Tødden Will Prevail!

I grew up in Notodden, a small town almost in the middle of nowhere. The population has been stuck at around twelve thousand people for as long as I can remember. Whenever I tell people I’m from Notodden, they usually associate the place with one of two things: Either the annual Notodden Blues Festival, the event with the highest density of drunk 40 and 50 year olds in Northern Europe or “rånere” (sing. “råner”). I was unable to find a good English translation of the word, “lowbrow joyriders” comes close, but the best thing is to describe what they do and why they are one of the things people think about when they hear the word “Notodden”. Then you can make up your own English word.

I honestly have to say that I have never been a part of this particular subculture, so the description is solely based on my impression of them and what they do. Still, since I lived in Notodden for 18 years, I would boldly argue that my description is more or less spot not. There are, of course anomalies, people who do not accurately fit the description, but who is still a “råner”. Also, you should note that this description probably best fits Notodden’s “rånere” because I’m not familiar with how the same stereotype residing in another city is best described. I do, however, imagine that the description would be pretty much the same.

A “råner” is a person with high school (or lower) education, who is currently attending school, has a low-income occupation or is collecting welfare or possibly has both a low-income occupation and is collection welfare. He or she uses pretty much all his or her spare time on cars, either working on cars, driving cars or comparing cars with other “rånere”. The cars are almost exclusively filled with powerful stereos with large speakers, they of course have lowering springs installed and stylish rims. In the back seat of every respectable car you’ll find a collection of under age girls. “Rånere” drive their cars back and forth on a short piece of road, the strip, with their stereo’s volume control set to “Are You Nuts”.

I was able to find this fabulous video on YouTube that should help you create a good visual impression of a “råner”:

Notodden’s strip was until very recently the main street, but this week it was closed for vehicles and turned into a pedestrian area. This effectively pulled the plug on the whole “råne” activity in the city and also naturally pissed them off. Monday night they decided to show their anger by setting fire to rubber car tires at various locations around the city. They got all the attention they could have hoped for; since nothing else is happening in the world right now, they made it to the top of the two most popular online newspapers - one of them used the headline “Notodden in flames”. Even though this newspaper wanted you to believe that this was the L.A. riots all over again, it was not.

The local newspaper is of course headlining the event, too, and the article comments are many. The people who support the “råner”’s cause believe that closing down the main street for vehicles will effectively turn Notodden into a ghost town. Shops will go out of business and the entire town is more or less fucked as of now. Some of them wants to know what they can possibly do in Notodden now as they can’t drive their cars on the strip.

Well, for starters, you could try one of the many alternate activities that enrich other people’s lives. Read a book, for instance. Go hiking, perhaps. See a good movie. Or even a bad one. Save the world. Become a computer nerd. Learn to play the guitar. There are quite a lot of options, really. If you honestly believe that closing the main street for vehicles will turn Notodden into a ghost town, consider this: It will still be possible to get to the main street and park your car nearby. The street is perhaps 500 meters from one end to the other, meaning that you should be perfectly able to walk to any of the stores you’d like to visit. People who, for some reason, can’t walk is probably allowed to drive their cars in the main street, anything else would surprise me.

How this whole ordeal develops, only time will tell. I guess it will eventually calm down and all the people with the need to drive their cars back and forth will find some place else to do just that. If Notodden ever really turns into a ghost town it will not be because they close down the main street but rather because many of the resourceful young people move away and very few of them move back as they see no reason to do so. And it would not surprise me if one of the reasons why they do not move back is “rånere” and the way they dominate the city in many ways.

My two cents.


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