Morning Tea: Eruption in Geldingadalur (Castration Valley)

In the latest episode of The Raisin at the Hot Dog’s End my podcasting partner Jonas and I bring our listeners up to date on the goings on here in Iceland, including the recent eruption in Geldingadalur which roughly translates to Castration Valley.

New born rock, fresh from Mother Earth. Born March 21, 2021 in Geldingadalur, Iceland and now sitting on a plate on my kitchen table.

I won’t recount the podcast episode here but did want to share a little more of what it was like during the swarm and share a picture of the fresh rock so if that’s cool with you, carry on reading.

There are small earthquakes every day somewhere in Iceland. They’re usually small and not one feels them. But on Wednesday February 24, 2021 I was at a cafe having tea with friends when a 5.7 made the light fixtures sway and even the Icelanders present say, “I think that was an earthquake.” There was construction going on nearby so I wasn’t convinced until I kept getting texts notifications and then another smaller quake hit soon after.

That was the beginning and since then an earthquake swarm has been shaking Reykjanes peninsula for weeks. Many of the quakes, like the first, have been strong enough to be felt in Reykjavik which lies north and east of the peninsula.

At first, I was intrigued and amused. Buildings in Iceland are built to withstand fairly strong earthquakes. Although strongest of the swarm was that 5.7, on average, the ones we began feeling day-to-day were 3.3 to 4 ish. They’re not the kind of earthquakes that lay waste to human settlements but they were strong enough to rattle furniture and make you feel a little dizzy. You could hear the wave coming as the buildings shook and the thing within them rattled like maracas.

But then the first night quake hit and I was not so amused. Being awakened in the middle of the night by the earth shifting beneath you is not fun. After the first week, we were all getting pretty tired of the shaking. I posted on Facebook that it felt like living with an energetic toddler that just won’t sit the hell down and just when you think they’ve finally calmed down they jump on you and scream.

There was a good sized quake on Sunday the 14th of March, then things went relatively silent for a few days and you know when toddlers get quiet, they’re up to something. And then the meteorologic office of Iceland posted this update:

At around 20:45 UTC 19 March 2021, a volcanic eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruption was first seen on a web camera positioned close the mountain. It was also confirmed on thermal satellite imagery.

And all rejoiced. It was like we’d all given birth after weeks of labor. She is a tiny little thing, the smallest Iceland has seen in a while, gurgling and spewing lava but she’s ours. The husband and I have nightly dates where we watch our TV show of the moment and leave our phones in the bedroom so we didn’t see the news until after midnight. Being born and raised in Iceland and used to galavanting all over the highlands with maps, GPS and such at the ready, he (the husband), just couldn’t resist grabbing his gear (he’s a photographer) driving down in the middle of the night to see what he could see.

Of course the roads were closed and there aren’t any good paths to the site of the eruption so that night, he only got pics of the red glow emanating in the distance. Check out his Instagram for more pics. By Sunday morning, he’d plotted course and he and his best friend trekked across the rough terrain to watch the earth make more Iceland.

He came back in the late afternoon with a sore body, some great footage and a literal piece of newly created earth. Apparently hundreds of others went as well, some not anywhere near prepared for the journey. Sunday night the weather turned bad, like blizzard force winds and toxic eruption gas bad. Many people had to be rescued and some are yet to be found.

Scientists are saying this could be the beginning of an active period for the region meaning there will be more earthquakes and eruptions in the days, months or years to come…or not. That’s how it goes with earthquakes and such. We shall see.

Morning Tea: ‘Get Sun’ by Hiatus Kaiyote feat. Arthur Verocai

Brazilian composer and producer Arthur Verocai is still teaching the children a thing or two (and maybe learning some new tricks) in his latest collaboration with Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote.

Full disclosure, I didn’t discover this track while sipping my morning tea, it was while I was sipping my afternoon tea. I know. The scandal of it all. Part of my midday break is to work out (sometimes), have lunch and watch the YouTube which usually includes videos by drag queens, namely Bob the Drag Queen and Trixie Mattell. After I caught up on their new posts, the YouTube blessed me with Get Sun and it is delightful!

Arthur Verocai arranged the mess out of this one. There’s plenty of space for the usual soul-leaning Hiatus Kaiyote sound to do it’s thing but taken to a new level with the Brazilian sound coming through more and more at the halfway mark. Consult Papa Google for more details or just click play to get some musical sun.

Interview with the Common DJ: DJ LeGoom

On this week’s episode of Space Time Music I pour a cup and hop on a Zoom call with DJ LeGoom of New Jersey and get a Gen Z perspective on 20th and 21st century pop culture, audio formats and music.

