Friday, August 28, 2009

Bike Plan

I just turned in my comments on the O`ahu Bike Plan. I'm in a dark and cynical mood this month, and I don't really have much hope that the plan will be implemented. None of the past ones have been - all the money gets spent on consultants, and there's never any left over to actually build the bike lanes. I can still hope for a surprise.

I represent St. Louis on Neighborhood Board No. 5. I have been a bike commuter on O`ahu for the past 14 years. I currently commute daily between Kaimuki and Downtown. These comments are based on experience:

1. A major issue commuters face is a lack of connection between existing lanes and routes. This is not shown on your map. A few examples: A) The McCully / Kapiolani intersection is dangerous, and impossible to navigate in a legal yet safe manner. Riding makai down McCully, and a biker needs to make a left hand turn into a narrow gap in the stone wall that is usually occupied by pedestrians, while cars heading mauka inch into the area prepping for a right turn. B) The Bike Path that runs behind the Convention Center is broken into segments; bikers need to navigate a mid-block crossing on a blind hill twice. C) The intersection at Kapahulu and Ala Wai is not dangerous, but is messy & requires hopping on the sidewalk to make the connections. THE existing bike maps that you use treat each of these intersections as areas that are already functioning!

There are similar problems heading from town to the airport. There will be a great path, and then BAM! Nothing!

2. We have been told at the Neighborhood Board that there will be no money to implement this Plan. If this is the case, then the City would appear to be not in compliance with Charter Amendment 6, and this plan would be no different than the other plans that have been written, filed, and not implemented. Please address how the City and County can integrate bike planning into existing day to day operations. For example, if a road is repaved then we could add a proposed bike lane in then.

I would like to note that when issues regarding sidewalks, potholes, parking, etc. are raised at our Neighborhood Board meeting, the County will respond. When bike issues are raised we are told: Wait for the Bike Plan. We need to be able to address biking issues on an ongoing basis without needing a new Master Plan every decade. We don't wait for a Master Plan for sidewalks before building them.

3. Like other bike commuters, I don't understand what a "Bike Route" is. Two of the existing bike routes downtown - McCully and the one in Kaka`ako - are two of the worst urban roads for bike commuters. What will the benefit be of adding more "routes" if there are no infrastructure improvements to the route.

4. The urban hubs for bike commuters are UH, Ala Moana area, Waikiki, and Downtown. There is a good connection heading from UH to Downtown, and a passable connection Downtown to Ala Moana. If we have to prioritize, I would argue that we should focus on the flow between these areas.

I'd be willing to ride with any planners, or point out the areas where minor work on improving connections would result in major improvements. My email is Thank you.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Wrapping up my holiday back in Ann Arbor. I fly out tomorrow morning, and I'm trying to tire myself out tonight so that I sleep on the plane. I need to hit the ground running: Tuesday morning is the first candidate's forum, Tuesday lunch I meet with the Advertiser Board and try to win their love, and Tuesday evening I need to get my butt back to practice.

The whole family is here. Beth had a rough delivery but is doing well, Anne had her child three weeks early - just in time for me to meet him! - but is handling it like a pro, and John and Valerie have finally set a date for their wedding. I've spent a lot of the days cooking, first for the Fourth picnic (I tried a variety of Mediterranean meze, which ... I liked, at least ... but the Coney dogs were way more popular), then helping Sue prep food for Jeff and Anne. I'm staying with Jim and Jen, & their new house is right off our old neighborhood, so I've gotten the chance to wander through the past a bit.

I forgot how green and lush Michigan was. And how flat. But the township has changed so much that I can't say I miss it. The farms are gone, and now there are endless subdivisions of ugly new mansions. A lot were built on spec, and some of the neighborhoods are disturbingly quiet, full of giant houses next to vacant fields and empty cul-de-sacs. Our old neighborhood seems to be falling into disrepair. Some people are keeping up their houses, but one has been completely abandonned and others are fighting a losing battle against nature.

It can all be so sad, but it is also all so pretty and green. Now it seems that this whole construction boom was just a game. People bought and flipped houses, and never intended to live in any of them, and now we have more houses than people here & the game is over.

Into The Breach

I did it ... I put my name in for the Council Seat. There are sixteen of us - the former incumbent, one well-known Democrat, two union guys, a handful of Republican regulars, a horticulturist, and moi. It's a mail-in election, and the campaign season is only a few weeks long, so there's a fair amount of randomness in the system. My goal is simple: I need to make an strong impact in the debates, and I need to get some positive media attention - and at least move up from the "also running" list.

I refuse to stand on the corner and wave signs, and I'm going to hold off on fund-raising until I see how the first week of debates go. I won't spam my friends. Nathaniel Kinney (29, lawyer for the union) is trying to get all the candidates on twitter, and I was tempted, but I think I'm going to maintain my anti-Twitter stance. I just can't see myself twisting myself into someone I am not for the sake of a campaign - and if there is any campaign where we can present ourselves honestly, without cliche and facade, it will be this one.

