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Post by Emily Mills on 2/5/2014 10:00am

Jesse and Emily at Fire Ball V - photo by Kriss Abigail

We’re putting Dane101 into permanent stasis in February 2014—nearly nine years after it first went online. It’s difficult to put into words what this means to me.

How do you sum up and eulogize something that helped, in many ways, to launch your career? That tapped you so thoroughly into the life of your community? That introduced you to so many incredible people, places, and events? I’m not sure I can do it justice, but since I’m a writer, I have to try.

Back in the internet dark ages of 2006 I answered an ad on Craigslist seeking writers for this new-fangled “community blog.” I was two years out of college, toting around an English degree and a lot of hope, and casting about for any fool publication that would have me. Being that my background was mostly in the arts, I pitched myself as a theater reviewer. Jesse Russell was the guy who responded to my inquiry.

He invited me to contribute whatever kind of arts coverage I fancied, helpfully adding that “We also have room for editorializing and pissing off various administrations in Madison if something grabs you.”


Post by Scott Gordon on 2/4/2014 9:00am

I haven’t written very much for Dane101, so I would like to focus on the people.

As for the site shutting down, I would agree with what Alan Talaga wrote recently: Perhaps it has run its course, and the more important thing is that many of its editors and contributors have gone on to have a broader impact on Madison media and culture.

What with Jesse moving to Oakland and most of the other main contributors busy with new jobs, nobody was really in a position to figure out a whole new direction and identity for the site. What’s left, then, is all that Dane101’s contributors and editors have accomplished and learned by being able to experiment and incorporate an ever-morphing variety of viewpoints, interests, and approaches. Jesse, Emily Mills, Christie Taylor, Michael Donnelly, Sarah Bartash, and others can all say they’ve combined straightforward, news-y reporting with less traditional approaches, be that planning events or just generally tinkering with different forms of online publication. I think about their example when I’m working on my own site, because they’ve shown me how putting on events and building community can work as an extension of a journalism outlet’s efforts to inform and to build a strong voice and perhaps even to advance an agenda.

Post by Dave Kreisman on 2/3/2014 9:38am

Photo by Dave Kreisman

Dear Editor,

I've been putting a lot of thought into what being a part of the Dane101 family the last five years has meant, and it's a little scattered, like my attendance, but I still wanted to share.

Five years ago, Phil Ejercito, a dear friend from our days making a ruckus in Madison politics back in the early aughts and longtime Dane101 contributor, suggested I submit some of my photos from a concert we attended to some dude named Jesse who had this blog I should start contributing my photography to.

I knew of Dane101, but never really gave any thought to being a contributor, or that something like that was even possible.

From there, the editors at Dane101 continued to encourage me to submit writings, photos and eventually videos, to further coverage of such important events as "That Random Concert at The Frequency Last Wednesday That Nobody Went To But Dave," to the Fire Ball, several Wisconsin Film Festivals and obviously the occupation of the Capitol in 2011.

Post by Christie Taylor on 1/31/2014 2:30pm

My first Fire Ball

It was 2010, and there was oil on the Gulf of Mexico. I was the education reporter at a small-town newspaper looking for ways to write more about science and the environment--nothing a small-town newspaper at the limits of its dwindling resources was going to let me do.

So I reached out to Dane101, because I was near Madison, had grown up there, and knew them to be "the cool kids" in local media--always throwing great events, always hosting great content about things my age bracket might care about. And Dane101 said yes, write about science, we don't have anyone doing that. So I did. (And I did. And I did.)

Joining Dane101 was like having a longtime crush turn into a real relationship. I moved back to Madison to take a job that wasn't anywhere near as satisfying as my newspaper job. To pay the bills. Somewhere in there, I covered Sen. Ron Johnson's victory party for the now-defunct WTDY and then wrote a column about it. Somewhere in there, I started writing about state politics, got really invested in Dane101 as an entity, and wrote the editors really type-A e-mails to the tune of, "Do we have content for tomorrow?" and, "Who's covering that thing that's happening?"

Post by Kathleen Kosiec on 1/24/2014 12:03pm

Kathleen (Kat) Kosiec

Last year, Dane101 announced that after 8 years, the collaborative blog would cease posting new content in 2014. I wrote for Dane101 intermittently from 2008-2013, and I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces this week. Back in the fall of 2008, I was introduced to Dane101 by my former coworker Josh, who asked if I wanted to write some music reviews. Eventually I became music editor, then a board member, but always remained primarily a writer who never got tired of seeing her name in a byline. Along the way, I met many wonderful writers, musicians, Madison business owners, interns, and creative types. Dane101 gave me confidence as a writer, new friends in Madison, and great professional experience. Oh, and as an added bonus, I even met my significant other through Dane101!

