22 December 2005

The Iceland Diaries IV -- Day 7

Miðvíkudagur, 21 Desember 2005

I'm an idiot.

I woke up pretty late; I must be fighting a cold to be sleeping like this. I couldn't take the disaster area the room had become in only a week and cleaned up, emptying the suitcases into the sparse wardrobe.

That done I got to writing and preparing some pictures. I have the photo shoot tonight so I needed to charge all the batteries. I also really need to find a shop with some goddamned CF cards that'll hold more than a dozen shots. I may be forced to purchase some USB storage/transfer device though I'm rather wary of it, but it's small, portable and battery-powered.

The tubless showers are quite a luxury. With just a curtain to block the cold air coming in the window and another on the other side to keep the water where it will drain easily, you have a lot of room. And they're not nearly as restrictive on water although the shower heads all come from countries which do have flow restriction rules and laws. Still, unlike a German 3.5 liter/min shower I suffered, all my hair was wet inside 10 seconds and since hot water is nearly free, I took my time.

Magnus got an iPod. Yay him. Too bad they have no computer and you can only charge the thing through a USB port. He begged me to charge it for him, hoping I'd forgotten what a shit he'd been the past couple days. Hardly, but I did it anyway, plugging it into my other notebook.

What am I doing later today, Sandra asked. Sandra wants to rearrange a couple rooms, swapping hers (off the living room) and the dining room (between kitchen and kid's bedroom). And she's trying to rope me into helping move this shit. I've got a full dance card today but tomorrow? We'll see if that tour is running to the south again and hope that the weather's more like today's which, though it obviously snowed a bit last night, is cold but clear, and the light of the sun hitting the underside of the clouds at 1 in the afternoon is a pretty neat view.

Off to Vegamot. They have no Net access so I'll head to 22 after lunch. I ordered Vegamótaborgarinn ("The Vegamót burger"): it's 200g (almost a half-pounder) with bacon, ham, cheese, greens and a baked potato (bókuðum kartóflbátum) for 1190kr. Fourteen eurobuck for a burger is getting pretty steep.

Össur (from Bar 11) is sitting at the next tale. Once you've been here for a bit you always run into people you've met. In five years I never once bumped into my ex- in Munich. Anyway, he saw me first and I surprised him with my new local cell number. Maybe I'll get some work at 11 but I ain't holding my breath.

The burger came and it's big, but it came with fries, not a baked spud. Fine. I like fries. A lot. But I'm about to make an ass of myself. Icelanders eat burgers with a knife and fork and I Just. Can't Do. That.
Vegamótborgarinn -- The Best Burger In Iceland Or Anywhere
Vegamótborgarinn -- The. Best. Burger. In. Iceland. Or. Anywhere.

Except that I did. With about 1/3 to go, the thing was falling apart and I had no choice to concede. I took the cutlery in hand and made my way through the rest of the sauce- and cheese-smothered mess. I feel so dirty. And so full. And I'm not done yet.

The burger is perfect! Not overcooked, it's dark pink in the middle and the flavour is just fantastic. It even beats the Gleym mér ei as long as you don't factor in the cost, almost double. OK, not quite perfect. The bun's a bit light and it ripped easily, getting something cheese-like on my fingers. Eating this burger with your hands is also a bit messy. They also went just a tad overboard with the onions but it's still the top burgers here. I understand Hera eats here when in the country as do a lot of other celebs. No wonder. I'm just wondering if Buddy Holly is going to come over and ask me if I want a $10 milkshake.

By the way, Vegamót has a small non-smoking section. It's near the kitchen and a bit noisy. However they have excellent ventilation and the main area, though smoking is permitted, doesn't get smokey, at least during the day. Nights are another mattetr but no one's eating after 10p.m.

In 22 I got the diary up. Göja came in (she's managing again) and I told her I could work a few nights on the bar if she wants. As I was getting ready to leave, Atli showed up and handed me a shot of Topas. Mighty white of him but I have to stay fairly sober and start taking pictures in a couple hours, going all the way back home to drop off the computer and pick up the camera. He brought me another beer since the bartender screwed one up (wrong flavour) and we talked a bit.