Someone new will be elected; I don't think people want the same old faces again. The papers portray this as being between Kobayashi and Matsunaga. The papers are wrong. There are whispers that Kinney has Mufi's backing. He definitely has money and supporters from somewhere. The general mood is, give us someone new. I need to get to the top of the 'new' pack.

Below, my first announcement:

Aloha all!

As some of you know, I've registered as a candidate for Honolulu City Council, District V, representing Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Kakaako, and a portion of Ala Moana and Makiki.

This is a Special Election that will be decided by mail-in votes. You must be registered by July 8 for this election.

OK then.

First Campaign Promise: I won't be spamming my email list with endless updates. You'll get this one, and then one more if there is a public debate or if I decide to hold a benefit. That'll be it. I set up a website at Go there for more information. For people who want to get actively involved, or just want to get lots of emails, write me at

Some big names have entered the race, and there is some big money behind them. My hope is the hope of all long-shots: get a strong grass roots campaign going. Luckily, it's a crowded field, and therefore there is room for political newcomers to make an impact. My concern now is getting my name out there by focusing on core ideals.

For now, check out the website, let me know if you have any ideas or feedback, & if you like it pass this along to your email lists! I'll be tweaking the website over the weekend, and then trying to get some media coverage early next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Post Mortem

I've been meaning to come in for awhile now, and do one final post before letting this blog drift on into oblivion.

I figured I'd resurrect it when I travel, but I didn't really see a use for it beyond that. I've been pulling away from on-line life a lot lately. I deleted my accounts from most of the forums I took part in - I got tired of the flaming and the trolling and the irrationality (this morning on metafilterI was actually accused of being a front for Eminem, whom I detest). I boxed up my home computer this past April, which was liberating. I've been clear at work that I will answer emails on Fridays, and I delete them after I've read them.

The internet can be amazing, but I no longer think it's healthy in high doses.

I'll miss easy access to music. I thought I'd miss easy access to recipes, but I've got a pretty major collection of cookbooks that has must been gathering dust. I miss Facebook - it just doesn't work the same on my phone. And ...

... that's about it. I don't miss much else. It was hard the first weekend, but in the end quitting internet was far easier than quitting smoking. And it feels like I have a bit more of my life back. I've been going to the gym a lot, reading actual books, and socializing more with flesh-and-blood people. It's been liberating. I've been living like we all used to live in the old days, back all of fifteen years ago.


Not that I've totally quit internetting. I still log on from coffee shops about once a month, and I still ready the news and emails on my iPhone. And I'm thisclose to putting my name in for special election on the open City Council seat. And if I do that I'll have to be online a lot more. Only this time it won't be an addiciton. It'll be business.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Slush Fund

I just put down a deposit on an Atlantis Cruise in October, I committed to doing the Vaka Eiva series of races in Raratonga, I'm off to New York this March, and I'm fantasizing about an extended trip to Eastern Turkey next Spring  ...

... and for the third time today, someone has asked where I get the money ...and do I have a secret slush fund? ...  especially since every other weekend I am mostly broke. 

Here's how it works:

- I ride my bicycle to work almost every day.  Savings: let's say $2500 a year over those of you who pay for parking and gas.

- I cook my own meals. Lunches, at least these days, are mostly vegetarian and made of what I find at the Kapi`olani Farmers' Market. So, twenty bucks a week for me versus forty if I ate at the lunch wagon: that's maybe a grand a year,  plus at least another grand over those of you who eat out for dinners.

- Add to that the weekends that I am happy and content nursing my garden or reading books rather than drinking at the bars ...

And that's already three trips to Paris, at least, airfare and hotel included. 

And that's how I do it. 

Friday, February 20, 2009


Just experimenting with the new Google Earth here. If this works, then that should be Fananu below on the left, my home for two years while I was with the Peace Corps. Ikup, on the right, is not inhabited.

View Larger Map

My life for two years is contained in that little map: the school that got washed way by the storm wave, the ice plant that was destroyed during a riot, the boat house I slept in, for the second year, with the other unmarried young men after my host-father tried to shoot his son, the reef where I would go spear-fishing every afternoon, the taro patch where I would hide out with the guys to drink some god-awful moonshine, the beach I would hide out at when I needed time away ... they always try and make Paradise look something like my island, but I've lived it and know things about "Paradise" that a lot of people don't.

Fananu Demographics: Population 250 (249 Chuukese, 1 Haole), plus another 250 or so off island; 0.1 square miles; and far from everything.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lost Worlds

The wind is full of ghosts tonight
That tap and sigh upon the glass
And listen for reply.

-  Edna St. Vincent Millay

I usually hate nostalgia. I've been so nomadic all my life that remembering yesterday means remembering lost worlds and forgotten friends and lives I could have lived but didn't. Nostalgia is always melancholic. It's about loss. I hate it. Usually.

