Friday, March 31, 2006
So on Day 41, we have more landslides mauka, more flooding windward, and the end of a 47 million gallon sewage spill that closed Waikiki beaches. This morning the news reported that the beaches might be closed for weeks, even months, until the bacteria levels fall.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
We've had 42 days of rain. Either it rains steady all day; or we get random thunderstorms punctuated by grey skies. I've seen the sun, by my count & not including my time in Sydney, three times since mid-February.
I can't even watch the local news anymore. The only news they can cover these days is: it's raining. And it's going to rain again tomorrow. Last night I watched Guy Hagi give the weather forecast three times in one half-hour show. The rain has addled their brains. Or maybe it's paranoia, because I can't be the only one who thinks that the rain will only end when we sacrifice to the gods and throw Guy Hagi into Halema`uma`u.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
It was hella sexy. Testosterone and mud are a brilliant combination. Chi Chi LaRue and Kristen Bjorn and pretty much everyone else has it wrong when it comes to what's hot. See the photo album if you have any doubts. I took plenty of pictures of our guys ... but even more gratuitous shots of sweaty marines. When the teams had to join hands and cross the finish line I had a vision of heaven.
Friday, March 24, 2006
From the San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate.com
Time keeps ticking as war marches on
Friday, March 24, 2006
You've endured three more birthdays. There have been three Academy Awards ceremonies, three new Super Bowl champions, three full winters and three summers, three complete cycles of jeans styles and hemlines and pleats in the fashion world, and there has been the rise and very quick fall of roughly 146 horrible TV shows you never even saw.
Your skin has changed. Your teeth have worn down. Your bones have shifted in their sockets. Your fingernails grew 4 inches and you consumed roughly 5,850 pounds of food and 600 pounds of meat and your hair grew about a foot and a half.
There have been killer hurricanes and earthquakes and devastating tsunamis, heat waves and cold fronts and dramatic shifts in the general temperament of the Earth. Ice caps are melting more rapidly. Young wine has aged nicely. Babies born three years ago are now walking and eating with utensils and uploading digital photos to their MySpace pages via their cute little Nokia cell phones. Times, of course, have changed.
But through it all, through your life like an undercurrent of cold black blood, like an unshakable stench deep in your nostrils, like a disturbing stain you simply cannot get off your shirt, our country has been at war. Endless, raw, insidious, interminable.
Body bags filling up every day. Death tolls rising. Hundreds of billions of your tax dollars hurled into a gaping sewer of death and destruction. Thousands of dead American kids, many more on the way. Corruption and scandal and gross war profiteering, Halliburton and the Carlyle Group and Lockheed Martin and the insidious dumbing down of military recruitment standards (because we're running out of disposable soldiers) to go along with Donald Rumsfeld's black-eyed sneer. Endless.
Do you remember the sweet little halcyon moment way back when, when America was slightly more globally respected and Iraq seemed like a bad but temporary dream and even the most hawkish Bush-gropin' war proponents were saying, "Hey, America, don't you worry your confused, fear-addled little head. We'll be in Iraq for absolutely, positively, mark-my-words no more than three months, maximum -- OK, maybe six." Remember when they said that there was simply no way this war could run us more than about $10 bil and maybe cost, at the very most, a couple of dozen U.S. casualties? Wasn't that cute?
Do you remember the time of pretty brainwashed thoughts and insidiously patriotic dreams? Before the darkness and the disgust, before 20,000 killed or wounded American soldiers, before we illegally detained thousands and brutally tortured hundreds of Iraqis, before the wiretapping and the Patriot Act and the disgusting lack of accountability and before America's reputation in the Muslim world was turned to rancid hummus?
And now, here we are. Monday marked the three-year anniversary of the start of our quick-'n'-cheap Iraq occupation/invasion. It is a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished. We have accomplished this: global contempt, colossal debt and a culture of death and intolerance. How very proud we are. Thank you, George.
The threat of terrorism is higher than ever. Iraq's vicious fundamentalist factions are on the verge of civil war. The Middle East is more volatile because of our president's warmongering than Saddam or Osama could have ever dreamed. There is a song by Bright Eyes called "We Are Nowhere and It's Now." Dead-on.
