Friday, April 30, 2021

Closed


The Flippist Archive vault is closed today.

It will reopen Monday, with a special report from ICELAND.

The professor thanks you for your patience and understanding.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Biggest in the World

Image: MHS

Roller rink, that is.

The Washington Roller Rink, in existence from 1885 until 1920 on the corner of 10th and Washington North in Minneapolis, was a behemoth that could hold thousands and was once billed as “The biggest roller rink in the world.” At 65,296 sq. ft. of rink area and taking up the full length of a city block (right star on 1885 plat map below), it was located a few blocks away from where, fifty years later, I would live (left star on map below).

It’s fifty years later from that date now.

I had wondered how it could have survived so long but, looking into it, recreation opportunities were limited then and roller skate mania was in its full flower. There were a lot of people who lived in the surrounding neighborhoods and there were also two street car lines that ran down Washington; any one in the city could easily get there. Roller rinks were also very popular with young women as a relatively safe and wholesome way to experience physical activity. Who knows how many budding romances germinated on its maple-planked surface?

That old neighborhood is gone and almost forgotten, and that roller rink has long been forgotten, even by the time I lived there. Now, it seems almost unbelievable that it had ever existed.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, April 26, 2021

Mondays in Iceland - #112

The ordinarily camera-shy professor captured in his natural element, March 2000.
The obsession began here.

And continues here:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Friday, April 23, 2021

House Party — Part I

Friday Fiction
It was a definite cut above playing in the toilets.

A reunion gig, some of the guys from a band that broke up years ago were getting together to play the old tunes, if not for one last time, then maybe for the second to last time. Never say never again. It had been what-40 years? 50 years? A golden wedding anniversary. Scott, who had started the band, was first to show up.

“Ho! Nice digs, Tommy boy!”

The host of the affair, a roadie who had “made it”, in the monetary sense at least, had recently purchased a mid-century modern house with a high-ceiling great room. ‘Inspired by Wright’ said the real estate listing and for once the hyperbole matched reality.

“Will this be enough room?” Tom said to Scott, pointing out an area of the great room that had been cleared of furniture.

“Bigger than the old stage at Sam’s,” said Scott, “And, being that we’re mostly geezers now, we won’t need as much space for dancing.”

“We’ve got the perfect summer night for it,” said Tom, “Any surprises tonight?“

“If I told you then they wouldn’t be surprises, would they?”

“I wasn’t expecting anything big,” Tom said, “Maybe the horns would be in tune for once?”

“Now that would be surprising… I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”

They both laughed.
Tom thought back on that summer years ago: we were young; the girls were beautiful; everything was glorious; anything was possible. THE SUMMER. The band was playing every week, finally getting into a groove, having some money was nice, too. And it was truly glorious, at least for a couple of songs every night. Kevin, who had way too much talent to be playing the club scene, was on fire. His vocal performances would often stop the show—people stomping and screaming until the band would play an instrumental just to give him a break. Everyone else in the band had improved too, excepting Ned, the drummer. It was an odd situation. He was technically the most advanced musician in the group, his mastery of rudiments and his previous experience in a variety of musically differing bands—each playing at a high level—should have been a perfect fit for the situation, but the only thing that really fit him was a twelve pack of Special Export beer—“green death”—his beverage of choice. The previous winter’s gigs had been great, transcendent at times, but by summer Ned had upped his intake of barley pops and, by the time of the Labor Day LSD caper, he was history. Although the other drummers that auditioned were capable, none could supply the solid foundation that the group needed. It was a nervy decision that I was glad I didn’t have to make. He didn’t act like he held a grudge, but his death from COPD a few years previously made it a moot point.
“Look who’s here! The Queen of the Egg Dance!”

It was Izzy, the wildest of the party girls back then—the pot-stirrer. The years had not been kind but she still had that smile that made all the guys in the band fall in love with her. Her memories of that summer were somewhat different:
The abortion summer. That’s how I will always remember it, three procedures among six of us. The love songs the band played were a dirty trick. Or was that how it has always worked? Rock ‘n’ roll hoochie-koo. We were only 18. Not that that’s an excuse, our mothers were mostly married by 18, but they got old in a hurry and spent a fair amount of time crying. But the guys in the band weren’t in any hurry to grow up. After that summer we did put our collective feet down—no more abortions. Later, a couple of us did marry some of the guys in the band and we did have babies. I dont think our kids made our mistakes, not that I’d know, the morning-after pill, you know.