The most exotic people for me were those who spent their whole lives together, cohorts that were born, lived, and died in one small town.  It fascinated me that some people go through this journey with the same companions all the way. For me, my memories are scattered.  Each period of my life has involved a new tribe, and only a few people seem to cross with me from me. I'm always chomping at the bit for different and new horizons, but living this life has it's cost. I suppose that all lives do.  

I moved to Hawai`i with the inention of staying put, come hell or high water, at least ten years (and I think it's been fourteen already). I wanted to know what it felt like to have one single group of friends for longer than a few years. 

You can stay put, but this world is still nomadic. I never quite realized how much.  I have lived as many lives, and have as many lost worlds, as if I had stayed on the move. Fourteen years, but I've easily been through four or five lives here, and they don't really intersect.

Facebook triggered this round of nostalgia. It's been good website for nomads - suddenly I'm finding people that I lost track of years ago. Maybe that's why it's become so insanely popular; we've all gone nomadic, and this is allowing us to reconnect. 

And I've been ok with this. Nostalgia isn't all bad.  And so I spent yesterday digitizing old photos, and I'll be putting them up online this week.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Chemical Burn

I see this plant all the time at Home Depot, and thought it would make a pretty addition to my herb garden. Sure, they call it "rue" - but I figured, maybe the plant had just been saddled with a bad rap.

But no. The plant has fully earned it's name. Witness what it did to me:

That's a chemical burn caused by the above Ruta graveolens. Rue doesn't burn right away - rather, the oils get on your skin, and then intense sunlight will trigger it to bind to your DNA, effectively killing the cells.

Or, as the scientists would say:
One of the more dramatic, uncomfortable and persistent plant-and- skin conditions is phytophototoxicity. This can occur from skin contact with plants containing chemicals known as psoralens followed by exposure of the area to ultraviolet light. Psoralens sensitise the skin to sunlight and the phototoxic effects are due to ultraviolet-induced binding of these chemicals to nuclear DNA and subsequent cell death. Resultant skin damage can be severe (Lown and Sim 1978, Song andTapley 1979).

Phytophototoxicity. It's almost worth the burn to be able to say that.

Not that I knew all this off-hand. I just knew that somehow I had burned myself, and couldn't figure out how. It was a bit surreal, since generally these sort of things involve fire, or hot stoves, or other things that are hard to forget. Second-degree burns don't suddenly appear for no apparent reason, yet this one seemed to have done just that.

I looked up everything I could think of, and quickly ruled out fungus, staph, bugs, allergies and stigmata. I was stuck, and I had certainly never heard of phytophototoxicity. Nor did I think that my friendly neighborhood garden center would be selling plants that burn.

Then I found this anecdote on WebMD: The leader of a "Native American storytelling and crafts workshop" told a bunch of school children on a field trip that the Indians used to rub rue on their bodies to ward off mosquitoes. Since rue is from the Mediterranean it's a pretty safe bet that he totally made this up. I guess he figured, it kind of smells like menthol and couldn't hurt. The kids and parents dutifully smeared it over their bodies.

The article has photos of the results. Mystery solved.

Luckily the fake Injun didn't make tea for the kids. The Greeks did use rue medicinally - to induce abortions.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


It's Wednesday, and my weekend just ended. It was a good one.

Friday had sushi with Fred, John, Boyd, and Sumner. I was the kid at the table, allowed to join the grown-ups for the night. Afterwards we went to see Souvenirs at Diamond Head Theater. It was awful, and I left at intermission. It was a two-person one-joke play (a rich lady can't carry a tune, but thinks she's a diva) with a life-affirming message at the end about how being true to our dreams is important. I didn't need to stay until the end to know that - you could see the moral coming from five minutes into the play.

It was so bad that I actually went online to do some research, and to try to figure out just what the authors were thinking - and how it managed to make it to Broadway. Turns out it started as a lounge-type act, and I can see it working there. I don't know how anyone thought it would work in a theater.

I skipped the cast party at Town, obviously.

Saturday I went to Ozomatli with Ken Zen. We tried to recruit others, but the ones who were interested were broke, and the ones who had the dough weren't interested. Too bad; it was a fun show. Later we went to Ke Kai's for a night cap. It was dead: two transvestites, the bartender, two other male customers, and a mentally impaired guy who was the boyfriend of one of the transgendered ladies. One of the trans chicks danced on the bar for a bit, but that kind of thing sounds more risque in print than in reality.

This was not enough to make the bar interesting

Sunday was Swamp Romp practice. Allen had us run 1.95 miles (according to Google Earth) and I didn't die. That surprised me. My thighs still hurt. I did the first 1.6 miles in 17 minutes (that's a sprint in my book). The last stretch was on soft sand, and that was hard.

Later went to Hulas for one drink, which turned into more than one drink. Monday I behaved. Last night I went to Hawai'i Opera Theater for Puccini's Manon Lescaut, and honestly enjoyed it. The last two times I tried to go to the opera in Hawai`i I fell asleep, and I'd given up. My opera friends had told me that they refused to go with me again, anyway. This crowd doesn't know my history. I made plans to see Carmen in March with Ron, and Sumner might have an extra ticket for Abduction from the Seraglio ... it looks like I'll get a dose of culture to counteract all the circuit parties.

