Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Proclamation to the Mormons

Donny Osmond, who isn't gay at all, has been quoting from a 1995 Mormon text The Family - A Proclamation To The World to explain why gay marriage was wrong:
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
Here's the problem I see: the Mormon and the Catholic Churches have been pouring millions into attacking marriage. You want the government to strengthen the family, then the government ought to recognize all families. And if the Mormon Church is going to attack our marriages, and fight rabidly for the disintegration of our marriages, then ... in the words of their own "prophets" ... they'll be the ones to blame when the calamities foretold come to pass.

And - they need to lose their tax-exempt status now.

Cha Cha Wednesday

I missed posting any cha-cha clips last Friday, but since today is my Friday I'll post two sets to make up for it. The first is Gwen Verdon doing a Fosse routing to Mexican Breakfast - this is where Beyonce got the moves for Single Lady.

And finally, the first and only video on samba de roda that I could understand. I don't know how many dozens of friends have tried to teach me; all were vaguely incoherent (you step out, and then kind of do this little like I don't know like a jump but not a jump maybe a hop but not like that oh well close enough ...).

Finally I get it! Now I'm ready for the samba train!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Global Personality Test

I love these tests, even though most are so transparent as to be silly. This one asked me if I exercise three different ways, and then told me in the results that I was physically active.

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||| 58%
Stability |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Orderliness |||||||||| 38%
Accommodation |||||||||||| 46%
Interdependence |||||| 23%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||| 70%
Mystical || 10%
Artistic |||||||||||| 43%
Religious |||||| 23%
Hedonism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Materialism |||||||||| 36%
Narcissism |||||||||||| 43%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 63%
Work ethic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Humanitarian |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||| 43%
Need to dominate |||||||||||| 43%
Romantic |||||||||||| 50%
Avoidant |||||||||||||| 56%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||| 63%
Wealth |||||| 30%
Dependency |||||||||||||| 56%
Change averse |||||||||||| 43%
Cautiousness |||||||||||| 43%
Individuality |||||||||||||||| 63%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Peter pan complex |||||| 30%
Family drive |||||| 23%
Physical Fitness |||||||||||||||||||| %
Histrionic |||||| 30%
Paranoia |||||| 30%
Vanity |||||||||||| 50%
Honor |||||||||||||| 56%
Thriftiness || 10%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality test by

So I'm poor, smart, and slutty. Raise your hand if this comes as a shock.

Native Species Defense Fund

We have done too good a job of raising awareness of the threats to the indigenous and endemic species of Hawai`i. Now it seems that any tree that isn't pre-Contact isn't properly green enough, and doesn't have real value.

The lawyers for the Development came in this morning, arguing that their parcel should be rezoned from Conservation to Urban. The parcel is covered in trees, but none are native says the haole lawyer, and they're basically giant weeds says the Chinese lawyer.

There is a patch of laua`e fern, and they are willing to make that portion a 'cultural reserve' for traditional gatherers who use laua`e in hula practice ... though it's not native laua`e says the Chinese lawyer. Snort, says the haole lawyer. Snort, agrees the Chinese lawyer.

Off with their heads! shouts the commie urban planner, pulling out his samurai sword and taking both lawyers out with one graceful stroke.

Not really. In reality, the commie urban planner sat quietly, because he knows that the community - the indigenous and the non-native - is already mobilized to fight the developers, and their lawyers.

Gucci Fags

The upside of the downturn is that Waikiki is going to have to reach out to a wider population, and move their focus beyond just Japanese Shoppers and American Upper Middle Class Families. They're going to have to acknowledge that bohemians and artists and queers and club kids and other tribes exist, and are even more likely to travel when times are tough.

At least, that's my theory.

When they renovated the Ilikai I suggested to one of the investors - gay himself - that a low-key gay bar would work on that side of town. He shuddered in horror. Gays were bad for business, the whole hotel would get a 'reputation,' the families would stay away ... you get the idea. Money trumps loyalty.

