Saturday, June 30, 2007

De Puta Madre

Video Find of the Day

Miki Cortan plays the Yamaha like a god, and I like the sentiment expressed by his shirt, though I must say it does not flatter his figure.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mr. Good News

Daily Video Find

Here's a cheerful old dance clip. She wants Mr. Good News to do what? Well, it's all for a good cause I'm sure.

Keiki Kona

It was days after my Mother arrived home from the mental ward before she spoke to me. She was drunk a lot of the time. She kept in her bedroom. Finally she came out and I tried to say the nicest thing I could think of saying. I asked about the baby that was due.

I think it was Lani's mention of a younger brother that made want to know when mine would come. I wanted a younger brother to do things for, too.

Anyway, it was altogether the wrong question. If the word miscarriage had been used I wouldn't have known what it meant. Maybe my eidetic memory was slipping, but I don't think the word was used anyway. I think that as usual my Father couldn't talk about it, and my Mother hadn't been talking.

She screamed at me, blaming me for killing the baby. She said, "What do you think happened that day? Because of you my head was slammed into that wall! You think the baby was gonna live through that? What do you think happened!"

Then she raped me anally, screaming, "Let's hear you speak Hawaiian now! If I'm stuck with you, you little filth, you'd better entertain me!"

Later I had to deal with the idea that I killed the baby. If I did, I did it by taking revenge on my Mother. Taking revenge on her was proper, but I shouldn't have let my revenge cause the baby to die.

In order to correct the harm I'd done I had to give my Mother something equivalent to what I'd taken away from her. It didn't matter that I hated her. The law is, give back as you're given.

I remember the vision of the dog cut apart and put back together, and reanimating, and I thought, maybe I could make a little brother out of myself. It should be a little brother she could love. It occurred to me that since my parents were always wanting me to speak English around the house that the new baby should speak English. Why not begin with the English speaking part of me?

So I imagined separating off the English speaking part of me, and I started to call him Keiki Kona, my little one.

Keiki Kona didn't come to life right away. It took time. But when he did it was all at once. Suddenly I found myself in my body, but being moved by another person, who was younger and who didn't know my Mother raped me and didn't speak Hawaiian so he didn't know what 'ilio wahine 'ino meant. He was innocent and could make a fresh start with my Mother.

To make sure that my little brother stayed innocent and able to love Mother, I was determined to step in and take over whenever she was mean to us. So little brother would never have to know what having a vicious evil Mother was like. He would never even feel hated by her.

I told Lani and Lono about Keiki Kona a week or so before my 3rd birthday. The name was confusing to them. They wondered why I was giving him a Hawaiian name. They thought I was talking about a real new baby. Lani said that just Kona would make a fine name, by itself, because besides meaning "my" it can also mean "the leeward" side, i.e. the calm side, and that was a good name.

So I called little brother Kona.

When they asked why I didn't bring Kona to see them, I told them he's too young to go that far, and besides, he doesn't know any Hawaiian.

Technorati Sucks, Week 14

It was in the Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy" that Spock told Kirk that their odds of surviving their current adventure were "approximately" 7824.7 to one, thus proving once and for all that Spock may have been half-Vulcan, but he was all smart-ass, and all shit-full.

I woke up today to find that the ranking of this blog on Technorati was lower than ever. Then I checked the ranking of Adventures in Bloggery and had a hilarious surprise. Look at these screen shots, taken seconds apart:
Even though the two blogs were claimed on Technorati 26 days apart, they have sunk not only to the same low level, but to the exact same ranking.

"Hey, Spock, what do you suppose the odds are that two entirely different blogs with different aims and content and read by different audiences, that just happen to be by the same person, should wind up tied at 7,681,765 in Technorati's ratings?"

"If I were being approximate, Captain, I'd say 7824.7 to one."

"And what would say if you were being accurate, Spock?"

"I'd say Technorati sucks, Jim."

Reconciliation

I got surgery for a ruptured penis. Even though I was under a general anesthesia I woke up from it with dreams of horrific pain. I dreamed my body was being sawn in half from the crotch up, with dreamed pain to match. That pain I remember.

When it was over and I could go home, I had to wear a cup for a month or two.

My Father drove me home from the hospital, and for the next two weeks took care of me. My Mother wasn't around. When I asked about her, my Father just said she's resting up in the hospital.

My Father got to know me more in those two weeks than he had in a year. I felt a bond forming.

At the same time, I wanted to get back to Lani and Lono. I believed that all the horrible things that had happened since I stopped seeing them happened just because of that. If I had not turned away from them I wouldn't have taken up with Jackson. If I hadn't taken up with Jackson my Mother wouldn't be in the hospital.

But my Father wasn't negligent in the way my Mother was. He wouldn't let me run off for hours in a day. I had to stay by the house while he was taking care of me.

I had a birthday coming up, in July. My Father asked me what I wanted most, and I told him I wanted a ball. I had in mind a rubber bouncing ball like one I'd seen Jackson play with. Dad said it would be easy to get me a ball, and asked me what else I wanted. The only thing I could think of was to beg him to go to Stoneman Field with me so he could meet my friends. He said, no, he was too old to meet my friends. When I told him my friends were big people too, he just laughed, like he didn't believe me.

Finally, the two weeks were up and my Mother came home.

In those days mental patients often had to dress just like convicts in a penitentiary. That's the way my Mother was when she stepped out of the car. She was wearing striped pajamas with big black and white stripes so she couldn't get far without being seen if she ever escaped. Her head had been shaved and was still bandaged.

As she came in the house I stood waiting. I'd been coached by my Father to say "I love you Mommy." I squeaked my line out as she glared at me. She said, "Get the fuck out of my way, you filthy freak. I don't want to ever see you again. You did this to me." She went to bed and didn't come out for the weekend.

Then the weekend was over, and my Father had to go back to work. That morning I ran off to see Lani and Lono.

When I saw them I rejoined them in tears. I told Lani I was sorry for being angry with him, and he was right, I should be outside the kapu, I wasn't meant to live like normal people.

Lani told me that he was the one who had been wrong. It was wrong of him, he said, to laden me with all his hopes and dreams and not consider my needs, and it was wrong to talk about the old ways as if they were perfect and the way things should be now.

He said he had already known that the kapu was wrong, but he was just clinging to everything, and you can't do that. Some of the old ways are best left dead.

I told them everything that had gone wrong during the month since I'd last seen them. Then Lani took out a piece of wood he was carving, and got ready to work on it. It was a different piece than I'd seen him working on before. He said he'd been saving it in the hopes of seeing me again, he wanted me to watch him carve it from the beginning.

I asked what it was going to be. He said some sort of animal. He said it would be a gift for a special little brother. I said I didn't know he had a little brother, that I thought the one he had died. He said this is for a different little brother. Then he started carving, while Lono sang a chant.

The Screaming

I'm sure that my Mother understood that "I made a present for Mommy" was a reference to my first birthday. She went berserk.

She screamed and dragged me into the house through the back door. There was a utility sink around the corner inside the back door. She turned the water on and held my face under the stream until I nearly drowned. Periodically she let me gasp for one quick breath then immediately put me under again. I started taking in water. I was gagging on water when she pulled me up by my arm and dropped my whole body in the sink.

She rinsed me off in the sink for a while, then, still screaming, she never stopped screaming, she took me out and stood me by a metal tub we had. Without warning she took hold of my penis and lifted me in the air by it and threw me down into the tub. There was horrible blinding pain coming from my penis, and just at that moment I heard the sound of our car in the driveway.

I leaped out of the tub and squirmed away out of my Mother's grasp. I ran out the front door with my Mother chasing behind me. I ran naked and screaming up to my Father who was on the sidewalk coming in.

My Father said, "What's wrong with you? What are you screaming about?"

My Mother said, "Don't believe anything the little shit tells you."

That tipped my Father off. He bent down and said, "What happened?"

I was sobbing and screaming, but after a few tries I managed to say, "Mommy hurt it!" and pointed to my penis. He tried to pry my hands away so he could see but I only screamed more. Then he turned on my Mother. He shouted at her "What did you do to my son!"

She said, "He deserved it! He's a shit! A filthy shit!"

My Father responded by punching her so hard he drove her head halfway though the wall.

I screamed at him, "No, no, no, no, please don't hurt Mommy! I'm sorry! It's all my fault!"

