The Bucky we'll miss
In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.
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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor-in-chief and publisher
It was all worth it. That is, the recently concluded Bucky On Parade program, aka a giant gauntlet of latter-day Hummel figurines, aka let's decorate different versions of the same sculpture 85 whole times and place most of them within a few blocks of each other, but also put a real scary one all by its lonesome in Sun Prarie, was worth it because it gave us Visible Bucky.
Over time I really came to appreciate the anatomically sliced-open Bucky stationed on the front steps of Science Hall on the UW-Madison campus. I liked that it was weird and a tad menacing, especially in the context of other less "challenging" Buckys, but still science-y and informative. I liked that it was sponsored by a hotel, because nothing says "rest easy" like seeing an anthropomorphic badger whose pelt has been peeled back to reveal its fleshy muscle tissue and entrails.
Bucky On Parade's ambitious act of college sports branding stirred up a lot of thoughts and feelings about what we should do with our public-art resources. Not everyone took kindly to me unpacking that. Let people enjoy things, they said. Why the negativity, they said. It's a cancer research fundraiser, they said. Someone even (half-jokingly, I think/hope) asked if I was "happy" when a Bucky statue got thrown into Lake Mendota. I wasn't, but they could have left it in there for the summer, then hauled it up all crusted with those razor-sharp invasive zebra mussels. Ecological Whoopsie Bucky! For science. While having all these thoughts, I slowly but surely developed a morbid fascination with Visible Bucky. He's just dark and vivid enough to suggest something deeper than the dead-eyed anatomical models you might encounter in a doctor's office. There's mystery of a kind in the depths of those half-exposed guts.
Not only did people enjoy the other statues regardless of what those pretentious spoilsports at Tone Madison thought, some even attributed to them a healing power: Adorably harmless local commentator Neil Heinen suggested this week that Bucky on Parade should be expanded Wisconsin-wide in order to "unite a divided state." Well, that's a bridge too far, bordering on outright insane. For my part, I promised myself I'd wrap things up with an olive branch of sorts to all the folks who went out to take selfies with the Buckys. On Tuesday I went and visited Visible Bucky for the last time. It's sunny out and my fat face doesn't work right, but trust me, I'm smiling.
New this week:
Hayley Sperling explores the profound comforts of late-night escargot, with an illustration by Rachal Duggan.
Madison metal band House Of Lud talked with us about their new album.
Latin-jazz vet and all-around Madison character Tony Castañeda joined us on the podcast.
Elsewhere on the Madison internet: Madison band Negative Example played on Wisconsin Public Television. WORT previews a new photography show at the Chazen. Local synth-pop stalwarts Null Device are raising money for Lambda Legalwith a new single.
This week's Madison calendar: The Madison World Music Festival features La Dame Blanche and a documentary about Burkina Faso's cultural rebirth. Experimental electronic artist Noxroy scores a night of animated short films at Communication. Jazz duo Subtle Degrees play at Arts + Literature Laboratory. And more.