Saturday, November 25, 2000

November 2000


As I’m writing this the presidential elections are up in the air, recount in Florida and we have no idea how many people voted for Buchanan when they thought they were voting for Gore and so on and so on. To a recent immigrant in this country and comparing the system to the Icelandic system this does not reflect democracy and is outdated. Of course, the popular vote should decide who gets to be the president. If the president is elected by the winning states but against the popular vote, how is that democracy? Two parties, two choices, how is that a good system? This is my opinion but I’m using up space in the newsletter so I won’t get too political.

What is up with our organization and how are we doing? Things are up in the air in a good way. We had a great general meeting in a nice Mexican restaurant with 19 people attending. Then we decorated the Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry. The tree looks spectacular this year and has a great location – in the center of the museum. This year we had a crowd of 12 members and 8 children helping with the tree. Most of us went out for “Linner” (lunch and dinner) afterwards to a Lebanese restaurant. This just goes to show how multicultural and international we are. In this newsletter you’ll have lots of information, for example, who are serving on the new board, on the Þorrablót, the income statement, and much more. All this will make you realize that we are in good shape and have a strong base to become a great association for Icelanders in Chicago, friends of Iceland, and the people of Icelandic heritage. So I ask you to please pay your membership fee ASAP, participate in all of our activities, and help us build a name for Iceland in Chicago.

Thank you in advance.

Einar Steinsson, President



I should probably start out by introducing myself since I will be editing your newsletter. My name is G. Steinar Gudmundsson and have lived in the Chicago area for the past 18 months. I am a physician at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where I practice cardiology. Born and raised in Reykjavik, I moved to the States spring of 1996 with my family.

As you notice I have made a few changes to the newsletter. First, an adjective has been added to its name. It is a quotation from Jónas Hallgrímsson´s poem “Ísland” which begins with “Ísland, farsælda frón og hagsælda hrímhvíta móðir” or Iceland, successful Iceland and prosperous rime white mother. The poem is written in early 19th century where the poet longs after the old prosperous Iceland and criticizes the 19th century Iceland under Danish rule. Many find it hard to believe there is a nation of only 300.000 people with its own history, language and culture. The quotation reminds us, the people of Icelandic heritage what we have in common.

The layout of the letter is different and I hope the changes will only make it more enjoyable to you. The content is still the same announcements and reports from the Association. I also will try to discuss or point out news or interesting things I see in the media regarding Iceland or Scandinavia. In this issue I mention two articles from the NY Times. The first one is about Icelandic rock music scene and the latter tells us about a new home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation in NY. It clearly has its Scandinavian design and seems like a place that could be interesting to visit, that is if you like Scandinavian atmosphere.

Farsæla Frón - The Icelandic Association of Chicago’s Newsletter. Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson, E-mail: Associate editor: Katrin Heidar.

Website: Correspondence: The Icelandic Association of Chicago, Einar Steinsson, president 2212 N Rockwell St. Chicago, IL 60647-3004. Tel. 773-489-4621


1. Annual Finance Report was reviewed and approved. We had an income margin of $763.33 this fiscal year. No bills are due at this time.

2. New board consists of:

President: Einar Steinsson
Vice Presidents:
Undine Johnson,
Stella Solis,
Binna Porter,
Joanne Shaw
Treasurer: Sonja Johnson
Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson
Secretary: Sóley Runólfsdóttir
Auditor: Miguel Solis

3. Unchanged membership fee: Individuals/Students $15, family $25

4. Discussion on Science Museum’s Christmas tree display, Þorrablót and the need for a logo for the association.

5. Everyone had a good time!


The Christmas tree went up November 5th at the Museum of Science and Industry. Never was a more beautiful tree seen before. Everybody had fun putting it up. The exhibit opens on November 21st and will run until January 7.


One of the most Icelandic of all Icelandic traditions is the celebration of Þorri (Þorrablót). Þorri was the fourth month of winter according to the old calendar. It begins on a Friday the 13th week of winter, usually January 19-25. A common Icelandic expression is to “endure the Þorri” which means to endure difficulties and hardship.

We will celebrate the Þorri this winter as the winters before. The date has been set for March 3rd 2001. We are currently looking for a musician to set the atmosphere. Details regarding time and place will be announced at a later date.


On October 31, Neil Strauss reviews Icelandic rock scene in the NY Times’ arts abroad column. The review is based on a visit to the homeland where he interviews Icelandic music people and goes to concerts. He seems to have done his homework since the article gives a fair description of the Icelandic music industry and its history. As before there seem to be many new things going on and as usual everyone dreams of fame and fortune.