My Father made a phone call. Then he took me by the arm and put me in the back seat of the car and drove off with me. He drove me to Tripler Medical Center. On the way I screamed more. I remember the pain being unimaginable, but oddly I don't remember the pain itself. I remember every other pain. I remember the pain of the car rolling over me on my first birthday. But I don't remember this one. I take that as a sign that it really was as bad as I thought it was.

I managed to ask about my Mother. Didn't she have to go to the doctors? He said there was going to be an ambulance for her, but I was getting a special ride with him.

Couldn't Mommy go with us? "No," he said, "she couldn't."

Payback

My Mother was pregnant again. You couldn't tell by looking at her; she wasn't big in the belly yet. My clue was my Father continually telling me to not bother her because she's pregnant.

I could hear them talking at night, when I was supposed to be going to sleep. They talked about how the new baby was a chance to start over and do everything right this time. The new baby won't be damaged. The new baby will be everything Wesley was supposed to be.

I wasn't supposed to play with Jackson again after we were caught sneaking into houses. I was ordered to stay at home or in the yard. For about a week I hung out at home trying to be nice to my Mother and staying out of her way.

I was in deep pain. I was isolated. I felt rejected by everyone. I couldn't imagine killing myself, but I thought of what I could imagine. I thought that when the good baby came to replace me, I would go away. I pictured a hole in the ground, somewhere a long way off, and sitting in it, and never coming out.

My Mother was as cruel as ever. When my father was at work she would regularly lock me in my room. The rapes weren't as frequent as when my Father was in Korea, but still happened.

One day, I think it was in the middle of May, 1952, Jackson found me in our back yard playing by myself, and told me he had an idea of something fun to do, and I should come along. I knew I could only get in trouble by leaving with him, but I thought it didn't matter because I was treated like dirt no matter whether I was good or not. Besides, I'd be leaving permanently to live in dirt, so it would all be over soon.

So I went with him. He took me to a house that had a crawl-space beneath it that was gated and padlocked. The gate consisted of wooden slats. We could see what looked like toys to us through the slats. Jackson talked me into helping him rip away slats so we could take the toys out. So he had escalated his activities to breaking in to places, and he wasn't so concerned anymore about leaving evidence. I thought he was probably in a bad mood too.

When we got the toys out, Jackson recognized them as forming a croquet set. I didn't know what that meant, so he told me I was stupid. Then we left, with the croquet set strewn all over the lawn.

We went into some woods. He talked to me about how mean his parents were. So I opened up to him and shared my feelings about my parents and how they hated me an wanted me dead. He said he didn't blame them, I was a stupid shit, and to prove it he defecated in front of me, and picked up some of his shit and smeared it on me. Then he left.

At that moment I had my first remembered fugue experience. A fugue experience is a period in which you must have been active but you can't recall being conscious during it. It's like sleep-walking, only you weren't asleep to begin with. It's often seen in people who have experienced trauma.

This first fugue experience lasted long enough for me to strip and smear my whole body with feces. When I came out of the fugue I was confused for a second, not knowing how I got that way. Then I had an idea that it had a purpose.

The woods I was in were very close to our backyard, I just had to go down a small hill and across an alley.

When I got to the backyard I started to think that my idea of what to do was no good, and I tried to get the garden hose out to clean myself off. But before I could do it my Mother came out of the house and caught me. She demanded to know what I was doing, and I didn't have any answer but the one I'd already thought of. I said it in Hawaiian first, and then I translated it for her.

"I made a present for Mommy!"

Lost

The dog Koko had a friend. There was another dog that was allowed by his owners to run loose. It was a big gangly thing, half again as big as Koko, who was the size and coloring of a miniature Schnauzer. The two of them played together every day. They had the run of the neighborhood.

Having been rejected almost to death by my parents, and now feeling relegated to being an animal by the ones I thought were there to rescue me, I felt I had more in common with the dogs than anyone else I knew.

There was a child about a year older who was willing to hang out with me. I'll call him Jackson. Jackson was the adopted son of military parents. His adoptive parents were white, he was Puerto Rican. But he identified with Hawaiian natives. Maybe because of the common color. He was doing what my Father thought I was doing, picking up Pidgin from the other civilian workers.

Jackson was mean. He frequently hit me and insulted me. He hit me on the head with sticks. He kicked me. Until I fell out with Lani and Lono I didn't think I needed Jackson enough to put up with the abuse. But afterward he was about the only company I had.

One insult sticks out in my memory. There was some greenish dog shit on the ground, and he called it honowā. I didn't recognize that as the hawaiian word for shit, I'd learned a different word. He said, there's different words for different kinds. Honowā is the kind that when you step on it, it won't come off, and it stinks the most. Then he said, "You're honowā." A little later he said all white people were honowā.

In spite of a constant flow of insults like that I followed Jackson around and took part in his activities. One of his activities was to sneak into houses. It was pretty easy since almost nobody locked their homes at Schofield Barracks, even when they went away for the day. So it was all entering, and no breaking.

One day we were snooping around inside a house and one of us knocked over an open bottle of writing ink. Did I mention this was 1952? People used fountain pens in those days, so every house had an ink bottle out in the living room somewhere. Usually people would think to close it. These people didn't.

There was ink all over the living room table and all over the carpet. Now, part of Jackson's routine was to leave things exactly the way we found them. He wasn't a thief, he was more of a 4 year-old voyeur. He got off on peeking at and touching things he wasn't supposed to. But he didn't want to leave evidence. So we tried to wipe up the ink with towels.

Naturally, that just spread the ink around, and now the towels had ink on them. Then I got a brilliant idea. It was black ink right? The opposite of black is white, right? So let's get some milk and cancel them out.

We were pouring milk all over the ink when the owners of the house came in. My parents and Jackson's parents were called, and all stood around arguing about whose parenting caused this mess, and my parents ended up agreeing that they should pay for a new carpet, and there was yelling and a spanking when I got home.

Then, they put me to bed, and I heard them laughing for hours about my brilliant idea.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Japanese Traditional Bowing

Video Find of the Day

This video will teach you more than the proper way to do Japanese Traditional Bowing -- it will teach you how to live and succeed and prosper.

Godhood: The Downside

So at the age of 2 years and about 9 months, I was a pre-school messiah for the Hawaiian Nation.

At first I had no real concerns. Lono had dropped Christian ideas into our conversation, but almost everything was from Genesis. There had been only one passing reference to Jesus and we hadn't gone into detail about what had happened to Jesus. No mention of anything to do with crosses, hangings on trees, scourgings, or things of that nature. Being a messiah was all about leading people where they should go, as I understood it. It was like being a Captain, only you were the boss of more people.


I knew that some study would be required, in order to know what best to do. But I figured I had plenty of time for that. Lani said I wouldn't do my work as messiah until I was grown up. I didn't know how long that would be but I figured it would take at least a year.

Then Lani dropped a bomb on the whole idea. It came in the form of remarks concerning kapu.

Kapu is Hawaiian for taboo. We were talking about the ancient Hawaiian taboo system. The discussion came up in a weird way. I had mentioned having seen an unusual hut at the place where I had heard the Kaulilua song. I described it to Lani and Lono and they described it as a menstrual hut.

They said that when the women were bleeding, they had too much mana so they had to stay in the menstrual huts. It was required by the kapu.

I had to repeat my promise not to speak to others about our conversations in order to get that far. They told me how White People have their own kapu, which is not to talk about such things.

Other aspects of the kapu were brought up, like the fact that the women ate separately from the men, or that certain foods were prohibited.

The way kapu was explained to me was that there were two worlds, the world of gods and animals, and the world of humans. The kapu is a wall created by humans holding hands together to keep the gods and animals out of the human world.

So the kapu separates wild from tame, rather than sacred from profane. But the feelings are the same. When kapu is broken it feels like chaos is near at hand. Which is also the feeling that inspires "reverence" in Westerners -- the word means "fear" -- of divine "rapture" -- a word meaning to be stolen away violently.

So religious ceremonies in the tradition were preceded by prayers for a temporary lifting of kapu, under carefully planned circumstances.

Without kapu there could be no society. Kapu was needed for safety and security. Lani reeled off more and more of the rules of kapu and it became too much to take in.

I asked how anyone could remember it all. Lani said I didn't need to learn it all, because I was outside the kapu. The rules didn't apply to me, all I had to do was not hurt people, and I'd be fine.

But... the kapu is what keeps people together, he had said. So I said, but how can i be outside of the kapu if I'm one of the people he said.

