A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.
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Editorial
AFTER THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

AFTER THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

Published July 9, 2004

When I moved back to Iceland in 1990, it seemed the scene was still living in the shadow of Rokk í Reykjavík. In fact, there was something of a punk revival going on

Except now it was called Death Metal, and the disaffected wore long hair and trainers rather than Mohawks and steel tipped boots. Metal heads and diehard punks coexisted peacefully, if occasionally attacked by the better groomed but probably worse disposed guys from the pool halls.
The left wing politics of Utangarðsmenn and the Clash had long since disappeared. Instead we had a lot of songs about autopsies and other forms of corpse mutilation. In the absence of anything to say which might have challenged convention, the disgruntled went for shock effect for its own sake. Communism had collapsed, punk had finally killed off the hippies who managed to hang on longer here than anywhere else. But what did we have instead?
The punks, just as the hippies, grew up and got jobs in advertising agencies and at phone companies. The hippies tried to build a better society, and failed. The punks then attempted to tear down that society, but their fire was short lived. The hippies did to some extent achieve equality between genders and races, although problems related to these have refused to go away entirely. But what did the punks leave behind?
Punk may have been the final generational attempt to rebel against capitalism wholesale. Since then, despite periodic complaining, everyone has come to take it for granted. Since punk, there hasn´t been any movement to belong to.
In the wake of punk, we´ve seen the triumph of greed not just as a social system but as an ideology. Were the punks in some way to blame for the decline of western civilisation that came in their wake?
Since punk, caring has been decidedly uncool. “I don´t give a fuck” became the slogan of young rebels. We´ve had postmodernism, artists complaining that everything has been done, philosophers analysing nothing but philosophy and comedians who made fun of the downtrodden rather than the rich and powerful.
Perhaps when punk tore everything down ideologically, there was nothing left to build on. For someone who grew up on anarchism, making the jump to libertarian wasn´t that hard. It was all too easy to be against all rules, even the ones that were set in the poor´s favour. You could pretend to be an anarchist and still make money, as long as you opposed government intervention. Which, if you´re rich, you´d do anyway. As the film Bob Roberts said: “The times they are a-changing back.” The 60s revolution had finally been undone.
Four years into the new century, and things may be changing back again. After September the 11th 2001, ideology has returned with a vengeance. Our leaders are back to using words like good and evil, which in the 90s seemed outdated, in their speeches. We again need to deal with fundamental questions that not long ago seemed to belong to an earlier age. We again need to take to the streets. A new breed of punk swears against drugs and alcohol, is vegetarian and very concerned about the state of the world. Perhaps the time is ripe for a new revolution. But this time, we need to be more clear on exactly what it is we want to achieve.



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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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Halló, I’m Back!

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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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Free Pink Street Boys Album! Free Editorial! Free Love!

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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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I CHOOSE TREASON

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I just signed up to become a founding member of Fylkisflokkurinn (“The County-Party”), which has the stated purpose and sole platform of campaigning for Iceland to re-join Norway and become its twentieth county. I was the 573rd Icelander to do so according to the would-be political party’s website (fylkisflokkurinn.is), while the Facebook group that launched it currently lists over 4,600 members (many of them very enthusiastic!) and counting. Proponents of Iceland’s independence might call me a traitor to the country that bore me—they might even go so far as to accuse me of treason. And I won’t lie: I felt

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A Growing Divide?

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It’s that time of year again, when everybody is talking about everybody else’s salary. “Did you see? Grímur Karl Sæmundsen [CEO of the Blue Lagoon] makes 6.2 million per month [645,000 USD per year],” someone will say. “Wow, Davíð Oddsson [Editor of daily newspaper Morgunblaðið and former Prime Minister and head of the Central Bank] makes 3,3 million per month [345,000 USD per year],” another will say. “Did you see how grossly underrepresented women are amongst the top earners?” It might sound strange to foreign readers, but Icelanders’ salaries come under scrutiny every July, when income tax data becomes publicly

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Welcome To Our Sixth Annual Best Of Issue

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As we were accenting the í’s and crossing the ð’s of our annual ‘Best of Reykjavík’ issue, a Facebook friend of Reykjavík Grapevine’s threw a bit of criticism our way that absolutely bears mention and further discussion. In response to one of the many “what’s the best X” in Reykjavík inquiries we posted last week, specifically one regarding sushi (“Have you been to Sushisamba? Is it the best sushi in Reykjavík? Why/why not?”), one of our FB friends wrote the following: “This is getting quite boring. I remember the days when RG was full of interesting articles on social issues

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