Hero/Villain Of The Issue - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Hero/Villain Of The Issue

Hero/Villain Of The Issue

Published March 4, 2016

Photos by
Gabrielle Motola

The villain of the issue for this issue is sand. While some might find it difficult to villainize something so ubiquitous, those people have never lived through a Reykjavík winter. During this time, nobody bothers shoveling their sidewalks, no matter how much snow or ice may form. Instead, they will spread loads of ugly black sand all over the pretty white snow. This will give pedestrians some traction on the ice for a good ten minutes before it’s covered over again, and in the spring, the melted layers of ice leave behind piles of sand that gets scooped up by the winds and contributes to the poor air quality. This makes no sense. We live on an island surrounded by salt water. We do not need to use sand. And before you point out that salt is bad for a car’s metal body: they actually salt the roads here; only sidewalks get sanded. Why do we do it? No one knows. Sand represents the worst parts of a conservative society: resistant to changes that would greatly benefit everyone, simply because they are deviations from the way we always did things. So fuck sand. Sand can go crawl back into the ocean where it belongs.

By the same token, salt is the hero of the issue. Think of how great it feels to have walked over block after block of treacherous ice or nauseating slush, only to finally step onto a nice, clear stretch of sidewalk because some thoughtful person decided to use salt instead of sand. These people are using technology we have known about since ancient times, yet has eluded most people in this country. Salt doesn’t just melt ice; it keeps new ice from forming. And it takes next to zero effort to employ. Salt is one of the best things in the world for making winter more bearable, second only to coffeeshops that stay open past six in the evening. Honour the humble ionic compound NaCl, ladies and gentlemen, for being the hero Iceland deserves.


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