Now, at the time I still had a visible scar on my head from being hit by the car. It started on the right side of my forehead and ran back to the right into my hair. Lani pointed to the scar and said, "Because of this, you would be outside of the kapu."

I was starting to cry and I asked what else did that mean besides not having to know the rules (which I had wanted to know!) and he said that, for example, I wouldn't be able to marry.

That was too much.

I went from feeling adopted to feeling myself an outcast in one conversation. I was worse than an outcast. I was non-human.

So what if I was a child of the gods in a human form if I wasn't going to be treated as a human?

It wasn't that I wanted to marry some day. it was that I thought that I was finally not being treated as an animal, and here I was being told that the rules of kapu meant that what my parents did to me demanded that I be treated as non-human. Why is it that my parents get their way after all? Why am I to be punished and not them?

After that session I stopped going to see Lani and Lono. I decided that I would find friends my own age, or I wouldn't have friends. I was angry.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Amazing Child Drummer

Video Find of the Day

Isaiah Chevrier was born in the United States. Now he is 5 and he lives in Mali, West Africa and is a djembe drummer. He has several videos provided by rootsymali, which is dedicated to preserving this music and culture.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two Chinese Boys

Video Find of the Day

All you do is go on YouTube and do a search on Two Chinese Boys. Instead of any one of the (I estimate) 20 quadrillion pairs (by American counting nomenclature) of Chinese boys, you almost always get these two. They do lip synchs.

When I was growing up every class clown who was popular (as opposed to dark dangerous class clowns who were feared and hated) lip synched. It was standard fare in every stupid assembly and every stupid school fair. I remember these doofoids doing lip synchs to the Flying Purple People Eater, to Alvin and the Chipmunks, to Elvis' version of Blue Suede Shoes, and I remember trying hard to get away, begging teachers for a hall pass so I could go find a quiet corner in an empty room and try to purge my brain of the impressions they'd made on it.

But these guys don't make me want to do that. These guys are good. These videos were posted by cow.

We Will Rock You, with something else at the end:



Get Down, by the Backstreet Boys



My favorite is this Chinese Opera bit:

Giving Voice

I have a special memory of being told creation stories. I remember only a few details of the creation stories themselves. I can try to reconstruct it. What struck me in the telling wasn't so much the actual stories but the way Lani and Lono took turns at telling them.

I think Lono started it by telling the Christian story of genesis. Lani countered by saying that other people had a different idea of what happened, and he told of how all there is sprang out of the primordial god Kanaloa.

Rather than argue which of the two of those ideas was right, Lono said there were still others who had a different idea. He told another story from the tradition, how the sky god Lani and the earth goddess Papa made love and Papa gave birth to the other gods and eventually Kane, who made people from rocks.

Rather than argue which of those three ideas was right, Lani said that there was another view, that was like that, but said that Kane made people out of clay.

Lono said that there was widespread agreement that men were made from clay, which was why the red clay was sacred, as well as the color red, but actually there was another view, that it wasn't men who were made from the clay, it was the taro plant, and men later descended from the tarot plant over many generations.

Pretty soon the words, "but other people say" had me in stitches every time I heard it.

I understood the joke. Anyone who says they know how the world began is wrong. Nobody was there to see it. But that doesn't prevent us from talking about it. The real creation is the recreation that happens every time you tell it a new way.

Whenever I hear Creationists and Evolutionists debating I remember that conversation, and laugh all over again.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dogs, Again

Video Find of the Day

Just because I was born in 1949 people think I'm into the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and Donovan. OK, well maybe Donovan, but actually I was barely paying attention during the 60s and didn't really take notice of popular culture until it was all funky all over everything. Here's a video that reminds me of my conscious youth.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Art and Antidote

Daily Video Find/ a Pair

Anitra found the first one for me. It's Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase. Supposedly 35 artists' works are featured. I might have recognized about half if I was counting.



This second video is the antidote. It's called Closed Mondays.

Substitute Puppies

Lono's involvement in my spiritual education was mixed, in motivation and outcome. To get at the difference I will try to get at the difference I see between what religion should be, and what it appears to me to be to most everybody else.

There is a distinction between psyche and pneuma that meant something to the ancient pre-Christian Greeks, less to the Christians, and maybe more to me. Generally people translate them as soul and spirit respectively.

Christians say Jesus is all about saving our souls. But when it comes down to practice, there's very little food for the soul, just some meager wafers of unleavened bread and sips of wine, compared to the massive airlift of supplies for the spirit that Christianity provides. You could really get the idea that Christians are using "soul" as a synonym for "spirit".

In fact, when I raise this point with individual Christians, the one response I get most often is that the point makes no sense, "of course they're the same," they say. They say soul is just another word for spirit.

So I say to them, "Why don't you say Jesus saves spirits?" And they answer by telling me that "Jesus saves souls" is just an old phrase that's become set in the language. They could say "Jesus saves spirits" and mean the same thing, but they don't, because there's no difference anyway.

Well, to me there's a huge difference. To me souls and spirits are two different things, and my chief complaint about Christianity is that rather than saving souls it mangles them and leaves them for dead, in order to save spirits.

To illustrate the distinction between soul and spirit, I will use a very familiar common scenario, the Substitute Puppy scenario.

We have all had this happen to us or known someone who has. Let's say a boy of six, I'll call him "Bean", is given a puppy, let's call it "Bottom". Bean immediately adores Bottom because Bottom is so cute and cuddly. Bean feeds and waters Bottom every day for a month, and takes Bottom for walks, and tries to run and play with Bottom, even though Bottom has such very short pudgy legs so Bottom doesn't run so very well. Bottom rolls and stumbles more than runs.

But one terrible day, Bottom rolls and stumbles clear to the edge of the avenue and over the curb and into the avenue, and a double semi sweeps by and rolls over Bottom and the driver doesn't even feel a bump, and he keeps on driving and doesn't even know he hit anything until he stops for coffee in North Bend, and then he thinks by the looks of it that it might have been a squirrel, because the stain is too little to be anything else.

Bean, who actually witnesses Bottom's demise, cries his brains out. Bean brains, Bean tears, everywhere you look.

You know what's coming. I didn't call it the Substitute Puppy scenario for nothing. Dad, probably a Christian, goes right out, that very afternoon, and obtains a substitute puppy. He brings home another cute puppy, and announces proudly that he has solved the problem, here's the solution. He even suggests a name. "Why don't you call it Bottom Too?"

Bean needs only a split second to observe that Bottom Too is NOT Bottom. Bean, having already cried his brains out, is now crying out sensory organs, trachea, esophagus, and getting ready to cry up lungs, stomach, and guts. Let's skip further discussion of that and leave Bean to it, while we instead get back to our point.

Our point is that the substitute puppy is a solution for the spirit, not the soul. I call Christianity the Substitute Puppy religion, because Christianity seems to encourage these kinds of "solutions" more even than other doctrinary religions.

When Bean starts crying at the loss of Bottom, he's grieving. He doesn't have a problem with his soul. His soul is working, doing something souls do well, albeit slowly. He doesn't need a fix, he has a soul that will do the fix. He doesn't even have a problem with his spirit. His spirit is just getting out of the way, to let the soul do the emotional mending that's called for. Dad, however, doesn't see Bean's soul work as Bean. He sees the crying as Bean not being himself. He thinks Bean has to get back into his former spirit.

That's Christianity all the way. It's all about trying to get people into the "right" spirit. Fixing the spirit when it doesn't need fixing. It's worse than totally neglecting the soul, which, to begin with, especially in unbroken children, is a far better emotional doctor than any that Christians can come up with. What they do is worse because it interferes with the soul in such a way as to damage it.

Far from saving souls, the religion that Christians blame Jesus for founding actually destroys souls, so that Christians lose the ability to grieve effectively, among other things. They are only able to find substitutes for grieving. Whole cultures that have had their soul-based religions crushed and replaced with Christianity are now all about finding substitutes for all their losses, which are enormous, beginning with their former traditions.

The Evangelical Christians will say that all that's a good thing, so long as the substitute chosen is Jesus Christ. I say that's sick, and it dishonors Christ Himself to make Him out to be only the best substitute puppy in the shop.

So, getting back to Lono. Lono and Lani both suffered the same family loss, before they met me. The "younger brother" who died would have been close to both of them, whether he was a brother in our sense or not. Lani took it hard, and Lono, the Christian, wanted to fix Lani's spirit. Lani wouldn't accept Jesus, the universal substitute, so Lono had to settle for an alternate substitute. I was to be Lani's substitute puppy.

