THE FIRST YEAR
tales from the year of the ox
He said: The way out is via the door,
how is it that no one will use this method.
in the beginning
livin' on the easy
009 and the four voices
within you, without you
consider the lilies of the field
trying to get to heaven before they close the door
okage sama de, genki desu
from the mountains to the ocean, from the windward to the
back in the saddle again
Commencing October 8th, 1997 ...
I left the apartment at about 5:30, slipping an envelope with the keys
under the resident manager's door, and walked over to Magic Island to
await the sunrise. Early fishermen were already out and soon a touching
older couple made the rounds of all the cats, giving each a spoonful of
something from a bucket. The cats all know them and went running, not
Waikiki makes a kind of (very tacky) Stonehenge. Over a period of time
one could undoubtedly observe the movement of the sunrise depending upon
the towers. From my spot this morning, the Rainbow Tower at the Hilton
blocked the sunrise until 6:59, but I didn't feel it was appropriate to
change location when I realized that would happen.
I went to the University to check email, then Nathan picked me up to join
other onliners for lunch at Dixie Grill. I had two chores to do after
that, was quite hot and steamy by then, so took the bus back to Ala Moana,
had a shower, slept for awhile on the beach and then went splashing in the
Pacific. Had another shower, that time with a quite cute Filipino fellow.
Because it was still so steamy, I decided on one of my valley expeditions
... take a valley bus and ride the circuit. Last week was Pauoa Valley,
today Manoa Valley. Then back to UH to feed my cat, Chloe, and visit with
her, some web work and email ...
Some fine tuning is required. I immediately dropped off two tee shirts in
the file drawer a friend at UH has given me as a locker ... silly to carry
things around unless I need them that day, since I can access the locker
any weekday. Replaced some large size items (deodorant, soap, etc.) with
"trial size" equivalents. The main objective of the day was to become as
lightweight as possible. However, the rice bag has to go. It doesn't
maintain its shape so everything tends to settle into a lump in the
bottom. A small backpack is in order when possible (and will be more
fitting "attire" on campus, where everyone carries one).
All in all, not a bad start but nothing to be overly proud of, either. The
dawn, however, was indeed quite beautiful so it was a difficult act to
I had been asked in the late afternoon what I planned to do for the night
and answered, truthfully, that I hadn't a clue. When I left Hamilton, I
walked through the side streets of Moili'ili, past the brightly
illuminated Convention Center, giving me my first glimpse of its cavernous
interior, and on to Ala Moana. Took the bus over to Kapiolani Park,
having decided to see what Waikiki itself was like during the passage of a
I wandered from the Natatorium to the Duke's statue and
back, stopping in different locations and lingering for an hour if there
was no reason to leave sooner. Some are sheltered and have sufficient
light for reading, so I continued the Rudolf Steiner lectures on morality
which, with the sound of the waves in the background, provided an
especially rewarding hour.
Less exalted, but pleasurable,
adventures occurred during the course of the night, some of which are as
well left undocumented. I wouldn't want to spoil the pleasures of
nightlife in Waikiki. Only once did I abandon a spot early because of the
clean-up effort directed at the infamous banyan tree rats.
struck by the fact that St. Augustine's was dark and padlocked while the
ABC store in front of it was brightly lit and open until an early hour.
Jack in the Box and Denny's by the zoo stayed open all night.
There is a large population of homeless people not seen during the day who
appear along the beach in Waikiki, especially after three in the morning.
I only heard of one troublesome incident, when a black man tried to rob a
crippled man near the Queen's Surf Pavilion. Trying to rob a man who is
both homeless and crippled is really pretty low.
At around 4:30, I
left Kuhio Beach and walked over to DeRussy Beach where early risers were
already beginning to jog. The sprinkler system along the beach goes off
with a vengeance just after five, leaving all benches no longer
Calling it a day and a night, I caught the early
airport-bound bus back to Ala Moana where this first 24 hours of the rest
of my life (as they say) began.
Standing on the beach at Waikiki, facing the ocean and looking directly
upward, if Orion is at the eleven o'clock position in a clockface
superimposed on the sky, then it is almost time for the first bus to leave
Kapiolani Park for the Airport. Who needs a watch when the sky tells you
it's 5 a.m.
Unfortunately, having neglected any sustained observation of the sky
during my years here, I have no idea of the seasonal shift and could end
up missing the bus.
The weather gods turned the night into a soggy mess with a series of heavy
downpours and one spectacular display of lightning and thunder. The
deluge did not arrive before my visit with Chloe, for which I was
grateful. It is a delight to watch the continuing transformation of her
personality and her increasing courage in exploring new territory. Already
I feel certain that, no matter how anything else evolves, it was the best
thing that could have happened for her.
The mind suddenly having been freed of thoughts related to the apartment
leaves empty space which thoughts from people I've regarded as my teachers
are rushing to fill. Castaneda's discussion of "a spot" is one of the more
immediately relevant ideas to surface from memory, and certainly a top
priority is to locate the right "spots". One was easy, the shower at the
Ewa end of Ala Moana Beach Park. It has a regular, friendly clientele
most of whom make use of it in the immediately pre- and post-dawn hours.
It has a safe, comfortable atmosphere where there is no feeling of
uneasiness about brushing teeth and shaving or washing out a shirt or pair
of shorts. The cleaning man, also very friendly, arrives at eight so it is
necessary to be finished by then and to postpone any plans to use it until
he has completed his chores. Otherwise, it is open and hospitable 24
hours a day.
I've tried a number of locations on the beach but don't feel I have yet
found THE spot there. By 5:30 in the morning, there are already 20-25
people in the Ewa end area ... some who make that their permanent location
and during inclement weather use the covered patio of the concession
stand, some who (like I) arrive from wherever and however they have spent
their night, shower, and settle down to sleep for awhile on the beach. The
joggers and surfers are next to arrive, then the lifeguard crew, the
cleaning crew, and then finally, the tourists. If not raining, that is
the best place to sleep that I've found and is very quiet and peaceful
When I was researching this via observation during the past few months, I
became convinced that the best plan is to stay up all night and adjust to
sleeping in a series of naps during the day. The change creates a severe
case of jet lag and I shall be very happy when the adjustment is
completed. I had my first encounter with the Law early this morning. I
had taken shelter from the rain at a covered bus stop on Kuhio Avenue near
the Regent. A young policeman in a scooter pulled up and told me "You
can't sleep here, it's a bus stop". I did not point out the fact that I
was not sleeping, that it was obviously a bus stop but there were to be no
buses for another three hours, or to ask if he had noticed other bus stops
around town, most of which are inhabited by sleeping patrons after
midnight. I just said "ok" and he went on his way.
As you'll see, these initial impressions of the Honolulu International
Airport soon changed.
If there were a Panther's guidebook called Homeless in Honolulu,
the Honolulu International Airport would rate four-and-a-half stars. It
would get the full set of five except that having a shower there would
cost $7.50, and there is no laundromat (an enterprise I suspect would make
money were someone to start it). The airport is open and active 24 hours
a day although departing flights between the hours of 1am and 5am are few,
so the main terminal area stays relatively quiet. No one is hassled for
taking possession of a bench and sleeping the night away. One man was
asleep when I got there shortly before 1am and he was still asleep when I
left at 7am. A sound sleeper, he was. I embarked upon one short nap and
was definitely awakened from it when a Philippine Airlines 747 pulled up a
few feet from my ear. I tested both sleeping options, the plain wooden
bench and the molded plastic seating modules. Preferred the plastic.
I didn't actually sleep very much, sticking to my plan to go
nocturnal, but appreciate the option and the hospitality shown by the
airport staff. I think it's highly appropriate, too. If this is the
"Land of Aloha", then surely its main point of entry should be a Temple of
Aloha, and it is. The restrooms are far superior to any public facilities
in town and are numerous. Only a small snack bar remains open throughout
the night, and the coffee is just under $1.40 a cup, reasonable by airport
standards and decent enough coffee (if not as good as that available from
the UH vending machines).
Japanese tourists begin to arrive around
4:30 for the first two large departures on JAL, along with a mixture of
tourists headed for Bali on Garuda Airlines. That 747 was so crowded I
wondered how an island as small as Bali could absorb such an instant
A young departing Japanese fellow named Taisho sat and
chatted with me before his plane boarded. He loved his first visit to
Honolulu and wasn't deterred by the absolutely wretched weather we have
had for the past three days. He was eating what seemed to me a very odd
breakfast composed of various bits of fish, some tofu and
cole-slaw-looking stuff in little cups. I said the fish smelled good, and
he offered me a piece of it. Strange breakfast, delightful breakfast
companion. I took his photograph with his homeward bound plane in the
background, and we bowed to each other several times as he took his leave.
I notice the Japanese tend to suppress the bow while they are here, but
seem to actively resume the custom once on their way home. That's good to
see ... I think it is their most charming social asset.
Library has a copy of one of my favorite books, the Analects of
Confucius, translated by Ezra Pound. One that rang true immediately
and has never left me is "have no twisted thoughts". My thinking got very
twisted for a time yesterday and I'm grateful for a pleasant night at the
Honolulu International Airport which, along with many wonderful tracks
from Israel Kamakawiwo'ole which were played during it, helped get the
thinking back to at least a less twisted state.
An airport is so
completely artificial, such a monument to technology, that it nags at me a
bit to feel it a place to be at this time, when romantically I envision
life under the palms with the surf lapping at the shore to be the setting
for whatever this process is. I enjoyed the synchronicity of reading
Jonathan Cainer's weekly forecast which casts the current astrological
scenario in technological metaphor and seems, not for the first time, to
mirror my own speculations.
Rating the quality of living on a scale from zero to 100, with zero being
dead and 100 being Nirvana, the past 48 hours have wildly oscillated from
about a 5 to a 90, often within the same hour.
I described elsewhere one of the experiences in the 90's:
Last night I took the bus over from Ala Moana to Kapiolani Park. When
I got off the bus there was an acute triangle in the sky to the south,
pointing to the ocean. It was formed (I discover) by Venus as the point
of the arrow and two stars in perfect position to complete the arrowhead.
Following a line back from the point of the arrow midway through the line
formed by the two stars, straight as an arrow, was Mars, with the Moon
just behind. I sat and watched it until the arrowhead sank into the
Just the triangle itself had resonated for me because I
had been thinking during the afternoon of the Rosicrucian mind-body-spirit
triangle, and the heavenly triangle seemed to be a sign that I was on the
I've read enough psychiatric literature to know how
to diagnose the miraculous as the pathological, so no one needs to do it
for me. But I have long accepted the fact that there are no accidents.
None. It is the basic premise of my way of living and has been for thirty
years. Thus even tiny, seemingly insignificant events form pieces of the
overall picture and, during a time of such radical self-examination or
"pilgrimage", often suggest courses of action or provide encouraging
nudges that things are going well.
I wanted to get a large ziplock bag. The shorts I wear in the ocean
frequently do not get fully dry by the time I am ready to leave the beach
and I needed something less bulky than a plastic shopping bag to wrap them
in. I didn't want to spend the money on a box of the bags, though. So
when I discovered a new, unused ziplock bag just the right size under a
bus stop bench, it gave me a smile, indeed.
But there have been times in the past two days when I couldn't get a grip
on my thinking and didn't seem to be doing anything right. There is a
very great difference between having very little money and having no money
at all. The latter condition interferes far more than it should with my
internal balance, which is thrown even further off when I get annoyed with
myself because it is making such a difference. Yes, it is delightful to
have a cup of coffee while sitting under the stars at the Manoa campus,
but it is hardly a necessity of living and a cup of water should serve the
same purpose, without the need for fifty cents. That it didn't irked me
And also most irksome is the constant emphasis on self which this life on
the road seems to encourage. The mind is churning away full speed, freed
from the concerns of a householder and lacking the constant stimulation
and diversion of electronic toys and games, but so much of it is aimless
inner-chatter which eventually gets to be extremely boring and
For some days now, I've had the feeling that there is one book in this
library which I should be reading. I have visited all the old favorites,
and have wandered up and down the stacks looking at the titles, waiting
for one of them to beckon. It will happen.
Late in the afternoon, about an hour before it was time to go listen to BB
Shawn, I suddenly felt just awful, mentally and physically, the worst
moments of this trip thus far. Shawn and his wonderful music, followed by
Harold and his wonderful music, the company of excellent people, and yes,
even a few glasses of beer, pulled me out of it. But I was left feeling
drained and exhausted, collapsed into sleep in the back seat of D's van.
It was time for a recharge of the batteries.
This is being revised the following day. Too much was being thought,
and even worse, being written about, which is irrelevant. All that
matters is now.
Whether to write about the external journey or the
internal one ...
