Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Super Mega Chévere!

It has been a little over a week since I got to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. For the next month or so I am living just outside of the city and taking Spanish classes. Just got internet on my computer, more updates soon. Here is the view of Quito from the top floor of the building where I'm taking language classes:

Abrazos y besos,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

last night in Arviat

It's my last night in Arviat and I can't sleep/pulling a packing all-nighter/listening to Dial A Stranger. (Thanks Mercedes & Zachary)

I'm bittersweet about leaving Arviat. Even though I was only here for a month, I feel like had a chance to connect with some really kind, wonderful, interesting folks. I played a lot of radio bingo. I learned some new hand clapping games from 7 and 10 ye
ar old girls. I ate narwhale.

At the same time, I am excited to continue researching a
nd traveling. Warmer weather will be nice. And even though I'm leaving, I'm looking forward to sending postcards, and of course, to calling up Arviaqpaluk and to say hi and wish everyone happy birthday.

My next stop is Toronto -- I'm there for a week, going to the regional NCRA conference check it check it and then down to Ecuador to learn Spanish.

Here is a picture of the Hudson Bay. It's just now beginni
ng to freeze over.

And what it sounded like at two in the afternoon today:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

tuhanaliktutit (you're on the air)

The on-air studio of Arviaqpaluk

The radio is a hugely popular way to advertise are some for sale items on Arviaqpaluk. Here's what's for sale in Arviat -- a dresser with mirror, Spiderman the DVD, a chordless phone, women's dress shoes.

After bingo last night I went on the air to wish a happy early birthday to my friend Dorothy. It was my first time wishing someone happy birthday on the radio, Cecile is on after me:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

wind outside of Arviaqpaluk

Arviat is above the treeline, and because the land is flat for miles and miles around, the wind here is really strong. It makes a great sound whistling across buildings and through telephone wires.

This is sound of the wind recorded from inside the radio station.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

happy birthday to you!

Birthday greetings are hugely popular on Arviaqpaluk, Arviat's community radio station. Because so many people want to wish their loved ones happy birthday (or anything else) on the radio, there are time limits -- if you live in Arviat, you get 5 minutes on air, if you're calling from out of town you have 10 minutes, and Elders can go on the air for as long as they like. This is a radio birthday greeting in Inuktitut and English recorded last week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Arviat vs. New York City

I never thought I'd give a presentation on growing up in New York City, but this week I ended up speaking in front of two classes at Nunavut Arctic College in Arviat about life in the big apple. Photoslide show and everything. I got some great questions, ended up talking a lot about September 11th, and about some of the famous people I've seen around the city (Josh Hartnett used to live in my friend's building, and my brother once shook hands with Mike Myers).

It made me think about some of the differences between living in Arviat and living in New York. Not just the obvious things, the little cultural differences. Here's one: No one here knocks. Everyone just walks in to houses. It's been hard for me to get used to, just walking into someone's house without knocking first, but only the RCMP knocks first! Back in New York City, there's two locked doors and an elevator to get in to my parents' apartment, I usually buzz visitors in from upstairs.

New York City is a city of 8.3 million and to get a sense of the size of Arviat the other day, a friend asked me, "How many stoplights?" When I related this to the class during the presentation and they all laughed. The answer is zero. None of the streets have names either, but the houses have numbers and everyone knows where everyone lives anyway.

There are lots more that I'm adjusting to. Most groceries are shipped here, so milk is over 7 dollars. People say hi on the street. Not knocking the first few times really threw me for a loop, but I think now it's going to be harder for me to adjust back to not being able to just visit anyone at any time. There's a different sense of community here than back home -- big families, close ties.

I think it's the closeness of the small community that makes radio here really work (always bringing it back to radio, I know, I can't help myself). I was at the station the other night and two or three parents called into the station to go on air and tell their kids to come home because it was past curfew. If you're from Arviat and you're reading this, your reaction is probably along the lines of, "So what?" But from a New Yorker's point of view, it's really cool. I don't know of any radio station in New York City where you could call up and tell your kid it's past their bedtime. And know that they're probably listening. Or if they're not listening, someone will spot Abby or Jimmy and tell them their mom was on the radio and that they should run along home.