The band members began filtering in, Doug, the only drummer who had been in the old group who was still alive, began assembling his kit. It was a small one, but plenty big for this space. Cal, the band’s first drummer, quit because he didn’t want to be playing in a rock band when he was thirty. After he left he stopped drinking and joined the Army, was stationed in Alaska where he picked up a heroin habit. He was dead by the time he was fifty. Go figure.

Seeing Doug always brought up thoughts of the old homestead for Tom. Located in an inner-city neighborhood, the house was sandwiched between junkyards and light industry. Doug had lived there after Tom moved out.
The old house had seen its share of parties, one of the older neighbors remembered that it had once been a tippling house in the 1930s. She also remembered the “horse-faced woman” who entertained teenage boys in the back bedroom. There was also a stash of “medicinal” whiskey bottles that had been left in the attic by a serious drinker. The previous owners were Hispanic, nice people from San Antonio, who had sold the house to us when the freeway expansion plans feel through. Because of that we were left in limbo for several years. We did have a good twenty-year ride and made out OK on the resettlement deal when the freeway did go in. We had our share of house parties, none a classy as this one, but the idea was exactly the same, except for the egg dance: ‘A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.’ Friends old and new, getting together, kicking off our shoes, forgetting the crushing weight of our mundane lives for a few hours.
“How’s retirement going for you?” asked Tom.

“It’s a definite change,” said Doug, “The pandemic made me sit down and actually think about what was important in my life. It is nice to be back gigging again.”

“It’s good to see everyone,” said Tom, “Everytime we get together it feels like it could be the last time.”

“Time must have a stop,” said Doug, “Huxley.”


House Party - Part II

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Arty Party

After my stint at the Junior College, I returned to the big University.

I still was in contact with some of the people I had met at JC (I never did get to know anyone at the U.) One of those JC people was Beth, a sweetheart of a farm girl who had moved up from Iowa and remade herself into an artist and a bit of an artiste as well. She had a party at her apartment with some of her new arty friends (including a couple who were really into human feces as an art form), and a couple of people I knew from the JC. Marijuana brownies were baked (awful-tasting but potent—I threw up the following morning!) as well as some ‘lead bread’ which truly lived up to its moniker. I took these pictures at the party and when I look at them now it seems somewhat sedate, not much of a hippie orgy.

But there was the obligatory “Keep on Trucking” sign, however:
Beth was in in diva mode, in her ‘pop-art-southern-belle’ attire:
Beth always had gorgeous roommates:
Lead bread being kneaded:
Rosemary was an artist, bread kneader and teacher from the JC. She was recently estranged from her philandering husband and was looking for a new lover but, fortunately, I was too immature for her:
You don’t see dirty ashtrays at parties much anymore:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, April 19, 2021

Mondays in Iceland - #111

Four Views of Perlan (2004):

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, April 16, 2021

Ancient Civilization

A scene from my childhood, from another world really, an ancient civilization lost to the vicissitudes of time. Webber Park was already a half-century old when I began to use it in the late 50s. It was actually a complex: a swimming pool; a library; a skating pond; a creek. It even had its own little waterfall (pictured above) in addition to the standard picnic tables and walking paths.

The library was a huge part of my life; I can still remember the thrill of discovering other civilizations in fiction and especially science fiction. The cool and quiet reading rooms were a sanctuary, looking over a swimming pool full of screaming children. The pool offered another form of education. Without the trappings of clothes we became closer to our primal selves there. The creek and pond surrounding the complex gave us a glimpse of the beauty of nature, while the little dam (above) gave us wee folk a taste of danger. The rest of the park was space, a concept that had had been otherwise ignored in the rigid planning of our residential subdivisions.

The park is still there, the new pool (closed due to covid-19) is now “natural” but the library, which had been torn down (as had its replacement), has been replaced with a modern facility about half a mile away. It is still technically in the park but its nexus has been lost. It was an oasis of civilization in a cultural desert.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

In Situ - #4

More Objets d’art from Flippist World HQ.