Julia Kierstine as Manon was the star of the show

Ron and I rounded out the night with a nightcap - or maybe five or six nightcaps - at his place. Our final drink was a thimblefull of Laphroaig - which is the single best whisky I have ever had, by far. A sip, and you could almost taste the wind blowing across the moor. It would settle in, releasing smoke and peat and whatever ice age elements were carried in the peat.

I will have dreams about that whisky

And that ended my weekend, just in time to get ready for the next. Since I overspent this past one, this one, I think, will be much quieter.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cha Cha Friday

Glad the weekend is finally here. I'll join one gang at Tokkuri Tei tonight for sushi, then heading to Diamond Head Theater after that for the Hawai`i premier of a musical I've never heard of. Saturday joining the surf crew for Ozomatli. Sunday is Swamp Pig practice. It'll be a nice and busy weekend.

And I couldn't find any videos of dancing Marines that were better than Old Jews Telling Jokes ... so cha-cha this:

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to Waste Public Money

Our Division of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) just printed up some nice shiny posters asking us to conserve energy. They're cute - the posters ask us to "Kill A Watt."

Meanwhile, the thermostat is set to 50 degrees and it's freezing and we've been complaining about this for a year but they can't seem to fix it. We've been emailing them and calling for months asking them to remove half our lights (we have close to 100 fluorescent lights, for an office of seven, and it's bright enough we should wear shades inside). Sometimes they tell us they're working on it, sometimes they just ignore us.

We're supposed to be saving money, and maybe even set a good example, the State is broke, and yet they're still spending more time and money on a PR campaign than in actually doing anything.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fast, Day 4: Breakdown

That didn't last long.

Yesterday at work was rough. Every time I passed the front desk my hand would reach out towards the cookies and chocolates and other snacks piled up. I'd catch myself mid-grab, and will my hand back. Gollum wants his precious, and all that. It had all become so automatic. Lesson 1 is, I need to eat willfully. Not eat on the run, and not snack on the computer, and not just grab a bit of everything I pass.

Last night I had a date with this guy, also a paddler, from Tahiti. I wasn't about to pass that up for a stupid fast, and my choice was either spend too much time explaining myself, or shut up and have a beer. I chose beer.

Today was the opening of the legislature. Speaker Say gave a long speech about how bad the economic indicators are. It's the worst he's seen in 32 years in office, and it's going to hurt. There was a nice Socialist subtext to a lot of his comments - we're all going to share the pain equally, rather than force it all on one group; we need to address land tenure issues here (yeay!); we won't cut the State workforce (super-yeay!) but we will be looking at cutting benefits (ok, something has got to go, but I still vote for furloughs), we need to confront the fact that the major land owners now live in the mainland and have no loyalty to the people here (viva la revolution!).

It would have been even more inspiring if it wasn't so difficult to stay awake while he talked.

Then, in a strange Hawai`i tradition, all the Senators and Representatives open their doors and serve lunch. All the little old ladies and country people line up outside each office to grind.

There were many fashion mistakes.

And I thought I was going to pass out from the smell of katsu and fried chicken and everything else wafting down the halls. I was ready to break for a plate lunch cart (no way could I wait in line), but luckily Allen seemed to know half the staff of Blake Oshiro's office (our new Majority leader), so we got in early. And I broke my fast; there was a table full of mochiko chicken, namasu, walnut mochi, tofu with bonito flakes - and I couldn't pass it up.

And so my waist remains x. I'm still in shock over that. I might stick with the mostly-vegetarian meal plan for awhile:

From the top: white beans in olive oil, green beans with rice, roasted eggplant, radish salad, watercress salad, carrots in yogurt and garlic, couscous, and pomegranate seeds from the yard. I can keep this up for awhile, as long as I make it to the Farmer's Market each Saturday.

It won't be cheap. This haul from Saturday was almost thirty bucks.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fast Day 2

Wow, I've been a spaz today. I channeled it, for once - filled up two more boxes for Goodwill; moved a shelf outside; removed all the louvers and washed them for the first time in many, many years; removed all the plastic from the windows (I put it up to keep the cool air in, but I never use the air-con these days); dusted ... I finally finished the "deep cleaning" that I keep talking about. I think I need to plan out more of these four day weekends. Three should be enough, but really, I think I need four a couple times a year. I use up all my vacation days traveling, and I forget how nice it is just to take one here.

45" 'til the sun goes down. I'm hungry!

It's amazing how long a day is when I'm not eating, snacking, or effin' off online.

