Standort: / Meldung: "Johnny's Journeys: Autumn / Winter 2015"

Johnny Bliss

Disorderly artist, journalist, and late night moderator, with a fetish for microphone-based hooliganism.

7. 12. 2015 - 18:56

Johnny's Journeys: Autumn / Winter 2015

My journeys around the world for FM4 have taken me from Mexico to Canada and Australia; I've toured Mayan ruins and modern ruins, interviewed aboriginals in Darwin, and joined my fellow Canadians in welcoming a new Federal government.

Well, the last few months in 2015 have been very interesting ones for me, in my role as FM4's roaming reporter. I've toured multiple land masses, attended all kinds of unusual sporting events, and been forced to contemplate the grisly role Europeans have had in the histories of native people around the world. I've also had a disgustingly high carbon footprint.

But, here we go.

Johnny's Journeys: Larrakia Nation (Darwin, Australia)

Darwin is a very interesting place to visit, because while it was colonized by the same British subjects and convicts who colonized much of the rest of Australia, a very strong community remains of the ORIGINAL people who have lived there for tens of thousands of years.

The particular community living in Darwin is known as Larrakia Nation. I spoke to a local activist named June, to find out more, not only about names, but also about the relationship between Larrakians and the colonial Australians who now live there too.

activist June Darwin Larrakia

Johnny Bliss 2015

June, activist in Darwin

An important reminder that in much of the western world, we often have been exploiting lands where native people were already living, for much longer than our european cultures have even been around.

Johnny's Journeys: Sundarbans National Park (India)

The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forest in the world, and an archipelago just south of Bangladesh and the Indian city of Kolkata.


Johnny Bliss 2015

The Sundarbans are known for mud, mangroves, and - most especially - rare Bengali tigers, who have been known to attack and eat humans. But Tigers are not the only hunters at work in the Sundarbans. Both humans and tigers alike are often hunted by another, ancient predator.

Tigers vs. Crocodiles (Sundarbans)

That is the voice of Mowgli Kumar, who along with his brothers AJ and Rajesh, runs regular tours down to the Sundarbans from the Indian side of the border near Bangladesh.


Johnny Bliss 2015

Johnny's Journeys: NaNoWriMo Novel Marathon (Vancouver)

This November, I signed up for a worldwide literary marathon called Na No Wri Mo, or the National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to write 50,000 words of fiction together in the month of November - the length of a short novel, and to do so as a community. I was in my origin city of Vancouver in Canada, and thought I'd try my luck writing one as well.

NaNoWrimo National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of NaNoWrimo National Novel Writing Month

While I was there, I met some other participating authors, named John and Rena. I asked what the appeal was, writing a novel at such a crazy pace.

NaNoWriMo on the MO

For more information about NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month), which takes place annually in November, check it out online, and meanwhile, here are links to my novel, Rena's novel, and John's novel.

Johnny's Journeys: Astoria Blanket Fort (Vancouver)

Back in my origin city of Vancouver, Canada, I visited something very interesting... a real-life BLANKET FORT comedy event that takes place monthly in a renowned venue called the Astoria in East Vancouver.

BlanketFort Storytime 2015

But what does it mean to go out to a blanket fort? Well, I spoke to some people at this comedy event to find out.

Blanket Fort Pt1

So, with echoes of a furry convention, pajamas, and a whole lot of comedy, the event in Vancouver is exactly what it sounds like - a blanket fort for adults. But there is also music. I spoke with a musician who performed at the event. Her name is... Shirley Gnome, a very raunchy country singer.

Blanket Fort Pt2 (Shirley Gnome)

Johnny's Journeys: Election Day (Vancouver, Canada)

October 19th was Election Day all across Canada - and I went all the way to Canada to vote! This election was significant, because there were three major parties vying for power in Canada. Two of the major parties are liberal, or left-leaning. However, the party who were in charge for the last ten years, is very, very conservative.

Even before the election, there was the feeling that change might be in the air. But then again, part of why Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative party was in power in Canada for so long, is because Canada's political system is one where the Winner takes All. So with only the Conservative party versus several progressive parties, the liberal vote was often split. If each individual party got less than the Conservative party, it would enable them - the Conservatives - to stay in power, even if combined, the progressive parties receive substantially more of the vote.


So this has been happening, and the Conservatives have been regularly winning the most seats of any single party every election, and been able to stay in power for the last decade. This time, however, things turned out to be different. Before the results came in, I asked some Canadians on the streets of Vancouver to tell me what was important about this year's election, and who they thought might win.

Thanks in large part to a phenomenon called strategic voting, the moderate-left Liberal Party swept to majority power in a landslide, leaving all opposition parties in the dust. Part of this was thanks to a campaign promise to change the electoral system to something more representative, before the next elections.

Canadians discuss the election 2015 (before)

Johnny's Journeys: Victoria Hotel (Taxco, Mexico)

I went to the mountainous city of Taxco, which is just a couple hours away from Mexico City, en route to Acapulco. What happened was, I met a guy named Jerry, who told me about an amazing place called the Victoria Hotel. Here's how Jerry remembers his last visit there.

Jerry looking forward to the Victoria Hotel

Johnny Bliss 2015

But a lot can change in 55 years. Before we visited the Victoria Hotel, we asked a local for directions, and he gave us a little warning. The hotel may not be quite how Jerry remembers it.

Taxco Victoria Hotel-1

Johnny Bliss 2015

Local discusses the Victoria Hotel

So warned, we anyway decided to go and see if we could find that mango pie. There we discovered a dilapidated ruin, with a bar attached, but not much else. Jerry expressed his disappointment.

Taxco Victoria Hotel-2

Johnny Bliss 2015

Jerry at the Victoria Hotel

Sometimes it is dangerous to revisit the places we have loved, because we can find that things are not quite as we remember them... and it often doesn't need 55 years to happen. On the other hand, seeing how things have changed can also provide us with a special kind of closure.

Taxco Victoria Hotel-3

Johnny Bliss 2015

Johnny's Journeys: Chichen Itza Ball Game (Yucatan)

On the site of the ancient Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, I found what would appear to be an old ball court. I thought it was pretty neat that the ancient Mayans had a football game of their own.

Chichen Itza-1 skulls

Johnny Bliss 2015

The thing is, ancient Mayan sports were a little bit different, a little bit... bloodthirstier – and religious! – than the similar games we play today.

Chichen Itza-2 ball court

Johnny Bliss 2015

I met a Mayan guide named Manuel, who gave me the scoop.

Mayan tour guide discusses football

Johnny's Journeys: Internet in Cuba (Havana, Cuba)

On my travels through the Caribbean, I visited a fascinating country where internet until recently was practically nonexistent. Only in the last couple of months did small INTERNET PARKS open up where people could log on to the internet, and even then it was slow, still very expensive, and pretty impossible to use for sending audio files to radio stations.

But for Cuban people, this much internet access was unprecedented! At the park, I scored an interview with a young, smart-phone-using Cuban millennial named Reina.

Cuban Internet Interview

I turned my Cuban interviews into a Reality Check Special in October; for more information about that, simply check out my web story.