Random weirdness for the week of Oct. 13, 2015


Great…now when the most spoiled of our tourists pee on our public landmarks they’ll boast they’re vastly enhancing the value of those structures. We’re assuming they’ll be filling their bladders with a new brand of ” premium luxury” bottled water made from ice collected from our glaciers that will cost 300 kroner for a 750-ml bottle. Jamal Qureshi, a New York resident and the project’s originator, told The Local Paper of Ritz he got the idea after capturing a bottle of water from Larsbreen during a visit in 2013 and bringing it home to his wife so she could make tea with it. He returned with some other investors this summer, chartered a ship, loaded it with 16 tons of glacier ice in Kongsfjorden and put the stuff into cold storage in Longyearbyen. Qureshi said an initial production of 10,000 bottles is planned before the end of the year and he may already have a buyer for them, as a non-binding memorandum of understanding has been signed with a company in South Korea. The 300-kroner price tag would likely make it among the five most-expensive bottled waters in the world, but Qureshi said there are enormous costs associated with collecting the ice and storing it. Our question: If his culinary experience with the water is tea made from it (which seems like using kobe beef to make chili), why does he think that glacier water is worth oh-so-much more than the stuff that comes out of our faucets (gee, wonder what the source for that is), especially since he’ll presumably have to filter the stuff to sell it commercially? Actually, we’re guessing he’s smarter than that and he, like us (who are admittedly envious he seemed to have tapped a rich resource, so to speak), knows the real question is why purchasers think that…


Presenting…the first-ever streaming video in a newspaper: This may look like a snapshot, but it’s actually a 15-minute “live from London” stage performance playing in real time on this page. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Ever since we started bringing disgrace to newspapers nearly 30 years ago we’ve resisted constant calls to be more like whatever media format is popular/trendy, beginning with TV (short stories and lots of vapid graphics) to Twitter (forget stories and newsprint altogether and just put out as much unedited online “content” as possible). So it will come as a shock that we’re the ones exclusively taking newspapers to the Next Level with the seemingly innocent and blurry photo to the right. That’s what locals paying lots of money saw in real time for about 15 minutes during a live performance of “Hamlet” by some London actors who apparently are kinda famous. So famous, in fact, they of course weren’t about to make the trek to our Arctic wasteland. Instead, we (and tons of other people in backwoods communities around the world) were watching a streaming video of the play in London, part of a series of high-art shows being broadcast in Longyearbyen for the first time. A free jazz concert last week filled perhaps one-third of the seats at Kulturhuset, so this week was a test of how many folks would pay a premium for the shows. The results were arguably discouraging with only about 20 people, but there were a couple of competing events that drew sizable crowds during the evening. But the real problem was the, um petrified actors – while their complete stillness would have been impressive in real life, obviously it was due to a streaming glitch. Also less than lovable were 20 minutes of preview ads and promotional hype, early sound and video hiccups once the show got going, and the lack of anyone selling concessions locally during intermissions.