From Iceland — Sour Grape

Sour Grape

Published May 31, 2007

Sour Grape

Dear all, Góðan dagin! My name is Augustin, I live here in Iceland and some of you know who I am. I found your e-mails from the cultural centre website and the purpose of my letter is to speak for those guests in Iceland who can’t (for a reason or another) speak for themselves. I know how much your all are busy with your life but because of the dignity we all share and the values we all stand for in this new country, take a few minutes to read and possibly respond to the following:
As part of the ongoing Reykjavik Art Festival, a lot of you might have been entertained up to some level by the diversified, colorful and at times breathtaking performances done by our dear guests from other countries. These entertainers varied a lot in their cultural demonstrations, backgrounds and in as much as their financial ability could truly speak out, yet with the shared and intrepid goal that was to entertain!
On Friday the 18th of May an orchestra called KONONO N.1 was on-stage to do just that. Subsquent to that performance, an article appears in the Grapevine journal by a certain Helgi Valur who dare compare one of the dancers as “a twenty year old porn star in a music video”(reference to the full article is on the link below).
Aghast by the article I decided to make a phone call to Grapevine in order that they gracefully redeem this defenseless man’s reputation by publicly apologizing for the publication of such abusing words, to no avail.
Forget not that on the 10th of January last year, a man in Isafjorður took his life due to irresponsible libel (article here below) which in fact prompted the writer to resign at DV after massive series of protests.
Comparatively, in the beginning of April this year a famous commentator on the CBS Corp subsidiary in New York by the name of Don Imus was shown the way out of his job because of the equally “cool racial gibe” after advertisers such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble deserted the radio station (find links below as well).
These are few among many other cases of irresponsible reporting being met by responsible reaction!
The point I would like to make here is that Helgi Valur was wrong to write those words and should apologize immediately in the following Grapevine Issue. That band that came to Iceland to entertain Icelanders was invited for that same purpose! A well deserved farewell to the band should have required and an appreciation, least of which is to recognize that they do what they do for a decent living. It only appears that Helgi’s life -and profession for that matter- isn’t that much laudable than theirs, because to be called a “porn-star in a video” is defamatory by all rational thinking, especially when you are not one. Thus, Helgi should get a lesson now rather than later. He should also be able to acquaint himself with the happenings in the media industry in order to learn the basics of what is right and what is wrong in connection with media reporting.
After you have read this, all I would simply like to ask you to kindly forward this letter to: or editor@ and feel free to make any further suggestions as is deemed seemly.
The Konono group is gone, voiceless but their reputation unjustly destroyed!!! Perhaps today it was Konono, tomorrow it could be someone related to you and just because he/she would then be a foreigner does not justify Helgi’s writing style. Thank you all,
Augustin and others cc’d. It was with utter disbelief and disgust that I read your incredibly tasteless and ill-advised e-mail.
I cannot even begin to understand the general suspension of common sense to reach the absurd conclusions you present as facts. I find it saddening that you choose to waste not only my time, but also the time of those you have chosen to send your e-mail to as well with such incredible nonsense. “…but also the time of the other recipients of this nonsensical email.”Especially after you called me earlier to threaten me with legal action.
Helgi Valur, an accomplished musician himself, wrote a glowing review of the Konono no1 show where he concluded that the show was a great experience by all standards. The full clause by Helgi Valur, which you refer to without any context what so ever, reads: “Mingiedi, the Jimi Hendrix of the likembé, had been standing still all evening only moving his thumbs. Now he walked on stage dancing, shaking his hips like a twenty-year-old porn star in a music video. “What a cool dude!” I could hear many people utter.”
Now, your statement that Helgi Valur compares Mingedi to a porn star is an incredible stretch at best. He uses an analogy to describe a certain movement of the hips by a “cool dude” who happens to be the “Jimi Hendrix of the likembe.” How you reach the conclusion that this man’s reputation needs to be redeemed or that Konono no1’s reputation has been unjustly destroyed by this clause is not only blatantly ignorant, it is just plain stupid.
Be that as it may, what sets your letter apart from other nonsensical letters I receive is the incredible tastelessness to try to evoke correlation or compare this to the case of Don Imus or an accused child molester in Ísafjörður who sadly took his life after his name was leaked to the press. As well as your suggestion that people can expect to be attacked on the pages of the Grapevine for being foreigners.
There is absolutely no correlation whatsoever, and the mere fact that you should bring this up is both incredibly tasteless, and again, beyond ignorance. The mere attempt to compare the two and bring the discussion down to that level and to send out a mass e-mail suggesting any correlation is a much more serious attempt at destroying a man’s reputation than anything said in the review by Helgi Valur.
The Grapevine is largely written by foreigners and has always been supportive of the immigrant community. Your attempts to suggest that people can expect to be treated badly by the Grapevine based on their nationality are extremely offending.
If anything, I believe that you owe both Helgi Valur and me an apology for your false statements and your merciless attack on his person by sending out a mass e-mail full of unfounded accusations.
Your decision to not only write your letter from the relative safety of not supplying your full name, that is anonymously but also creating a special e-mail address (grapevine-issue6- to send it from is cowardish, and it suggests that you may not even be confident in your own claims.
I will be waiting for that apology.

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