In times past, every bar worthy of the name had some sort of bar artifact ---a bartifact---on the premises, a conversation piece, a nod to tradition, an indication that this particular bar is a drinking establishment, a timeless place tied to its unique iconography. Alas, today’s bars have mostly lost the habit, but in hopes of reviving the tradition we dug up a few surviving examples.
Deer head at Gus' Pub
No one quite knows where the 10-point buck mounted over the bar came from, but it's been there at least 50 years, says Gus' owner Dimo Georgakakos. "The body's in the back," he jokes. Opinions differ on the significance of the deer's money sign necklace---some say it's a talisman for the long-term success of Gus', while others say it merely indicates that the greedy buck justly deserved his fate.
Bear at Bearly's
Bearly's Tavern is named for a dog (his image is above the bar, across from the mind-scrambling machine), but the name inspired a passerby to drop the stuffed bear corpse along soon after the bar opened in the mid-'80s. The bear has roared silently atop the entryway ever since, presiding over one or two moments of hilarity, three or four deaths, five or six seductions and untold debauchery.
Mural at The Oasis
The mural along the east wall of the former Lady's Beverage Room is reminiscent of the Star Wars bar, bringing together a cast of vaguely subversive characters from pop culture. Regular patron Brian Atkinson painted the mural about 20 years ago, apparently to, by way of comparison, humanize the other-worldly crew that clutters up the actual bar at The O; in this, Atkinson has utterly failed, but the mural attracts a steady stream of admirers all the same.
Penny Fairchild at
The Company House
Penny Fairchild, a mannequin of uncertain origins, pops up at the CoHo at appropriate times with an ever-changing wardrobe, only to return to her secretive den for periods of months at a time. Is Penny a fickle creature, cat-like in her reaction to overt signs of affection? Or is she a parable for finding true love in the north end? Either way, the best response is another drink.
Deer ass at Menz Bar
The deer ass lives in the "Tail Room" at Menz; the head of the same deer by the stage. Menz owner Doug Melanson says his brother-in-law shot the deer and was so proud he mounted head and ass over his marital bed. Doug approached his sister, asking if she might consider a loan for the bar; sis jumped at the opportunity to get rid of the taxidermy in her boudoir, and now if brother-in-law is looking for ass, he's gotta go to Menz.