Chad Comello

Librarian, cinephile, et al

Category: Life (page 2 of 8)

’16 Going On ’17

Here at the end of all things 2016, let’s look back on the resolutions I made last year at this time, shall we?

Podcast less. I started the year with 21 podcasts in my feed, and currently have… 32. In my defense, I was much quicker to delete episodes this year, many of the podcasts publish infrequently, and some of them I’m on a trial run with. I also have been listening to more audiobooks. But the spirit of the goal was to have more time when I’m not listening to anything. So this one’s a work in progress, and probably a goal for 2017.

Reflect more. Though I have the free time to continue to plow through books and movies, I think I’ve done a better job writing about the ones that spark thoughts in me and allowing myself to not read or watch something.

Write more. My goal was to write 52 posts for the year, one for each week. Though I didn’t have at least one a week, I ended 2016 with 67 posts. I probably could have done more, but as this is a strictly At Whim enterprise, I’m not too concerned about quotas.

Overall I think I actually did pretty good! Keeping the goals simple, attainable, and somewhat measurable certainly helped.

2017 Goals

Complete a woodworking project. This is something I’ve been pondering for a while. I’ve yet to find the plans for something I want to make, but this is a big one for this year: to put my hands to use on a tangible and practical project. We need a new bookshelf, so I was thinking about that. Any suggestions?

Run a race. Like woodworking, running in an official race is something I’ve thought would be a nice thing to do but have never pulled the trigger. But I’ve come to realize if I ever plan on completing things, I need concrete deadlines to make them happen. A specific race of a specific length will help me in this, I hope.

Improve my Spanish. I’ve had a decent grasp of it at various points in my life—in high school when I was in classes, during a summer stay in Guatemala, during a post-college stay in Colombia—but I’ve never gotten close to fluent. Short of an immersion program or living in a Latin American country, don’t know if I’ll ever be, but I’d like to get closer. And since it’ll only get harder as I get older, there’s no day but today.

10 Years

Yesterday was my tenth anniversary of blogging. I started the second month into my freshman year of college, which also would have been right after I joined Facebook. Away from home and beginning to learn new and exciting things, I think like most writers I desired an outlet that felt at once private and public: somewhere I could express ideas into the anonymous void of the internet, but also allowed for others to respond.

I’ve used a few blogging services over the years: first it was Blogspot, then WordPress, then temporary stints at Squarespace and Tumblr before becoming self-hosted with my own domain name. As I learned HTML and CSS I created a few simple designs along the way, but the constant fiddling got tiresome, so I just start using pre-made templates.

In honor of my ten years blogging, I went through my entire archive and picked out two posts from each year I thought were representative of my interests or writing style at the time. It was fun to see trends emerge and decline over the years: lots of Oscar-related umbrage early on, current events commentary in the middle period, and many more book and movie reviews in the last few years. I suppose that’s the fun/terror of keeping a blog or diary: it’s a living archive of where you’ve been, how you’ve changed, and what you’ve thought about at any given time. And it can’t lie.

These aren’t necessarily my best posts — just some choice memories, meditations, and meaningful mutterings from a decade of writing on the ‘net.

(I decided to exclude the posts that were originally published in my college newspaper; you can see those here.)

2006

you’re coming alive to me — Just some freshman year philosophizing.

The Prestige — The first of many reviews I put online.

2007

Soundtrack of the moment, part II — One of three “soundtrack of the moment” posts that provide a great snapshot of the music I was into and getting into at that time.

he’s very good — On my encounter with Henry Winkler.

2008

Kristen Wiig = Hilarious — An appreciation of an exceptional SNL cast member.

Introverts: A Misunderstood Bunch — Still the blog’s most-read post.

2009

Breaking News: Jesus Christ Registers As A Republican — My attempt at Onion-style satire. Definitely not as funny as The Onion.

The Ten Commandments Of Watching LOST In A Group — This was a thing at the time.

2010

Sarah Palin is Not a Serious Person — She was a thing at the time.

On the River — A short essay on a kayak trip. If you detect a hint of Hemingway, it’s because I was reading a lot of him at the time, as overly introspective young men are wont to do.

2011

7 Beautiful Movie Music Moments — Man, they all still get me.

Love And Illusion In Midnight In Paris And Me And Orson Welles — I’ve done a few comparative analyses of two films, but this one’s my favorite.

