Oktober 29, 2008



You may remember that back in April and May 2007 I reported on the plight of small businesses in my part of Oslo (Grünerløkka). Since then, over 70 of these businesses - including Sound of Mu (pictured) - have banded together to form an organization called UNiK, which even has a discount card for sale.

Continue reading "UNiK"

Posted by barry at 7:17 EM

September 29, 2008

The New Dealers

new dealers_sm.jpg

In this page of the newspaper Østkantavisa you can see my street, and my local grocery store. If you click the image it'll enlarge, and you'll see that above the shop is a banner with the words "Vi bor her. Vis ser deg. Ikke kjøp dopet ditt her!", which means "We live here. We see you. Don't buy your drugs here!"

Continue reading "The New Dealers"

Posted by barry at 5:20 EM

September 12, 2008

Ireland Processed through a Norwegian Brain

Blather.net is currently being edited from Dublin (Ireland), London (UK) and Oslo (Norway). Needless to say, the North blog is edited here in Oslo. What we like to do in the Blather organization is compare all these environments, totally ignoring all the mad shit that's going on in the rest of the world. So we sent a Norwegian agent to Dublin to give us his impressions of Irish life, and this is what he wrote.

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Posted by barry at 2:44 EM

August 22, 2008

Penguins etc.

While my computer died and I was getting a new hard drive, a large number of North readers emailed me about this story of a penguin who was a member of the Norwegian armed forces (!) getting knighted. Watch the video here. Yes, we have heard about this absurd story in Norway, vaguely, but the Norwegian population don't realize how big the story is, and how no-one will ever take them seriously again. About anything. Ever.

Continue reading "Penguins etc."

Posted by barry at 6:38 EM

Juli 5, 2008

Closing Time for Spasibar (part 2)

spasibar dagbladet.jpg

A hilarious article has appeared in Dagbladet detailing the destruction that occurred on Spasibar's last night. Here's a photo from Dagbladet showing how they trashed the furniture - but even though the business is in a building owned by the art school, it was Spasibar's own furniture, so they were free to do so.

Whether they were free to light a bonfire on stage is another question...

Continue reading "Closing Time for Spasibar (part 2)"

Posted by barry at 3:21 EM

Juli 2, 2008

Closing Time for Spasibar


A large bar on the posh side of Oslo, in a building connected to the art academy. Toys, mannequins, porcelain dogs, photographs and junk are everywhere. The staff are wearing robes and wigs. Crazy music is playing. At the back of the stage hangs a mosaic of the eccentric owners, who for some reason are obsessed with Russia, and this is a "Russian themed" bar.

That was Spasibar, which closed down on 30 June.

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Posted by barry at 3:27 EM

Januar 14, 2008

St Hallvard Likør

I was sitting at the bar in my place drinking a beer, with a female friend. She sighed and ordered herself a shot of the herbal cordial St Hallvord Likør. An unusual choice of drink, it had to be said. She confided that was in honour of a friend of hers, whom she had just heard had died. "That was his drink. There's no-one who is going to come in here and drink it now," these facts coming mournfully.

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Posted by barry at 8:07 EM

Oktober 17, 2007

The Hashish War


Oslo, 12.45 am. I've just done a quick check on the street corner. Nothing.

Usually there would be a bunch of Somali guys selling hash around here, mere feet from the door to my yard. But as you can see from Østkantaivsa of 11 October, Hasjkrigen, "the hash war" is going down. In the picture the cops are arresting someone.

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Posted by barry at 2:23 FM

Mai 8, 2007

Grünerløkka vs. the Chain Stores (part 3)

An email from Paul Thornton of the Save Grünerløkka Campaign came cruisin' through my inbox. He has now set up a blog, and he says "It contains a running commentary of what is happening in the Campaign to Save Grünerløkka as well as links to related information... You can even subscribe to the blogs RSS feed if you like. Please feel free to make lots of comments and tell us what you want out of the campaign."

Continue reading "Grünerløkka vs. the Chain Stores (part 3)"

Posted by barry at 12:00 FM

April 20, 2007

Grünerløkka vs. the Chain Stores (part 2)


This evening, 50 people gathered in the bar I manage in Oslo, Sound of Mu on Markveien in Grünerløkka, to form an organization to protect Grünerløkka from big businesses moving in and ruining the character of the area. Everyone there was either running a small business or resident in the area.

Continue reading "Grünerløkka vs. the Chain Stores (part 2)"

Posted by barry at 7:14 EM

April 12, 2007

Grünerløkka vs. the Chain Stores


"Grünerløkka has, over the last few years, grown into a lively district of the city, full of exciting small specialist shops, cafés, galleries and independent designers. This wonderful community is now threatened by the indroduction of numerous faceless businesses such as estate agents and chain/convenience stores."

