Category: Warga, Jake/Archives

Iraq: From Dubai

In Baghdad, in the belly of a Stryker[“Iraq: Christmas 2009“: observations, images and sounds from Iraq, Christmas 2009, a series of posts by Jake Warga.]

Last night I flew in a C-17 military transport.

Today I rode through the red-zone of Baghdad in the belly of a blast-proof stryker.

Tonight I fly in a helicoptor to Northern Iraq, possibly in a Blackhawk.

A ride in a bullet proof suburban.

I hope I don’t get a fuel bill for my transportation.

I’m eating in dining halls where you can’t bring bags or wear hats, but you are REQUIRED to have a weapon (I have only my wit).

Had crab legs for lunch, lean times.

Got a cold sleeping in a tent last night in a thunder storm.

I can hear prayer to call, earlier I heard gunfire, but I’m surrounded by concrete walls… just like in Israel.

I’m learning that the success of a soldier is not measured in bravery, but patience.

Dune bashing in Dubai, Arabs in SUV riding in desert

More photos from Dubai. Above: Dune bashing in the desert. Below: View from my hotel, Dubai Marina Area.

View from hotel at night, the lights and buildings of Dubai Marina Area

Text, audio, images © 2009 Jake Warga.

Holy Land Tour

Jake Warga takes us on a personal tour through the Holy Land, looking at how the conflict started and what it’s like today between Jerusalem and Bethlehem… between birth and re-birth. (Also a PRX radio story.):

Holy Land Tour from Jake Warga

Grandmother Alma

It is with a mixture of sadness and relief I announce the passing of my Grandmother: Alma J. Kelsey (Warga, Smith).

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska on July 4th, 1910, she passed away this weekend, 99 years later.

Alma was the oldest of seven siblings but the last to depart. She is survived by myself and her son Robin.

In 1928, at the age of 17, Alma Smith eloped with Wayne Warga, 19, and headed West for Hollywood to start a new life and a family. The family was harder to come-by for her husband was not medically able: but in 1938 she bore my father, Wayne (Bud), after a secret affair with an LAPD officer. Then in 1949 she met another man to have another child: Robin. She wanted a family so bad and bore the weight of her secrets until she started AA and revealed all.

In the 1970’s she met and married Dick Kelsey, painter and animator. They moved to Leisure Village in Camarillo where her Lilly Garden won village awards year after year. She stayed by Dick through his Alzheimer’s and eventual death.

In 1985 AA became Alma’s new church, where she grew to become a guru in the program. In 1994 we stood together and buried her son, my father, Wayne. It’s around that time Alzheimer’s started pulling her away.

In 2005 NPR aired a story about her (transcript). I invite you to hear Alma in her own voice, “Grandmother: Aging, Decline & Love” (8:16 mp3):


Norfolk Island

Tourists snap photosCaptain Cook gave Norfolk Island its first tourist slogan when he spotted it in 1774: “Jewell of the Pacific”. In 1825 it became “Hell on Earth,” the most feared of England’s penal colonies in Australia, designed as, “a place of the extremist punishment short of death.” Later, it was given to the decedents of the Mutiny on the Bounty to settle. Now, the tourism slogan is: “Norfolk Island… be surprised” — and the island has become completely dependent on tourism.

Aired on NPR All Things Considered; by producer Jake Warga, “Norfolk Island” (5:04 mp3):

Here’s a sample pic from Jake’s Norfolk photo gallery:

Tree and sky

HV063- Lincoln Monument

Abraham Lincoln photo, 1846 or 1847Hearing Voices from NPR®
063 Lincoln Monument: A Civil War
Host: Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2011-06-29 (Originally: 2009-07-01)

“Lincoln Monument” (52:00 mp3):

For Lincoln’s birthday bicentennial year and Independence Day, Old Abe, the Civil War, and its still-present aftermath:

The United States Marine Band recorded a “Lincoln Centennial” on February 12 1909 (from A Lincoln Portrait).

Abe’s 1860 presidential campaign song was “Lincoln and Liberty;” it’s sung for us by Dan Zanes (ex-Del Fuegos, off Parades And Panoramas: 25 Songs Collected By Carl Sandburg For The American Songbag).

I Heard Lincoln That Day,” says Gettysburg eyewitness Walter Rathvon, in archival audio recorded on Lincoln’s birthday 1938 by WRUL radio, Boston. Set to an instrumental “Lincoln’s Triumph (a Funeral March),” part of the Lincoln Shuffle (by Bryce Dessner, guitarist for The National and Clogs, composed for the great bicentennial site 21st Century Abe, used with their re-mixing blessings).

