Monday, July 30, 2018

Sides Ways

This is a summer re-run from July 30, 2009


“Batty shall not live by breadsticks alone!”
This has been a tough year. Things in general have always seemed to have contrived to play themselves out in a bit of a downturn. Too many goodbyes, not enough hellos. Missed opportunities, misunderstandings; this malaise has even started to affect my food.

Eating out always contains opportunities for disappointment. After all, even the simplest meal is usually composed of many disparate elements, any one of which can sabotage the intended effect. And unless one opts for a high-end dining experience, the tendency for a chef to “play it safe” causes sins of omission, not commission, but sins nonetheless.

I had a calzone at a chain restaurant recently, it was served with “marinara”, which was really just tomato sauce. No spices, no adornments, nothing. I have really considered bringing along a small vial of minced garlic and a packet of oregano to just these kinds of places. I like tomatoes as much as anyone, but com’on, let us have some life’s variety of which spice is the!

Last night, I ordered a chicken-mushroom-swiss sandwich at another establishment. My choices of a side dish were: kettle chips, french fries, or coleslaw. Coleslaw gets perfunctory treatment at most places, but I like it anyway, even the plainest slaw lightens and complements almost any food. I ordered the coleslaw, but a few minutes later the waiter returned to inform me that they were “out” and would I like fries or chips instead?

Not exactly what you could call an equivalent. I declined, and chose to forgo (after all, I am trying to lose some weight!) any side dish whatsoever. When my sandwich did arrive it came nestled in a bed of french fries. Of course. The one (the only?) thing I may have learned about nutrition in all my years is this: NEVER, EVER, EAT FRENCH FRIES! It is the Devil's food, poison and wrong on so many levels. And one should never eat anything with eyes, right?

Every few minutes the waiter came over and asked: "Is there anything else you might want?" I managed to squelch the voice inside me which was shouting: “Coleslaw! Coleslaw! I must have my slaw or I will perish!” I finished my sandwich (you couldn’t really call it a meal: it didn't have any sides) and pushed the offending plate of fries to the end of the table. Just then the waiter came back with a bowl of coleslaw! “The chef made up some fresh!” And it was. Crispy cabbage and crunchy carrots, with just the right touch of mayo and vinegar. Yes! Yes! Yes! My life had been redeemed!

Now if only I had remembered to bring the garlic!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Friday, July 27, 2018

Gibson ES-175



I bought this guitar to assuage the heartbreak from a failed relationship, never the best reason for purchasing an instrument and I quickly regretted this decision. This guitar had a hump in the fret-board around the 14th fret (a recurring theme in my guitar history) and I mistakenly opted to have the frets dressed rather than pulled and having the fret-board planed down. It also had the mediocre tuners which Gibson has always been noted for. I added another pickup (from the National Bolero), but was still dissatisfied. I ending up selling to a friend at a loss.

Years later I would get a cheap Ibanez Artcore, it was twice the guitar at a tenth of the price of a ES-175. There are many fine examples of this instrument but I got a lemon.

Live and learn.

A very nice YouTube video:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Wednesday, July 25, 2018

a is for arbus

Summer re-run, originally posted, June 17, 2006



wild night storms swirling around the entire metro but meteorology be dammed we’re on an art quest driving through downpour after downpour going first to the phipps in hudson wi crossing the state line the rain disappears there’s a big shindig in the park across the street with a band and beer and brats it is WI after all then into the exhibit where large format guy will agar is showing some very classy photos part of a six person show browse at the skimpy food table then top it off at the dq with something more substantial for the drive back into mn and the rain begins again by the time we hit st. paul it is like being in a continuous waterfall all the way into minneapolis exit downtown the road are blocked for some rained out celebration IT'S STILL POURING get turned around end up going in circles dodging police cars with sirens and lights am never going downtown again finally escape the maze of one-ways and end up at the walker art center for the diane arbus opening party drive into the new parking facility go round and round find a place to park no sense of where we are and see a sign: P2 the scene is like the parking ramp episode of seinfeld and i have to pee too through a long corridor the rain is coming in there as well get into the museum proper there are THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE milling about arty and beautiful a big buffet and $8 drink tickets go up to the show and see nicole and kip and kali at the entrance chat a bit go into the gallery lots of early arbus rooms of her personal effects: nikon rollei notes work prints and then more stuff the famous images are all there some prints by her some newly printed all dark to the point of murkiness but moving nonetheless topped of with her institutional shots untitled series made just before her suicide yeah she had it going all right we take a breather in the matthew barney room before heading home and the rain had finally stopped

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, July 23, 2018

Savoury Summer

The food trucks have returned. My sleepy home town has once again been invaded by comestible conveyances. People watching at its finest:



Pretty in Pink (Pork):



Coördinated Colors:



Awestruck:



Chillin’:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, July 20, 2018

1958 National Bolero



The little guitar that could.

