Editor’s Note: Madison has layers
I am constantly discovering new subsets of Madison life. The stories unfold endlessly, layers upon layers, further expanding my understanding and perspective of this place.
I knew next to nothing about Madison when I started at the magazine. As a 22-year-old Illinois native just a few months out of college, I was a certified newcomer tasked with writing like I was a source of authority.
I remember my managing editor at the time, Katie Vaughn, kindly rebranding my lack of local knowledge as a “fresh perspective” and “a new set of eyes.”
Seven years later, I’ve really only just scratched the surface. I have nowhere near the decades of local insight accumulated by the likes of other news gatherers, storytellers and longtime Madisonians, many of whom have contributed to this magazine long before my time — Stu Levitan, Neil Heinen, Doug Moe and John Roach come to mind. But there are moments that reveal just how much I’ve learned about this place, like the times I’m able to rattle off the name of that one new restaurant on such-and-such street, or the backstory to the city’s official bird, or what side of the Capitol that business is on and how long it’s been there. I’ve mentally cataloged so many of the city’s names, faces, landmarks, annual events, celebrity connections, anniversaries and food scene details. Just recently when I was home for the holidays, my dad asked, “Hey, did you see that story about the Madison baker appearing on Food Network?” To which I replied, “Yeah, Dad, I wrote that one.”
So when Associate Editor Maija Inveiss submitted The Great 608 Quiz for a first read, I was feeling confident that my seven years of regional magazine experience was going to help me hit a high score.
I was sadly and embarrassingly mistaken. I’m not going to tell you my final tally because this is my column and I don’t have to. But I was certainly humbled and put in my place: My newcomer days weren’t all that long ago.
It was a great reminder that there’s always more to learn. And that beyond the facts and figures (which are fun to test ourselves on), everyone knows and experiences Madison differently. There are things that would never show up on a local quiz, like what a half-frozen-over Lake Mendota looks like, or how many bends in the road lead you to your favorite supper club. I’ve never seen the city from the seat of an ice boat, or walked in the fantastic red boots of UW women’s basketball head coach Marisa Moseley. I had never heard of regenerative real estate or pyrography, and I truthfully haven’t tried a poke bowl yet. On a more somber note, Khalid Naseri, one of the Afghan refugees who shares his story, certainly knows a much different Madison than I do.
That’s the beauty of this job. I am constantly discovering new subsets of Madison life. The stories unfold endlessly, layers upon layers, further expanding my understanding and perspective of this place. Every monthly issue feels like we’re preserving a small archival slice of Madison history.
I can’t wait for year No. 8.
Order the January issue here.
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