If ever there was a grim picture of the current financial clusterfuck, it's the once artsy (Björk! sigur rós!), hip, and rich island nation wonderland of Iceland, which fell into cataclysmic economic failure earlier this month. And it happened pretty much overnight. Since the three major banks collapsed under crippling debt and a plummeting currency, job loss has been widespread—the architecture industry, for example, has seen some 75% of its work force laid off in the past few weeks. Now the seemingly peaceful population has devolved into an angry, violent mob, with a gay "troubadour" named Hordur Torfason leading the charge against the government.
Torfason, a playwright/actor/folk musician who was the first Icelander to publicly come out about thirty years ago, says of the wayward parliament: "They don't have our trust and they are no longer legitimate." That the singer of charming little ditties could become the face of a nation of newly desperate and (for now) hopeless anti-government rioters kind of scares the hell out of us, because if it could happen in that seemingly idyllic country, what surreal end-of-days scenarios await us? Will John Waters take up the reins of the new American hobo class, rioting against police until our government is overthrown? As for Iceland's demise, unemployment is estimated to reach 10% by next year. It's a microcosm of a much bigger disaster, that could "put [the country] back 40 or 50 years," according to Sarah Lyall of the New York Times. There is a silver lining though! Reykjavik, with its loungey up-all-night bar scene, used to be one of Europe's most tantalizing but prohibitively expensive nightlife cities. Not anymore! These days we can go there cheap and dance in the ashes of their once gloriously idyllic Norse city, ably forgetting our looming penury back here Stateside. Then we'll come home and leave them to their own devices. The long forever-night will set in, and there they'll stay. A frozen reminder of a wintry paradise, lost.