In the early 70s, at the beginning of my first
India journey, a long-time friend wrote and advised me "don't look for
results too soon". It is only one of many parallels between that trip and
It is an artist's duty to challenge.
wrote that in notebooks kept while in the Himalayan foothills and in later
years it became amplified, perhaps overly so at one point, by Gurdjieff's
thinking on the subject. Of course, it is oneself that first and foremost
must be challenged. One of the most irksome things about some people's
thinking is how they interpret this as my trying to force them into
"rescuing" me or feel I am sitting around expecting people to help. I
don't need rescue. Support and assistance is most gratefully received, it
makes this process so much more comfortable, but I do not expect it and I
do not want anyone to feel they are obligated to provide it. Indeed, I do
not want it if they are giving out of a feeling of obligation. I am not
afraid of being cold or hungry. I am not afraid of dying, why should I
fear discomfort? I am prepared to accept each challenge of this trip and
hope to learn from each, and I am prepared to endure the moments of
weakness or twisted thinking which have been scattered through this first
Just after midnight, like a cat appearing to a flock of ground doves, a
security man approached all the "residents" at the airport and told us no
one could remain in that area who did not have a ticket. This is in fact
the rule, as a sign clearly states at the security checkpoint. It is
supposedly for "security reasons" which makes no sense. People lurking in
the outside area who have not gone through the security check, it seems to
me, could be far more of a threat. In any case, he delivered his message
and went on his way. The more veteran among us watched until he was out
of view and went back to sleep. There was no further mention by anyone of
To continue with this on a "first level reality" basis, I slept until
about 5:30, washed and shaved, and took the bus back into Waikiki. An old
friend sent me $100 yesterday with instructions to use it for food, so I
continued the process begun yesterday of following that condition by
having breakfast at Smorgy's which provided the best cup of tea I have had
in some days. I then went back downtown and, using another "grant", paid
the LavaNet account for two months, then went to the Federal Building and
applied for a card to replace the Social Security card which has long been
missing. In true "federal" style, that took two hours, so I decided to
postpone the challenge of acquiring a state ID card and returned to
Waikiki, went sailing with the delightful Captain John on the catamaran
John washed people's feet (pouring water on them from a
jug) once we were all on board. The symbolism was delicious. The voyage
was, as always, a pleasure, Molokai was clearly visible and for the first
time I saw Lanai which has always been obscured by haze before. A
Then I stopped in Moose's for a couple of
beers before coming up to the Coffee Cove, the net cafe, because I wanted
to write this without competing with students at Hamilton where it is
often very busy at this time of day.
That much can be left
from yesterday's scribbles.
The evening was spent looking at
some books which have recently been recommended by readers of the Tales
and continuing to look for that book which will somehow tell me itself it
is the one. One did today, at the Honolulu Bookstore. Samuel Weiser has
reprinted Aleister Crowley's translation of the Tao Te Ching, complete
with the hilarious photograph of Aleister in the guise of the Happy
Buddha. That certainly merits re-reading, but I'm not paying $12.95 for
Last night at the airport, the same midnight ritual
was repeated. The security guard (a different one) actually made two
young fellows from New Zealand leave the area. They had been staying
there for the last three nights, and I think they were asked to leave
because they had gone a little too casual about it, shirtless and playing
cards. Whatever the reason, they did leave, but came back about 15
minutes later and settled down for the night as usual.
earlier explored the options should one night this peculiar midnight
ritual be repeated through the night. There is a small mini-hotel with
rooms for $30 a night but it is usually full, and there is one last bus
back to Ala Moana at 1:25am. But outside the terminal I discovered a
small army of the homeless. I've not seen anything like it since Delhi,
and it is understandable why they are exercising at least some control
over the interior terminal. I am not sure why I have been allowed to join
the "elite" who gain the inner sanctum, but it would not overly distress
me if I had to relocate outside, so that concern was put to rest.
I took an early bus into Waikiki and ate again at Smorgy's, haven of the
affluent homeless. At all-you-can-eat for $5.20, it is probably the best
bargain in town, and with discreet use of ziplock bags one could even take
away fruit, bread, etc. for snacks later in the day. I get more than my
value for money from multiple cups of tea which would cost me 75-80 cents
I left my backpack in a locker at the airport so
as to be unburdened for Genoa and Willie this evening, and it is
delightful to walk around empty-handed with nothing slung over my
shoulder. I can sympathize with the more radical members of the community
who carry nothing with them.
After rain showers earlier, it was
splendid at Magic Island and the shade from a large bush made a most
excellent place to add a few more hours of sleep. That I woke up
pondering the fact that I don't believe "in the beginning was the Word"
and that only after that came the Light just goes to show how silly I'm
still being. Be here now ... and wave to Richard Alpert.
Thursday evening I went to hear Auntie
Genoa Keawe and then on to Willie K at the Pier Bar. I managed to
catch the last bus back to the airport and when I got there, they wouldn't
let me into the inner terminal. I explained that my bag was in a locker
and I'd just like to get it out. The gateman let me through, but when I
couldn't immediately find the slip of paper with the locker combination,
he made me leave. This man, Spencer Springer, is a Man With an Attitude
Big Time (his initials are really appropriate for him). Even when I found
and showed him the paper, and even though the locker was right there by
his gate, he wouldn't let me back in. He wasn't too bright either,
suggested I used the locker so often I should remember the combination.
Duh ... like it doesn't change each time it is used?
So I spent
my first night in the outer terminal, without my long-sleeved shirt.
There's little difference between locations, aside from having no
all-night snack bar for expensive coffee. As has been my habit in new
places, I stayed awake to check it out rather than joining the army of
sleeping realists, with four hours to do "nothing" but look at the night
sky, watch the infrequent activity going on around me, and think. I
remembered Crowley and other guides cautioning that anyone on a pilgrimage
absolutely must "obey the laws of the land". Wise advice. I decided I
would in future remain in the outer terminal between the forbidden hours
of midnight and 5 a.m.
The following morning at five there was
something of a mass movement as people relocated once the security gates
opened to the ticket-less. I wondered why everyone got up so early to
move. I found out the next night when I did sleep in the outside area.
For some reason, the guards make the rounds at 4:30 a.m. and wake
everyone up. No idea why. I picked my spot near the United Airlines area
since they didn't have a flight scheduled until 8 a.m. and it seemed
likely to remain quiet longer than other areas, but the mass wake-up call
made the choice irrelevant. Perhaps they don't want departing Japanese
tourists, the first to arrive in the mornings, to see the Delhi-like
spectacle of dozens of people sleeping on an airport floor? If I ever
find a friendly member of the guard brigade, I'll ask.
terminal provides everything that is needed for a safe, sheltered sleep so
unless conditions change, I shall abandon my plan to remain nocturnal. It
is too difficult to find quiet places to sleep in the morning, especially
if the weather is bad. The short night-time sleep in the outer terminal,
supplemented by brief daytime naps, will suffice.
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 09:06:46 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Bold chicken
At approximately 10:30 a.m., Hamilton Library Time, Panther shall sit on
the steps, peel a sun-ripened banana, and eat it. This tribute to Andy
Warhol, Robert Indiana, the Velvet Underground, Lintilla, Helen, KM and
the inventor of the banana-ripening machine may appear at:
Should the cam not be functioning, I am sure the banana will nevertheless
be an excellent mid-morning snack.
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 10:48:31 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Re: Bold chicken
: Camera seems to be off. Maybe they are doing backups.
Cheer! Banana was delicious, but. I was walking from DeRussy Beach, where
I'd gone to watch the dawn, over to Kuhio to catch the #4. Passed a bench
in the Magoon area and there was a nice big banana sitting on the bench.
Kept walking. Stopped, said to myself, what the hell are you doing, go
back and get that banana, or at least check it out. Did. It was a fine,
ripe banana. No idea why someone had abandoned it like that, but promptly
later ... on one more Saturday night ...
CHEER! It finally happened. I got bored.
What was so special about getting bored?
When I was contemplating and researching this path, I thought boredom
might be the biggest problem. With nothing specific that had to be done
and without the electronic toys formerly used to fill empty hours, I
expected to find myself frequently sitting in gloom wondering what to do.
It was almost a relief when that moment finally arrived. I regret to say
I used the same old ineffective remedy to get rid of it ... I spent money
to be distracted. But then every day I do at least one thing and later
ask myself "why the hell did you do that!".
No accidents. I cut my
finger on the lid of a cat food can. Now this may seem no more special
than getting bored, but it has been many years since I dealt myself a cut
on the finger or saw blood pouring down my skin. (Please remain conscious
at all times, Albert.) Luckily, I had packed a few Band-Aids in the bag,
and with a cute twist of fate, as I was leaving Hamilton Library for a
smoke break in the evening, there was a fresh, unopened Band-Aid laying on
the floor near the exit.
Then I lost my watch. Auwe! Some one of
me is pushing it. Most of us weren't quite ready for that step yet, even
if it was expected eventually.
Meanwhile, life at the airport
continues, although I am told there is a quiet effort underway to
eliminate the "problem" of the homeless there and some developments in
that direction may be expected very soon. I think this is unfortunate.
The vast majority of people seeking a place out of the rain to sleep at
the airport are among the "upper-class" of Honolulu's homeless. They are
clean, well-behaved, and try to find spots out of the busier traffic
paths. They get a dry place to sleep, whether a bench or a spot on the
floor, until that mysterious wake-up call at 4:30 am, and they manage to
get some sleep despite the unending muzak and other noise. They don't do
anything but sleep, unless engaged on a lengthy search for an open toilet
facility. (Several of the cleaning ladies have a knack of putting up a
"closed for cleaning" sign on their lua and the sign stays up all night).
My initial impressions of the Honolulu International Airport have
undergone some adjustment and I suspect they will be further adjusted in
the near future.
One thing it certainly is: an excellent
laboratory in which to study society's attitude to the "homeless". Perhaps
the most common myth is that homeless people stink. Now it is true, I
have met a few who do (and wondered why they didn't take advantage of the
numerous places to take a shower). But most of them don't, despite the
rather silly security man at the airport who always fans himself as the
homeless pass him. I've smelled much worse on the bus in the morning when
office-bound folks board the bus immediately after leaving their perfume
and after-shave bottles.
There is very clearly a prejudice
against the homeless and it is especially obvious at the airport. Since
many of the people who exhibit it there have shitty jobs with, no doubt,
lousy paychecks, it is perhaps more understandable there than when coming
up against the folks who seem to feel it is a threat against the very
fabric of civilization as we know it. Humbug.
At UH, the
unhurried search for that book I thought was waiting continues, even if,
after nibbling at a number of possibilities, I begin to think books aren't
the answer at all. It is somewhat like sitting in the library waiting for
people to stop using the two email terminals. Like me, they sit pounding
away on the keyboard making words, words, words. So many words, so little
to say. The books are all history, even the "cookbooks" for Stewed
Enlightenment. Krishnamurti lurks in the wings. I know I can wallow in
the warmth of his elegant thinking, his delicate manner of expressing the
beauty and simplicity of sensible living. In Kathmandu in the early 70s,
I welcomed every morning by sitting on the roof of the hotel awaiting the
dawn and, as soon as there was sufficient light to read, would attempt to
absorb a chapter of his, but the time isn't right just now.
is one corridor between stacks on the 2nd floor which is especially
loaded. On one side, Mesdames Blavatsky, Besant and Bailey cluck away
very near a huge collection of Edgar Cayce's utterings and when facing
them, it is almost possible to hear Crowley chuckling from the bottom
shelf on the other side. Sometimes I flee out of that particular area
without taking a book from the shelf, much less opening one. Other times,
a little ray of clear light shines from the denseness ... a tiny book by
Alan Watts discussing meditation is a special treat.
weeks of this change, I think the most difficult adjustment not only
hasn't been made but hasn't even begun to be made: ending the feeling that
it is necessary to be "doing something". Perhaps doing nothing is not so
easy after all.
Several readers of the Tales have
mentioned meditation. Except in rare circumstances, I have not made much
use of the classic forms of Eastern meditation. Repetition of a mantra in
the mind is a useful tranquilizer. Otherwise, I find myself trying to
shift levels of the mind via meditation, and trying gets me
nowhere. What works best for me is slipping into a special mode of
watching, just watching whatever is happening around me with the rating
mechanism turned off. It has led a couple of times to brief moments of no
thought, a happily refreshing experience.
This may not be a
different reality from that shared by people with fixed abode, but
everything is perceived differently. I'm still very much a tourist in it.
I had not stayed overnight in Waikiki for a couple of weeks, but did on
Thursday night. After Willie K's Pier Bar gig ends, dawn is not all that
far away, so I sat at various spots on Kuhio Beach. A policeman told
someone "You cannot sleep in the park. Sleep at a State park, like Ala
Moana". The City Council has passed a law against sleeping in parks? If
so, it is being applied in a blatantly discriminatory manner. Jetlagged
Japanese visitors are often seen sound asleep in the parks, on the beaches
and in hotel lobbies. And it is amusing that the City & County is trying
to herd the street people onto State-controlled property. They had so
thoroughly discouraged sleeping that few of the usual crowd were around.
Of the long-time veterans, only the lady who takes the bench by the Zoo
corner kiosk and the lady who sits across from Saint Augustine with
clothes covered in scribbled petitions were in their usual places.
