Friday, July 30, 2021

Annie’s Story

Here is a truly lovely story from Annie Aktins, my favorite graphic designer, about her mother Mary (Annie’s story starts at 18:30): Annie’s Mother.

Mary was an occasional commenter on FITK in 2008.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dig It!

The season of utilities repair has hit close to home this year.

All week long, from 7 AM to 7PM, the sound of excavators, graders and rollers (with their incessant back-up beepers) has disturbed my summer idylls. These yellow behemoths are somewhat unsettling—I don't think I’ll ever get entirely over the surprise of seeing one of these giant claws just outside of my window. Fortunately, today I’m out of town at an in-laws lake home, where the only sounds will be the calls of the loons and the revs of jet-skis.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, July 26, 2021

Peggy and her Pals

Olive Thomas,  c.1927

Sometime in the mid 1980s I happened across a musical group performing in a shopping center. It was led by an Peggy, an octogenarian drummer, and featured a bassist, a banjo player, and an accordionist. They played jolly tunes,  Dick Macko, the accordion player, also sang.

They were great.

I had my boys with me so I couldn’t stay and talk with them, I would have liked to get the story on Peggy. She played her vintage “traps” set in a 1920s style, a style that was ala mode before modern drum techniques eclipsed the now virtually forgotten style.

I had nearly forgotten about the incident until last winter when I ran a search for her and Dick Macko who was, by now, an octogenarian himself. I found out that he was still active, playing at senior centers and tuning pianos. His website stated that he wintered in Arizona, so I thought I’d wait until he returned in the spring to contact him and see if he could give me some background information about Peggy.

I recently searched for Dick and I found his obituary from a couple of months ago, I was too late.

Peggy, the drummer who stayed true to her roots, will probably always remain a mystery.

Here is a nice 2019 video of Dick with a different drummer (who also knows the old style):

By Professor Batty


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Friday, July 23, 2021

Mysteries of Thomsonite

Thomsonite is a type of Zeolite found near Grand Marais. It is common in area gift shops and prized for its “abstract art” patterns:

By Professor Batty


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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Mysteries of the Gunflint Trail - #2

Magnetic Rock Trail:

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mysteries of the Gunflint Trail - #1

Trail Center:
Bakelite:
Northern Light Lake:

By Professor Batty


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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mysteries of Grand Marais - #2

Street Scenes:

By Professor Batty


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Monday, July 19, 2021

Mysteries of Grand Marais - #1

Architecture:

By Professor Batty


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Friday, July 16, 2021

The Thrill is Gone…

Music has been a part of my life since I was a young child.

My earliest memories were of 50s pop hits on the radio—Les Paul and Mary Ford, Patti Page, Gogi Grant, and then all the early Rock ‘n’ Rollers: Little Richard; Chuck Berry; Jerry Lee Lewis; Buddy Holly; and all the rest of the greats. Even “The Day the Music Died” didn’t kill my interest—radio music in the early 60s was a strange mix of genres— and the arrival of The Beatles in 1964 dramatically changed the situation. My buddies and I had already started a band and seeing the “Mop-tops” on Ed Sullivan only stoked that fire.

That was then, and this is now, I have a half-century of musical water under the (not-yet-burned) bridge. What have I to show for it? 300 CDs of music that I seldom listen to, a handful of self-produced albums and, lately, a predilection towards the sound of silence. In the last twenty years, I’ve been exploring Icelandic music of various types but lately even that lode seems to be on the verge of exhaustion.

In a perverse twist of events, when I was young access to music was limited but what I did get to hear was varied and had cultural roots. The modern music I hear now (usually in the grocery or thrift store) is the aural equivalent of Cheese Whiz™. I’ve dipped my toe into streaming services; I’d rather listen to the birds sing in my back yard than be engulfed in that torrent. Even the screams of bluejays and crows are more enjoyable than autotune.

So… it appears as if I’ve finally become the cranky old geezer that my mother warned me against becoming.

The situation isn’t a dire as my hyperbole in this post would suggest, however, I just needed to vent a little.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Wednesday, July 14, 2021

V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N.

… in the summer sun.

The Weaver and I are tripping on the shores of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

We hope to catch a break from the heat with some cooler weather. GM is naturally air-conditioned and if, buy some chance it does get freakishly warm, we can dunk our heads in the lake.