MCM bowl marked P-49 Lane and Co Van Nuys CA 1957. This shape is also found in a turquoise glaze:
A tile with Kanji lettering (I could only make out “Heaven” on the bottom row):
The innards of a cathode ray tube:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, April 12, 2021

Mondays In Iceland — #110

More film randomness from 2004

Harbour:
Perlan:
Nautholsvík:
Snæfellsness:
Much more Icelandic Imagery

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, April 09, 2021

Cricket Club

Purging the old archives—deciding what to keep or what to throw—is a never-ending struggle.

It won’t be a struggle when I’m gone, a dumpster will do the selecting for me.

That said, there are occasional items that surface that have some inherent aesthetic qualities that others might find interesting. This photo of an English cricket club, probably taken in the 1920s, is one such item. Perhaps a memento of a successful match (although it doesn’t appear that any of the members had been recently exerting themselves and most were spectators) or, maybe, it was just an excuse for this fraternal organization to establish a facade of solidarity. Here’s one last look at these men before they fade into oblivion.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Elly Griffiths

The Ruth Galloway Mystery Series

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
A Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue
The Chalk Pit
The Dark Angel
The Stone Circle
The Lantern Men
The Night Hawks (June, 2021)
The Locked Room (2022?)



Never had I dreamt that the adventures of an English archeologist working in a small college could be so engrossing.

I was tipped off to this series by DJ Cousin Mary and I have been thoroughly enjoying them. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archeologist living in an isolated cottage by the dismal yet beautiful salt marshes of County Norfolk in East Anglia—a location whose weather often makes its soggy presence felt in the plot. She teaches throughout the year and conducts summer digs—the novels’ archeological background adds a refreshing twist to these stories. As does the conception, birth and growth of her daughter Kate, whom Ruth is raising as a single mother. Called upon for her expertise on old bones by local DCI Harry Nelson (who also happens to be Kate’s father), Ruth becomes deeply involved with police investigations that are often related to some historical event.

This is one series that benefits from being read in order: the couplings and conflicts of the characters and how they develop are just as important as the mysteries unearthed in each installment. These antics can become somewhat soap-opera-ish at times but that only adds to the charm. Excellent action sequences are often enhanced by the appearance of Ruth’s friend Cathbad, a mysterious druid, who offers his oblique esoteric insights. This would make a great TV series (and it has been optioned by the BBC.) The overall quality is good and not too formulaic although I found The Woman in Blue to be something something of a misfire, coming off as a second-tier Midsomer Murder episode (no bones in it!) There is an installment set in Italy as well.

Griffiths also has a “Magic Men” series set in post-war Britain involving a loosely-knit group of performers (and a policeman) who had met during the war and ended up in Brighton during the end of the music hall era. It continues on into the sixties. The plots are kind of “fussy” but do work out to logical conclusions:

The Zig Zag Girl (2014)
Smoke and Mirrors (2015)
The Blood Card (2016)
The Vanishing Box (2017)
Now You See Them (2019)
The Midnight Hour (2021)


Veddy, veddy British of course; hundreds of gallons of tea are consumed in each volume. They are actually quite pleasant and humorous despite the murders. Elly also has other titles, including The Stranger Diaries, which I found somewhar clever, but I couldn’t finish The Postscript Murders which was too cute to stomach. Highest recommendation for Ruth Galloway, a marginal recommendation for the Magic Men, Blood and Vanishing are your best bets.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, April 05, 2021

Mondays in Iceland - #109

Miscellany from 2006…

The Russian Embassy:
There was a surprising amount of activity there, including visits from a presumably “duty-free” merchant selling cigarettes, liquor and other contraband out of his trunk…



Garðastræti 40:
I’ve stayed here twice, but in 2019 it was converted back to apartments. It is a wonderful location, a block above the city center, on a hill that overlooked the city…



Benni Hemm Hemm:
This is a stitch of three shots taken at Iceland Airwaves. A completely over-the-top 13 piece band, led by a handsome but forgettable singer. The trumpet player behind Benni is the father of JFDR!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, April 02, 2021

The Replicant

Another Guitar Post!

I had said I wouldn’t do this again, but I just had to share my latest acquistion:
This monster started its life in China and was finally finished in my basement.

Here is a video of The Replicant in action:



An exercise in simplicity, it features only one pickup (Epiphone Probucker 7kΩ), a straight 50s style bridge/tailpiece (in aluminum), and Kluson Revolution tuners—which are actually better than the Gibson stock tuners.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1