Have you heard all this before? Of course you have. It has become our national refrain. It is the subtext to all we do. It is printed on our nation's bloodstained business card.
And now, a sort of bleak but bitterly livable numbness has settled in. We are like a person with a ghastly fatal disease, limping around with a hacking cough, blood in our eyeballs and an awkward forced smile, pretending all's well and we'll make it through A-OK when deep down we know something has been permanently shredded and incapacitated, and there is no medicine for it except maybe wholesale sociopolitical revolution.
Ah, but there is little value in hammering Bush for his gross incompetence anymore. He now has the third-lowest approval ratings of any president in American history. The vast majority of Americans, from liberals to heartland GOPers, are disgusted and fed up. From the grossly miscalculated war to the grossly incompetent Katrina response to enough scandals and misprisions to make Nixon look like Jimmy Carter, Bush's mark in our history books is guaranteed to be nothing but a vulgar child's scrawl. With a cross.
But it doesn't really matter. Bush is still immune, blind and dumb and still refusing to admit a single mistake, and yet he cannot be punished or impeached, if for no other reason than those who would do the impeaching are of his own party and they are simply loath to admit how very severely wrong they were about just about everything. Hey, that sort of thing is what costs you elections.
The bad news is, even the most liberal estimate says we are locked in. We cannot leave Iraq, not now, not in a few months, perhaps not for years and years, not if we don't want the region to instantly devolve into a worse hell pit than it already is. The quagmire is too deep, the mess too wide, our supposed allegiances too shaky and the region sliding so quickly to the precipice of civil war that to exit now would be disastrous beyond even what Saddam could've accomplished on his worst day.
All we are left with is the larger question: Can we possibly learn anything from this? Is it possible to mature and progress as a nation, as a humanitarian force, as a result of our horrible mistakes, of our ability to be so easily misled and beaten down by a cabal of sneering neocon leaders who would just as soon shoot you as give you a handshake and a cigar?
After all, Vietnam taught the Powers That Be, well, nothing at all, except how to better crack down on dissent and manipulate the media and inject huge gobs of unwarranted fear into the bloodstream of the populace so they may launch their vicious and inhumane wars without so much damn hassle.
America has a notoriously short memory. What happened to all that hair you cut? What about all that food you ate? Where are all the bodies we've burned and blown up from Afghanistan to Baghdad? What sort of legacy is this? Will you simply be reading this column again in exactly one year, at the four-year marker of our ongoing happyfun death march, wondering where the time went?
These might sound like rhetorical questions. Maybe that, after all, is the problem.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the
proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie
Raskin, professor of law at American University, was requested to
At the end of his testimony, Republican Maryland state senator Nancy
Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a
man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"
Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you
placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution.
You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold
You may be aware of the brouhaha over my attempts to resign from House committees to which I have been assigned.
My first duty is to represent the people of Honolulu’s Downtown, Chinatown, Iwilei, Keeaumoku-Sheridan, Kakaako and our harbors.
My second duty is to champion the interests of the small-business community in the state legislature - the primary reason I was appointed to this seat.
Four of the committees to which I have been appointed, without my consent or even my prior awareness, are beyond my experience and expertise: Education (the public schools), Higher Education (the UH system), Energy Environment Protection and Hawaiian Affairs.
I have, therefore, resigned from those committees in order to devote my time and energy to the committees and exigencies that relate to the people I represent and to the areas in which I do have experience and expertise. I have been told that representatives may not resign from committees to which they have been assigned. As of this posting, the issue remains unresolved.
I regret that my reluctance to serve on committees for which many high-school students are more qualified than I am is perceived or portrayed as a shirking of duty.
I remain willing to take the blows and devote my energy and time to the needs of my constituents and the small-business community.
There are just too many good things in my in-box this morning. This is something our state put out to assist Hawaiians wanting to do business in Red China. I found it on Poinography, a local political blog.
China Business Dos and Don'tsState materials on the China trade mission include the following tips for Hawaii business people meeting prospective Chinese partners.
» Negative replies are considered impolite. Instead of saying "no," answer "maybe," "I'll think about it," or "We'll see."