A second night in Waikiki confirmed that impression. Some effort has
definitely been made to clear the main part of Kuhio Beach, and there are
few sleeping folks to be seen after the midnight hour. The police appear
to have decided to utterly ignore the stretch between the Zoo corner and
Sans Souci. Maybe they worry that the gay community, which uses it for
early morning cruising, may be more vocal than the homeless community if
their playground is annoyed by policemen with nothing better to do? I saw
no police at all from about 1:30 to around 5 a.m. in that area.
The Orion clock is still functioning accurately. I had no other way of
telling time this morning but could tell from Orion's position when the
first bus to the airport was due (and to Ala Moana, where I was bound,
having foregone the airport for two nights in a row).
everyone else welcomes the weekends, but Friday and Saturday are my least
favorite days of the week. Hamilton Library closes at 5 pm, Waikiki is
far more crowded than usual and doesn't start to settle down until about
2:30 in the morning. On Friday, I went to the 10 pm showing of "Devil's
Advocate" (a rather silly film) and then wandered around the beach until
Orion struck five. Except for a brief rain shower, it was a beautiful
evening, leading to a clear dawn seen from Magic Island and a comfortable
morning sleep out by the lagoon.
The following night I went
directly to Magic Island at around 3-3:30 in the morning. There was
absolutely no one out there. I sat for awhile and marveled at the
multitude of stars which can be seen from there but are not visible amidst
the lights of Waikiki, but then began to feel totally spooked by the
solitude. If no one at all sleeps out there, is that a sign that it's
dangerous to do so? Certainly it is isolated and very far from any
assistance, if trouble did occur. Or does no one sleep out there because
there's little shelter if rain comes and it is a long walk out there? I
stayed nearer the brighter main part of Ala Moana (where there were only a
few people sleeping at the bus stop), remaining awake until the first
joggers arrived shortly after five. During that time, I saw no one come or
go from Magic Island, so could have had a nice quiet sleep out
The levels of this trip seem to be, first, the search for
food and shelter; then attention to a feeling that it is after all a
pilgrimage, even if I've no idea where I am bound or why, and thus some
kind of spiritual exercise should be involved (thus far that has mainly
been interior discussions about the whats, whys and hows); then the
ordinary tourist aspect of it, sitting in bars and chatting to strangers,
stuff like that; and finally, the underworld part of it, observing the
people who seem to be living only on a sensual plane, interested only in
gratification on that level.
I don't like the word "homeless"
continue to use it, and continue to ponder a structure which views the
homeless life as existing within four levels. More accurately, it views
my life that way since I am not a mainstream archetype of the urban
nomad and the patterns would no doubt differ for most homeless
The first level, Survivor, primarily involves the
search for food, shelter, clothing, toilets and places to wash. I have
thus far only experienced briefly being hungry and having no means to
purchase food. Rescue arrived in the form of the Japanese tour hostess
with an extra bento. Had she not arrived? Perhaps watch the tour group,
see who only nibbles at their bento, and retrieve it from the trash as
soon as the group departs. Starvation need play no role in this journey
but acquiring necessary food may be more time-consuming and involve some
adjustments in the concept of pride.
The search for shelter will
be an ongoing task due to the inconsistent behavior of the authorities,
making it difficult, if not impossible, to establish any set pattern. When
it is not raining, there is such an abundance of fine places the only
problem is deciding which. Finding pleasant dry places in the rain is a
more delicate task. Toilet facilities and showers are plentiful and
adequate, so the Survivor needs only to be patient in wet weather,
keep an eye out for free food, and maintain a watch on the few, but
convenient-to-have, possessions being carried. The Survivor also
has the task of conserving resources vital to its mission, but encounters
significant static with that task.
The second level of existence
could be called Pilgrim. Discussion of that level is the main
reason for writing this series. It is far more difficult than
Third, the Tourist in the Land of Urban
Nomads, continuing life on many fronts as if there had been no change in
lifestyle, sitting in bars and talking to strangers, going to UH to get
online, going to movies and reading books. It would be the easiest level
if a nagging voice from the Pilgrim would go away and bother
someone else. As the Tourist told him early one morning, throw all
that junk away, come join us, sit and watch. But at this stage of the
journey, the Tourist is almost always happy if there is money in
pocket and almost always miserable if there is not, and that earns him no
points with the Survivor and the Pilgrim.
level is the Underworld Dude's. It is there all the time,
the other levels, but sometimes dominates so strongly that everything else
is temporarily forgotten. In the external world, it can take the form of
watching two people have sex on the beach or saying good morning to the
young fellow at one shower who so enjoys displaying his ever-erect
equipment. Some of it is arousing and amusing, some saddening and
depressing, but only rarely does it offer an invitation to participate
rather than pass by as a neutral spectator. I have no complaint with that;
the invitations take so much energy, in deciding whether to accept or
decline, and in the followup to that decision, either way.
there is a real need, Survivor has the ruling hand, just as it does
for the man who comes to that shower to bathe, sees our exhibitionist
friend (not for the first time) and says "that's very interesting, but I
need to wash". It is a fine example of the general attitude of the urban
nomads. They are far more tolerant. The exhibitionist is tolerated
because he is a smiling, direct person who clearly enjoys making a public
display. If he wanted more than that, he would no doubt pick a different
venue and certainly a different time. He provides satisfaction on all four
levels for me: the Survivor needs to wash but doesn't mind the
entertainment, the Pilgrim sublimates himself with thoughts of adoring the
lingam and such, the Tourist is delighted, and the Underworld Dude's
is fed. And my regard for the Ala Moana Shower Club is increased by
observing their tolerance, patience and good humor.
The I who
exists in all four levels and yet has an undefined existence separate from
all sometimes gets caught up in one or the other, or in the interaction
between them, and forgets himself. But more and more, he becomes the
Watcher, watching the reality of the shadow of trees on a deeply
green lawn or watching the custodians of the four levels attempt to
manipulate the others to achieve what it considers the prime directive of
the moment. For the Tourist, that could be another beer, even
though the Survivor hisses warnings about how miserable life will
be again for the Tourist when the pockets become totally
A seeming gain for one level can increase the workload for
another, as in the remarkable increase in the ability of the
Tourist to fall asleep anywhere, anytime. The Survivor is
pleased with this, since sleep is vital to his mission, but is both
displeased and alarmed if the Tourist fails to curb the knack of
sleeping when the place and circumstances are of uncertain safety.
The Underworld Dude was content for the first month of
journey to remain quietly in the background, only occasionally exerting
influence on the choice of where to go and what to do. Only when the
comfort level of the Survivor had reached a level of
rare-nervousness did the Underworld Dude step out and play for a
hours and, eventually, an entire day. That so concerned the
Survivor that he brought on a physical fever, setting off an alarm
on all systems and chilling out the Underworld Dude. A similar
was sounded when an unexpected play area for the Underworld Dude
discovered on the university campus. After one interlude there, everyone
else joined forces to declare the area off limits in the longer term best
interests of all concerned.
After a month of the urban nomad life,
all four voices agreed that the best path to follow is the one that is
continuously being suggested by subtle and some not-so-subtle hints in the
immediate environment. A more delicate than usual state of attention is
required to notice those hints; they can't project over a mind set upon
getting from one specific point to another one or moving with some task in
mind. It is when walking "aimlessly" and paying attention that a slight
urge is noticed to turn this way or that, to head in a direction, to step
onto a bus, to sit and do nothing. Following those urges inevitably
provides the best for all four voices and thus for Albert.
Albert calls me the Survivor. It is not an entirely appropriate
label. Except for a very small, genetically-programmed segment of my
existence, I don't care if we survive or not. But unless Albert decides to
override that programming, my duty is to keep the physical organism in
good working condition by finding sufficient food, attempting to deny
excesses of consumption of anything, locating safe, dry and comfortable
places for sleep, and keeping an ever vigilant watch against possible
What he calls the Tourist is my greatest burden. The fellow is
basically irresponsible, a child who seems to think karma will forgive his
excesses and continue to somehow provide the basic needs for continuing
existence, few of which play a role in the Tourist's everyday concerns. As
Albert pointed out, the Tourist is almost always happy (or at least,
content) when there is money in the pocket, almost always miserable when
there is not, even when having no money does not actually interfere with
his enjoying his life as the Tourist.
The Pilgrim admires the Tourist's insistence on living for the day
with no concern for tomorrow. It fits the Pilgrim's desire to Be Here
Now, and challenges the Pilgrim to accept that all the spiritual baggage I
have been guarding for him is actually unnecessary, either to my mission
or to that of the Tourist and, indeed, unnecessary for the Pilgrim
himself, possibly even a hindrance to reaching his presumed goal.
I listen to the extended discussions between the Tourist and the Pilgrim,
frequently carried on while Albert sits alone with a mug of beer and an
occasional friendly word from a bartender as diversion from the continued
debate about our shared goal and the best way to proceed toward it. I
enjoy the discussions but inevitably we reach a point where the Tourist
does a quick analysis of expenditures, funds in hand, and expected
immediate expenses and decides to order one more. I quickly point out the
flaws in his financial analysis and urge caution, reminding him that his
inability to overcome his absurd descent into misery should at least
inspire some moderation, some saving of that one-more-beer for another day
when the money has gone and that beer would be a welcome antidote to his
condition of misery. He rarely pays attention to my argument, thus time
and again finds himself in the same place, having no money and remembering
the many occasions when he was stupid, overly generous, or greedy,
thinking how much he would now enjoy the money that was squandered. Time
and again ...
There is cause for optimism as a result of joining the League of Urban
Nomads; each cycle of having little or no money finds the Tourist more at
ease with the situation, less apt to sit and mourn the lack of a beer,
more willing to join in the spirit of the moment even if it may be totally
unlike what he would prefer. There may be hope for the fellow,
I am not sure Pilgrim is the right label. A pilgrim is generally
thought of as someone on a pilgrimage, traveling to some special place for
some reason. I, on the other hand, have no idea where I am going or why.
Like the other voices of Albert's life, I do have ideas about how. They
are not generally very popular ideas.
For example (and it's a prime one), I think Albert should stop smoking
tobacco. He has been doing it since he was 14 years old and knows almost
nothing about existence without it. It interferes with the task of the
Survivor in a major way, causing a constant and, from the survival
viewpoint, totally irrelevant drain upon resources. When he does not have
the money to buy cigarettes, he is reduced to hunting for viable leftovers
from sand-filled ashtrays. The Tourist encourages this activity,
having only enough sense of appearances to conduct the hunt as
inconspicuously as possible. He has already been overruled on the matter
of asking strangers for a cigarette; Albert has said no, that goes too
I have nagged and cajoled
Albert for many, many years. When he was still a child, I made him
eagerly await each monthly issue of "Weird", not so much for the stories
but for the lessons in mind expansion it gave. He'll never forget being in
bed after lights out, holding a large golden marble in the position of the
"third eye" and attempting to open that other means of vision. He may not
have found out for another 25 years what he was trying to see, but I laid
I am trying to lay the foundation for this new
trip, too, but the Tourist is, as usual, ignoring most of my ideas
and recommendations. I had a delightful victory earlier today when I
managed to get one dollar of the resources for photocopying pages of Ezra
Pound's translation of the Confucian Analects. The Tourist
countered with a four-dollar demand for refreshments to accompany reading
of the pages and the Survivor went tsk, tsk at both of us.
Tackling the Analects again after an absence of over 20 years is typical
of the strategy I have used. Once I had the power to direct exploration,
after the grandparents' and parents' power had waned, the first efforts
stayed within the Christian framework they had established. An attempt to
replace Southern Baptist with the Latter Day Saints was premature and was
overruled by the parents. They had some cause to regret that later; if the
Mormon influence had gained a foothold at an early stage, the rest of the
life might have been much different and would perhaps have been closer to
the ideal dreamed of by the parents. Learning from that early failure, I
was more careful a few years later when I contrived a conversion to the
Roman Catholic Church. Although that created a firestorm within the
family, even a formal disinheriting by the grandmother, it had been
promised that 15 would be the age of religious independence. The Catholic
church then still offered magic and mystery, the power of the Latin
language (also pursued in two years of schoolwork), the beauty of the
music, vestments and ceremony, the smell of incense and the stimulation of
the Church Fathers and their voluminous writings. Saint Augustine may have
years later yielded to Saint Theresa of Avila, but in those early years he
and Francis of Assisi were the revered icons.
In one wayward
experiment, I led an excursion into the very different realm of a
Pentecostal sect, where Albert marveled at a room full of people "speaking
in tongues" and eventually fell into a trance and rolled on the floor. It
was our sole experiment with Holy Rolling, abruptly ended when we moved to
a distant neighborhood. But it was especially memorable since it was one
of the few occasions Albert let go of the controls completely. Not even
LSD could manage that.