2012

Bringing Old Orthodoxies to a Boil — A review of Fergus Bordewich’s Bound for Canaan and its modern implications.

Best For The Best: Nights of The Animal Years — Why I love one of my favorite albums.

2013

Rutherford B. Hazy — In my ongoing quest to reading a biography of every U.S. president, Hayes has been my biggest surprise.

Silence is Beholden — Walking on silence in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

2014

Encountering Robin — On meeting Robin Williams and the burden of celebrity.

This Is Martin Bonner — A meditation masquerading as a movie review.

2015

Wherein I Missed Third-Grade Field Day and Encountered Cosmic Futility — Exorcising some old demons as I walked through my grade school for the first time since leaving it.

No Quarter — I pillaged my U.S. state quarters collection for laundry fare, which my grandma would have found amusing.

2016

The Shepherd’s Life — Some reflections on one of my favorite books of 2015.

How to Win My Vote — Still relevant on the eve of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad election.

Mugs Shot

2016-08-13 11.50.29

We didn’t get to choose which ones survived.

Ten mugs hang safely on the mug tree that sits next to our coffee maker on the small Ikea table by the kitchen window. Every few weeks I rotate which mugs get to be on the tree for coffee duty. I didn’t know when I put those eight there that they would end up survivors, the silent witnesses of their brethren sitting dutifully in the middle cupboard before on a Friday afternoon tumbling out of the cupboard after the plastic pegs holding up their shelf gave way.

Had I known, I would have been much more selective, would have made the impossible decisions about which darlings to save and which to let die. The process would have been anguishing—more than it ought to be, realistically, but we are Mug People, so we are not realistic about our mugs.

But I didn’t know. Mugs that were filled with meaning—inside jokes, souvenirs from faraway places and unforgettable experiences—that were for some unknown reason not the Chosen Ones cascaded to early deaths in a flash, and there was nothing we could do about it. It didn’t happen like Jenga, after placing one too many atop each other and seeing the tenuous heap collapse before my eyes. Then I would have, might have, been able to avert an avalanche and save a few more mugs from shattering on the floor. But it happened during the day, while we were at work and none the wiser.

I got the pictures from my wife: shards of ceramic and glass littering the counter and kitchen floor. I could make out some of the designs and logos and familiar features of our reliable morning friends in the larger fragments that stood out amidst the particulates. Didn’t matter. They were dead and gone, and the remainders were accidents.

We don’t get to choose. We can just say goodbye after it’s too late.

The world doesn’t need more thinkpieces about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I’ll just say her advice about thanking the things you give away for the meaning they provided in their time of service… it’s good advice. Especially for Mug People who lost most of their mugs against their will.

Stuff is stuff is stuff, except when it isn’t.

Looking for a Mind at Housework

The other day I cleaned the bathroom, swept the porch, kitchen, and living room, washed and dried my clothes, and washed the dishes. There was plenty more I could have done. But I knew I’d be doing those chores again eventually, some sooner and some later, and would have to do others at some point as well.

What else in life is equally as satisfying and frustrating as doing chores? The gratification that comes from emptying the sink of its dirty dishes evaporates with the realization that more dishes are coming soon. Hanging the last clean shirt in the closet reminds me I’ll have to put whatever I’m wearing now in the hamper and begin the process again. The two feelings are inextricably linked, like they share an orbit that never ends, just keeps spinning.

I was thinking about this even before reading Gracy Olmstead’s post at The American Conservative on the value of housework, which is itself a meditation on Mary Townsend’s essay in The Hedgehog Review. “The work of maintaining a home,” Olmstead writes, “is tied up inexplicably in the question of what it means to be human, and the person who cares for the home must adhere to a set of underlying ideas and mores that make his or her work meaningful.”

Those ideas and mores are the key to not going crazy while undertaking the repetitive, unsexy labor that often feels more Sisyphean than sacred. As Olmstead writes, it’s work well suited not to gaining esteem, but for “cultivating virtue”:

It requires regular exercise of the moral imagination: remembering that what one does when scrubbing floors and bathtubs is much more than menial labor. Perhaps the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” came about because of the virtue-carving we often do when we clean and order the same square footage, day after day after day.