And if you're an radio announcer in Arviat, most everyone knows who you are. If you're doing a good job (or a bad job), everyone who stops to talk to you on the street will tell you so. The tight knit community means there's more direct line of communication between broadcaster and listener.
It's definitely different than where I am from.

Okay! Now for what all of my relatives really want -- pictures. I went berry picking last weekend. Photos courtesy of my bingo friend Joyce (thanks Joyce!)

Riding on the back of Joyce's honda with Cecile driving:

Picking berries with my friend Mary and her daughter (from a couple of weeks ago):

View of Arviat from just outside of town:

and here I am driving the honda. Just keep in mind that I don't know how to drive a car yet:

pedal to the metal,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

polar bears, caribou, radio, oh my!

It's been a little over two weeks since I arrived in Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat is a town of 2800 people, mostly Inuit community, located on the west shore of the Hudson Bay. There are no trees but there are caribou and polar bears. I just saw a polar bear the other day -- luckily, from a distance.

And! There is really cool community radio. The station here is called Arviaqpaluk ("The Sound of Arviat" in Inuktitut). The station is on air Monday through Friday from 9am-11, 11:30-1 (everyone goes home for lunch here), and 7:00pm-10pm. It's a combination of birthday annoucements ("Hello Charles, happy birthday, we love you!"), for sale items ("Television, 150 dollars, call 2459") and general announcements ("Stephanie, please come home, your mom says that it's past your curfew"). There's some special programming too, a music call-in show called "Huvigo" ("What do you want?" slang), gospel on the weekends, and radio bingo (my favorite). Pretty much everyone in town listens during lunch and after dinner -- lots of people have told me that the station is central to the town community.

Today I'm going to host a call in show on the topic "Arviaqpaluk," and solicit anyone who wants to call in for favorite memories of the station, why they think the station is important. This is all with the of my new bingo friend Cecile, she's been kind enough to offer to come along with me and translate. I'm really interested and excited to hear directly from people listening to Arviaqpaluk as to why they listen.

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy with adventures. I've been caribou hunting and fishing and berry picking. I've tried mukta (beluga skin), which was pretty good. I had it boiled and raw, it was best with ranch dressing. I've been eating lots of caribou meat, which is delicious, I made caribou pad thai for the family I'm staying with the other night, kind of a culinary adventure. Char (salmon-like fish) is really delicious too.

I have a cold, so I've been taking it easy this weekend, but I still managed to win $200 dollars at radio bingo on Friday! It was hilarious. I freaked out a little, and Cecile and Joyce and the other friends I've made playing radio bingo had to call the station for me! Afterwards, I crossed the street to the station and picked up the money -- cash. Exciting. Radio bingo is crazy popular here, I've been playing every weekend.

Here's some sad news: I lost my camera, and all of the pictures I took from the last month, and I haven't been able to take many pictures of Arviat. Luckily, I've been able to borrow a camera to take some pictures, so those will get uploaded soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of a caribou I saw crossing a lake:

Many hugs from up North,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alive in Arviat

I've arrived in Arviat, Nunavut! Updates to come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

mountian glacier glacier glacier stream

Here is the sound of a stream outside of Banff, AB:


It's been exactly one month since I've started traveling as of today. Crazyness.

five minutes and thirty four seconds with Chad Saunders & the giant ear of CJSW

Yesterday, I stopped by CJSW 90.9 for a couple hours. CJSW is Calgary's campus and community radio station at the University of Calgary in Alberta. The station is in the basement of the student center, lots of stickers, friendly folks, a giant ear:

Here's Myke, the music director in the on air studio. I chilled with him during his show, The Banshee Beat, and we chatted about the differences between radio in the U.S. and Canada. I got schooled when I didn't even recognize half of the nyc based bands Myke played on his show.

Chad, station general manager, enjoys imitating his donkey calendar in his spare time.

Five minutes and thirty four seconds with Chad Saunders. He explains how community radio can provide poignant social commentary by playing The Talking Heads:


Once he heard I was going up to Nunavut, Chad gave me an awesome CJSW adornred green & black tuque (here for the American definition) to keep my ears warm in the cold cold cold weather. I've been wearing it and I look like a beast.

More blogggy blog posts to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

where to start with the last month of my life?