So Lono colluded with Lani's spiritual (I should be saying soulful, but spiritual is the word set in the language) adoption of me and allowed his education of me in Kahiko to go forward, in order that I help in a grieving process that didn't really need me. But Lono was still a Christian, so all of this was done with misgivings.

Ironically, Lani began to take me as a substitute puppy in much the same way that he might have taken Christ if he had accepted him. As more and more of my previous troubles with my parents came out, as they learned of my eidetic memory and my conviction that I was a replacement of the original me, he entertained the idea that I might be a kind of Kahiko messiah.

In 1952 Hawaiian Kahiko was held in low-esteem even by most natives. The few that still wanted to preserve the old religion and traditional ways had to mostly keep company in secret. As often happens in such situations, many of those holdouts clung to a dream that there would one day come a savior who would be able to restore the old ways to common practice, and maybe even drive the haole out at the same time.

Lani told me at one point he thought I could be that Hawaiian messiah. The fact that I was the white son of a white Army officer only made it seem more believable that I might have eventually, when I grew up, the real-world power needed to pull off the revolution. The fact that I seemed to him to take to the Kahiko as if I were born to it made Lani believe my changeling idea. His version of it was, the gods saw that Kahiko needed a savior, so they put one of their children in the body of a dying white boy whom they took up to heaven when his parents didn't want him.

The child of the gods (me!) would not only bring justice to the evil white parents, but he would also set the Hawaiian world back in its upright position.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sexuality, Art, Sexuality

Video Find of the Day

I've found a number of videos showing sabar dancing of Senegal. Now this documentary shows it and tells about it, both, with an explanation based in sexual and homosexual politics for the obvious difference between male and female sabar dancing.

Bloody Vision

After hearing about my parent's attempt to kill me on my first birthday, Lani and Lono conferred together about me, about what they could do about my parents. They talked about it that day, and the next. They couldn't think of anything that wouldn't put me in danger.

There was no such thing as Child Protection Services then. All they could do was report what they had heard me say to the authorities. But the authorities wouldn't be able to act on it, because it would be a toddler's word against his parents. I'd be left with my parents, who would now know that I was accusing them.

Worse, they were in danger. They were 18-year-old men seeing a child every day. The authorities would consider that strange and were likely to suspect undue influence, if nothing else.

Around this time they told me a changeling story about a boy abused by his parents. The gods take the boy away and replace him with one of their own children, who punishes the parents. I told my friends I identified with the changeling. They warned me against thinking that way. They said you don't want to be that loved by the gods, it only brings trouble.

I thought about that. I said it looked like the gods loved the original me too much.

The thought that I could bring grief to my parents, especially my Mother, motivated me to want to learn English faster. The dog Koko was present for a breakthrough.

I was sitting around in the front yard when troops marched past. Their boots hitting the pavement reminded me of English. Then I thought of a nearby stream, and it reminded me of Hawaiian. It seemed at that moment that I could never speak English fluently. But then the dog ambled by. I had a sudden vision of Koko "Blood" being chopped up into a dozen bloody pieces. Then the pieces are reassembled to make a new animal shape. It's still dead and bloody, but I imagined life moving into it, and a new dog getting up and walking off.

Immediately after that vision I found myself able to think in English finally. Could the vision have caused the breakthrough, or was it just a sign of it happening?

Friday, June 22, 2007

6 Drummers

Video Find of the Day

A simple idea executed beautifully. "music for one apartment and six drummers" in four movements: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room.

Technorati Sucks, Week 13

I'm aware that by complaining that Technorati sucks every week until they either stop sucking or I die, I may be giving the impression that they suck in some monumental noteworthy way, like death or taxes do. I don't want to exaggerate their suckiness so much. So to correct any misperceptions that might be out there, and put Technorati's sucking in perspective, I will list some things that suck very nearly approximately as much as Technorati does.

1. Having a state-of-the-art giant flat-screen HDTV up against one wall of your massive penthouse suite, and the batteries to the remote die. Then you break the remote, trying to follow the directions to change the batteries. Then you find out that they don't sell that kind of remote anymore, and your system doesn't work with a universal.

2. You just started eating a fantastic dinner that your Hindi friends engineered to be an 11 on the Indian-restaurant 1-5 hotness scale. You discover why they are giggling every time they say, "Have you tasted the pickles yet?" You and all your smart-ass giggling friends find out at the same time that all the beer is frozen.

3. Let's say your wife kicked you out of bed. Rather than sleep on the couch and hear her bitch at you every time she passes, you take off for the office. Your office is one of two dozen small offices off a long corridor. At 3 am you wake up needing to use the bathroom. It's way down the other end of the hall. You decide you're too sleepy to get dressed so you go wearing nothing but your shoes. When you return you find that you forgot to unset the lock when you closed your office door. You have to either break into your own office, or decide which of your coworkers you would most prefer to have catch you naked in their office when they show up around 8.


4. You stick your finger in a light socket, thinking, "Gee, I wonder what would happen if I stuck my finger in this light socket?" Your arm is numb for an hour, and all the lights go out in your half of Guadalajara (including the part pictured), but nobody finds out it was you, so you don't get in trouble. On the other hand, nobody finds out it was you, so your friends don't think you're any cooler, either.

That's sort of how Technorati sucks. It's not anything special. It's not legendary sucking. They not only suck, they suck at sucking.

In Twenty Years, Cardboard Boxes

[The subsidized apartment building I live in is called The Union Hotel. It's run by DESC, Seattle's Downtown Emergency Service Center. All the residents have been homeless. I write a column for the monthly building newsletter. The column is called Out of My Mind. I'm posting them here, because I can. -- wes]

Every month I go to the Single Adults Subcommittee for the Ten Year Planning Committee to End Homelessness in King County. I don't usually get much out of it. But last week, thanks to Bill Hobson, director of DESC, our landlord here at the Union Hotel, I saw the future and I found out that I have dodged a bullet.

What Bill said (I like to call the boss of my landlord, "Bill") was that another building that DESC runs, the 1811 Eastlake Building, doesn't consist solely of regular apartments, like the Union does. Instead, about a third of the units are what he called "carrels", and what I would call "cubicles", or "partitioned spaces", or "refrigerator boxes".

Bill called them carrels. Bill went on and on about the carrels at 1811 Eastlake, until I began to wonder if Bill didn't need to find some new hobbies. But then he sort of changed the subject to something more serious, and said that the King County Ten Year Planning People weren't going to get the money they needed to create all the new housing they wanted to create. He said they had to start thinking about other alternatives than expensive studio apartments. They need to look into housing people in carrels. They need to consider group living.

[Above: Design for future DESC apartment complex.]

So that's it. In the future, if you're homeless and you get into housing, it isn't going to be a 250 square foot locking room with a kitchenette and a private bathroom, with or without the private bath.

Instead, you're going to get a choice between the long-house, the teepee, the shanty, the pup-tent, or the bunk bed in a six-story bunk-house.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, I can go to the Jungle on Beacon Hill and live in a shanty or a pup-tent. Yes, you can, but you can't do it with the cooperation and assistance of the county. We're talking about being able to live like a homeless person, LEGALLY.

That's a huge improvement for homeless people, and it would be about time. But, you know, I don't do group living well. I am so thankful that I got mine, while the getting was possible.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Have You No Sense Of Decency, Sir?

Video Find of the Day

It was one month before my 5th birthday that I saw Joseph Welch making that statement on live television. My Father had bought the Zenith just because of the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Until the hearings were broadcast he said we would never get a TV. I was going to wait until I got to that point in my memoirs to post this documentary, but I'm afraid that, by the time I get to age 5, YouTube will itself be the subject of a historical documentary.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Piano Has Been Drinking

Today's Video Find

Martin Mull and Fred Willard nab Tom Waits for the talk show parody Fernwood 2Nite, in 1977. Three of my favorite people in the same place. Tom Waits does the "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than... " gag, which I hate. But other than that it's a pretty cool encounter. Waits was about 28 when this originally aired.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stormy Weather

Video Find of the Day

Another video from an old movie. This is from Stormy Weather, a 1943 musical. Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold. Unbelievable dancing. If I saw it in a movie made today, I'd think it was done with computers.

Staffing Support Services: Lifestyle Choice?

Yesterday's meeting of the Single Adults Subcommittee of the CEHKC was interesting. There was a long discussion of the use of carrels for interim and long-term housing, meaning partitioned off living spaces. So, more privacy than side-by-side mats on the floor or beds next to one another, but less than walls and locks would provide.

