I checked out of my hotel in the morning to afford me a few more hours of museum/gallery hopping. While that was an excellent idea, I still found myself getting distracted on my walk back to the hotel to hop the airport shuttle bus.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The most popular hot dog and hot dog stand in Europe. It's so small that I walked past it about 10 times. And the hot dog? Either the rest of Europe really doesn't have good hot dogs or people go crazy over the crunchy onions on this hot dog... I can't really decide what makes it great. Then again, I'm not the best judge of hot dogs.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Following my day-long bonding session with Jasper, I finally was approaching my last evening in Reykjavik. Tonight was going to be the night of the all-out, fancy-pants dinner. I perused many a menu to finally decide on a place downtown called Einar Ben. I liked Einar Ben because it had both great food and a good story. A noted New York chef, John Mooney, had actually been at the restaurant over the weekend, preparing a special menu for the Food and Fun Festival, as well.
Monday, March 28, 2011
When I finally move from the city to the country, I would like to make these guys part of the family. Smaller than your average horse, the Icelandic horse is a five-gaited breed, which, if you are familiar at all with horses, you probably just got a little excited. In general, most horses are four-gaited with a walk, trot, canter and gallop. Most Icelandic horses carry a natural fifth gait called a tölt.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I didn't exactly anticipate the response below, though knowing my father, I should have. I did, in fact, expect a simple, "Yep! Sure is, Al!"
But... I was wrong in the best way possible. Sometimes things you know to be true are best reiterated and solidified by your father, Jethro Tull, Bob Dylan and Ben Folds - even if it is the 100th time he's tried to tell you or the 1,000th time you've heard a song.
This is simply a father speaking to his daughter. If it interests you to read his eloquent train of thought, please do:
“Life is good and the universe is cool, right Jharv?” Your mother warned you not to ask me questions like that. Buckle up. Here we go on the roller coaster inside my head!
“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup...” or so wrote John Lennon in "Across the Universe." Curiously, as physics now believes that electrons can be in two places at once and string theory abounds, the prospect of parallel universes seems to be reality. So it's entirely possible that in one of those parallel universes words can indeed flow like endless rain into a paper cup. Grab your cup and allow me to pour.
The first time that I actually understood Einstein’s famous equation, actually meaning that energy was simply matter moving at the speed of light, I was awestruck. “Wait a minute, you mean matter and energy are the same thing???” It struck me that none of what we believe is real, actually is, at least, in the form we believe it takes. This knowledge made me realize that we humans spend a lot of time worrying about things that simply cannot and do not matter and too little time actually seeing what surrounds us. I can recall sitting with Linda in front of the fireplace and saying, “The sun sure looks beautiful tonight.” She gave me that “What stupid ass thing do you have on your mind?” look that only Linda can give as I explained. It certainly is true that the fire in the fireplace releases energy in the form of heat and light as a result of the rapid oxidation of the wood. It is equally true that plants create food for their growth from the energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Ergo, the heat and light released from the fire is nothing more than sunlight that resided within the wood until I lit the kindling. (I am not sure if Linda was freaked out by the profound nature of my observation or my firm grasp of the obvious).
So nothing is real, or what it appears to be, or everything carries with it a bit of everything else, but that does not mean that everything is false. Our reality is no less real if it only exists in our perception. The Aurora is beautiful because we perceived it. Not in spite of it. Friendship and love are beautiful because we feel them. They are no less wonderful because they could not be explained or calculated. Even when the force of one tectonic plate moving above another is readily understood to be the cause of the massive earthquake, having the explanation makes it no less tragic. The betrayal of false friends mocking you from the comfortable confines of the tiny cube of space they occupy, the glow of computer screens as their only windows to the universe and armed with the computer key board and the desire to deprecate that which they do not have the vision to see, the soul to embrace or the courage to experience, hurts when you are the intended recipient and cuts to the quick when done as a cabal. They endeavor to nourish their spirits by picking at the flesh of those who actively live in the world, hoping to photosynthesize that energy into a beam of self superiority. (Here I was initially torn between quoting Ben Folds “Make me feel tiny if it makes you feel tall, but there is always someone cooler than you.” and the O’Jay’s: “They smile in your face. All the time they want to take your place” [Ironically, this O’Jay’s song is entitled “The Back Stabbers” and was recorded 22 years before O J Simpson’s trial. What more evidence does anyone need to prove that everything in the universe is intertwined?]) Make me laugh and you can be my friend. Love me and I will love you back. Reject me and it is your loss.