RumFire, the former Esprit Lounge, is the first to take aim at a gay crowd. Too bad their aim was off. They missed, badly. This was in my in-box this morning:
The party itself is called Phoenix—tagline is “Get your flame on…” So, while the party definitely caters to the gay community—it is not exclusively a gay party… We want to include everyone and anyone who wants to have a good time in a beautiful outdoor venue like RumFire. You can dance around a firepit into the Sunset… while being oceanfront with the best view of Diamond Head with a martini in one hand… and your Gucci man-purse in the other! Russell Tanoue - fashion photographer extraordinaire - is helping out, as is Dr. RJ Matyas who is leaving Hawaii!!! We are offering bottle service provided by SKYY as well as drink specials.
If I even had a man-purse I would bitch slap the promoters with it. I expect the follow-up email will complete the Sex-in-the-Wannabe stereotype by offering Deconstructed Cosmos and referring to Jimmy Choos.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Cat is Alright

It took three days, but I think my cat is ok. I didn't find any swelling yesterday. The only problem now it, I was giving him tuna for being good while I worked on him - I know it hurt - and now he thinks that tuna every night is a right and not a privilege.

So much with this trip remains in flux! We lost two paddlers early on, but Allen joined in & we found a steersmen from Buenos Aire (Mariano Larghi of Manu O Ke Kai Argentina, and he looks awesome). Madame Lim canceled on Miami long ago, and though I keep giving her shit for it I never believed she was coming in the first place. Last week Steve's visa fell through, and he's trying again but it's going to come down to the wire for him. He already delayed his flight a week. And now Hollis had an incident with his car & might have to cancel on Buenos Aires. Which sucks. I was originally prepared to go to BA solo, & was happy when he joined in. He still might make it; we'll find out soon.

Random stuff: I'm so very glad I didn't put my life on hold so that I could buy an over-priced condo here. So very, very glad. And I know that real people are suffering in this meltdown, but ... some of those who are going down are the same land speculators who made so many of us suffer over the past half dozen years. Land is not a commodity, and now we'll all pay because some tried to turn land into something that could be bought and sold and traded.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Modern Traveler

Once upon a time I went to Europe with only a carry-on. I went to Jamaica thinking I could wing it. I went to stay with a bronze-age culture in Sumba with only a letter of introduction.

Once upon a time friends and I could just jump in the car for a road trip and make it up as we went along.

(Kelley and MC in Washington; thanks K. for the photo!)

That was then:

This is now:

Four days to go and it will take me all weekend to pack and prep. Hitting the road with a change of clothes, a pack of cigarettes, and a passport is over. If Kerouac were alive he'd have changed and adapted to. Here's part of my current to-do list:
  • Download Season 2 of Ugly Betty onto my i-phone (check)
  • Download Portuguese and Spanish lessons into my i-phone (check)
  • Start tanning, teeth bleaching, and home micro-dermabrasion (in progress)
  • Get a pedicure (check)
  • Print Google Earth maps of the neighborhoods I'll be staying in (in progress)
  • Check out Manhunt for potential amigos.
  • Set aside clothes for Vizcaya and the clubs in Rio and Buenos Aires.
It's all so very modern. The kid in the first photo would've been horrified.

Though some things don't change - I have about 60 hours of flight time total, and have picked out two very, very fat epics for the journey: Robert Fagles new translation of The Aeneid, and Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's new translation of War and Peace.

I tried War and Peace once before, but got lost somewhere past the middle. The language in this translation seems much more dynamic and poetic, so I think I'll have an easier going. I've read the first chapter, and it's brilliant.

And of course, I am not flying the extinct, and possible mythical, PanAm (above). I'm flying American (below). I'll dress nice and wear a jacket regardless. I'll be fabulous just to spite the bean-counters. The second half of the trip is on Aerolineas Argentinas, which was just nationalized. I hope that's a good thing - Latin socialists can't possible be as dour as Eastern European ones.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Barefoot Vet

I just got done performing surgery on my cat. He was acting super docile and affectionate the past few days; I figured it was age, and that he was just nearing the end. Turns out that one of his wounds - he gets in a lot of fights - had become badly infected. I went to drain it, thinking it was no worse than any other gash he gets from protecting his turf. This one went deep, though, and smelled god awful once I opened it to drain it.

He's sleeping on the couch now. I'll find out tomorrow if I got all the infection out.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

mea culpa

Honolulu had it's march / rally in support of gay rights this morning, and I slept in. I was so absolutely sure that it was going to be the same crowd that brings us the world's most embarrassing Pride that I didn't even consider going.

