One) Re-designing 101 Reykjavík is dumb:
Tearing down old houses on Laugarvegur, some of which have great historical significance, others that have gained status as bona fide cultural institutions in latter years, to make way for a downtown shopping mall is dumb. And shortsighted.
Not only is it dumb for the very obvious reason that some of the places earmarked for destruction by city planners have become veritable tourist attractions and landmarks in their own right, contributing greatly to the “vibrant downtown atmosphere and music life” that many Grapevine readers cite as their main reason for visiting Iceland in the first place.
They are tearing down Grand Rokk. And Sirkús. Not that I am the biggest fan of either of those establishments (actually, I’ve probably spent more time unsuccessfully trying to gain entry to Sirkús than actually inside of it, and Grand Rokk’s drunken patrons frighten me). But still. Sirkús often employed bouncers for the sole reason of keeping the frightened-by-the-price-of-alcohol-but-still-keento- observe-and-thus-take-up-space tourists out. More often than not, those bouncers were veteran frightened-by-the-price-of-beer tourists that had settled and pushed through the glass ceiling.
It is also dumb because we already have at least two fully functioning enormo-malls in the greater Reykjavík area, that are well befitted for serving all average mall goers shopping needs.
And it is dumb because 101 Reykjavík’s attraction now lies mainly in its coffeehouses, bars, galleries and concert venues – its nightlife. Laugavegur abandoned its post as Reykjavík’s shopping street sometime in the mid-eighties, when they opened Kringlan. And that is fine.
And it is dumb because one of the main arguments for tearing down those historical landmarks is how ugly they’ve grown in the past decade. Am I just being silly, or wouldn’t it be a good idea, say, if I were a real estate developer, to let a building I owned grot down and slum-ify if I desperately wanted to level it so I could build a high-price mega-mall on the lot?
And it is dumb because Laugavegur seems to be working fine as is.
Two) Don’t listen to anything those evil fucks on the Internet try and tell you:
Back in the utopian times of 2003, people who had opinions that they wished to share with their fellow citizens actually had to bother expressing them on paper, purchasing stamps and sending them off to a newspaper, where they would be approved of (or not), proofread and typeset. It is likely that anyone who bothers going through with this whole procedure will have also bothered to actually form their opinion in a thoughtful manner, and formulating it to an understandable degree, too.
Of course, all opinions are valid as such. But not all statements are opinions, and that is important to remember. The advent of one-click publishing has, for the most part, killed off any inkling of belief in democracy and public discourse I once held.
There are countless examples of this from the Icelandic blogosphere of 2007. The case of the disappearing re-appearing dog, Lúkas, for one. Every discussion on feminism made on-line in the Icelandic language. Also every discussion on religion. And music. And pretty much anything weightier than Britney Spears exiting a car with her gaping vagina on display (the internet is an excellent place for that).
So, if anyone from the internet reads this, please pay attention: YOUR THOUGHTS AS THEY APPEAR IN YOUR MIND AT A GIVEN MOMENT AREN’T NECCESSARILY OPINIONS; MOST LIKELY, THEY ARE REACTIONS. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO ARRANGE THOSE REACTIONS IN ORDER, AND TO VERIFY THEM AGAINST A LIST OF FACTS THAT ARE EVIDENTLY TRUE (cogito ergo sum). Please.
Three) Banning smoking in bars was a really shitty idea:
I’ve generally clung to the opinion that anyone who chooses to spend their spare time drinking in bars isn’t really concerned about their personal welfare.
Furthermore, not being libertarian or anything, I’ve still managed to believe that if there was a market for non-smoking bars and cafés, someone would see fit to open these, and those drinkers that were sick of having to take showers and burn their clothes once they got home from a night out at a smoky bar would see fit to attend those. And they would flourish and prosper, just like all those pre-smoking ban polls showed. How does this not make sense?
Since it apparently doesn’t, I would now like to call for a ban on drinking in bars and cafés. The smell of alcohol and stale beer is generally unpleasant. Drunk people really annoy me when I am trying to have sober fun at a bar; they are loud, rude and rowdy. Many of them harbour the absurd pastime of beating random strangers to a pulp. And, sometimes, people die from those beatings.
In conclusion, I would like to be able to go out to the bar without being exposed to drunken people. We could make an example out of the forthcoming downtown shopping mall’s bar.
Four) At the core, all cities are essentially larger versions of my hometown, Ísafjörður:
2007 saw me visit Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Paris, New York, London, Oslo, Copenhagen, Manchester, Cannes and Austin, Texas, among others. They are all the same, really (although some of them have awfully modernised, ghost-town like city centres while others feature thriving, culturally significant, historical ones). Oh, some of them will have more video stores than others, and of course climates will differ, but at the core, they are all divided into the same neighbourhoods, and their inhabitants foster the same hopes, dreams and fears. Not to say that Western culture is growing increasingly homogenous (which I am sure it is), rather that people all over are generally good, helpful and hopeful.
Especially those without blogs.
And that was a nice discovery.