From Iceland — Letters


Published February 10, 2006


Dear Grapevine,
500 Million ISK is a Small Price to Pay
While I must admit that much of the graffiti (tagging) in Reykjavik looks more like vandalism than art, there are much more serious art crimes being committed here that, if left unpunished, could cost this country severe and lasting damage. Take, for example, Svala. What would it cost to eradicate her music from this island? 500 Million ISK? No problem. I’d pay it myself if I could. I’d pay double. Let’s take up a collection. Sure, we could build schools and improve healthcare with that kind of cash, but schools and healthcare will just have to wait until more pressing issues are addressed. Like Islenski Bachelorinn.
Think of the damage that show caused to thousands of innocent people.
Think of how those hot pot scenes marred the visual landscape. Have you ever seen anything more offensive and/or “dirty?” I don’t know about you, but one more rose ceremony and I might have gone to the harbour to take a long walk off a short pier. When considering the long term affects of a single episode of that show, the bad graffiti in this town looks like a symphony of Monets.
So, to the nameless official(s) in charge of the War on Graffiti, my advice is this…pick your battles. Fighting a war on graffiti will likely be futile, costly, and wont win you many friends. But put our money where Svala’s mouth is, and a country will unite before you. Besides, graffiti doesn’t really hurt anyone, and the simple fact that it actually exists in Iceland is exactly why it should stay. Reykjavik is an international city and changing fast—for the better—graffiti and all. (If by chance you take this advice, would it be too much to ask to get rid of those clowns on Innlit / Útlit? Or at least have them replaced with hosts who actually know something about design?)
And to the editor, it would help your paper’s credibility if, in an article about graffiti, the writer didn’t admit to not visiting art galleries. I know that graffiti is “guerilla” and all, but some knowledge of Reykjavik’s contemporary art scene could have potentially fostered a more cogent critique of the proposed “war.” The way I see it, Birkir’s editorial, full of weak arguments and even a Kevin Bacon reference, ultimately did a disservice to the very people he attempted to defend.
J. Nebolini
Íslenski Bachelorinn, Svala and Innlit/ Útlit—tough targets there, Mr. Nebolini. I notice you had no comment about the low standard of the graffiti in this country. I love bubble letter initials and all, but this stuff has all the wit, wisdom and effort of public urination—something else that is big here. The thing about television shows and music is that usually you can choose not to have it on your private property, whereas the new wave of graffiti goes on your wall whether you want it or not.
Oh, you want me to defend or explain the Grapevine or graffiti here. The Grapevine is never as incoherent as your letter, and we’re rarely as grouchy. Svala has decent tone and was an excellent cover model on our Christmas issue, and you need to ease up on quoting single words for emphasis. It’s kind of “eighth grade.” Turn off your TV and read a book, or go out and draw your initials, I hear it’s the big thing.
Dear Bart,
I found “The Grapevine” once when Net surfing and fell in love with it. Wonderful design and impossible to stop reading the good texts. Congratulations.
I signed the “Grapevine Mailing list” and I was thinking right now about the cold winter there in Iceland. You can imagine how sunny it is in my country now and maybe my letters could warm the Icelandic people season!!!!
I would love to exchange letters with the Icelandic people and exchange information, friendliness and culture. I am male, 43 years old, a chemical engineer, and available to write to any Icelander, from any city, any age, any gender due to my great interest for your country. I am reading Laxness “Independent People” and trying to get closer to Icelandic culture and people. 
If you think it is possible to invite Icelandic people to exchange letters and receive some warm wind when opening the envelopes, please furnish my postal address:
Mr. Emmanuel W. Martins
Rua Lagoa Santa, 41 apt. 202
Carlos Prates
Belo Horizonte – MG
Thank you for reading my e-mail, Bart.
Hope you all in “Grapevine” have a wonderful new year.
Emmanuel W. Martins
There you have it, folks. I’m furnishing the address, but I take no responsibility beyond that.
Hi Bart,
Handsome yet slightly inaccurate Stephen Taylor-Matthews here. I would like to point out to Mr  Sigvaldi Eggertsson, who commented on my last piece entitled  “more reproduction needed in Iceland” that my facts actually came from the official United Nations human development reports, which were published this year and you can find all these figures on their website. The UN is the official source which government’s use. I would like to point out that maybe Mr Eggertsson shouldn’t believe everything he reads on the CIA website, they are well known to get their facts wrong, just ask the people of Iraq, who coincidentally have a death rate of 5.49. If anyone – especially nice looking ladies – would like to discuss these matters further I can be found at the Kafe Baren on most nights, look for the slightly misinformed looking guy.
Happy Xmas Grapevine team.
I think you severely misspelled Kaffibarinn. Man, you need a fact-checker. Unless you were joking, but then it should be Kafe Barren. But then, you have mentioned you’re handsome. And looking for the ladies. Curse you and your charming ways. I’ve forgotten the initial concern. Take me away, you rake you. Oh crap, I’m a man. And you’ve just indicated that you’re extremely heterosexual. The world is unfair.
Dear Grapevine.
For years, I have read your newspaper as I’ve found your articles and point of view interesting. Until now, I suppose. I still find your articles and point of view interesting, but today I came across a notice [Grapevine, issue 16] to us ‘native readers’, asking us to stop steal your newspaper from the foreigners as it was not meant for us, and therefore not ours to have. The paparazzi photos and the celebrity gossip you rightfully claim not to print, do not interest me. But that obviously doesn’t matter, if I was a real Icelander I’d be lying about the previous statement, and even if I was just faking my nationality, I could easily avoid reading the gossip columns in Icelandic newspapers and magazines. After all, I don’t have to read through the whole column to find out what it is about.
Occasionally, I have sent the Grapevine to foreign friends abroad, and I was wondering if that was also to be considered a theft since they are not visitors in Iceland at the time of the printing. I shall try to avoid such behaviour in the near future.
I truly apologize for having stolen your paper through the years, it has the word ‘free’ printed on the cover and I naïvely thought that applied to us all.
  I realize to a point that this notice might have been a joke on your behalf, but I am really hurt (I don’t enjoy being accused of theft of something that is stated as ‘free’) and rather insulted (for the same reason). I suggest you add ‘for non-natives only’ on the front page.
Gréta Hauksdóttir

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