Bill Hobson, the director of DESC, said that a part of the permanent housing at 1811 Eastlake consists of carrels, and required approval from the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) in 2000. Three thoughts.

1) I didn't know about the carrels. I thought all the units were studios. Huh.

2) I thought that it would have been the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) that had to approve. After the meeting I looked up the DPD on the internet and found out it's the new name of the DCLU. Who told them they could change their name any time they felt like it without notifying the rest of us? What, keeping me informed isn't a high priority? When did I lose my citizenship? Who is it that's so important that they're spending all their time informing them and don't have time left over to tell peons like me? Oh, sure, they can tell Bill Hobson.

3) Why did the DPD/DCLU sign off on the carrels as permanent housing, when homeless people have been trying to get deals like this for decades and always been turned down? I will try to learn the answer to this question sometime in the near future.

In another vein, someone raised the concern that as more and more low-income housing is lost in Seattle, we may find ourselves without housing for the staff members of our housing projects.

So, the fear would be, we'll solve homelessness in the sense of putting the existing homeless all into housing by the time the ten years are up, but then all the staff needed to supply the services at that housing won't be able to find housing.

So we'll have to start a Ten Year Plan To House The Staff Required To Make the Ten Year Plan To End Homelessness Work.

King County will get CEHSSSHPKC: the Committee to End the Homelessness of Supportive Services Staff of Homeless Housing Projects of King County.

Since I was once a janitor for a homeless shelter, I might be asked to serve on a population subcommittee of the CEHSSSHPKC. I could serve on the SASWHABHTS: the Single Adults Staff Who Have Also Been Homeless Themselves Subcommittee.

Of course, Mike Lowry and Ron Sims will know more about my needs than I will, so they will have the all-important votes on the Governing Board of the CEHSSSHPKC. But I will get a stipend, so everything will even out.

Alternatively, it was suggested we could hire more (or mostly) homeless staff, so no one new would be made homeless. Of course then they'd have to change the name from the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, to the Ten Year Plan to Implement SHARE/WHEEL's Mission.

Big Maka, Little Maka

Lani wanted to teach me Kahiko. He never had time to teach much, but he wanted to teach as much as he could. The biggest barrier, besides time, was the lack of props. He tried to explain the old living arrangements, but it was tough getting the ideas across without the aid of pictures or models. Likewise, with just Lani and Lono to talk to I never got to hear women speaking, or interactions between men and women.

Early in my teaching Lani focused on the cast of spiritual characters and spiritual entities that made up the Kahiko world. The major gods were described. Their dependence on mana was emphasized. Mana was all important. Gods were nothing without mana. You can get too much. You can get more mana than you're ready for.

Moving down the hierarchy, there's the great ancestors. These were the 'aumākua, who acted as family and personal gods. You could have more than one. An 'aumakua could take the form of any sort of animal, or even a plant. The taro (kalo) plant was an 'aumakua to everyone. Poi is made from it, that's why you don't argue when the poi can hear.

Lani and Lono told me a story about a shark that protected and saved someone from danger. I was a little bored by the story itself. I think they thought it would interest me because the protagonist was a boy, but I didn't care about the kid in the story. What I wanted to know was, what's a shark?

Try it yourself. Try explaining to a 2 or 3 year old what a shark is, without the use of pictures. We ran into additional confusion because of a peculiarity of the word for eyes in Hawaiian. Maka doesn't only mean eyes, it also means face. So when they said the shark has a big wide face with little eyes, it came out "big maka, little maka." I don't think I knew what a shark looked like for another two years.


I asked if I had any 'aumākua. They said they couldn't know what my family's 'aumākua could be, but asked if any animals had seemed special to me. I mentioned the red bird that I'd seen the day my Father went to Korea. I imitated the red bird's song from memory. They both recognized the song and could name the bird. I believe now that they said it was an 'i'iwi.

Then I told them for the first time about how my parents had arranged to run me over with the car, and how seeing the red bird in my imagination saved my life. I figured that if the red bird really was there to save my life, that would make him an 'aumakua for sure, but since he was just there in my thoughts it didn't count.

Lani's answer to that was that thoughts count more than anything. Thoughts are driven by mana, thoughts are how the gods work on people. If a thought of a red bird saved you, that's mana flowing through you. The 'aumakua is anyway only a sign for that working.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Flamenco, Subtitled

Video Find of the Day

Petenera is a style of Flamenco. This video has the rare subtitles, so we Spanish-impaired get to know what all the emotional singing is about. "My killers can get their knives ready:"

I'll be sentenced to death / if they see me talking to you / my killers can / oh mother of my heart / my killers can / get their knives ready / I'll be sentenced to death / if they see me talking to you / ay, I'm as tough as a stone / I've been through so much torment and pain / so I wouldn't feel / oh my lover/ so I wouldn't feel / the wounds in my heart / ay, I needed to be so tough.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rip In Time?

Video Find of the Day

From the 1942 movie, Ride 'Em Cowboy. Ella Fitzgerald does 'A-Tisket-A-Tasket" on a bus full of singing cowboys. Abbot and Costello are hanging onto the bus. They all go to the Lazy S Ranch where they give the square dancers a lesson in how to, omg, "swing like a rusty gate." Next thing you know everybody's rockin' and reelin'. In 1942! Amazing.

Ignorance, Greed, & Cruelty

While my Father kept the search up for proof that I could not be speaking Hawaiian, my Mother was thoroughly convinced and had moved on, and was fantasizing how to exploit it.

Mother's ignorance was conscious and deliberate. She rationalized that smart people didn't have to know, smart people controlled those who know. She knew me. I knew Hawaiian. She could use that.

Like my Father, one of the facts in life my Mother had never fully grasped was that language learning was something toddlers were universally geniuses at. She actually thought the fact that I was speaking Hawaiian meant that I was an idiot savant. She thought it was on a par with being able to recite thousands of digits of π, or multiplying six digit numbers in my head, when really the only remarkable thing about it was that I had found people willing to speak to me in Hawaiian.

She imagined that if she could find the right reporter to write it up and publicize it, my freakish idiot savant talent could bring in money somehow. There might be a book. She assumed I could learn other languages by means of my freak talent. Who knows, maybe I could learn dozens of them. They might be able to charge people admission to see me do a show, where I'd converse with experts in what my Mother imagined as especially hard languages, that only geniuses could learn, like well, you know, the African ones that sound like babble, or the ones the Arabs speak. Of course it's no feat for an African or an Arab to speak one of those if they were born to it. The feat was for a white person to learn those crazy languages.

It would take time, of course. I'd have to be trained. There'd need to be publicity. In the meantime she found a way to savor the cash cow.

She discovered that when she raped me long enough I would invariably spew forth a stream of Hawaiian. She said it was beautiful. She said, if only she could do it in front of my Father, he'd be convinced finally. She railed at me for not speaking so much except when I was being raped.

She never guessed that the beautiful Hawaiian coming out of me during rapes was all about what an evil bitch she was.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bessie Smith

Video Find of the Day

This is more than half of Bessie Smith's short 1929 film St. Louis Blues. She's singing with Hall Johnson and the Hall Johnson Choir, which had other work in the 30s and early 40s, including singing for the Disney movie Dumbo, as the crows.

Whale Of A Fluke

Over on Apesma's Lament, Tim just said "lanai". That reminded me of how my Father would continually try to prove to my Mother that she was an idiot for thinking I was speaking Hawaiian. His "proofs" consisted mainly of the fact that my vocabulary didn't agree with his.

I don't remember "lanai" coming up, but if it did it would have gone like this: "Go get your blocks in out of the lanai." "Go on, you heard me, get the blocks in from the lanai!" "Look at him. He's looking around confused. He doesn't know what the lanai is! And you say he's speaking Hawaiian. If I know what a lanai is, and I don't speak Hawaiian, how can he speak Hawaiian and not know what a lanai is?"

It sounds absurd, especially if you know that "lanai", meaning covered patio, isn't a Hawaiian word. But he really made arguments like that.

He "proved" that I didn't speak Hawaiian when I didn't know what to make of "dakine." Even my generally ignorant Mother caught him out on that one. "Isn't 'dakine' Pidgin dear?" "Yes, of course it is! I know that!" "Well, didn't you say it had to be Pidgin he's speaking? Doesn't this just show that it's not Pidgin?" "Shut up."

When I knew words my Father didn't know, he sometimes managed to work that into "proof" too.

