Westfjord Wisdom - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Westfjord Wisdom

Westfjord Wisdom

Published April 8, 2005

It all began on an uneventful morn. Last weekend of July, Verslunarmannahelgin, 1999 and I was working as a handy-man in an afterschool in Starreklinte, Denmark. My work there mostly revolved around telling stoned teenagers, that being stoned teenagers was wrong and they’d never succeed in sports or science if they kept getting stoned. And the kids asked “What about rock’n’roll?“ and I said “It’s a myth, getting stoned makes you soft and it rots your brain.” And that’s that.

That night I was sitting in the school’s computer room mending power cords, and thinking about rock’n’roll when I got an email from home: Ísafjörður, Iceland, a town of three thousand people in the middle of nowhere north-west Iceland. My mother informed me that the previous uneventful morn had been a little less uneventful in the civilized world, as Mick Jagger parked his yacht in Skutulsfjörður and was presently drinking beer where I myself had passed out many a night during my high school years. Mick Jagger.

Rock’n’roll had landed in Ísafjörður, and there wasn’t ever any turning back. An ambitious experimental salsa-punk band called Mamma hestur soon metamorphosed into the overdriven and fiery no-bullshit rock’n’roll band The Nine-Elevens, foreign porn producers began filming in Djúpavík, and a little less than five years after the coming of the Lord, the Aldrei fór ég suður music festival became reality.

I gradually moved back home, of course, leaving behind broken power cords for the increasingly voracious power chords of the Icelandic outback, and have been a willing participant in an all-embracing madness that maddens, tires, invigorates, and pleases with such machine-gun rapidity that you can’t help feeling dizzy once in a while. And I wonder, aren’t we a little better for it? What I mean is, napping is good and well, but it’s got nothing on staying up.

It’s easy to make rock’n’roll look like an excuse to get pissed, delve into hysteria and spin out of control – but it’s a little more than that. The atmos of rock’n’roll is movement, its credo “a little less conversation and a little more action,” and Icelanders are infamous bullshit artists and paranoid slouches. It’s been said that the biggest difference between alcoholism and depression in Iceland and Finland is that while an Icelandic person is liable to start threatening to commit suicide on the first beer – rambling on for hours about how life isn’t worth living, how the hole can always get deeper if you just make sure you never ever stop digging, finally passing out in the arms of some unknown person suffering from similar afflictions – a Finnish person will keep his or her mouth shut until the morning when they take a shotgun to their heads, from the constant lack of getting their kicks.

Getting pissed and yapping constantly can be beneficial; hysteria is a form of rock’n’roll that can save lives; music and company paired with beer and inane conversation is a killer combination for happiness – a little less conversation and a little more action, please.

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