Local Color

Most of Impromptus today is taken up with talk about the Nobel peace prize: the one just conferred, on the Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo, and ones conferred in the past (on Andrei Sakharov, for example). But I also have some lighter matter — including a couple of notes on Milwaukee.

They have a big, glorious four-sided clock there. It used to be the biggest such clock in the world. Apparently, the Saudis have now passed it. Too bad. A man with local knowledge — of Milwaukee, not of Saudi Arabia — writes,

“The clock faces are lit (lighted?) [either] at night. That, plus the clock tower’s proximity to the many taverns on S. 2nd, led to the clock’s nickname: ‘The Polish Moon.’”

Is that hate speech? Prosecutable? Anyway, I also tell of something charming in the Milwaukee airport. The place where you go after security screening, to put your shoes back on and generally get yourself back together? They call it the “Recombobulation Area.” A reader writes,

“I love that sign, too! . . . It’s hard to imagine that something as ‘institutional’ as the Milwaukee County Airport could be so clever. Or that someone within said institution would be allowed to be so clever.”

I consider “Recombobulation Area” a touch of distinctively American joy. (Not that joy and airport procedures really go together, much.)

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