» If the subject of Taiwan comes up, never refer to it as the "Republic of China" or "Nationalist China."
» Unless you're a communist, never refer to someone as "comrade."
» The Chinese will decline a gift three times before finally accepting. You will have to continue to insist.
» Do not wrap gifts in yellow paper with black writing. These colors are for gifts offered to the dead.
» Empirical evidence and objective facts are accepted only if they jibe with the Communist Party line.
» Do not put your hands in your mouth. It is considered vulgar.
» Avoid unusual facial expressions.
Source: State of Hawaii
Meanwhile, at a news conference in her home state, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) referenced the Bible in condemning the immigration bill approved by the House last year.
"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself," said Clinton, who is also weighing a bid for president.Enough already. She can do her best country parson imitation & it won't convince middle American. It's as fake as Bush's Texas cowboy imitation.
So far Senator Feingold is my man.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Spent last weekend on the Big Island with L. His partner R. is quite sick and is back in LA. He's been ick for a year, but I had no idea - they pretty much kept it to themselves. Which I understand, as I'm sure I'd do the same. It was still a shock to learn that a friend is seriously ill, possibly terminally ill. So while it was good to see L. again, I'm worried about R.
The biggest excitement, though? I'll be joining the NYC boys for One Mighty Weekend in Orlando this June. I'd been whingeing about how no one would go to Palm Springs with me for White Party. Now, I'd heard that WP was past it's prime. I've been to Sanker events before and found them ok but not ground-shaking. But I'd never been and wanted to go.
My buddy Drew was having similar problems trying to round up a roommate / dance partner for Gay Days in Orlando. And I checked the calendar, tweaked some vacation days, and voila! - I found the time, and will be on my merry way.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
These are official state cards, made by prison labor and stamped with our state seal. If you squint hard you can even read ua mau ke ea o ka `aina i ka pono in tiny gold embossed letters.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I just added a link on the right to Batanga internet radio. I've been listening to the dance remix station all day at work, and it's pretty cool.
I was inspired after Hollis called this morning confirming that he got the time off to head to México this November. We'll definitely be in Puerto Vallarta for Thanksgiving; I'm lobbying to start with a few days in Guadalajara then take a road trip to PV. We'll see - we've got plenty of time to decide. It's time to finally start learning Spanish.
Now I just need to convince someone to travel to Palm Springs with me for White Party. Once upon a time - when I couldn't afford to go - dozens of men from Honolulu would be there. And this year, when I have the time and money? None. So many bought into the Real Estate hype and bought expensive condos, and they are now all slaves to the bank.
Saturday March 11, 2006
On the sidewalk stood hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos - the windows open by order of the security people - creeping toward the Kodak Theater for the 78th Academy Awards. Others held up sturdy, professionally crafted signs expressing the same hatred.
The red carpet in front of the theatre was larger than the Red Sea. Inside, we climbed grand staircases designed for showing off dresses. The circular levels filled with men in black, the women mostly in pale, frothy gowns. Sequins, diamonds, glass beads, trade beads sparkled like the interior of a salt mine. More exquisite dresses appeared every moment, some made from six yards of taffeta, and many with sweeping trains that demanded vigilance from strolling attendees lest they step on a mermaid's tail. There was one man in a kilt - there is always one at award ceremonies - perhaps a professional roving Scot hired to give colour to the otherwise monotone showing of clustered males. Larry McMurtry defied the dress code by wearing his usual jeans and cowboy boots.
The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash - excuse me - Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver.