Looking forward to dinner with frequent FITK commentator Jono and some picturesque hikes.

I’ll be posting about this mini-vacation next week.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, July 12, 2021

Something Fishy…

Pike Place market, Seattle, 2019

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, July 09, 2021

Skater Dater III

Another wistful look back at this glorious pre-covid event:

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Thinking About Steve…

Some pictures of the legendary musician in action with The Wallets, Minneapolis, Summer of 1988:
And here is the only known video of a complete show by Steve and The Wallets:



Steve Kramer, 1953—2013

By Professor Batty


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Monday, July 05, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#120

Harbour views, 2004:

By Professor Batty


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Friday, July 02, 2021

House Party - Part V

Friday Fiction

Tête-à-tête
As the guests began to filter in, Tommy noticed that Ivy was sitting alone.

Ivy was one of Tommy’s old ‘crew’, a loosely-knit group of young men and women who hung out together from time to time when they were in their early twenties. The only requirement for inclusion, albeit a tacit one, was that no one in the group was fucking any one else in the group. It wasn’t a law, it just made things a lot easier. Tommy walked over to her and sat down.

“Hey Pal, what’s with the big grin?”

“Oh, hi, Tommy. As of last Friday I have joined the leisure class—I am officially retired.”

“You must be the last of us to have been still working at a regular job. It looks like retirement suits you.”

Ivy had married Benny, one of the sax players who Tommy had known since childhood. As she spoke of her new situations Tommy began thinking of the times they spent together. Each different facial expression of Ivy’s seemed to trigger a different memory in him:
That sparkle in her eye hasn’t changed one bit. She was still a teenager when we met, or maybe she was twenty? We’d see each other at the band’s gigs, and then, without fully realizing it, things got more social. Parties, where we all were checking each other out, then trips to the country to visit with Cara, her childhood friend. Those lazy afternoons seemed to last for days, not hours. No hassles, no pressure, no makeup even—unless it was for comic effect—for the gals and for the guys, as well. Then I got married, to someone outside of the group, but that didn’t end our friendship. The house next to where my wife and I were renting became vacant so we moved next door and Ivy and Izzy moved in. Hilarity ensued. More parties-did the mock-wrestling match really happen or was that a dream?-watching Ingmar Bergmann on the old black and white TV. Memories of simple things, like haircuts in the backyard, gain a præternatural aura, phenomena suspended between the mundane and the miraculous. And then the babies came and with them; milky breasts, dirty diapers, the laughter of toddlers, all the highs and lows concomitant with child-rearing. As they grew older there were more memories; glorious trips to the lake, riotous birthday parties, all the milestones of life, Ivy was in her glory. When we moved away from our enclave we still stayed in touch with her and the others. Paralleled lives, and now that the kids are grown and the dogs have died, we’re entering a new phase, it is not yet dark—it’s only October, not December. We are now just accidental traveling companions who reconnect from time to time, sharing notes on our respective journeys when we do meet.
“… and that’s what I know,” she said, “how about you? What holds your interest?”

“I’m still writing, The Great American Novels,” said Tommy, “Sisyphus has nothing on me. I’m up to five, if you count the novellas, you can read them online.”

“What?” said Ivy, in true surprise, “I never knew you were a writer, you haven’t written about me have you?” “No one would believe it if I wrote about any of those adventures we had.”
Tommy’s still the dabbler, the dreamer. All those outrageous stunts, I have to hand it to him, he tries. The bands, the art projects, that movie! And now, a novelist. It’s might be a good thing he wasn’t terribly successful at any of them, he’d probably be insufferable if he did make it big. This soiree he’s throwing is really just another art project, a chapter in the book of ‘us’. What we were and what we have become. This night won’t recapture the times we had back then, but it’ll be close enough.
“Thanks for throwing this bash,” said Ivy, “It’s like old times, even though we can’t go back to past. When is the band playing?”

“Seven-ish, we’ll let you have some time to digest your food and all the new gossip.”

Tommy looked Ivy in her left eye as long as he dared, and then he smiled.

“Stop that!” said Ivy.

“I’ll catch you later,” he said as he stood up and went back toward the house.

“You can’t go back to the past?” he thought, “Well, maybe not all the way back, but some of the way. That’s probably for the best.”

“That old fool!” said Ivy, shaking her head as she watched him walk away.

And then she smiled.


House Party - Part VI

By Professor Batty


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