The Roman church has never completely lost
its power to interest, inspire and comfort, but the magic weakened so
strongly when the ancient Latin mass was discarded that it no longer had
any central role in my plans. It had already lost some of its influence as
the constant, voracious appetite for reading led into the later European
philosophers and then to Carl Jung and on to Eastern works, modern and
As a very young child, Albert lived in an environment
adorned with many beautiful objects from India, Burma and China selected
with naive innocence by the young father during his travels as a warrior,
supplemented some years later by similar treasures from Japan and Korea. A
special memory is of a child sitting under a round table, its three legs
shaped as elephant heads with an image of the Taj Mahal inlaid in ivory on
its top. It is a standard tourist-industry design these days, but only in
costly antique stores is there anything approaching the quality of
workmanship of that childhood shelter. That table and the other objects,
images of gods and silk flags bearing strange symbols, were sufficient to
create a desire to learn more about the aptly-named mysterious East, a
desire which is as strong now as it was in childhood, always greatly
helping me in my effort to grab some time and attention from the
Tourist and the Underworld.
Some years later, it was
an amusing and somewhat amazing discovery that there had been a flag on
the childhood bedroom wall which featured not only the yin-yang symbol,
but trigrams from the I Ching.
Corps de ballet eight rows deep in Head of Chi's courtyard. Kung-tze
said: If he can stand for that, what won't he stand for?
very good friend of the Tourist has written this
tale for him, so, with thanks to Kory K, the Tourist can sit back and have
a few more beers before trying to speak for himself.
... now where are those salmon buds???
Oh, hi. I guess you've all been waiting to hear from me. I'm the Tourist
as Albert calls me. Kinda like a cross between Cheech and Chong and the
John Belushi character from Animal House. Don't know why I'm actually
sitting down and writing this. Guess those other guys ganged up on Albert
and won't let him leave this terminal until I'm done with my part. Guess
the sooner I get this over with, the faster I can go outside and get a
That's one thing wrong with Albert being homeless. I can't sit in front
of that infernal computer and have a smoke or drink a beer. Too bad they
didn't have internet access at Manoa Gardens or Moose's. Actually Manoa
Garden wouldn't be the perfect solution. You can't smoke in that place.
Been having to go outside to enjoy my liquid refreshment in the
afternoons. Such a pity. Beer there is cheap too. Just four bucks for a
32oz bucket. Domestic of course.
Actually life with Albert hasn't been all that bad since we changed our
address. Thanks to a bunch of great friends and some unexpected "grant"
money life has been better than I expected since Mr. Pilgrim decided that
we needed to go on this little venture. Sure there are some times during
the month when I go a little overboard. Okay, every Thursday this
month... but a guy's gotta have some fun. I really can't help it
sometimes. With Genoa and Willie sounding soooo good these days it's hard
not to get caught up in the moment. And the beer at Moose's is only a
couple bucks each. So what if I indulge myself a little and order one or
five beers in the afternoon. Not like I've gotta go to work and face my
boss or anything.
I guess you've heard by now that everyone wants me to quit smoking.
Albert included. I don't know what the big deal is. We've been doing it
since we were 14. Why stop now? It hasn't killed us yet. Wish that we'd
budget a little more money for smokes. Can't stand that generic stuff.
Actually resorted to rolling a little left over tabacco I had in envelope
flaps while I was still at the home front. Wish I had that luxury now.
I've been having to convince Survivor to swallow our pride every now and
then when we run out of cigarettes and pilfer some of the good ones out of
local ashtrays. Kory K gave me a good hint so now I have two reasons for
following Japanese men around. [g]
Can't wait... Smoke break... Back in a bit.
[ ... ]
Okay, I'm back.
Albert keeps telling everyone that once he makes it to social security age
we'll be fine. Well that's a couple of years from now and I don't think
this is fine. Albert's pockets get empty too fast to let me enjoy myself
through the entire month. Haven't gotten way out there in a long time.
Well, out of town guests in this week and a couple of important birthdays
to celebrate. Maybe things will change.
Been sleeping a lot since the move. Letting those other guys take control
when we've been low on cash. Survivor always nagging me to slow down when
I want a beer and Pilgrim aways wanting to go sit out on the beach or
under a tree and ponder the meaning of life or whatever. Guess he's
trying to be Sidartha Gautama or something. Maybe we need to go back to
India and find a Bo tree so he can meditate and become enlightened.
Whatever the case, they can have Albert during the day... as long as they
let me come out and play at night.
Nights have been interesting since we started our journey. Most of the
time the others let me have some fun until Survivor pops in and tells us
it's time to go. I really wouldn't mind staying up near the Manoa area
but there's no real place to hang out there. I guess it's not much of a
college town. Nothing open around there after 2am. Not even a coffee
shop for the kids to study in. Strange campus that Manoa is. Especially
in the rain. [G] Wonder if I can convince Albert to tell that dude how
much we hate that song.
the underworld dude
He said: The proper man is not a dish.
These tales talk about sex. They are intended for adult readers,
but I very much doubt anyone sophisticated enough to find them
would be harmed in any way by reading them. Bored, perhaps.
Did these things really happen, or are they just fantasies? I'm not
Since I began these Tales, people have asked for more specifics or asked
what it's like to be gay or variations on themes with sex as the central
focus. With the exception of the Tale of the Japanese Garden, I've stayed
deliberately vague about it, not out of coyness but because writing
each of these Tales has involved a process of trying to write as honest
and candid an account as I can. To do that, I have to sometimes examine
my own motives or reasons for acting as I did or, in some cases, admitting
that I didn't then and still don't understand the reason. That process is
probably more difficult when sex is the subject matter than with any other
topic because I honestly don't know why with so much of it.
Despite all the volumes of writings on the subject, too many of which I
have read, I think much of it remains a mystery. Why, for example, am I
interested in seeing other men naked? It was a curiosity from as early an
age as I can remember. There are explanations about it being a natural
childhood thing, but few of my contemporaries seemed to share it. Later,
or perhaps even then, there is an explanation about male dominance, as if
there is some primeval law that says the man with the biggest prick is
chief. That one particularly doesn't satisfy me. I never felt superior
because mine was larger or inferior because it was smaller. But it did
matter on some level because in my younger years, especially in the Army,
I was always annoyed to have one of those which gets so small in repose
compared to how it looks after even a few tugs, and I did envy men who
could walk around giving a more accurate estimate of their full potential.
On the other hand, I was grateful not to have one of those long, floppy
types that hardly get any larger when aroused. It wasn't until I began
taking acid that I reached a more comfortable relationship with my body in
general and my penis in particular.
But my fascination with naked men has little, if anything, to do with
comparison. I like seeing men naked, I always have. I've never had the
same interest in naked women. It is a mystery to me, but I feel fortunate
that I've always been comfortable with it, never felt ashamed of it being
one of my interests. Some of my favorite friends were determined
heterosexuals who either knew or sensed that seeing them naked gave me
pleasure and were casual about sharing, both of us secure enough
in our friendship to know they were not just teasing me and
I was not going to misinterpret it as such or to ask for more than
they were willing to give.
I think that interest in seeing men naked is central to my sexual history,
although it is present whether I have any sexual interest in the man or
Certainly it was that which led to my first sexual experience with another
person. I was thirteen and was a member of the school choir. The boys
had one class each week without the girls and the classroom was a sort of
tiered amphitheatre with desks in front of each seat. The choirmaster
either could not see, or ignored, much of what went on behind those desks
(or perhaps did see and enjoyed it in silence). The older boys sat up in
the back rows and those of us whose voices still had not changed, or were
in process of doing so, sat on the sides. From my desk, I could clearly
see what a group of Mexican boys were doing and it often involved pulling
out their hard cocks and stroking them, and watching each other do it. I
was naive enough to think that was it, they just enjoyed watching. One
afternoon, two of them asked to be excused after a few minutes of their
play and one told me to follow them. I did, and when I got to the men's
room, they had their pants down around their ankles and were really
pumping away. They told me to join them, and when I did one of them moved
me into a stall, bent me over and slid it in me. I suppose technically it
was rape, because not only had I not asked for it, I didn't even know men
did such a thing with each other. And it hurt like hell. Fortunately,
the other boy was so aroused by the show that he shot his load before
trying to take a turn.
So that was my introduction to human sexual interaction and it wasn't
something I was eager to repeat. Until that afternoon, my only experience
had been with my best friend, Kenneth, and that usually involved standing
together in front of the bathroom sink pumping and seeing who could shoot
first. Kenneth was the only person I told about the Mexican experience and
we agreed that it was gross, although we both were intrigued by the idea
that people actually sucked on them and he had the advantage of
having once had a blow job. Even that we weren't willing to try.
I had a steady girlfriend at the time but the most she would let me do was
feel her breasts under her clothes and she would rub my cock the same way.
Any move to pull down my zipper, and she called a quick halt.
Those three early relationships form something of a pattern which has
often been present throughout my life. Casual encounters with a
dominant strange male, a comfortable and warm relationship with another
man where the balance is about equal, and a relationship with a female
where I am uncomfortable about how and how far to proceed.
The next scenario changed. We moved. My new girlfriend was bolder but
she, too, was terrified of getting pregnant and there was no question of
"going all the way". But she would jerk me off with her hand, or oil her
breasts and let me slide between them to orgasm. My best buddy, Terry, I
never saw naked. But I actually had better sex with him. I don't
remember how the habit started, but we used to remove our shirts, and take
turns rubbing each other's back. I invariably had an orgasm as a result
of his back rubs. He probably did, too, but we never talked about it or
said anything about wet stains on our Levi's. The pleasure of those
sessions stayed with me so strongly that I could not for many years get a
back massage without coming, something which greatly amused the masseurs
Having one close female friend and one close male friend continued for
many years. They almost always disliked each other; it was quite some
time before I discovered the added pleasure of having both in the same
bed. Gradually I began to rely more on the male friend for sexual fun
than the female. The male friend had the advantage. I was interested in
his body to begin with. Having sex with the female friend was more a
question of satisfying her demand, a way of getting closer to someone I
liked very much and to say thanks for being my friend.
I enjoy sex with a man more, even when it is a very one-sided
relationship. Many of my favorite lovers were men who would just hold me
while I reached my own orgasm after having satisfied them in whatever way
they liked best. I prefer that. Fucking a man is for me the same as
fucking a woman, I've only done it if that is what they wanted from me.
And I'd much rather be on the giving than receiving end of a blow job.
Those are aspects of my sexual preferences and tendencies I am comfortable
with, even if I don't understand them. I was never overtly "gay" in my
youth, never had to cope with any of the prejudices and problems such
people encounter, but I also never went to any special effort to conceal
it. My twenties, when I might have become involved in more exotic scenes,
were spent in two stable relationships. I've never actively participated
in gay organizations and except for one brief time in London, have rarely
made a predominantly gay club my main place to socialize. In many ways,
I've never had to think of myself as being "gay" and so when people ask me
what it's like, I think they are asking the wrong person. I doubt that I
There are other aspects of my sexuality I am less comfortable with, and
maybe that's why these Tales go under that strange title "The Underworld
Dude". Certainly exhibitionism is one of those aspects which was
especially a nuisance to me in earlier years, and I'll deal with that in a
the japanese garden
It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I had some special mushrooms for
breakfast. I went to the Japanese garden to await the descent into the
rabbit hole. There was no one around, the first time I have had that
beautiful place to myself. I lay on the grass and watched the few clouds
drifting by and the branches of the trees, closed my eyes for a time and
was reminded by the sound of water flowing over rocks of a small waterfall
in the Himalayan foothills. Rare for India, it was a secluded place not
often visited by anyone but porters carrying goods from one village to the
next. The waterfall ended in a small, clear pond amid large boulders
which provided further seclusion and I often made the long trek there to
splash naked in the pool and sit on the boulders while drying in the sun.
With closed eyes, the Japanese garden had much the same
Once there was an encounter at that Himalayan pool which
is a sweet memory and lingering once again over the experience, I got a
boner ("erection" is such a clinical term). It was not so much being
aroused by sexual desire, but an accent to the oncoming mushroom
consciousness, the warmth of the sun and the sensual sound of the water,
the memories from decades past. Then I heard a movement, opened my eyes
and was slightly startled to see a young Japanese man sitting on a rock
near me. I had not heard him approach and had no idea how long he had
been there. I smiled at him, he returned my smile. I made no effort to
conceal my aroused condition since he had clearly seen it already and, as
I told someone recently, it has never made sense to me to practise false
modesty, especially after someone has seen all there is to see. He may
not, in this case, have seen it all but since I was wearing shorts of
lightweight fabric, little was left to the imagination.
back at the water flowing past the rocks for awhile, then shifted his
position, lowering one leg and giving me a clear view of his crotch. He
clearly shared my condition.
I have so long anticipated my first
sexual contact with a Japanese man that I was in a somewhat befuddled
condition, increased by the sudden unexpectedness of the situation and the
knowledge that my perception was being distorted by the mushrooms. So
despite what seemed his obvious display, I did nothing but once again
smile at him. Then he began to rub his hand over the bulge in his shorts.
I got up and moved over beside him, replacing his hand with mine.
We moved to a more inconspicious spot and he removed his shirt. I would
guess he is in his early twenties, but might still be in his teens, and he
has a slim, just slightly muscular body with a flat, tight midsection. I
rubbed my hand over his chest and he lay back on the grass and enjoyed it
for awhile, then pulled my head down to his nipple. I licked and gently
sucked on one while caressing the other with my hand, and it seems to be
one of his favorite things because he began to breathe more heavily and
make slight thrusting movements with his lower body. Continuing to toy
with his nipple with my tongue, I moved my hand down and inside the front
of his shorts. He reached down and unbuttoned them, then slid them down
enough to uncover his thick black pubic hair and well-shaped rod. It was
larger than most Japanese men I have observed in showers, but small (as
who is not) compared to the norm of the alt.binaries crowd.
