Archive for the ‘Madison’ Category

Madison Apartments Just Got Easier to Find

January 9, 2012

Finding a new apartment in Madison, especially a downtown Madison apartment, sucks. There’s really no other way to put it.

As if mid-August homelessness and the impossibility of getting security deposits back didn’t make the rental process bad enough, it’s also crazy frustrating to even find a downtown apartment to eventually lose your entire security deposit at in the first place.

The UW campus area housing site is a bear to use and rarely updated. Craigslist takes forever to sort through, doesn’t have much information, and is spammy. Those local apartment pamphlets you see on every street corner have websites but they’re impossible to use and also completely out-of-date. And there are so many landlords in Madison it makes it impossible to even know where to start.

Enter, a new site launched in January by UW-alumni with the mission to: “Put every apartment in Madison at your fingertips.”

Their idea is to finally combine all of Madison’s apartments on one website that is up-to-date and stupid simple and easy to use. Essentially, a search engine built just for downtown Madison apartments.

From their about us page:

We founded in January 2011 for a simple reason: apartment hunting in Madison just plain sucked.

As UW students and then recent graduates with more than 10 Madison apartment hunts between us, we had far too much experience with the typical Madison apartment search. The endless shuffling through of craigslist ads. The local apartment listing sites that felt like they were built in the 90’s (and last updated then too). And the eventual resignation to just walking around and looking for ‘For Rent’ signs.

We thought there had to be a better way to find a new place online.

So, if you’re currently in the process of looking for a new house or apartment in downtown Madison, or just curious to see the product of a Madison-based startup, check out their attempt at a solution.


The Sconz buys privilege to pay more at Willy St Co-op

December 31, 2011

Blacklight it, X-Ray it. There's no question: It's legit.

There she is. My official Willy Strett Co-op owner card.

This means most of what I buy at the local food cooperative is merely expensive, instead of outrageously expensive. Of course, how our definition of “expensive” is largely based on skewed expectations of what we should pay to eat in this country. As Michael Pollan has noted, Americans spend a much smaller portion of their income on food than ever before. Hence, interactions such as this one, with my WTDY co-worker Shawn Prebil:

Craver: “Check out my official Willy Street Co-op membership, son. Here, you can look, but don’t touch.”

Prebil: “So you say you can’t afford cable TV but you can afford to shop at Willy Street Co-op?”

That’s right.

Frat’s booze-fueled sex orgy for a good cause

February 8, 2010

The Badger Herald has once again shown its disregard for human decency and compassion by publishing the complaint the Overture Center filed against the AEPi fraternity, whose members graciously gave up their Friday night to drink and have sex for charity.

The numerous allegations seem to imply that the alcohol consumption and love-making were not done in the name of B’nai B’rith, the international Jewish charity for whom AEPi raised $2,100 that night. The accusations of rude behavior and name-calling, one of which comes from a coat-check employee who says several members called her “a bitch,” also miss the point that the fraternity members were simply delegating orders to subordinates for the sake of the mission. While these employees were profiting off a charitable cause, the fraternity brothers’ only payment was dizzying inebriation, a nauseating hangover and a sexually transmitted infection.

According to the director of Madison Symphony Orchestra, who clearly could not handle being close to the grit that accompanies community service, “the fraternity was disgusting and they left trash all over the place.” The one valid complaint came from an employee who found a male and female having sex in a men’s stall. It hardly seems like the couple’s sex was contributing to the cause if it was done in private, however, their sexual indiscretion is very likely due to the copious amount of alcohol they publicly consumed for B’nai B’rith.

Ditch the University Bookstore

January 16, 2010

Tomorrow is the last chance to participate in the ASM book swap. Drop your books off at Gordon Commons, Room A2 between 10:30 and 3 p.m.

But even if that doesn’t work out, and you haven’t already bought your books online, and you’ve resigned yourself to being ruthlessly ripped off yet again, consider spending your money somewhere besides the University Bookstore. Many people don’t know that there are multiple stores in Madison that sell textbooks, and many of them have much more to offer than over-priced books and Bucky apparel.

I’m not talking about the Underground Textbook Exchange. As far as I know (and that’s not much) that place only exists to keep the University Bookstore honest. The price difference is rarely more than a matter of cents, and the store doesn’t offer anything interesting in addition.

I would encourage you to check out one of the independent bookstores. If for no better reason than to talk to people who will have some (or at least claim to have some) wild stories about the Madison of yore. That’s one of the benefits of visiting a store that sells a product which interests nobody below the age of 40.

Room of One’s Own Feminist Bookstore and the Rainbow Books Co-Op are such places. The feminist/leftist buzzwords can cause nausea after too long a time, but both places offer pieces of history and culture that make places like Madison interesting.

Those are two places to go for textbooks; there are still more places to go for literature or humanities courses. Much of your required reading for liberal arts courses can be found at Paul’s, Avol’s or Browzers. Of course, that’s only if you insist on spending money. Memorial Library has still more.

More crazy taxi drivers

January 14, 2010

Buses, taxis, and pizza delivery drivers. I’m convinced that triumvirate is the greatest threat to my safety in Madison.