I’ve always felt that Dane101 was a collaborative effort and gave contributors a voice that the other mainstream publications did not. Speaking from my own experience, Dane101 happily accepted my quirky pieces, from a piece about a Bollywood concert to a cooking column documenting my first failed experiments cooking from scratch. Dane101 also developed creative events that Madison loved such as the Fireball and Whedonesque/Geekesque Burlesque. Helping with these events was great experience for me, and I learned the hard way about all of the work that goes into planning an event when I worked on a fundraiser for the site in 2012. (Good lighting is important when holding a silent auction!) When I heard the news last year, I was sad but not surprised. It’s a lot of work recruiting writers, planning events, navigating Drupal, and mustering up the energy to devote a good portion of your free time to the site. I will miss those editorial and board meetings at Michael’s house over a pint of Wisconsin beer and some Glass Nickel pizza. There is still a definite void in Madison that Dane101 will leave this year, and I can’t think of any current publication ready to fill it. It is sad to think that the next time I come up with a strange idea for an article, Dane101 won’t be there for me. Luckily, I have so many great memories of Dane101 that I will carry with me. But for now, here are some of my favorite articles:

Post by Sean Weitner on 1/24/2014 1:04am

To find something I wrote on Dane101, I click on my name. I get a list of contributions, but also a running tally of how long it’s been since my first contribution. Today it says I’ve been a member for 8 years and 20 weeks, the time elapsed since my first edition of The Week in Movies, an annotated guide to what was playing in town. That was the start of the fall 2005 semester and there was a new Cinematheque calendar to flog, featuring forgotten Japanese director Mikio Naruse; Transporter 2 and The Aristocrats were opening in local theaters; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was at the drive-ins; South Towne Cinema -- yes, there used to be a multiplex at South Towne -- had just re-christened itself as a budget theater and was showing Revenge of the Sith.

South Towne closed a year later, and since that first installment, Madison has also lost University Square Four, Hilldale, Westgate Art Cinema and the Orpheum, gaining only Sundance in exchange. Neither the Marquee in Union South nor the excellent theater at MMoCA existed then, but we still had the Play Circle. (And, as Mark Riechers notes, back then Marcus was just as sure they were about to built a new ‘plex in Sun Prairie.)

Post by Dar on 1/23/2014 10:38am

I wasn’t going to write a farewell but then I got to thinking about what a big part of my life Dane101 has been without my even really realizing it. It is an old friend who deserves a goodbye.

I started writing at Dane101 in 2008. I began with a column called “BIY: Bike-It-Yourself”. I did it because I had a bunch of pent up expertise on the topic and because I wanted practice writing on a regular basis in a public forum. The column ended up going on way longer than I could have imagined. I’m not sure, but I think I wrote a column at least once a month (sometimes every few weeks) for at least two years.

As the focus of my personal life began to shift from bicycles to bands, so did my writing. I made a half-hearted attempt to start a column called Dane Drummers, in which I was going to profile a different drummer in Dane County in each installment. I figured out pretty quickly that it was hard to get a drummer to commit to an interview on a deadline, so that idea faded away after a few segments. Since then I’ve done a few music posts here and there, mostly abusing my privileges at Dane101 to try and get in good with two of my biggest current musical heroes, Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery. In a round-about way, Dane101 is responsible for Kelley Deal sleeping on my couch, which will go down as among the most awesome and strangest things to ever happen to me and will always be a great story.

Post by Sarah Bartash on 1/20/2014 6:18pm

Sarah Bartash

Before I get to my list, let me just say that my 4 years and 25 weeks as a contributor, editor, and board member of Dane101 has been an exceptional experience. For me, fighting the good fight meant supporting the idea of a collaboratively run media organization. Whether that was writing articles about local video game producers, taking tickets at a Broom Street Session concert, or waking up at 5:00 a.m. to dig through the day’s news for Breakfast Links, I did it to be a productive part of the whole. It was part fun and part frustration; it was part work and part play and a whole lot of learning experience.