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Posted by barry at 3:00 EM

Januar 14, 2007

Not The Last Oslo Nightlife Anecdotes By A Long Shot

As diligent readers will be aware, I bear responsibilities for a certain Oslo nightspot. During a particularly busy night, a man in his early thirties came in from the cold and the snow through our portal, to order a multitude of drinks. But something did not escape his notice in those first few moments inside.

Continue reading "Not The Last Oslo Nightlife Anecdotes By A Long Shot"

Posted by barry at 4:03 EM

November 20, 2006

The hairy, the beautiful, the other, nuts and hippies


Imagine me working behind the bar at Sound of Mu. It was a kind of quiet night at first, with people coming and going (it got busy later). There were maybe two tables occupied, when a hairy guy I've definitely met before a few times (one of the drunks usually found at Cacadou?) came in the door, stood at the bar counter and stared at me. He was focusing on me in particular, not seeming interested in the alcohol on offer. I wondered if he was stoned, but his eyes seemed ok. "Ingen ting?" ("nothing?") I ventured to ask.
"Oh, I was waiting for you to speak," he said in English, obviously knowing who I am, "You don't like to serve?"
Unsure about what he meant by "serve", I asked, "Do you want something to drink?"
"No" he said dismissively, and left. I'm sure I'll see him again (it's a small city).

Continue reading "The hairy, the beautiful, the other, nuts and hippies"

Posted by barry at 12:11 FM

August 14, 2006

When West Goes North

_MG_2241_vigeland.jpgThis week's entry is written by blather.net's editor Dave

I’m sitting in the waiting area of Dublin airport's Pier C, waiting to board a flight to Oslo. It's a busy Friday afternoon - across the water, in Heathrow and other UK airports, chaos reigns, thanks to the arrests of suspect bombers.

I'm people watching. Today's game is figuring out who at Gate C44 is Irish, who is Norwegian, and who is neither. Some travellers are obvious Scandinavians - tanned, blonde hair, tall. I mark a few Irish people off my list, smug in my pigeonholing. As I join the queue for the flight, I realise I've got it wrong - overhearing some people talking I realise that some of my borderline Nordics are actually Irish, and vice versa. The vikings, after all, did make themselves comfortable in Ireland.

Continue reading "When West Goes North"

Posted by barry at 2:49 EM

Juli 30, 2006

Nordre gate

Nordre gate

Nordre gate

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Posted by barry at 10:24 EM

Mai 21, 2006

A National Day is a National Day

17 MaiAs an Irishman, my national day is St. Patrick's Day, 17 March, and it's a fairly unpleasant affair. Although the children of Ireland get to go out on the streets and watch colourful parades, the day swiftly descends into public displays of alcoholism and casual street violence. Then the next day, there's litter to be seen everywhere, and Ireland looks like a complete shithole. Norway's national day, Grunnlovsdagen ("Constitution Day") is on 17 May, and it was my first experience of it. How would it compare with the Irish experience, at street level?

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Posted by barry at 2:32 EM

Mai 14, 2006


DiscoI was in a kebab shop buying a kebab (Marino's on Torrgata - Oslonians told me it was the only place in Oslo to buy a kebab) and the Turkish-looking guy serving started a conversation with me in Norwegian.

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Posted by barry at 1:08 EM

Mai 7, 2006

And Then The Sun Came Out

parkI was just getting used to the spring rain, I had a cold, and then suddenly summer began. Was I prepared for it? No. It all seemed to happen too quickly. One day of sunshine and all of a sudden, people I'd never seen before started to appear in the area, the parks were full of people drinking beer, and the authorities even closed the street to traffic for some kind of festival. How did that come together so fast?

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Posted by barry at 4:13 EM

April 30, 2006


loppemarkedUp until this moment, North has been divided into four categories: "Norway," which gives general information about the country I'm living in; "Norwegian art," which informs you about Norway's art traditions; "Norwegian music," which describes some of the great music this country has produced; and "life experiences," which is directed at that section of the reading public who once knew the author and wonder to themselves whatever happened to that vile unseemly idiot if he didn't end up drowned in a swamp, as would have been appropriate.

Now a new category is instigated! "Street level" involves observations of everyday life in Norway, particularly Oslo, and attempts to find the interesting in the quotidian. This week, I get down with the bargain-hunters and look at an example of the flea market (loppemarked) phenomenon.

Continue reading "Loppemarked"

Posted by barry at 11:28 EM