From Iceland — Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s Only Paper: An Editorial

Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s Only Paper: An Editorial

Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s Only Paper: An Editorial

Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by
Haukur S. Magnússon

Published November 13, 2015


Here is an anecdote:

I ventured inside that Alþingi building the other day. I believe it was a Tuesday. The time was 3pm. The weather was mostly OK.

I was there to help this tall wunderkind, the redhead superstar photographer man, that integral part of this magazine since always and beyond. His name is Hörður Sveinsson.

Hörður Sveinsson was there to document the three Pirate MPs (they are named Ásta, Helgi and Birgitta) for this magazine’s cover. Flip the page for a minute. It’s a nice shot, right? Kind of blurry. But that’s intentional. Trust me, we use some very sophisticated, state of the art equipment to create photographs for this magazine.

Anyway, I was there to provide assistance and moral support, in case the Pirates turned out to be mean assholes, or if—I don’t know—we’d get lost in the hallway or something. Also to carry stuff. That’s where I’m a Viking!

What a fun experience that was, being inside the Alþingi building!

The first person I met was the MP named Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir. She is a card-carrying member of the Independence Party. Traditionally, that party is Iceland’s Official Party For Winners. I have often wondered what it would feel like to be an accredited member of a party for winners. I imagine it must feel great. But, I have never come close to trying to join. I am afraid they would see right through me, that they would make fun of me, that it would be a humiliating experience.

The MP Hanna Birna did not come off as much of a winner as we briefly passed one another in that corner of the Alþingi building’s hallway where you’re supposed to hang your coat. She kind of scowled at me. We have never met, it was weird. The look she gave me was that special mix of Worried, Annoyed and Angry that the Assistant Principals, bus drivers and school janitors have down to a science. I wondered if I had done something to anger her. Whether she was maybe angry that a kind of messy guy such as myself was in Her House.

Then I remembered that The MP Hanna Birna was once The Minister Hanna Birna, which is a title that better suits a Winner. I now believe she must always feel sad about the ill fortune of having to revert to being The MP after getting a taste of being The Minister—that this was the reason why she looked angry.

Angry people often seem sad, and vice versa, I have learned.

But this was an aside. Back to the anecdote:

Hörður Sveinsson and I were greeted by The Building Guards once we made it inside of the Alþingi building. These Guards are tasked with defending our valuable MPs and Ministers, and they take that job seriously. They are good people, but they maybe felt a sense of unease about Hörður Sveinsson and I. I can’t blame them for doing their job, part of which I imagine must entail standing around and being suspicious.

The Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir came and met us. She has long, dark hair. She was wearing the clothes she is wearing on the cover image (flip the page again if you don’t remember what she looks like there). She was also wearing a very big smile. And she laughed a lot.

I like it when people smile and laugh. I think that is a nice way to welcome strangers. I wondered why Birgitta was being so nice.

I thought: We have never met. Is she one of those people who always likes to smile and laugh? Or is she smiling and laughing because she considers us to be team mates? Are we team mates? I do not remember joining any team. I am not interested in pursuing team membership. I admit that I sometimes fantasize about being in a successful team, but those dreams are burnt down by my worries that such a team would reject me.

I thought some more: Are we maybe team mates because we are the kind of people who do not want to be in teams? Does everyone who never joined any team get automatically enlisted in a team that’s made up of people who don’t like the idea of teams?

Birgitta is a member of a political party that I think might emphasize that they are “not a team.” Does this make that my political party? Is she smiling because she wants to trick me into joining her no-team political party?

No dice, Birgitta. I like your smiles and I will smile back, because I like smiling and also because it is The Right Thing To Do. But a no-team team is still a team.

Wait, this wasn’t the anecdote. OK I gotta hurry. I’m running outta space. Here goes:

We were looking for a space to shoot photos. Birgitta suggested we try doing it in the Alþingi building’s basement sauna room (they have a sauna room? WTF!?!). Birgitta walked us down to the basement. It smelled like a swimming pool. That amused me. I looked at my phone. I was a little behind Birgitta and Hörður, because I was texting, so the sauna door shut in my face. I finished texting. It was an important work text. I am not rude.

One of The Building Guards came running. He was the younger one of the two. He looked very anxious, and worried. He told me I was not supposed to be down there. I said I was sorry. I motioned to the sauna room, to indicate that I was not alone in the swimming pool basement, and told him we were there to create photographs. He said that photography was banned everywhere in the house, except for two places that I knew Hörður did not want to photograph in, because he has done it before and they are boring places.

I was worried. Hörður Sveinsson came out, and some Pirate MPs. The Building Guard approached Birgitta. He told her that she was not supposed to bring anyone down there. She smiled and waved her hand and said, fine OK.

We went upstairs, to The Pirate Office. We were going to photograph in there. The Building Guard followed. He approached Birgitta again, and told her that there was to be absolutely no photography in The Pirate Office. He said this as Hörður Sveinsson and I carried sophisticated, bulky photography equipment to The Pirate Office. The Building Guard Looked worried. He asserted The Rules.

Birgitta told him, of course we can photograph in The Pirate Office, and waved him away.

I might not want to join Birgitta’s no team team. I don’t like teams (also their quota system policy is stupid). But I still think she is kind of a badass. A Smiley Badass, the best kind of badass.

Alright that was the anecdote.

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