I shifted my attention from his nipple to the rod, the first time in many
years I have had that experience. He took over the directing task,
indicating when I should return to the nipple while he stroked the rod,
then back again. Repeating this several times, he then gave a slight
gasp, quickly moved my head back to his crotch and pushed into my mouth as
deeply as it would go, and shot his load.
As I wrote elsewhere, Japanese men taste as good as I always thought they
We remained still for a few minutes, then he slowly withdrew, sat up and
very softly said "thank you". They were the only words spoken during the
entire, wonderful interlude in that beautiful garden.
let me entertain me
Enjoying the sight of a naked man is a mystery, but it is almost
understandable compared to getting pleasure from exposing my own body, and
getting the greatest pleasure from exposing it, either completely or just
the penis, to men who aren't already familiar with it or have only seen
In my youth, this was a special nuisance and I am grateful it has at least
chilled out, even if not completely vanished. It was especially tiresome
when there was so little "legitimate" opportunity to satisfy the urge. As
a fourteen year old in Germany, I would go into the woods near where we
lived, stand behind a tree near a path but distant enough to pretend I
thought I was hidden, pull out my pecker and pump it, hoping some poor man
would come walking down the path and spot me. They often did and many
times that was enough to make me shoot my load, be overcome with shame and
go scurrying off in the opposite direction. Sometimes they would take
partial cover themselves and watch, only once did a man come over to me.
I let him approach, he knelt down and sucked it, my first blow
But that wasn't what I really wanted, then or in most such adventures. I
wanted most to be caught naked, caught masturbating especially, greatly
enjoyed being watched, but it wasn't the same kind of fun if they watched
openly or made an effort to join in. And the very best times of
all were when it happened totally unexpectedly and unarranged.
The fewer opportunities I had to stage such entertainments for myself, the
more frustrated I would get by the lack of them, and often the more absurd
my antics would become to arrange them. I never understood why it gave so
much pleasure, even less why it became such an urgency at times, and thus
even though it has always remained a part of my life, I was never
comfortable with it and still am not.
The Army, of course, provided more than ample opportunities. Walking into
a communal shower and finding someone jerking off was no big deal, so I
could get caught at it and have my pleasure without getting
into any trouble. That was also one of the great side benefits of living
at the Vanderbilt Y in Manhattan, although there it was more apt to lead
to someone joining in than it had been in the Army.
There were other treasured places: the creek near our summer studio in
New Jersey, secluded enough to swim naked but always with the chance the
lad from the next farm would pass on his tractor; those secluded
waterfalls in the Himalayan foothills; even that tacky chalk boulder beach
outside Brighton. Predominately gay places like Fire Island never
Those strong, almost uncontrollable urges no longer exist, or at least I
hope they don't. It is stronger than I thought, however. Most of time,
that appetite of The Underworld Dude is satisfied by the beach
showers of Honolulu and so even when I began to contemplate this part of
the Tales, it wasn't something I thought much about. Then I was visiting
a friend who was supposedly going out for some hours. I planned to have a
shower, so took off my clothes and sat for a moment on the lanai. Just as
I got up to go into the shower, my friend unexpectedly returned, with me
standing naked in his front room, and it brought back so many memories in
one grand rush that I was stunned to realize how much power the thing
still had over me. I tried to just act casual about it, even extended the
exposure longer than was necessary to try and test whether it really was
the big deal it seemed, or was it because of the memories, or was I just
being slightly drunk and silly. Maybe all of them.
It certainly shook me into thinking more carefully about what it has meant
to me and what it means to me now. But I have to admit, I remain baffled
by it, and this is one instance where writing this preliminary report is
not likely at all to lay it to rest in my mind, as has happened with many
of the other tales.
my so-called lusty life
As prefaced in Tale 056:
A reader whose opinion I respect has accused me of cowardice, says I
be deliberately leaving a lot of stuff out. Knowing me perhaps better
than most readers, he suspects that lust is playing more of a role than I
am admitting and, with his characteristic bluntness, asked "don't you ever
jerk off?". In a time when incoming email has played a large role in this
endeavor, often in a fairly disturbing manner, I enjoyed the laugh that
The timing was amusing, too. I got back to the "hacienda" later than
usual, sometime after midnight. An older man who seems to be a long-time
regular and my young buddy were the only residents, both asleep, the buddy
on his bench beside my usual spot. He was sleeping on his back, evidently
enjoying a pleasant dream judging by the flagpole in his shorts. Having
just departed from three hours spent very closely watching a young man I
find totally desirable, no matter how unattainable, it was a vision I
really didn't need just then. As I wrote, this young nomad seems to look
upon me as someone he can trust. I certainly don't intend to make any
kind of move on him, most especially when he is sleeping. I'd be most
happy to, but given the circumstances, he'd have to make it very clear
that's what he wanted from me.
So I got ready to settle down for the night but draped my cover over the
back of the bench blocking the view of the older man. Certain that my
buddy was soundly asleep, I unbuttoned my Levi's and started to stroke,
with the vision of his shorts as inspiration. Now there is a big
contradiction there, because if he had happened to wake up and saw me
pumping away while staring at him, it could have been almost as much a
violation of trust as if I'd touched him instead. The debate sufficiently
dampened my desire that I knew I'd never get off, might as well put it
away and go to sleep. And did.
So yes, gentle reader, I do jerk off ... or at least start to.
Generally speaking, it happens a lot less as a nomad than it did as a
householder, partly because of fewer comfortable opportunities. Although
some fellows seem immune to the effect, I find a cold shower lives up to
its reputation as a way to dampen physical desire, so the place where it
would most likely happen is literally chilled.
Sitting in a toilet cubicle is not my idea of a great environment for
auto-eroticism, either, unless there is a hole in the wall and someone is
on the other side enjoying the same pasttime. There are such places on
campus but I deliberately avoid them most of the time. I really don't
want a reputation as a Dirty Old Man on Campus and that would surely be
the inevitable result of regular visits to those particular luas.
Admittedly, the few times I have indulged were quite delightful, even if
most of the time it just involved mutual observation.
(A delightfully handsome young fellow of Asian descent just sat down at
a terminal across from me. Perfect timing.)
Concerning the reader's challenge in less specific terms, no, actual lust
is not playing a greater role than I indicate. I should qualify that by
saying that I am aware of. I mentioned in one tale that my main pleasure
is in just looking or enjoying company in a bar. (The fellow across
from me must have been sent as a Test, because I just glanced at him and
he gave me a wonderful smile).
Ok, I'd be delighted to end up naked in bed with him, but it's in no way a
driving force. I'm content with the pleasure of seeing him, sitting close
to him at this table, and the gift of the smile.
As the Underworld Dude said in the beginning of this series, some years
ago he would have ruled this trip and it would have rocked. We grow
old, we grow old, we shall wear our trousers rolled ...
He said: Study with the seasons winging
past, is not this pleasant? To have friends coming in from far quarters,
not a delight?
I said last evening that I
would follow the basically internal concerns of the 009 series with a
quick overview of what I have actually done recently. "But will you
remember it?" I was asked. Perhaps not, so it may be best to
April Healani Kellett arrived from San Jose for a week in
Honolulu. I had spent the night at the airport, so waited to greet her. We
spent much of the afternoon at the Shore Bird with drinks, talk of mutual
friends and good conversation, a pattern to be repeated throughout her
visit. As Captain John observed, Healani is a woman with "character
written all over her". Despite our jokes about where the letters were
located, it was a very accurate observation; Healani is a warm, loving and
tantalizingly mysterious woman who knows much about the Art of
We met again at the Regent's Lobby Bar to enjoy Genoa
Keawe and her crew, with the special treat of Healani dancing, both solo
and in a trio with the inimitable Mamaloa and young Myra. Healani danced
again at the Pier Bar later while Willie K sang "Makee Ailana", a rare
Hawaiian moment in an evening when Willie wanted to rock ... and
I stayed on Kuhio Beach that night and went to Magic Island
on the 5 a.m. bus, and that has been the routine most nights since. In the
mornings, the small beach at the lagoon on the end of Magic Island is
wonderfully quiet and peaceful, a fine place for a long morning nap. For
those hours between one or two a.m. until five, after trying several
locations in the Queen's Surf and Sans Souci areas, I finally settled on a
bench of the group facing the bandstand. If careful to select a bench out
of irrigation's reach and with the right angle to the bench in front of it
(thus blocking the lights from the bandstand), it is a decent place to
spend the night. It, too, was not being used by anyone else but it is well
lit and not so remote as Magic Island so I felt no concern about being
there. There is no overhead shelter, however, so sleeping there can
involve waking up to put on the poncho.
writing the following day, it is essential to get the full nightly clock
of sprinkler activity. I arrived at my favorite bench a bit early last
night and was rudely awakened by a huge splash of water on my feet. Those
particular sprinklers only stay on for a very brief time, but I shall
nevertheless try a bench further from them. I noted several police
patrols (via scooter) of the area, so I suspect the hospitality there will
depend upon the individual lawman and not any actual law.
search for the book to carry with me ended yesterday afternoon when
I decided to buy a dollar's worth of the Confucian Analects translated by
Ezra Pound. The copy machines provide one page for ten cents, and Jai
Maharaj can now add bootleg book criminal to his list of reports to
alt.crime. I am not as happy with Pound's translation as I was 25 years
ago, but I am still certain it is the book to have at this time, and shall
continue to buy a dollar's worth until the entire book is in my
I had spent the evening again at Hot Lava Cafe,
listening to Mackey Feary and Clayton Apilando with another guitarist who
was never identified. John Feary sat and drank beer but did not sing,
alas. I ate some chili-and-cheese fries, madness which gets stuck in the
long list of the Tourist's silly moments (one plate of fries and a
beer equaled seven Jumbo Jacks). Despite the brief foot-washing, I was
able to get sufficient sleep at the bandstand, so took an early bus
downtown to pick up my replacement Social Security card which I had been
told was waiting. I then looked for the office which issues State ID cards
but couldn't find it. One would think each State government building could
have a simple directory telling not only what is in that building, but
what is in each building of that downtown complex. The Department of
Transportation has a handy map showing what the name and location of each
building is, but with no key to what goes on in each building.
stopped in Long's for a little shopping on behalf of the Survivor
and went on to Ala Moana Beach for a shower and a wash of my blue Duke's
shirt, sitting in the sun while it dried, reading the Analects again. On
to Kory K's office at UH, where I found him alternating between reading
Tale 009 and browsing the Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry site, then to Manoa
Garden for a beer and a look at the Honolulu Weekly, out today,
with its massive supplement for the upcoming International Film
The details of everyday life ...
This has been a
time of delightful excess and luxury, conditions which somehow seem
entirely appropriate when someone as special as Healani is in town. Her
visit concluded with an evening at Hot Lava listening to Mackey Feary,
Clayton Apilando and others, with the special treat of John Feary sitting
in for two songs. Afterwards, I was given a ride down to Kapiolani Park
where I selected my bench and settled in for the night. Unlike the night
before when it was so cool I used the poncho as a jacket, it was
comfortably warm. I woke up and saw there were three local men sitting on
nearby benches, so sat up and lit a cigarette. One of the men asked for a
smoke, and then a second one did. Although their conversation was vague,
it seems one of the men had robbed a Japanese tourist earlier and had then
gone to sleep on the beach where someone had kicked him and told him to
move on. Either they assumed I didn't have anything worth taking, or it
was a case of honor among nomads that kept them from doing more than
asking for a smoke. I talked with them for awhile and then said I was
going to get some coffee, gave them two more cigarettes and prepared to
leave. One of the men said quietly to me, please tell the first policeman
you see to check this area. I am not sure why he asked that but perhaps
he, too, was worried about the mugger. The only police I saw were busy
with some young men gathered by the pier at Kuhio Beach, but I'm not sure
I would have said anything to one had he not been occupied.
to Jack-in-the-Box and the fellow only charged me 25 cents for a cup of
coffee, a kindly gesture. The buses had just started running so I waited
for the 19, and was amazed to discover that the HPD appears to have
plainsclothes young Japanese-looking men standing on street corners along
Kuhio Avenue. A young fellow in Levis, tee shirt and with a backpack was
just standing on one corner near the bus stop, and I saw several different
policemen talk to him. He gave some information to the first one which
caused the officer to turn on his light and rush off, soon joined by two
other scooters with lights flashing. Waikiki was unusually busy in those
early morning hours, so I was relieved to board the bus and go on to Magic
Island for sleep under the stars, sorry it was the end of Healani's visit
but grateful for the happy hours shared with her.
Someone asked: What does the sacrifice
mean? He said: I do not know. If one knew enough to tell that, one could
govern the empire as easily as seeing the palm of one's hand.
