Cold Remains in Greenland

Edward Rackley in Warscapes:

ScreenHunter_1030 Feb. 26 19.30Urban development in the High Arctic can be a drab affair. Buildings are inelegant steel boxes fit for lunar colonies, clustered against withering winds and inhumanly low temperatures—”post-industrial morgue” might be the cynic’s take. Walking the dusty gravel of Kangerlussuaq, a town of 512 inhabitants in western Greenland, I stopped before the improbable “King Kong Bar.” In simple green letters on peeling white plywood, the sign hung above a cave-like entrance carved directly into the steel shell of a faded red shipping container.

That so remote and hardscrabble a place was a cast-off artifact of an obscure but busy political and literary lineage was unknown to me as I wandered the town. I connected these remarkable threads much later, on the heels of a brief but intoxicating immersion in Greenland’s fjords, icecap, and rolling verdant hills. Groundbreaking Arctic exploration and the high-stakes military gamesmanship of Cold War geopolitics—parallel dimensions of recent Greenlandic history— coexisted but rarely intersected during much of the twentieth century. Now as I walked this ghostlike town these two paths collided before me, offering a very different angle on the famous “eighth continent.”

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