I was wrong. Friends who went say there were close to 400 men and women, and that it was a high energy crowd with lots of young folks taking the lead. Next time I'll try and be just a little bit less cynical. Just a little, though.

Nights Out in HNL

It's Friday and midnight and I'm home already & I'm not quite understanding how that happened. Maybe I've been reading too much on Rio and Buenos Aires and Miami and New York, where the nightlife doesn't even kick into gear utnil 1 or 2 am. I forgot where I was.

It's been a fun week. Gary is in town with his new beau, and we've been joing up with Peter and Allen and his friend Mika & going out a lot. Last Thursday was Chiko's, Saturday I cooked Mexican at Gary's condo, Sunday was Hula's beer bust, Tuesday I took Francisco and Joe up to Ka`au Crater and yesterday was Aku Bone.

So tonight we went to see Zamora Linmark's new disco and sex fueled stage version of Rolling the R's at Kumu Kahu theater. I pulled together a group of about 15 guys, and Leanne pulled in an additional five women. That's enough for a party, right? Most of us started off with drinks at Bar 35. I've always avoided that bar thanks to the long line of suburban kids I see outside on First Fridays. Turned out to be pretty cool on a regular night. It's a lounge, and had all the requisite beautiful people inside, but was still mellow and chill enough to be very fun.

The play was fucking awesome, and it still runs for another week or so & it should not be missed. It's local underground, so there were obvious rough patches, but it was also obscene and funny and surprisingly poignant. Or, as Village Voice put it on the novel: Linmark has done more than simply use the argot of equatorial poverty as a sexy, colorful idiom. In its structure, tone, and depths, Rolling the R's is true to the furious and witty rhythms of a vernacular culture of resistance.

Then things got weird. Not bad. Just strange. We had different groups of guys, and though we all went out afterwards everyone stayed in their own tribe. I tried to get people to mix - I mean, it was Friday night and we were downtown and we all have some connection, but they wouldn't. I actually had to play go-between: this group wants to go to Smiths, and these guys want to go to Mercury, and the women are up for grabbing a bite to eat. I told them to talk to each other, but that carried zero weight. It was strange, as they were all standing in their own group not five feet from each other.

And so I was part of all groups and central to none. We went to Mercury, and the bar was as lame as I remembered. Half the patrons had emo hair, and the artwork was gothic and pretentiously hip. Eyeballs with the word 'death' scribbled across. I know so many guys who think this bar passes for a discovery. I don't get it.

Neither did most of the group, and after one or two drinks everyone was out of there. One group went to eat and some guys went home and one group went to the Dragon and and one group left without a real agenda and suddenly I was standing alone in the bar - literally, as even the other patrons had left - with half a beer.

So I chugged it and went outside and caught up with some of the stragglers. Said our goodbyes, made plans for drinks on the beach Sunday, and it was only 11:30pm and I don't get it. It was a pretty awesome night; it was strange for it to suddenly poof and end like that with no warning.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cha Cha Time

Thirty minutes til the work week is over!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama Cool

I don't have it. One of the things I really admire about the man his how graceful he is under pressure. I would have snapped long ago. I don't even have the patience these days to gracefully handle the small-time local con artists we have at home, much less assholes on a national scale.

Fri Update: I managed to take down one of our trouble makers at our Neighborhood Board, and did it with a bit of tact, but she is rich and bored & is unlikely to stay down for long. I had less luck controlling an unruly applicant at this morning's Land Board hearings. All he had to do was sit still and not say anything and let me do the work; he'd have gotten his permit and saved his house. As it is ... he spoke ... and now might lose it all.

Friday, November 07, 2008

NOB5: Battle for the Minutes

I wonder a lot about what the point of being elected to the Neighborhood Board is. In terms of political or social influence we fall somewhere between "condo association" and "dogcatcher." There is potential here; if we spoke clearly and rationally we can make an impact.

So far Neighborhood Board No. 5 has only had an impact on parking. Specifically, they saved one parking lot from being developed as a store - and that took a year of protests. Luckily I had to excuse myself from the issue as I work for the State and there was a potential conflict of interest.

