Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Undercover Summer

The weather this summer is turning out to be just as miserable as last year. The other day it was reported that we can expect the same summer rain/wind/cold for future as we have supposedly entered a seven year crappy summer weather period. I had to turn the guy off since I did not want to know if he was a scientist or an overzealous evangelist about to threaten locusts. I would like to hope he was the latter.

To give you an idea of how crappy it is, below is a photo of a sunflower from my patio. Compare it to Cara’s sunflower photos from France in the preceding post. If my sunflower manages to fully bloom I am afraid it will be due to it having died and becoming a zombie.
Remember the world obesity research paper? Well guess what – they have done it again. I am never going to believe another study about worldwide anything ever again. Last week a study into nations’ cannabis habits was released and there Iceland was named the country where cannabis use is most widespread. Apparently over 20% of the population had been high in the past 12 months – surpassing Holland and even Jamaica. Again they got it wrong. No one knows from where they got this info and it is incorrect. Of course there is cannabis available here illegally but it is less widespread than in many places due to strict drug enforcement policies.

I should note I think people should have the right to smoke cannabis if they want to. I don’t, but that has nothing to do with anything – other than me not wanting you to think I am writing this stoned. I am sure the content and the disorganized set up of this post might raise such suspicions.

The inaugural Reykjavík music festival “Secret Solstice” was held the weekend June 20 to 22. As the weather forecast was actually good and it was known it would mainly be attended by young people, the police decided that it was sure to be some sort of Sodoma Gomorrah revival and sent in multitudes of undercover policemen, pretending to be hip and cool young fans of music. Apparently they fooled no one. They were too old, not at all cool and banally forgot to take off their police boots. Upset that they could not mingle with the young, they decided to do random body searches for drugs. Understandably this aggravated the guests to no end as the procedure used was the following: swarm the crowd, encircle someone and search them. No reading of rights or any such nonsense. This method sped up the process and they managed to search 100 guests in part of an evening.
Icelandic law is very clear about body searches. The constitution states that a body or property search cannot be conducted without a court order or search warrant. When police department officials were asked to explain themselves after the concert, they cited an article about being able to search those that have been arrested. Yet no one was arrested prior to these body searches. When this was pointed out they then quoted a law regarding being able to remove objects or valuables from persons that seem likely to damage or lose them. No one understood how that was supposed to make sense and the article was probably selected from the law book at random. Like the people chosen for body searches.
photo: (Secret Solstice guests - definately not undercover cops)
The foreign media attended the festival and they reviews were highly positive. Here is one from Canada (The Province) that made me proud of the Icelandic youth and even more annoyed at the police methods used at the event:

Hard-drinking, loud-talking Viking descendants with a penchant for strips of dried-fish as a bar snack, the crowd at Secret Solstice was a joy.

By day two, it started to sink in that at a festival where people were getting their party on hard, not a fight or incident to be seen. Many were even taking the time to put their butt ends into a bin rather than grind them out on the grass grounds. This is a place where the entire prison population in 2013 was 197 (of whom 17% were foreigners).

All of which is to say that none of the yobbish behavior that so annoys at most Canadian event was evident. My female companion was reveling in the welcome absence of sexist chest-beating and general jock boorishness. Women appear to be at a level of equality here that will leave most foreigners baffled. They lead bands, match or exceed the lads brew for brew, elect lesbian single moms to run the place.

So if you are available in November, how about dropping over for Iceland Noir?

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. You make Iceland sound like quite an idyllic place (other than the cold summers... no thanks, I joined Samuel Clemens one summer in San Francisco). Too bad police seem to be pretty much equally bad everywhere. It must be in the job requirements. Percentage-wise, probably no worse than any other profession, it's just that when you have the power to abuse people it tends to be a bit more visible, harsh, detrimental, adjective-of-your-choice. I know Jeff has a few choice adjectives saved up.

    1. Hi Everett - it is idyllic, not perfect but a very nice, sweet place to live. We do have some odd moments here - every now and again some sort of hysteria grips the nation. Now it is rats following someone having seen something he was almost certain was a rat in a downtown gutterstone. People have begun to loudly request official action plans to prevent rats killing Icelandic children. I kid you not.

  2. I'll be there for Iceland Noir, Yrsa, even without having seen my name on the good-looking palm card you so kindly had delivered to me here in Greece by personal messenger (thank you very much). Only one question: Having now seen photographic evidence of the types frequenting these artsy events in your homeland, what's the chance of getting in on any of that police body search action? Research requires diligence on all fronts.

    1. Jeff - your making me laugh rate stands at 100%. I will ask the police if they have something going on that weekend. I do not expect them to show up at Iceland Noir unless we take some action, play loud music, hire young people to hang around outside, move our arms around in front of us in wave-like motions, smoke pipes, etc.