I got a call sometime in January from an old pal, asking if I’d like to have lunch in two hours, spur of the moment, and I said yes. It was a wonderful lunch and a wonderful time, and I resolved that if I had the chance to see an old pal again, I’d do it, because once you hit 50 you just never know. I missed my college-newspaper reunion two weeks ago, and I regret it, but we did make time for Dr. Frank Byrne’s 60th birthday party in Madison over the weekend, and I certainly don’t regret that, even though it required a too-early flight out and a too-late flight home and the weather was fairly shitty. It was still a great party, and a day-after breakfast, and somehow — Frank swears — it remained a surprise.
He swears. He’s too nice a guy to say otherwise, but if it’s true, I don’t know how she did it, because it was one big party. All his kids flew in from their various outposts, his mom and sister showed, and there were a few from Fort Wayne, as well as the expected horde from Madtown.
I’ve been living in Detroit long enough that my eye is thoroughly scuffed to the decay; I hardly notice it anymore. But man, did I notice Madison. What a prosperous, money-soaked town. There was a demonstration going on down at the capitol, where we didn’t linger. (See weather report, above.) I mentioned that when we arrived at the party.
“I see they were demonstrating at the capitol.”
“They’re always demonstrating at the capitol. The news would be if they weren’t.”
I gather this will continue until the election, and if Walker isn’t recalled — polling says he has a good shot at prevailing — likely for a while afterward.
That photo below was taken in the student union — the Rathskeller, where we drank beer because of the rain outside, on the famous Memorial Union Terrace. Frank’s favorite summer socializing spot, by the way. Send him out for a pitcher, but don’t expect him back for 45 minutes; he has to stop to talk to a few million people along the way.
(We stayed at the Hotel Red, by the way — Mrs. Frank got a rate. The showers were amazing. I could marry that damn shower. If you ever get a chance to experience one of those multi-head, crazy-ass showers, do so. It made up for the chill rain.)
Our last stop on the way out of town was a record store, where we bought Kate the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” album, along with Black Flag’s “In My Head.” “If my parents bought me these records when I was 15, I’d have checked the refrigerator,” the clerk said, but didn’t say for what. I left it at that. Some things, you just leave unexplained.