I owned this guitar longer than any other. Unfortunately, its longevity came at a terrible price. Due to its low cost ($45 in 1975) and its slab construction this beginner guitar became a test bed for pickups, switches, knobs and other such nonsense. It was quite petite and was used primarily as a ‘travel’ guitar. Its neck left something to be desired. Although it was reinforced, it was not adjustable and never really played very well. The end of the fret-board hung over the body and had a tendency to lift. I removed the last fret marker and screwed the end of the fret board down a bit, allowing it to be playable. I ultimately threw it out after numerous routings and other butchery had made it un-restorable. In the current market one in very good condition sells for about a grand. I still have one of the knobs.

Here’s a really nice YouTube video of the deluxe version from the great web site Drowning in Guitars:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Serenade


Babes in Toyland, 1995

For a brief period in the nineties August brought those of us living in the Minneapolis area a street party known as CedarFest. Held in what was long considered a 'bohemian' area of town—The West Bank—this free event had dozens of bands which were picked for their potential, not their achievements. Mike Doughty and Soul Coughing, G. Love, Jonny Lang when he was still a kid, Frank Black and many more musical hipsters. The sun was hot, the crowds were cool. If you weren’t of age, this was a great chance to see bands that usually only played in clubs. If you were, you could even get a beer or two...

Which was the end of it. Someone OD'ed on alcohol, and the event’s organizers were sued for allowing him to be “overserved.” A lawsuit that, even if you were successful in defending yourself, would bankrupt all but the richest pockets. There are still a few free festivals, but they are smaller in scale and usually pretty tame.



Summer re-run, first published in FITK August 29, 2008

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Love

In keeping with the spirit of the season, here is a re-run from 2008:




Dandelions flyin', kids were fryin'
Bugs with a magnifyin' glass
The sun had every body jumpin'
But I was cool as a seven pound bass...

In the summer of ‘65, our neighborhood rock band played a series of impromptu concerts in various locales, one of which out family garage. The neighborhood urchins would quickly assemble and, on one occasion, a new girl showed up. She hung around afterwards, and we got to talking. She was from Onamia, a small town in central Minnesota, she was staying in the city with her aunt and uncle and their children who lived in a house on the corner of Dupont and 51st, about a block away.

The clouds were pumped up
And so was I
That day I saw your lovely face
all across the sky...

So we started to "see" each other a little. I was, being fifteen and in a band and all, a 6 foot tall, 125 pound stick of macho dynamite. Her name was Angie, she was thirteen and liked to smoke cigarettes. She would tell me of things she would do to pass the time back in Onamia, such as hanging out, stealing cars, and sniffing gasoline. Her mental acuity seemed to indicate that she wasn’t lying about the gas-huffing.

I was always a passer-by
I never had much of any style
But you walked up and talked with me baby
Don't you know you made my whole life worthwhile?

One day we went for a walk and ended up at the Top Diner. This small cafe was on a truck route, and it had the usual fare: burgers and fries, special of the day and pie for dessert. I bought us fries and a coke (two straws), Angie asked me for a quarter for the jukebox. She choose her three songs: The Beatles, Herman's Hermits and the Dave Clark Five. When she said “let’s dance” I was feeling Glad All Over.

Oh! How wonderful Fate can be...
How did you really happen to be?
The day I heard your sweet voice
Sing a song in me...

We managed to stay out of trouble, probably because she was only able to kiss for a few seconds at a time (asthma?), the only time we were almost caught was when we were in her aunt and uncle's kitchen and they came home early from shopping (I made it out the front door.) The last time we saw each other was when we were with a group of us kids were hanging out in the park.  A bunch of rowdies with hot-rods cruised by. Angie flipped them the bird. They were ready to to kick our asses, but a police car drove by at just the right time. The next day she went back to Onamia, and our 'affair to remember' was soon forgotten.

Well, I waited here for the sunset
I thought that you would too
Now you're somewhere out there in this great big world
And I've lost my heart,
My summer love...
To You...



Summer Love original lyrics by Jimmy Derbis, copyright 1976

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, July 13, 2018

1962 Fender Stratocaster

A borrowed guitar.