So we have potential. But instead, we spend our time dealing with nonsense side issues. I thought becoming an Executive Member (i.e. Secretary) would at least let me influence things a touch. Instead, I am fighting to accomplish simple things like getting the minutes approved.

This will bore most of you. The political junkies will enjoy it. Maybe. I don't care. I am hereby unilaterally applying the sunshine law to my webmail and liberating these executive emails for public consumption and review. For background, a representative from the Neighborhood Commission provides meeting notes for us. The secretary reviews them, and then every other Board on the island votes to approve them. Not us. We go half a year at a time without getting minutes approved.

This is the shit we deal with each month, and this is why we never get shit done.

From: Michael Cain
To: 4 board members, Chair, and Michelle S. Matson
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2008 11:34 AM
Subject: Fw: Draft minutes for October

Aloha all,

Here are the draft minutes from October. Monday should
everyone enough time to go over them.

If you have suggestions for corrections, I'd like to
one favor: keep them brief and substantive.


From: Michelle S. Matson
Sent: Nov 7, 2008 9:54 AM
To: Chairman Bert Narita NB#5, Michael Cain
Cc: (4 Board Members, and 1 Commission Official who has
blocked our emails)

Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October

The NB meeting is Thursday, November 13.
See attached Reso provided at the October meeting.
Apparently this was not
reviewed by the regular NA
to have any initial effect.

What is the proposed status of the previous two
months' minutes
,(August -deferred in September and
October- and September - deferred
in October)and
their substantive and formatting corrections as

previously provided for the record?

From: Michael Cain
To: Michelle S. Matson ; Chairman Bert Narita
Cc: (4 Board Members, and 1 Commission Official
who has blocked our emails)

Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 11:05 AM
Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October

1. The resolution was introduced but not, to my
knowledge, voted on or approved
by the Board.

2. I will be moving to accept the August and
September minutes at the
upcoming meeting. Members
are free to object or vote against approval.I did not

incorporate the nine pages of edits you sent. If you
need an
explanation I will do it publicly and on the
record at next week's meeting.

- Michael

From: Michelle S. Matson
Sent: Nov 7, 2008 8:46 PM
To: Michael Cain , Chairman Bert Narita NB#5
Cc: (4 Board Members, and 1 Commission Official who has
blocked our emails)

Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October


1. The Resolution was received by the Board and deferred
to the November
meeting since there was no time for approval
of this or the corrected
minutes at the end of the October
meeting. As in previous months it was
also suggested that
the regular NA review the recommendations and try to

work on some of the improvements.

2. There were not "9 pages of edits" but specifically
digital tracked changes
within the minutes text, which showed
the substantive and grammatical corrections
and formatting
improvements as a helpful convenience to assist comparison.
simple text without showing the corrections preferred?

3. If / when all substantive corrections provided by Board
officers and
members have been incorporated into the August
and September minutes,
respectively, we would appreciate
receiving your corrected draft minutes
prior to the November
meeting so that we know what has been corrected for
of the minutes. In turn, for convenience of comparison please

indicate where the corrections have been made.


From: Michael Cain
To: Michelle S. Matson; "Chairman Bert Narita NB#5
Cc: (4 Board Members, and 1 Commission Official who has
blocked our emails)

Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 4:03 PM
Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October


You waste too much of too many people's time with this
silliness. It stops

You can take it up at the Board meeting if you have a
problem with this.

From: Michelle S. Matson
To: Chairman Bert Narita
Cc: Michael Cain (& five board members and one commission
official who has blocked our emails)

Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October
Date: Nov 7, 2008 7:02 PM
I believe we are all looking for a democratic approach
to resolving current
issues with the ongoing timing,
formatting, grammatical and often
substantive deficiencies
in the minutes - deficiencies also acknowledged by

Board Member Cain in previous emails (attached).

Is it too difficult to provide open disclosure to the Board
of any
corrections to the minutes prior to the Board
meeting(s) at which such
minutes are anticipated to be
adopted? One would expect that any
minutes would be mailed/emailed to all Board members prior

to the meeting date of any noticed anticipated approval.

As a constructive suggestion apart from the apparent
acrimony, an NCO regularly-issued
recorder could provide the NA with needed
assistance for
any substantive areas of question. The bottom line is that

we would like to see positive and productive outcomes for
the whole in the
form of readable and referable substantive
reflections of all Neighborhood
Board meetings for the
collective community.