DJ LeGoom is one of the coolest teenagers you will ever meet and yes, she is my niece so I am not completely objective but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ve been doing a series of episodes on my podcast where I interview my friends and get to know them a little bit better through their love of music and my niece was keen to get in on the action and I was excited to hear what the kids are listening to these days.

Just to be clear, only one of the people I’ve interviewed so far has ever been an actual DJ, my husband DJ Habit. Everyone else is just like you and me (unless you’re a DJ), regular folk who love listening to music. I ask each guest to create a DJ name for themselves as I think it helps get one in the mindset of being a music curator. Are we not the DJs of the soundtracks of our lives?

My niece’s DJ name is DJ LeGoom. She explains that it’s a stylized version of a part of her baby nickname, Bean. I think it’s cute and clever, much like my niece.

I then ask my guests a few simple questions to get the music memory juices flowing and their answers create what I like to call their music profile, the auditory lens, if you will, through which they hear all other music.

Boy, oh boy, was I not ready for the wave of nostalgia that smacked me in the face when I read her answers. (I have guests send me their answers ahead of time so that I can do a little research and prepare the music.) Memories of her tiny toddler self, sitting in the back seat of her mom’s car singing along to her favorite tunes, little legs dangling over the edge of her car seat as she sped down the New Jersey Turnpike and crossed the Arizano Bridge (she couldn’t say Verrazano back then) to come visit her aunt in Brooklyn (that was me). Tears.

Now she’s a teenager listening to K-Pop and bossa nova but I don’t want to spoil the episode for you. You’ll have to listen for yourself. You can find the interview questions in the show notes of any one of the “DJ” episodes. And if you just want to hang out, listen to some tunes and covers, follow a sample chain or two, check out some of the other episodes.

Morning Tea: ‘The History of White People In America’ and ‘Them’

It’s been an exhausting year of reckonings of all sorts for all of humanity. Thankfully we still make art to help us process it all.

Favorite cup at the moment

As I do most mornings, I was sipping on my piping hot cup of Earl Grey from a new favorite mug and scrolling through my social media feed. 45 is no longer president of the US but the gears and servers of terror churn on no matter who is at the helm, as the comments section of any post about Meghan Markle will attest. It’s a machine that’s built to last–the terror machine–and it was forged by those in power well before we formed this imperfect Union.

I came upon two video clips that throw into sharp relief what has been forgotten about the history of race in the US and what bubbles and seethes just under the surface before erupting in shocking and grotesque displays of violence that are straight out of a horror film.

In the morning, I am always hesitant to click on any article that talks about race in America because I just want to enjoy a few moments free of all the blegh that runs rife through the human experience. But this morning, for whatever reason, I took the plunge. The first was an article from back in June of 2020.

Back then, here in Iceland, we were emerging cautiously from lockdown but over at World Channel (working with PBS), Jon Halperin and Ed Bell were releasing The History of White People in America, an animated musical series examining race and injustice in the US. Meanwhile, I was just giddy to be able to be in the same room with people I didn’t live with.

The first episode of the series, How America Invented Race tells the story of how ‘whiteness’ became a thing. It’s a musical, but manages not to pull any punches while showing how those living in colonial America went from regarding each other based on nationality or ethnic group to assigning a ‘race’ based on skin color.

You can find Meghan Smith’s interview with the creators here.

After that I was primed and ready to do something else I don’t usually do first thing in the morning, watch the trailer for a horror series. I used to love a good scary movie but having kids put a serious damper on my appetite. Now that they’re older and we no longer live in a place where I fear for their safety whenever they walk out the front door, I’m slowly edging my way back into the genre.

In horror, we get to see all the fear and shame that lingers in our collective subconscious. The usual horror flicks with white teenage boys murdering white teenage girls after they’ve had sex (and definitely kill all the black people first because in an ideal white America, there are no black people) and ‘aliens’ come from outer space to destroy ‘our’ way of life and take ‘our’ jobs are so 20th century.

Candyman punched a hole in the horror glass ceiling back in 1992 and since then films and shows such as Get Out, Us, Lovecraft Country and the like have broadened the scope of visual horror and thriller storytelling in the US.

And next up on the scene is Them a series created and executive produced by Little Marvin. A black family moves into a white neighborhood in 1950s Los Angeles. The neighbors welcome them smiling faces but we all know there’s more to it than meets the eye and terror ensues.

It comes out April 6 on Amazon Prime so I probably won’t be watching it as I canceled my Amazon Prime subscription and there’s probably some annoying regional restriction as well. Why can’t we all just watch all the shows regardless of where we live? Cause money and power, that’s why. And if you watched the The History of White People in America video up top, you know that’s also why we have race. Ugh.