Tag Archives: rant

ARTIST RESIDENCY IN EXILE: ‘News of the 14-day quarantine hit. I despaired’…now after surreal experience returning from U.S. ‘pure joy’ isolated with new canine friends on mainland


(Editor’s note: The following is an essay by Elizabeth Bourne, a Seattle artist who moved to Longyearbyen a year ago. She is now in quarantine on the Norwegian mainland until April 1 after returning to the U.S. to sell her home and possessions in anticipation of living in Svalbard for the foreseeable future. It is presented with minimal editing.) 

Home. To return home is one of nature’s strongest instincts. Monarch butterflies travel 3,000 miles to return home. King salmon swim 6,000 miles to find their home pond. Arctic terns fly an amazing 24,000 miles from their southern grounds back to Svalbard to nest. 

My home is also Svalbard. I was 4,000 miles and nine time zones away as news reached me of how bad coronavirus was in other countries – China, S. Korea, Iran, Italy. Seattle had one case, then suddenly it spread like fire through nursing homes in Seattle, then patients’ families spread it into the south Seattle community, and further. I worried how I would get home, if I could get home.

GUEST COLUMN: ‘Shutting down the world for two weeks is a good step…(but) please companies in town…maybe there are other possibilities than just to fire people’


(Editor’s note: The following is an essay posted by Sylvia Gross, a Longyearbyen tourism employee, on her Facebook page Saturday afternoon. It is being republished here with minor style edits with her permission.)

I would like to take you on a small thought experiment regarding tourism in Svalbard.

As there is not much we can do anyway, many of us lost their job already or are about to lose it, and many companies and things in town are closed anyway, we maybe have the time for this now.

LONG YEAR = SHORT CELEBRATION: Whiteout blizzard means quick – but glowing – return-of-the-sun ceremony on leap year

(Editor’s note: This was the worst weather I’ve experienced in my 12 years covering Solfestuka’s main event and, since there was no way in hell I was going to interview folks while somehow taking the photos that are obviously What Really Matters, here’s a rare first-person diatribe on what certainly was an illuminating occasion.)

I opened the door to my flat at about noon, and instantly was literally knocked astride by a white wall of blowing snow that made it impossible to see my car two meters away – let alone my intended destination on a small hill perhaps 500 meters away.

RANT: Rumor persists the bear killed on New Year’s isn’t the one that visited in 2016. It’s utterly absurd, unless it’s the biggest and stupidest conspiracy by officials in modern times


First, to the naysayers: yes, the lip tattoo and ear marker on the bear are a match. Unless two different official agencies are telling an easily-discoverable lie for reasons beyond comprehension.

Unlike certain parts of the world where leaders are spouting non-stop “alternative facts,” claims of “fake news” and – in a new classic uttered just yesterday – “no one said this wasn’t photoshopped,” even nonconformists at this newspaper tend to trust public officials are truthful about facts regarding major incidents such as the highly controversial killing of a polar bear on New Year’s Day.

Rant: Yes, they’re really doing season two of that BBC docu-soap; that’s (gasp) a good thing


I have come not to praise, but to bury the show on many occasions during the past year. But since it’s clearly Not Dead Yet (sorry, I just discovered the existence of a Lego remake of “Monthy Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail”), I Assur (capital of Assyria, may Sir Robin rest in peace) you I will embrace the spawning of a second season with a shimmering soul.

Rant: I have seen the avalanche episode of ‘Svalbard: Life on the Edge’ and…they nailed it


It shows the pain and destruction. It shows the community in recovery. And it moves on to a whole lot of other storylines in the lives of the people here.

For me and many others, the third episode of the BBC Earth docu-soap “Svalbard: Life on the Edge” (“Ice Town: Life on the Edge” outside Norway) was the one we were most uneasy about and the one that would be the make-or-break moment in how favorably we’d feel about the 10-episode series. As anybody reading my coverage of the show knows, I’ve been something less than its biggest cheerleader at times due to my experiences as one of the 11 main “characters.”

Rant: ‘You may want to go home’ – for the last time; two hours of hell and angels evacuating Gamle Sykehuset


I’m throwing clothing, books, computers, musical instruments, cables and who knows what else wildly about in my three-room flat, not caring where any of it lands except for those things I most desperately want to keep or think I can sell. With no time to hunt for empty boxes, I’m tossing everything I value most in my life in grocery bags that are carried out by people who are largely strangers to me, but are rallying to my aid in an ultimate moment of crisis.

Maybe what I’ll remember most about being forced to permanently evacuate my apartment building on two hours’ notice is those black reusable cloth grocery bags with a “Svalbardbuttikken” logo on them. Dozens of them, piled in a corner of my bedroom where I was using them as the base of a nightstand (a throwback to my college days when milk crates were my bookshelves).

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Editor’s rant: Safe at home again, but the drama is far from over


Thanks to everyone for their kind words these past few days. For those interested in “the rest of the story,” this is a “family and friends” e-mail I sent on Christmas Eve:

Hei alle (tell me I haven’t ignored any of you long enough that you think I misspelled my greeting)…

Those of you who read my fishwrapper may know I’m back home again, although it’s anyone’s guess for how long. I’ve already written about most of what I went through early this week, so this e-mail is mostly to fill in the gaps.

Dishonorable mention: We watch and rank every episode of ‘Sval and Bard’ so you don’t have to


The temptation to use the moronic cliché “so bad it’s good” (and vice-versa) with great repetition is powerful since, as with anime porn, the more evil the better.

But “Sval and Bard” deserve better since – even at their good-bad moments (the kind where their lack of badness is not good, which we’re sure sounds confusing to nobody) – they deserve a spot somewhere in Svalbard’s Video Hall of Fame.

Rant: Fan worried about our fishwrapper’s future says people should pay for it – and then donates $1

This is the perfect example of why our little scandal sheet is the stupidest business venture in Svalbard’s history – and how being loved, no matter how rewarding – sadly has no value as legal tender.