‘Drunk boxer in West Africa. Three hot girls. Zombie killing.’

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U of R J-School alumni Danny Kresnyak discusses his new book, Different Drummer Vol. 2

Paul Bogdan
A&C Editor

If you’ve met Danny Kresnyak, you know he does his own thing. He’s played in metal bands. He’s seen the Mexican drug war. He’s been to beard championships. He’s been shot at in Ghana. He’s sparred with WBO African Light-Heavyweight Champion Braimah Kamoko. “Believe me; he hits like a tank,” Kresnyak confirmed. His newest book, Different Drummer Vol. 2, follows these adventures in 1000 to 3000 word feature articles and photo essays.

“There’s places, but there’s no central focus as to what it is other than it’s the last year of my life. It’s what I’ve worked on over the last year … drunk boxer in West Africa. Three hot girls. Zombie killing. There’s no real rhyme nor reason to it,” said Kresnyak.

Despite focusing on a wide variety of people and places, a large portion of Different Drummer Vol. 2 deals with Kresnyak’s time working in Ghana with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).

“Our mandate as an NGO is to work ourselves out of business … you want to be able to go there and give people the right skills, the right tools, and the right training to help them present human rights issues,” said Kresnyak.

While he was there, he worked with local journalists to “get people telling their own stories in places that people don’t talk about … My stories were always connected with what we were doing with the local journalists, but for the most part, the focus is to get them to tell the story.”

As well, JHR has been working on educating people in “citizen journalism”, which Kresnyak described as “how to tell your friends these stories in effective ways”. This is increasingly important in a world that is becoming increasingly connected every day.

“With that element and that new connectivity, having a mobile phone puts you on the Internet, and you can publish whatever the fuck you want,” Kresnyak said. “They can get that out, so that’s the new focus of what we’re doing, the citizen journalism. People are more apt to trust things if they know the people who are telling it to them … We have the right to the transparency of government, and that’s what strong media does.”

But, it’s not distant parts of the globe where we need to be working on citizen journalism and getting stories heard by the public.

“Pelican Narrows has a higher teen suicide rate than it does a high school graduation rate. Six hour drive from here. That’s fucked. That’s proper fucked. To get these stories told is what we’re trying to do.”


“I felt like I needed to do something more substantial, and I mean, that’s what we all hope for in life, to do something that will be remembered and be substantial, right? Maybe not. Maybe we all hope for cake in the break room and Rider Friday. Not really me.” – Danny Kresnyak


Kresnyak has come a long way from his first journalistic goals: “to write like Hunter S. Thompson and get into concerts for free” (this is definitely not a common motivation behind arts writers). His decision to get involved with organizations such as JHR and do more than write stories about his conversations with strippers was influenced by some time Kresnyak spent in Tijuana.

“I’m sitting in this place, a little deck thing to eat tacos and drink cervezas. I’ve got my laptop, and I’m doing some writing, and I hear this guy get dragged out of a bar with a dude screaming in his face, spitting on him, beating the shit out of him. One guy walks up to him and smashes him in the face with the base of a bottle, over and over again, caves this dude’s face in. I’m 20, 30 feet away from him. If I was standing on O’Hanlon’s deck, it would have happened at Michi. It’s close, and I can hear every thud; I can hear the guy trying to breathe with his caved in face, and it’s like, ‘Holy fuck. This shit happens in the world’ … It affected me. I had seen a dead body, but I’d never seen someone murdered essentially. The first time you see someone in a real bad state, you never forget that shit. I was sitting there on that deck writing a funny story about a stripper I met on New Years Eve … I was sitting there writing this thinking there’s so much more we could do to tell people stories.

“I felt like I could do more. I felt like I needed to do something more substantial, and I mean, that’s what we all hope for in life, to do something that will be remembered and be substantial, right? Maybe not. Maybe we all hope for cake in the break room and Rider Friday. Not really me.”

Kresnyak’s time spent in Africa he describes as “an adventure”, but really, anything that he covers in Different Drummer Vol. 2, let alone his life is an adventure.

“Before I went back to school, I spent years in a van touring with buddies and playing in bands, or I worked as a bouncer and boxed, and did all this other random shit. It was different adventures … why does anybody get out of bed? They’re looking for something … sometimes you wanna do more than try new drinks and look at things,” said Kresnyak.

“But, the more you travel, the more you meet people, the more you begin to … acknowledge their motivations, the more you’re like, ‘These people are exactly like me’. That’s the thing that keeps us from getting involved and trying to make a difference in the world–we don’t identify.”

A release party for Different Drummer Vol. 2 will be held November 8 at 8:00 PM at Lancaster Pub, and will feature a photo exhibit, charity auction, and musical entertainment by Indigo Joseph and Chris “Tiny” Machett.

Arts Radar

Nov. 1
Brandi Disterheft
Creative City Centre
$15 advance/$18 door
Doors at 7:30

Nov. 2
Fiddle and Banjo
Creative City Centre
$10 door
Doors at 7:30

Dan Mangan w/The Rural Alberta Advantage
Knox-Metropolitan Church
$25 advance/$30 door
Doors at 7:30

The Lost Fingers
The Exchange
$23 advance
Doors at 7

Nov. 6
The Wilderness of Manitoba
Creative City Centre
$10 door
Doors at 7:30

James Keelaghan
The Exchange
$15 advance/$20 door
Doors at 7:30

Nov. 7
Delhi 2 Dublin
The Exchange
$15 advance/$20 door
Doors at 7:30

Nov. 8
Plants and Animals w/Rah Rah
The Artful Dodger
$15 advance/$18 door
Doors at 7

Take Me to the Pilot, Fighting For Ithaca, Seventh Rain, and Crash Chorus
The Exchange
$10 advance/$12 door
Doors at 7

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