Sunday, January 29, 2012


PIG TALES - True stories and thoughts inspired in the Milwaukee Piggly Wiggly.

This sparkling Saturday morning - the air in the 20s, the sun is out, what little show fell is melting from the brightness of the sun, nothing can really go wrong.  I'm going to the Piggly Wiggly for my weekly inspiration.  So glad to have the CD player in my mini-van (why are people always hating on my mini-van?) Prince is singing to me from the 1980s - a time when drum-machines were a new thing, and these cool Roland Juno synthesizers in the recordings.  "Oo wee sha sha koo koo yeah! All the hippies sing together!"  Sing it with me! Music was a lot more fun before - and you could still understand the words of those new "rap" songs.  Lately it seems that the stardom comes before the creative output, and it has created a generation of self-absorbed divas who know what superstardom looks like, but have no idea how it sounds.  Music has deteriorated to a standardized synthetic pitch-corrected oatmeal.

I arrived at the Piggly Wiggly, and began to paw through the bargains. Always on the lookout for those green and white flags, and the Pig Point bonuses. It's always good news if I don't see my face on one of the votive candles. Just Jesus, John-Paul and Mary, so I must still be top-side.  I noticed that they had a new radio station on the overhead.  Selections limited to the years 1960-1968.  Pre-psychedelic pop.  Sam the Sham was singing "Wooly Bully" -  "won two three quaaaatro!"   And lesser-known works by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Peter and Gordon - the years fall away as Mama Cass muses "It seems so strange to be so friendly - to say 'Good Morning' and really mean it'. 

And then, one I'd forgotten about.  The coolest Hippie-crit of them all- Donovan Leitch.  In hushed, awed tones he expounds on the days of the lost kawntinent of At-lawn-tis - an imaginary place which achieved a level of imaginary peace and magnanimity that we modern materialistic mortals can never ever ever approach.  Shed a tear, Donovan - " the Elders of Our Time Choose to Remain Blind..."  Oh, Jesus wept!  Ah yes, the hippie dilemma:  as the love for Mankind increases, the hatred for individual people also increases proportionally.  When will they ever learn?   "HAIL,  At-LAWN-tis!",  Donovan bleats.  Well, all I got to say about that is "BWA-HA-HA-HAAAA!  Now get a job, hippie!!"   Fellow Piggly Wiggly shoppers are wondering what I find so funny on Saturday morning. When you're between the Wilderness Apple Sauce and the Post Grape-Nuts, nothing is really that funny of itself. Well, here's what it is - it's Hypothermia!  My brain has frozen!  Deal with it! Now enjoy your Piggly Wiggly shopping experience! Hail, At-Lawn-tis!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Safety Symbiosis

When driving the streets of Milwaukee, the motorist will frequently encounter perplexing signs.   Since the signposts are placed within the traffic lanes, the motorist must be careful not to hit them.

Arrow meets boat.  What does it mean? Through universally understood symbols, which could even be interpreted by a visiting space alien, the motorist is warned to drive on the right side of the road.  

How strong must be the drive of the Inner European in some of us, that we constantly fight the urge not to drive on the left side of the road!  How did this come about?

Many years ago, the city bought these signs from the Acme Keep Right Sign Company at great expense to the taxpayers. Although they cost three times the normal rate for traffic signs, obtained on a no-bid contract, the president of Acme Keep Right just happened to be an old school chum of the traffic commissioner. Isn't it remarkable how such unlikely circumstances bring old friends back together? And, although it was none of their business,  taxpayers kept pestering the city with questions such as "Why the hell did you stick a sign right in the middle of the road where people are trying to drive?"  "What is the meaning of these signs?"  "If I'm not within sight of one of these signs, does that mean I'm supposed to drive on the left?"

So, to find a legal way to stop all the citizen complaints,  the city decided to call a secret meeting between the mayor and the Traffic Commissioner.

"People are constantly complaining about the signs!  They say that the signs serve no purpose, the signs impede traffic in the public roadways, and are very costly to replace.  What can we do?" the Mayor paced around, furiously puffing his cigar. (This was long, long ago).

"Well, sir, we both know that the signs are really unnecessary.  Perhaps we could move them..."

"NO, YOU IDIOT - "  The mayor interrupted. (The mayor was in the same graduating class, and appreciated the unmarked bills slipped under his door now and then). "I don't want to eliminate the signs - I want to eliminate the complaints!  It's clear what we have to do - the signs must be protected!" 

And so the oily wheels of city politics continued to turn, and soon there emerged a plan. To protect the signs from being damaged, the city built a concrete barrier completely surrounding each sign.  These protuberances are anywhere from 6 inches to a foot high, and project into the roadway.  Anyone foolish enough to drive near one of these protuberances at normal traffic speeds can severely damage his vehicle.  Tires can be flattened, wheel rims bent, suspension destroyed, and, in some cases, total destruction of the vehicle can result.

And, so, to this day, in the streets without pity, the concrete barriers protect the signs.  And the signs serve as a warning to avoid the concrete barriers, which protect the signs, which warn of the concrete barriers, which protect the signs. . .    And All is Right on the streets.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.