NPR recreates the “Gettysburg Address,” with the words of John Dos Passos read by Noah Adams, and Lincoln’s speech read by Lars Hoel; produced by Bob Malesky for NPR’s The Sunday Show. More…


Had a slew of HV stories on NPR recently, and no time to post ’em. We’ll put up photos and more info soon, but for now…

The first of Scott 3-part Juarez stories:

A couple by Jake Warga:

And this ZBS 2 Minute Film Noir:

HV041- Christmas Mashup

Beatles Christmas record cover, 1963Hearing Voices from NPR®
041 Christmas Mashup: Holy Days & Silent Nights
Host: Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2010-12-22 (Originally: 2008-12-10)

“Christmas Mashup” (52:00 mp3):

Holiday cheer and holiday weird, a mix of lotsa holiday stories, found-sound, and sprinkling of sampled songs:

A home-recording of a “Christmas Gathering 1947” (4:08 excerpt), on an unlabeled 7″ Wilcox Gay Recordio Disc, was found by Bob Purse. The complete recording is posted at the 365 Days Project, “Christmas Gathering 1947” (6:32 mp3):

John Beltran remixes Bing Crosby “The First Noel” (5:02), on the compilation Holiday Chill – The Christmas Remixes.

“Dad and Sam” (4:43) is Jay Allison‘s story of father and brotherhood, from his series Life Stories. More…

HV024- Caregiver Breast Cancer Monologues, CD CoverHearing Voices from NPR®
024 Caregiver: Taking Care, Taking Heart
Host: Dmae Roberts of
Airs week of: 2009-09-30 (Originally: 2008-08-13)

“Caregiver” (52:00 mp3):

Health caretakers, friends, family, workers and volunteers:

“Dialysis” by Joe Frank: A phone call, kidney failure and a friend indeed; followed by a flight of final fancy, from the hour “Goodbye.”

Three Woman” by host by Dmae Roberts: Three women, a Chicana, African American and Romanian immigrant, describe their different approaches to surviving breast cancer. Produced as part of the “The Breast Cancer Monologues,” with Miae Kim, Anca Micheti, and music by Maria Esteves.

Messages” by Dmae Roberts (of MediaRites): Every 100 days, the producer saves the phone messages of her mom who passed away two years ago as a living memorial. Music by Aaron Meyer and Tim Ellis.

Bad Teeth at King Drew Dental Clinic” by Ayala Ben-Yehuda: a morning at the Dental Divide at a dental clinic of last resort in South LA’s King Drew Medical Center.

A Square Meal, Regardless” by Jennifer Nathan: After John’s wife passed away and his children moved across the country, John turned to Cedric when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Produced for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Hospice Chronicles” (excerpt) by Long Haul Productions: Hospice volunteer Bettie viusits her first patient.

The Person I Admire Most” by Jake Warga: A day with Jenafir in Ethiopia, trying to save the world (video version).


I have acute hearing. I hear voices in passing. Here are a few. Feel free to add your own.

Ritual Coffee Roasters, San Francisco, 6/12/08
“I’d rather own a cat, because when a cat gets sick it just dies…”

Club Cocomo, San Francisco, 7/08 (Boy tries to get girl)
“You’re the hottest smart girl I know…(music)
…I can’t tell you what I do in Iraq.
Since 2004, I’ve gone to twelve funerals…I go to counseling every week…I want to talk about it with you but I can’t.” (Boy does not get girl)

Castro, San Francisco (the Gay neighborhood)
“I LOVE balls of furry!”
“Balls of Fury! it’s hilarious! Christopher Walken, OhMyGod…”
“Oh, the movie, yeah, anything with Christopher Walken IS Hilarious!”
(I’ve seen it, it’s not)

Downtown Seattle: Group of gutter-brats (homeless or grungy or drugs or all and tattoos and piercing) gathered on a street corner waiting for signal to change, but not crossing when it does.
“It wouldn’t spread if you’d quit scratching it…next thing you know it will be in your ass.”
I hurry and cross.

University Ave, Seattle: Grungy kid is sitting against a bike-rack which he is handcuffed to, surrounded by “friends.” Sitting on sidewalks here is illegal.
“Come on guys, this isn’t funny…well, it is…but it isn’t…Come on…”

Added 8/14/08:

