Published June 17, 2014
As of yesterday, comedian Jón Gnarr is no longer mayor of Reykjavík. After four arguably pleasant years in office, he is yet again “Jón Gnarr, comedian.” By most accounts, he will be missed.
Yesterday, in what was reportedly a moving ceremony at City Hall, Jón handed over “the keys to the city” to Dagur B. Eggertsson, his successor (and coalition collaborator for the past term), as a new municipal government took the reigns.
Reykjavík’s new leading coalition consists of the Social Democratic Alliance (who Dagur B. represents), Bright Future (The Best Party’s sister party, headed by Jón Gnarr’s former assistant S. Björn Blöndal, now the head of city council), The Left Green Party and The Pirate Party. The opposition consists of the two parties that currently govern Iceland at the parliamentary level, The Independence Party and The Progressives. As we reported yesterday, the Progressives’ mostly ill-received campaign gimmick of spouting anti-Islam rhetoric and fear-mongering ultimately led their two representatives to be shut out of the city’s committees, with S. Björn Blöndal remarking that until the party comes clean about its stance he considers them unfit to govern.
Dagur, no stranger to being mayor of Reykjavík (having already served as mayor for three months in 2007-8) seemed excited and happy to take on the post. Jón Gnarr himself seemed wistful, yet relieved, about the prospect of leaving City Hall, posting the below to his Facebook page on his last day as mayor:
We have interviewed Jón Gnarr a few times since he decided to run for mayor (and then while he manned the post), and he has even written a few articles for us to publish. As you reflect upon what was at the very least an immensely interesting time for Reykjavík and Iceland, you would do well with checking out some of our interactions with him.
Here are links to our feature interviews since he ran, along with some choice quotes (pardon the appearance of the older pieces, the transition to this new website is taking a bit of a while… but it’s worth it!).
WHAT ARE YOU VOTING FOR, REYKJAVÍK? (Issue 6, 2010)
“Yes. I hope we undergo a cultural revolution here; that we start experiencing ourselves as a nation in a new way. And I have some ideas on that. As with the nation’s independence. I feel it is being threatened. We need to reaffirm it, which is where something like switching over to an electric car system would come in. To define and underline our uniqueness, to creatively lead in some aspects. There is potential there – we could serve as an example for the rest of the world.”
HE REALLY DID IT (Issue 7, 2010)
“My discovery through this campaign was this: the line between ideals and personal interests is, with many people, often very thin when examined closely. When pushed, people will protect their self interest, but refer to their ideals in justifying themselves. This is dishonest. They do not want to admit to being driven by their own selfish interests, so they attempt to place them on a higher pedestal by calling them ideals.”
WHAT DID YOU VOTE FOR, REYKJAVÍK? (Issue 15, 2011)
“As I’ve said, I am not for or against any political party or the other. I honestly am not. I have nothing against the Independence Party; they have a lot of good people within their ranks, as well as some crackpots. It’s like that everywhere people convene; the more people there are, the more crackpots, but also more good people.
The problem is this methodology that prevails. I am entirely certain that it is obsolete. I know it is! But I cannot tell you specifically what will replace it. Nobody wants the change. It’s like what whoever made the first automobile said; ‘Had I asked people what they wanted, no one would have said they wanted a car. They would have asked for a speedier horse carriage.’ And so it goes.”
WHAT HAPPENED? (Issue 6, 2014)
“One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is that ideas are dangerous, especially good ones [laughs]. Because it is almost certain that some halfwit will pick them up and misinterpret them and misuse them. And this is why it was so important that the Best Party presented no ideology, no solution. No theory. Nothing that some idiot could then adopt and develop and use as a basis for something horrible, making us the ideologues behind some atrocity. And this is why it was so important that the Best Party remain blank, that it stood for no idea or theory other than impotence and powerlessness. And the will to collaborate, to seek help.”
And here are the pieces he wrote for us over the past four years (again, pardon the formatting):
“When I was little, I would often ask myself why I had been born in Reykjavík. Is it a coincidence where one is born? Is it subject to some universal law? Did I exist in any form before I was born? Did I have anything to do with where I was born? Why did Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler not bear any children? Did they not try to? Can it be that no child wanted them as parents? I don’t know, but I do not believe in coincidence.”
“Outside the ice cream shop, a crowd had gathered. They had heard that foreign visitors were in town. A lot of those people were elves. Ingólfur then approached the crowd, raised his ice cream cone aloft and shouted:
“Henceforth this country will be called Iceland, because one can get the world’s best ice cream here!”.”
“Not having a conventional body will still have its shortcomings. If we show forethought, plan ahead and store samples of our DNA samples in a freezer we will be able to clone ourselves later and be reborn in our own bodies, go swimming, enjoy sex, drink good wine and eat good food. You can also do that as an avatar (I think). It will be similar to The Matrix, except not as negative.”
“Just like the Terminator, Jesus promised, in the end, that he would be back. But unlike the Terminator, he hasn’t made good on his word. Not yet. Or has he? Maybe he’s back. Maybe he’s in isolation in a US prison, a repressed woman in Saudi Arabia or under house arrest in China. Or maybe he’s a persecuted homosexual in Russia. ”
If you’re interested in reading more about Jón Gnarr’s term as mayor of Reykjavík, you could read political commentator Egill Helgason’s reactions to his getting voted in, astound over the fact that he is only the third person to finish a full term as Mayor of Reykjavík since 1980, read about when he called out the Russian Duma on their anti-gay stance and when he rallied for Pussy Riot. And then, you can ponder the so-called Gnarr-effect and whether that’s a real thing.
And, if you’re really desperate or in the mood for a laugh, you can check out our liveblog of the 2010 municipal elections, which is filled with WTFs and OMGs. Also, if you’re in New York at the moment, you can attend his book launch party at The Strand this Thursday, where he will be interviewed by Gawker alumni Hamilton Nolan.
Lastly, as a publication that is wholly dedicated to the city of Reykjavík and its people, and remains overly concerned with their well-being, The Reykjavík Grapevine would like to sincerely thank Jón Gnarr for his services over the past four years. Thank you, Jón Gnarr.