June 25, 2004

Around the fishbowl.

I decide to walk back from the café to my parking garage a different way, not down State Street, but around past Riley's Wines of the World, which has a surprising number of youngish men crisscrossing its small parking lot. It is Friday afternoon at about 3, and serious drinking is in the offing. I notice a yellow electrical box with a washed out "Buscemi" sticker on it, so I get out my camera.

With the camera in my hand, I find this neon sign photographable. Apparently a large alcohol-filled vessel is available here.

Some guys inside the bar see me taking the picture and yell at me to take their picture. As I aim the camera at them, one calls out to the other "Say sex!" If you're not from Wisconsin, and when you think about Wisconsin you think of cheese, just remember when drinking guys are getting their picture taken on University Avenue in Madison, they don't call out "Say cheese!"

They seem pretty happy to get their picture taken, and I say, anticipating an artistic composition: "Thanks, I really like that Cheney's in the picture." They respond enthusiastically, but without acknowledging the artistic potential of having Dick Cheney in the picture. I move on and decide to photograph the Black Cat tattoo and piercing parlor, which I think has chosen its location well along this bar-studded strip of University Avenue.

The cat tries to hypnotize you into making a decision you may some day regret.

Think about the young person who looks in this window and decides yes, I want to be pierced and tattooed. Is a ceramic gnome reassuring? And how about that photograph? What is it? A leg? And who could you possibly impress with that ghastly image? Some of the other photos in the window show piercings surrounded by worrisome redness.

As I near the parking garage, I see another yellow electric box with another faded sticker. The advice is to "curb your consumption," but it's not meant to chide the alcohol consumers who frequent this part of town. (It's a "Buy Nothing Day" sticker.)

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