From Iceland — Sour grapes and stuff

Sour grapes and stuff

Published July 16, 2010

Sour grapes and stuff

A buncha POLAR BEER for your thoughts
We’re 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 the once-reputable Homer J. Simpson:
“Mmm… Beer…”
Now, since we’re real pleasant and giving folks here at the Grapevine, we thought we’d share some wonderful POLAR BEER
with you, our readers. 
Not only that, you’re also getting the gift of
social life with it. So here’s the deal: our most awesome letter of
each issue (henceforth, or until the good people of POLAR BEER decide they don’t want to play along anymore), 
we will be providing our MOST AWESOME LETTER scribe with twelve frothy POLAR BEERS,
to be imbibed at a Reykjavík bar of their choice (so long as that bar
is either Bakkus or Venue). If y’all’s letter is the one, drop us a
line to collect. Give us your worst:
Hello Grapevine,
The wife and I visited Iceland during mid June and I happened across your fine paper while having a cool one at the Cafe Paris.  I had wanted to visit your beautiful little island since I was a snotty nose brat, but due to a ridiculous fear of travelling at high speeds in a shaky  tube, I always chickened out.  Plus I’m just your typical working class Canadian who could never afford to go to a country that charged how fucking much for a single beer?
But sadly, as we all know, that nasty financial oops that occured a couple of years back actually made your country affordable for common schmucks like me who don’t really understand all the financial bullshit…I’m too busy treading water myself most of the time, and my country hasn’t even financially imploded…yet.
But as we travelled around the island for our 12 day tour, I kinda made a few observations that I’d like to share with your loyal and dedicated readers who hang off of every word of type in the Grapevine.  So here it goes boys and girls.
Number 1.  The rest of the world is not yor enemy, and does not hate Iceland or Icelanders.  You might find it hard to believe, but the vast majority of the world doesn’t even know you exist.  The most press you guys ever get is when a volcano shuts down air traffic IN OTHER COUNTRIES.  We don’t care about the destruction of farmland or that little ring road that you try to pass off as a national highway.  Nooooo.  But the minute you go fucking with international air traffic, believe me, Iceland is on the fucking world stage.  Plus a word of advice!  Shorten the names of those mothers.
Number 2.  Your women are COOL. Now before you go reading too much into it, I don’t mean in a good way.  One of the reasons us foreign heteros desire to travel to Iceland is that there’s this myth going around about all the hot Viking babes that are insatiable and prey upon unsuspecting and naive foreigners.  Now I don’t know if it’s the 10 months of darkness or the constant grey skies you encounter all over the island, but you don’t see the ladies smile that much in Iceland.  Or maybe they just didn’t like ME?
Number 3.  All North Americans are not from California.  Just because a guy dresses like your typical Yankee tourist with blue jeans and a baseball cap, he could be from a lot of other places…like maybe CANADA.  You know that country that does something Iceland never does.  Wins international sports competitions!  Like Olympic Gold.  Men’s and Ladies hockey.  You know what I’m talking about?
Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’d kick our asses in handball.  But again, the rest of the world doesn’t care about fucking handball except maybe you guys and some Germans.  And judging by 20th century history lessons, it’s probably a good thing you guys lose to them all the time as they can get a bit out of hand when they get pissed, if you know what I mean.
Number 4.  And the most important observation of them all.  Iceland is not an island.  Well physically maybe, but like all other parts of the 21st century global economy we all live in, you are inextricably intertwined with the rest of the world.  And giving that world the one finger salute is like pissing in the wind.  Kinda leaves a warm, salty taste in the mouth if you’re not careful.  And the foreign tourists travelling through you’re country, dropping kronas like they’re hot potatoes.  They’re not the bad guys my friends.
Most of them are probably like most Icelanders.  We’re not all bankers or wealthy business types looking for opportunites to prey on a weakened and vulnerable society that has been raked over the coals for reasons that sound like a load of crap.
That guy with the jeans and baseball cap might be a guy who worked hard and scrimped and saved for YEARS, until he finally had enough in his pocket to fly to one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And his intention was not only to witness this beauty first hand, but also spend his coin in a land that deserves much better than what it has experienced the last couple of years.