Had Maika over last night for dinner. I warned him that it would be all veggie, no wine, and that some dishes were experiments. I don't think he was impressed. I tried to do a whole mix of mezes, and most were good individually, but they didn't all come together to make a meal. Others were awesome when I made them (Hamakua mushrooms in yogurt sauce, and roasted peppers in feta) but just so-so the next day. I'll keep experimenting.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fast 09, Day 1

I started a fast today. Bsic kind: don't eat sunrise to sunup, and stick to natural foods for meals. No corn syrup, processed food, hydrogenated oils, or meat. No snacking. Coffee in the morning, afternoon, and evening ... and that's it. No alcohol.

And I can't wait for the sun to go down. It's taking it's own sweet time.

I didn't take a fast last year, and kind of missed it. Paddling season got under way early, and I couldn't do it during the season. This year I need it. I've been picking up all sorts of bad habits, and I've been excusing most of them by saying well, at least I'm not smoking. But the past couple weeks it's been nuts. There are tons of snacks left over from the holidays at work, and I munch on those all day. Then I'm not even hungry for lunch, and don't eat a decent meal until 2pm or so. Meanwhile, I pound the coffee to keep going. I head home, but am not hungry because I ate so late. So I pour a cocktail. And since I haven't eaten proper food find that I'm smashed after one drink. Then I f' around online until it's time to go to bed. It's taken me three frakkin' weekends just to do a deep cleaning for the new year.

And each thing feeds into the next, and then the nicotine cravings came back hard and out of the blue. That was unexpected - but maybe this was all a build-up or a delayed reaction. I bummed a few cigarettes one night, and a few more a different night, then caved and bought a pack mid-week.

I'll fess up to that. I don't even want to print what my waist is right now. I'm still at 202 pounds, but since I haven't been going to the gym regularly since Rio I can't even claim oh it's all muscle. Cause it's not. Muscle doesn't jiggle like that.

So I need a radical break. It's like I gave up one addiction and added four others to replace it (chocolate, bourbon, coffee, & internet - I drew the line at crack whore), and then went ahead and added the original addiction back.

So it ends. Now. I went to the Farmer's Market and bought thirty bucks worth of veggies. I cooked up a bunch of mezzes and salads yesterday. We'll see how the week goes. I have two cocktail parties this week, so there will be some temptation along the way.

Sun is down. Dinner time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I just Obamaconized my ass.

Yeah, I'm bored tonight.

Cha Cha Friday

Just in case government is canceled tomorrow, I'll bring the dancing Marines out a day early:

At one a week the war might end before these run out, so here's another:


There are going to be winds gusting to 60 mph tomorrow. Civil Defense is on it! Public schools and the University will be closed, and the Gov is thinking about keeping all State Workers home. The announcement should come tonight (so, uhm, I guess I shouldn't be leaking that). And all I can think is ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Flying to Timbuktu

Sometime tonight (9 am Wednesday in the UK) Giles Cardozo and Neil going to drive/fly their skycar from London to Timbuktu. The skycar is a cross between a dune buggy and a paraglider.

Things don't get much cooler than this. If the US automakers had any soul they would be spending the bailout money on building these for us. The stats:

In “fly mode” the car will have:

  • a take-off speed of 60 kmph
  • a top speed of 110 kmph
  • a range of 300 km.
  • a cruising altitude of 2000 – 3000 ft
  • a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft.

In "road mode" the car will have:

  • independent 4 wheel suspension
  • rear wheel drive
  • acceleration from 0-100 kmph in 4.5 seconds
  • a top speed of 180 kmph
  • a range of 400 km.

Of course I want one, but the best we can do now is get a parajet Volution for 5950 pounds. That's a bargain, given that a frikkin' stand-up surf board is 1200 US, plus 250 for the paddle.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Cha Cha Friday: The Cupid Shuffle

I haven't posted any videos of dancing marines lately:

And they're almost as good as Mrs. Wong, a resident at the home Tom works at ...

Neighborhood Board 5, Season 2

We had our first meeting of 2009 last night, and our first peak at what the coming season might bring. It promises to be more of the same, really, but with a few new cases. I saw some of the same villains lurking in the shadows hoping for a comeback, an old ally returned but he might have crossed over to the darkside, and there are glimmers of hope that one infamous obfuscater might be changing his act and that another might finally be losing her grip.

We started off with the standard, repetitive, complaints that there are homeless living in the park near the rich people. Only it's not phrased like that. It's we are concerned with the public health implications of all those shopping carts and why doesn't the Department of Health do something about them? and What about the tourists? and (courtesy of MM, chest heaving like an aged Scarlet O'Hara) I am just ... worried ... about the maintenance ... of these public lands ... At least she didn't bring up the sacred trust of our beloved queen this meeting.

She's losing it. Even the cops stopped pandering and spelled it out to her and her cohorts: Being homeless is not illegal. And there were times when I heard the other Board members giggling over some of her more ... dramatic ... pauses. Ah, but we will still have a special Executive Meeting to address the homeless issue.

There was relatively little drama over the minutes, although, again courtesy of MM, we will have a special Executive Session to ... discuss ... some of the ongoing ... issues ... with the minutes.

