Mark Sabbatini

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Member since 2004.



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A professional transient wandering Earth's extreme regions.

I live 800 miles from the North Pole in Longyearbyen, Norway, just down the road from where Santa runs his elf sweatshop in an abandoned mine shaf. It's the home of Polarjazz, the world's northernmost jazz festival (hosted in mid-winter), and a mountain housing a seed vault that will feed Earth after a nuclear war.

I'm a Colorado native who grew up in Aspen before it was overrun by tourists, learning to ski by the age of four and breaking my leg shortly thereafter. I attended college in Colorado and Washington, deciding as a freshman to major in journalism after watching '60s hippie throwbacks who ran the paper determine story importance via wrestling matches.

I took the usual few small-time jobs before accepting one in the Los Angeles area, mainly because everyone said it was the place I was least suited for. They were right, but it was good for the career. I covered major earthquakes, trials down the hall from the O.J. Simpson circus and lots of “only in L.A.” madness. I ended up at the L.A. Times for a stint, but never got over my dislike of the area and shocked all my California buds by going to Alaska more or less on a whim.

I spent several years at the newspaper in Juneau before deciding it was time to get even more extreme and go to Antarctica. I spent two seasons as an editor at The Antarctic Sun, a weekly publication focusing on science projects and life in general on the Ice, and seeing the world during the off-season.

A love of squat toilets resulted in my spending the next several years circling the world in a quest to find jazz in the most unlikely of places. I contaminated more than 60 countries on all seven continents, including such jazz meccas as Greenland, Turkmenistan, the Inuit Arctic and Mongolia. I was nearly arrested in totalitarian countries a few times, but luckily only almost died once when I passed out during a Gaza-like melee at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border.

My travels brought me to Norway many times, usually to recover from various self- inflicted follies. That led to my first Polarjazz in 2008, after which I spent nine months getting rid of my possessions and the rest of my professional reputation so I could move there toward the end of the year. I'm hoping to start Icepeople, the world's northernmost alternative newspaper in early 2009, focusing on polar science, politics and culture, assuming I learn to shoot a rifle so I don't get eaten by polar bears.

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