Monday, December 31, 2018

Welcoming 2019!

Flippist World Headquarters, December, 2018

Sending my multitudes of readers all my best wishes. 
May the New Year bless you all, each and every one!

Artwork on back wall key: left to right, top to bottom; title, artist, date:

The Chicken Walks Through Dooms of Love ~ Shoshanah Lee Marohn, 2017
Student Work ~ Caitlin Karolszak, c. 2004
Jófríður Ákadóttir ~ Professor Batty, 2012
Jófríður Ákadóttir ~ Professor Batty, 2018
Wanda Gág with Cat ~ Robert Janssen, c. 1932
Persona ~ Professor Batty, 2017
Wanda Gág with Hat ~ Robert Janssen, c. 1932
Pascal Pinon street scene ~ unknown photographer, 2009
Fiskverkun ~ hand-colored postcard, unknown photographer and colorist, c.1920
Study in Cyan ~ Caitlin Karolszak, c. 2010.
Pascal Pinon, Norrna Húsið ~ Professor Batty, 2009
We Are Surely Doomed ~ Shoshanah Lee Marohn, 2014

Look at how much Flippist World headquarters has changed in the past ten years:

Image: Darien Fisher-Duke

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Iceland in Review

Here are a few random shots from the first day of our recent trip:

You need to keep your strength up when traveling…





By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Shopping in 101

What good would a vacation be without a little shopping?

The window display on the right is not frippery, leggings of some sort are almost a necessity in blustery Reykjavík.

“We sell children’s tights as well,” says the sign.

Of course for warmth the world-famous Icelandic knitwear is the best, you can find it everywhere, just make sure that it is knitted by genuine Icelandic grannies (there are Chinese knock-offs!)

In the picture below my traveling companion is pointing the way:

For a truly civilized shopping experience, nothing beats 12 Tónar’s lounge where you can listen to CD's while sipping espresso on a couch underneath the portraits of all the Icelandic presidents:

Of course it is the cats of Reykjavík who know how to make shopping comfortable:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas…

… don’t let the trolls get to you in 2019!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Batty Does Brecht

              Barb,      Steve,    Austin,       Collen,          Ken,              Julie,           Rolf,            Batty
This is possibly the only photo of the complete cast of the one-act play The Elephant Calf by Bertholt Brecht, as done by my high school in 1968. This one-act was taken from Brecht’s early play Man Equals Man. I even got to sing in it (“Wipe your Jack Boots Johnny”) but otherwise I can’t remember the play at all.

Brecht was an unapologetic lefty and how we got away with performing this absurdity still mystifies me. Brecht has been out of favor in the USA for a long time but a revival of his Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui is currently a hit on Broadway.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


“The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence (but not a vacation home), either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a reasonably wealthy person.” ~ Wikipedia

Ignoring its brutalist facades, the current Harbour Square Project in Reykjavík is also an affront on the Icelandic society. By taking several blocks from between the old harbour and the city center, ÞG Verk, an Icelandic development firm (they’re also the people who created the “penis mall”), have created a sterile and creepy urban wasteland. Instead of celebrating vibrant Icelandic traditions they have taken a page from the now long-discredited Modernist architectural movement of the 1920s and coupled it with elitist attitudes. Gray concrete and plain glass, with nary an embellishment anywhere, these brooding monoliths offer “… demanding buyers what they need when it comes to accessibility, luxury, exclusivity, and design philosophy.”

There is a housing crisis in Reykjavík, but this project doesn’t address it:
“…conveniently located pied-à-terre apartments can easily become attractive options for highend travellers looking for premium places and luxurious comforts. Ground floor spaces are dedicated to retail and service, whereas upper floors are reserved for high-end residential apartments and office spaces. Green rooftop gardens will be accessible to all residents, essentially forming a secret haven amidst the colourful Reykjavík rooftops.”
Don’t expect to see any creatives in the commercial spaces here either:

• Law firms
• Asset management firms
• Consulting firms
• Architects
• Private banking
• PR firms
• Design studios
• And other operations

Here is an artist conception of one of the new streets:

Here it is in real life:

The street was usually deserted when I was there in November—in sharp contrast to vibrant Austurstræti, a couple of blocks over. One evening I did have an encounter with one local on it, however. An intoxicated, very large man wearing an expensive but soiled business suit, came staggering up. This human metaphor asked if I could spare “one or two thousand kronur” ($8-16).

Even the panhandlers are upscale here.

More on the gentrification of downtown Reykjavík.

Update: Is the boom over?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, December 17, 2018

“We” Didn’t Miss Anything

Note: This is a re-post from Carrie Marshall’s Big Mouth Strikes Again blog, used by permission.

