From Iceland — SOUR GRAPES


Published June 2, 2006


Subject: Kaffisetrid Cafe, Laugavegi 103
Dear Sir
My wife and I have just returned from a week’s holiday in Reykjavik, and I would like to say how much we enjoyed our evening meals at the above cafe/pub/restaurant. The food (Asian and Icelandic) is substantial, tasty, and reasonably priced (unlike one or two other places we visited near the town centre). People in this cafe were mainly locals, presumably due to the distance from the centre of town. If you print this letter, I hope other tourists will give this establishment a try – it deserves it!
Michael Davidson
Damn, you Englishmen are polite. Assuming you are English. Hmm…
Hi there Bart & the gang!
As a Scotsman in London with a lovely Icelandic fiancé, I’m a regular visitor to Iceland and your newspaper & website is more than a valuable resource, especially when it comes to a non-Icelandic view on news & culture.
In particular, your editorial on 18/04/06 (Silvía Nótt Officially Jumps the Shark) made me smile a lot. At last, I thought. Someone who actually agrees with me on this!
Like Iceland, the UK has had “fake” media characters before, such as Ali G, who would often be controversial and generally take the piss at the establishment’s expense. Indeed, watching Silvia Nótt’s programmes and her performance at the Eurovision nominations concert in Iceland a couple of months ago, I’ve found her to be pretty funny at times, although a little on the same-y side.
However, that was until I saw the Kastljós programmes in the week running up to the actual Eurovision finals. God, I’ve seen some crap things on TV before, but it’s been a while since I’ve cringed so much at the TV from Silvia Nótt’s “comic” exploits in Greece. My fiancé and her friends stated that she was simply being in character and it made funny viewing. I disagreed as I do believe that the main aspect of a comic character is that they need to be FUNNY, which Silvia Nótt is no longer I’m afraid.
If you look at similar films/programmes such as “This is Spinal Tap”, although the audience was real, the rest of people involved (technicians, reporters, etc) were in on the joke. However in Greece, treating technicians & people who have probably worked 12 hours straight like scum at the bottom of your shoe and then laughing at them for not being in on the joke is not funny. And often when people not in on the joke are taken the piss out of in these situations, it’s often to expose their hypocrisies or prejudices. So far, I’m still getting my head around what was actually gained from generally treating people as crap.
But, you may argue, the whole point is that we are laughing at her and not with her. Fair enough, but often what makes a comic monster funny (If you’ve ever seen The Office or Alan Partridge in the UK) is that even though we laugh at them, we do feel some sympathy for them and their disasters. So far I’m not really feeling any pangs of sympathy coming form a third rate character such as poor old Sylvia.
I do believe that Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir, who played Silvia Nótt, did do a good job in keeping in character and I’m sure that given the right material she can go on to do bigger & better things. But perhaps it’s now time that she be put out of her misery, perhaps in some bizarre hairspray combustion explosion or something. Let’s hope that something or someone funny comes in her place soon.
All the best and keep up the good work!!
Bob Cluness
21a Birkbeck Hill,
Okay, listen Mr. Cluness, with your astute observations and your comprehension of the goals of humour, I disagree with the opinion piece, and I find treating people like crap to be profoundly amusing. Maybe it’s not funny to treat Greek people like crap, but Greek people working on Eurovision, the single greatest assault to taste, culture and art in the history of man, yes, that is both amusing and justified. Sylvia Nótt was just Ali G before Eurovision, but when you go in front of millions and do what she did—rip apart everything that a corrupted, white trash institution, stands for– then you deserve respect.
By the way, weren’t those employees at Eurovision volunteers? As I sat, watching five minutes and dry heaving through some buxom blonde’s bullshit disco tune, I swear the hosts made us clap for the morose teenagers shuffling about the stage pointing out that they were volunteers. I just can’t think of anything worse than Eurovision, it’s like Disneyworld without the stench of profitability and self loathing.

Subject: Silvia Night
What a fucking bitch you have in your country. How could you select her to represent Iceland in ESC? She has made a fool of your whole country. You should be ashamed! This woman has lots of problems, maybe she is sicker than we understand. Otherwise you should send her to Hamburg in Repherbahn. There she fits in very well in the windows between the other hookers. Fuck you Silvia Nótt. Regards Carola.
You see, that’s a Eurovision fan. You see that Mr. Cluness? Eh? Eh? Fucking Eurovision.
In our last issue, we ran two letters criticising columnist Þórdís Elva Þorvaldsdóttir Bachmann’s article Turning Tricks for Movie Tix. I warned the writers that she would respond in turn. Below are the letters, again, and the wrath of Þórdís.
I’m glad Ms. Þórdís is OK with prostitution. Living in a country like Iceland – with a low incidence of poverty and a relatively inexpensive drug treatment system – it’s no surprise that her notions of prostitution are her cherry-picked examples of people who gleefully sell themselves for movie tickets or airplane flights. Þórdís should maybe take a trip to west Philadelphia, or New Delhi, or East Los Angeles…My only hope is that Ms. Þórdís learns the difference between starting a discussion on a topic with an intelligent argument and just plain demonstrating her ignorance of reality outside of our tiny island. Sóley Jónsdóttir
RE: Column By Thórdís
So you and your boyfriend didn’t know about these traditional massage places that lined your street in Berlin…Every guy[except yours] knows what goes on in them. The other day I was going to one, I patted my dog good-bye, told him where I was going, and he barked out to me, “ruff ruff”. Which meant wear a rubber…. Harry, Detroit
Dear Ms. Sóley Jónsdóttir
First of all, thank you for your reply to my column. However, I don’t quite understand your letter, which reads to me as an angry answer to some sort of misunderstood notion of yours that I am “OK with prostitution”, as you wrote. In my article, I never once passed judgement on prostitution, least of all a positive one. In fact, I said that I felt “dirty” after getting off a plane that was arranged by a girl who was willing to give a blowjob in exchange. To answer your letter in spite of the fact that I think you’re on the wrong track, here are my points:
You accused me of “perpetuating the old stereotype of Thai women being sex workers” by telling a story of when my boyfriend and I decided to try a ‘traditional Thai massage.’ However, I never said the ‘masseuses’ were Thai. In my experience, most of the traditional Asian cuisine or services I buy these days is sold to me by Caucasians. As a result, your jump to the conclusion that the ‘masseuses’ were Thai says more about your stereotypical views on Thai women than mine.
You seem convinced that there’s only one correct notion of prostitution, suggesting I travel to New Delhi, Los Angeles or Philadelphia to witness drug-addicted, poor, ignorant women forced to sell access to their bodies. Until recently, I agreed with your views on prostitution. It was distant, somewhere far away in gigantic cities of the world, ridden with dope, AIDS and ignorance, just like you described. Certainly it was nowhere near me in my sheltered little Iceland. Since then, I’ve stepped into reality. Prostitution is here, for sure. Yes, it’s very different from the life of the New Delhi crack whore, but it’s still sex in exchange for something else. The way I see it, the only difference between you and me is that I’ve widened my perspective.
Keep reading and writing.
Þórdís Elva Þorvaldsdóttir Bachmann
Dear Harry from Detroit,
I would very much like to meet your dog.
Þórdís Elva Þorvaldsdóttir Bachmann

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