us. But keep in mind: All the Rules. All the Time. Never stretch the slightest little regulation, and if so, be prepared to suffer the gravest consequences. In your scared little mind, at least. After all, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Not even The PATRIOT Act. You, unlike the Congress who passed it, actually read it; you bend over backwards daily to abide by its terms. When you get out there in the Upscale World, make damn certain you limit your social-political agitation to that which receives total judicial approval, and will, as far as can be presently envisaged, never be legally proscribed. Portray yourself as the Great Humanitarian during your Sunday prayers or nightly Yoga session. They don’t break down your door in the middle of the night for THAT kind of escapist engagement. Hesitate not to call the Police at the slightest hint economic discord may be breaking bottles in a street near you, Oh Ye of the formerly anti-authoritarian persuasion. Ms. Officer Friendly is now YOUR friend, since you’ve come to comprehend that your own personal safety is the ultimate measure of what creates a livable, breathable Culture World. Snug as a bug in a gated community’s Rug, you feel ecstatic, euphoric. Mr. Assistant District Attorney is no longer “The Enemy,” but rather, “On The Other Side.” That is, if truth be told, YOUR side. And what could be more natural, now that you’ve used his High Office as a political weapon against those of just a tad lower Monetary or Academic Class than you conveniently find yourself these days.
This is directed at Everyone in particular and No one in General.


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