Pondering what any chore or responsibility does for us along with what it requires of us is a clarifying experiment. Cleaning the same square footage over and over again, Olmstead writes, “requires discipline, perseverance, patience, humility—and a good deal of kindness towards the inhabitants of one’s home.” It also requires forgiveness: towards yourself, for being frustrated about having to do the chore yet again; towards your home’s other inhabitants, for making the same mess yet again, and towards whatever you’re cleaning, for being so needy and unable to stay clean.

Like running, I tend to treat chores as things to endure, to get over with, so I usually fill them with a podcast, audiobook, or music to help distract myself from the pain and make it go by faster. But that distraction and noise can also undermine this cultivation process. Enduring the time in silence, my hands and body occupied by mindless labor, allows my mind to remain open to imagination and creativity. And as this process repeats over and over, a liturgy forms. Suddenly what’s usually an annoyance can become “a set of mental and spiritual disciplines that grow our moral imagination, and point us toward greater happiness.”

Achieving “greater happiness” through thankless labor seems antithetical to the ethos of the cult of productivity, which promises greater happiness through the latest app or relaxation technique. But thankless labor has been around a lot longer than Getting Things Done, and isn’t trademarked. It’s also abundant, self-replenishing, and always waiting for us, even when we don’t want it. I’d better get to it.

(For the record, my top five most satisfying chores: vacuuming, lawn mowing, washing dishes, mopping, and shoveling. Least satisfying: dusting, grocery shopping, raking, weeding, and laundry.)

The Preservation of Tangibility

What started with a web search for Wendell Berry’s mailing address led me to this article by Sandra McCracken about her pilgrimage to visit the Sage of Port Royal—thus combining two of my favorite artists into one webpage. A passage from McCracken’s reflections stood out:

One of my favorite moments was when Wendell said that he is a member of two organizations: 1) The Slow Communication Movement and 2) The Preservation of Tangibility. He noted that anyone can join these and added with a grin, “Actually, I think I founded them.”

I think about tangibility a lot. How the images we look at on a computer screen or smartphone don’t exist, not really, and how if a megavirus wiped out the internet and everything on our computers a huge percentage of our lives—probably too big—would cease to exist. Kinda makes me want to take up woodworking or something.

I’m not so silly to suggest life would be better without intangible technologies. I’m grateful to live in a time when I can choose tangible things like writing by hand or strumming the guitar or dropping the needle on a vinyl as a means of escape—rather than these things simply being the default mode of interacting with the world.

But damned if I wouldn’t take more of those things over staring at the same rectangle of pixels all day, every day, forever.

How Tweet It Is

At the beginning of December I had my wife change my Twitter password so I couldn’t access it. I’ve learned that I’m a cold turkey guy. Maybe I have some elements of an addictive personality, because for things like social media that act as mini dopamine triggers, I can’t use them moderately. I’m either on them every day, usually several times, or I deactivate the account and pretend they don’t exist for a time in order to unclog my mental plumping.

I really like Twitter. It’s nice to communicate occasionally with people I admire, get the latest on the things I enjoy, and above all share the things I’m proud of or interested in. I don’t have to deal with the spam and garbage trolls that celebrities and well-known figures endure, so it’s generally a pleasant experience.

I just sought it out too much. This sabbatical forces me to live without it for a time—to rewire my brain to not think in tweets, seek validation in retweets and likes, and be proud of how clever I am.

It feels good. I’m not rushing back.

One Less, Two More

I’m getting these new year’s resolutions in writing so that next year’s self-shaming will be based on documentation instead of vague recollections.  

Podcast less

Currently I’m at about 21 podcasts in my iTunes feed, having just unsubscribed from three I realized I rarely listened to despite being interested generally in their subject matter. I started listening to a handful of podcasts regularly in early 2011 (as I documented) and have steadily added more since then. But last year I hit a saturation point and actually took a month-long sabbatical just to dry out from the constant deluge of episodes I would otherwise listen to during every commute, workout, or household chore. It was a open-and-shut case of FOMO that I had to get over. Since then I’ve achieved a nice equipoise of listening to what I anticipate will be enriching or interesting in a substantial way and just deleting the rest and never looking back.

