This coming Tuesday is primary election day in Alaska. I’m beginning my “Throwback Thursday” posts with my family letter about being a municipal election monitor in Albania. Albania was a new democracy and people took their newly won privileges … Continue reading Albanian Municipal Election Day, 1996
Today is Elizabeth Peratrovich Day in Alaska. In 1945, during the debate in the Alaska Territorial Legislature on a bill mandating equal accommodation for people of all races, a senator asked “who are these people, barely out of savagery, to … Continue reading Elizabeth Peratrovich Day
One of the problems with the lifestyle I have chosen is that I don’t always have access to a radio station when I need one. When I heard that Pete Seeger had passed on I really felt a need to be on the air, to talk about Pete, to play his music, to connect with my “tribe” of folkies and activists. Facebook and this blog will have to do. The first time I interviewed Pete Seeger was in May, 1972 after a concert at Mankato State University. I remember it because it was the day Nixon announced we were mining … Continue reading Pete
September 8, 2012 Dear Friends, I got out of Africa last Friday but it was a struggle. When I got to the radio station I noticed two rips in the bottom of my brand new, “lifetime guarantee,” ultra-light, ultra strong suitcase. Turning it over I found another rip in the bottom and one of its “feet” coming loose. Getting a new suitcase in Juba on short notice was not an option so I used the whole roll of duct tape I carry to hold the suitcase together. Suitcase patched, Christina came into the office looking stricken. “I have a … Continue reading Final Letter from South Sudan, I post one last photo gallery and fly out.
August 30. 2012 Juba, South Sudan, Dear Friends, My mother once asked me why I didn’t stay home like she did, close to her parents. I told her it was because of her father, my grandfather, who at 13 was apprenticed to trade as a grocer in Derry City, hated it, and ran away to sea. His travels took him across the North Sea to ports exotic to him (Rotterdam and Hamburg) and then across the Atlantic to Halifax, and New York, and finally, coasting the Eastern Seaboard. He told me his favorite port was Baltimore, “A man can … Continue reading Letter 8 from South Sudan, where I wonder if I am getting too old for this.
August 25, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, Navigating Juba roads after two days of heavy rains is like navigating a large, ever shifting, river. The course of the road changes, what was high ground two days ago is now a sink hole, and when you enter a large mud hole you have no idea of how far down you will sink. I almost think I should sit on the hood of the Land Cruiser with a pole, poke it into the brown opaque water to see if there is a bottom. “Mark Twain” would be a bad thing on … Continue reading Leopards and Cows and Making Gravel in South Sudan (Letter 7)
August 19, 2012 (Note, this is an archive post, I am ok.) Dear Friends, Suzi left on Saturday, but she got to be part of the celebration Saturday Morning changing the name of the station from Sudan Radio Service (SRS) … Continue reading South Sudan, Eye Radio Relaunch and then I crash. (Letter 6)
August 17, 2012 Dear Friends, My camera case has a hole in it left by a leopard tooth. If you look closely, my crocks also have a little chew mark from the same leopard. The leopard is the last of the “big 5” (Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Leopard) that I’ve seen in Africa. But I didn’t expect to meet two so up close. Two leopard cubs were orphaned. They would normally have died but someone rescued them, and then left on holiday, or assignment, or something, and they ended up at Yei Road Camp (co-owned with the Jebel, where … Continue reading South Sudan, I return and am “attacked” by two leopards. (Letter 5)
April 20, 2012 Nairobi, Kenya Dear Friends, Suzi and I were upgraded to a suite at the Fairview in Nairobi, which is a good thing because every possible surface on which I could lay out clothes is full and any hook like object has clothes hanging from it. Everything I have is soaked, but that’s the end of the story of today’s travels. On Thursday the Germans working on building a brewery (one of those “peace dividends” after years of “dry” Islamic rule in South Sudan) were ordered out – now. So they left. Then we learned that Ethiopian Airlines … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter 4, Flying Out of Juba.
April 14, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, On Friday the thirteenth the newsroom was full for our morning editorial meeting. South Sudan had captured Heglig, a region just north of the border, in Sudan (an area that happens to have a major oil field.) This came after several weeks of (North) Sudan bombing towns and refugee camps in the South. The African Union (AU) and the UN had asked South Sudan to withdraw its troops. On Thursday South Sudanese President, Salva Kir, had given a stirring and bellicose speech in Parliament to a romping and stomping floor, no withdrawal. … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter 3, Learning history and current events.