It is interesting to note that for some unknown reason
September's deferred
minutes were publicly posted today,
November 7, with the unanimously
deferred August minutes.
Both are absent any preliminary approval by the

Executive Committee or ultimate approval by the Board:

To: Michelle S. Matson, Chairman Bert Narita NB#5
Cc: (five board members and one commission official who
has blocked our emails)
Subject: Re: Draft minutes for October
Date: Nov 7, 2008 11:31 PM

This discussion needs to occur in public and on the record.

Please cease your emails to me on the matter. I do not feel
they are appropriate.

Although I guess it is on the record now. Or at least in public.

A Butler Well Served by This Election

For 34 Years, Eugene Allen Carried White House Trays With Pride. Now There's Even More Reason to Carry Himself That Way.

By Wil Haygood
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008; A01

For more than three decades Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.

He trekked home every night, his wife, Helene, keeping him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than to the large desk in the Oval Office. Helene didn't care; she just beamed with pride.

President Truman called him Gene.

President Ford liked to talk golf with him.

He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week. "I never missed a day of work," Allen says.

His is a story from the back pages of history. A figure in the tiniest of print. The man in the kitchen.

He was there while America's racial history was being remade: Brown v. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. "We had never had anything," Allen, 89, recalls of black America at the time. "I was always hoping things would get better."

In its long history, the White House -- just note the name -- has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

"The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen," says Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. "In the kitchen, the folks have always been black. Even the folks at the door -- black."

Sorensen tried to address the matter of blacks in the White House. But in the end, there was only one black man who stayed on the executive staff at the Kennedy White House past the first year. "There just weren't as many blacks as there should have been," says Sorensen. "Sensitivities weren't what they should have been, or could have been."

In 1866 the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, sensing an opening to advocate for black voting rights, made a White House visit to lobby President Andrew Johnson. Johnson refused to engage in a struggle for black voting rights. Douglass was back at the White House in 1877. But no one wished to discuss his political sentiments: President Rutherford Hayes had engaged the great man -- it was a time of high minstrelsy across the nation -- to serve as a master of ceremonies for an evening of entertainment.

In the fall of 1901, another famous black American came to the door. President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, head of the Tuskegee Institute, to meet with him at the White House. Roosevelt was careful not to announce the invitation, fearing a backlash, especially from Southerners. But news of the visit leaked quickly enough and the uproar was swift and noisy. In an editorial, the Memphis Scimitar would write in the ugly language of the times: "It is only recently that President Roosevelt boasted that his mother was a Southern woman, and that he is half Southern by reason of that fact. By inviting a nigger to his table he pays his mother small duty."

Fifty years later, invitations to the White House were still fraught with racial subtext. When the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow pianist Hazel Scott to perform at Constitution Hall because of her race, many letters poured into the White House decrying the DAR's position. First lady Bess Truman was a member of the organization, but she made no effort to get the DAR to alter its policy. Scott's husband, Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell, subsequently referred to Bess Truman as "the last lady of the land." The words outraged President Truman, who vowed to aides he would find some way to punish Powell and barred the fellow Democrat from setting foot inside the Truman White House.

The first black to hold a policy or political position in the White House was E. Frederick Morrow, a former public relations executive with CBS. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's presidential campaign operatives were so impressed with Morrow's diligent work during the 1952 campaign that they promised him a White House executive job if Ike were elected. Ike won, but Morrow ended up being placed at the Department of Commerce. He felt slighted and appealed to Republican friends in New York to force the White House to make good on its promise.

The phone finally rang in 1955 and Morrow was named administrative officer for special projects. He had hoped the title would give him wide responsibilities inside the White House, but found himself dealing, for the most part, with issues related to the Brown desegregation ruling, the Rosa Parks-led bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., and the 1957 Little Rock school crisis.

"He was a man of great dignity," says Stephen Hess, senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution, who worked as a speechwriter for Eisenhower. Morrow was in a lonely position, but "he did not complain," says Hess. "That wasn't Fred Morrow."

When Morrow left his White House position, he imagined there'd be corporate job offers. There were not. "Only thing he was offered were jobs related to the black community," says Hess. Nonetheless, "after Morrow, it was appropriate to have a black person on the staff of the White House."