Duke Bainum, who back-doored his way onto the City Council this election, came in person. I tried not to growl when he got up to speak. And at first it was all cliches and platitudes. He's honored to be here, he's humbled, he has a dream team behind him, he's ready to tackle the issues, he's going to drive me insane. I actually worked for members of his family once, and I thought he was one of the good ones (it was a bat-shit crazy and possibly corrupt family). Now I'm not so sure. But he actually addressed the issues with his election, and introduced a measure that would stop anyone else from pulling the same stunt. That was interesting. And he was pro-rail at one point, but then allied himself with the anti-rail people to get back into office, and then seemed to be backing off on that tonight. So: I don't know what to think of this guy now.

Charles Djou, City Council, replaced most of his staff. I don't know the back story on that, but his old staff mostly pandered to the LCD, and the new rep seemed to have his act together. I wonder if this means that Djou is cleaning up his act, and that we'll get less grandstanding and more actual work on the issues. I asked the new guy about Djou's proposal to start the rail project in town rather than `Ewa, and if this was more posturing or if he was serious this time. New guy assured me that this is a serious proposal.

Rail. The Stop Rail people were there. They lost the public vote, both their mayoral candidates went down, even the anti-rail politicians have been backing off (see Djou and , above), but no one actually believes that they're going to stop. Slater & Co. have too much money invested in privatizing our roads. They'll be billionaires if they can stop rail and built their HOT system (a private toll-road that will run above state roads). The only question was, where would they attack next?

Matson went off on a tangent about a sewer bond coming due. "Concerned member of the community" also had questions about the sewer bond. I had never even heard of this, and suddenly all the sketchy characters are talking about it. Then Matson tips her hand: She wants to know how the sewer bond might be affected by the proposed rail bond ... and there you have it. Tom-A-Hawk actually foreshadowed this (see comments on January 6: i've actually been convinced not to support light rail anymore when i look at how much money needs to be spent on infrastructure: keeping raw sewage out of the ocean ... keeping the lights on ...), and I didn't really know where this was coming from at the time. I still don't know how Slater's people intend to play this out, only that it will be another headache and will cost us a lot of money.

So, for a Season Opener, it was ok. We won't have the highest rated show on the island. If we can stop the divas from making themselves the center of every meeting and discussion we might actually get some work done.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Turtle Dreams

I went to a friend's going away dinner last night, and one of the guests happened to have her latest art work on hand. It was standard Wyland-inspired stuff: dolphins and whales and turtles back-lit against the sun (or flower of life, or rainbow, or something else similarly bright and shiny).

It was so Hawai`i; every other local artists paints the same motif. And yet, so not really Hawai`i. It's all images that they carried with them when they landed, rather than inspiration they took from the land or culture. In the end, almost none of us have actually swam with a whale. We see them breach from a distance. Dolphins are awesome, but in my experience pretty much indifferent to us. They come up, see what we're doing, and swim away. Sharks do the exact same thing. I've actually been bumped by sharks, and there's plenty of other stories out there, but no one ever talks about how they communed with the shark and how it was communicating ancient healing knowledge to them.

And turtles. Google turtles and symbolism and you hear that turtles are all about vitality and fertility and good luck. But once night in Micronesia I woke up to hear the women wailing. Someone had died, but we didn't know who. One of the girls, my hanai sister, had dreamt of a turtle, and it meant death was coming. Everyone just accepted this: the dream was real, the symbolism was uniquivocable: someone was going to die.

The next day we learned on the radio that one of the boys had fallen to his death from an apartment in Guam. There are only a couple hundred people from this island, and so I really don't believe in this stuff it was also too unlikely to be a coincidence.

I was a good boy, I oohed and aahed over the paintings with everyone else, and I didn't tell anyone what else the honu meant. Still, I prefer my art darker, or at least more complex and with more shades of meaning. I'll take Kamapua`a over rainbows any day.

above, from Solomon Enos's Gallery

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Turkish Veggies; Risotto alla Milanese

I’ve been doing pretty well in the kitchen since I came back. I did a week of plate lunches, drive-ins, and microwave cooking, and then reverted back to home cooking. I bought a mess of vegetables and some good olive oil, and have been experimenting with Turkish dishes. Turkish cooking reminds me of Japanese – both emphasize maximizing the base flavors of the vegetables The major difference is that Turks do this with touches of lemon, pomegranate, and olive oil, whereas the Japanese do this with soy, vinegar, and miso.

I’ve been really happy with the results. If I ever opened a restaurant I think I would focus on Turkish salads, beans, and vegetables. I think it’s one of the great undiscovered cuisines in the U.S.


Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook

Yemek Tarifi

Almost Turkish

This first one is pretty much like a bruschetta topping. I used too much pepper, so it was really spicy.

Kirmizi Biber Yemegi

(Red Pepper Paste; Binnur’s)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rice, rinsed, drained
  • 2 large tomato, peeled, diced
  • 1 Hawaiian chile pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp pomegranate syrup

Saute the onion with olive oil until it's softened. Add the red pepper, rice, tomatoes, chile, salt and pepper. Put the lid on. Do not open while its cooking. Cook for 20 minutes under medium heat. Turn the heat off, add pomegranate syrup, stir.