Luxor, Egypt, Internet café. April, 2007 (An Egyptian guy, young, is on the internet cafe’s terminal next to mine. Web-cam chating with what looks like an Eastern European woman, young, speaking in seduction-English. I start transcribing the one side I can hear )
“…I want to climb into computer with you.
…nobody can take you away from me…you, with somebody else?…you can dance my grave first, no way. (her lips stutter in the sensual 3 frames per sec) They can’t stop me, if they kill me, I don’t care. I love you more than anything in this life (pixel pixel) what? I wish I had you with me 5yrs ago…why?…I will wait for you. I was 19 too. so it might be different. you are the one I give my life. you have the map inside your brain, inside your heart. can you see my heart from here…sensitive, what I ask for. what will i do if somebody else takes you away from me? if you decide this, I have no other choice. I love you, I need you, there’s nobody who take your place…I believe in you the rest of my life. I don’t care. Can you see me? this is why I did happy days. can you hear me? you no go crazy, shit. no don’t worry, I’m not sick 14hrs a day. I’m just sorry for her, but I can’t take this on ‘cus…what? because I have to go to gym everyday. I need visa in passport, new visa, this means the future for us. believe m she is 15rs old, I’m very happy, she’s a friend, not a woman friend. Nubian. Vacation, famous in a museum…
uh, I don’t think so, no way, even if I went to village tomorrow. we call it wezakarrah. Because she drinks zakari all the time…ok. I just want to kiss you…really, how old is he?..because I am speaking to you…nothing. A man go crazy in a relationship like this…baby…please don’t tell anybody about this sick child…no, I tell my wife soon…but now we have really big room and the teacher leaves soon…several things can happen, she can become my best friend, and I don’t understand, she may leave this, it is not my fault. she’s angry now, pissed off is proper…she is…I promise you if she leave, she won’t be back again, ever…what is going to happen? …I’ll be in jail and die.
I want you. So what do you think…do you agree to be with a crazy man, like me…would like to help you, next year you’re 18 and you’re leaving. I hate the house, I hate the no sleep, I hate it. At night I talk to you and am very happy, you are my life, it’s great. I will never give you up, no matter what you do…can you hear me?…
…can you hear me?”
(connection ends)

Yukon 7/08 Whitehorse
“…he was out in the yard eh, just shootin’ at that thing with a BB gun, it was hilarious!”

Human Rights Rabbi, Israel

Palestinian and Israeli soldierA day-in-the-life of Rabbi Arik Ascherman with Rabbis for Human Rights in Jerusalem. He interacts with Arabs and Jews, and intercedes when he can during Palestinian home demolitions. He looks for common ground amongst the the rubble and rocks, the M-16s and tanks, and the two religions that started as one. (Photos by Jake Warga.)

Aired on PRI The World; by producer Jake Warga, “Rabbi for Human Rights, Israel” (6:57 mp3):

HV006- Radio Dial

KPRK art-deco building, Livingston MTHearing Voices from NPR®
006 Radio Dial: Signals from the Sky
Host: Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2010-05-26 (Originally: 2008-04-09)

“Radio Dial” (52:00 mp3):

Radio stories about radio, then stories about radio stories:

“Dueling XMTRs! #3: VOIRI vs. the World” (2003 / 1:01 excerpt) ShortWaveMusic

These “Dueling Transmitters” are an atmospheric found-sound un-manipulated mix of Spanish ham-radio operators, slow Morse code, data squalls, and the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran. From the Shortwavemusic blog post “The Effects of Radiation.”

“Urbana FM” (2004 / 4:05) Jake Warga

An FM radio station in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is called Urbana. It’s hip, bilingual, plays music from all over the world, and is famous in Uruguay for its 30-second sound portraits featuring the voices of famous people mixed over avante-garde music.

“Radio Reloj” (2005 / 1:02 excerpt) Vocal Sampling

The Cuban a-capella ensemble approximates a radio dial with their vocal chords. From the group Vocal Sampling’s (site | space) CD Una Forma Mas.

“The Grotesque” (2007 / 1:07 excerpt) Myke Weiskopf

Shortwave/music mixes by LA sound artist Myke Dodge Weiskopf, off his 30: a Retrospective 1976-2006

“WWV- The Tick” (0:46) Douglas Grant

The government’s all-time all-the-time radio station goes commercial, voiced by former WWV announcer John Doyle.


HV003- Her Stories

Painting of a women and leaves by Victoria GoldingHearing Voices from NPR®
003 Her Stories: For Women’s History Month
Host: Dmae Roberts of
Airs week of: 2012-02-29 (Originally: 2008-03-19)

“Her Stories” (52:00 mp3):

The Kitchen Sisters go to “Tupperware®” parties.

A supermarket checker checks out her life, in ZBS‘s radio soap Saratoga Springs.

Jenifir returns “Home From Africa” with all 13 Symptoms of Chronic Peace Corps Withdrawal, produced by Jake Warga.

Host Dmae Roberts has a collage of and about “Sisters.”

In a new syntax of whispers and words Susan Stone tells the story of “Ruby” and her husbands.

And Sonia Sanchez (produced by Steve Rowland of Shakespeare Is), Tracie Morris, Jill Battson and Meryn Cadell perform short poems.

Music from Tara Key’s Ear & Echo.