No, the question of the book was not settled. There are
too many parallels between this journey and my first Journey to the
East to ignore so obvious a one. I carried only two books with me
then, the I Ching and Hesse's Magister Ludi. The I Ching asked to
be left behind when I shifted from being a tourist in Delhi to living in
the Himalayan foothills, Hesse stayed with me throughout the journey and
was read several times. After a trip down to Rainbow Books, it is with me
Sitting at Manoa Garden earlier, re-reading some of the
Analects, Ginsberg's opening of Howl surfaced. The best minds of
my generation ... who would that be? "Generation" is a tricky term, where
does one end and the next begin? In what I think of as my generation, I
noted as best minds Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Ken Russell, Carlos Castaneda,
Stephen Sondheim, Richard Bartle and Sid Meier. An interesting dinner
party in hell that crowd would make. I don't think any of them were driven
stark raving mad, but it would be totally understandable if they had been.
In an email exchange earlier this week, I mentioned I had experienced a
day when I felt surrounded by "subhumans", and I was reminded of that
while waiting outside a video arcade/club called The Source. It isn't, of
course, that its patrons are really subhuman, just that they are so
distant from being truly conscious and aware, they might as well
But why the entire best minds reverie took place, why I
(unusually) took the trouble to make notes, or what purpose is served in
writing it here, I don't know. The answer to that is as unclear to me as
would be my answer to Florida Mark who asked "what is the purpose of
life?" Like Confucius with the meaning of the sacrifice, I don't know. But
it is always a pleasure to find some reason to use my favorite
Everyone who has had experience with LSD knows those moments
when, no matter how thoroughly the house had been cleaned, everything
looks incredibly dirty. How can we live in such a pigsty! Minutes later
everything might look miraculously beautiful. There has been no change at
all in first level reality but the point of light called "I" moved from
one alternate reality to another, each having points of contact with the
other but nevertheless being totally different. Such direct experience
does more than any book to convey the truth that reality is a
This pen I love so much is merely a tube of metal but it
has stored within it traces of the mana of its original owner, thus
gives me a warm and happy feeling when I hold it in my hand. It is a
treasure which at an auction would fetch no fancy price; Possession in
Great Measure has nothing to do with diamonds and gold. As it happens,
the original owner of the pen scolded me for even contemplating this
nomadic life, viewed it as whining failure, and grumbled prophecies of
cold and hunger.
When we're hungry, love will keep us alive ...
In fairness, the owner of the pen endured some months of my
company when I teetered constantly on the edge of extinction. That was a
hunger greater than any bodily need could be, and love did keep me alive.
Love for him, love for a cat, love of the hope that something might still
be left in this ill-chosen life which would let me, perhaps again, write a
book called Life Was Worth Living. On the surface, it could be done
already. I have had tastes of fame, fortune, love and happiness, have
dined with some of the people of my lifetime who are assured a place in
history. I could do as Graham Robertson did and write a chapter on each of
my famous friends, but I think not. I know them no better than the owner
of the pen knows me, what I wrote could be as far off the mark as some
people's view of these Tales and the life they are describing.
I've had mails expressing surprised disbelief that life on the street can
possibly be as pleasant as I am making it sound. I do not mean to promote
it as a desirable lifestyle; earlier today I told an English friend who
was thinking he should just sell everything and join me on the beach that
he shouldn't, it is an "old folks' trip". Like the LSD swings of
perception, how pleasant or unpleasant this trip is depends more upon the
mind than the actual reality.
I think Kory K did an excellent job
of speaking for the Tourist. Since Kory has been for some time one
of the Tourist's best friends, this is perhaps not surprising, but then
even best friends often have ideas about who we are that differ greatly
from our own view. The Survivor rarely surfaces socially or,
except in times of great stress, within friendships. The Pilgrim,
too, leads a solitary life. Since the Underworld has been locked
up as much as possible, it has been the Tourist who most people know as
The Tourist does not, perhaps, view the Pilgrim quite as
harshly as Kory's interpretation suggests. Despite his love of handsome
young men, jugs of beers and good music, the Tourist has more sympathy for
the idea of sitting under that Bo tree than might be expected. He has been
around long enough, sampled many pleasures, and has no illusions about the
true importance of what makes life fleetingly of interest for him. If
infatuation matures into love, it leaves the Tourist's domain and moves
into the Pilgrim's fold. That is possibly the Tourist's main contribution
to this Life.
But it is also the case that the Tourist stumbles
upon pleasures which greatly enhance the ability of the others to perform
their tasks and for Albert to achieve goals they have set for him. In the
revolutionary, evolutionary years of psychedelia, it was always the
Tourist who led, who dared to experiment, who marveled and partied, then
bowed to the Pilgrim and asked "is this what you were looking for?", often
achieving in a few minutes what years of reading, study and exercise had
failed to illuminate. Without those years of intense inner exploration,
this trip could not be. It is the Tourist who gets the major credit (or
blame) for that, even if this trip often interferes with his own agenda
for enjoying life.
He said: Observe the phenomena of
nature as one in whom the ancestral voices speak, don't just watch in a
I feel sorry for people on wheels.
Skateboards, bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, cars, trucks ... it seems that
once their wheels start to roll, they automatically get in a hurry. People
rushing here and there, no time to see the world around them or to be kind
to people they pass on their hurried journies. Every now and then a car
stops at the freeway entrance ramp and the driver waves for me to cross
first. Now that is cool, and something I'd bet rarely, if ever, happens on
the Mainland. But far more often, wheels seem to be a curse.
week is anchored on Thursday. Other people's weeks may start with Sunday
or Monday, but mine starts on Thursday. I've rarely missed the double bill
of Genoa Keawe at the Regent and Willie K at the Pier Bar on Thursday
evenings and as soon as one of those magical evenings ends, I begin to
look forward to the next one.
After leaving the Pier Bar on
Thursday, I decided I'd take the easy way and catch the last bus to the
airport for a few hours sleep. I got on the bus, sat down, and the next
thing I knew a young man was asking "excuse me sir, do you have military
ID?". "Why would I want that?" I asked as I emerged from a sound sleep. I
had slept right through the airport and was at the gate to Hickam Air
Force Base. Fortunately the bus makes one trip back to the airport, so I
was able to leave the bus and re-board it after its round of the base. I
left the bus at the Interisland Terminal so I could have a look at the
overall night scene out there. Despite rumors that some effort was
planned to eliminate the "homeless problem", there were more sleepers than
ever. I slept on a concrete bench until the 4:30 wake-up call (perhaps
that is the effort to discourage people from sleeping out there?) and
took the first bus back to Magic Island for a nap on the beach.
had not been looking forward to Hallowe'en and was still debating how I
would deal with it. Hamilton Library closing at five meant a long evening
to fill in a place which generally goes a little over the top on October
31st, especially in Waikiki. Determined to avoid that, I went to Ala Moana
instead, ate a boringly over-cooked dinner from the Mandarin side of the
Panda Express, and watched the long line of parents waiting to enter their
children in the costume contest. The night before I had been given a
ticket for the evening at the Pier Bar, where Fiji was the star
entertainer, so I went over to check it out. Wasn't very crowded (although
it did get so later), so I stayed and enjoyed the costumed folks parading
around. The music was over-amplified to the point of pain and provided
little amusement, so I left before midnight, walking back toward Ala
Moana. I was going to walk along the beach, but there were a lot of people
gathered at the far Ewa end so I veered off to the sidewalk along the
highway. There is a large tree in that far corner with a massive complex
of above-ground roots. I found a perfect seat formed by the roots and,
instead of my original intention just to stop for a break, decided it was
a fine place to sleep. There was something quite special about sleeping
amid those roots.
When I lived in an apartment, I used ear plugs
to eliminate noise so I could sleep, and it is still something of a
surprise to me that I can almost immediately fall asleep no matter what is
happening around me. The same is becoming more and more the case with
watching, that strange state of mind when chatter stops and there
is just quiet observation of the reality within my view. I slip into it
involuntarily and am not aware it is happening until something reactivates
the mind and it again analyzes, critiques or begins to think of how those
moments will be written about (the latter being a long-time trap of
on-line life). There is now more often a special quality of light to the
scenes being watched, reminiscent of psychedelic-induced vision. The view
of Magic Island this morning from a distance had all the sharp brilliance
and illumination it would seen through mescaline eyes, but that special
view did not last long. It was too special for the mind not to start
leaping about and celebrating, thus losing the Magick Theatre
The dawn of All Saints Day was a fine one. No
postcard could capture the beauty of Diamond Head under a sky with wisps
of clouds placed in just the right position to turn golden and pink as the
sun came into view. It is so quiet and peaceful at Magic Island in the
pre-dawn hours that joggers who cannot do so quietly seem almost to be
intruders, and I have several times felt sorry for a man whose wife
appears to awaken with motormouth in first gear. The fine day soon gave
way to dense clouds and heavy rain as a storm moved over the island, so I
took refuge at Hamilton Library until the storm passed and the sun
returned accompanied by unusually strong winds which persisted through the
night and into the next day. I had not properly researched shelter from
the wind and found no viable solution during the first night of needing
it, so spent an uncomfortable night cheered by the fact that it was at
least not raining. On such nights, the airport may be the best
Earlier I had gone to Hot Lava Cafe to hear Sunburn, a
band whose members I have met although I've never heard them play. While
waiting for them to arrive, though, I began to think of other pieces to
add to these Tales and they began to write themselves in my head, so I
went across the street to the net cafe and emptied some of it into the
rented terminal despite that being a foolishly extravagant luxury.
Whatever else these tales may be, they are perhaps most useful to me as a
way to empty the mind; once distilled into words here, I can stop thinking
about writing it.
Now to see how effective a method it is of
filing away the past ... once the tale is complete, can it sit on the
shelf and make room in the mind for now?
These numbers, in accordance with the I Ching, were reserved for a series
of Tales. 013 became the series known as Tales from Panther's Past and
014 the series, Possession in Great Measure.
Give us your poor, your tired, your
huddled masses yearning to be free ...
that right? It's the way I remember it, anyway.
I left my new
main sleeping place (the hacienda) just before dawn on a
beautiful Saturday morning. On weekday mornings, a man claps his hands
several times at six o'clock and says "time to get up!", but there was no
one around on Saturday, not even other members of the huddled masses. I
walked over to the new Kakaako Waterfront Park for the first time. It is a
beautifully designed area providing a splendid panorama of the ocean,
Waikiki and Diamond Head; I've seen no other place in this part of Oahu
better for watching a sunrise. Only fishermen and a large colony of cats
were there but joggers and walkers arrived as the sun was rising, soon
followed by local families already staking claims to the picnic
I have never seen so many calico cats at one time before.
Many of them had the telltale notch in their ear, indicating they have
been part of the campaigns conducted to round up stray cats, neuter them,
and re-release them where they were found, but clearly some calicos
managed to escape the round-up. While sitting on the wall watching the
surfers, a very large orangish-cat with short dense fur came over to say
hello and was so pleased by my strokes and scratches that it climbed into
my lap. Auwe, that is one heavy cat. I think it would have stayed in my
lap all morning if I had remained there, but after a half an hour or so I
bid it farewell with a promise to stop by again soon.
to Ala Moana, I spotted a plastic ziplok bag on a bus stop bench. In it
was what must have been at least a quarter pound of fresh fruit salad, so
recently abandoned it was still chilled and the bananas not yet turning
brown. As the I Ching says, a melon falls from heaven, and provided
a most delicious breakfast. Since I had spent the last of my cash the day
before on cat food, such "accidental" finds take on a lilies of the
A young fellow with very straight blonde hair,
dressed in camouflage fatigues, was leaving the shower house as I went in
for my morning shower. When I finished and went over to sit on a bench by
the beach to dry, he showed up again with a folding chair which he placed
near my bench. I noticed he was feeding crumbs to the birds. After awhile
he moved the chair over onto the beach, took off his shirt, and then
walked back to the area where he had been sitting. He seemed to be
attempting to catch one of the zebra doves. Fat chance, I thought. I was
wrong. He walked back to his chair with a ground dove in his palm, and it
sat on the back of his chair with him. I don't know if that is a specific
bird he has befriended or if he just has a general knack with birds, but
was a touching and impressive addition to the list of people I have
observed who have special relationships with "non-owned pets".
a brief time the evening before I had been feeling the same way I did when
I last wrote about the difference between having very little money and no
money at all, but glided out of it, helped and amused by things turning up
at the moment I needed it. The definite champion of the evening was
finding a cold, unopened large bottle of Budweiser, abandoned at Ala
Moana. I waited around for quite some time to see if its owner was going
to return, but no one ever came to claim it, so I had the equivalent of
2-3 glasses of beer while listening to a lady doing show tunes at the
Hawaii Prince, or more accurately, from the Hawaii Prince, since the sound
carried very well across the water of the marina and provided perfect
background to the moon and Venus and the stars.
angel arranged for a student to abandon a plate lunch and bottle of some
strange berry tea drink for Saturday lunch; the abandoned lunch
left right on a picnic table, was half full of Zippy's chili. But the best
"accident" of all occurred on Saturday evening. I had been concerned
because I needed a dollar to buy cat food and thought I might have to
break my rule against asking people for money. I was walking through Ward
Center on my way to hear Harold Kama, Jr. at Kincaid's. On the railing was
half a sandwich, neatly folded in a ziplock bag. I put the bag in my
pocket and continued walking, not opening it until I left the Center.
