Monday, April 24, 2006

I Missed the 90's

Kurt and Arnold had some guys over to their new place downtown last Friday. We had drinks, went out for Chinese, then came back for a game of Trivial Pursuit - The 90's Edition.

A few thoughts:
- Downtown is far more interesting than it used to be, and I could see living down there. It was nice to be on streets that weren't dominated by tourists. It felt urban, and in a good way. If it was closer to a beach, or had nicer parks, I might consider a move.

- I miss playing games. We played a lot of cards in the Midwest, and even in San Francisco people would have game nights. But that doesn't seem to happen here, at least not in the gay world. You pull out a deck of cards, and these boys run for the exits. So I was looking forward to a night of Trivial Pursuit.

- Except that I somehow missed the 1990's. I was expecting - and somewhat worried by the potential of - endless trivia about Friends, Nirvana, and The Real World. But it was harder than that. I had no idea what half the questions even meant, much less what the answers were.

Now I have some excuses - in San Francisco I was more active in queer & anti-war politics and didn't have time for pop culture. I missed the infamous incident where Queer Nation activists took emetics and then posed as extras on the set of Basic Instinct, but I was there for the great debate afterwards on whether or not projectile vomiting on Sharon Stone was a valid form of protest.

I was completely cut off for two years in Micronesia and six months in Indonesia. LA burned without my participation, I wasn't there when OJ did or did not do it, and I didn't even know who Kurt Cobain was until I read his obit. Later I was a poor grad student without even a television for a couple years. This was pre-internet, so I only had two sources of pop culture: the bar and the beach. If it wasn't a dance remix, or if a Hawaiian boy couldn't play it on his `ukulele, then the odds are I didn't hear it.

That still leaves a couple years where I was theoretically present and tuned in. But I was completely lost in that game. Either it was poorly written, or I am more out of touch with America than I thought. Luckily, everyone else seemed to be too. We gave up after two hours.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Money Money Money

The talk at work this morning was all about real estate and money. It was I know a guy who bought a condo that was under construction for 350G and sold it before he even started paying his mortgage for one million and I heard that a guy was paid 40G by someone who wanted his place in line and I hear you can do that for escrow to and it was all money money money blah blah blah make a lot of money yakkity yakkity yak.

The last time I heard talk like this was during the boom. Semi-literate lunk heads would be talking stock options in the gym lockeroom, and the guy who changed the toilet paper at Yahoo! was convinced he'd be a millionaire by December.

Then as now, I feel like an outsider looking in. I make my salary, I save a bit, I spend more, and I'm usually broke two days before pay day. And I think, if I just understood capitalism a bit more then I could make my millions and retire. Just like ... no one I know. And I know it's not gonna happen, and that those who talk the most about how much money they're making are the same ones who will spend the rest of their lives slaves to the banks.

At least the boom was harmless. The real estate boom [and coming bust] is having a real impact. Towers for the rich are going up everwhere. It started a couple years ago in the countryside, as landlords kicked working families out of their homes to build illegal bed and breakfasts. Then it was vacant land in the city. Now they're targeting elderly and low-income housing, tearing them down to build fortress-towers for the rich. All the talk in this city of new urbanism - pedestrian & bike friendly, mixed use zoning, attractive streetscapes, affordability - has gone out the window in our quest for mainland money.

And the governor behind all this is untouchable. We're selling the `aina at an incredible rate - it's the same thing she did on Maui - and the democrats are afraid to take her on.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who's Out There?

I checked out SiteMeter today to see who was visiting. I don't get names, but I can tell city of origin, and what site sent them here.

Most of the links were 'unknown.' The next chunk were obvious - family, friends, referrals from Big Muscle, and referalls from blogspot's random site selection button.