My conversations with Lani and Lono were largely driven by my questions. I didn't ask them much about the fine distinctions in classifications in living areas. I was not yet 3 at this stage in the story, and I cared about things like dogs, cats, balls, and sticks, grass, and sky, boats, and cars. In addition I had an obsession about old chants. I wanted to know what all of them meant. It was as if I thought, if I knew what every old song meant, maybe I'd know why my parents tried to kill me.

The old songs and chants used archaic and poetic language. It is even a custom, when singing old chants, to sing them in an archaic style that recalls otherwise discarded pronunciations.

On top of all that, my teachers were from N'ihau, and wouldn't you know it? The dialect spoken in Ni'ihau is as far as you can get from the standardized Kamehameha dialect (which was that of his home, the Big Island, at the far other end of the chain.)


One time I was with my Father and another officer on a lanai. They were having drinks talking mostly business. It may have been a stop on the way back from Pearl Harbor. The other officer said he was studying Hawaiian. My Father said, "You'll get a kick out of this, then. My wife thinks the kid here speaks Hawaiian."

The guy said, "How do you know he doesn't?"

My Father said, "Well, for one thing I asked him the other day if he knew which direction the sun comes up, and... tell the man what you said."

I pointed to where I thought east was, and said 'elelani.

My Father laughed, and said, "See what I mean? I looked it up. It's hikina."

Instead of being impressed with my Father's proof, the other officer said, "My God, he's using the old word for it. 'Elelani is the priest's word. It's used in chants."

Of course it didn't change anything. He passed it off as a fluke.

The fluke was the one in a billion shot that I would have had such parents, and such friends, simultaneously.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Meanings Are Keys

My memory of my time in Hawaii is mostly of meanings rather than actual words. So I need to explain how it is that I know that my friends were named Lani and Lono when I don't really have a direct memory of hearing their names.

I know their names thanks to knowing their meanings.

Right after Lani finished his ritual adoption of me, while we were still in the patch of woods, he stared into my eyes and said, in Hawaiian, that my eyes shined like the sky.

My eyes were very blue. Hawaiian, it turns out, doesn't really have a word for blue. There are phrases for different kinds of blue. Maka ālohilohi like me lani, eyes that shine like the sky, is such a phrase. Very blue.

But when I heard him say that, my answer was "Like you?" Because Lani's name was the word for sky. I hadn't known that. I never knew before then, that lani also meant sky. He proceeded to tell me other meanings of lani. It means heaven, it refers to the sky god. He said he was actually named for the sky god. rather than the sky.

When we returned to Lono I asked him if his name meant something. He mimed a plant growing. I didn't get it at first. I thought he was indicating a wooden stake being driven into the ground. Finally, I understood he was talking about plants growing. He was named for the god of fertility. Well, that's Lono.

That's it. That's how I know their names.

Spiritual Adoption

One day at lunch I asked Lani and Lono to explain a song about the demi-god Māui. After explaining the song's reference to Māui, I wanted to hear more, and they started telling me more. After all, Māui is the sort of character made to appeal to a two and a half year-old. He's like a mild-mannered super-hero. He's got a great sense of humor. He let's himself get put down and then triumphs.

In one story he fishes the islands up out of the sea. In another he slows the sun down because the days are too short for people to get anything done. He's always doing things that benefit people. He finds out about death and he considers it an injustice and an insult to living things. He's told that the goddess of death, Hine-Nui-Te-Po, has a weakness. Her curse of death will be dissolved forever if anyone can enter her body and pass through it so as to exit her mouth.

I should probably mention that this may not even have ever been a Hawaiian version of the story of Māui's death. It definitely was told in New Zealand. I have other examples of Lani and Lono telling me stuff that came from all over Polynesia. I take it as evidence of the paucity of the preserved Hawaiian tradition that they needed to range outside Hawaii to supplement it. Later, I'll give examples of even non-Polynesian influences in Lani's "tradition."

Anyway, the story went, that Māui had the power to make himself as small as a mouse. In the version I was told, he whistles as he approaches Hine-Nui-Te-Po, and his whistling entrances her, so she goes to sleep. Then he enters her, and begins to make way toward her mouth.

The rest of the story goes: her body muffles Māui's whistling, she wakes up, she feels something moving inside her, so she crushes it. So Māui died in his attempt to bring immortality to all, and so that's why we all still must die today.



[I painted Death of Māui in the 90s]

I managed to just barely hear all that. it was hard, because what was going through my mind was just that he entered her and made his way to her mouth. I asked them to explain that bit over again, I thought maybe I heard it wrong.

They were a little embarrassed by the question. They said I had to use my imagination. So I said my imagination told me that Māui would have had to go in where pooh comes out, like my Mother does to me sometimes.

This revelation changed everything. Lani said my Mother was a evil female dog, 'ilio wahine 'ino. There was long quiet.

After a few minutes I said I had to go pee. Until then Lono always took me to the nearby woods for that. This time, he told Lani that he ought to do the honors. I'm now sure that he knew that Lani wanted to be alone with me, and why.

We went to one of the little patches of woods that grew at the corners of Stoneman Field. Lani helped me get my shorts down. When I was done, he lightly tapped my penis with one hand, while holding his other hand under it, so a drop of urine fell on his hand. He then recited a ritual formula. The speech, as I remember it now, amounted to a promise to take care of me, all my seed, and all my progeny from all my seed. It was a kind of adoption. The ritual required that my urine touch his hand so that he could carry the adoption without my parents' permission.

It was a spiritual adoption, that gave him the right to educate me in spiritual matters, because he now was sure I wasn't getting the help I needed from my parents. And even though Lono was Christian, he'd decided to step aside and let Lani go ahead with it, because he knew Lani felt so strongly about it.

Some mana, you want to get out of the way of.

Penn and Teller

Video Find of the Day

Everything you ever wanted to know about sleight of hand in one easy understandable and entertaining lesson. If you don't want to learn anything, you can just inhale, lean back, and enjoy the music.

Technorati Sucks, Week 12

Here's the blurb for this blog on its Technorati page.


As always it says "No authority yet" which is Technorati-speak for "no one links to it" which is false. It says my rank among all the blogs in their registry is 3,410,747, which I am happy with. I only wish my rank were closer to 6 billion, then it would coincide with my own estimation of how weird and intrinsically unpopular I am. Elsewhere it says it's been 106 days since an update. Doing the math I figured that puts the last update, by their reckoning, on March 1.

Let's check that to be absolutely sure. From March 1 to April 1, is 31 days. To May 1 is another 30 days, for a subtotal of 61. To June 1 is another 31 days, for a subtotal of 61+31 = 92 days. To June 15, today, is another 14 days, for a grand total of 92+14 = 106 days. Yes. I am correct.

So how is it that they, Technorati, which THEMSELVES SAY that this very blog has not been updated since MARCH 1, have NEVERTHELESS put a screen shot of a post, namely Accept Mickey in Your Heart, showing art I did of Mickey Mouse being crucified, which appears nowhere else on this blog, except when I posted it ON MARCH 20?

How can they show a screen shot of a March 20 post and then have the gall to tell me I haven't updated since March 1?

It's easy. It's because Technorati sucks, and it lies out its suck hole.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hot Haka

Video Find of the Day

My favorite video of a Maori haka, on YouTube. These are the things that warm my cold heart.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor by helicopter:



[Ford Island is mislabeled.]

When I told Lani and Lono that I wasn't allowed to speak Hawaiian at home they were clearly saddened by it, but they told me I needed to do what my Father said. At the time I was only speaking an occasional word of English when Lono "practiced" English with me. He asked if I was speaking more at home, and I had to tell him (in Hawaiian) I was speaking less there. They asked why and I wanted to say it was ugly, but didn't know the word, so I called it 'ino, which is more extreme (it means more like foul and evil) but definitely gets the point across. They laughed, and told me that Hawaiians call Western languages, especially English, namu'ana, which means "chewing", because English speakers sound like they're chewing as they talk.

They also talked about how English speakers speak from their noses, while Hawaiians speak from their lungs. Then they told me of a Hawaiian word game that involved seeing who could speak the longest clause unbroken by a breath stop. That was followed by another game of reciting longer and longer sentences entirely lacking in consonants. Since they both knew all the sentences the other was reciting it wasn't really a competition, it was more oral entertainment, like sharing in the singing of verses of a song everyone knows.