Sprinkle some chopped parsley all over. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dible is from the Black Sea region. It tastes good warm or cold.


(Green Beans and Rice; Binnur’s)

  • 500 gr flat green beans, cut 1.5 inches long
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup rice, washed and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute the onion with olive oil in a pot for about 2-3 minutes. Add the beans, salt and pepper, and cook on medium-low heat for another 5 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, place the beans in a circle around the edge of the pot. Put the rice in the hole in the middle. Now cover the rice with the beans. Pour the water in from the sides. Cover the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes. Make sure not to open the lid too often to ensure that the heat stays in the pot. Wait until the water evaporates. You can also let it cook a bit longer until the rice is caramelized.

This one is just delicious. I never peeled the potatoes, and that was fine. I liked it better cold.

Patates Salatasi

(Lemon Potato Salad; Binnur’s)

  • 2 medium waxy potatoes


  • 60 - 70 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • 2 fresh green onions, chopped
  • Some red onion, sliced

Boil the potatoes. Remove the skin and cut in medium sized chunks. Whisk all the sauce ingredients. Toss it with the potatoes while they are still warm. Sprinkle with fresh green and red onions.

I don’t know why this next one tastes so good; the ingredients are all simple. I also don’t know why it’s important to build the pyramid out of tomatoes and beans, but it is. I tried just cooking all of this together and it was average. The technique makes all the difference.

Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye

(Beans in Olive Oil; from Almost Turkish)

  • 1 kg green bean
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Snap off ends of beans. Divide into 2 portions. Leave 1 portion whole. Cut remaining portion into 3-3 1/2 cm long chunks. Place 1 whole tomato in center of a shallow saucepan. Arrange whole beans around tomato, side by side. Spread cut beans over. Sprinkle with garlic cloves. Top with thinly sliced onion and tomatoes. Seasons with salt and sugar. Add olive oil and hot water. Cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; cool. Turn up side down on a serving plate.

Serve cold.

I also made my first risotto a few nights ago! This wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, though it took a long time to find all the right ingredients.

Risotto alla Milanese

(House and Garden, 1962)

  • 1 marrow bone
  • 5-6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup sherry
  • 6 cups stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Saffron
  • Parmesan cheese

Soak marrow bone in warm water until the marrow is tender and can be pushed out in one piece. Poach the marrow in 2-3 cups water. Save stock. Make another stock out of the bone. Save.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet. When it is bubbling, add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes; do not allow the onion to brown. Add the rice and stir it well with a spatula; do not allow it to color. Be certain that the onion and rice are well coated with the butter. Add the sliced marrow; then add wine & cook until wine is almost gone.

Add sherry and ¼ cup stock. Let each round of stock cook away before adding more, ½ cup at a time. As the rice becomes tender, stir it with a fork to keep it from sticking to the pan (I stirred with a spatula the whole time; maybe that’s why I needed 6 cups of stock and not the 3 cups the recipe called for).

When the rice is done, Add salt and a couple big pinches of saffron (House and Garden says to add “a touch” – but what’s the point of that?). Stir 3 tablespoons of butter and a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve at once.

For the leftovers, form them in patties and fry in oil or butter for riso al salto.

House and Garden says to add sliced white truffles when serving. That was a bit beyond my budget. I'll save that bit for if I have a hot date I need to impress.

I bought organic “beef broth” at Whole Foods and it was vile. They almost won me over by having marrow bones at the butcher. It worked out in the end, because my improvised marrow stock worked really well. So, this is the recipe as I cooked it, and not quite as the book called for. I’ll do it my way next time too.

Fire on the Water

So for those of you who ask, "how was the cruise?" - my answer is:

There were girls ...

... and more girls ...

(none of these photos are mine, by the way; I took them off the firewater webpage. I'm still waiting on photos from our crew)

... and one drunk twink doing a strip tease to Britney ...

... which would have been more appropriate if the dj's hadn't actually been playing hip-hop all night. Britney was only in his mind.

There was also a band, but I only passed them once on the way to the upper bar:

There were lots faux-hauks on the dance floor. I think these are the promoters.

Then there were guys like this on deck:

We spent most of our time on deck.

Oddly enough, these guys seemed to have been scoring more with the girls than the faux-hauks. "Wee hoo fuck yeah!" must be some kind of mating call that only straight people can understand. And for those of you who have fantasies about what you can do with straight boys when they get drunk ('cause three people have already asked): yeah, some of the guys were getting a bit close and really kind of touchy by the end of the night. Their breath smelled like fresh vomit. It was eau de pas de chance, and not my fantasy. We went to Fusions to dance the rest of the night.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lonely Voices

Nino and I went to check out an open-house this weekend. We knew the Realtor, and Nino is thinking about moving back here. The whole thing was a bit surreal and sad. The bedroom window opened directly onto a parking lot and the front window onto a dirty pool with a cement deck. There were no other windows. The place was small and dark and 400 thousand dollars. It's for the location! said the Realtor. Perfect if you want to buy it and flip it! He added.

