From Iceland — Letters


Published August 5, 2005


RE: Fan Mail, really…
Back in January when I followed Bart and Ed’s tag team of idiocy, otherwise known as “Daily Life from Iceland,” I would often log on and think to myself, ok, what are Beavis and Butthead up to now. Not only was the writing arrogant, cynical, and completely ethnocentric, but the subject matter was downright boring and mind-numbingly repetitive. Plus, I wondered, how could these two guys live in Reykjavik and have
such bad hair? Caring deeply about this sort of thing (that is, having to look at it), I was relieved to read that Bart recently had an appointment at Rauðhetta & Úlfurinn. Now, at least when I see his picture in the Grapevine, I’m spared his agro grimace and the floppy,
Hugh-Grant-circa-1995 hair. Good move Bart. Anyway, my point is, in January I wasn’t Bart’s #1 fan, and that’s putting it mildly. I actually stopped reading Iceland Review all together for fear of cerebral implosion.
One can imagine my disappointment when I learned that Bart would become the editor of the Grapevine — for that narrowed down my English reading options even further. However, I must admit that I have been impressed with both the writing, and with the subject matter (and diversity) of the articles in the Grapevine during Bart’s tenure (yes, that’s a compliment). Perhaps it is because after living in Reykjavik for 7 months I have developed a cynicism of my own. Or perhaps it is because the Grapevine actually is a worthy news source (which is more than some can say). Whatever the reason, I have learned to appreciate the editor’s position, writing, and point-blank honesty. Hell, I half-expected to see him picking up a car battery with his nuts at the Jim Rose Sirkus. While other Icelandic publications suffer from gross embellishment and misrepresentation (ever get the feeling that things (nature aside) in Iceland don’t live up to their reputation?), the Grapevine keeps it real. So, Bart, my hat is off to you. Good job,
seriously, on both the hair, and the Grapevine.
J. Nebolini
and PS…
Do you really think The Leaves are good?? I mean seriously, does the
World need another Radiohead tribute band? Those guys are *awful.*
Thank you, Mr. Nebolini. Iceland Review serves a different purpose and a different readership—given the restrictions placed on Mr. Weinman, I feel he does an excellent job. As for my former career as a daily blogger—I simply never understood or valued the medium, and I have been ecstatic to be away from it. If you think it’s hard to read dumb stuff, you have no idea how painful it is to write it. Or to have it quoted back to you.
The main reasons for the recent success of the Grapevine have been the support, and the forgiveness, of readers like yourself, the support we’ve gotten from the community at large, and the hard work of the staff here, all of whom have dealt with both my demands and my haircuts admirably.
Regarding The Leaves… yeah, sorry about that. You’re not the only one to complain about them. Mercifully, you wrote instead of grabbing me at a bar and screaming at me. I say to you what I said to Mr. Drunky Drunk on Friday at Bar 11: A) There’s room in this world for pop. B) My standards on live shows differ greatly from those on recorded material. C) Please stop hitting me.
For future letter-writers, please refrain from discussing the editor’s hairstyle or testicles.
Subject: Come thou divine mistake! A poet’s guide to pretentious, inaccurate drivel.
Look, I dislike Árni Johnsen and what he stands for as much as anyone else. But would it be too much to ask that the apparently incredibly enlightened ‘Nyhil’ poets actually stick to the facts when they pick themselves such an incredibly obvious target to put down?
Árni Johnsen was not released from jail to sing in the Westman Islands during his stint in prison, although an appeal was made. Rather, a helicopter carried a bitter letter from him to the festival planners, which was lowered onto a stage and read to the crowd. It was a pretty surreal moment and one that I would have thought would have appealed to the intellectual powerhouse responsible for the article in question.
I understand the concept of poetic license and all that, but this is simply sloppy journalism. If indeed such an obviously hamfisted and biased tirade about ‘Us’ and ‘them’, ‘them’ being the great unwashed who have no appreciation for the finer arts such as, say, the ‘Nyhil’ poets, can be called journalism at all.
Ari Eldon
Thank you for correcting this. I spoke with the writer. He explained that the historical inaccuracy in his piece was, indeed, poetic license. “Poetic License” can now be defined as fundamental historical inaccuracies that give editors ulcers. I don’t know about you, but I’m drumming my fingers in anticipation of our upcoming articles “Iceland is Actually Walt Whitman, a Kosmos, Floating on Marshmallows in a California Supermarket” and “How Spain Won D-Day.”
Hi, Bart
We thoroughly enjoyed the last issue. I haven’t finished it all yet, but I especially liked Prof Hydrogen and the Puffin dude. As a Canadian, I can relate to such a superhero. Naturally, we really liked reading the editorial. We were preening for days over it. One of our Icelandic acquaintances even recognized us, since we had mentioned to her days before that we had stopped by your office. Are you getting lots of fan mail? Or just shit-hit-the-fan mail? And isn’t it more weird irrationality that I emailed you about my cartoons just before the issue came out? It’s a vortex.
Is it merely a joke that you were once an avid (pun intended) bird watcher? ‘Cause I was, too. I’ve been a bunch of things, I think I told you, and bird watcher is one of them. I even banded for a summer, and kept a lifer list. I even, I can admit to you, snuck up on several trees that were squeaking in the wind. I had to finally promise myself never to do it again. Which reminds me: do you know how to tell the front of a tree from the back of a tree? Of course you do. Everyone knows. Who would ever pee in front of a tree?
We rarely print fan mail, but as you included a joke about bodily fluids, we’re making an exception. Regarding the Issue 9, The Puffinaire Issue, our cover artist, Tómas Þorbjörn Ómarsson may have done too good a job: tourists were seen ripping the cover off of the magazine for souvenirs and throwing the rest into the garbage. We would like to take a small amount of credit for what we feel is a side effect of the issue: one of our featured cartoonists, Hugleikur Dagsson, has started an English-language alternative comic magazine called Very Nice Comics, the first issue of which is currently on sale.

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