Here are some things I've done in the last 30 days of my life:
  1. picked huckleberries in the Kootenays
  2. went hitchhiking on Salt Spring Island, BC (don't tell my mom)
  3. recorded interviews with 15 different community radio broadcasters in 28 days
  4. got to see a real life pirate radio station
  5. went to a nurse/zombie/fetish night at a queer night club in Vancouver
  6. drank bubble tea in Kerrisdale, BC
  7. ate a Nanaimo Bar for the first time
  8. went to the city of Nanaimo for the first time
  9. went swimming at a nude beach in Nelson BC
  10. played the ukulele on the radio, twice
Canada is my first stop on this trip, and I've spent the last month exploring British Columbia, "the most beautiful place on earth," as all of the license plates say. And it is really beautiful here:

[this photograph is in all ways completely representative of all of British Columbia, of course]

In between adventures, I've been working on a framework for the project I'm doing, figuring out what exactly my focus is, what it is I am doing, anyway. I've visited seven or eight stations (if you count the pirate radio station), exploring differences and similarities between the physical location, programming schedule, the DJs themselves. I'm starting to type up transcripts and send copies of interviews back to the folks I interviewed, and next month I'm going up north to Arviat, Nunavut (for those of you back home, think tundra) to do some more sustained research there. Hopefully I'll be hanging out at the community radio station there for a month or so.

One of the highlights of the last month was a weekend camping trip on Salt Spring Island, BC with my two friends from school who are from Vancouver, Beth and Emily. I stayed with both of them & their families, which was really nice. Shout out to Beth and Emily & their families. Yeay for pictures:

Once opon a time, Beth and Emily went swimming and Aliza was too cold to go in the water, so she documented the event.

And then Beth agreed to a post-swimming interview at the Saturday morning market.

The end,

first podcast (!): advice

An audio introduction to this adventure! (featuring the voices of Anna, Nick, Andrea, Lynn, Natalie, Lee, Josh, Dave, Sara, Caroline, my grandmother (Nonna) Carla, and me).


(soon to be available for actual podcasting)

and this is how I found out I was going to be traveling around the world

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Aliza. I am twenty-two years old. I hail from New York City. My favorite time of day is the late afternoon and if I could bring two CDs to a deserted island, they would be Al Green's Greatest Hits and Brian Eno's Music for Airports.

Here is a story. One day last March, I found myself in the Schlesinger Library in Boston with my friends Woody and Avi. The Schlesinger Library is a special collections library at Harvard University. It has a bunch of really rare, really expensive books, and it's a silent library, so when you're looking at the collection, you can't make a lot of noise. Avi, Woody and I were there looking at one of the craziest cookbooks I've ever seen -- a cookbook of molecular gastronomy creations from El Bulli, a restaurant in Spain run by the famous experimental chef Ferran Adrià.

The three of us were there looking pictures of food I'd never even dreamed could exist, raviolli made from pea juice, tiny caviar pellets made from fruity cocktail alcohol, ice cream made from wasabi. And then Woody pointed to a clock. It was five minutes noon, and it was the day that I was going to find out whether or not I had gotten the Watson fellowship, $25,000 to travel around the world and pursue a passion. I applied in November, and was waiting four months to find out the results. I had five minutes.

Woody, and Avi and I went out to the lobby, opened my laptop,
connected to the internet. And there was an email in my inbox. I opened it, and everyone in the completely silent library turned to look at where all of the noisiness was coming from.

And so here I am. It's about a month into this crazy year of adventure, a year to travel and do independent research. I'm spending the next year researching community radio broadcasters around the world, doing oral history interviews with DJs, journalists, pirate radio programmers, in seven different countries. It's a year of solo travel, so I'll be traveling alone, and I can't go back to the U.S. for one whole year. Here's the description of the project, you'll have to scroll down.

And so here I am, in Cochrane Alberta, taking a few days to breathe from the last month of travel and start this blog, chronicle some of these adventures and keep in contact with folks from back home & those I meet along the way. Hopefully, I'll be doing a podcast too, so stay tuned.

Here is a picture of my parents and me at the front do
or of the apartment I grew up in (with all of my stuff):

And here is a picture of my best friend Sara & me with a naf-naf (a flame-fanner for campfires, courtesy of Aida, Nero, Roei and Alone):

And here is a picture of my grandmother (Granna) discovering her inner speed demon:

with love from across the airwaves,