Two Years Ago - The Reykjavik Grapevine

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Two Years Ago

Two Years Ago


Published December 4, 2013

Hooray! We turned ten this year. For a humble street rag like Grapevine, turning ten is a pretty big deal—we barely expected to make it to ten issues (and, indeed, all of our contemporaries from the Reykjavík’s street rag market have long since bid farewell… miss u, Undirtónar!).

To celebrate our decade of existence, we thought we’d get a little introspective and reprint some choice articles from the past that are for some reason significant, accompanied by commentary and even updates. Call it a “blast from the past” or “a look into the dark cauldron of time” if you want to—we call it fun. Thus, for ten issues, expect a page dedicated to a year of Grapevine’s existence, starting one issue ago, with a look back into magical 2003.

This issue is a look at 2011, Haukur S. Magnússon’s third year as editor. Read on from some reflections from the man!

Remembering 2011

By 2011 Iceland as a nation had mostly become deeply immersed in the extended shock of 2008’s economic collapse and its resulting collapses (of confidence, of faith, of self-image…).

Amidst the rubble, still in a stupor, maybe, definitely in a daze; we were astounded to find that we were still there, that Iceland had against all odds failed to sink into the North Atlantic. It became apparent that our leading emotions, Anger and Confusion, would eventually have to be make way for something else, that we would need to move on and try to remember why we were all here in the first place and what we wanted to make of it in the long run.

For our first issue of 2011, we wanted to look forward, and we wanted to enlist our best and brightest minds to help us with that task. To that end, we contacted a bunch of our most beloved local authors and asked them to write us short short stories on the topic: ‘Iceland and the next decade’. Their mission was to consider: “what’s in store for our island?” and then examine their feelings about that imagined future and deliver them in prose form.

We got great stories from some of our favourites—award winning, best-selling writers Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Óttar M. Norðfjörð and Haukur Már Helgason— wonderful prose that offers a window into our collective hopes and fears of their moment, solemn meditations on a future that remains very unclear.

You can read all of their stories here, and you would do well to seek them out immediately, before you forget.

In many ways, the most pressing question of 2011 seemed to be, “what is the most pressing question of 2011?”

We had a functioning government, most of us had jobs, the SIC Report had provided convincing answers as to why everything went to hell in the first place and our good friend the Special Prosecutor was reportedly hard at work capturing the culprits. We were also working on a new constitution.

Did that mean we should just get on with things? Should we just keep going to work amidst regular sessions of telling representatives from the army of documentary filmmakers that besieged the island stories of Iceland, The Future Of Hope™? Or was there further questioning to be done, further restructuring, more aspects of our society that bore examination, deconstruction and criticism?

You can find examples of both in Reykjavík Grapevine’s issues from 2011. There is a lot of going to work, of having fun, of business as usual, mixed with a lot of attempts to question and criticize.  

In February, we were proud to run former intern/former journalist/constant contributor Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir’s feature on WikiLeaks and the whole IMMI proposal—some very important topics that could have gone on to define post-collapse Iceland. “Information Without Borders? – Iceland, WikiLeaks and the electronic frontier” is the first of our many enquiries into the subject of Iceland becoming a media haven. It is sad to note that the most recent one, from this summer, employs the phrase “dying dream” somewhat unironically.

In our March issue, we ran not one but TWO entirely unrelated articles that invoked pop singer Britney Spears in connection to Iceland’s finances. Neither before nor since have we printed such an article. We also made waves in the local media when we mocked a few local celebrities in the article “A FOREIGNER’S GUIDE TO THE CONFUSING WORLD OF ICELANDIC CELEBRITIES.” Featuring wonderful caricatures from Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir, Ragnar Egilsson’s article pokes irreverent fun of Iceland’s most vapid famebags. It was the source of quite a few death threats, but we wouldn’t really be the Grapevine if we didn’t invite for the occasional death threat.

Now, be honest. Is calling someone: “a kind of lobotomized Robin to [a] Down’s syndrome Batman” really THAT offensive?

In our fifth issue of the year, constant GV contributor Paul Fontaine managed to capture a lot of immigrants’ feelings about Icelandic society in a short, meant-to-be-funny-but-wound-up-ringing-entirely-too-true op column titled “The Tree Stages Of Integration – adapting to Icelandic society.” Those three stages are, according to Paul: Wonder, Disgust and Realization (in that order).

We also published a super in-depth interview with artist Ólafur Elíasson about the façade he designed for Harpa, which was about to open at the time. Ólafur had reached out to us asking to be interviewed, as he wanted to set the record straight on a number of things concerning the concert hall, and to express his disappointment that it was to be opened before completion (we also learned that its original financial backer, the bankster Björgólfurs, had almost entirely shifted focus from Harpa being a music hall by the end of their involvement, making changes to turn it into some sort of mall).

Issue six was the first appearance of our now annual bar guide. At the time, we had no idea what to feature in the magazine (it was a slow month of a slow year), so we decided the appropriate response was to drink a beer at every bar in 101 Reykjavík. Aside from ruining our livers, this thoughtless endeavour paved the way for our ‘Appy Hour’ app (and directly caused the wave of happy hours that has swept 101 since) and won us a few more death threats. Turns out Reykjavík’s bar owners are just as sensitive as local musicians and minicelebs.

Then we got a new volcanic eruption. This one was a little shorter and sweeter than the Eyjafjallamadoodadjaljajöll of the year prior, but it still gave us a cover and some nice on-line photo albums that are GREAT for SEO.

We put a lot of effort into researching what the hell was going on with Reykjavík Energy (many, many shady things), which resulted in Anna Andersen’s enlightening feature “Reykjavík Energy In Deep Water.” One of many positive aspects of Jón Gnarr’s reign as Mayor is the investigation and subsequent cleanup of RE’s affairs—the company now seems on the straight track. But for a glimpse into how mindlessly automatically profitable businesses can be run into the ground in Iceland, look no further than this feature.

There was more. It was a long year. We interviewed musicians and artists and actors and politicians, we reviewed  restaurants and records and shows and THE ENTIRE AIRWAVES FESTIVAL (again) and probably scored one or two more death threats along the way.

But we’re still here.

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