I don't know if he even believes his own words. At one point I thought these guys who were treating land like a commodity were the enemy. They were doing incredible damage to real people, all in the quest of the almighty dollar. Now they're suffering, and they're bringing us all down with them, and yet they're stuck on repeat, desperately trying to make a buck in a system that we all know now was flawed.

There was an article in the New York Times today that mentioned the 'lonely voices' who warned that all this speculation on housing wasn't sustainable, and that we were heading for a crash. Just for the record, I was one:

April 2006

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.

The real estate boom [and coming bust] is having a real impact. Towers for the rich are going up everywhere. 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 homes for the elderly and low-income citizens, 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.

April 2007

This weekend I saw that the homeless colonies are back all up and down the Wai`anae coast. They've also moved back into Ala Moana Park. There are small camps all along the bike paths between my house and downtown.

And the focus of our government is all on building Trump Towers in Waikīkī and condos for millionaires in Kaka`ako. The Senate just refused to reconfirm the Chair of our Department, in part due to revelations of unethical backdoor arrangements between Title Companies and the Bureau of Conveyances. And though I initially supported him, I have a simmering anger about the endless Land Crimes being committed in our state, and in the end I agreed with those who said that he had to go. We have an economy based upon land speculation, a government funded by realtors, and a system where indigenous people are forced off their land to make room for time shares and condos and resorts.

I know things need to change.

Jan 2007

There is no recourse. The system guarantees that the poor and the working class will get screwed when it comes to land. I don't have a strong enough economics background to know what the solution is, but I do know that things have to change before we all end up homeless and living on a Wai`anae beach.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Well, that wasn't so bad for a year that the astrologers said was gonna be hell. I had a pretty good time of it. Bite that, stargazers.

I was pretty low energy my first week back, but still managed to pull off a decent party that Friday. I think we had thirty to forty guys. It was low-impact: I put up some lights, cleaned the bathroom, and bought a couple cases of beer. Haulani had hers too, and though we were hoping the crowds would merge they never did. My crowd all left by midnight to go to Hulas.

Next up was Fred and Boyd's party. This year Nick and Greg hosted, and their house was mid-century gorgeous. I still don't know how people make enough money to afford places like this. I mean, I think I have a decent salary and I struggle here. You could quintuple it and I still wouldn't be able to afford some of these houses. But I'm happy to be a guest, and they were great hosts and the bartenders were cute and poured me a martini just the way grandma used to drink them - on the rocks and with plenty of vermouth - and didn't blink or make nasty comments. So, yeay. All the gay boys left at midnight to go to Hulas ...

Ah, but the economy and the credit crunch and blah blah blah - this would be the only house on the hill I would be invited to this year. Either the men who live in big houses weren't having their parties this year, or they weren't inviting us working folks. Honolulu club life has sucked for years, but at least we had a great house party circuit ... or so we told ourselves.

Did a North Shore party at Ruby's, and that was fun. The gay guys went to a party in Kahala that I wasn't on the list for, and then all went to Hulas ...

Yes. There is a pattern here. You can be at a fabulous party here, but most of the gay men will make a break for it and head to Hulas, the same tired bar they go to every weekend. And when you ask how it was, the answer is always "it was ok" or "it was fun, I guess." It's not like everyone is making a break for somewhere fantastic. I don't get it, and it's been like that for close to a decade. Gay men like to tell themselves that they have more fun than our straight counterparts, but they're lying to themselves. Or maybe they believe it, and are just deluded.

And so we come to New Years. A few guys suggest doing the Firewater Cruise. I say yes. They back out. Everyone was waiting to see if someone would throw a party, or if a better offer would come along. None did. And so they all either stayed home, or went to H. Ugh. The boat was Steve & Tetsuo, Francisco, Jason (from Austin), Ruby, Sebastian, and their North Shore crew. The rest of the boat was a mix of thugs (there were lots of neck tattoos) and cute young twenty-somethings. The music was awful, there was lots of puking in the bathroom, there was a little bit of unexpected and inappropriate tongue action from some quarters but I was feeling good and did not toss him overboard, and we had fun.

Went to Fusions with Francisco and Jason afterwards, and there the music was good for once and it almost felt like the old days (not so many years ago, but it already feels like a lost age). Walked on the beach 'til we were sober to drive, and called it a night. It was good - the best NYE I've had in awhile, actually.

Nino is in town for a few days, Steven K comes in next week, and Gary comes in mid March. I've budgeted for Black Party at the end of March & it looks like I can pull a whole week in New York City then, so I'm feeling pretty good right now.

My New Years Resolution was to clean no more, and to hire a maid service. And ... that is out of my budget, so here it is day 2 of 2009 and the only resolution I made is out the window.