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robertogreco : bestparty   13

Did politics ruin ‘the world’s coolest mayor’? | Toronto Star
"In his own words

On his childhood learning disabilities:
In reading, general knowledge and telling stories I was one of the best, but when it came to writing and arithmetic, I was worse than mediocre. My letters were either upside down or back to front, my spelling was haphazard, and it was impossible for me to fit the words neatly on a line. The letters I wrote home on summer vacation were often passed around at family gatherings, where they were a reliable source of amusement. I was 15 before I could really write.

On coming up with the idea for the Best Party:
I’m often asked how I actually came to found the Best Party. The answer is that I simply came up with the idea. And an idea is born when two ideas have sex with each other, and a third idea comes into being. But in this case we should perhaps describe it rather as group sex, as to begin with there was a whole bunch of ideas in play until they eventually gave rise to this idea.

On why he wore lipstick to meetings:
When my mother died, I went through a severe identity crisis. It was as if something essential, part of my inner being, had suddenly been cut out of my life. I not only lost contact with my “roots,” but also with a part of myself that seemed to have died with her. When we started going through her belongings, I absolutely wanted to keep her makeup stuff. And in the weeks after her death, I kept having the sudden need to put on her lipstick and use her nail polish. A few times, I even popped into a meeting or a City Hall debate with painted lips and painted nails — many people recoiled at this or thought it was inappropriate. But for me it was a completely natural expression of how much I missed Mom. Eventually, I realized that it was actually the other way around: Not a part of me had died with her, but a part of her lived on in me."
jóngnarr  2014  iceland  reykjavík  government  politics  anarchism  bestparty 
june 2014 by robertogreco
We can't leave politics to politicians, says ex-Reykjavík mayor | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio
"Icelandic comedian and former Reykjavík mayor Jon Gnarr joins Jian to talk about how his audacious "joke" political campaign became very real, transforming the satirist into a bona fide political force in his country. 

"It's so easy to have an opinion when you don't have to take any responsibility," says Gnarr, who jokes about all the "boring things" he had to learn after his surprise election. 

"Responsibility changes everything, and the thing with responsibility is that it is it's not popular. Nobody wants it, nobody likes it." 

Democracy is about all of us

Alongside light-hearted quips, Gnarr shares several serious lessons -- perhaps most importantly, that ordinary people -- especially young people -- are losing interest in democracy. He argues that career politicians have had a real hand in turning them off. 

"More and more people would never dare to go into politics, and that's wrong -- because democracy is about all of us," he says. "We need a more variety of people to get involved in politics." 

Watch Gnarr's musical platform (with subtitles) below and tell us: do you agree that democracy is too important to leave to "professional" politicians and "alpha types"? Would you like to see more unlikely leaders take office?"
2014  jóngnarr  reykavík  politics  bestparty  anarchism  democracy  participation  politicians  iceland  class  empathy  peace  punk 
june 2014 by robertogreco
More punk, less hell! - News Ausland: Europa - tagesanzeiger.ch
"Nothing in Gnarr’s youth pointed to good fortune or success. He was the late progeny of a bitter couple: His father was a policeman and Stalinist: «Pravda» came in the mail and the current head of state and party of the Soviet Union hung on the wall, albeit the wall of the broom closet. Gnarr’s mother was a conservative.

As a communist, his father never received a promotion. His endless monologues at the dinner table awakened in his son a deep aversion to politics. Gnarr also had other problems. At school, he struggled from the start and doctors declared him mentally retarded. He was short, skinny and had ADHD and migraines. He learned to write only when he was 14 and he was 16 before he could recite the months correctly. By that age, he had already made two suicide attempts and a tour of homes for troubled youths behind him.

Everyone, including himself, thought he was stupid. So when he was 13, he made three decisions: he became a punk, he became the class clown («better a clown than a dummy») and he gave up on learning at school. From then on, he read privately. And read he did, extensively: on anarchism, Bruce Lee, Tao Te Ching, Monty Python and surrealism.

Gnarr became a psychiatric nurse, taxi driver, bassist in the punk band Runny Nose, a father at 20 and at some point realized that he hated music, but liked to talk to the crowd between the songs. The impromptu speeches got longer and longer. Eventually, the side gig became his profession. Gnarr started a career as a comedian – telephone gags on the radio, stand-up, columns, sketches, TV shows.

Being a comedian was not a normal profession in Iceland. In the early days, kids at school asked his sons if he was mentally disturbed. As people became accustomed, he became famous. («Although being famous in Iceland, with 300,000 inhabitants, means very little,» as he says. «You buy a bottle of milk and presto, you’re famous».) Later, during the campaign, his competitors reminded people of his gags: such as the parody in which Gnarr portrays Hitler imagining the schmaltzy CD ‹No Regrets›. Or his success as a bald-headed, egotistical, yet touchingly awkward Stalinist on a TV show. The characters, they implied, illuminate the man.

