Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reykjavik glittering

Image from

There is absolutely no way to adequately describe New Year's Eve in Reykjavik. It's not like the pictures I've seen, and the videos I shot of it are kinda pathetic, actually.I don't really know how you WOULD capture in on film, though.

We've all seen fireworks displays. Well, I'm assuming we all have, anyway. So, imagine a fireworks display. One fireworks display. Go ahead, imagine it. I'll wait.

Ok, so you're imagining ONE fireworks display. Ooooh, aaahhh, preeeettty, spaaarrrrkly. Now, imagine that you're on the balcony of a building overlooking a city, and you're seeing that one fireworks display somewhere off in the distance. Got that? Ok, Now multiply that by a couple of hundred of those displays, in every conceivable space on the horizon... and you've got a FANTASTIC view of the city, ok? You've got a full 180 degree view in front of you, and the horizon of that is totally and completely filled with fireworks displays... and also all over the place in between, shooting off from the parking lot below you, and the neighborhoods to either side.

Next to you, a little kid and his Dad are holding sparklers. Somebody says "Welcome to New Year's Eve in Kosovo", and even though that's not really funny, you have to admit that the sound is deafening and like what you'd imagine a war zone to be like. Another guy says "now, does THIS look like a bankrupt nation? This is for Gordon Brown!" If you don't get what that means, read the article I posted from the WSJ about the financial collapse.

The thing I kept thinking --and saying, when I wasn't doing my best Southwestern Virginia Redneck "WOO-HOOO!!!" sound at all the stuff blowing up in the parking lot below us-- was what a sign of solidarity this was. I literally cannot imagine this happening in the U.S... a city of 150,000+ folks, all unified in this celebration, and a significant percentage of them actively making it happen. People kept saying to me, "Well, we buy the fireworks because the proceeds go to supporing the Rescue Teams that assist stranded hikers", as though this really explained it, but I find that even MORE difficult to process... that all the people in this city are contributing to the same CHARITY?

There had been sporadic fireworks throughout the day, but they completely stopped during a comedy show that comes on every New Year's Eve... kind of an SNL type thing that satirizes the events of the year. That also boggled my mind. Really?? EVERYONE in the city is watching this show? Apparently so... as the credits rolled, I saw the first fireworks go off across the city. I guess, in a country of about 300,000 with its own, unique language, you really can achieve a sort of unified cultural identity, a sense of oneness... and you can use that to throw one kick-ass party.

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