Christopher Hitchens and Matthew Rothschild stop for coffee at the Ancora on King Street.
When it comes to people-watching in downtown Madison, the view from the Isthmus offices just off the Square is tough to beat. This is particularly the case when it comes to Ancora Coffee Roasters on King Street, a rich vein of wheeling and dealing when it comes to the business of government and media in the city.
The coffee shop buzzes with pols, wonks, lobbyists and various Capitol denizens, stopping in for caffeine and face-time with their counterparts in the city, county and state governments. It's also a veritable media meeting place -- one of its most common sights being Cap Times editorial page editor and national pundit John Nichols, giving interviews on his cell phone outside the java joint, or typing on his laptop and chatting inside.
Ancora served as a pit-stop for a pair of participants in two of the biggest events being held in town this weekend. Writer Christopher Hitchens, who is the keynote speaker at the Freedom From Religion Foundation's 30th , a recording studio just off East Wash on Blair Street to tape a radio interview.
The Progressive Radio Show is a weekly half-hour talk show hosted by Rothschild that is published online and broadcast locally on The Mic 92.1 FM at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays. "I was just getting coffee before the interview," says the host and magazine editor. After completing the interview with Hitchens, Rothschild explains, he dropped off the idiosyncratic British writer at The Old Fashioned back on Capitol Square.
Best-known this decade for his support of the war in Iraq, Hitchens has recently turned his attention more directly to religion from his perspective as an atheist. His latest book is God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, which was published last spring and has been a bestseller over the summer and into fall. (It is currently ranked #21 on the New York Times non-fiction list.) Due to this salvo, the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation invited the writer to deliver a keynote talk at their convention this weekend as their "Emperor Has No Clothes" award-winner. Hitchens will be speaking about the book at 2 p.m. at Monona Terrace.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in the news quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. This is due in part to the unveiling of their evangelical "nontheistic" billboard off the West Beltline last week, and is also a result of their subsequent debut of a nationally-syndicated , which is also broadcast locally on The Mic 92.1.
Rothschild, meanwhile, is preparing for his appearance at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Red Gym on the UW campus. He will be speaking about his new book, You Have No Rights, which he discussed in an interview with The Daily Page earlier this week.
In all, the scene outside Ancora was an unmistakably Madison moment.