Monday, November 29, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#131

Photo/Essay Exhibit
Image: Dan Dustin

In October of 2005 I assembled an art exhibit at a local community college.

The photographs were taken on my 2004 visit to Iceland. Many of them have been featured here on FITK Mondays in Iceland posts and also used as illustrations for the serial novels and other posts. A thing that made this show different from most others was the inclusion of blog posts by “Audi” a young Icelandic woman. Her blog was titled A Woman Without a Man… and these “essays” covered a variety of her experiences and her reflections on issues that faced her and other modern women. The show was well-received but my pictures were definitely upstaged by Audi’s posts. Here is one of them, reproduced as close as I can make it in HTML:

February 6, 2004

About a girl

23 years ago, minus about 29 hours, a young woman was giving birth right here in Reykjavík. She had been due a week before but the stubborn creature inside of her refused to come out. She was 24 herself and she already had a 8 year old son. The boy was a handful although he was an amusing child. He had been known to drop in for a cuppa with all the old ladies in the neighborhood to discuss the state of the world and told them stories of his father the rock star. His father was no rock star but he stuck by his story and made all the other little boys green of envy. The young woman had hoped that the new child would be a bit calmer but little did she know. Her life as she knew it ended that day.

The new baby, a big and strong girl, started her adventurous life with a bang when a nurse at the delivery room messed up a simple task of measuring the babies temperature resulting that the child was stuck at the hospital for 10 days. While growing up the girl managed to break all her fingers on the right hand in two incidents, fall a few meters down a stair and land on her eye, cut her leg pretty badly and get so many holes on her head that her dad had bought a first aid kit to keep at the house cause the medical bills were getting too high. Her great-grandmother taught her to read when she was five cause she had gotten sick and tired of reading out loud the subtitles to the Muppet show and soon after that the girl demanded that she would be taught to do simple math as well. The very patient great-grandmother did exactly that and by the time the girl started school she was way ahead of her peers.

The little girl soon developed a deep caring for others and her teachers told her parents one day that if there was someone left out at the class the little girl always made sure they were taken in to the group again. She was a friend to the little people and helped the ones who were slower at the books. Another thing that would be her trademark through out her life was clear at these early years. Out of all the children in her class she befriended a half Italian boy who had just moved back after living his whole life in Italy. This was the first foreigner in the little girl's life and surely not the last.

The little girl turned into a teenager and somehow lost her direction in life. She floated almost unseen through her teenage years and in the end she fled away from her island to look for herself. Her adventures were her way to flee the reality of her own life but she soon realized that she could run but she could not hide. At 22 she was faced with no secondary education, a job that sucked the life out of her and debts and shit up to her ears. Drowning in her own life she made a decision. She was not going to be one of those people who never live up to their potentials. She was going to be somebody, she just didn't know who yet. This morning for the first time in a long time she woke up smiling.

And tonight she's going to go to sleep again still smiling.

Audi mumbled at 01:37

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Tom’s Precision

He was a friend of a girl-friend.

I was fifteen and eager to explore the world beyond the 4th ward liquor-control limits. I was hanging with some Near-Northsiders. Tom was a guitarist, he said he had played with The Del Counts, the third-most successful North-side Minneapolis band, but couldn’t be in the band because he was only in eighth grade! This was over a decade before Prince, when The Trashmen were #1 and The Underbeats were #2. He was younger than me, but knew a lot more songs. His specialty was Chuck Berry riffs, he would reel them off—one after another—almost like the record.

One time I was hanging out with my girlfriend and he stopped in and invited me over to his house. He had something that he thought I should see.

We got to his house (I left my girlfriend behind at her house) and went upstairs to his room. He reached under his bed and pulled out a guitar case. The was no ordinary case—it was bigger—and covered in “Fender Tweed”, a lacquered fabric, with leather wraps on the ends. Opening it, I saw a real Fender Precision Bass guitar. It was very cool, and far more expensive than I could afford on my lawn-mowing earnings. How he managed to buy it as an eight-grader was a mystery; the secretive way he displayed it made me think that it might have been stolen.

The girlfriend broke up with me soon after, maybe she was jealous of my interest in Tom. She played guitar too, but not as good as him. I quit going to that neighborhood, but I did run into Tom a few years later. I had graduated from High School by then, and I went over to see a band practice, I knew the drummer. By that time musical styles had changed, but Tom hadn’t. He was still playing his Chuck Berry riffs, but with precision.

