A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.
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Editorial: 101 REYKJAVÍK : THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE, OF COURSE

Editorial: 101 REYKJAVÍK : THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE, OF COURSE

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Published July 23, 2004

The centre of my world began at Sjafnargata, and slowly expanded to the shop on the next corner, the Einar Jónsson Museum, Hallgrímskirkja and one day all the way down to BSÍ bus stop. The expansion went on to incorporate Britain, Norway and would one day reach the far shores of China.

These days, a cramped seat, a meal in a plastic tray and a magazine is the distance between Reykjavík and London or Copenhagen. It can almost seem as if Iceland is just a stone’s throw from the actual bright centre of the universe. It´s only when exploring the more immediate surroundings, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, that you really get to appreciate the ridiculousness of living on this piece of stilted lava in the North Atlantic. And that to most people, 101 Reykjavík seems quite a long way off from the centre of the universe. Or anything at all.

In the past few weeks, I´ve been to both Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and met people to whom Kangerlusuuaq, Gata and yes, Heinesen’s Tórshavn, seemed in their early childhood to be all there was. It´s a shame how few Icelanders ever visit our neighbours, most opting to go to the big cities from where they can come back and impress their friends and relatives with fashions and opinions learnt from big city folk.

One of the most annoying traits of Icelanders is their hunger for earthly goods, for keeping up with the Joneses, of the constant need to impress others. Perhaps this is something we have learnt on our trips to big cities. Or perhaps this is just in the nature of a farming society recently made rich.

“Progress,” said a wise man, “is getting it right.” So in order to progress down the right path, we need to learn the right things from the outside world and let the wrong things be. Sadly, Icelanders have a habit of doing it the other way around.

One good example of progress, however, has been the attitude towards gays in this country. Thirty years ago, when the first high profile gay came out of the closet, his life was made so intolerable he had to leave the country. Today, Gay Pride is becoming one of the biggest family events in the country. Some attitudes still need to change, but a lot has been achieved, and on the 7th of August we will have the opportunity to celebrate it. Icelanders can deal with prejudice effectively. If only they would always do so.

This editition of Grapevine sees it growing to 40 pages. The new and enlarged edition will however be missed out on by our noble protectors on the base. Authorities there have stopped distribution of the paper to its troops. Is this because of criticism of the Bush regime? Of American foreign policy?

No, its because of an ad for a photo exhibition showing a Finnish man’s penis. Apparently our valiant heroes don´t like Finnish dongs dangled in front of their troops.

They also didn´t like a very old picture of Bubbi giving the finger next to the editorial. He´s been trying to get them out of there for years. This may be seen as an escalation.

Our paper has recently secured distribution in the Westman Islands and won´t stop its expansion there, but is moving on to the Faraoes. It has also been decided to continue publication on a monthly basis throughout the winter. I´ve said it before, but we´re always looking for material. If you have none to spare, at least you can do the ad department a favour and take part in the readers survey, to be found on our newly rehashed webpage on www.grapevine.is



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Holuhraun Continues To Erupt

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It’s been almost a month since the Holuhraun eruption started, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication of it stopping soon. Meanwhile, the Bárðarbunga caldera continues to subside, which means that it must still be feeding magma to the Holuhraun eruptive fissure. The surrounding area is still closed to the public (sorry!) due to high concentrations of poison gas and the continuing risk of flooding. In the last two weeks there has been quite a bit of air pollution (mostly sulphur dioxide, the one that smells like rotten eggs) due to gas emanating from the eruptive fissure. Daily forecasts

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Which Way 
The Wind Blows

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“This is what we call a ‘washing board,’” our guide Kormákur Hermannsson says, his voice barely intelligible as we jostle violently on the bumpy mountain road. Indeed it feels like we are driving over one. It’s been nine hours since we set off from Reykjavík to see the Holuhraun eruption in Iceland’s remote highlands, and we are shaking. To our right, the sun is a blinding red ball peeking out from behind the clouds. Mount Herðubreið looms over an orange haze that blankets the horizon. We are still a few hours away from the eruption, yet its presence is unmistakeable.

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You Probably Just Want To Read About The Eruption, Huh?

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The biggest news from Iceland these days is undoubtedly the eruption. Of course it’s not everyday that a volcano erupts. But it’s hardly a once-in-a-lifetime event either. Holuhraun is actually the fourth Icelandic volcano to erupt in the last four years, and it’s been hurling lava for nearly a month now. Sprawled across three seats on a half-empty flight back to Iceland shortly after the latest eruption began, I found myself wondering if it was an unusually slow day for travel or if the eruption was scaring people off. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption certainly showed the world that our volcanoes are

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One Man’s Miracle

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Möðrudalur, one of the most isolated farms in Iceland, lies under the icy nipple of Mt. Herðubreið in the northeastern part of the island.  In 1919, a man named Jón Stefánsson bought Möðrudalur from one of his brothers.  Jón was a saddler and harness maker by trade. He was also an accomplished musician. At night he’d sit at his organ, and the echo of Bach sonatas, which he’d play backwards note for note, would sweep over Möðrudalur’s lava and empty sands. Jón was, to put it mildly, an eccentric. He’d wake up at 4am and get the farm labourers working

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Mexicans: They’re Everywhere!

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When I began my search for Mexicans in Iceland, I was prepared to hear fantastic stories about cultural polarity. And that’s exactly what I got. From tiny Vopnafjörður we travel to the centre of it all, Reykjavík. This is the story of Rodrigo Aparicio, who found a second home in Iceland. What does “exotic” mean? For many, Mexico—with its countless ecosystems, dialects, blue shores, sandy beaches, archaeological sites and colonial cities—fits the bill perfectly. To Mexicans, “exotic” is perhaps the type of place where you’ll experience midnight sun and the Northern Lights, where folks aren’t coy about the human body,

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Höfði-San: Shrimp Salesman Built A Replica Of A Reykjavík Landmark

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Iceland became the focus of world attention when US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavík in October 1986 to discuss nuclear disarmament. The powerful couple met at Höfði, a small villa on Borgartún, the street where the ghosts of the fallen Icelandic banking system roam today. Many of the banks had headquarters and offices on this street, which lies only a kilometre or so away from the city centre. Before the international financial crisis obliterated the overweight Icelandic finance industry, the bankers wanted to build huge towers and other mega structures in the area, which

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