Music, culture, and strong points of view.

Tone Madison is an independent website, podcastemail newsletter, and event series covering music and culture in Madison, Wisconsin.

Stress fish

In Microtones, our newsletter-first column. 

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MICROTONES by Ben Munson, contributor

A visit to the doctor is inherently stressful. Waiting rooms often do the bare minimum to help with this, providing months-old issues of People or a TV tuned to 24-hour news.

The SSM Health clinic I frequent on the east side used to do a bit more by maintaining an aquarium of tropical fish for patients to peacefully stare at before having a tonsillectomy or popping in on radiology. But now that fish tank has taken on an oddly complicated and stressful new life.

In a note posted in the clinic lobby recently and headlined with a morbid “Goodbye Friends,” SSM Health recently detailed an ongoing process of removing the fish and returning them to a more natural home. The fish, who were all born in the ocean before being forced to live adjacent to Highway 51, are being moved to special habitats to support their health and happiness. SSM Health is doing this with help from local aquaculture companies. Once in their new habitats, the fish can have babies. The babies will be cared for by a team of experts until they grow up, at which point they’ll go to the ocean, where they will take the place of a wild fish coming out of the ocean.

Now, I’m sure all of this is above board and that the aquaculturists are fine fish caretakers. But upon first reading the convoluted exit strategy for SSM Health’s stress-relief fish, I became stressed out for the fish. If living in an aquarium isn’t ideal for these fish, how is being relocated and having their babies taken from them a better alternative?

I sincerely hope these fish find a more fulfilling existence than swimming in circles inside a glass box so I can feel calm before a doctor’s appointment. But I worry that things just went from bad to worse for my fish friends.


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New this week:

In our Small Plates In Nice Places column, Adam Powell tries to find a sensible path through Forequarter's ever-changing menu.

On our podcast, Chali Pittman talks with author Pamela Bannos about her research into "mysterious" street photographer Vivian Maier.

Emili Earhart catches up with DIY stalwart Calvin Johnson, who plays October 2 at Communication.

Elsewhere on the Madison internet: ICE has carried out a series of devastating raids in Wisconsin. Ohmme will play an October 20 show at the Rathskeller. Gucci Mane has announced a November 8 show at the Sylvee. Speaking of the Sylvee, Isthmus loses its damn mind over the opening of the new venue. Bandcamp will be raising money on Friday to protect voting rights, so it's a good day to buy Madison music.

This week's Madison calendar: Mandy makes its local premiere at UW CInematheque. Madison jangle-pop outfit Exploration Team says goodbye with a show at Art In. Experimental musician Gregory Taylor plays a rare solo set at CommunicationAnd more.

Bon Iver to play Tammy Baldwin fundraiser in Madison

Bon Iver to play Tammy Baldwin fundraiser in Madison

Podcast: knowsthetime's wistful, old-school beat tape

Podcast: knowsthetime's wistful, old-school beat tape

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