Choosing his path
Jimmy Lanier, son of an American father and a Russian mother, shares his perceptions of Alaska.
What is a more powerful dream: living in Alaska or becoming a professional baseball player? In his interview Jimmy Lanier makes it clear.
- How long have you lived in Alaska and why are you still here?
- I was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and I am 20 years old now. I have lived here my whole life. But right now I am in a community college in Oregon. Alaska is a total package of adventures: so much to choose from when you go outside. Now I'm going to college in Oregon because baseball is important to me at this time. I've played baseball as pitcher my whole life. Through high school I had a slow start. But my play progressed as well as my spot on the team. Later, I finally had my successful year on our high school team, the Chugiak Mustangs. So I knew I wanna continue playing baseball. Being a part of a good team, you're capable of many things. So this is why I went to study in Oregon. I'd like to be a professional baseball player but not necessarily, because I like Alaska so much and, in this case, I would be forced to live in another state, so…
- Alaska is…
- ...amazing!
- What is the spirit of Alaska in terms of values people live?
- It is generic. You hear a lot of people talking about 'The Last Frontier'. And it holds very true. Here in Alaska the horizon is always stretching further. Nowhere else, at least in the US, can you find just untouched nature like this. So this is what the spirit of Alaska is to me.
Here in Alaska the horizon is always stretching further.
- Since time immemorial the Native peoples of Alaska have lived here. Then the Russians came. Then Alaska became a part of the United States. In the end, who has the most claim?
- I don't think anyone should have claim to land. I think we just should be taking advantage of it equally so that everyone can enjoy it. But the indigenous Natives would be my first choice answering this question.
- The First Peoples of Alaska, including Inupiaq, Tlingit, Athabaskans, Yupik, Alutiiq and others, how large is their role in modern Alaska today?
- I would say, most people in their daily life would not think much of what the Natives are doing or have done. Their subsistent lifestyle, all that hunting and gathering, is not related to general population of Alaska. So, in my opinion, they don't have much impact on what people in Alaska are doing today.
- Alaska and the 'Lower 48': do people do things differently there?
- I don't have much experience regarding how they do things differently, but I know that they say certain things differently. For example, 'snowmachine' is how we would say it in Alaska. They call it 'snowmobile'. They don't know what 'showmachines' are (laughing). Another thing would be the grocery stores chain here that we call 'Carrs'. They call it 'Safeway'. Even though 'Carrs' was purchased by 'Safeway', we still call it 'Carrs' here in Alaska. I would also say that everything in Alaska is slowed down. There isn't as much traffic and there isn't as much production. People in Alaska have a lot more time to get where they're going so they've get used to a much slower pace here.
- Do reality TV shows genuinely portray Alaska or they distort it?
- I've only seen little clips of those TV shows like 'Trapper'. You know, some cabin in the wilderness and the character was trying to get back to his cabin and trying to live off the land. But he was on a snowmachine, and he had a heater in his cabin, so that's not really Alaskan. It is manufactured. So I think they don't show the Alaskan lifestyle, how it is done, correctly. It is giving an idea of the adventure of it, but it is not actually showing the real low points.
- Where, in your opinion, is the most beautiful place in Alaska? Why did you pick that place and why is it so special to you?
- Denali. Not just the mountain but the whole area. It is the wildest part of the state. Just the vastness of it…
Denali, not just the mountain but the whole area, to me is the most beautiful place in Alaska.
- What are your favorite Alaskan foods? Do you have a special recipe?
- Alaskan salmon, either grilled or made in to a party, like a sandwich or a burger. As to the kind of salmon, king salmon is good, but I prefer silver salmon. The choice of salmon also depends on the season very much.
- What do you know about the Russian America or Russian heritage in Alaska?
- Mostly is that they occupied here before we did. And then they sold it. And that's about the extend what I know about it.
- This year is the 150th anniversary of Alaska purchase by the United States: are you aware of this event?
- Now I am, but I was not till recently.
- How do you feel towards Russia as a country?
- I just see it as another foreign country. See, my mom is Russian, but I only visited Russia once, so I don't have any special connection to it. Russia is just another foreign land to me.
- America and Russia: are we enemies? Or are we not?
- No, not right now. It seems like there is that automatic divide just because of the major differences in history of the countries. By major differences I mean, for instance, how young this country is. We don't have as much history as Russia. Also, the US has constantly been changing, the territory and the politics, over the last 100 years. And Russia, it seems to me, has always been 'Mother-Russia'. But besides that, we're not enemies.
- If you had an opportunity to meet and talk to an ordinary Russian, what would you say?
- I suppose I would start by telling him or her to stay out of cities in Alaska. There's much more to be experienced outside, like mushing is a great experience. Also, even if he or she hasn't experienced that cold and long winters in Alaska. I would just say: don't focus on the main tourist attractions in Alaska!
- What is your version of the American dream?
- I don't really know… If somebody asks me I would tell that person of the stereotype. You know, achieve what you're set out to achieve, regardless of how long it takes or what needs to be done. And it will happen. As to baseball, I don't really think about the future. I'm just trying to play right now. That's how I see it.
As to baseball, I don't really think about the future. I'm just trying to play right now.
- What a great single Alaskan person of past or present would you like to talk to?
- Norman Vaughn. He was an extraordinary explorer. I believe, in the World War II he served in the US Navy. He lived a long life, 100 years! I knew him personally and I would love to gain a little more of his wisdom on just being in Alaska because he was such an Alaskan…
- What will Alaska be like in 2034, 17 years from now?
- I would hate to say it, but would be more populated. Anchorage would not grow as a city, but the population there would be denser. I would probably see more road construction, more highways. Like there's been a lot of planning in the Alaskan state legislature to build a brand new highway bridge. So, just a lot more industrialization of the raw land. It is, unfortunately, bad because it is taking away more of what makes Alaska the Last Frontier. Less natural beauty. More people and more business…
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