Under the sandwich was a folded one dollar bill. I had half of a fine ham
and cheese sandwich; Chloe had Captain's Choice for Sunday dinner
with Whitefish and Tuna standing by for Monday.
Cainer wrote of a minor setback to be expected during the week just
ending. As I reviewed the week under the stars at Magic Island, I felt it
was in many ways entirely a setback, or at least a state of stagnation. I
did not do as many things I later thought were stupid; I did some silly
ones which helped very much with the self-examination that has been
underway and were thus perhaps not as silly as they might seem; but I
didn't expand my time of doing nothing, yet accomplished little.
major shift is still waiting to take place.
Tse-Kung asked about friendship. He said: Speak out from the centre of
your mind, maintain the true process; if he can't hitch to it, don't
Friday, the start of a new week in the Thursday-to-Thursday scheme of
things, and the living is easy, fish are jumping and the cotton is high.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were hunting days; Wednesday was rags to
After buying a cup of coffee from the vending machine in
the kiosk near Hamilton Library on Sunday morning, there was exactly one
penny left in my pocket. Even that was almost lost when I realized there
was sand in the pocket, turned it inside out to empty it, forgetting the
penny. It rolled down the sidewalk and it took some time to find it. It
took even more time to hunt down suitably long cigarette butts and things
to eat, all the while shaking my head at myself.
I had promised
Captain John I would be at the Hot Lava Cafe on Sunday evening to help
celebrate his long-worked-for submarine pilot's license. "You want
something to eat?" was the first thing he said when I walked in. "No, but
I want something to drink." The wish was more than fulfilled. When I
left, I walked around the building and sat down on the first spot I found
with overhead shelter. Wade Nakaya walked past, asked if I was ok. Yep,
just fine, I said, pointing to the roof. He went on his way, I went to
sleep. I woke up awhile later and started to walk down to the park on the
Ala Wai at McCully but couldn't make it, stopped again in another
sheltered spot and slept. Eventually I did make it to the Ala Wai, not
long before dawn. When the sun came up, I was still drunk and stayed that
way all morning.
The desire for a cup of coffee was fierce. It
is easy to find abandoned cups half-full of Coke or Pepsi (even one root
beer turned up), but abandoned coffee is rare. One of the places in the
Food Court at Ala Moana has a basket on the counter with bread and
pastries neatly wrapped in plastic. They are too stale to be sold, but
still definitely edible and it is most kind of them to leave it for the
hungry rather than just throwing it away. I took two croissants, then had
the great good fortune of finding an almost full cup of coffee to dunk
them in. It was a fine breakfast.
The tobacco supply was easy to
maintain, thanks to the Japanese habit of taking only a few puffs on a
cigarette and putting it out. An early morning hunting expedition at the
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center yields a full day's supply. But the
hunting mode was running so strong, I continued to look for tobacco,
drinks and food even when I had more than two boxes of cigarette butts and
wasn't hungry or thirsty. I was in very good spirits throughout, made
even more so by being amused at how silly it all was. There have been so
many times in the past month when whatever was needed just turned up that
it was total nonsense to so actively hunt, but at least the
Tourist didn't go into his misery act.
had his moments, too. On Monday, I took a
break from the hunt and sat in Saint Augustine's for awhile, said 40 Hail
Mary's. I don't know why. When I left to get the bus to UH, an
elderly Asian man waiting at
the bus stop was reading The Confessions of Saint Augustine, a
sweet little twist of fate. On Thursday, Sister McKinnon from the Mormons
came over to me at the bus stop to chat as part of her missionary effort.
She is a delightful young lady with clear, beautiful eyes that say more
than any of her words. It was a pleasure to meet someone that young who is
so much at peace with herself and the god she believes in. And
there was also a fine moment at dawn when a cleaning man at Ala
Moana walked by wearing a tee shirt with Matthew 7:7 on it, one of
my favorite verses from the Gospels.
The State Library computer system went down on Monday evening and did not
return until Wednesday morning, the longest time I have been offline in
years, but I didn't miss it as much as I expected to. That was largely
due to two friends: Helen Rapozo, who kindly treated me in the afternoon
with a ticket to the enjoyable film "Starship Troopers" and two hotdogs
(and provided Chloe
with two cans of food, along with quarters which let me enjoy a cup of
coffee while Chloe ate her turkey dinner); and, again, Captain John
who asked me (ordered me, more like) to join his continuing celebration
party at Duke's and the Wild Irish Rose. After another evening when
Surfer on Acid drinks were flowing freely, I staggered out at some
point and made it to DeRussy Beach where I spread out the poncho and fell
asleep. The tide was out. It came in. It's quite a sensation, being
awakened by the ocean rushing up your legs.
I moved over to Fort
DeRussy itself and tried another sleeping spot. The sprinklers came on.
Wet, slightly cold and still wobbling, I set out for Magic Island, only
getting as far as the small building that once was the entrance to the
vanished Tahitian Lanai. A circular staircase there has carpet on it, so
I sat on a step until dawn. For the first time, I felt a tinge of regret,
just a hint of it, but enough to fulfill the anticipation that it would
eventually happen. I was reminded of the small village in the Himalayan
foothills where I sat one afternoon and wanted nothing more than to return
to the USA and get an ordinary job. A beautiful sunrise banished the
regret. So two expected hurdles have come and gone: feeling bored, which
hasn't reoccurred since the first time, and feeling regret. Neither was
as bad as I had feared they might be.
On Wednesday morning money
a friend arrived. One of the readers of the Tales wrote that he felt sorry
I have to live the way I am living. But I don't have to, it is entirely by
choice. There are enough office-suitable clothes (and a pair of shoes)
stored in a box; the arrival of this money gave me the option to move into
the Nuuanu YMCA, retrieve the clothes, and tell the temp agency I have
worked for in the past that I'm looking for work. Not going to
The first thing I did was head to Smorgy's for breakfast.
Then I went to buy a heavy cotton shirt, gray "chamois cloth", which I had
spotted at Penney's when looking for something warmer to sleep in. There
was only one left and I expected it to be gone before I could buy it.
Instead, it was on sale at 25% off. That was the start of the shift to
The usual Thursday evening, first with Aunty Genoa and her crew at the
Regent, then Willie K and Harold Kama at the Pier Bar, was a mixed bag.
Genoa was, as always, a delight to watch and to hear. There is so much
love in her expression as she watches the young people performing with
her that it seems to envelop the entire area in a joyful glow. With Willie
it is sometimes so back-and-forth, so uneven that the wonderful moments
get overshadowed by the trite. He and Harold both have a touch of
arrogance that is even harder to deal with after being in Genoa's
company, and I left there grumbling to myself.
Overall, I feel happier about this week than the prior one. The hunting
nonsense on the penniless days was just that, nonsense, but clearly
recognized as such each step of the way. Drinking too much is partly the
result of feeling far more confident in my ability to live "on the street"
and also a part of feeling in such good spirits. Drowning my sorrows has
never been my way; I drink when I am feeling happy. Watching
becomes more and more natural, a tree is still a tree but the manner of
seeing it is changed. Right from the beginning of my experience with LSD,
the thing I wanted the most was to get there and stay there without
chemical assistance. I seem finally to have moved a step closer to that
A second focus of resistance to degeneration was the League of
Journeyers to the East. The brethren of that League cultivated a
spiritual rather than an intellectual discipline. They fostered piety and
reverence, and to them we owe important elements in our present form of
cultural life and of the Glass Bead Game, in particular the contemplative
elements. The Journeyers also contributed to new insights into the nature
of our culture and the possibilities of its continuance, not so much by
analytical and scholarly work as by their capacity, based on ancient
secret exercises, for mystic identification with remote ages and cultural
Standing at a bus stop. Young fellow was sitting on the bench reading
aloud to himself from the Bible. I sat down next to him and asked "is
that the entire thing?" (I knew it was, but as Confucius said about
entering a strange temple, ask all the obvious questions first). He
affirmed my suspicion that it was and I asked him to read Matthew 7:7. He
read Matthew 7:1. I said "what?!" and he read it again. I needed to hear
that one, too, but reminded him it was 7:7 I was asking for. A lady even
older than I sat down between us and was listening to our conversation. He
read 7:7 once, then once more. I said "I keep knocking." I asked the
lady and she said she, too, keeps knocking but nothing happens. Poor lad,
to be stuck between the two of us.
I had been wondering about the
truth of my closing remarks in Tale 016 but I couldn't test them on
Saturday because there were places I had agreed to be. I first went to
the International Marketplace to hear BB Shawn. I got there somewhat
early and, sitting at the bar, met a black fellow who has been in the Navy
for 14 years, has been twice to the Persian Gulf. A young fellow came in
and sat between us. He was relatively new to the Navy and was reporting
to duty at Pearl Harbor the next morning. The veteran had a keen sense of
what is happening in the Gulf area, understood the silly game the USA is
playing with Saddam Hussein. It was an interesting discussion, all the
more so considering the daily headlines. We were joined, after an
interlude when a lady I know from another bar joined us briefly, by two
young fellows from Brittany who are here for a two-week holiday, braving
what they expected to be more active anti-French sentiment (as if
Americans could maintain political memory for as long as it has been since
the French exploded their most recent Bomb in the South Pacific).
I left our interesting conversation to listen to BB Shawn. Then I had to
depart Shawn's gig early to attend a dinner party in honor of some
misguided souls who are leaving Hawaii for San Diego, and after that, to
hear Harold Kama, Jr. at Kincaid's.
Consequently, it was not until Sunday morning that I could mix a few
special bits of fungi with a peach yogurt and have a peek down the rabbit
hole. During the period of lift-off, there was a much-anticipated
experience which I shall not at this time write about and it did not
disappoint, nor did my first expedition in a very long time into the
alternative reality of chemically-fueled existence. But I was right in
016, it was not the giant step it would have been at one time. The tricks
of vision are there now any time I want them, except for that molecular
level which only comes with very high octane fuel; music could be listened
to with a special significance which I could no doubt have any time if I
would shut up, slow down, and listen; watching was, as always fun. As
Karoli Baba said to Ram Dass after his first dose of LSD, "more medicine,
give me more medicine". I've always thought that parallel to Dylan's
"what else can you show me?" and that was, in a kindly sense, my response
to the mushroom breakfast.
When evening arrived I had no desire to
venture into the usual music club scene, but walked down to the Ala Wai
Community Park and fell asleep in the little bleachers they have there.
Ah, but the ever-changing game between the Authorities (in this case, the
City & County of Honolulu) and the urban nomads goes on; the rules may
have been in place all along, I know not, but the strict enforcement of
those rules seems to be a matter of personal choice of the Enforcer, often
total amateurs with no training in the mantle of Authority. Such was the
case with the poor fellow who wakened me shortly after eleven, telling me
the park is closed from 11 to 5 and that I had to leave, adding "if you
don't leave, I'll call the police". "That won't be necessary", I assured
him, and went on my way wondering why he was so nervous he had to add that
threat when speaking to someone who had already pleasantly assured him
there was no problem. There is a problem, but it is not with some young
man who has a minimal-wage job looking after a small park all night long;
the problem is with the City Council and their absurd arrogance, but that
discussion is for another place.
As I walked to Ala Moana, I
thought of writing a Tale, a history of the League of Urban Nomads,
written from a viewpoint decades hence when a more enlightened society has
better come to grips with the debate between the nomad and the settler, a
debate which has existed from the earliest time of humankind, a drama
which is still being played out in the streets and parks of
Readers of the Tales write to me, some puzzled, some
complimenting, some challenging and questioning. One challenge was to my
remark that I drink when happy, not to drown my sorrows. I was asked why
I wanted to "escape" happiness. But that is the fallacy about drugs of
all kinds, not just alcohol. "Escape" is not the reason to use them,
although it may well be why so many people abuse them, hoping it will
provide them with such a luxury. Alcohol is a fuel to get from one place
to another place. I may be sitting in Hamilton Library at the University
of Hawaii, but if I am in a happy state of mind, I am in a very different
place than I would be if I were in a miserable state of mind. From the
launching pad of happy, I know where I can travel with alcohol and it is a
place I like very much. Unfortunately, too often greed eventually appears
and the journey goes off to befuddlement. Confucius was said to drink
liberally but never to the state of becoming fuddled, yet another way in
which that gentleman is an admirable role model.