Reflect more

As with podcasts, there will always be way too many podcasts, books, movies, and other cultural commodities I want to consume but never will. That doesn’t stop me from trying to extend my logbook ever longer by gobbling up as many bits of popular culture as I can. But when I’m on my deathbed, will my one regret be that I watched one less movie than I could have? Of course not. (At least I sure as hell hope not—cue Forever Alone Guy) I want to spend more time reflecting on what I read, see, hear, and experience rather than bouncing from one to the next. Which coincidentally leads to the next resolution:

Write more

I tend to be feast or fallow with writing here on the blog, as it’s an entirely whim-based enterprise with no deadlines and no oversight. I write about what I want, when I want. Which is great, except when The Voice in My Head tells me quite convincingly that not writing would be just as good. I wrote 48 posts last year and 47 the year before, so once a week sounds like a decent goal. Once a week, no matter what. You heard it here first.

 

Closing the Almanac

Marty_almanac-1955

On the Fandom-Industrial Complex and Moving Forward from Back to the Future

The day Back to the Future fans have waited for is finally here. The thirty-year countdown to October 21, 2015, one of the most well-known dates in movie history (despite how often it has been incorrectly reported on the interwebs), is over [1]. There’s been an ongoing celebration of the trilogy on the internet and in real life: this Wired dispatch by Jason Tanz, “Fandom Eats Itself at New York Comic Con,” spotlights the kind of reception a widely loved favorite like BTTF gets in the more insular (yet quickly expanding) world of nerd culture:

Continue reading

Fourteen Memories

Fourteen scattered memories, in no particular order, written at whim on the occasion of my birthday on the fourteenth of September.

1. Every summer, on their way down to or up from Texas, Grandma Helen and Grandpa Cliff stayed with us in Madison for a few days. Knowing they’d be there when I got home from school added an extra buzz to the day they arrived. I’d run the four blocks from school, which suddenly in my anticipation seemed so much longer than usual. Grandma would have Bugle chips and bags of cookies and homemade mounds bars. Mornings were different when they stayed with us because of the coffee; it was usually rare because only Dad drank it, but when Cliff and Helen were visiting it was brewed every morning and accompanied Cliff’s newspaper and crossword.

2. We vacationed in Florida one winter after Grandma LaVonne died. It was, as far as I can recall, my first Christmas without snow, without cold, and without everything that constituted the Christmas season. Except for It’s a Wonderful Life. Mom and dad insisted we still watch it on Christmas Eve as usual, because we had to. Dad even called the hotel to make sure they had a VCR.

3. Summer of 2012 I was in grad school and worked as a graduate assistant in residence life. One weekend an epic power outage left us campus-dwelling staff, including the student workers, without electricity or air conditioning. I and the other hall directors used our iPhone group chat to share updates, coordinate actions, and vent against ComEd and the school administration. Some of us flocked to the packed public library to charge our devices and await the impending darkness. For dinner that first night I heated a can of soup by rigging a stove grill above a candle. The next day, still unsure when the power would be restored, I showered in one of residence hall’s communal bathrooms that still had power, and prepared for another stuffy night. The power returned at 9pm.

4. My roommate freshman year had a summer job that got him up very early, so most mornings when I woke up around 7 a.m., he’d already be fully dressed, lying on his fully made bed and watching TV. Sometimes it was the Strongman competition or Saved By the Bell, but usually it was Dawson’s Creek. Soon enough that theme song became my alarm clock.

5. At summer camp we had 24 hours off between Saturday afternoon—after the kids left and we cleaned everything up—and Sunday afternoon when the new group arrived. One Saturday I drove all the way across Madison with a fellow camp counselor to see the movie Once at Westgate Cinema. We were so enamored with it that when we returned to camp I tickled out “Falling Slowly” on the piano and we sang the duet.

6. Along with Westgate Cinema, in high school I frequented the old Hilldale Theatre on Midvale to see the smaller, independent films Marcus Cinema didn’t show. Going to a showing of Brick with some friends, I didn’t realize when I walked up to the ticket counter that my box of Sour Patch Kids was still in my hand rather than stashed away in my pocket. “You can’t bring those in,” the guy said. I tried to convince him otherwise, but he wasn’t having it. So I grumpily returned to my car, put the box in the glove department, and texted my on-the-way friends to grab it from my car when they arrived and sneak it in for me. Mission accomplished, and Brick blew our minds.

