Random weirdness for the week of April 19, 2016

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Svalbard Church Priest Leif Magne Helgesen, who famous in this space for some of the naughtiest photos we’ve ever published  (and that’s saying something), found a whole new way to be bad this week with a snowmobile streering selfie posted on his Facebook page that suggests a bit of, um, faithful navigation. “I do not think this is accepted as a dignified execution of the Traffic Safety Act,” wrote former Svalbard Lt. Gov. Jens Olaf Saether, using a devilish emoticon as punctuation. Of course, being a still photo there’s no actual proof of a moving violation and since he lived to post it apparently his boss didn’t blow a gasket over it…

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Sad-sack sightseers: Yeah, we know it’s now a historic site, but if somebody’s making money off the sadness of those who suffered…Photo by Espen Rotevatn.

And since since nearly half of this week’s fishwrapper is in some way related to the Svalbard Kirkes Trio’s album project (The Show That Must Not Be Named brought this week’s media junket by there for a recording session, resulting in the holy trinity dominating pages 1, 4 and 7), we figured we might as well allow them to continue their tour, so to speak, in this space. In addition to our local priest giving Earthly decrees the boot, Epsen Rotevatn – the church’s longtime music guru – is again invoking the wrath of the Almighty Clods upon those who keep showing up outside his home to gawk at the avalanche wreckage zone. While local companies and guides have denied any involvement in the snowballing disaster tourism scene, it’s kinda dubious the group in the picture to the right just happens to be a bunch of random individuals who all spontaneously showed up at the same time. Of course, this being the season for expeditions going to the North Pole and across Spitsbergen, we’re guessing there’s no shortage of visiting guides adding a little “extra” drama to this year’s adventures…

And speaking of The Show Slightly Spacier Than Us, they’re finally starting to shed some light on what their doing which, in addition to this week’s “hosted” press tour, includes a video of the first midnight summer of the year that was live-streamed and generated more than 2,300 mostly glowing comments from more than 150,000 viewers. BTW, initial local reaction to press statements that this ten-part docusoap is meant to be “a real life “Fortitude” (a surreal crime fictional series that’s gets Longyearbyen so massively wrong in so many comical ways it’s performance art in itself) is something less than favorable. Several social media commenters are saying the pitch apparently means they’re not interesting in showing Svalbard as it really is and an editorial in the The Local Paper of Record Clickbait notes some of the initial show descriptions “are of a town we don’t recognize.” For the record, we’ve been mostly silent about the show for the past seven months because our editor is one of the main “characters” being followed around until next month – after which we’ll write about it at length – but for now we’ll share the essentials of one statement he gave to the media at this week’s media junket. Basically, he said the show was incredibly lucky to be here during eight months that had some of the most dramatic moments in Longyearbyen’s history and that for once there is an incredible opportunity to put together a a “reality” show that actually shows reality rather than resorting to tacky manipulation of situations, people, etc. to enhance the “storyline.” We’ll withhold personal thoughts for now about the likelihood of that happening…

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