Tag Archives: Reykjavik

More Funny Signs in New York

These are from my neighborhood, I’m ashamed to admit. If I’m going to make fun of Reykjavik, Helsinki and even the East Village, I guess I ought to throw my neighborhood, the Upper West Side, into the mix.

This sign, which hangs from the Lincoln Center, bugs me. I’m bothered by the event at the bottom, “Lincoln Center Out of Doors”. “Out of Doors”? Why not just say “Outdoors” like a normal person? Instead, they have to dress it up a bit, just to ensure the proletarians know they don’t belong.

Don’t worry, Lincoln Center, we’ve picked up your message. Unless we have loads of cash and crave linguistic differentiation, we should just keep walking. It’s not a problem. Really. Thanks for telling us you don’t want us.


This sign is for an ice cream shop in my neighborhood. But, it looks like it belongs in some other country, like Finland or South Korea. It’s a flashy, goofy sign, in which something inanimate is supposed to be a character of some kind. But, the character seems moronic.

I was surprised to see this in New York. It’s not the sort of sign that would resonate with New Yorkers. But, it is near Lincoln Center, so I guess it could appeal to those idiotic tourists who think they are coming to a different country when the cross the East River from JFK.

Anyway, I think this sign is stupid and just wanted to let you know.

Some of my favorite graffiti displays

I like graffiti that sends a message. There’s one wall decoration that I still wish I’d captured, but I never got around to it. I used to go to the Peace Club, a dive bar outside Camp Casey in South Korea– back when we still had troops that far north. In the bathroom, they had a piss-trough instead of urinals. I remember it well. The wall over the trough was littered with graffiti; there was barely room for anything new. After all the time I spent there, removing consumed beer from my body, I read most of it. One “exchange” is still crystal clear.

“I used to believe in the common decency of man”

“I still do”

They were written by two people, the second below the first. After a while, I used to pick the spot at the trough that would put these two lines at eye-level. In some ways, I still miss that wall and these two comments. I doubt it’s there any more. Last I heard, the Peace Club was no more. I do hope that management kept that wall intact.

Ever since then, I’ve been extremely interested in graffiti. The first, up top, is from a small covered walkway in Old Quebec. Yeah, some people still aren’t crazy about being French-speakers in an English-speaking country.

Iceland is such a sanitary country, but they are developing a graffiti problem. This wall just struck me as the antithesis of what one expects to see in Iceland.

Tallin, Estonia had some good material as well. The tagger below, it seems, was hungry. I guess he (or she) likes Italian.

The next one, though, is my favorite from Estonia. It sends a pretty powerful political message, and indicates the importance of open dialogue in a free society.

There was clearly a taggers’ debate going on here. First, someone wrote “Fuck Fascism!” I happen to concur. Next, someone put “anti” in front. Since I’m not a fascist, “Fuck AntiFascism!” doesn’t exactly resonate. But, a third person joined the conversation and crossed out “anti,” and then a fourth person crossed out “Fuck”. So, we wind up with the message, “Fascism!” Of course, I could have the order of events a bit screwed up, but we can see clearly where the discussion ends. Such a shame.

Also political was a bit of graffiti I saw in  Paris metro station. This was during the Sarkozy/Segoline election, which got pretty nasty.

Wow, I guess this guy doesn’t watch Fox News!

I love hot dogs

They may be foreign; they may be domestic. Either way, I am a big fan of the food nature could never have produced on its own. You’ve seen me eat a hot dog in Reykjavik, Iceland, and you’ve heard my thoughts on dogs served in Massachusetts and New York. Well, I have finally added a new delight to the list.

I stopped by a dog shop in Montreal, yesterday. I have to say, it wasn’t bad. From what I understand, this was the best Montreal had to offer.

The verdict? Montreal offers a good dog, certainly far above average. But, it does have a way to go before it can compete with Swamscott, MA’s Popo’s or the crazy shop in Reykjavik.

Deprived of my aisle seat

Airlines can’t even be nice without screwing up. My wife prefers window seats; I like the aisle. So, if we decide to sit next to each other, one of us suffers—which is the only way to describe a middle seat on an international flight. Generally, we try to sit in the same row, with my wife at the window, me at the aisle and possibly a stranger between us.

Retrospectively, it seems IcelandAir does not approve of this arrangement. When we tried to choose our seats in advance, the airline’s website automatically “upgraded” my aisle seat to a middle seat next to Laura. IcelandAir supports the preservation of the family and does not want to split couples. But, if we reserved seats in separate rows, the computer got the hint. So, one of us was to sit in row 18, the other in 19.

When we checked in at the IcelandAir desk in Helsinki, my wife and I confirmed our seats, telling the clerk that we were quite happy with what we had. I looked forward to a four-hour flight from Helsinki to Reykjavik with room for my legs. Of course, airlines are a cure for happiness, and my luck took a southward turn.

At the gate, the clerk printed slips of paper for my wife and me when scanning our boarding passes. Having noticed that we weren’t sitting together, the computer reshuffled the plane. My wife and I were moved to row 7, much further forward than rows 18 and 19. But, I knew immediately what this meant. I was relegated to a middle seat. I would lose my legroom.

The fucking Nordic oaf sitting in front of me felt the urge to recline, despite sitting in an exit row and having plenty of space in front of him. I responded by driving my knee into his back and shifting it frequently, causing him to look over his shoulder often … though failing to change his behavior. Meanwhile, the arrangement worked out for my wife. Laura still had a window, and there was no seat in front of her; she could stretch out her legs.

Of the many ways an airline could screw up, this is by far the most creative.

How to Civilize Helsinki

This started a while ago. When Laura and I went to the Cote d’Azure a year and a half ago, I griped incessantly about the fact that I couldn’t grab a slice of pizza for the road or take a cup of coffee and walk around. In Paris, this was not as big a problem, as there was a Starbucks– placed exactly where my favorite Parisian cafe used to be, but I’m not bitter. The only drawback is that you can only really walk around with a Starbucks coffee. Not my thing.

So, I decided that I would civilize France with pizza to go and coffee to match. A quick walk around Iceland and Finland indicates that the northern folks are substantially more civilized than the French and thus need less of my help. I saw plenty of pizza and hotdogs to go in Reykjavik, and Helsinki has Wayne’s Coffee, clearly inspired by the kind people at Starbucks (upscale quickservice restaurant in addition to coffee shop).

What is missing, though, are the fine imperialistic brands that make America the marketing machine that can pierce even French culture and Indian direct foreign investment laws. I’ve seen a few McD’s here (and hate them– I won’t eat that shit). I saw a Pizza Hut and kept truckin’. What I’m looking for is a Dunkin Donuts. If “America Runs on Dunkins,” couldn’t Finland?

European Exhortations to Stop Smoking

I’m not unfamiliar with the warning labels on European tobacco products. On each of my trips to France, I got many a laugh out of “FUMER TUE [smoking kills],” but the warnings from Iceland are evien funnier!

It’s even more hilarious because it’s in English!

You just can’t make this shit up. Of course, I do think this particular label is inaccurate. After all, smoking causes apparent aging of the skin. The actual process of aging is the same for everyone, as it is determined by time. Can one person go through a year faster than another? A year is a year is a year, so fuck the European Union. Smoking may make my skin look like hell, but it won’t age me any faster.