Monday, June 30, 2008

Life on the Mississippi

Took a little trip down the Mississippi River with my eldest son last week. 40+ miles in two days, with an overnight stay at Dimmick Island (pictured above), about halfway between Clearwater and Anoka, Minnesota.

Our passage was not unobserved. From the huffing and snorting of this deer I got the distinct impression that we weren't entirely welcome. The were other animals as well, foxes (too quick to capture on camera), herons (about every 1000 feet for the length of the trip) eagles, signs of beaver, cows, and even these tracks near our campsite (probably raccoon):

More tomorrow...

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cover Girls - part 5

Julie London

   In the fifties and sixties Julie London released thirty-three albums, most of which featured Julie (who had been a pin-up model in World War II) in provocative poses on the cover.

   As a singer, Julie was a stylist. With her breathy and intimate delivery she was sometimes overlooked as an excellent interpreter of standards and show tunes.

   Almost impossibly beautiful, with a mature sex appeal, Julie also had a long career acting in movies and on television.

   Her carefully cultivated persona aged well, later records dealt with themes of infidelity and failed relationships.

   A cover shot that only Julie could pull off.

   You can watch her in action in this clip from The Girl Can't Help It, or listen to a high quality audio-only version of her hit Cry Me A River. Definitely worth picking up a compilation CD or the original LPs (if only for the covers.) They used to be common in second-hand stores, but are much scarcer now.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cover Girls - part 4

The Shangri-las

   These four girls from Queens hit it big with Leader of the Pack and also had several other charting records. None were as emotionally charged as You Can Never Go Home Anymore in which the singer's mother dies of loneliness after her fickle daughter (the singer of this story-song) runs off with a worthless boy.

   Let's take a closer look at those outfits. Leather pants! And those boots were definitely made for walking! Their albums are still being mined by modern acts for material- Neko Case recently covered The Train From Kansas City, featured on this album. The original riot grrrls.

   As a bonus, here's another great cover from a less-noted girl group from the 60's:

The Shaggs

   Lord, I love these girls. I've written about them before, here is the equally mind-blowing cover "art." Check out the link, in it there is another link there to an MP3 download of their "greatest hit"  My Pal Foot-Foot.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cover Girls - part 3

Doris Day

   Not rare at all, there lots of her records are in almost every thrift store, Doris is a very fine singer and a capable actress. Every boy's sexy-mother fantasy in the early sixties. Even Mary Wilson of The Supremes wanted to be her.

Que Sera, Sera.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cover Girls - part 2

Ethel Smith

Playing the big Hammond, Ethel was a true pioneer on what was then (the late 1930s) a brand new instrument.

There were many B-3 electric organ artists in the fifties and sixties, but very few as early as Ethel. She was also a globe hopper, touring extensively in South America with diplomat Cordell Hull to the first Pan-American conference. “For a while,” she said, “I became a regular tropical hep chick.” She was a featured performer at The Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. Ethel also appeared in many movies, wowing audiences with her talent and presence:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cover Girls - part 1

   Summertime, and the blogging is easy. I'll be out and about during the next week, but thanks to Blogger's auto-post feature, I'll be able deliver a quality FITK post every day! These featured records and their provocative covers are from the Flippist Archives and have been carefully selected to educate, enlighten and amuse. Any prurient side effects are strictly intentional...

Gale Garnett

   This is a real rarity, the follow-up album for a one-hit (We'll Sing In The Sunshine) wonder. Gale is a proto-feminist-singer-songwriter who wasn't afraid of letting her make-up show on this LP's cover. There are a few CD compilations of her material out there but this album is vinyl only, and I've never seen another copy. These are mostly her original songs, many in a cabaret style rather than folk, released in late '64 or early '65. She's still around and working out of Canada. she does a fair amount of acting (Gale was in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and recently did a well received one-woman show in Toronto.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 7


I made my way back to the office. Even though I went all around the world I didn’t really get what I had set out for. The Baron made good on his contract though, he even paid me a bonus—in mutton!

And now I am alone. Alone, sitting at my desk with a glass of Brennivín, my laptop, and an 8x10 glossy of her-—Sharon Spotbottom.

She's even more of a mystery now than when I started. What makes her tick? Why did she do that disappearing act? What was it with that poison dart action? And that stunt at the UN! I guess I'll never really figure out that dizzy dame.

I was just about to put a lid on the whole affair when I noticed an eMail had come in. I opened it with some trepidation.

It was from Sharon, one final chapter in this strange saga:

Hiya Batty! Sorry about the dart. Sometimes I just have to get away for a while, and you were crowding my personal space. I needed a new perspective on things. Maybe this will answer your questions. SHARON

I guess it's true what they say about her: Sharon is all things to all things and nothing if she is anything.