I learned the ins and outs of crowdsourcing and shared content. I learned about image attribution and what it meant to be on the receiving end of unsolicited material. I learned about muffin tops. I also learned about paying attention – to details, to politics, and to the voices of our neighbors.

Dane101 was an outlet for an ever changing array of voices on a variety of topics, more than I have ever seen anywhere else. You could read about the local reaction to the death of Michael Jackson while downloading a free Christmas album. You could debate whether or not Brett Favre was going to stay retired while planning your Fire Ball cosplay. The non-sequitur of articles and posts was mind-boggling at times: classical music reviews shared screen space with a series on local sexual health and the adult entertainment businesses. It grew to its most visible point in 2011, with the mashup of protests and Wisconsin Film Fest coverage vying for eyeballs:

That approach, as opposed to a more focused one, led to the insightful, interesting, and plain zany posts that I’ve included on my list. It may also have contributed to the end of Dane101, because when your focus is every- and anything, it can be a hard sell. Still, if it’s true that the journey is its own destination, this has been one heck of a trip. Thanks to all the people who welcomed me aboard: Jesse, Emily, Shane, Michael, especially, and Christie, Mark, Scott, Adam, Christian, Jason, Kat, Laura, Stacy and all the rest (don’t be strangers, y’all!).

So here they are, my own personal 10 memorable Dane101 posts, in no particular order (except for #1-which, sorry everyone, is my favorite of all time).

10. Title: The Mildly Fascinating Journey of a FedEx Smartpost Package

Date: 4/30/2009

Author: Jesse Russell

Why it is memorable: This was "the little post that could". Once upon a time, Jesse ordered a shirt and tracked its incredible journey. This isn't so much memorable in and of itself, but the post somehow comes up in Google searches a lot and has been one of the top ten hit-getters on Dane101 since it debuted. 

Post by Maddie Greene on 1/20/2014 12:06pm

I married Dane101.

My first Dane101 piece in 2008 grew out of a desire to keep up with my coolest friends (Doug and Christian were already contributors). But it’s hard to recall a time I wasn’t an enthusiastic attendee of Dane101 events. Halloween at the High Noon, in particular, was a personal favorite.

As a contributor and attendee it was inevitable that I’d eventually meet Dane101 founder Jesse Russell.

(Oddly, we’d nearly met when he covered and attended my 2007 Zombie Lurch. The first picture that includes both of us is from that event. We’re so close, lurching around in our zombie makeup, but we did not meet that day. )

We had our first date December 1, 2008 at Brasserie V. Our wedding was May 10, 2012 at the courthouse. Ours was, until our recent move to San Francisco, a thoroughly Madisonian life steeped in the city’s opportunities and quirks.

From my privileged position at Jesse’s side I’ve seen the blood and sweat he poured into Dane101 and also the moments of brilliance that led to landmark events. One morning, for example, he woke up saying “We need a Joss Whedon-themed burlesque event.” By nightfall he had the venue booked and several performers lined up for what would become the extraordinary Whedonesque Burlesque (the first of its kind in the country!). Jesse doesn’t just dream, he does. His ability to build an event from concept to clean-up helped make Madison a city I loved—even before I knew he was the brilliant mind behind evenings like Halloween at the High Noon, What’s Your Damage, or the Mad Pub Quiz of Awesomeness.

Post by Rick on 1/15/2014 9:30am

Farewell, sweet press pass

I'm an entertainer. By no respectable definition am I journalist. But in either field you want to be seen out there, you want name recognition. You want credibility. Dane101 isn't just interwoven in all my best memories of Madison, but in a very real way helped me find success. Well, if success includes being known for mime fights, dancing pirates, and people exploding into blood on stage. And in my book it does.

My relationship with Dane101 started less dramatically than most of my projects (I don't know if Christian's door ever got fixed from when I kicked it in to share my idea to do a choose-your-own-adventure play). He, Russell, Brian, and I were chatting movies over lunch when I casually suggested hey maybe we do this, but make other people listen. I vaguely recalled that Christian contributed to a something-or-other art site, and with some planning the Film101 podcast was born.

I really didn't know how important that podcast would be. Sure, sometimes it was just an epic sustained rant about some bad movie. But it was also the first step toward that elusive goal of having some merit. Four bros talking movies became a devoted press corp bringing top notch coverage of the Wisconsin Film Festival, which became a weekly radio show on the actual radio. Dane101 wasn't just a wonderful group of people, it was power. The power of the press pass