I don’t know what happened to that particular bass, although Fender Precision basses of that era sell for up to five figures now.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Cocktails, Anyone?

It had been months since I had purchased a music CD.

And then I got the “Exotica” bug.

Exotica is a loosely-defined genre, it arose after WWII, featuring vaguely oriental or pacific islander musical themes, a fair amount of Latin and even some African influences, all thrown into a simmering musical stew of percussion and provocative vocalizations. It was popular with bachelors, played in their “pads” on their new hi-fi systems. By the mid 60s it had devolved, morphing back into the MOR pop genres from whence it had emerged. The genre has been around the block a few times, most notably in the mid 1990s, when Capitol Records introduced their Ultra-Lounge series of CDs (and digital download albums.) Some are better than others—there is usually a clinker or two on each one—and usually an outlier or two but, overall, I find them enjoyable. I could probably find a Spotify channel for this, but part of the fun is getting used to a particular CD and the way it is sequenced.

Each CD comes with a little booklet describing the music and the artists who performed it, as well as some cocktail recipes. I wish I could partake, but the imbibing of spirits has never been my strong suit, especially not with the addition of sugary syrups.

I got most of the series via Amazon but the other day I was at the thrift store where they had four large bins of CDs on a cart, waiting to be shelved. It was a plethora of easy-listening jazz and sprightly pop instrumentals, with many of the same artists that were featured on my Ultra-Lounge CDs. I picked out several titles and when I went to inspect the discs I noticed that, on the inner tray of all of them, was an address label.

When I got home I looked up the name on the label and found an obituary. He was about the same age as me when he died a few years ago, his heirs must have finally dumped his collection of hundreds of titles.

That cocktail party is over.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#130


Fríkirkjan in the Twilight:
Reykjavík University, Nauthóll campus:
The Majestic Harpa:
And a Very Chilly Tour Group:

By Professor Batty

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Friday, November 19, 2021

Nordic Fashion Redux

While I was in Seattle in 2011, the Nordic Heritage Museum was hosting the Nordic Fashion Biennale (NFB). Designers from Iceland, Greenland, The Faroes, Denmark, Norway and Sweden moved their wildly diverse creations into the museum for a six week run. When I say moved into, I mean right into the existing museum exhibits! Curated by New York–based visual and performance artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (AKA "Shoplifter"), the resulting show was often amusing, sometimes sublime, and always fascinating. Many of the modern designer fashions fit right into the depictions of immigrant life from the 19th century:

The model on the left is based on the Faroese novel Barbara:

Vivid colors contrasting with subtle tones:

While some fashions were a bit more outré:

And others were downright scary:

Everybody can use a new pair of shoes:

Some were simply stunning:

Even the Patchwork garments had pizzazz:

I've been on a Faroes kick lately and was pleased to find that they were well represented here:

The Seattle area is home to the greatest number of people of Icelandic descent in the United States. The museum is located in the Ballard district, where large numbers of Norwegians, Swedes and Danes also settled and that heritage still exerts a strong influence. The integration of fashion into history reflects this heritage in the best possible way—full of imagination and with a sense of humor—retaining the connection between the past and present.

Originally posted November 2011

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The City That Hates Children’s Art

A city in Minnesota has banned children’s chalk art from its sidewalks.

Words fail.

The news report in full: Hopscotch Banned: New Anoka Ordinance Bans Chalk Art on City Property

This is where I live.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#129

Hand Knits and Wool
Wool and Iceland have been synonymous for over a millenium, vaðmál was the equivalent of currency in the late middle ages, lopi wool from Icelandic sheep is still prized for its warmth and moisture resistance in lopapesya, the iconic Icelandic sweater.
There are several outlets for real Icelandic knit goods in Iceland, the most notable is Handprjónasamband Islands at Skólavörðustígur 19. One caveat: there are Chinese knock-offs being sold in Iceland, make sure you get the originals!
There are factory-stores for Icelandic wool and knits: Álafoss, in Mosfellsbær:
And Gamla Þingborg, a quaint store in the countryside a few km east of Selfóss, well worth the trip into the countryside:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0