At home there was no such thing. Speech wasn't for play and entertainment, it was for domination, for asserting power, winning arguments, and put downs, or it was for submission, saying pleases and thank yous. I wasn't speaking more than a few words of English, and already my Father was make noise to the effect that I should be calling him Sir, rather than Daddy. What would the other officers think of his command authority if they heard his own son calling him Daddy rather than Sir? Horrors.

My Mother pointed out that it was silly to expect me to accord military honors to my Father when I didn't know what he did at work. Maybe I needed to see him at work giving out orders to Lieutenants and Sergeants.

I'd actually seen him ordering native civilian workers around, using a lot of Pidgin, saying silly things he was taught would work well such as, "wiki, wiki, chop, chop" for "get it done fast" and "pau?" for "finished?" But that was just out in the front when some workers were making a delivery. Going to where my Father worked would be an adventure.

As soon as we were in the car heading toward Pearl Harbor I started commenting on what we doing in Hawaiian. It's one of the few times I remember any of the actual Hawaiian words I used. Holo'ana (driving), ka'a (car), and hana (work), we're definitely in the mix. At hearing "ka'a" my Father corrected me, telling me to say "car" instead. I acted as if they were exactly the same thing, and deliberately kept saying ka'a over and over. I just didn't want to say car. For one thing, I didn't do "r's" very well. In his frustration he extended the rule against speaking in the house to the car, commencing immediately.

When I say my Father worked at Pearl Harbor I mean he was assigned to one of the many military reservations ringing the harbor. Probably he was at Fort Shafter, which is a mile or so from the harbor at the western edge of Honolulu and close to Tripler Medical Center.

The day I spent with my Father at his office was mostly a bust. He was called away to some business while I was there, and I was left in the care of some guy he called his secretary. When he came back the secretary was given my Father's camera to take this picture of my father. My Dad also took pictures of stuff on the desk, including a close-up of the "see no evil - speak no evil - hear no evil" monkeys. It didn't occur to him to have a picture taken of him with me, or for that matter, any pictures of me that day. I only just now noticed, 54 years later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gamelan Revealed

Video Find of the Day

I fell in love with gamelan music when I was living out of my '69 Rambler in the 80s. I had a Radio Shack knockoff of a Walkman and a handful of discount cassette tapes for all my entertainment needs. One of them had gamelan music. I liked to try to imagine dances to it. I thought it might look something like this, which is from elibris, who has many beautiful videos of performances like this one.



I had much more trouble imagining the musicians playing the instruments. The liner notes said hammers were used. But what did the things hammered look like? Now with this next video, my find of the day, I can see. I especially enjoyed seeing the part where it looks like a guy is playing ashtrays. Look for that starting at 1 minute 59 seconds into the video.

So, Who's On First?

Since I didn't yet speak English, I was exercising my speech throughout this time by talking to myself in Hawaiian. I supplied a running commentary to everything I did. My Mother heard all this and started to guess I was speaking Hawaiian. When she told my Father, he didn't believe it.

My Father was very proud of his language skills. Part of his job involved directing civilian workers on base, many of which were Hawaiian natives. But none of them that he knew spoke Hawaiian. Instead they spoke the creole that is usually called Hawaiian Pidgin. Modern Hawaiian itself borrows vocabulary heavily from English and other colonial languages, but the underlying grammar is all Old Hawaiian. Pidgin is more like English with heavy borrowing from Hawaiian, and other colonial languages.

To do his job my Father had a little black pocket Hawaiian-English dictionary that he used to translate individual words and short phrases, to be able to order the Pidgin speaking natives around. Since all the natives he'd encountered had spoken Pidgin and not Hawaiian, therefore in his mind I had to be speaking Pidgin. He guessed that I was getting it second and third hand through neighbor kids.

It started to get on his nerves. He claimed his problem with it was it was keeping me from learning English, but I know it was largely vanity. He couldn't take the fact that I didn't need the black book. He couldn't be cool with the fact that a two and a half year old can learn a language faster than he could. It didn't help that just a year earlier it was looking like I might never speak at all. At learning Hawaiian words he was being outpaced by a retarded kid, from his perspective.

So he started yelling every time I spoke Hawaiian around the house. It was upsetting, but I couldn't see what I could do about it.

Then one day my father was out in the front yard watering the grass with a hose. I was really excited by this because it was one of the first times I'd seen him doing something I knew anything about. Being with Lani and Lono I'd learned all about watering lawns.

In Hawaiian, the word for watering, as with a hose, is just like one of the words kids say "urinate" in English. It's pīpī, which sounds like peepee. It also can mean "urinate" in Hawaiian, but for me it meant to water or sprinkle a lawn, exclusively. In my excitement I shouted out "PīpīDaddy! PīpīDaddy! " so loud all the neighbors could hear.

My Father turned red, grabbed me by the arm and yanked me into the house, where he proceeded to spank me and scream at me all at once. I couldn't keep track of what he was saying.

My Mother intervened. She'd witnessed the whole thing and told him he was being foolish. She informed him that I had never used the word peepee to mean urination, so I must have meant something else. My mother could be surprisingly sharp from time to time, when she put effort into it.

It took a while. He kept yelling, and now he was yelling at her, "You really expect me to believe that shit?" But finally she got him to look in his black book. And, of course, he read that pīpī meant to water, or sprinkle. Like a lawn.

So he calmed down finally, but got all Father Knows Best on me, which in retrospect might have been worse than the screaming. He sat down at the table he worked the budget out at, and laid down a new Law. The new Law was that speaking Hawaiian was OK, but not in the house. There, it was forbidden. He said, "Do you understand?" I nodded yes. "he said, "I want to hear you say it, so I know you understand." So I said, "'Ae, pāpā."

"Yes, I'm Daddy", he said, "but do you understand?" So I said, "'Ae, Hawai'i 'ōlelo pāpā." He said, "Yes, yes, I'm your papa, but you aren't telling me what I want to hear."

We went a couple more rounds like that, when finally my Mother broke out laughing. My father said, "What are you laughing about?"

She said, "I think I just figured out what he means by papa."

He said, "He means Daddy, what else would he mean?"

She said, "Why don't you look it up in your black book and find out?"

He grumbled, but he looked it up, and found out "pāpā" means "forbidden".

Hawaiian Kung Fu Toddler?

The other way I dealt with not being able to follow Lani and Lono around at work all day was to go back to wandering and to play closer to home.

Since I was still not speaking English easily, I didn't connect with other children. Maybe that increased the bullying more than it would have been otherwise. I mentioned problems I had with bullies and also with snarling dogs to Lani and Lono. Lani said I should carry a cane for the dogs. He cut a branch off a nearby tree and showed me how to use it to hold off dogs.

To deal with the bullies Lani and Lono both spent time teaching me some moves that would help if I was cornered by one of them. Their main advice was to run away. But failing that they wanted to me to defend myself nonviolently. They showed me what they said was a Hawaiian version of Judo. I don't remember what the moves were, there can't have been much, but I do remember drawing upon these lessons as late as age 7, and finding them useful in protecting myself from children as old as 11. So there must have been something to them.

After I started walking around with the cane people in the neighborhood began referring to me as "the little old man." I don't think it was just because of the cane. My talks with Lani and Lono were having an effect on my outlook. I was feeling alienated from the other people around me. I was a foreigner among what should have been my own people. Plus, the conversations with the Hawaiians had depth. We started conversations typically picking apart an old song. The old songs were deep, so the talk was philosophical.

Here's a picture of me during this period. You can see it in the face. I'm at a birthday party for one of the neighbor girls. I had to put my cane down to hold a frozen-Kool-Aid-sicle I was given. Those are my first ever homemade frozen Kool-Aid-sicles! I remember it well. I also remember being bored by the other kids and considering them childish, even though most were older than me. The knock-kneed look was remarked upon at the time by adults. I never figured out where it came from. It eventually went away.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers

Video Find of the Day

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers were featured in a scene of the 1941 movie Hellzapoppin. From other scenes of the movie on YouTube it looks like the kind that Mel Brooks wishes he made. The main characters are white guys moving through film studio stages in and out of scenes. It's surreal and the humor is whacked. This vignette is a dance classic which also offers a window into race relations of the day.

Ripples in History II

The decision to have me meet Lani and Lono only during their lunch break meant I had to figure out what to do with the rest of the day. One of the things I did was follow them around at a distance. I did that mainly when they were working on my side of Leilehua Road. I learned new songs that way, listening to Lani sing while he worked.