Atli came in and brought over a shot. Þakka þér kærlega! He sat down across from me and after a few minutes of chat asked if I earn a lot. I earn well but I don't have a fortune or I'd already have a place here. He was just wondering since I don't look rich, no offence intended. It's just that I drink all the time and keep coming back to Iceland all the time and that's got to be expensive.

Yes and no. There are ways to keeping costs down and getting to know people certainly helps. I have a room for almost a month for less than the cost of a week in a hotel. I know some bartenders so I get some free drinks. I can cook so I'm not reliant on restaurants (and I just don't eat that much anyway). But i am pissing away quite a bit of cash with my near obsession with the country.

At around 7:00 I went home, dropped off the computer and picked up the camera. I got a few shots of the band as they did a warm-up/sound check and then they were off. I slowly sipped at a beer, well aware that I'd had three and a shot already and in two hours I have to take good pictures. I had a glass of soda water.

Around 9:00 the place was getting full and I already was. I had to go to the bathroom but didn't dare leave my seat for fear of losing an almost ideal position. I wasn't supposed to take pictures of the guests but there was one Hottay in a Cheerios shirt I just had to. Almost every shot was blocked, either by the candle flame or the bozo in front of me or her friend.

At 10:00 the band still wasn't there, the place was packed and I was hurting. Someone pushed up against me and it was none other than BEIG. Didn't expect to see her around. Everyone's said they haven't seen her for donkey's. We talked for a minute and that was that. One demon conquered; her hair was still blonde. They band finally arrived around 10:30 and played for the next hour. It was Björk-ish trip/dub/techno stuff without being so terribly derivative; the crowd was thrilled.

Forgive the quality, these should all be re-done and fixed properly once I'm back home. There's just so much you can with Picasa and PaintShop Pro 3 on a crappy laptop LCD screen,

'Sometime' premiere, live at Sírkus
Sometime premiere, live at Sírkus

'Sometime' premiere, live at Sírkus
Sometime premiere, live at Sírkus

'Sometime' premiere, live at Sírkus
Sometime premiere, live at Sírkus

'Sometime' premiere, live at Sírkus
Sometime premiere, live at Sírkus

Afterwards an encore was demanded which they weren't prepared for. Twenty minutes later the show was over, Of the 300 or so shots I took, 208 weren't deleted on the spot. I tried again to get a shot of Cheerios Hottay and failed. I went home to drop of the kit. I still have a lot of work in prepping, colour-correcting and tuning them but I'm quite happy with the preliminary outcome. I blew through both camera batteries and a set of four rechargeable AAs for the flash getting them.

I did get a shot of Cheerios with the little camera. Lots and lots of red/orange eye. Not worth posting and probably irreparable.

Sandy, my German photographer friend who specialises in live music, had given me some advice meant for the major shoot on New Year's but it was applicable here, too. Moreso since there was no lighting to speak of. I kept everything underexposed since the colour information is still there and you can always clean that up. Overexpose and you're going to wash out everything. Also buy keeping it underexposed you keep the shutter time down, important when you're trying to go flashless, which I did about 50% of the time to keep the warm feeling. Yes, I can adjust the colour temp somewhat but you're limited by a point when it becomes clear you've manipulated the image rather than tune it.

So I have that ahead of me.

The sky is pretty clear. Tomorrow if I wake up in time, I may yet go on the South tour. Otherwise I'll probably be helping Sandra with housework and such. She seems to be at the border of another depression; the last one I know of (in November) kept me on the phone after work at the bar for 40 minutes. My cell phone. Victorvox sent a thank-you card with that bill.

I went back down to Sírkus, straight to Rósa who was sitting down. I sat on the arm of the chair next to her which was occupied by a Hottay named Eva who was sitting next to her friend Anna-Lisa. I sat talking with a couple Hottays and saw Cheerios girl again but couldn't get a shot. I was no longer photographing the band and photography inside isn't just frowned up, it's grounds for instant banninisation. Unless you're very close friends with the people there or you're some star. But I was able to secure permission to take a single shot or two by gestures from the doorman. So much for spontaneity.


