A bit more than 20 years ago, I was stuck living in the Dane County suburbs. I spent a fair amount of time with friends who lived in various addresses around Madison's east and north sides, though, so I became familiar with a number of local watering holes. One such joint was Wiggy's. I went there a few times with my friends. We liked unpretentious dive bars where drinks were cheap and the pool playing was casual (usually because the table was warped). At some point around 1989 or 1990, though, my friends stopped going to Wiggy's.
The male of the couple was no shrinking violet. He was over 6' tall and built like a hockey defenseman (complete with a couple false teeth in front). He was also a black belt with a minor criminal record. He had been in a few bar fights in his life. He told me he would not go back to Wiggy's because the place had gotten too violent. The straw that broke the camel's back was the time when took only three steps inside the place before he was hit over the head with a bottle. He blacked out for several seconds. No one made any attempt to stop his assailant or even bother to notice who did it.
But that was many years ago. Since the place kept operating (unlike the Black Bear Tavern downtown), I assumed things had settled down. I eventually moved into the neighborhood. Even so, I never felt any desire to go to Wiggy's. However, once Madison's smoking ban took effect, my husband and I decided to give it a chance. We wanted to support our neighborhood taverns during that challenging time. Also, without the smoke, we figured it would be a decent place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy some burgers and fries.
So, on a lovely summer day, we walked over there and ordered some food and drinks. There were only a handful of people in there, but they were noticeably (and obnoxiously) drunk. This was about 3:00 in the afternoon. Nice. The food was mediocre, and the place still reeked of stale cigarettes. We never went back.
Today I read that shots were fired from inside Wiggy's early this morning. There was no apparent motive (no robbery, and no one was hit). Maybe it was celebratory gunfire. Interestingly enough, exactly one year ago, Wiggy's had their TV stolen in a smash-and-grab burglary that was later tied to a Madison crack house. I think the cops should look for someone whose birthday is on April 30.
Anyway, with so many changes in and around Madison in recent decades, there is a perverse comfort in knowing that Wiggy's is still a dangerous dive bar after all these years.
City Week Ahead
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