Yours truly, Minneapolis, October 1967

The Strat in question was “shell pink” in color (a girl guitar!) with mismatched strings—the A string was wrapped in black plastic. I don't remember it as being special in any way, it probably needed a proper set-up.

Having had sold my Les Paul Special a few months prior, I needed a guitar to perform with a country/jug band, The Hungry Freaks. We performed a down-home version of Hank William’s Setting the Woods on Fire for our high school homecoming. It went over so well that we found ourselves playing for a dance and a talent auditorium.

At the time I was known as “Fuzz King”, note the Maestro FZ-1a effect pedal in front of the Gibson GA-95 RVT Apollo amplifier (both borrowed as well.) There were two microphones plugged into the first channel—the amp was also used as a PA! No recordings exist of this group, which may be a good thing.

Here’s a video of a much better Strat player:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Milestones in Haberdashery Revisited

The Setwell Hanger

In the history of mankind clothing was, from its earliest eras, a distinguishing hallmark that separated man from the lesser beasts. Traditionally, pants were the one iconic piece of clothing that signified masculinity. This state of affairs has changed somewhat in recent years, but one need look no further than the universal sign for ”The Men's Room” to see how that imagery still persists. One problem remained, however. In order to maintain a man’s trousers in a state of tidy readiness various remedies were tried. All were found wanting.

Enter the Setwell pants hanger: Patented on April 24th, 1934 by F.K. Deknatel. The Setwell is a must-have for men of style and fashion. True, there have been numerous knock-offs of this classic, but one only has to compare them to the original to see how superior it still remains.


The keen-eyed observer will no doubt notice the suit-grade flannel (#11) or the precision roller bearing (#20), or the piece de resistance: the tempered spring (#22) which opens the hanger automatically, with minimal effort, yet holds the jaws tight when closed.

Fashions may come and go, empires may rise and then fall, even the mightiest of mountains will someday return to the sea, but a well-hung pair of trousers will remain the standard by which mankind is judged.


This is a re-run of a FITK post of July 29th, 2008. This post has the most comments and has been the most-searched for post, consistently receiving dozens of hits per year.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, July 09, 2018

Surreal Saturday

All I was trying to do was to go to a baseball game, but got lost on various tangents instead.

This display of severe angularity at the train station was only a hint of things to come:



When I got downtown it was still too early for the game so I took a stroll along Hennepin Avenue. Some seedy alcoves still exist there—if you look up:



After a while I got the unnerving sensation that someone was staring at me:



This crushed cigarette butt was a metaphor for the “street of broken dreams… ”



But back at the stadium a different form of art incited passion in the younger set:



Once inside angularity returned:



Until my warp drive became fully engaged:



I guess there was a game going on,



But I was too easily distracted.


BONUS CONTENT: Tom Waits and Hennepin Avenue:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, July 06, 2018

Fifties Harmony H62

Another post in my “guitar series.”

   
This was a found guitar.

I was helping my father clean out a rental property. This Harmony H62 was left behind. The neck had been detached from the body. I did reset it, but my skills in lutherie at the age of 16 left a lot to be desired. It never did play right but one of the Gibson-made P-13 pickups found its way into my Alamo Fiesta. Its ultimate fate was destruction by fire. The knobs, pickups and hardware are worth serious cash today. A complete one in excellent condition recently sold for over $1500!

Here's a really nice YouTube video of a H62 in action:


By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Further Adventures in Parcel Post



More inspired lunacy from Mount Horeb’s “Felt Queen.”

You can get fine art like this delivered to your mail box by becoming her Patreon sponsor or, you can Shop Shoshanah!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Monday, July 02, 2018

Waseca Wonders

I spent my Saturday in the charming town of Waseca, Minnesota. Their annual Chautauqua was underway, a modest community get-together:


Northern Drawl played some somber folk story-songs.


The expressive Joan Mooney was the main organizer and MC.

After a while, I took a stroll through town, this ivy-covered manse was a standout:



The imposing courthouse was equally impressive:



This art deco signage caught my eye:



And the bar behind the sign was an authentic survivor of the 1930s:



A little sepia-toning on my part helped tone down the modern signage:



Walking through the neighborhood, I spotted this classic Italianate tri-plex for sale:



Back at the Chautauqua, a jazzy trio played an eclectic mix of tunes:


Julie Johnson and the No-Accounts

And the stories being told in the crowd were the best entertainment of all:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0