Walking down Bascom yesterday around 2 p.m. I noticed the entire block of Park Street below Bascom blocked off by police squad cars. The only other vehicle left on the street was a parked taxi with a smashed windshield, a few items of clothing lying on the ground next to it. I had very little doubt anyway, but this incident report affirmed by suspicion.

This afternoon, around 12:20 p.m., Madison Police responded to a car versus pedestrian crash on North Park Street. The victim, a 74-year old Madison man, was in a crosswalk, at the base of Bascom Hill, when he was struck by a taxicab.

Last summer a Dominos (maybe Toppers?) driver hit and killed a pedestrian just outside of the Nitty. Last semester, I remember at least one instance of a city bus driver striking a bicyclist. I realize these people are driving more, making the chances of them getting into some sort of accident higher, but seriously, we all know how bus, taxi, and pizza delivery drivers are.

They drive way too fast and in irresponsible ways, especially around pedestrians. I don’t know what happened in this case, but I would be willing to bet a significant sum that a person driving a personal vehicle would not have struck this man.

The Pub to be sold

October 19, 2009

According to Ald. Mike Verveer, who sits on the Alcohol License Review Committee, The Pub is in the process of being sold. The transfer of its liquor license from the family that has owned the establishment for decades, the Schweglers, to an unnamed new owner, is scheduled to come before the ALRC in November.

Hence, the renovations and the low-price promotions the current owners oversaw in August were all part of a plan to demonstrate the bar’s continued potential to possible buyers.

State St market

July 18, 2009


Where did all the fireworks go?

July 4, 2009

Most holidays I celebrate don’t mean more to me than the 21st century tradition they’ve become. Christmas is presents and family – nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Thanksgiving is turkey and the Detroit Lions, and I’d rather not think about the Native Americans whose annihilation the actual holiday celebrates.

The 4th of July is an exception to that rule, because the independence of our country means something to me, whether or not I often question the motives of the Revolutionary War. So ideally I’d like a History Channel special on Thomas Jefferson (could Ice Road Truckers give it a rest for one day?), but that doesn’t mean I don’t also want a barbecue and some goddamn America-loving fireworks!

Today I see that I will probably be able to see some fireworks if I want. There is a show at Winnequa Park in Monona, which means I’ll probably be able to see them if I get to Lake Monona. Still, why was the big Madison show last weekend? Why? The 4th was on a Saturday this year. What more could you want? Did it have to do with weather projections?

Or do people simply have better things to celebrate our nation’s birth?

Panhandlers on State St

July 3, 2009

The guys in front of BW’s. The guys in front of Peace Park. Bryon Eagon is talking about them in his second official blog post.

Who doesn’t feel at least a little guilty when you pass people who you know are in need of help but maybe don’t trust that your spare change will be used to actually help? Who hasn’t feared or assumed it may be used to exacerbate or propel some of the problems or issues of why that person is asking for money in the first place?

A few days before one of the meetings, a friend and I were talking and he threw out the idea of using alternative methods to dissuade panhandling but still provide a way to raise money, specifically mentioning a system used in Denver where old parking meters are turned into fund-raising collectors in an effort to raise money for services by dissuading direct panhandling through more trusted giving.

Well, the committee met last week and I was excited to hear that DMI and the Police Department have been looking into the possibility, with an added focus on using more mailbox-like structures instead of the parking meters, primarily because this would allow for cash/check donations and not limit it to coins.

It’s hard to say how effective this plan will be. The motives for charitable giving are very different. Pressure and seeking approval will hardly play a big role in dropping change anonymously into a box. However, there is an advantage. First off, it gives people the opportunity to give without being hassled, which discourages a lot of people from giving to charity. Second, rather than being pressured into giving large lump sums, people can give small amounts whenever they feel like it. A few cents here, a few dollars there. And if the system is marketed as fighting against community poverty, I think people could become enthusiastic about contributing. But there needs to be a goal articulated by the government, including the mayor. There needs to be a vision associated with the boxes – they can’t just be bigger versions of those vague contribution jars at coffee shops for abused animals. I don’t see wild amounts of money being raised but hey, if the revenue exceeds the cost of putting up these things, why not? Voluntary taxation. We should give it a try more often.

Cafe Montmartre is “on vacation”

June 30, 2009

A bar that was much better than Wando’s is no more.

Cafe Montmartre, the wine bar and music club that has been at 127 E. Mifflin St. since 1992, has closed, according to the club’s owners.

“After nearly 17 years of operation, Cafe Montmartre closed its doors this week,” Craig and Kevin Spaulding wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “We tried to hold on, but the current economic conditions have left us no choice. We are very grateful for our many loyal customers, clients and vendors. It’s with tremendous sadness that we’ve made this decision, but we also feel it’s the right decision given the circumstances. We will cherish the memories forever.”

This represents a modest personal loss for all of us [me] chez le Sconz. I went to the bar last night for the weekly French conversation group only to find an ominous “closed for repairs” sign on the front door. Confused, my two companions and I went to the Great Dane, forfeiting the French, although the rest of the Frenchies ironically showed up later at the same place.

It was truly heart breaking to find out this morning that “closed for repairs” was apparently just a euphemism for “closed for good.”

It reminds me of that line from Forrest Gump. “Mama, what does ‘vacation’ mean?” “It means when you leave and you never ever come back.”