At the beginning Lani sang what I would call post-colonial songs at our lunches. There weren't lyrics about the old Hawaiian gods, for example. But when I listened from a distance he would often sing the older songs, including prayer chants.

When I asked about those songs at lunch during our Hawaiian period Lani got upset and walked away. I asked Lono what I said wrong. He told me Lani was afraid of hurting me. That made no sense to me at all. I couldn't imagine either of them hurting me. When Lani came back I insisted that he tell me himself what was wrong.

I was so determined about it, Lono said it was like I was from Ni'ihau myself. He explained that there's a saying that people of Ni'ihau lean against the wind. The rest of Hawaii considers them stubborn and contrary.

They started telling me history. They said that a long time ago, after White People came, the old Hawaiian customs were overturned and the people who hang on to them had to do it in secret, and that was still the case then. They said that even in their own family Lani's following of the tradition was not appreciated. Most of the family was Christian. He had to learn from a grandfather. His own parents didn't approve.

They also told me about discrimination against Hawaiian people, in addition to the rejection of the old culture. They described an incident in recent history of a Hawaiian man who was killed because people were quick to believe accusations against Hawaiians without evidence, and his murderers went free (they were probably referring to the Massie-Kahahawai Affair). They said this incident proved to them that Hawaiians could get no justice from the haole, and therefore it was very important that nothing be done that could arouse suspicion.

They said that telling me about the ancient gods could get them into trouble, because it would look like they were trying to make me non-Christian. They also said that for men their ages to be too close to a boy my age, could be seen as bad, because people might think they were doing something wrong with me physically.

I said, oh, like what my Mother does? I described how my Mother touched me.

At that, Lani began to cry. Lono just stared ahead for a minute. Then very quietly he said, "Let's try this. Do you know what a secret is?" I said yes. "Can you keep everything we tell you about the old songs secret from everyone, including your parents?" I said yes.

They talked about it between themselves a minute more. Then they told me they believed me, and that they could tell me about the old songs.

Party Incident

[Left: My first red wagon.]

There were occasional parties at the house. There had to be parties among the Army officers. It was a rule. One happened after Christmas '51, maybe in the following January. The house was packed. My parents showed off one of their Christmas presents to each other, a boxed set of Bing Crosby classics. I remember a lot of smoking. By my bedtime my parents were getting fairly drunk. The smoke cloud, which hung over the good air, had descended to my level. I had to stoop to get under it.

My Mother called me over to her to tell me to go to bed. She was drunk enough to show her viciousness in front of all the party-goers. She smiled and said, "Go to bed now, you know Mommy loves you don't you?" When I smiled back she leaned forward and deliberately blew smoke in my face, still smiling.

So I slapped her. She grabbed my wrist and put her cigarette out in my hand, while everyone watched. Someone said it was wrong, and she snapped, "Don't tell me how to handle my own kid." And that was the end of that. Nobody else defended me.

Dali Vid

Yesterday's Video Find

I turned in early yesterday so we didn't get a video find of the day. Here's one I love. It shows Salvador Dali being full of himself as usual, while his backup musicians steal the show.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rise Up! Seize the Cookie!

At home I observed my Father in uniform and later described his insignia to my Ni'ihau friends. They told me my Father was a Captain. They were clearly impressed. The word for Captain in Hawaiian is Alaka'i, which also means boss or supervisor, the only name they had for me. They pointed out the connection, and suggested I was taking after my Father already. I had thoughts of becoming a soldier.

I asked if they ever wanted to be soldiers. Lono said he might, for a while, but eventually he wanted to study English more and teach school. This one remark was very important to me. What's English? The language of Britain and of the U.S., where I was from, they said. Not Hawai'ian, but a separate language. It was a revelation that took a while to absorb. There was also a reminder of school. I learned where I would have found it. It was almost twice as far as I had searched.

Lani said he wanted to be an artist. He took a carving out of his pocket and showed it to me. It didn't look like anything but a lump of wood, but he said in time it would look like an animal. When I asked what animal, he said whatever it wanted.

I remember at the time being more interested in Lono's goals than in Lani's. It was about this time though that I learned they were brothers. Lono said they were non-identical twins. They were born at the same time to the same Mother. But they were so different. Lono was so extroverted. Lani was quiet and distant.

At home I had a new kind of problem. The new dog Koko was getting cookies all the time, but my Mother still was not feeding me when my Father was at at work. I was beginning to reach the point where I could start to pronounce English but the words wouldn't come out. I was sure that if I could tell my Mother what was wrong everything would be solved.

I came up with the idea of translating Hawaiian into English. I worked for a long time and came up with the sentence, "If dog gets cookie, boy gets cookie." I tried it out the next time my Mother was dishing out cookies to Koko.

It was probably January, 1952. I'm sure it was after Christmas. I was 2 and a half and it was 18 months after my first word. My Mother's jaw dropped open. Her eyes opened wide. Then she smiled, gave me a cookie and said, "All you ever had to do was ask."

When I told Lani and Lono about it they were stunned, too. Not that I had spoken English, but that I hadn't been doing so. This was they first they knew of it.

It was already decided that I couldn't follow them all day and distract them from their work. Now they laid down a rule that the hour's lunchtime would be divided into equal halves. The first thirty minutes of each lunch break would consist of Lono and I practicing our English. The second thirty minutes would be all three of us speaking or singing Hawaiian.

Lunches were at 11am to noon. I was taught just enough about telling time to know when it was getting close to 11.

About this time, I began to feel bad that my friends were always bringing food to the lunches and I never had any to bring. I think I was picking up on the Hawaiian value of uku, reciprocity. So I worked out how to say, "Want cookies for friends."

Once again, mother was stunned. This time, it was that I had friends. She asked a lot of questions, but I couldn't answer any of them because I hadn't prepared. The only thing I could do was nod yes when she asked if they were bigger. I could only say sentences I'd worked on and practiced for an hour or so. Finally though she agreed to give me a bag of cookies.

A typical day would consist of me getting up around daybreak, playing by myself in the house or close by while my Mother slept off the previous night's drunk. Then around 10:15 or so, I would go into her bedroom and start yelling, "E Māmā, e ala e! E ala ala e!" Once she was up, she give me a bag of cookies for my friends. She knew they were older kids, but had in mind 4 or 5 year-olds, 6 year-olds, maybe. She never dreamed I was meeting 18 year-olds for lunch every day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ripples in History I

As I spoke more Hawaiian I asked more questions. Every day I had to be led back across Leilehua Road, and Lani and Lono left. Where did they go? Where did they come from? Would they come and meet my parents? Why not?

At one point I asked them if their Mother gave them the food they brought for lunch each day. They said no, it was their own food. Then they said they didn't live with their Mother, she still lived back home. So I asked where home was, and got an answer that meant nothing at first. Home was Ni'ihau. All I could imagine was a house, maybe half a mile up further than I'd been. I asked which way was it, and could we go there.

So that led to a long discussion about the concept of "moku", or island. O'ahu is an Island. Ni'ihau is an island. We'd need a boat.

What's a boat? They described the old wa'a to me, the traditional canoes. They sang an odd Hawaiian chant about the crew of a war canoe asking their captain which way to sail, and repeatedly having their question put off. I remember the gist of one verse. The warriors ask which way, meaning which way to war. The Captain answers by silently pointing to the leeward, the calm side. I've never been able to find the chant in the literature, but I'm sure that verse was in there, and I know it was sung in Hawaiian, not English.

But after we talked about that, it led to more talk about war. Lono was prompted to recite the Charge of the Light Brigade.

I was fascinated by it all, and asked if they knew any warriors I could meet. They laughed at that, and said, look around you. This is an Army base. All these men in uniforms are warriors. They said my own Father was probably a warrior. I was skeptical, but determined to try to figure it out. They told me what to look for in the way of insignia.

When I said I was sure nobody was doing any killing among my Father's friends, they brought up the attack on Pearl Harbor. They pointed north to the green Ko'olau Hills and told me that on a day just like that day not long ago (it was ten years earlier at the time, but "ten" could have meant nothing to me) Japanese planes appeared from exactly there and flew over Schofield Barracks and beyond to Pearl Harbor, killing many American soldiers like my Father, who then took up arms and went to war against Japan.

The history lesson provided an insight into what my father might be about. I remember wondering if he was picked to be a soldier because of his fits of anger. Maybe anger is good in a fighting man.

But that's not what the song said. The song said, if you want to know the right way to war, look to the calm side.