This is Michael Scott Moore, who edits Radio Free Mike. His website went dark while he was a hostage in Somalia, a brutal ordeal which lasted two and a half years. We’re happy to announce that the site is live again.

The title of this website is a sly reference to Radio Free Europe, a Cold-War institution and an REM song. “Radio Free Mike” is not some kind of nickname or handle.

His actual handles on social media — @MichaelSctMoore on Twitter, or @michaelscottmoore1 on Instagram — are of course excellent ways to keep up.

Mike is a novelist and journalist from California who lived in Berlin for twelve years, from 2005 till 2017. He went to Somalia in 2012 to research — among other topics — a gang of ten pirates on trial in Hamburg for trying to hijack the MV Taipan, a German cargo vessel.

His book about the hostage ordeal has been published by Harper Wave. He's also been known to speak in public about Somalia, sometimes to support Hostage US, where he's a member of the board.

Mike’s first book is is not autobiographical. Too Much of Nothing is a satirical L.A. novel narrated by a ghost, featuring a lot of exaggerated drug use and ridiculous misbehavior. The fictional town of Calaveras Beach might remind readers of Mark Twain. But the book has nothing to do with mining towns or jumping frogs. The Spanish word calavera simply means skeleton, or skull.

Here’s a calavera:

“Happy Dance and Wild Party of All the Skeletons,” by José Guadalupe Posada

José Posada drew hundreds of these lively-skeleton cartoons to illustrate satirical sheets written around the Day of the Dead. These broadsheets — also called calaveras — made fun of editors, politicians, society matrons, musicians: people high and low who forgot they were going to die.

The blog symbol on this website samples a little-known image of Berlin’s TV tower. The tower itself is a big broadcast antenna for TV and radio, in the center of Berlin, which has outlived the East German regime that put it up. The artwork belongs to a now-ridiculous, but still arresting, canvas of German socialist fantasy:

Musiklehrhaft, 2. Klasse, 1969 (from an East German classroom music book, 2nd grade, 1969)

Our editor holds two passports. His mom’s German; his dad was American. His paternal grandfather was a mechanic from Cape Breton, Canada, named Daniel John Moore, and the grim simple dignity of those three names pleases him.

His friends just call him Mike.

All of us here at Radio Free Mike would like to thank the good people in the U.S. and Europe who worked for his release.

Speaking Events

My review of a book about the drone war, Hellfire from Paradise Ranch, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

While I was in Somalia a man called Geoff Carter wrote about a picture of Indian men surfing on stand-up boards around 1800 off Chennai, which altered the known history of surfing a bit, even though the picture was hiding in plain sight at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

My review of Ingrid Betancourt's first novel, The Blue Line, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The men from the Naham 3 are all friends of mine — a crew of 26 sailors from southeast Asia who worked on a tuna long-liner flagged in Oman but owned by a company in Taiwan, which abandoned them after Somali pirates hijacked the ship in 2012.



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