                                   CASE CLOSED

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 6

At Last!

“Are you sure this is the right address?” I asked the cabbie.

“UN general assembly building, that’s what the paper says, buddy.”

“That's BATTY, not buddy!”

I paid my fare and went into the building.

“Here goes nothing,” I thought, “Madame Tara is probably laughing her head off.” But the receptionist read Tara’s note and summoned a page to show me where to go. He took me to a door marked ‘Gallery’ and said “You must be quiet, for the assembly is in session.”

Imagine my surprise to see Sharon on the giant video screens! The chairman was introducing “The Representative from the Shire, Sharon Spotbottom.” I finally picked out where she sat among the delegates. She raised her hand and began to throw small green balls into the crowd! Pandemonium ensued, Sharon was wrestled to the floor and taken away.

A photo was in the papers the next day, with the headline:

  Spotbottom’s Whirled Peas Plan Panics UN

At least the Baron knows where she is now!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 5

My Meeting With Madame Tara

That text message made me realize that I needed some help if I were to ever track down Sharon. The best psychic I knew was Madame Tara, working out of New York City. I hadn’t seen her since 2004; I hoped she was still on top of her game...

“I knew you were coming...” Said the Mysterious Madam as I walked into her tiny shop.

“How do you do that? You always know when I'm coming!”

She was still the same Tara. She smiled faintly and directed me to sit at her ‘Divination Table.’ It was bare, save for a large crystal ball in the exact center of the top.

“It is a woman you seek, with Batty it is always a woman, n’est-ce pas?"

Madame T was never much for chit-chat.

“Gaze into the ball…”

We sat for a few minutes, peering into that milky lump of glass.  WhenI was beginning to think the Madame had lost her touch a dim red glow came from within the orb. It grew brighter and brighter until there appeared a distinct image of my quarry:

“This one’s a little on the skinny side, no? I was that thin once, remember? Of course you always liked them lithe... ”

“Never mind that, where can I find her?”

The sarcastic seer sighed and dashed off a couple of lines in Esperanto on a scrap of paper. She turned it over and wrote an address.

“When you get there, give this message to the receptionist, they’ll arrange it so that you will be able to see this “object of your desire’ ...”

“It's strictly business, between her and me, I thought you knew everything?”

“Is it? I know many things but some imperfectly; your heart, however, I know all too well.”

She didn't have to bring that up. What can I say? When Tara and I were young we had been in love; it was a crazy love; she liked to play rough. Too rough. But what she had said was true. She always knew when I was coming. I left her shop and hailed a taxi...

Part 5 of 7

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 4

Visions of Sharon

How long I was out? An hour? A day? Time had lost all meaning. Guido said I was mumbling incoherently but my rantings occasionally would make some sense. As he paddled us out of that steaming swamp, he cleverly turned on my voice-actuated recorder and clipped it to my collar. Most of what I muttered was garbage, but here is a transcript of some of my more cogent utterances:
Ain’t it just like Sharon to play tricks when you're tryin’ to be so quiet?
Batty sits here stranded, though he’s doing his best to deny it
And he draws a sheet full of Sharon’s, it’s so tempting to try it
Google and Flickr on the laptop, the screen’s a little soft
In his computer the hard drive just coughs
The internet connection’s acting rough
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Batty and his muse, so entwined
And these visions of Sharon that conquer his mind

In the empty net where the gamers blindman’s bluff role play
And the all-night surfers watch auctions on eBay
He can hear the lonely click of his mouse, and strains
Asking himself if it's him or them that’s really insane
Batty, he’s all right, he’s just a bit weird
He’s delicate and draws like Vermeer
But that just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Sharon’s not here
The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Sharon have now taken their place

Now, little Batty lost, he does his work so frivolously
He denies his misery, he likes to live vicariously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a long-ago post to see
He's sure got a lot of gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the screen, he starts to stall
How can he explain?
Oh, it's so hard to get on
And these visions of Sharon, they kept him up past the dawn

Inside the web, an emoticon goes up with a smile
Voices echo this is what salivation must be like after a while
But Sharon must of done the highway race
You can tell by her comely grimace
See the primitive wallpaper frieze
With its stick-figured women, all eating cheese
Hear the one with the mustache say,
"Jeeze, I can’t find Sharon's knees"
Oh, the beret and ribbons hang from the head of the girl
And these visions of Sharon, they make everything whirl

The Professor now speaks to the Weaver who’s pretending to care about it
Saying, "Name me someone that’s not an artist and I’ll buy him a crayon forthwith"
But like Batty always says to himself,
“Ya can’t draw that well yourself can ya man?”
As the Weaver‘s unamused smile is wan
And Sharon, she still has not showed
We see these empty links now corrode
Where her cape with an “S” once had flowed
Batty now steps into the road
He says, “Everything's been redrawn which was once old”
On the back of the flash animation that loads
While his MacBook explodes
That gnarled finger fondles the delete key and then refrains
And these visions of Sharon are now all that remain

“Too much time spent listening to Blonde on Blonde in your stoner days, eh, boss?”