Close to half the visitors, though, came here through Google searches - and what searches they were. My favorites of the bunch:
  • 131s man photo album
  • "puerto vallarta" guadalajara boys hustlers
  • bala shark swimming upside down
  • "ideal male proportions"
  • student virgin photo
  • malik joyeux tattoo
  • adult kids
  • switzerland chat
  • "boiled lamb shank" market ankara
  • turkish women & twinks from istanbul pics
  • lydia gilbert witch
  • what do shovelmouth catfish eat
  • iranian beauties at antalya beach
  • virgin mary travel
They all left without a trace or comment, and there's no way for me to write back to find out if they found this all more interesting than Iranian beauties and Guadalajara boy hustlers. Too bad ...if I stumble on either I could've let them know.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Next Generation

Every once in awhile something comes along to remind you that the next generation coming up really is different. I had one of those times this weekend.

I was pretty good most of the weekend - I did a lot of prep cooking, burned tons of music for friends, read the days away at the beach, and took it easy. Saturday was different. Joseph was in town, and I hadn't seen him since our tragic night in Mykonos. The Brazilians were having a party, and it looked like we had a sizeable group of guys going to represent. Saturday I had the devil in me, and I intended to cut loose.

This town wasn't cooperating. It rarely does. We started the night with dinner at Sumners. Joseph made a parmesan polenta, which was the perfect base for the rabbit I cooked. Everything was good, and close to midnight we started getting ready to hit the town ...

... and everybody but Joseph and I announced that they were going to bed. All night people were reminiscing about wild nights in Mykonos, Rio, Sydney, Fire Island, & on & on. But when it came time to pull it off here, everyone bailed.

So Joseph and I headed out to Aloha Towers - and found ourselves in a ghost town. The place was vacant. Later I learned that it had rained, and everyone left. Huhn. No problem, though. We headed downtown. It's changed, I told J. There's a new scene in Chinatown and it's going off; unexpected adventures happen, and even the mainland papers were talking about how hip we suddenly were.

Except that apparently downtown is only happening once a month. Saturday it was dead. Ke Kai's was empty, 39 had a cool dj but no one dancing, and Next Door had a local rap group that sounded like they had teleported in from 1985. We left when they tried to rhyme in the land of Kamehameha with in the name of Allah.

So we ended up in Waikiki after all. Angles was playing bad hip-hop, as was Fusions. I'm not sure what's going on here. I wouldn't mind if it was actually good music - and we did hear a bit of Outkast and a new LL Cool J - but for the most part the mixes were shit.

But still, we danced. And this kid came up to me and started grinding hard. I never even got his name. He was hella cute, and all of 21. So it was fun, and a nice ego boost, and by the second song the boy started getting seriously freaky ... and then his phone rang. And damn if he didn't take a text message on the dancefloor. He read the message, flipped the phone shut, kissed me goodbye, and headed to the door. And just like that, it was over. And when I looked around I realized that at least half the kids there were checking their messages while dancing.

It's one of those fracture lines that divide generations. For us it was hip hop, house music, and rolling: baby boomers never could understand any of it. Incessant texting marks the new crowd.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

I just finished reading the Flight 93 transcripts. They start at 09:31:57, with the captain announcing Ladies and Gentlemen: here the captain, please sit down keep remaining seating. We have a bomb on board. So sit.

And they end nine pages - and thirty minutes - later, with a chilling final five seconds:

10:03:04 Allāh-u-Akbar

10:03:06 Allāh-u-Akbar

10:03:06 Allāh-u-Akbar

10:03:07 No.

10:03:09 Allāh-u-Akbar. Allāh-u-Akbar

10:03:09 Allāh-u-Akbar. Allāh-u-Akbar

Allahu Akbar. God is Great. These words should not frighten, but they do.

My first reaction is that Dante should have added an extra ring in hell to make room for those who kill in the name of the Divine.

What frightens me is the shear irrationality of all of this - the suicide bombings, the attacks on mosques, the random killing of innocents. There is nothing there that we can argue or reason against. The men committing these crimes aren't so much monsters as just ... not men. Or at least, not thinking men. They chant, they follow orders, and they kill. There is no space in the equation for us to stay:
No. Stop. Think. Let's find a better way.

