Published December 7, 2007
A friend of mine has a fascination with ninjas. It coincides very well with my own fascination for Lee Van Cleef, for, as everyone knows, he was the first Occidental to become a ninja. Besides exploring the mystic cult of the dark assassins, Lee Van Cleef also starred as the Man in Black and Angel Eyes in Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and For a Few Dollars More. There is not an actor out there who can top that.
As a young kid, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns served as my first taste of Italian culture. Here we have Leone, a great Italian film director, a great Italian writer in Luciano Vincenzoni, the great Italian composer Ennio Morricone, and the actor Mario Brega. All this, brought to me by way of Lee Van Cleef (and that other guy, but who can remember his name?)
Why bring this up? Here is the thing; it is hard to define cultural institutions. Some people may relate Italian culture with Fellini or even Da Vinci, but I think of spaghetti westerns.
This issue, the Grapevine pays its last respect to Sirkus, a tiny bar that somehow has managed to serve as the main cultural institution in this city for a decade. It is impossible to put a number on the countless art projects or musical collaborations that were born by the bar at Sirkus. Sadly, that era has come to an end and I think that cultural life in Reykjavík will suffer for it.
But, that’s modern life. Spaghetti westerns gave way to something else. Instead of Lee Van Cleef, we got Bruce Lee fighting Chuck Norris in the Coliseum. Instead of Sirkus, we will have more available shopping space, and hopefully, we will have the equivalent of Lee vs. Norris in the Coliseum in the near future.
Enjoy the issue, and the holidays.