This week, The New York Times made a podcast called “The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How We Missed It”. Esquire’s Charles P Pierce is not amused: who, exactly, does the NYT mean by “we”?
To take the simplest argument first, “we,” of course, did no such thing, unless “we” is a very limited—and very white—plural pronoun. The violence on the right certainly made itself obvious in Oklahoma City, and at the Atlanta Olympics, and at various gay bars and women’s health clinics, and in Barrett Slepian’s kitchen, and in the hills of North Carolina, where Eric Rudolph stayed on the lam for five years and in which he had stashed 250 pounds of explosives for future escapades.
Piercerightly, I think—argues that the problem isn’t that these things aren’t noticed, or flagged up. It’s that the people who warn about them are ignored by a largely urban, white, straight media class.

One of the best examples of that is the rise of the hard right in online spaces, where women and minorities have been yelling about the problems for many years now. Because the abuse didn’t affect people who weren’t women or minorities, media didn’t give a shit. This has been going on for a long time, and its reach is enormous.

Here’s Matt Miller, also in Esquire, on how online trolls have poisoned Star Wars fandom:
These “trolls” are the anonymous, despicable beating heart of America. They are holding up a mirror to our society. They are insuring that the worst of us have a voice to incite real change. They elected an amoral, racist golden toilet for a president. And that same sickness has bled into something once as harmless as a children’s space movie.
Something that’d be funny if it weren’t so serious is the way anti-trans people so frequently follow the same script: starting off by being hateful towards us before – surprise! – being hateful to other groups too. So the anti-trans legislators in the US start with us and then target cisgender women and trans men’s reproductive freedom. Anti-trans cultural commentators turn out to be misogynist. Anti-trans voices variously include domestic abusers, racists and anti-Semites.

It’s become a bleak running joke in some trans circles when yet another vicious bigot turns out to be viciously bigoted against more than one minority. That’s the thing about bigotries. They tend to travel together.

I wrote about neo-Nazi ideology yesterday, and that’s a good example of the kind of thing that gets completely ignored until it explodes into real-world violence. It’s of particular interest to me because neo-nazis online are very specifically and openly attempting to groom “gender critical”—ie anti-trans—women because they believe these women are very close to being “red pilled” and becoming “tradwives”.

Red pilling, if you’re not down with idiots, is an idea from the film The Matrix: if you take the red pill you will see the world as it really is. The fact that The Matrix was directed by two trans women, the red pill is based on estrogen tablets and the whole sodding film is quite probably a trans allegory escapes these dolts, because neo-Nazis aren’t very clever.

And “tradwife”? A tradwife is a woman who rejects feminism and embodies “wifely” qualities of submission, chastity and domestic servitude.

The idea that any self-respecting feminist would be in cahoots with these woman-hating tools is mind-boggling, and yet here we are.

Again and again the most vocal anti-trans voices echo the tropes of the religious right and the alt-right, shaming women for supposedly inappropriate behaviour. reinforcing the biological essentialism that feminism fought so hard against and supporting serial abusers of women because their enemy’s enemy is their friend. To see feminist groups in open alliance with evangelical, anti-women groups is quite something to behold.

This isn’t just happening in anti-trans circles. Neo-nazis have deliberately targeted anywhere they think they can find vulnerable, angry people: not just forums of angry women but for young, angry men who can’t get laid, forums for people with mental health issues, forums where people are lost and desperately need somebody coming along to take them under their wing.

The problem with hate is not that nobody’s talking about it. It’s that by and large, the media isn’t listening to the people who are desperately trying to sound the alarm: women, ethnic minorities, LGBTI people, disabled people. And when rhetoric becomes reality, when online radicalisation makes a Christian shoot up a synagogue or a straight guy shoot up a gay bar or an “incel” drive a truck into a crowd of shoppers, they wail “how did this happen? How did we miss this?”

You missed it because you weren’t listening.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Restaurant Where I Didn’t Eat

Vesturgata, Reykjavík, November 2018

This long, sloping building near the Old Harbour, was once a thriving restaurant. It has never been open during any of my seven trips to Iceland. I have always been intrigued by it, especially so on my last visit. This area of Reykjavík has been undergoing massive development, I would think that this prime location property would have been either converted to some money-making enterprise or would have been torn down to make way for a new building.

Originally a boathouse, it had been built in 1882, with numerous additions over the years. It was converted to a restaurant in 1953 and was given the name Naust (boathouse.) It was mentioned in the 70s cold-war thriller Running Blind by Desmond Bagley. A consortium of Chinese-Europeans purchased it in 2007 with the intention of opening the best Chinese restaurant in Iceland. Soon after it opened, in March, 2008, it was raided by Police and employment officials, its owners being under investigation for human trafficking offenses and it was discovered that the workers were illegal and in a state of virtual slavery. It was sold to another group in 2010 but closed again in 2012, when it was left empty, as it stands today, cowering behind the battleship form of a modern hotel.