April 8, 2012 Easter Sunday Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, Friday, April 6: Everyone is waiting for the rain. When the rain comes this area is very productive, if not, famine. It looks encouraging. On Sunday the barometer dropped and we got thunder and lightning signifying, for that day at least, nothing. Monday and Tuesday the clouds teased us. Wednesday night we got our first downpour. I sat on the verandah looking at kids running in the rain, but the rain was short. On Thursday afternoon we got another brief downpour, followed by more sun. Thursday night the rain on … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter two, Small Road Trip
April 1, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends. At the bar Saturday night (anti-malarial gin and tonics or Stony Ginger Beer) an American raised as a missionary son now working for a USAID funded fish farming project building ponds along both the Nile and Congo said, “Welcome to Africa. Kenya and Uganda are just ‘Africa lite.’ This is the ‘real’ Africa. You’re not in Nairobi anymore.” I’m staying at the Jebel Lodge, a fenced compound of metal pre-fab buildings. I have my own cabin near the fence on the far side of the compound from Rock City, which is a … Continue reading Juba Letter 1, First Impressions
When it comes to media in South Sudan — radio is king. Radio plays to the country’s oral tradition. Further, there is limited electric power distribution. The country is poor and TVs are expensive. Finally TV coverage has not reached much of the country. Radio is perfet for a country like this. Radio sets don’t require much infrastructure. Radios can be powered by batteries, solar cells or hand cranks. South Sudan had just become the world’s newest nation after decades of civil war with the North. The infrastructure was ruined and radio is playing a central role in nation building, … Continue reading South Sudan
This is Albania’s National Holiday, Flag Day. On this date in 1912, 101 ago today, the Albanian Flag was raised in Vlora, Albania, marking the nation’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Albania is one of the countries I can call … Continue reading Albanian Flag Day, 1993.
November 28 is Albania’s Flag Day, marking its declaration of independence in 1912. The Albanian Community in the US is celebrating Flag Day on November 27 so it does not conflict with Thanksgiving. This is from a letter I wrote … Continue reading Albania Flag Day, Letter from 1995
“For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,” Especially for one. All Saint’s Day 15 years ago at Dubcek’s grave. This is All Saints’ Say. Today Slovaks visit cemeteries and light candles on graves. Most of my staff … Continue reading Alexander Dubcek’s Grave. All Saints Day 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Note, many of the photos for this post are contained in the posts “Shadows of the Wall,” “East Side Gallery.” and “Bernauer Str.” Pictures on this post are general Berlin tourism shots. March 22, 2013 Berlin, Germany Dear Friends, In … Continue reading Berlin, March, 2013
Text for these pictures is on the post “Berlin, March, 2013” These are pictures from the area of the old wall. Panels of the wall have been re-erected near “Checkpoint Charlie” and feature dictators still waiting for falling. The man … Continue reading Shadows of the Wall, Berlin 2013
The text for these pictures is in the post “Berlin, March 2013.” The East Side Gallery is the longest stretch of the wall still standing. One side has been painted by famous artists. The other side is a “free … Continue reading East Side Gallery, Berlin, 2013
This is Bernauer Str. The Wall used to run along this street, not it is a memorial to the wall and there is a park where Berlin has its Sunday flea market. The Text for this letter is in the … Continue reading Berlin 2013, Bernauer Str.
Note, Vukovar was the first major victim in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. It is a border town on the Danube, in Croatia but, before the wars, with a slight Serbian majority. The Serbs finally took the town over but after the Dayton Accords the town was administered by the UN before being turned over to the Croats, 13 days before we arrived. Our job was to work with the Serbian radio stations in the region to make sure they got licenses from the Croatian government and to help assure that the rights of the Serbian, Roma and Hungarian … Continue reading Vukovar, Croatia
This is from an October 2000 letter from Belgrade, on my first visit to the city after Milosevic lost power– and my first visit since the NATO bombing. When someone asks “do you want to see the sights” he really means “sites,” the places hit during the NATO bombing. Like in Pristina, the tour points out how accurate the bombing really was. People mark time “before bombing, after bombing” always pronouncing the second “b” in bombing. And when people ask “how has Belgrade changed” they expect me to cite the most visible of the sites, the tall building next … Continue reading Belgrade, NATO Bombing Sites.
Suzi and I were in Kosovo on 9/11, 2001. I wrote these letters in the aftermath of 9/11. I am putting them in the “Winds of Change” category because the events of 9/11, and the response, affected a change in … Continue reading 9/11, Kosovo and Slovakia
In July 1985 our family traveled to the Soviet Union, Leningrad and Moscow. This was our first exposure to Soviet life and, while we had not intended this, it provided a baseline against which to judge our later experiences. These … Continue reading Russia, The Prelude: Moscow and Leningrad, 1985