Can I Live in a Can? (PS)

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palli-dlThirty years ago, when I returned home after studying in the Kingdom of Sweden for three years, it felt as if I had moved into a tin can.

My home country had decreased to next to nothing. In politics the main issue in the spring of 1982 was if the supermarket Hagkaup was allowed to sell yogurt from Húsavík, northeast Iceland, in its store in Reykjavík.

Hagkaup was of course denied their request by the agricultural production authorities. Farmers in Húsavík should sell their products to locals, up north. Not in the capital region.

Inflation was close to 100 percent and politicians used there precious time to argue about yogurt.

Many things have changed in 30 years but not the politicians. A recent poll revealed that Icelanders had the least faith in Alþingi, our parliament, out of all public institutions in the republic.

While politicians are still locked inside a can, something entirely different is happening in arts and music in Iceland.

Last month’s HönnunnarMars (DesignMarch) was a great success, as was the Reykjavík Fashion Festival.

On last week’s Billboard 200 list, a young group from Garðabær, Of Monsters And Men, had the sixth best selling album in the US, My Head Is An Animal, and topped the rock and alternative album lists. In Canada it was number seven.

The album was only released in North America two weeks ago. The result is better than Björk’s score on the list. And Sigur Rós’.

Of Monsters and Men are now touring; their next concert is in Amsterdam on April 23, followed by a concert in Paris the next day, and after couple of gigs in Germany, they will play in London on May 1. 

The next time they’re in the US, they will entertain attendees at the KROQ Weenie Roast 2012 festival in Irving, California on May 5.

So... if we can produce such successful international artists, why can’t we have a decent parliament?

This is what we call democracy; people get what they vote for.

But I did not vote to have to listen to parliamentarians like Jón Bjarnason and Vigdís Hauksdóttir.

When they start babbling, it feels like someone is putting a lock on the tin can we call Iceland.

Páll Stefánsson – ps@icelandreview.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.