From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Published September 16, 2009

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour grape of the month
A case of POLAR BEER for your thoughts.
not gonna lie to you: we really love us some beers. Some folks would
call it a problem, but beer never gave us any problems. In fact, over
the years, it’s solved most of ’em. A frosty glass of cold, frothy,
bubblicious, golden-tinted beer has consistently failed to let us down.

In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson: “Mmm… Beer…”
since we’re real pleasant and giving folks here at the Grapevine, we
thought we’d share some of that wonderful POLAR BEER with you, our
readers. Henceforth, until the end of days (or our Polar
Beer-sponsorship program, whichever comes first), we will reward one
MOST EXCELLENT LETTER with a case of the Polar Beer. You read right. A
full case of beer. At your disposal.
Give us your worst:

Dear Editor,
     I read the interwiew with Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson with great interest. Most of what he said is no news to anyone. He is a follower of Hyek and Milton Friedman, whose ideas has been shown to be wanting. It also is clear that some of the ideas that capitalism have taken up are  dreams of university professors and had been best hidden in the ivory towers they come from.
    We all know that the ruling party then,  and its leaders, used  political power against Baugur even from inside Althingi. That is not good politics. We also know that the opposition party used politics to protect Baugur. That is not good politics either, or thrustworthy.
    When the media law was passed and the president denied to sign it, it was clear that according to the constitution the law should have been sent to the people to decide. The government did not dare to do that and annulled the law instead. So Davíd did not dare to face Goliath on common ground. This was not mentioned in the interwiew.
    Thank you for a good and interesting paper.
 Andrés Adolfsson.
Dear Andrés,
Thank you so much for bringing this out. We print ‘em, you knock ‘em down. This is good. Other readers: let this be a lesson to you. When you see stuff in GV that you find suspect or disagree with, send in a response and clear this up. We are your printed forum for discussion (thus unlike, say, a blog, we employ a proofreader). And there might even be some beer in it for y’all!

Hi Grapevine. I just got back to my Western New York home after a trip in which Iceland was the focal destination. I just wanted to say that the Grapevine really enhanced my time in Reykjavik, giving me great insight on the scene, the music, and the tumultuous situation in which Icelanders and expats who live there currently find themselves.
    Your paper is well-written and well-designed, a pleasant surprise for us visiting English speakers.
Mark Tichenor
Rochester, NY
Dear Mark,
    Thank you for being a real person that took the time to send us a real letter giving us some real compliments on our paper (if any of you haters out there doubt that, we have his e-mail address on file). We are very glad you like it; we do put a lot of work (I am writing this on my 32nd hour at the office). So thank you for your kind words. We love you. Keep it real.

Dear Reykjavik Grapevine,
    During a recent trip to Iceland I picked up your issue #11 and enjoyed it with the exception of Rebecca Louder’s article, “Thumbs Up! Hitchhiking your way through Iceland.” At first, I was curious to read of the author’s experience, but my interest changed to contemptuous derision, followed by anger, when I came to only the second sentence: “In most parts of the world (especially where I am from, Canada), hitchhiking is a downright stupid idea that frequently finishes with a body floating face down in a shallow riverbed.” Excuse me? Could the author have possibly invoked more fear mongering bull shit [To Grapevine eds.: “B.S.” if preferable] than this?
    As a 32 year old Canadian who has been hitchhiking quite regularly since the tender age of 17 (throughout most of Canada, as well as large parts of the United-States and Mexico; most recently last summer from Montreal to Nova Scotia and back) not only does such a description have little if any basis in fact, but falsely perpetuates a stereotype of the world, and, of all places, Canada in particular (undoubtedly one of the safest countries in the world), as a frightening and dangerous place in which homicidal maniacs lurk around every corner ready to prey on anyone foolish enough to either hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. Indeed, Louder’s inconsistency in invoking the virtues of, an organization based, as she states, on the exact same principles as hitchhiking, while pontificating on its supposed dangers everywhere but in Iceland (yet again, Canada, of all places, is “especially” dangerous? WTF?!?) seems to have completely eluded her. Could she not see that the same murderous psycho’s that she obviously believes are waiting to get at anyone involved in hitchhiking have undoubtedly all signed up on for the same purpose of murdering those foolish enough to trust them?
    This is totally irresponsible journalism. Hitchhiking is difficult and discouraged enough already; those of us who choose to hitchhike and/or pickup hitchhikers really don’t need this kind of tabloid sensationalism. As climate-change and social atomization increase, hitchhiking, while never perfectly safe (but then what is?), should be encouraged as it makes for more efficient use of fossil-fuels and is a fantastic way to interact, sometimes over long periods, with (at first) complete strangers; a far-too-rare experience for most people. Some of the most incredible moments in my life have come through hitchhiking or giving rides to others and it pisses me off that some might not have the same kind of experiences, or my next trip might be made more difficult and/or enjoyable, because of Louder’s peddling of such myths. Sure it makes for a nice dramatic opening to the article, but couldn’t your editors have asked for something in the way of evidence for such a hyperbolic claim? Here is an author who admits to having no hitchhiking experience other than one trip around Iceland pronouncing the rest of the world to be on par with the Black Forest in the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales: a dark and scary place filled with dangerous monsters and villains. Hopefully other readers of the Grapevine will realize that Louder’s characterization of the supposed stupidity of being involved with hitchhiking outside of Iceland (and especially Canada!) is just as much of a fairy tale.
Melvin Backstrom
Montreal, Canada
Dear Melvin,
Oh, come on. Grow a sense of humour, will you. You’re called Melvin, ferchrissakes. Also, the writer in question wishes to respond:

I appreciate your response to my article on hitchhiking in issue 11 of the Grapevine. While your experiences as a hitchhiker are positive and fortunate, I would suggest that your viewpoint as a male is somewhat inaccurate when it comes to the overall safety of hitchhiking. For a woman, hitchhiking has been and remains to be a form of travel that requires extreme precaution and a fair amount of apprehension in most countries, including our own dear Canada. In fact, hundreds of women are raped, murdered and/or remain missing in Canada, particularly in the Western and Prairie provinces, particularly young native women that are picked up at truck stops or along what is now commonly known as British Columbia’s “Highway of Tears.”
    As for the matter of, by no means did I suggest that the site was entirely safe either. People of ill intention are as much at liberty and just as likely to use the site, and there was some unfortunate news this week of a woman being brutally raped by her Couch Surfing host. However, there is a screening, verification and recommendation process in order to maintain as much safety and security on the site. People have time to be selective before picking their couches or surfers. Thus, my comparison between hitchhiking and couch-surfing was a loose one, simply to give the readers who don’t know the site a general idea of its function.
    This article was of course written as an opinion piece from my own perspective, reflecting my experiences. Being a female definitely played an important role in the shaping of those experiences and I firmly stand by my cautious attitude regarding hitchhiking in the vast majority of the world. This is not to say I would only do it in Iceland, but I certainly would never do it in Canada or the U.S. unless I was accompanied by a cohort. Even though the statement I made that angered you was merely intended as sensationalistic dark humour, the numbers of missing and murdered Canadian women along highways is no joke.
Best regards,
Rebecca Louder

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