Iceland is a very special place in a lot of different ways.  I experienced the best of your people, and the worst.  I saw natural beauty that is absolutely awe inspiring…and I saw parts of the country that rivalled some unsavory parts of my own.  In short, Iceland is like no where else in this world, and is at the same time like everywhere else.  And never forget that they will kick your ass in handball.
Shane Christensen
Dear Shane,
Since your being Canadian is obviously some sort of deep issue you hold, we decided to let our Canadian journalist, Rebecca Louder, reply to your letter. Canadian on Canadian action – GO!
WOAH. Who the fuck pissed in your President’s Choice Blue Menu Bran Flakes? Was it us? We are really confused by your letter! It seems kinda hostile. Anyway, since you aired your grievances in point form, we’re going to let our CANADIAN JOURNALIST (you know, that journalist from that country that sucks at football all and has a fascist police force, apparently) address them one by one:
1. Who said we thought the rest of the world was against us? Sure, some of the rest of the world may be against us, but certainly not the WHOLE REST OF THE WORLD. If the vast majority of the world does not know we exist, well, that’s fine. We can take ‘em by surprise. We’ll make sure to change all our mountains’ names to make life easier for you.
2. Why do you care if the Icelandic women acted chilly towards you? Didn’t you come here with your WIFE!?! Were y’all looking for a threesome with a hot local? Maybe they just didn’t like you because you bought into some patriarchal misogynist marketing campaign and expected the women here to be nothing more than fawning sex-crazed goddesses rather than real human beings who require more than an international passport and a baseball cap to be sexually stimulated.
3. Your Canadian inferiority-to-Americans complex is showing. Put your Maple Leafs jersey back on and drink another Molson Ex while hockey season is still on hiatus.
4. What the shit, man? First you tell us that the rest of the world doesn’t know we exist and now you tell us we are inextricably intertwined with them? Make up your goddamn mind! If no one knows we exist, why shouldn’t we just piss in the wind and throw our middle fingers up like 2pac? Man, 2pac fucking rules.
So you know, sorry your jeans and baseball cap were offended in some way while you were here. Maybe you just need to get over it and stop thinking that the countries you visit owe you anything because you feel you worked hard your whole life to get here.
But if we have totally read this wrong somehow and you actually had a super awesome visit and love us long time, then that’s cool. Hope it was money well spent.
PS – did you see that YouTube of that dude who demanded to know why the Eaton Center was closed during the G20 riots? That shit was hilarious! Wait, that wasn’t you… was it?
It is a bit funny to see that Grapevine’s proofreader is constantly mispelling Mr. Gerard van Vliet’s name. I don’t know where he got ‘Vooral’ from, but I can assure you that is not a Dutch name. It means ‘above all’. Now, I see you got it already wrong on June 18, but it remains a curious mistake.
Jan Libbenga
Dear Jan,
Thank you for pointing this out.
And when we say ‘whoops!’, we don’t say it lightly. This is really, really embarrassing. What happened is that the first person to write about Vooral (sorry, Gerard) totally thought his first name was Vooral for some reason (we usually trust our writers to get their subjects’ names right. This is perhaps a mistake). The person that then replied to Gerard in the subsequent issue only went by what we wrote in the former one.
This is embarrassing. Vooral, this is our mistake. Gerard, we are sorry. Everybody. Please?
Dear Jim Rice,
Your article in the last Grapevine issue was such a relief! I have met Gerard Van Vliet once and can only agree with everything that you said about him. While he has a point in the things he deplores, he acts in such a condescending way that it is even hard to bear. He constantly talks about how much he wants to be friends with Iceland, but then accuses everyone and blames Icelanders for not taking his oh-so-understanding helping hand. It’s all fake. Also, he must be quite the narcisist, considering that he doesn’t miss A SINGLE CHANCE to be on tv with his oh-so-altruistic messages.
Anyway, I thank you for your frank article. It spoke directly from my heart.
Best regards,
Dear Irina,
thank you for your letter. But we are confused? Who is this ‘Gerard’ you speak of? Do you perhaps mean Vooral Gerard van Vliet? ‘Cuz we definitely ran an interview with some guy called something like that a while back.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend!

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