From Iceland — Letters


Published July 23, 2004


Hi Valur! i really enjoyed all yr articles in latest GrapeVine 🙂 I can assure you that we always destroyed our own instruments so the bit about me attacking Danny or his guitars is bullshit.
I witnessed Pete Townshend & Jimi Hendrix destroy their instruments when I was a teenager & me & my friends had fun doing the same & i did it on stage with Utangarðsmenn at Kopavogs Bio at one of our 1st concerts It was not premeditated but it was quite a ORGASM 🙂 I have a new single coming out within days with THE VIKINGHILLBILLY APOCALYPSE REVUE called 3 SHOTS 🙂 I will get you a copy soon as i get some 🙂 Poor Bart Cameron….he couldn´t get me to shut up & he couldn´t get Siguros to say anything…..ah the life as a reporter 🙂
Of course, I wasn´t there at the time, but I have heard more than a few times stories of Utangarðsmenn fighting on stage. One of the reasons given is that Danny was a guitar collector and you were into smashing guitars, which caused some friction. I don´t know if this is true, but as the legend grows, it’s hard to tell truth from fiction. We´ll keep on trying, even if printing the fiction may be tempting from time to time.
Dear Grapevine.
I want to applaud Grapevine. It is the only paper published in Iceland that I read with interest, you have fresh voices and great humour. You also seem to have stirred up a wasp nest of Nazi´s and racists all over Scandinavia, well done! Probably better to have them out in the open
than hiding in the shadows, at least you have exposed the myth that all Icelanders are fair, open minded and without prejudice. I think in general we tend to believe this myth.
Grapevine, here to stir up wasp nests of Nazis.
Robert Jackson is a despicable lier (sic). I did meet him at the American embassy, and I did tease him about the left leanings of Grapevine. At the same time I told him that I enjoyed reading it very much, because of your beautifully written tongue-in-cheek approach to life. My teasing him was also tongue-in-cheek. I NEVER said that you were communists because you put a black woman in the national costume. Actually I think it was a rather cute idea, and such a statement is utterly alien to everything I believe in. I still think Grapevine is a rather cute paper. I regret, however, that you should have in your ranks a man, whose journalistic integrity is clearly from the gutter. Best wishes. Óli Tynes
Thank you Óli. We think you´re cute too.
Dear editors of Grapevine,
Since no-one seems to be answering your enquiery about letters from Greenpeace I want to tell you of my thoughts on the matter. I received one of these multi-copied letters as well as my daughter, telling me how some person would like to come to Iceland, but can’t because of our whaling, blah blah whaling is a bad thing and so on. Why should I care if someone with pink glasses on the world view doesn´t want to come here?
The letter is very polite in a brainwashing way, most likely written by someone with physical education.
But who gave them permission to find my name and address in the first place and put me on a mailing list? No thank you, I don’t want anything to do with Greenpeace.
I think this an invasion on my home and privacy. I am not grateful at all.
Halldóra Jónsdóttir
Anyone else?
I was downtown protesting today. It was quite an experience since – as you probably know – protesting is not one of the strong sides of the Icelanders. Not this kind of protesting at least. There was ambiance, there was feeling, there was anger… you name it…it was very rare.
Being a tourist guide in Iceland is the most rewarding and appreciative occupation I have ever had. I am of the opinion that people who chose to visit Iceland are very special and decidedly interesting. The others go somewhere else. And I am eternally indebted to those people for allowing me to look at my environment, which I always thought was quite ordinary, through their amazed eyes and listen to Iceland’s history with their interested ears. What a revelation it has been!
However, my proud and fierce heart skips a beat when someone starts asking about what’s going on in Icelandic politics today. I quickly put on my noncommittal, neutral mask and try to hang on to it for dear life. A simple account of the latest events including the president’s refusal to validate the Media Bill, the upcoming referendum – the first in Iceland’s 60 years history as a Republic – and the new Media Bill which prevents the referendum… all this leaves our foreign guests absolutely stunned. They thought they were visiting a democratic republic, not – as one of them remarked – “…a third world dictatorship”.
Further probing into the actions of the Icelandic government are now inevitable, my neutral mask still in place and simple facts quoted. The dam at Kárahnjúkar laying waste to a large part of the unspoilt nature my guests so admire. The arbitrary decision to support the invasion of Iraq against the will of 80% of the nation… etc. etc.
“Doesn’t the public protest?” Yes. “Don’t your ministers resign from office when the majority of the voters object to their actions?” No. “Why not?”
Now that’s a good question!
At this point the love and pride for my country is badly damaged and I desperately try to change the subject. But it takes quite a while to repair the atmosphere and make people recover from the shock of realising they are visiting a dictatorial country, not a democratic one.
Lára Hanna Einarsdóttir
For pointers on how to throw a protest, see the article Apathy is a Myth by Paul in issue 3.

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