7. One night at camp the middle-schoolers decided they want to sleep outside. They started bringing their bunk mattresses out but then Rich, a camp supervisor, said no, if they were going to sleep outside they had to own it and not use mattresses, only their sleeping bags and a pillow. So they did, and another counselor and I stayed out with them. As they settled in I ruminated aloud on the beautiful starry sky above us, about how vast and inscrutable the universe seemed. They’d quieted and begun to doze when Rich, in a typical bout of wild whimsy, came screaming by our quiet flock of preteens in the camp’s golf cart, honking and flashing his lights, just cuz. It took a lot longer to get the boys to sleep again—which we pointed out to Rich repeatedly the next day—but sleep they eventually did. I awoke with the early summer dawn and, with the other counselor standing guard over the sleepers, walked to the camp’s tranquil lakeshore to watch the sun rise through the distant treeline.

8. Senior year of high school my band played a gig at my high school. I was working that evening at my Copps cashier job and realized only once I got to work that I was scheduled to work past the time the gig was supposed to start. I panicked, but realized fate was on my side: the nice manager was working that night. I asked if I could cut out early, and she said we’d have to see how busy it was later. The time came and it wasn’t slow, but she said I could go. As I dashed out of the store I saw her bagging the groceries at her own station and realized she’d be short-staffed the rest of the night but still let me go. My feelings of gratitude quickly dissolved into a vat of anxiety as I hopped into my Toyota Corolla and gunned the drive to my high school, which was luckily short and not monitored by police. I bolted inside and saw my bandmates standing on stage waiting to play, their instruments in hand and my drum kit waiting for me. Out of breath I picked up my sticks, slid onto my throne, and clicked off our first song.

9. After I returned from Colombia I was a month away from zeroing out my checking and savings accounts when I got a call from the Butera grocery store across the street offering me a cashier job. I said yes because I had to. It wasn’t bad except for it being a cashier job. But four and a half years after getting that lucky break from Copps I got another one from Butera: on February 6, 2011, I was scheduled from 12 to 5pm, instead of the usual 12 to 7pm. This was important because on February 6, 2011, the Packers were playing in Super Bowl XLV at 5:30pm. I was able to dash home, change into my yellow Donald Driver jersey, and get a ride from friends to the Super Bowl party where I’d get to witness for the second time the Packers bring the Lombardi home.

10. I was angry about something—probably my parents, as is common for middle-schoolers. I was also in a yo-yo phase, so I was holding the end of an unwound yo-yo when in my anger I slammed the door to my room and impulsively decided to use the object in my hand as an outlet for my adolescent rage. My idea was to whip it over my head and down onto my bed like a sledgehammer, but at the vertex of its arc the yo-yo crashed into one of the opaque glass lightbulb shades on the overhead fan. The bulb remained intact, but to this day it’s missing its cover. Deciding that whatever animus existed between my parents and me would be exacerbated by this, I never told them what had happened.

11. One night at Copps grocery store, I was working the register when a little before 9pm a classmate from high school bolted through the automatic sliding doors. In Wisconsin liquor sales end at 9—the register wouldn’t even allow you to scan liquor of any kind once the clock struck 9—so it was common to have a small rush around this time. My classmate hustled past me and with a smile said, “I’m gonna get liquor, OK?” Thinking I misheard him, I casually nodded as he disappeared behind the corner. He quickly reemerged at my register with a 24-pack of whatever cheap swill high schoolers drink and pulled out his fake ID. Suddenly realizing he was serious, I said, “Dude, I can’t sell this to you.” I could have. It was slow; my manager was at the other end of the registers in the only other open lane. But either out of principle or not wanting to be taken for a schmuck just because this kid was in the cool crowd and I was in band, I reiterated: “I know who you are. I can’t sell you this.” He was more shocked than angry I think, surprised a peer wasn’t playing along. “You’re sure…” he followed. “Yeah, sorry man,” I replied. And he walked out. I wondered who was waiting for him in the car, whose night I just ruined because they wouldn’t have time to get to another store before liquor sales ended. But now I think I did them a favor. A night without Keystone Light is a good night indeed.

12. New Year’s Eve, 2011. I was living on campus for graduate school, but didn’t have a girlfriend so I didn’t have plans. Luckily my on-campus friends Tone and Brian didn’t have plans either, so we decided to drive around awhile and listen to the radio. When “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” came on, Tone asked if it made me think of anyone special, and I said I had someone in mind. (My future wife.) Deciding we should have a comfort night, we stopped to get Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream and Late Night Snack and a Redbox before returning to campus. We got into our pajamas and watched the horrible Horrible Bosses while eating ice cream. I left at 11pm and went to sleep.