In Eichmann in Jersualem (1963) Hannah Arendt asked this:
Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining and reflecting upon whatever happens to come to pass, regardless of specific content and quite independent of results, could this activity be of such a nature that it 'conditions' men against evildoing?

I never accepted that religion and science were separate, or that reason and faith couldn't coexist. Now I'm moving beyond that, into thinking that it's necessary ... that faith without reason is a form of madness, if not of evil.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easter Grinds

Lent is almost over, and that means one thing to me these days: it's time to roast a cute & fluffy creature and invite friends over for dinner. My friends are resisting, but I'm standing firm on this one. The world changes so quickly, and sometimes all we have is tradition to ground us.

Growing up it was usually lamb for Easter. I had thought that this was as normal and widespread as turkey for Thanksgiving. It wasn't until I left Michigan that I discovered that a lot of people thought lamb was exotic, and even suspiciously ethnic. I have two dinners this weekend - a reunion of the Mykonos gang at Sumners, and Easter dinner at Dawn's. I wanted to do lamb at Dawn's. And though I think I have a great way of roasting it [an anchovy/rosemary paste, and served with roasted potatoes, artichokes, and kalamata olives], I'm getting a lot of negative reaction. It's all lamb? and eew and then: No.

On the up [and unexpected] side, people are game for rabbit - so I'll be cooking it both Saturday and Sunday. Dawn and I had an amazing rabbit dish in Vourliotes, one of the mountain villages in Samos. It was advertised as 'rabbit in red wine sauce.' It was one of those totally sublime peasant dishes that tasted like it had been roasting all day. The meat melted off the bone, and the plate was wet with a rich reddish oil. I've been dying to try it at home. After digging around I'm pretty sure it was stifado.

But I've had a hell of a time finding rabbit here in the islands. I called a number of markets and butchers, and had the same conversation five times:

- Rabbit? they'd ask.
Yeah, I'd say. Rabbit.
- and again: Rabbit?
Yes, rabbit. You know - those furry little things that hop around.
- You want a live rabbit?

And everytime my jaw would drop. Why the f' would I call a butcher for a live animal? But I'd hold my tongue, and explain patiently that I preferred that the rabbit be dressed and frozen.

I finally found a decent butcher [at my local Foodland, no less] who knew that there was a world outside of beef, pork, and chicken. He explained that no one here could sell a pallet full of rabbit, and that my best bet was to order online. I ended up ordering three four-pound roasters - and a few slabs of uncut wild boar bacon, and a chunk of ventreche - from D'Artagnan in New York. They arrive Wednesday.

Now Dawn is angling for venison also. As if. The first few stores I called didn't even recognize the word. And I'm still hoping to find a kitchen to take over to make my lamb ...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Day in the Life

So this what happens at work: I take calls from someone who has bought a parcel of land in the Conservation District. They are upset because we make it so hard for them to develop the land. It's so pretty, they tell us. And it's just a wilderness. There's nothing there. It's not all developed and ugly like Waikiki. Why can't I build a house there?

One day I'm gonna snap, and spell it out for them: The reason it's so pretty is because we don't let people build random houses there. I'm not fighting to preserve the land so wankers from the mainland can come in and build their dreamhouse there.

Sometime I think people with money have never heard the word no before.

In other news: I started taking yoga after a chiropractor told me my neck and hips were each ten degrees too far forward. I bike commute, so the neck strain was obvious. I'll have to ponder where the hip strain comes from.

Sumner is having a Mykonos reunion Easter weekend, and I want to try and recreate the rabbit stifado Dawn and I had in Samos. I couldn't find rabbit anywhere here [except the Humane Society], so ended up ordering it online from D'Artagnan in New York. I went ahead and splurged, and ordered a slab of wild boar bacon and some venison sausage as well. And now I'm hungry.

And the sewer spill has claimed it's first casualty: A surfer fell into the Ala Wai on Friday and now flesh-eating bacteria is consuming him. He's not expected to survive.