At the present time, the most popular new band in the country is SigurRós (Victory Rose), an opening act for Radiohead. As many as 2,000 people have attended SigurRós's hometown concerts, which many say is a bigger crowd than Iceland's most famous rock band, the Sugarcubes (Björk's former group), ever attracted. Sigur Rós, whose 1999 album "Ágætis Byrjun" was reported to be the best-selling local release in Iceland that year, also swept up the best album, best artist, best guitarist, best singer and best songwriter awards at the Icelandic Music Awards. The journalist finds a connection between the lunar-like landscape and the new Icelandic rock music. The full article is on New York Times´ website at



Membership fees are now due before December 10, 2000. The fee is $15 for individuals and $25 for families for continuing membership in the association. The “census” form is enclosed with an addressed and stamped envelope. Please mail the form with your check before the due date.

Mailing address: Sonja Johnson,treasurer
6105 N. Glenwood unit 2
Chicago, IL, 60660

Let us know if you know of anyone interested in joining. Either photocopy the form so he or she may mail it to us with the annual fee or have them contact us via e-mail or phone.

We thank you dearly!

The Icelandic Association of Chicago cordially invites all Icelanders, descendants of Iceland and friends of Iceland to join our organization. Please forward a copy of this to anyone interested to join.

The year 2000 will be an exiting year for Iceland, including celebration of one thousand years since Christianization and the discovery of America (Vineland) by Leif Eriksson son of Iceland.

Full name of member/s________________________________________

Name of child/children________________________________________


City, State_________________________________________________


Would you like to receive our newsletter (Frón) via e-mail or fax?

Yes___No___ E-mail/fax______________________________________

Do you plan to attend Þorrablót (March 3rd). If so, please indicate number of attendees___________

If you know of any Icelander, Icelandic descendant or friend of Iceland that would like to join our organization, please provide us with name/s and address.
The Smára Quartet comeback!

Smárakvartettinn á Akureyri or The Smára Quartet of Akureyri was a popular men’s ensemble in Iceland from 1936 to 1966. In addition to the 10 songs the quartet released during those years, 26 more songs have now been discovered, some never heard before except on “Smára” concerts. A complete set of their recordings is now being released together on a CD and will be offered with an anthology package containing photos, arrangements, lyrics and a narrative of the quartet’s history.

Related to the release of the CD is the foundation of The Smára Quartet Memorial Fund which main function is to give financial aid to voice students.

More information regarding the CD is to be found on where it is possible to listen to “Smárann” and view photos. You can also place an order for the CD on the web page or contact members of the Icelandic Association of Chicago for more information.
Scandinavia House: A Smorgasbord of Nifty Ideas

This is the title of an article that appeared in NY Times November 3rd discussing the new Scandinavia House just below 38th street in NY. It is the new home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in NY 1910 to promote achievements of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The article states the 28,000-squeare-foot headquarters is a gift to the city where it promises to be place where visitors encounter the achievements of five different Northern European cultures through exhibitions, films, lectures and a school program and also by inhabiting them a little by simply stepping through the front door. In this regard Scandinavia House joins the short list of remarkable places and structures, like the Japan Society on East 47th Street, that enable one to travel elsewhere temporarily without having to leave town. The article gives a detailed description of the architecture and design of the building, and the objects on display. It concludes with the following: “If exhibitions of new design should introduce us to newly minted forms that save time, space, labor or possibly lives; that are beautiful and seem indelibly of the moment; and that make us understand our bodies, society or the world around us in new ways, this exhibition more than delivers. Sometimes it does all these things at once in the same object.”

Sounds like a fun place to visit next time you are in the Big Apple!

The full article can be obtained on the New York Times’ website at:

We need a logo

We are currently looking for ideas for a logo for the association. All ideas are welcomed. In general a logo should be an original construction, simple and something that represents the association. Preferably, it should look good both in color as well as in black and white. If you have an idea, please contact any of the board members.

The day of the Icelandic tongue

In fall of 1995 did the Icelandic government approve Mr. Björn Bjarnason´s, minister of education, proposal to make the birthday of Jónas Hallgrímsson November 16 the day of the Icelandic tongue. The day is dedicated to the preservation of the language, Icelandic. Icelanders are reminded of the value of the Icelandic for our culture and for our roots. The media, schools, institutions, associations and individuals celebrate the day in different ways. The minister of education gives The Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize that day in addition to other recognitions for efforts made for the preservation of the Icelandic.

Til hamingju með dag íslenskrar tungu! (Happy Icelandic day!)