Good old greazy Guido, always looking out for me.

“No, she's a brunette, and thank God we're finished with this hellish river!”

“Aren't you forgetting something, Batty?”

Guido's perpetual sneer had turned upward, changing into a most disturbing leer.

“I can’t think of anything, what is it?”

“It's time for your tick check.”

Just then my cell phone buzzed, on the screen a cryptic text message:
Batty, R U Psychic? -SS

And it was then when I knew where I had to go to find Sharon.

Part 4 of 7

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 3

Stranded In The Jungle

   Gliding with my gloomy guide Guido, we found ourselves three day's journey up the mighty Amazon itself. The natives had spoken of "scary stick woman" so I knew we were on the right track. Those riverbanks gave me the creeps. You never knew what might fly out from those leafy fronds...

   Suddenly I heard a distinct "ffft" sound emanating from the near shore. I felt a sting on my neck and I began to see strange patterns.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part 2

Lost Highway

I wandered that desert highway for hours, still seeking the elusive Sharon. I was just about to give up and call the Baron to tell him to find some other gumshoe to babysit his wayward progeny. Then along side the road, I found a cardboard box:

What did it mean? The box was empty, but there aren’t that many Spotbottoms in the world. I took it as a clue, a clue that would lead me to the world's largest rain forest...

Tomorrow: Brazil!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sharon, Part I

The name is Batty. I'm a private eye. When people want to find somebody, or find the dirt on somebody, they call me. I remember one particular case, back in the late spring of '08...

... I was on the trail of a missing dame. A sassy lassie, with a classy chassis and a background of nobility. Her father, the Baron, had hired me to find out what she was up to...

She gave me the slip in Paris, I knew that I had been close for she dropped her hair-bow in haste as she made her getaway... I just missed her at DeGaulle, when she boarded a Qantas flight to Australia...

I ultimately ended up in the outback where one of the locals told me that she had gone on a walkabout...

I'd know that waffle-stomper anywhere...

... Part 1 of 7

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Miss You

"You do not have he right to eliminate yourself, you do not belong to you. You belong to Universe."
~R. Buckminster Fuller, 1927
Around and around it goes.
Self-expression, unchecked to an international audience.
And when it stops, what then?
Lingering forever in the darker recesses of the web?

I miss you.

What is the ultimate worth of what we write here?
Will a future generation look back on these scribbles and find much, if anything, of interest?
Who has the patience to winnow the wheat from so much chaff?
A robot, perhaps? Some robot.
What new hallucinations will form from this mess of literary pottage?

I miss you.

Worse prose is barely conceivable.
But it is something.
It isn't you, yet it is.
Something to shout about.
Something to whisper quietly to an audience of one.

I miss you.

Never a lover.
I know what it feels like to be inside a woman.
It was never thus.
"I need to read you."
"I read to need you."

I miss you.

Come back.
I would be content as a shadow in your shadow.
Let your light shine.
It will work itself out.
It will be alright.

I miss you.

And if you...
Believe in dreams,
Or what is more important,
That a dream can come true?
I, I will meet you...

I miss you*

*Italicized lyrics by Björk

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time Must Have A Stop

An abandoned farm, somewhere in western South Dakota.

Like numberless others, it stands empty,

waiting for a rebirth that never comes.

The work clothes in the garage are still hang.

Hanging where the last tenant left them.

The insects and the weather has turned them into tatters,

in due course the whole farm will return to the soil.

The soil which once nourished it.

Time must have a stop.

There is a time each of us must hang up our clothes.

One last time, a time to let it all go,

a time to let time flow on without us,

untroubled by the eddies of our lives.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, June 09, 2008

In My Life

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.All these places have their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I've loved them all
   One of John Lennon's most famous songs. I remember seeing the lyrics for it, written in his own hand, in a display case in the British Museum. It has lasted, even with its almost greeting card-like verse; its popularity is based on merit. When we had our high school's 30th reunion, a bunch of us guys who had been in various bands there had gotten together and reformed into a group to play for the gathered faithful. We played that tune, of course, how could anyone of our generation not?

   Received an email Friday from our 40th reunion committee. In it was an attachment with a slide show of the yearbook pictures of those who had passed away. Most of them had died long ago, within the first few years after high school: traffic accidents, drug overdoses, suicides, cancer, and the occasional freak medical condition. As the images scrolled, Lennon's In My Life played. About half way through I was shocked to see a certain girl's face.

