Published October 7, 2005
If you’re just sitting down in your Icelandair flight on your way to Keflavík, and you’ve picked up a Grapevine because the flight staff offered, and because it’s in English, I feel I should give fair warning: this isn’t something airlines typically distribute to their readers. The Reykjavík Grapevine is an alternative English-language newspaper that covers music, culture, politics and tourism. In our third year, there are a number of prominent Icelandic officials with whom we’ve had disagreements—we’ve even criticized Icelandair.
In fact, I would even argue that if you’re just a casual tourist coming over, the odds are one in three that you will want to avoid the Grapevine entirely during your visit—what we cover is often loud and unsettling in other ways. Maybe politics can wait until you get back home.
But here you are, you’ve got a street paper in your hands, and you’re flying into a new country, so let me argue as to why, even if you disagree with some of the comments made in this paper, you should still hang on to the Grapevine.
First off, you need the map and the store information. All of our information on shops, and all of our guidance for tourists, which begins on page 23, has the added bonus of being written based on actual opinions of locals and immigrants—nothing that looks like an article is actually an advertisement.
Second, believe it or not, you need an updated schedule if you’re going to be in Reykjavík for more than a day. It turns out, Iceland ain’t your mother’s island in the middle of the Atlantic—a booming economy, a rich culture, and an overall restlessness mean that, on any given night there are a few concerts that are must-sees, to say nothing for the many plays or art exhibitions.
Finally, and most importantly, opinions and politics are part of the draw to Iceland, and that’s why we cover them so much. Iceland is home to the oldest Parliament in the world—one that all tourists can visit, assuming they take the time to obey security precautions. And as famous as Iceland is for its Viking ancestry and bloody sagas, this is also a nation that avoided war and significant bloodshed for roughly 800 years of its existence. This isn’t because no problems have come up, but because the culture enjoys aggressive debate.
So while you’re here, please, do you best to take part in an argument. Challenge notions of government or society—verbally. If you somehow can’t find two people arguing, take it upon yourself to start up an argument. Nobody will be injured because of it, and it’s extremely unlikely that you will cause an international incident.
If you’re sitting in the plane or in a coffee shop, reading this, wondering how you can start an argument, worry no more. Select any article from the front section of this newspaper, and begin reading aloud. Then enjoy the sweet sweet sounds of the exchange of ideas.