13. On a bright and warm weekday September morning, I had Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to myself, or so it seemed. Newly unemployed, I’d flown to Redding to visit friends, see some mountains, and find whatever else I was looking for on what ended up being a much-needed salubrious stay. I didn’t see a soul as a drove my rental to the Brandy Creek Falls trailhead and parked. On the solo hike to the falls (which I wrote about here), I found silence. I found vistas that I photographed once but no more. At the falls I found a rock to sit on astride the stream. I read, dozed a bit, let the water’s whooshing chorus drown everything else out, and then I walked back.

14. Meeting Henry Winkler.

Little Big City

Imagine my surprise when fellow high-school classmate and garage band musician Aaron Shekey was mentioned in John McPhee’s latest essay for The New Yorker. McPhee quoted Shekey’s own essay from a few years ago called “It’s What You Leave Out”, about the curious case of the Madison skyline. “One of the more interesting things about the layout of my hometown,” Shekey wrote, “is a simple rule the city planners made around 1915: No building can be taller than the base of the pillars surrounding the capital building’s dome—that’s only 190 feet.”

This mandate, now 100 years old, is still in place, leaving us with a skyline a Madisonian who was around at the time of the edict’s passing would still recognize.

It’s a view I’ve grown used to, even bored of, having lived there until I left for college. But when I compare it to other lakeside skylines I’ve come to know, like Chicago’s, where even with the Sears Tower there is no clear focal point or guiding architectural principle except how high the buildings can reach and how many condos they can cram into the air space, I see the value of the Madison experiment—the “century’s worth of restraint” as Shekey called it. You could almost call it a civic humility, thought that’s not quite right. Not when the capitol building, the literal civic center, is the legally mandated center of attention.

madison-map

A bird’s-eye view tells the same story: the Capitol sits in the middle of the downtown square, in the middle of the isthmus that splits the lakes Monona and Mendota. You could loop around the Capitol all day on the one-way streets that revolve around it. And that’s OK, because it’s a beauty. Shekey again: “If you let your eye wander along the horizon, you’d see it—The capital. A tiny white light shining above everything else. You can see it for miles. Even from there it was breathtaking—a skyline defined by what it isn’t.”

I suppose it makes sense the center of government should be the nucleus of the city, the standard by which everything else is judged and modeled. But one person’s civic restraint is another’s stunted growth. Chicago is a storied architectural wonder (I’d highly recommend taking an architectural boat tour if you can), but that wouldn’t have been so if after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 the city planners had imposed a vertical quota on the Loop.

When I tell people I’m from Madison, they often ask what it’s like and how I liked it. If they’re familiar with the area I tell them I’m actually, like Shekey, from the western suburb of Middleton, though I was born and raised in Madison through elementary school. But if they’re unfamiliar, I say it’s a typical college town: liberal (in Madison’s case very much so), lots of bars and bikes, and has lots to see around it if you know where to look.

I also like to call it a “little big city.” Like any big city it has a bustling downtown with distinct neighborhoods and adjacent suburbs, but it’s no Chicago or even Milwaukee. Driving on University Avenue through the Isthmus you can get from the westside of town to the east in 15 minutes if the stoplights and traffic are friendly. Besides the capitol building itself, the biggest things about Madison are the lakes it’s squeezed between—and the world renowned farmer’s market during the summer.

I’m sure Madison has “little big” friends in Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg, Missouri’s Jefferson City, Washington’s Olympia, and other cities: state capitals that aren’t their state’s biggest city. They don’t have the skyscrapers of Philadelphia, Kansas City, or Seattle, but they have beautiful capitol buildings visitors like me would love to see. This is even true in Washington D.C., where the U.S. Capitol, larger but almost identical to Madison’s pillared dome, sits atop a hill overlooking the National Mall and the much smaller yet more iconic White House.

It takes high regard for the built beauty of one’s own place to preserve the arrangement Madison has over a century of constant change. Perhaps one day Madison’s glass (or ice) ceiling will shatter and the capitol dome will shrink into a much taller skyline than it’s accustomed to. But until then it will remain a little big city with a little big horizon that ain’t bad to come home to.

(Photo by Steve Wetzel)

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