And Gnarr shone in the roles. Professionally, he manifested a certain preference for bold hairdos and ridiculous clothes, such as a one-piece bathing suit. His conversion to Catholicism was still fresh in people’s memory as well. For months he had tried the patience of Reykjavik’s newspaper readers with enthusiastic columns praising the Pope and the church hierarchy before ultimately deciding to remain an agnostic.

On the other hand, he was a father of five, the author of a book, a comedian and an established TV star; a calm man with a wild smile – still a bit chaotic, but with a smart wife. And he had a long road behind him."



"And then came the video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBW4mPzv6E ], perhaps the cheeriest in the history of politics. A reworded version of Tina Turner’s ‹Simply the Best› sung by the candidates, the song included a brief, rousing speech by Gnarr that began with the words: «Fellow citizens, it is time to look into your hearts and decide. Do you want a bright future with the Best Party? Or a Reykjavik in ruins?»

The video was «not a major deal», as Proppe said later. «We’re pros when it comes to music videos.» And yet it’s the most delightful political video ever made: watching it will put you in a good mood for two hours. It excited people and attracted them. Two weeks before the election, the Best Party was polling at 38%.

That was the moment when Gnarr thought of quitting. He was exhausted and not himself. The politicians irritated him: before and after the debates, they made small talk, but in between they attacked him. He realized that although he had no idea about the issues, he had begun to act as if he did. It scared him.

After days of depression, he was lying in the bathtub when two ideas came to him. The first: «The Best Party was an idea. It had grown up, so I had to follow it. Even against my own interests. It was bigger than me. I had become a player in my own play. My freedom was gone. I was trapped. But also curious.» The second thought that persuaded him was a joke.

The final debate took place the next day. Gnarr went to the lectern and said: «We at the Best Party have always said that we would keep going as long as we were having fun. Everything has now become very serious. I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the office of mayor and the Best Party from the elections». A protracted hush fell over the room. The audience sat in silence, the other politicians looked at each other. And then Gnarr said: «Joooooke!»"



"One of the projects of the Best Party was to change the political culture. What was lacking was common decency. Gnarr says: «In the beginning I thought that the people who yelled at me in parliament were actually angry, but they’re not. As soon as the cameras are off, they want to have a beer with you». Proppe: «There are two languages: one for the public and one for behind the scenes. You can’t do that in any other workplace.» Örn: «Let me put it this way, I didn’t find any friends among the politicians. With friends, I talk about hobbies. But the politicians’ hobby is politics».

«It’s a bit disingenuous,» comments journalist Karl Blöndal, second-in-command at the conservative paper Morgunblaðið. «They see politics as theater, but then they are shocked by the theater in politics.»

In the political battles, the Best Party employed a concept from the Tao Te Ching – ‹wu wei›: never fight back, but let the attack miss its mark. And express your respect for your opponent."



"An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that is the new bubble). In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: «I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.»

«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn. «And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!»

Others will keep going: they have founded the Bright Future party. Proppe has since become a member of the national parliament and Björn Blöndal, the prince of darkness, now moves in political circles like a fish in water. «It’s a lot of fun when you’ve learned how you can make a difference and you slowly get good at it. Politics is a craft.» Blöndal led the ticket for the Bright Future party in the Reykjavik elections. He and Dagur Eggertson vied to succeed Gnarr. For long stretches the polls were inconclusive, but in the end the Social Democrats won handily. Without Gnarr at the helm, Bright Future halved its result to take 15%. Eggertson now heads a four-party coalition that also includes the Pirates and the Left-Greens."

[alt link: http://mobile2.tagesanzeiger.ch/articles/10069405 ]
jóngnarr  iceland  2014  punk  politics  anarchism  democracy  ephemeral  pop-ups  taoteching  wewei  bestparty  agnosticism  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling  politicians  surrealism  comedy  catholicism  belief  religion  hierarchy  hierarchies  autodidacts  reading  self-education  reykjavík  ephemerality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Jón Gnarr is no longer mayor of Reykjavík
"We have interviewed Jón Gnarr a few times since he decided to run for mayor (and then while he manned the post), and he has even written a few articles for us to publish. As you reflect upon what was at the very least an immensely interesting time for Reykjavík and Iceland, you would do well with checking out some of our interactions with him.

Here are links to our feature interviews since he ran, along with some choice quotes (pardon the appearance of the older pieces, the transition to this new website is taking a bit of a while… but it’s worth it!)."
jóngnarr  iceland  2014  politics  anarchism  bestparty  reykjavík  punk 
june 2014 by robertogreco
What Happened? | The Reykjavik Grapevine
"Q: Why did you decide against running for a second term?

A: Because the Best Party is a surprise party. And surprise parties can only go on for so long. You can’t stand up in the middle of a party and yell: “surprise!” That’s absurd. No one would be surprised. The party is already in full swing. Parties that just keep on going, without any element of surprise, they’re just normal parties. And the Best Party was never meant to be a normal party.

Besides that, there is a certain flaw to the Best Party, in that it isn’t a democratic party. It does not play by those rules, and it’s important that it doesn’t. If I were to run again that would have to change. And then it wouldn’t be the Best Party. And I’m not interested in that.

Q: You’ve said the political system is in need of a massive reformation—“a full scale cultural revolution,” as you called it when we interviewed you before the last election. Was the party’s non-democratic nature an attempt to circumvent that system, to instil changes?

A: Exactly. You can think of the Best Party as an intervention. An intervention is temporary; the counsellor doesn’t stay on the family’s couch while it is in the recovery process."



"Q: What about your own beliefs and expectations? Did you compromise them? Did you ever have to stand for something you didn’t believe in, to go against your principles?

A: No, never. I have never done that. I have never gone against my conscience or acted contrary to my beliefs. I know that in life, you sometimes have to swallow bitter pills, that’s just the way it is. Regardless, I have never lied. I have not been dishonest. Even when that was an easy option. I have rather opted for honesty, to admitting that I do not know the answer to a question, rather than telling a lie or diverting the conversation."



"12 STEPS TO DEMOCRACY

Q: You’ve said that you modelled the party after AA…

A: Yes. I really like the philosophy behind AA. It’s very unique; it’s really a lifestyle of sorts that the members adopt. And it seems to work. You never hear anything about a scandal connected to AA. The organisation receives donations and handles money, but you never hear about a charter somewhere that was misappropriating funds or anything of the sort… that type of thing doesn’t seem to happen in AA. This indicates that the programme and the organisation work, that it’s healthy.

The Best Party is built like a 12-step programme—you could call it a political 12-step programme, or a 12-step programme for democracy. I think this is one of the reasons why the Best Party works better than your average protest party or joke party. Those parties don’t work. They have no ideology to build on, no philosophy to ground them. Their basis is often an emotion, like rage, or plain tomfoolery."



There are lots of great ideas out there. But they get misunderstood. And the cause is more often than not simple human frailty, which the theories don’t account for, because they exist solely on the ideological plane, without taking into account emotions and error. Just look at our best thinkers over the past few centuries. From Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Marx and Engels. Their ideas led to a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of horror. Schopenhauer was Hitler’s favourite philosopher. Karl Marx created communism because he was outraged by how the underclass was being treated. But then, their theories eventually inspired all sorts of atrocities, events and ideas that in no way reflect their intentions.

We thus figured that the best ideology would be no ideology, save for the one espoused by the AA: Powerlessness, humility, frailty. To realise that we don’t have all the solutions.

And Taoism. Taoism has definitely been an influence.

ORTHODOX ANARCHISTS

Q: What about anarchism? You’ve proclaimed on many occasions that you were an anarchist…

A: "To me, anarchism and Taoism represent the same idea. The only difference is that anarchism went the way of any other ideology. It was written down and demarcated, what counted as anarchism and what didn’t—and in that instant, it fell dead.

You can’t be an anarchist if you’re this way or the other. And in effect, this is oppressive. Take straight edge, a really cool movement that sprang up right in the heart of consumer culture preaching different values, preaching health. All of the sudden, you could be cool and a punker without always being wasted. But that quickly turned into a kind of elitism, the group instated rules and even turned to violence against outsiders who didn’t share their outlook. This is a clear example of something that started as a positive force, but quickly turned negative. And it’s of course due to human error and selfishness, frailty and all that crap.

Q: It became an orthodoxy?

A: So easily! And this is why when I say I’m an anarchist, it´s not because anarchism is some perfect ideology, but because there is no perfect ideology.

The whole idea—what’s important—boils down to the right to remain an individual within a community, to be able to live your life as you will so long as you’re not stepping on anyone else. That you can live in peace, whether you’re a homosexual or like to smoke cannabis or whatever, so long as you don’t disturb others. And that is the only ideology that matters."
jóngnarr  iceland  politics  2014  punk  anarchism  ephemeral  intervention  temporary  pop-ups  bestparty  humility  reykjavík  taoism  anarchy  ideology  frailty  powerlessness  ephemerality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Saturday Profile - Icelander’s Campaign Is a Joke, Until He’s Elected - Biography - NYTimes.com
"A polar bear display for the zoo. Free towels at public swimming pools. A “drug-free Parliament by 2020.” Iceland’s Best Party, founded in December by comedian, Jon Gnarr, to satirize his country’s political system, ran a campaign that was one big joke. Or was it?... With his party having won 6 of City Council’s 15 seats, Mr. Gnarr needed a coalition partner, but ruled out any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of “The Wire.”... Mr. Gnarr, born in Reykjavik...to a policeman & a kitchen worker, was not a model child. At 11, he decided school was useless to his future as a circus clown or pirate & refused to learn any more. At 13, he stopped going to class & joined Reykjavik’s punk scene. At 14, he was sent to a boarding school for troubled teenagers and stayed until he was 16, when he left school for good. Back in Reykjavik, he worked odd jobs, rented rooms, joined activist groups like Greenpeace * considered himself an anarchist (he still does)."
bailout  iceland  elections  2010  government  via:cervus  biography  banks  economics  politics  unschooling  anarchism  deschooling  bestparty  jóngnarr  thewire  dropouts  reykjavík  punk 
june 2010 by robertogreco

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