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A specific place

from Sunday, March14th of the year2010.

Last night, I went to the Icelandic Music awards, which is just about the funniest thing you can possibly go to as a foreigner. It’s essentially a scaled-down Grammeez, but with way more inside jokes and way more awkward award speeches. What’s also amazing about these awards is the way that everybody, of course, not just knows everybody but also worked on everybody’s project. Like, half of the nominees had made their projects at Greenhouse studios; another slightly different half were artists I’ve recorded with numerous times “” there were almost no strangers to me. All the interstitial banter was carried out by Sigtryggur Baldursson and a woman whose name I forgot but who was easily eight months pregnant. The two of them were in a perpetual state of rushing from the stage to the balcony of the opera house, and breathlessly reading from the teleprompter, and rushing back down. Divine. I would say that I understood about 82% of what was happening, which, all things considered, is not bad for a foreigner.

The big excitement for the night was that Daníel Bjarnason won Best Composition, which is so cool, for one of the pieces from his album Processions, which was just released on Bedroom Community.

Hjaltalín came and played the two last shows, and one of their two singers, this girl Sigga (who I just found out has the improbably delicious last name “” not a patrynomic “” “Thorlacius”) had also won an award before, so it was a little bit of a lovefest. She is my favorite because she is a big girl who rocks it out; you see her going down the street and it’s nobody better coiffed, nobody better turned out with the garments:

I am so into a diaphanous gown. I’ve been literally counting the seconds until André Leon Talley is on Top Model this season wearing his “13 custom-made Chado Ralph Rucci cloaks.” Also I have a weird fascination with Hjaltalín’s bass player, who is one of those constantly smiling faces on the streets of Reykjavík, and also I think is the only person I know of in the entirety of Ever who can do facial hair properly “” behold:

Squinty, but he could kind of get it, right?

Also amazing was the memorial video in the middle, to commemorate everybody who died in the last year. The PHOTOS of these people, good lord, they were so exquisite! If I can find some online I’ll post them here; these men had such unbelievable hair. And it was great to see how many people on the screen were parents of musicians “” the whole audience was like, who momma that? Who momma that is? And you’d realize it was the mother of the lady from the orchestra who etc. etc. etc. Quite moving. Then, afterparties, afterparties, afterparties, confusing parties, not-confusing parties, boring parties, fun parties, screaming parties, drunk parties, sober parties. At a certain point, Jónsi and I excused ourselves to interview each other for the Grapevine magazine “” sort of like the Reykjavík Village Voice “” and we thought that the best place to do it was the Leather Bar (each town has one), which, because it’s Iceland, is run by the sweetest leather daddy you ever will meet, whose day job is translating cartoons from the English. Apparently he does the Simpsons, and then on weekend nights, runs the fetish club for, like, the two bears in Iceland. It’s fabulous. And I think now my new rule is that all interviews have to be done in fetish clubs.

Then, walking home, the typical weekend in Reykjavík zombie movie of drunk people:


It’s not much to look at, I know, but this is like, four in the morning, and everybody is on the street, and there are girls screaming and broken glass everywhere. There is something so apocalyptic about that place.

Is there a word for generational anxiety about travel? Sometimes when I see groups of backpackers my age “” be they from America, Germany, or whatever “” I get really really freaked out. Where do they buy those clothes? Why do they have those dippy smiles on their faces? I used to think that my mistrust for them was totally irrational and evil and that I was a wicked creature. But then I learned something last summer! It turns out that backpackers are really bad for small economies because they bring their own food, and don’t spend any money! Now, this was explained to me by, like, a Rather Tipsy Faroese tourism minister, but still. Transporting your own Gorp from Dusseldorf to Reykjavík is Bad for the World. This is my talking point and I’m going to stick to it. (Note: I was going to have a little inset picture of backpackers here, but I realized that I was basically trolling through Swiss Lesbians’s Flickr accounts, and that really isn’t fair usage, is it? I’m sure they are well-meaning. They should just come and spend money in the Kluh and at the health food store HERE so that this country doesn’t completely explode and turn into the Cuba of the North).


  • oh man, I’ve heard the same stories! I have a friend who works at one of the hotels in Reykjavik, and he told me how at the free breakfast he always see Germans loading up ziplock baggies. They also have a big problem with people stealing butter packets! Half of the fun of traveling is eating all the different sorts of foods that are local to the culture. Could you imagine a trip to Reykjavik without a drunken 2am hot dog? Also, A stroll down Laugavegur at 4am isn’t complete with out broken glass and some random chick screaming at her boyfriend while spitting in his face.
    My personal favourite early morning Laugavegur stroll was when my very drunk friend managed to throw me out of the way as a mob of young men armed with broken beer bottles, chased another young man down the street. Then there was a man chasing the mob with a cell phone, as he ran past us he screamed “I’m going to put this on youtube!”

  • Dominic Cooper and Nico Muhly: separated at birth? Just askin’.

  • charles sullivan
    March 15th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    The headline in “The Week” about Iceland is “Iceland: Balking at paying back foreigners.” And you are sure doing your best to move monies all about so as to keep their economy jumping. This global behavior is laudable!

  • i backpacked around iceland for almost 3 months and only ate the food there, lots of lovely dried fish and shark with brennevin…. also love the icecream dips with candy oh and i ate a lambs head in some gas station in patriksfjordur.. but i understand i’m sure there is alot of people that are just bringing there own but they must only be staying a short time because it must be difficult to bring all your food if your staying more than a week or two…. enjoyed your sets at kaffibarrin and idno at iceland airwaves and at motel mozaique in rotterdam…… you touring with jonsi? can’t wait to see him at his first shows in vancouver….

  • Every time I go on an adventure, I always ask myself how it strengthens the economy.