After a good deal of standing around admiring dresses and sucking up champagne, people obeyed the stentorian countdown commands to get in their seats as "the show" was about to begin. There were orders to clap and the audience obediently clapped. From the first there was an atmosphere of insufferable self-importance emanating from "the show" which, as the audience was reminded several times, was televised and being watched by billions of people all over the world. Those lucky watchers could get up any time they wished and do something worthwhile, like go to the bathroom. As in everything related to public extravaganzas, a certain soda pop figured prominently. There were montages, artfully meshed clips of films of yesteryear, live acts by Famous Talent, smart-ass jokes by Jon Stewart who was witty and quick, too witty, too quick, too eastern perhaps for the somewhat dim LA crowd. Both beautiful and household-name movie stars announced various prizes. None of the acting awards came Brokeback's way, you betcha. The prize, as expected, went to Philip Seymour Hoff-man for his brilliant portrayal of Capote, but in the months preceding the awards thing, there has been little discussion of acting styles and various approaches to character development by this year's nominees. Hollywood loves mimicry, the conversion of a film actor into the spittin' image of a once-living celeb. But which takes more skill, acting a person who strolled the boulevard a few decades ago and who left behind tapes, film, photographs, voice recordings and friends with strong memories, or the construction of characters from imagination and a few cold words on the page? I don't know. The subject never comes up. Cheers to David Strathairn, Joaquin Phoenix and Hoffman, but what about actors who start in the dark?
Everyone thanked their dear old mums, scout troop leaders, kids and consorts. More commercials, more quick wit, more clapping, beads of sweat, Stewart maybe wondering what evil star had lighted his way to this labour. Despite the technical expertise and flawlessly sleek set evocative of 1930s musicals, despite Dolly Parton whooping it up and Itzhak Perlman blending all the theme music into a single performance (he represented "culchah"), there was a kind of provincial flavour to the proceedings reminiscent of a small-town talent-show night. Clapping wildly for bad stuff enhances this. There came an atrocious act from Hustle and Flow, Three 6 Mafia's violent rendition of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", a favourite with the audience who knew what it knew and liked. This was a big winner, a bushel of the magic gold-coated gelded godlings going to the rap group.
The hours sped by on wings of boiler plate. Brokeback's first award was to Argentinean Gustavo Santaolalla for the film's plangent and evocative score. Later came the expected award for screenplay adaptation to Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, and only a short time later the director's award to Ang Lee. And that was it, three awards, putting it on equal footing with King Kong. When Jack Nicholson said best picture went to Crash, there was a gasp of shock, and then applause from many - the choice was a hit with the home team since the film is set in Los Angeles. It was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps.
After three-and-a-half hours of butt-numbing sitting we stumbled away, down the magnificent staircases, and across the red carpet. In the distance men were shouting out limousine numbers, "406 . . . 27 . . . 921 . . . 62" and it seemed someone should yell "Bingo!" It was now dark, or as dark as it gets in the City of Angels. As we waited for our number to be called we could see the enormous lighted marquee across the street announcing that the "2006 Academy Award for Best Picture had gone to Crash". The red carpet now had taken on a different hue, a purple tinge.
The source of the colour was not far away. Down the street, spreading its baleful light everywhere, hung a gigantic, vertical, electric-blue neon sign spelling out S C I E N T O L O G Y.
"Seven oh six," bawled the limo announcer's voice. Bingo.
For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.
Which ... ok. People died. The dam break was a tragedy. We're still looking into whether it was part of a natural process, or anthrogenic. But: it did not cut a Swath of Destruction Through the Heart of the North Shore. It's as if Chicken Little were writing the evening copy.
So - no rain yet, and another day of grey skies.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
So I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. Sure we've trained, and the country guys get called up all the time. This is the first one for us urban guys. I'm not sure what the night will bring.
Friday, March 10, 2006
That's us - "state officials." It's such a generic and disembodied term.
It's a bland face in a grey suit.
It's some vague embodiment of authority.
It's hard to grasp that I am now one of them, that the tag now belngs to me.
But there it is, on the front page
of both our local papers: Observatory faces fine for lack of permits
and Agency seeks fine against observatory.
Dawn Hegger - former schoolmate and housemate, upholder of the law against those bad federales, and fellow Durpie - sits five feet from me.
The fact that both our local papers ran an important local story verbatim from the AP wire is another issue.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
From Hnk, a 16 year old girl in Mosul:
Twinkle Twinkle my darkness life
Let me see the headlines
I am hurting because I am blind
I am sad and I don't know why. Not because I don't find the reason to feel like I do, but because I don't know which reasons covered my life with all this pain.
Every second make me weaker. With all pressures in the school, with all bombs around me I don't know what to do? What to say? . I don't like sitting in my place, watching the people killing each other, cheating each others and fighting each others.
