Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Annie Aktins Update

Welcome news from another artist of my acquaintance.

The intrepid Annie Atkins: incomparable Graphic Artist, globetrotter, blogger extraordinaire and all-around great person is resuming her personal writing.  

Under the Stairs is a newsletter where she will give its readers a look into her life and mind.

Sign up at the link if you want a monthly dose of her insightful and often humorous ruminations.

Highest recommendation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Betra Líf

I attended an art opening last week where one of my favorite artists had some of her work up in a gallery in Northeast Minneapolis. A late-summer humid warm spell gave the non-air-conditioned space a sultry vibe, perfectly suited to the atmospheric paintings. When I caught the artist's attention, she came over and we had a short chat about her art and the neighborhood.

While I’m not as good at small talk as I used to be, I really did enjoy talking with the artist but I don't want to be a creepy old man who follows her around. I've bought some of her work in the past, I hope she judges my taste by those things I have purchased. An struggling artist leads a hard life, I'm happy to support her in my small way.

I always feel like an imposter at these soirees. I hardly ever see anyone I know,I’m usually the oldest person there. My days of trendy dress and hipsterish behavior are in the distant past. This event was better though, it always helps to have children around: 

I had spent many an evening in the neighborhood and the memories of them were benign. Non-threatening ghosts were swirling all around me: a dance where I had played 45 years ago was held in the ballroom directly above the gallery, a play I had seen the theater on the same block, a record release party held on the next block. Many, many memories, all within a stone’s throw. After I got in my car and began to drive away, the Páll Óskar song Betra Líf came on my car’s MP3 player. It was the poignant concert version, a bittersweet musing on desire and fulfillment:
I just look around and see
All of this beauty near me
I had put that aside, it was only a stalemate
Now I'm at the right time and in the right place
Who can I thank for that?
I opened my eyes and my heart…
At the end of the block I drove past the bar where I had worked in the early aughts. Across the street from that place was another bar, a place where I attended a mini-reunion with some of my high-school classmates. Swinging over a block, to the county road, I soon came across a restaurant where I once had a dinner with my late brother-in-law and his mother. All gone now. A block beyond that was the funeral home where I had been last year, paying my respects to an old classmate.
I found a better life
Because I finally had to believe it
Another life would be something else
Something bigger and bigger
Life is all that is…
Ghosts everywhere. A few blocks further on there was the club where I last saw Frankie Paradise play thirty years ago. Beyond that was a whole block of houses—surrounded by a tall chain-link fence—that had been condemned. It was where my niece and her now-divorced husband used to live. Nothing like urban renewal to completely erase the memory of a relationship gone bad.
Whether it's a big or little thing
I perceive some major power
I need no proof
I feel and know and see
Even with all knowledge and wealth
You could never create a tree
I opened my eyes and heart…
When I got to the parkway exit I left the county road. To the left of the exit the bridge over the railroad switching yard was still closed, has it really been under repair for 10 years? Going to the right, the parkway skirted the golf course and when I finally got back on a through street, I was only a block away from where Dan used to live. Dan had aspirations of art too, even going so far as to have his place be a stop on the Art-A-Whirl one year. Dan is gone now too, another ghost.
I found a better life
Because I finally had to believe it
Another would be something else
Something bigger and bigger
Life is all that is…

Betra Líf was written by Örlygur Smári, Niclas Kings and Daniela Vecchia, loosely translated from the Icelandic.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Blogger’s Credo

There’s lots of ways to be, as a person, and lots of people express their deep, deep appreciation in other ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there, and you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear them tell their story, or tell yours, but somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something’s transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation. So, we need to be true to who we are, and to remember what’s really important to us…

~Steve Jobs

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For the Record

There are numerous sources that have posted this image of a woman holding a cat:

The picture is of 30s movie star Jeanette MacDonald and her cat "Pussums."

It is not Wanda Gág!

Pussums was a minor celebrity in his own right, and he often posed with Jeanette:

Different hat, same cat. Same glasses, same kerchief.

Jeanette definitely looks more glamorous with makeup!

Here is Wanda Gág with "Noopy", the main model for "Millions of Cats":

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Classic Cars Closeups

With vintage vehicles being readied for storage, the car show season has a few final hurrahs before winter sets in. This 1911 Everitt 30 was a predecessor to the Studebaker. At one time, Everitt was the number two automaker in the U.S.!

The Everitt sported this hefty carbon-arc spotlight:

I’m loving the graphics on the late 50s Desoto Fireflite:

Shiny custom 8 barrel carburetor on a 60s Ford:

Classic 30s Chevy Grille:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, September 08, 2017


The crowd at the tavern got bigger and younger each on succeeding night of the weekend gig. The word had gotten out that there was a band doing a variety of music, with a woman belting out soulful covers of Aretha and Dusty and a whole lot of other singers. The final night started out with a couple getting engaged, lots of shrieking and laughter.  A group of four (or was it five?) young women really started to get into it by the third set; Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You would have blown the lid off the place, except that they were already on an open air patio. The next song took them to a higher level, expressing themselves in a rapturous group movement. It captured the gestalt of their lives; this was their moment: the dance of the maidens, a genetic memory of a Sapphic sisterhood re-awakened:
Well sometimes I go out by myself
And I look across the water
And I think of all the things, what you're doing
And in my head I paint a picture
'Cause since I've come on home,
Well my body's been a mess
And I've missed your ginger hair
And the way you like to dress
Won't you come on over
Stop making a fool out of me
Why don't you come on over Valerie?
And even the regulars at the bar could pick up on the vibe.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


More stuff ‘n’ nonsense from “Up North”…

The Beaver House by day:

The Gunflint Tavern by night:

Moonlight over the bay, from the deck of the tavern:

Reverse angle, by day:

Other lakes may be great, but the one at Grand Marais is Superior:

What would a trip to Grand Marais be without a lachrymose busker doing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in the bay front square:

And so, with heavy hearts, we bid a fond farewell to the gem of Minnesota’s North Coast:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3