laugardagur, desember 20, 2008


Icelanders, imagine if you moved to a foreign city, let's just say San Francisco for the sake of argument. And after you had been living there a couple years you heard of a new bar called "Reykjavík". Excited and curious, you make it your first stop the next time you're out on a Friday night. Upon arrival you expect to see some RVK artifacts on the walls: maybe a 1968 KR Football Club team photograph or ticket stubs from Regnboginn, some pictures of "Jón Forseti" or a 1944 winter day on Bankastræti, maybe an Icelandic flag hanging in the corner. But curiously, there are none to be found. In fact, the place looks plain, like any other S.F. bar. Next you sidle up to the bar and say, "Einn bjór, takk." The bartender looks at you with a quizzical expression, as if, well, you had just been speaking Icelandic. He shrugs. You switch to English and order the beer, and after some more conversation come to find out that not only is he not Icelandic, but the owner isn't either. Puzzled, you ask him about the origin of the name "Reykjavík".

"Oh," he responds, "well, that's the owner's nickname. He just likes to be called that, you know, sort of an affectation. I guess he thought it would make a catchy name for the bar, too."

Gentle readers, this is the situation facing me, a proud Boston native - a guy who once rented an apartment just because it was across from Gate A on Yawkey Way, a guy who can sketch the Boston skyline from memory, a guy who once even swam in the filthy muck of the Charles River - when I contemplate the Reykjavík establishment called "Boston". Out of the sense of parochial pride that only a dyed-in-the-scratchy-wool New Englander could possess, I had been boycotting the place for a few years now. Finally though I did go there last night, against my better judgment, to meet a guy called the Bishop and his Friday-night "flock".

Unfortunately for my angst, it is a good place, in spite of the fact that there is absolutely nothing "Boston" about it. Nothing. And though it pains me to admit this, last night might have been the best mix of locals, local celebs, music, and bathroom-line conversation I have seen in the 101 in a long time. So I'll probably even be going back. But maybe with a nice b/w of Mayor Ray Flynn for the front wall.


Anonymous Biskupinn said...

Takk fyrir síðast :-)

Mjöög gaman.

I'm not sure if entirely agree with your boycot: since when was nominative authenticity a criterion for a bar anyway? Example: The English Pub is faithfully English, hence bloody awful. Cafe Paris is about as Parisian as FH, but not bad.

Blogger JB said...

Well, I might feel differently about those places' names if I were from England or Paris. As it is anyway, I try to avoid them both, although for other reasons than naming...

Blogger Kristen said...

No Red Sox paraphernalia?

No fun candids of Tom Menino?

No Harpoon?

I call shenanigans!

Blogger JB said...

Yeah, Kristen, I think you can see why I boycotted the place. It's pretty bold to name a bar after a place with such a strong identity and sense of place, and then ignore that place entirely in the atmosphere. She's using the "Boston" brand name and capturing all that inherent goodwill without paying the place any homage.

Things would be different if she had named the bar after a place with very little sense of itself. For example, maybe "Des Moines". But that just doesn't have the pull of "Boston".

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I´m at least glad to hear that you liked it, cause it really is one of the best bars in RVK today (and sad to say, there aren't that many left...)

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I´m at least glad to hear that you liked it, cause it really is one of the best bars in RVK today (and sad to say, there aren't that many left...)

Blogger Jennifer Rose said...

I'm a bit late to comment on this but I just found your blog. I'm a Bostonian (ok, an Oregonian who has lived in Boston for 10 years) and my boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Iceland in April. We toyed with the idea of making it an elopement and I found your blog by googling marriage and iceland. Ahh, the Scandinavians and their much-less-angsty relationship to matrimony.

Anyway, thought I'd give you a shout out from Red Sox Nation and thank you for the info on your blog!


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