TROUBLE IN PARADISE

Published June 11, 2004

At our party two weeks ago I spoke to a Bulgarian girl who said that the reason she initially wanted to come to Iceland was that she had heard it was very liberal, with a great gay scene and the first female president. After she came here, though, she has been somewhat disappointed.

The gays are doing their best, putting on a great show at Jón Forseti, despite a cast member having been beaten up by gay bashers the night before (see p. 18). Bigotry? There´s no such thing in Iceland.

It´s interesting that these days the ambassadors here of the old imperialist Anglo-Saxon powers of Britain and the USA have dark skin. The countries that once took up the White Man´s Burden are now being represented by blacks in the whitest country in the world (much admired as such by the Nazis). But of course, we welcome people of every colour and creed. Sure, when a deal was reached with the Americans in 1946 to station troops here, there was a secret clause demanding that no black soldiers come to Iceland. Bigotry? There´s no such thing in Iceland.

In the film Troy, Helen, supposedly the most beautiful woman in history, is portrayed by a blonde, pale-skinned German. This apart from the fact that the story is set in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Helen would no doubt have had much darker features. The same goes for Achilles, portrayed by the no less blonde and fair skinned Brad Pitt. Throughout history, heroes of the ancient world, (Jesus being a case in point) have always had their appearances changed to accord with the ideals of the Northern European peoples who write it.

For our cover, and linking in with articles on women in Iceland as well as 60 years of independence, we decided to put on the cover a picture of a woman wearing the traditional costume. To counter localised ideals of beauty, as well as to embrace the multicultural society, we decided to ask a black woman to wear the costume. We thought this was kinda nice. Little did we expect the reaction. The lady who was going to lend us the costume withdrew her offer upon hearing of who was to wear it. Not because she didn´t like the person in question, or had ever met her before, but because she was black. We then decided to rent a costume. The answer was the same. We asked the woman who owned the rental whether she would refuse a person point blank to rent a certain costume on the basis of her colour, to which she replied she would.

We had to go all the way to Laugavatn and borrow a costume from the Woman´s Association there, who of course had no objection to the idea, to finally make the shoot. The result is, as we had hoped, a beautiful picture. If anyone is offended, well…

On a lighter note, we also have a new staff member, Beerman. He won´t be around the office much, but you´ll see him at the bar. These days, as a practitioner of irresponsible sex, he´s very worried about the chlamydia epidemic that´s been going round. Well, it´s a good thing someone is, because the health department sure isn’t. As mentioned in the last issue of Grapevine, they don´t think it necessary to keep chemists open after midnight since the only people that come there ask for syringes and condoms. If helping people to avoid life threatening diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV, as well as lesser evils such as chlamydia and unwanted pregnancies is not important then what, pray tell is?


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In the above photograph, I am accompanied by one of my favourite people in the world, Dr. Haukur S. Magnússon, my paternal grandfather and my namesake (I had to make sure not to get a doctorate degree, so folks would be able to tell us apart). It was taken a couple of Christmases ago, in-between bouts of us eating, drinking and being merry. What a time we had. Dr. Haukur is 82 years old. He became a doctor in 1961, and spent the brunt of his career working as a General Practitioner, helping thousands of humans overcome illness and injury.

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Hey, check out the above photo. Who are those people? I’ll tell you: I’m in there, along with our designer Hrefna, along with our former interns Parker and Rebecca (currently visiting from abroad to do some writing), along with our current interns Tom and Saskia and Elín and Melissa, along with our listings editor Gabríel, along with our journalist John, along with the ghost of what should’ve been (always lurking in the background, him). Behind the camera is the lovely photographer Matt Eisman, who set up shop at our office over Airwaves, where he’ll be shooting some of our favourite

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So Long, And Thanks For All The Cheese!

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For someone who is used to having an entire aisle at their disposal when they run out of toothpaste, Icelandic grocery stores can seem, shall we say, a little mundane. Of course when it comes to toothpaste, all that choice is perhaps excessive. Ever since I started spending considerable amounts of time in Iceland, this ‘paradox of choice,’ and what it might mean, has been on my mind. As I noted in my 27th editorial a few years back: there’s Crest, there’s Colgate, there’s All-Natural, there’s Aquafresh, there’s Arm & Hammer, there’s Oral B, there’s Sensodyne, there’s Mentadent. There’s gel.

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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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I went on a vacation last month. It was wonderful. I left the country. I spent very little time sitting behind a computer. I stopped following Icelandic news. I browsed our website and Facebook a few times. It was really wonderful. I tuned out (and all but turned on, tuned in, dropped out). To say that nothing much happened while I was gone would be an understatement. The Icelandic media seems to be in shambles (turn to page 16 for the scoop on that). The office ate Thai food last print week (we usually subsist on burgers and pizza). They

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Here is a short editorial, inspired by the late, great Bill Gates and his vision, which continues to warm our hearts and our thighs through our pockets, via sturdy, glowing Gorilla Glass: Here’s to the volcanos. The eruptions. The shaking moneymakers. The ones who remind the world that, yes, we exist. While some may see them as extremely dangerous and not to be trifled with, we see them as tremendous opportunities for market expansion, advanced brand awareness building and vast merchandizing profits. Because the people who are arrogant enough to shamelessly exploit potentially catastrophic events, are the ones who make bank.

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