I can swear that this war changes my life 80 -degree. I am 16 years old. I should live the happiest part of my life; I must be a crazy girl doing foolish and stupid things while I am not. I am talking like some one in 35. I feel I am nothing, I do nothing in my life and I going to do nothing.
From Sunshine, 13, Mosul
I ended the call hoping that it is a nightmare, or there is a mistake…
I went to my room & my eyes were full with tears, I called my friends and they said that it's true she lost her Dad but they didn't know how or when.
After 10 minutes I received an SMS from my friend saying " I knew that R's Dad was murdered " I drooped my book from my hand , & cried a lot , I was thinking why would someone kill him ? what was his guilt ?, he is an engineer, not a policemen , nor from the national guards , he don't cooperate with any political gathering , & he isn't rich , as these are the reasons behind killing nowadays…..
I told my mom about that and she was shocked too.
When I calmed down & stopped crying, I decided to call R…
but I couldn't control my emotions , I tried so hard to be strong , but unfortunately I failed
And from a returned US soldier:
After I shot my first civilian I was very upset. I went back to my connex and trashed the place. I brought my frustration up to my chain of command and was directed to my chaplain. The very first thing he told me was that I was doing Gods work and I did what I did for my country’s and family’s safety. I was told I was in God’s hands and was an instrument of the lord. This was all very interesting, and even more angering, because I am an Atheist
In most cases the American soldier is the perpetrator not the victim. I feel like the thief, rapist and murderer. I have caused others PTSD. I have returned to America unlike the criminals of society who serve time in prison and sometimes feel as if they suffered enough and have achieved some zero karma balance. I have returned a god damn hero. I suffer with feelings of guilt over what I have done and shame over who I’ve become and I have people thanking me for what I did.
Soldiers go unpunished and, consciously or not, go about punishing themselves. They drink them selves to death, fail in relationships, alienate their friends, get hooked on drugs, abuse their family, take unneeded risks, and commit suicide, all in the attempt to reach some sort of satisfactory punishment.
It's been a long time since I've said it ... but fuck you, Donald Rumsfeld.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I heard all kinds of noise about "Mardi Gras" has lost its magic, and that the energy was low, and things just aren't the same. A lot of guys I met were talking about going to the alternative recovery parties instead of the main event. But then the day came, and they decided that they might go afterall, and damn if it wasn't one amazing night.
I managed to lose track of everyone I came with by three am. I was bummed at first - the party goes until ten am, and it seemed like a long time to be solo. There were 20,000 other boys at the party, so the odds were low of reconnecting. But a few hours [and some well placed bumps] later, I was fine. I claimed my spot in RHI, far from the DJ and the crowd of spider monkeys that flock there, but close to the stage and surrounded by some of Sydney's finest. And I was a happy little monster, and danced straight through to the final show.
I met some cool people this round - a nice change from the endless wave of masseurs and realtors that seem to dominate in Honolulu. I'll definitely stay in touch with Jason, who I discovered later was also Jasper Stone of Raging Stallions fame. He got swept away Saturday night by Bryn, who choreographed the closing and opening ceremonies of the Athens and Turin games, and is now in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. I was in a bit of awe when I learned all that. And I spent most of the last night - or this morning, I guess - with Joel, the Tahitian Prince. Mmmm. Royalty. My socialist ideals went right out the window when that one smiled. There were lots of other hot and sexy men, and I hope I remember their names if I see them again.
I'm slowly regaining basic skills - how to talk coherently, how to focus, how to walk without bumping into things. Sleep deprevation took it's toll last night, when I started hallucinating drag queens in the dark room of Body Line. It was a seriously disturbing image. I was afraid to sleep, knowing I would sleep right through my flight. That, and I didn't want to miss out on anything. So I soldiered on until dawn once again, then caught the train for the airport.
Lucky for me the enitre city [well, at least all of the Darlo boys] were just as useless. I thought I looked pretty wrecked too, but got a killer compliment from this young couple from Canberra who were trying to pick me up the morning after. They were all of 19 and 20, and didn't date guys over 30. I was an honest man, and disclosed my age.
So ... I owe Alastair a thousand thanks and hugs for being an amazing host. And Sydney, for putting on an amazing party.