Saturday, September 30, 2017

THIRTY DAYS hath September…

For those of you (you know who you are) who received my 2017 Iceland Calendar and are as confused as I am: I MADE A MISTAKE!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall…

Displaced people. Refugees.

Seems like there are more everyday.

A leader so out of touch with reality that he is more concerned about putting Black football players in their place than he is about the plight of American citizens in the Caribbean. They are the displaced, the refugees, the new American nomads. It is a calamity that is only going to get worse. Our “feckless leader” is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico next week. With more rain scheduled, there may not be anything left to see. He’ll do nothing to help, offering empty promises and shifting the attention to his personal agenda. There is a word for it.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Saddest Song in the World

I Can Never Go Home Anymore ~ The Shangri-las

The Shangri-las, queens of teen-age angst, had this, their last and angstiest top-ten hit, in 1966.

They were a real vocal group, not just an act that was thrown together in the studio by an anonymous producer.

It consisted of two pairs of sisters who had been known to harmonize on the streets of Queens. They were discovered by the legendary George (Shadow) Morton, who wrote and produced many of the girls (at the start they were girls, still in high school) records. Morton and the girl group even had their greatest success during the height of the British invasion! The Shangri-las toured with many of the stars of the day including: James Brown, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and the Zombies. Iggy Pop was in one of their road bands! Hugely influential, they have been given increasing credit as major influences for many modern performers, in a wide variety of fields. The most prominent of these was the late Amy Winehouse. Before she recorded her Grammy-winning, multi-platinum Back to Black album, she gave her producer a bunch of Shangri-las records and told him that “I want it to sound like this.” This is what Amy said about them:
“I love the drama. I love the atmosphere. I love the sound effects. And they wrote(sic) the most depressing song ever: “I Can Never Go Home Anymore.” When me and my boyfriend finished, I used to listen to that song on repeat just sitting on my kitchen floor with a bottle of Jack Daniels. I’d pass out, wake up and do it again. My flatmate used to come in, leave bags of KFC and just leave. She’d be like, ‘There’s your dinner, I’m going out.’ It’s the saddest song in the world.”

Here is the story in full, as spoken and sung by Mary Weiss (backing vocals in italics), delivered with all the tragic honesty and teen-age heartbreak she could muster:

I'm gonna hide, if she don’t leave me alone, I’m gonna run away…


Cause you can never go home anymore…

Listen… Does this sound familiar?

You wake up every morning, go to school every day,
Spend your nights on the corner, just passing time away.
Your life is so lonely, like a child without a toy.
Then, a miracle: a boy!

And that’s called glad…

Now my mom is a good mom and she loves me with all her heart,
But she said I was too young to be in love, the boy and I would have to part.
And no matter how I ranted and raved, I screamed, I pleaded, I cried…
She told me it was not really love but only my girlish pride.

And that’s called bad…

Never go home anymore…

Now if that’s happened to you, don’t let this:

I packed my clothes and left home that night.
Though she begged me to stay, I was sure I was right.
And you know something funny? I forgot that boy right away.
Instead, I remember being tucked in bed and hearing my mama say:

Hush little baby don’t you cry, mama won’t go away…


And you can never go home anymore…


No, I can never go home anymore

Listen… I’m not finished…

Do you ever get that feeling you want to kiss and hug her?
Do it now—tell her you love her. Don’t do to your mom what I did to mine.
She grew so lonely in the end, the angels picked her for their friend. (never)
And I can never go home (never) anymore…

And that’s called sad…

~Shadow Morton

Listen… Don’t take my word for it.

Here is the best audio version that I could find on YouTube:

In exception to the usual drivel, it is definitely worth the time to click through to the YouTube site and read the comments.

We haven’t heard the last of The Shangri-las, not by a long shot.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tag Team

Harvesting pollen on an unseasonably hot September’s day. The unusual perspective of the image is due to the use of a fish eye optic. The bees were about an inch away from the front surface of the lens!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Waiting for the Call

Took a walk downtown last night.
The sun was low on the horizon, it was warm, everything was rosy:

I was waiting for a call from St. Croix but the phones there were down.
There wasn't anything I could do about it.
I stopped in at Sparky’s diner.
There weren’t a lot of people there.
I ate alone.

The hurricane's wind and rain had knocked out all power on the island.
The weather in my town was well-behaved by comparison.
Not many people on the riverfront.

Even the Giddings gazebo looked more forlorn than usual.
It was as if it had suffered through a storm.

There was a crowd at the the theater.
It was waiting too, waiting for Patsy Cline.
I don’t think she’s coming.

The next morning there was a message on the machine.
They had ridden out Maria.
Heavy damage everywhere, but everyone was alright.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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 her 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, and I really did enjoy talking with the artist, 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. Any struggling artist leads a hard life and 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 and I’m usually the oldest person there. My days of trendy dress and hipster-ish 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, the theater where I had seen a memorable play was on the same block, a record release party held on the next block. 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 that is near to 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, very 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 1920s movie extra Nadine Dennis and her cat "Pussums."

It is not Wanda Gág!

Pussums was a minor celebrity in her own right, and she often posed with her costar Jeanette MacDonald:

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":

More on Wanda…

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 

More Grand Marais…

…  and nearby areas, no real theme…

Voyagers Brewing Company:

Naniboujou dining hall:

Naniboujou Lodge:

Lake Superior beach:

Blue Water Cafe:

Antique Store:

Ben Franklin Store:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, September 04, 2017

Grand Marais By Night

Random impressions from my recent excursion to the North Shore:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

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