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Album Of The Week: Graham Hunt Try Not To Laugh

What do Madison, Wisconsin and Manchester, England have in common? Superficially, maybe nothing, besides the odd fact that you could get away with a cheery “Believe you me!” in both places. But in reality, both destinations share core values and a somewhat parallel history. Over the decades, the two major cities have been upheld as strongholds of counterculture — particularly with their large student populations — and progressive, working-class politics, given their rich history of organized labor. These metropolises were home to notorious locales like Miffland, Madison’s late ‘60s radical anti-war enclave, and Hulme Crescents, Manchester’s mid ’80s housing estate-turned-underground cultural hub, which both gathered nonconformists who quite literally changed history. And there’s surely an alternate universe where Friedrich Engels resided in Madison during the late 19th or early 20th centuries and encountered many of the same harsh realities endured by workers in industrialized Manchester — famously chronicled in his 1845 book The Condition Of The Working Class In England.

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