There are Two Kinds of People: Madisonians and Everyone Else

East versus West. In Madison that means old versus new. Hippie versus Yuppie. Even Good versus Bad, depending on who you talk to. But does everything have to be an either/or situation?

It reminds of that colloquialism: There are two kinds of people in the world . . People who like X and People who like Y. Or sometimes, People who like X, and everybody else. Or my favorite, People who categorize people into two types of people. And everyone else.

This saying has been attributed to Mark Twain, who is supposed to have said:

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”

But as with any Mark Twain quote, it’s hard to know the truth. I’ve already written about how many of Twain’s quotes are misattributed. When I tried to find the source of this quote, I also came up empty. And the list of others who have said it since it became a popular colloquialism runs from Indira Gandi:

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

To Ann Landers:

“At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other. “

But nowhere do I find any quotes about two types of people being East siders or West siders. If anything, the quote might go like this:

There are two types of people in Wisconsin. People from Madison and everyone else.

There are two types of people from Wisconsin. People from Madison and everyone else.

Because outside of Madison, people say to me, “Oh that’s so Madison,” when I describe anything about my city.

Whether it’s east side Williamson (Willy) Street, which is lined with fun restaurants, eclectic buildings, and colorful characters or Monroe Street on the west side, with an array of fun restaurants, quaint buildings, and a more tame, but still colorful university crowd. And in the middle, between the Wisconsin State Capitol and the University of Wisconsin, State Street has its own quirky vibe.

In 1978, Lee Dreyfus, who was running for Governor, called it: “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” In 2015, Mayor Paul Soglin, who was also mayor when Dreyfus made the quote proposed the city adopt the slogan as its motto, updated to: “77 square miles surrounded by reality.” The City Council refused the motto even though the plastic pink flamingo was adopted as the official city bird in 2009 in honor of a prank that filled Bascom Hill with them in 1979.

As an aside, Soglin is now serving his third term, at least until April, when he will run against Satya Rhodes-Conway. The primary was this week and Soglin celebrated his victory at The Laurel Tavern, on Monroe Street. Rhodes-Conway celebrated at the ever-cool Harmony Bar, and east-side institution just up the street from Willy Street. It serves amazing walnut burgers. I can’t speak to the Laurel Tavern. I’ve never been there, but I hear it has a real neighborhood feel. As they say, there are two types of people in this world . . .


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  1. Sherry

    When I first moved away and interacted more with people living in cities, I would say something and regularly be told, “That’s so country!” or “That’s so redneck!” It took me a while to feel comfortable with others who hadn’t grown up with farmland and animals surrounding them like I had! There’s a Canadian tv show that takes place in smalltown prairies. In it, the town people regularly make fun of people from the neighboring town, as though they are so different, lol! Great post!

  2. Liliana

    What an interesting concept, I think we can all say that about the place we live, I’ve never been to Madison, but hope to make it there someday.


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