'Pantry Man'

Before he landed his job at the White House, Gene Allen worked as a waiter at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va., and then at a country club in Washington.

He and wife Helene, 86, are sitting in the living room of their home off Georgia Avenue NW. A cane rests across her lap. Her voice is musical, in a Lena Horne kind of way. She calls him "honey." They met in Washington at a birthday party in 1942. He was too shy to ask for her number, so she tracked his down. They married a year later.

In 1952, a lady told him of a job opening in the White House. "I wasn't even looking for a job," he says. "I was happy where I was working, but she told me to go on over there and meet with a guy by the name of Alonzo Fields."

Fields was a maitre d', and he immediately liked Allen.

Allen was offered a job as a "pantry man." He washed dishes, stocked cabinets and shined silverware. He started at $2,400 a year.

There was, in time, a promotion to butler. "Shook the hand of all the presidents I ever worked for," he says.

"I was there, honey," Helene reminds. "In the back, maybe. But I shook their hands, too." She's referring to White House holiday parties, Easter egg hunts. They have one son, Charles. He works as an investigator with the State Department.

"President Ford's birthday and my birthday were on the same day," he says. "He'd have a birthday party at the White House. Everybody would be there. And Mrs. Ford would say, 'It's Gene's birthday, too!' "

And so they'd sing a little ditty to the butler. And the butler, who wore a tuxedo to work every day, would blush.

"Jack Kennedy was very nice," he goes on. "And so was Mrs. Kennedy."

"Hmm-mmm," she says, rocking.

He was in the White House kitchen the day JFK was slain. He got a personal invitation to the funeral. But he volunteered for other duty: "Somebody had to be at the White House to serve everyone after they came from the funeral."

The whole family of President Jimmy Carter made her chuckle: "They were country. And I'm talking Lillian and Rosalynn both." It comes out sounding like the highest compliment.

First lady Nancy Reagan came looking for him in the kitchen one day. She wanted to remind him about the upcoming dinner for West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He told her he was well ahead in the planning and had already picked out the china. But she told him he would not be working that night.

"She said, 'You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and myself.' I'm telling you! I believe I'm the only butler to get invited to a state dinner."

Husbands and wives don't sit together at these events, and Helene was nervous about trying to make small talk with world leaders. "And my son says, 'Mama, just talk about your high school. They won't know the difference.'

"The senators were all talking about the colleges and universities that they went to," she says." I was doing as much talking as they were.

"Had champagne that night," she says, looking over at her husband.

He just grins: He was the man who stacked the champagne at the White House.

Moving Up, but Slowly

President Kennedy, who succeeded Eisenhower, started with two blacks, Frank Reeves and Andrew Hatcher, in executive positions on his White House staff. Only Hatcher, a deputy press secretary, remained after six months. Reeves, who focused on civil rights matters, left in a political reshuffling.

The issue of race bedeviled this White House, even amid good intentions. In February 1963, Kennedy invited 800 blacks to the White House to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Louis Martin, a Democratic operative who helped plan the function, had placed the names of entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and his wife, May Britt, on the guest list. The White House scratched it off and Martin would put it back on. According to Martin, Kennedy was aghast when he saw the black and white couple stroll into the White House. His face reddened and he instructed photographers that no pictures of the interracial couple would be taken.

But Sammy Davis Jr. was not finished with 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He got himself invited to the Nixon White House to meet with the president and talk about Vietnam and business opportunities for blacks. He even slept in the Lincoln Bedroom once. When Davis sang at the 1972 Republican convention in Miami, he famously wrapped his arms around Nixon at a youth rally there, becoming forever identified with a White House that many blacks found hostile.

Lyndon Johnson devoted considerable energy and determination to civil rights legislation, even appointing the first black to the Supreme Court. But it did not translate to any appreciable number of blacks working on his staff. Clifford Alexander says he was the sole black in Johnson's White House, serving first as a National Security Council officer, then as associate White House counsel.

"We were fighting for something quite new," says Alexander. "You knew how much your job meant. And you knew President Johnson was fighting on your behalf." As a young man growing up in Harlem, Alexander had heard about Morrow. Mothers and fathers pointed to him as a grand success story. "Fred was a lovely man," says Alexander. "But they did not pay any attention to him in the Eisenhower White House."