I think a fitting lyric for my view of life comes from Cat Steven’s “Sitting” in which he perfectly captures Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch in the verse: “Life is like a maze of doors and they all open from the side you’re on. Just keep on pushing hard boy, try as you may, you are going to wind up where you started from.” That verse fits because it captures what the “Tweebs” (my term for Twitter dweebs) and “Face...” (Still working on a proper pejorative for these users of Facebook) will never get: One’s universe, whether it be the cosmos, the earth, society, or personal relationships, is difficult to understand and often impossible to manage. Open this door and find joy and comfort in the arms of another. Open the next to a stunning landscape. On the other side of another, find poverty and suffering. Another simply opens into the abyss. In the end, whether we choose to open the doors and explore, look through the doors that others have opened or avoid opening doors altogether, try as we may, we wind up where we started. Ashes to ashes. Star dust to star dust. If we can open the doors and experience what is on the other side and laugh at the absurdity of it all when we open the door to the abyss, seems to me to be the measure of a life well lived. Don’t worry about what may be on the other side. Open the door. Whatever is there is what was meant to be there. Embrace it. Reject it. Deal with it accordingly. I am tremendously proud to have raised offspring who are willing to open the doors, wherever they may lead. I am gratified that some of the time, the doors are held open widely and long enough for the rest of us to look through. I feel sorry for the Tweebs because they really do not live.
I do depart from Nietzsche, however, as I do not and cannot accept that God is dead. I sometimes think that this notion is born of the western view of the world in which our analytical tradition begins with the large and breaks things down into smaller and smaller parts in order to understand them. I prefer eastern thought and the spirituality of being one with the vast universe (or many with the universes?). The shape shifting of the Aurora occurs all around us in everything we see. And it occurs whether we as humans attempt to start it, stop it, or alter it. It is egotistical and vain to believe that anything our species does in the physical world will permanently improve or diminish it. Global warming? Really? One massive volcano blast or meteor hit and it is ice age all over again. (Although that little prehistoric squirrel really does crack me up.) To say nothing of a blast of energy from a distant quasar. (In my head I hear Humphrey Bogart saying, “The problems of one little species don’t amount to a hill of beans in this universe.”)
Although I do believe in God, I am entirely certain that banding together in various groups to invoke the favor or garner the attention of a deity, only to slaughter members of other groups in His, Her, Their, name or names is more about controlling other humans than grasping the point of a higher power. I readily concede that Jethro Tull’s Aqualung album in general and the song "Wind Up" in particular, released while I was in junior high, impacted my view of God. “I don’t believe you. You have the whole damn thing all wrong. He is not the kind you have to wind up on Sunday.” Reaffirmed by CS&N’s "Cathedral": “Too many people have lied in the name of Christ for anyone to heed the call. So many people have died in the name of Christ that I can't believe it all.” - in which you could insert the name of almost any religion in place of the word “Christ” in that sentence. Nevertheless, there is and will always be something magical about Christmas. A celebration of new life in the dead of winter. Extolling peace and good will. The very feeling the holiday brings. God is present in all of that and is with us everywhere and always. He was there with the cold girl in Iceland looking at the Aurora, as well as in that field in Minnesota as the yin-yang swirled over three cigar-smoking nude dudes. I don’t profess to know what God wants for us or what God wants from us. However, I am ever awestruck by the synonymity of God and the universe.
Jai Guru Deva Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Although, I would add, that the world constantly changes, and thereby changes me.
P.S. This obviously was written in a parallel universe. How else could you explain two John Lennon quotes and none from Pete Townshend? And the O'Jays? Really? Where did that come from?
So since I can't always make myself as clear as my dad can, I will close this with the words of Mr. Folds:
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Haha, Monday's lunch looks like a pile of mush, but this was the most wonderful lunch I had during my stay. If you ever head to Iceland, give the traditional fish stew at Fru Berglaug a try. Made with haddock from the morning's catch, you can completely taste how fresh everything is. The rye bread was soft and warm as well.
Sunday was spent very much in the same way that Saturday was spent. No agenda really, just a nice walk through Reykjavik. I did, however, have one stop I needed to make. The Kolaportið market was the best place in town to taste Hákarl, which is a traditional delicacy. Yep. Fermented shark. It wasn't exactly that I wanted to do this, but every travel book and/or show I had read/seen featured someone taking a stab at it.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
After days of freezing my butt off by the harbor, I finally caught up with Ms. Aurora Borealis about 20 miles outside of Reykjavik. You know how I knew it was going to be a successful venture that Saturday night? Not only had I seen faint wisps of green above the city, but... "We Weren't Born To Follow" came on the radio right before the drive began. What the heck are the chances? I just laughed and shook my head. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but in the past year, all good things have started with Bon Jovi.
Probably the worst meal I had in Reykjavik, aside from the whale burger. The whale burger was so chewy and terrible that it doesn't even get a photo. However, there is a story that goes with it, but before I get to that, here's what's on the table at Potturinn og Pannan:
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
After I licked every bit of rye bread ice cream out of that little bowl, I made my way back over to Hallgrímskirkja. This time not really to explore its history, but to climb to the top of the bell tower to check out Reykjavik above the icy streets and sidewalks.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
What I've learned about traveling and taking photos of your food is that it is never advantageous to eat the cool/weird/illegal in other countries things for dinner. No, not because a night of indigestion is never pleasant, but because the ambient lighting is always terrible for photography.