   Lynn was never a close friend, her parents and mine had some sort of social connection, I never knew exactly what that was. Still, I had gone to her birthday party once (spin the bottle!) and we had walked side by side at our graduation. During college we had met up a couple of times. One night, when I was out photographing the neighborhood (time exposures were the thing to do in the summer of '69) I met her in front of her house. "Take my picture!" she said, as she proceeded to do a headstand in her yard. Later, that fall, she somehow got me to go with her to the airport. She brought along two of her girl friends. They weren't meeting anybody, she said it was "so sad when people had to part" as we witnessed several farewells. That was the last time I saw her. 

   Seeing her picture in the slide show made me wonder:
How did it happen?
Why hadn't we ever gone any further in our relationship?
What had she been doing for the last 40 years?
Did she find happiness?
And the big if: Why was it her face in the show, and not mine?

   Today I received another email with a "corrected" version of the slide show. Her picture had been selected in error. Lynn was still alive!

But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning,
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I'll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In my life I love you more

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fleurs Du Mal 2

June is NOT bustin' out all over. The oriental poppies have just started (about two weeks late) and the weather, except for one day, has been cool and rainy. Still, as my pappy usta say: "Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?"

The rhubarb is just fine.

The ducks are just fine.

The dandelions are gone.

Where is my summer?

I'm sitting here wearing a sweater!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wednesday's Child

I found it in an antique store on South Lyndale.

A true vintage LP, Atlantic 1245, in very good condition. I wasn't familiar with the artist, I bought it on a whim- for the cover photo- if for no other reason. Putting it on the turntable, the sounds of a light voiced young woman came over the speakers, singing show tunes and standards. the arrangements were sparse, intellectual, cool jazz. Tres chic. It has merited the coveted "album sleeve protector" for many years.

The host of the late night jazz program on the local public radio retired a few months ago. A reedy octogenarian with a hint of sadness in his voice, he would expound at length on all things related to pre-fusion jazz styles. His program would usually be supplemented with interviews with major and minor jazz figures, including tape recorded or phone conversations. One such interview was with the arranger of Atlantic 1245, an old friend who had fallen on hard times; in it the two veterans traded war stories from the trenches of the music business.

Finally, I got a little bit more of the story. The Girl Singer and the Jazz DJ had been married to each other once, in New York City back when this record was made, and had two daughters together. They eventually parted. Somehow, for me at least, this artifact tied the loose ends of their stories together.

Atlantic 1245 Patty McGovern with Thomas Talbert.

There was evidently a CD re-release of this disc, in Japan. Good luck finding it, or the original vinyl.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Knows Diddley

Bo Diddley, Rock 'n Roll pioneer, died Monday.
Anyone of a certain age who played in a rock band knows Bo. With his signature beat (how many musicians have a BEAT named after them?) and his earthy singing, Bo was an original, the archetypical field-hand blended with 20th century electronics and primitive poetry. Any hard rock band worth its salt covered Bo, if only to tap into his raw power, to use his music to bring out elements within themselves that were previously undiscovered.

Bo would come to town about every year or so, playing with a local band and always firing up the crowd with his home-made lit-up guitar that spelled "Bo Diddley" in red LEDS. My old band mate Danny played with him on one occasion, he said Bo told them a story backstage about two gray doves that Johnny Otis (Willie and the Hand Jive) gave Bo once. Bo kept breeding those doves until he got one pure white dove and one pure black dove. "So I guess there's a little bit of you in me and a little bit of me in you."

Bo had a dark side as well, his lyrics for Who Do You Love are downright scary:

I walked 47 miles of barbed wire,
Used a cobra snake for a neck tie.
Got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of human skulls.
Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love?

Arlene took me by the hand,
And said oooh eeeh daddy I understand.
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love?

The night was black and the night was blue,
And around the corner an ice wagon flew.
A bump was a hittin' lord and somebody screemed,
You should have heard just what I seen.
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love?

Arleen took me by my hand,
she said Ooo-ee Bo you know I understand
I got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind,
I lived long enough and I ain't scared of dying.

Who do you love
Who do you love
Who do you love
Who do you love?

Bo, we won't miss you because you'll always be with us, whenever some young punk band starts the bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp, bomp-bomp.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, June 02, 2008

Expanding the Franchise - #2

Well, the Flippist breakfast cereal didn't exactly set the world on fire, so it was back to the lab for Professor B, this time it is the "Cocoloco" candy bar, chocolate-flavored suet for the indiscriminate gourmet. Yum!

Bet you can't eat just one.

Bet you can't eat even one.

(Click on image for large version)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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