There was a rubber toad making the rounds. Rósa gave it a kiss:
Rosa and frog
Rósa tries again for a prince

And Eva, well...
Eva and frog
Eva thinks it's prince enough

As Sírkus closed up, Cheerios girl came over and talked to the girls around me for a minute about going somewhere after hours, then turned to me and asked if I wanted to come along. Sure thing. So off we went to Kaffibar. The doorman let the first two girls and guy in but stopped me and Cheerios, who then yelled to the other girls. Doorman: "Oh, you're with them? Come on in," begrudgingly letting Cheerios tow me in with her. The guy who tried to piggy-back on me got a push and a door slam with a rather loud "We're closed!

I grabbed a beer, saw a lesbian I knew with some girl who wasn't the one she was with at Vitabar earlier in the week, saw a red-head who's often at 22 and is a friend of Göja and made it back to Cheerios. She informed me that the guy sitting in front of us was the first one tried to pick her up all night. WTF? "Well, the first guy who is clearly trying."
"And me? We've been staring at each other all night and I'm here with you now."
"We had a look."
W. T. F.
And she sat down. The guys invited me to sit down, too, and there we talked for a bit before fucking off for another party as the people working in Kaffibar had had enough of the guests on a Wednesday night and started herding everyone out.

And off we went to a private house. Stefán's house. Who's he? Dunno, but he's tall. There I met Alex, a Yank who's doing some film work and may want me to do some work for him. I wasn't taking any chances -- I got Cheerios' phone number, the one here and her other number in the Netherlands. She doesn't want to be photographed but she saw a couple impromptu shots I took with the crappy camera and gave me a maybe.

Stefán announced that we were all going to be playing Survivor. Of the 20 or so people in his place, 10 were going to be gone in the next five minutes. He didn't care which 10 but there were too many people.

Never let the target out of your sight. Especially when another person has the same target. Cheerios got up with her girlfriends and a couple guys, one of whom I think was the guy who tried to pick her up. But fuck it. I was talking to Alex, the night was late, and I'm sick of walking some girl home up and then getting a "Good night, fuck off" in front of a house that's probably not even hers.

There were only a couple girls left including a different Rósa who was free last Friday and now has a guy she's seeing. She reminds me a bit of Bambi, a friend of my girl at the bar in Munich who comes in every Monday. Except she's clearly not encouraging her lesbian side. When I asked her why the hell she didn't come to Prikið last Friday I got a friendly laugh. Them's the breaks.

Göja's friend Heyðar was still there and we talked for a minute. I remembered she was at that little impromptu party in 22 back in August and later confirmed it looking through my pictures.

After a little while we all left in search of yeat another party. As we walked further up Laugarvegur, a few people (including the two unattached girls) broke away and headed home as we neared Hlemmur. I should've done the same -- it was around 4 a.m. But I stuck with the group as we reached the large building. Alex was on the phone with the guy who was either in there or knew who to talk to.

We were supposed to go in a side door so we all walked around the entire building trying every door on every side. Nada. There was a shoulder-climb attempt to get to a lit window on the second floor which failed. There were many pebbles thrown at other windows which also failed. I don't know what happened next but some other guy arrived. We were then supposed to split up, pick up party supplies and then... fuck it.

I'm going home. It's cold, it's late, I'm outta smokes and I want to be up for that tour. But I stuck with Stefán, Rósa and her squeeze and went to the all-night convenience store. On the way Rósa showed us where to go dumpster diving. Lots and lots of sealed, un- or just-expired goods. And with an outside temperature of 2°C, kept perfectly fresh. She lived on dumpster diving for some time as a student. (A check of the dates the next day showed most of the stuff to be a good week out of sell-by. I guess they hold the stuff for a week before binning it to prevent such diving.)

I scored a couple packages of "salads" (primary ingredient in each: with the mayonnaise). What the hell. I sure as shit wasn't going to pay for ham-flavoured mayo.

I said good night to everyone and walked up Vitastígur. When I got to the apartment I saw a light on. Sandra and Steinur were still up at around 4:30a.m., Steinur playing the guitar. I just wanted to have one last smoke before bed but I tried the ham stuff. It wasn't bad on the flat cracker-bread. Half an hour later I went downstairs and set my alarm. I still had about three hours. Well, almost.


At Thu Dec 22, 04:40:00 pm UTC, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! That girl's got a tongue on her! Why didn't you stick with her?


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