Colin Powell would become the highest-ranking black of any White House to that point when he was named President Reagan's national security adviser in 1987. Condoleezza Rice would have that same position under President George W. Bush.

The butler remembers seeing both Powell and Rice in the Oval Office. He was serving refreshments. He couldn't help notice that blacks were moving closer to the center of power, closer than he could ever have dreamed. He'd tell Helene how proud it made him feel.

Time for Change

Gene Allen was promoted to maitre d' in 1980. He left the White House in 1986, after 34 years. President Reagan wrote him a sweet note. Nancy Reagan hugged him, tight.

Interviewed at their home last week, Gene and Helene speculated about what it would mean if a black man were actually elected president.

"Just imagine," she said.

"It'd be really something," he said.

"We're pretty much past the going-out stage," she said. "But you never know. If he gets in there, it'd sure be nice to go over there again."

They've got pictures of President and Mrs. Reagan in the living room. On a wall in the basement, they've got pictures of every president Gene ever served. There's a painting President Eisenhower gave him and a picture of President Ford opening birthday gifts, Gene hovering nearby.

They talked about praying to help Barack Obama get to the White House. They'd go vote together. She'd lean on her cane with one hand, and on him with the other, while walking down to the precinct. And she'd get supper going afterward. They'd gone over their Election Day plans more than once.

"Imagine," she said.

"That's right," he said.

On Monday Helene had a doctor's appointment. Gene woke and nudged her once, then again. He shuffled around to her side of the bed. He nudged Helene again. He was all alone.

"I woke up and my wife didn't," he said later.

Some friends and family members rushed over. He wanted to make coffee. They had to shoo the butler out of the kitchen.

The lady whom he married 65 years ago will be buried today.

The butler cast his vote for Obama on Tuesday. He so missed telling his Helene about the black man bound for the Oval Office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

And I can't sleep. Damn.

This is the first national election where I've voted for the candidate I like rather than against the guy I hated. I really liked Mondale in 1984, but even more so I thought that we had to Stop Reagan. I'm still shocked that Reagan has become a hero in retrospect - as if AIDS, third-world death squads, and the willful destruction of our inner cities never happened. The Democratic Machine picked Dukakis for us in 1988 and Kerry in 2000, and neither thrilled me but whatever. I voted for them if only to stop the Bush's. And though I voted for Gore, of course, I didn't really care - I had no idea how hideously right-wing Bush Jr. would turn out to be.

I was overseas and never got my ballot for Clinton in 1992; we only got the news every two months so I pretty much missed that one. And I left my ballot blank in 1996; I refused to vote for that backstabbing shit who sold gays, blacks, and everyone else down the river rather than take a stand on anything.

So. 2008. I'm 42, and for the first time I really, really like a candidate. Sure I have issues with Obama - I'm not starry eyed and dreamy - but there's something there. He'll smash through the ebony ceiling and that means a lot to me, but it's more than that. It's like this: I could've known this guy. I don't, but I know people like him, intellectual community activists who held faith in an ugly world. And I'm just amazed that someone from this crowd, my ideal crowd, is set to lead the country.

14 or so more hours and we'll know. My country might finally do the right thing.

Monday, November 03, 2008


My brief louche season is over, and I'm back on a training schedule. It's back to healthy eating, limited drinking, plenty of sleep, and hard core training - paddling, capoeira, weights, surfing, and abs abs abs. And though I've been invited to five election parties (which is more than the total number of parties I've been invited to all fall) I'll be good and stay sober.

Three more weeks and I get on a plane. I'll give myself two days of hard-core decadence in Miami en route to Rio (the Vizcaya event is sponsored by an absinthe company, Joe Gauthraux is spinning Saturday after-hours, I've got a white sunga from Alejandro for Muscle Beach with the circuit grandmother and goddess Wendy Hunt, and it's Abel all night on Sunday - it'll be hard-core for real!), and then I buck up again. This race is real - 18 miles, the same as Kona - so I've got to be real about it. The only way I can pull off both White Party and Rio Va`a is to get myself back in peak form in 3 weeks.

Which should be no problem.