This juxtaposition of old and new in Reykjavík is something I’ll be looking at again.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ceramic Culture

Homewood Studios

Kantar, Hjelmberg & Woldorsky: Hands in Clay
Saturday, December 8 - Saturday, December 22, 2018

I attended a rare Tuesday night art event, it was at Homewood Studios in North Minneapolis. Three ceramists were displaying their work and talking about it with a group of artistically oriented enthusiasts:

About as far from a critique as you could get, the good humor and enjoyment of working with clay came out in a spirited discussion:

There was even some “waxing poetic”:

A place I think I’ll be returning to.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Long and Winding Road

Krýsuvík, Iceland, 2018

The approaching end of the year always puts me in a reflective state of mind.

When, in a burst of enthusiasm, I started this quixotic adventure nearly 15 years ago I had no idea of where the path would lead; indeed, I wasn’t even aware that I was on one. One thing I was aware of was the need to keep FITK’s content in an open format if it was to survive. This blog is not a statement, it is a relationship. People change, relationships wither, yet this road goes on. In the early days of FITK the immediate feedback from readers was thrilling; most of them have moved on to other pursuits. In contrast, almost every day someone stops by here to check out a post from years ago, a phenomenon that I find just as rewarding.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Return to Mount Horeb

The siren call of another art fair in the old school house brought us back to Mount Horeb yesterday. The Battymobile knows the way by heart (with a little GPS help; it is the sixth visit in four years.) First we stopped in to The Cat and Crow where the Weaver bought yarn, while I admired a Shoshanah original Wooly:

I did some shopping as well, satisfying my plate fetish with this antique hand-painted piece of Titian Della Robia stoneware ($1 at the thrift store):

In the afternoon, I did some research at the most excellent Driftless Historium about my great uncle Byron Jorns, viewing his archives and paintings:


They had one drawing of his there that was not on display.

The sale started at 4 p.m. We entered the schoolhouse to the sound of carols:

There was recent work by Shoshanah:

Everybody loves Shoshanah’s art:

I’d need a bigger house were I to get her painting pictured in the background above.

We just had to have some of Shoshanah’s Emily Dickenson Christmas ornaments (doesn’t everybody?):

By Professor Batty

Comments: 7 

Friday, December 07, 2018


One of the best ways to see a lot of the Icelandic countryside without driving for hours and hours is a day trip around Hvalfjörður on Highway 47. There are many things to see that haven’t been done to death by tourist publications. Here are just a few memorable sights from the day we spent there, starting with this view over Lake Meðalfellsvatn:





In the off-season this can be a pretty empty stretch, with few facilities. The road around the fjörd takes less than two hours to traverse, but you can spend hours on the side-roads in the valleys. We did see a tour bus (coming from Þingvallavatn), but it returned the way it came; most of the time we were alone, except for the sheep and horses:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Of course the real reason to go to Iceland is to immerse ones self in the wool culture. The biggest wool processing center is Alafoss, just east of Reykjavík, but the cutest one is located just outside of Selfoss, about forty miles southeast of the capital city.  In a converted schoolhouse we found a beautiful array of plant-dyed wool:

The sheep that wool came from were just outside, grazing in a nearby field:

The shop’s storage shed was built in the traditional sod covered style:

Back in the Selfoss city center, we had a delightful lunch at Krisp:

After we had eaten, we thought a little dessert might be order:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Hot Dog Stand

Bæjarins beztu, 2012

Bæjarins beztu, 2015

Bæjarins beztu, 2018

This tiny hot dog stand is arguably the most famous eating establishment in Iceland.

In 2012 it stood open to the harbor to the north and to Arnarhóll, monument to Icelandic independence, to the east. It was akin to an lighthouse, the city behind it, looking out and welcoming the world. As development in the harbor area has increased in recent years, this humble shack has been shuttled back and forth to accommodate construction. In 2015 there was still some sense of connection between it and the world, you could still get a peek of Harpa, but by 2018 it was surrounded by half-finished brutalist architecture, trapped in a sarcophagus of concrete.

The food may be the same, but the atmosphere has changed.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Iceland’s Coca-Cola Culture

One recurring motif I found on my most recent Iceland trip was the ubiquity of Coca-Cola ads and signage. It does make sense; Icelanders are the number one consumers per-capita of Coke in the world. What does distinguish the Icelandic ads is the fact that they are invariably set in a 1940s time-frame:

Coca-Cola was introduced here during World War II, a time many Icelanders look back upon fondly, it brought prosperity and modernity to what had been one of the poorest countries in Europe.

While driving around Hvalfjorður we stopped in an obscure “occupation museum” for kleina and coffee:

Even there, in the coffee shop, was a reference to the “Coca-Cola occupation”:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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