From Iceland — News In Brief, Issue 12 2013

News In Brief, Issue 12 2013

Published August 20, 2013

News In Brief, Issue 12 2013
Parker Yamasaki

Word on the street is, Jesus was probably gay. And it’s Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr‘s word, so it’s probably true. At a conference in Belgium in connection with the World Outgames, Jón gave a speech on international human rights, emphasising the responsibility of the politician to ensure equal rights. In the process, he scorned religions which condemn individuals for their sexuality, quipping that perhaps the reason Jesus was crucified was because he may have been gay himself.

Somebody ought to alert Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-gay preacher who is coming to give a speech at a festival in Iceland in September. The national church started promoting the festival the same week Pride was being held. That raised a pretty interesting conflict of interest.

It’s kind of like the opening of a “champagne club” at Stígamót, the sexual assault crisis centre in Reykjavík. On Thursday August 15, Stígamót opened its all-sexes Champagne Club which included private shows, free-flowing champagne, the reciting of traditional Icelandic rhymes, a demonstration on how to knit a wool poncho in ten minutes, and short talks on the history and importance of Stígamót for just 20,000 ISK. All of your traditional champagne club services, with a couple “added bonuses.” The club will serve both as a fundraiser for the centre and as a proper demonstration of ironic Icelandic humour.

Maybe it was that same sense of humour that financial journalist Cyrus Sanati was trying to tap into when he declared that Iceland was well on its way to another financial meltdown. Except he forgot to add the quintessential “djók” at the end of the statement, so nobody found it very funny. In his article for Fortune magazine, Sanati states that the measures employed by the Icelandic banks and government following the crash were only temporary solutions, and the supports currently steadying the Icelandic economy are beginning to crumble.

Now before you go running outside for that nervous cigarette, you may want to think about how much it is going to cost, as many tobacco smokers around Iceland have been doing. Following the 15% increase of the tax on tobacco at the start of the year, tobacco sales have dropped by 10.4% since January. Plus, smoking conditions are probably unfavourable with the recent trend of “gloomiest weather since…” headlines. This past month Reykjavík was subject to the coldest July since 2002, with an average temperature of 10.6°C.

Furthermore, the former Minister of Finance Gylfi Magnússon assures Iceland that Sanati’s claims are presumptuous and wrong. Santani’s charge against Iceland’s “zombie banks” would not even apply to the old banking system, Gylfi remarks, let alone the new one which Santani doesn’t seem to know anything about. Basically, according to Gylfi, Santani is just being a drama queen.

But being a drama queen isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you were competing in Reykjavík’s second annual drag contest held in Harpa’s Eldborg concert hall over Pride week. Congratulations to the ‘Foxy Ladies‘ duo Márky Cántalejo and Chris Mercado and to Brjánn Hróðmarsson for being crowned this year’s Drag Queens and King. And thanks for contributing to Iceland’s growing reputation as great entertainers.

That reputation, by the way, was given a pretty hefty boost when Rolling Stone magazine named Sigur Rós one of the Top 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now. The article likened the band’s trippy stage presence to Pink Floyd, and praised Jónsi for his crowd-destroying union of bow and guitar.

Speaking of harmonious unions, Director Baltasar Kormákur and CCP Games are joining forces to create a TV series based on the wildly popular game, EVE Online. He admits that his personal interest in gaming never really evolved beyond a brief Pac-Man affinity as a child, but he uses this as an asset to make the series appealing to a wider range of people, and hopefully bring in some new fans. You got this, Kormákur.

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