Sad Sack Halloween

I got the message from Jake that I need to stop sounding like such a sad-sack in this blog. Which: oops, again. It's so much more fun to write when you're bitchy than when things are going well, and sometimes I'd incriminate too many people if I wrote about the fun times ... so I guess this tilts more negative than I mean it to. 'Cause things are actually going really well - but who wants to hear that?

I did come close to baggin' on Halloween, though. I'd been up late on Thursday helping Scott and Katherine move. Francisco was there also, and one beer let to another & soon it was way past my bedtime. I was hurting on Friday. I knew that Tom would be downtown at the Loft, but I didn't realize tickets were $30 ... and I'm being cheap these days (translation: an iphone, 2 new car tires, Rio fees, White Party tickets, and an overhaul on my bike have pretty much ko'd my bank account). I was going to head downtown anyway, but my group faded out one by one. Luckily I called Jake (and his crew had also bailed, one by one), and we hit Waikiki Friday night.

I was Ninja, and got no attention. Jake was Harry Potter, and got lots of attention, and not just 'cause he was passing out candy to kids! We did a pub crawl from his place on Ala Moana to Lulu's on the other end of Waikiki. It was fun, and kind of trashy, and kind of a perfect night. All the obvious places had lines (Senor Frogs, Yardhouse) or covers (Red Lion) or both (Hulas), so we hit the second rate places - both Cheeseburgers in Paradise, Coconut Willy's, and Lulus. And it was completely tragi-fabulous.

I haven't opened his pics yet, but I'll post when I do.

Lingle Watch

How many personalities does our governor have? Here's an article from Salon this morning about a McCain rally:

The rally got its cocky swagger back with Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, who managed to work the crowd into an anti-Obama lather with her heavily emphasized assertion that "people are looking for a person they can trust to lead America. They want to elect a president who is proud of their nation." Everyone able to crack the code on what Linda Lingle is saying here? She then turned to an argument that has mostly been heard on the Democratic side of the political spectrum for many months, imagining what supporters would say to their children and grandchildren down the road, when the little whippersnappers ask them, "What did you do when you had a chance to make a difference? What role did you play in that crucial election?" Surely, Lingle concluded, they would want to be able to say that they "worked every hour in those last few days to do everything [they] could to make sure this election turns out the way we know it should for the people of America."

Cocky swagger? Our own right-wing pandering closeted-lesbian governor is cocky on the road? This is not a face she ever shows in Hawai`i.

But this lady has many faces. For years I've been confused about why a Jewish governor would so closely ally herself with the Christian fundamentalists here. I forgot about the whole strange relationship between fundamentalists, Revelations, and Zionism. This letter from Lingle to The Jewish Press (Palin Looks to Queen Esther as Role Model) shows us another face ...

If there were any doubt that Sen. John McCain will shake up Washington and institute real change, the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee has put that question to rest. Few people can match McCain's maverick spirit and bipartisan nature like Gov. Palin.

I've known Sarah Palin since her election as governor in 2006. I am confident she will be a great friend of the Jewish community and Israel, as well as a terrific leader and great vice president.


Finally on Iran - an issue of critical importance to readers of this publication - Gov. Palin gets it. She recognizes the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while advocating for strengthening the strategic U.S.-Israel relationship.

It is also clear that Gov. Palin is a woman of deep personal faith. She has established a good relationship with the Jewish communities of Alaska, supported the residents' desire to create the Alaska Jewish Historical Museum and was present at the reading of Alaska's resolution commemorating Israel's 60th anniversary.

In her office in Juneau, Gov. Palin has hung an Israeli flag. She displays the flag because Israel is in her heart.


Shortly after coming into office, Gov. Palin asked her former pastor for examples of biblical people who were great leaders and for the secret of their leadership. The pastor suggested she re-read the story of Queen Esther, the Jewish woman who rose to help her people and become queen of Persia.

Like Queen Esther, Gov. Palin has faced tremendous adversity, and time and again she has risen to overcome obstacles. This is the sign of a true leader.


Linda Lingle is the governor of Hawaii and a Jewish Republican.
I guess it doesn't matter. Lingle is pretty much out of options in this State, and pimping herself out to Palin's (I mean, McCain's) trainwreck of a campaign isn't going to help her nationally. She can join Harris, Fasi, and Cayetano in whatever club faded Hawai`i pols hang out in when their day is over.