Wind In His Hair: From the Mouth of Aretha Franklin’s Corpse
Today we’re gonna talk about respect. This is uncommon for me. But there comes a time in a man’s life where he has to make a change if he wants to see a change. For me that change needs to be made in my own neighborhood. It involves a street I walk or bike on almost daily. Williamson Street. “Willy Street” in the dominant vernacular.
Let’s get this right. Williamson Street sucks. It’s an anachronism. It’s Madison’s Neanderthal brow and vestigial tail. It’s the reason you can’t have nice things.
On my walk down Williamson Street I pass a gun shop, a bead store, a watch battery shop, a co-op where they feel the need to remind me I have to pay a surcharge on my lettuce because I’m not a member every time I’m in there, A Jamaican restaurant, painted to look like the flag, a Labor movement themed Realty office, a second hand store, 2 tattoo parlors, a grip of salons that Xine used to go to when she had blue hair, several other resturants and bars, several places that might be restaurants or might be just large patios, And a Paleontologist’s office. But that last place is pretty badass.
Of the houses on Williamson Street, I would guess 80 percent are in disrepair. 15 percent are acceptable and 5 percent are recently built condos. Perhaps this is a sign of gentrification, and for the first time I welcome it. But those 80 percent in shambles places, they have shit like mannequins on their porches and balconies, or maybe they haven’t mowed their lawn since ’06, or they are using Tibetan prayer flags as siding.
And you can’t ever say, “Yo neighbor, your house looks like shit,” or “Hey bru, I understand that your jungle lawn is your way of sticking it to the oil and lawn mower companies. But maybe you could pick up the empty beer cans, cig packs, and Vote Kerry door hangers that are floating around in that jungle.”
You can’t ever say that because then you become the man. How you gonna oppress a neighbor like that?
But it’s not just the residents, it’s the denizens as well. The speed limit on Williamson is clearly posted at 25mph, but never has a speeding ticket been issued on the street because everyone slows to 16mph. Traffic has one lane in each direction and there are always left-turning cocksuckers holding up traffic near the co-op where they feel the need to remind me I have to pay a surcharge on my lettuce because I’m not a member every time I’m in there. On the rare occasion I have to drive to my office, it often takes me longer to drive than bike.
It was on a recent weekend drive down the street that a girl darted in front of the silver spurt. There was traffic not far ahead, so I assume I was rolling at a solid 21mph. This girl was pushing her shitty bike and not using a crosswalk, but that is minimal. I should also mention she was not wearing shoes. As this girl had no sense of urgency in her mosey, I had to nearly stop and I’m sure I gave her a look that said, “Fuck you and fuck this entire street.”
When she was almost out of the road, she turned back to me and mouthed, “Slow down.” She may have actually said it, but I didn’t know. I had the windows up, a/c on blast, and El-P turned up to eleven. I’m unsure if she heard the amazering that came out of my mouth but I think she got the point from my face. At the top of my lungs, in my car, I know I told her to go fuck herself and threatened to run her ass over on the sidewalk , back up and do it again, piss on her stupid fucking hippie feet and drive 10mph into her face. I’m also sure I used the word cunt 2-4 times and told her she had a shitty bike.
Then I started driving again.
Which brings me to the respect theme. I feel part of the reason Williamson Street is so shitty is that it goes by Willy. Willy doesn’t instill pride in anyone. Willy doesn’t get business done. Willy paints his front door orange, because he wants to. Willy’s gonna wear a tie-dyed phish tee with the neck all stretched out to a job interview and then blame corporate America when he doesn’t get the job. Willy rides his bike on the sidewalk. Willy is a piece of shit.
To extrapolate, there is the term “sconnie” which some people seem to think is a cute way to refer to Wisconsin, or people from Wisconsin. I’m gonna be straight with you. Everyone who thinks “sconnie” is appropriate deserves the crappy, rights-rapey, state government we have in place.
This place is Wisconsin. I am a Wisconsinite.
Or preferably a Wisconsonian.
Stands With A Fist:
This part features no less levity. For real. Look at this.
Chief Ten Bears:
Listen to this: