As an avid “Off the Markley” reader, you should prepare to learn an awful lot about the country of Iceland. Why Iceland? Well, a couple months ago a few friends and I got it in our head to go spend two-and-a-half weeks traveling around that country. I’d like to claim that I’m intrigued by the country’s unique countriness or whatever, but let’s face it: It’s mostly because if you Google “Icelandic women” this comes up.
With less than a month left before our departure, I will use this opportunity to learn all kinds of crazy stuff about Iceland, beginning with the mayor of the Reykjavik. We’re planning to spend at least two weeks in the capitol city whose mayor is possibly the most interesting politician in the world.
Disgusted with mainstream political parties following the financial crisis of 2008-2011, Iceland’s largest population center elected a comedian named Jón Gnarr as mayor.
Gnarr began a political party called the “Best Party” or the “Coolest Party,” literally campaigning on only doing things that are cool. Among some of his campaign pledges, Gnarr promised, "free towels in all swimming pools, a polar bear for the Reykjavík zoo,” and “all kinds of things for weaklings.”
He also swore he would not enter into a coalition government with anyone who had not watched the entire run of the HBO series “The Wire” (where he lands on the Simmons-Simon beef remains to be seen).
As mayor he has attended a gay pride parade in full drag, appeared in a holiday video wearing a Darth Vader mask and a Santa Claus cap, and protested the Chinese government’s treatment of Nobel Prize-winninghuman rights activist Liu Xiaobo. You can watch an interview with the Gnarr and his enormous, uncontrollable cowlicks here.
Gnarr is now the star of “Gnarr” a political documentary, (which is not yet available on Netflix—boo!) and seeing as how I’ll be spending two weeks in his country, I’ve sent the following interview request to the mayoral offices of Reykjavik, hoping he doesn’t actually fact-check any of my assertions:
Dear Mayor Gnarr,
Greetings from Chicago, America’s greatest city! As a means of introduction, let me say quickly that I’m one of Chicago’s biggest, awesomest, most influential personalities—an author, writer, political commentator and notorious womanizer—essentially, the Rick Moranis of the 21st Century American Midwest (if you haven’t heard of Rick Moranis, here is a link to his Wikipedia page; although I assume you’ve at least seen his finest work in “Ghostbusters”)
Earlier this year, I decided to spend most of the money I earned selling the film rights to my smash-hit memoir “Publish This Book” on a trip to Iceland, specifically because people cannot talk about your country and the city of Reykjavik without extolling it as one of the undiscovered gems of all the countries north of the 63rd parallel. In preparation for our journey, I’ve been reading up on Icelandic culture and like so many became swept away by the tale of your political rise.
I would consider it a joy and an honor if I could interview you for the Chicago publication RedEye, which is like the Chicago Tribune’s hipper, cooler, more profitable, snot-nosed younger sibling. You could introduce yourself to an American audience and perhaps lay the groundwork for a political run as mayor of Chicago or Governor of Illinois (a job where you would only stand a 66 percent chance of going to prison following your tenure).
I’ll be in Iceland June 4 through June 19, Icelandic Central Time. Your offices can reach me at _____.
Best of luck with your polar bear,
Stephen Markley, Incredibly Famous American Writer
P.S. What’s the best way to get from the Reykjavik airport to the Kex Hostel?