At Ala Moana,
then, I settled onto the sand of the beach of the lagoon at Magic Island
and watched meteors streak dramatically across the sky. But the sand was
too cold with only a plastic poncho as a shield, so I went off in search
of some grass mats. I found a large bag of potato and macaroni salad
which looked and smelled quite fresh and thus made an excellent
post-midnight snack. I couldn't finish it all, so left the remainder on a
bench near where other nomads stop for the night, and it was gone in the
morning, as expected. I found two grass mats, returned to Magic Island and
slept with them under me and, in the hours just before dawn when it became
quite chilly, with the poncho as a blanket. Dreams have returned after an
absence of some time, or at least after a time of not remembering them,
and there was a pleasant night in the Austrian Alps with only a person who
did not properly care for his house plants to concern me.
beautiful, as it has been for several days while the sky over Oahu has
been remarkably clear, but I was too lulled by my Austrian existence and
returned to sleep after only briefly admiring Mother Nature's panorama.
Waking again, it was almost ten o'clock so I had a shower, took the bus
into Waikiki and spent some time at a laundromat reading Hesse while all
the clothes I carry, save for the shorts I was wearing, were washed and
Once upon a time, the day after a journey with exotic fuel
was often the occasion for melancholy, a wish to return, as Steppenwolf
wished to return to the Magick Theatre every time he got himself kicked
out. But sometimes it was, as Grace Slick said so memorably at Woodstock,
"a new dawn." The body was refreshed by the sleep and the shower, the
mind was refreshed by its holiday journey and its overnight visit to the
Alps, and all seemed for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
I've been all around the world, boys
... trying to get to Heaven before they close the door ...
One day, decades ago in London, the postman delivered a
12x12 parcel which contained Into the Purple Valley, one of Ry
Cooder's delightful albums, with a note saying "You must hear this." I was
very grateful for the gift and the advice and continued to follow Cooder's
career closely for many years. When Chicken Skin Music was
released, I am sure I read the liner notes and checked out the credits,
but Gabby Pahinui's name meant nothing to me so I spent a long time
listening to him without knowing who he was. A reader of the Tales kindly
sent me a tape of that album. It brings back many happy memories, accented
now by the added appreciation of Gabby and Atta Isaac's
On a beautiful sunny Friday morning, I awoke just
before dawn and made my way on foot from Manoa to Ala Moana Beach where I
had a cup of tea and a shower, then sat in the sun to dry. I walked on to
the new Kakaako Waterfront Park where, on top of the highest hill with a
view of this entire part of the island, John and Mariah Feary exchanged
vows in a simple, but touching wedding ceremony. Later, I ended up at
Jelly's with Kory K and thanks to a piece of paper sent with the Cooder
tape, I bought Bob Dylan's new album, Time out of Mind. One
evening long, long ago, I went for a walk alone through Greenwich Village
and passed a club where I heard the most extraordinary rasping voice and
almost-pounding acoustic guitar. It was my first encounter with that
genius, Mr. Zimmerman, and I then almost made a nuisance of myself trying
to convince everyone I knew that he is, indeed, a genius. The new album
reconfirms that long-held opinion more strongly than anything he has done
in years, and it was a special pleasure to sit on campus Saturday morning
as the sun was just appearing over the hill and listen to the album from
start to finish, enjoying every track. So my tape collection has expanded
and both are well worth the extra weight of the backpack.
just past included one day when it rained almost continuously throughout
the day and evening, the first time that has happened since this trip
began. It was irksome to either stay inside all the time or to wrap up in
the poncho whenever going outside, reminding me how spoiled we are by the
weather here and how much less pleasant the life of an urban nomad would
be elsewhere. The week also included, as usual, a number of evenings spent
listening to fine musicians make excellent music: BB Shawn with Bobby
Ingano; Matt Swalinkavich, also with Bobby Ingano sitting in; Aunty Genoa
and her crew; and the very special evening near Pearl Harbor at the Feary
Wedding Party. All three Cruz brothers, BB Shawn, Taz & Thomson, Mackey
Feary and others jammmed together in various combinations all evening with
the groom occasionally joining in.
It was one of those rare weeks
when I didn't make it to the Willie K gig at the Pier Bar. The bartender
at Manoa Garden was in an even more jovial mood than usual, several of the
regulars were there and I got into something of a drinking contest with a
young Japanese fellow whose name is Tomita, a fact learned by asking him
about the characters he has tattooed around his ankle. The tattoo is only
in its early stages and will eventually include a dragon with its head
near the knee and a tail curled around the lower ankle. Tomita-san was a
delightful bar companion and a champion drinker; by the time I left to go
to the Regent to hear Genoa, I knew it wasn't going to be an extended
evening in bars.
It was an "ordinary" week with a few
extraordinary touches: the wedding; the compass on top of that hill; the
music at the wedding party; the hours with Tomita-san; an incredibly
graceful young man doing Tai Chi at Ala Moana Beach one morning; a black
cat I have courted for weeks finally allowing me to stroke her head; the
Nearing the end of the main section of Magister
Ludi, I particularly enjoy Knecht's discussion of his decision to so
drastically change his life, and saying What I am seeking and what I
need is a simple, natural task, a person who needs me. What more could
any man wish for ...
It's not dark yet, but it's getting
My Saturday evening often includes
taking the bus to Ala Moana when Hamilton Library closes at five, spending
some time looking around the shopping center, crossing over to the park to
wash and watch the sunset, walking over to Ward Center and visiting
Border's. The experience is heightened now by the onset of the Christmas
shopping mania; what always seems rampant consumerism takes on the
atmosphere of a major mass psychosis. I saw nothing which excited my
desire-to-possess center at Ala Moana, but those dormant energies are
always fully aroused at Border's.
It still amazes me that so much
music I once diligently collected, and with some difficulty, is now all
available in huge boxed sets. The odd thing, though, is that while this
is true of vintage music of all kinds, more recent once-available
recordings aren't in the bins at Border's. The only stage work of Philip
Glass they had was his "Beauty and the Beast", which I still haven't
heard. I listened to a few things via their headphone sampler set-up, the
most enjoyable of which was an album of London theatre music done by
Twiggy. She leans heavily on Gertrude Lawrence for style and mannerisms,
but that's a decent role model to be sure.
On the bookshelves, I
looked with some longing at a new one-volume edition of Gurdjieff's
Beezlebub's Tales to His Grandson, or All and Everything, but the
price tag is even more impractical than carrying around that heavy a book
(both in weight and content), even more so since they have the 1950
at Hamilton. Border's had several copies of Be Here Now by Ram
of my favorites from the psychedelic years, and a goodly number of other
books on esoteric matters which I would want to own if I had a
Kanilau arrived to sing but I was on my way to see
Harold Kama so didn't linger, walked out of Border's, made the ritual nods
to the Buddhas in the windows of the restaurant up there, and continued on
to Ward Warehouse. I arrived at Kincaid's before the musicians and stayed
until the end of their gig at 11:30. Harold was in excellent form and my
mind stopped playing Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" for awhile. I spent a
week's food and drink money in three hours, the first such fit I've had
for some time, almost started berating myself afterwards but decided it is
stupid to go on playing that game, even more stupid than whatever
foolishness I berate myself for.
I hadn't decided where to spend
the night but walked out to Magic Island to enjoy the stars. It
was, as usual, almost deserted and the few people who could be noticed in
the darkness could only be seen as silhouettes when moving around. I put
the Dylan tape on again, went out to the end of the peninsula and danced
to my favorite songs in a mood which had more in common with the late 60s
than the late 90s. I've often wondered how Dylan would handle old age.
He seems to be thinking about it now, too, and while I certainly wouldn't
follow him by wishing I could trade places with a young man (as he sings
in one song), "Not Dark Yet" is almost an anthem for this age and some
aspects of the way a man can look at it. Many of the tracks are great for
dancing, especially when alone, slightly drunk and under the stars, but
"Not Dark Yet" is also a wonderful walking song.
When I finally
settled down to sleep, it turned out to be the coldest night yet this
winter. The grass mats sufficiently insulate the sand's coldness but the
poncho is too difficult to keep in place as a blanket. When the sun
finally appeared after a beautiful and colorful dawn, its warmth was much
appreciated. I had a shower and took the bus to UH, with almost three
hours to go before library opening. After a breakfast matching the
previous Sunday's, I sat for awhile in the tranquil Japanese garden and
finished reading the main part of Magister Ludi, then moved to the
little Thai-style pavilion on the hill facing the Mall and listened to the
Dylan tape again. It is a great pleasure to see one of the men I most
admire from my generation add to his already impressive legacy
with such fine style.
But what then? Then there was a brief pause of unconsciousness, or
slumber, or death, and immediately afterward you were awake again, had to
admit the currents of life into your heart once more and once more let the
dreadful, lovely, terrible flood of pictures pour into your eyes,
endlessly, inescapably, until the next unconsciousness, until the next
death. That was, perhaps, a pause, a moment of rest, a chance to catch
your breath. But then it went on, and once again you were one of the
thousand figures engaged in the wild, intoxicating, desperate dance of
life. Ah, there was no extinction. It went on forever.
Cainer has been warning about a square between Mars and Saturn, so I was
prepared for static this week, possibly amplified by the Thanksgiving
holiday. I have never been totally sure of "forewarned is forearmed" when
it comes to astrology, but then I have also never been totally sure how
valid a discipline astrology is. Accepting no accidents, it is reasonable
(for me, at least) to assume the pattern of the solar system at the time
of birth might contain relevant information; accepting the very obvious
effect of the moon upon this planet, it seems reasonable to assume that
each of the planets has some effect as well. So I have long accepted
astrology as having relevance and have many times been impressed by how
events fit into the scenario indicated by astrological calculations, while
never being totally persuaded of even the basics, much less the
elaborations like the various house systems.
squared off in a boxing ring against Saturn is somewhat mind-boggling;
Cainer interprets it as encountering some obstacle that blocks progress,
but in his usual fashion of looking for the silver lining, suggests that
the pace was perhaps in need of adjustment. I haven't felt any progress
was being made anyway, or certainly not much, so feel no slackening of
pace. But it is an observably less harmonious inner landscape and I have
been moving through the days with caution. Some of the lack of harmony
is, as expected, reaching the time of the month when each penny spent must
be weighed carefully. That should, of course, always be the case for
someone in my position but I strongly dislike living like that, always
have, preferring to spend money as I please and when I please when I have
it and suffering the consequences if it runs out before more appears. I
have never argued with anyone who called this an irresponsible attitude
(and many have, including at times myself). So in one aspect of the
Mars-Saturn dance, I am squared off against myself, denying myself things
I want to do, trying to hang on to the dwindling dollars, even though I
know it is in some ways easier to have none than to so tediously debate
whether I should have one beer now or four cups of tea later. And worst
of all is knowing that it doesn't really matter. Like the fellow in
Hesse's Indian Life, I can get very discouraged by my undisciplined
mind. Unlike him, I don't know of any sage sitting in a forest
clearing waiting for me to become his servant and disciple.
Oh well, that did it. Had to go over to Manoa Garden and have a
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 20:30:14 -1000 (HST)
From: albert the panther
Subject: Thanksgiving Eve
There's a blonde lad outside Hamilton Library asleep on a bench, using a
stack of books as a pillow, wearing camouflage trousers. It is f*cking
raining in Manoa, and never mind that gawdawful Hapa track, there is
NOTHING romantic about "Manoa in the Rain". I really wanted to walk over,
first of all suggest a bench at Jefferson Hall would be drier, but even
more to see what the titles of the books were. But we have a Code, too.
I was working on Tale 020 and as a consequence convinced myself I needed a
beer. At UH Manoa, "a beer" = 32 ounces of one of the best beers I have
tasted in my long life, Red Hook Double Black Stout. Manoa Garden has the
best bartender in town (sorry about that, Amie). It also has some most
excellent regular patrons, so it was an enjoyable interlude in this week
when Mars is squared Saturn.
As I said to fletch earlier today, I could get food stamps. Just gotta
tell them I'm an alcoholic, got plenny bartenders in town to testify on my
behalf, including ones who ignore money put down to pay for drinks.
(fletch also said f*ck, but confessed she doesn't usually use the
asterisk; I sympathized because f*ck is really hard to pronounce).
Rabbett wrote a VERY long letter which was published in the current
Honolulu Weekly, in which he brags about the THOUSANDS of dollars he has
had in "contributions" for his web site. Maybe I should go Deja News and
dig out his old posts, he seems to have the virtual-begging-bowl technique
Anyway, my question is, if you have sex with the same person twice, is
that an "affair"?
Do you know the story of the monk, who begging in India, finished the
food that was given him and took his bowl to the stream to wash it. The
bowl slipped from his hands and fell into the stream. He watched it
float away on the current. He said "there goes my last guru."
That was sent to me by a reader and I have been thinking about it often
for a couple of days, but I still don't understand its meaning.
People have been spending too much money on me or, to put it another way,
I have been accepting too much generosity. Or at least I was feeling that
way. When I asked the I Ching about it, the message seemed to say
this is advantageous for all. A lecture on the perils of greed would have
been easier to assimilate.
Cainer says the three outer planets will all move into uniquely positive
relationships with my ruling planet, Mars, during this month and
revelatory changes may be expected. That's just fine with me. I started
reading Glass Bead Game again and I have been reading a collection
of Hesse's essays and articles, collected in a volume called My
Belief. Sitting in the little pavilion at
the exotic Center for Korean Studies building yesterday, I thought it was
strange that I am devoting almost all my reading attention to a man who
never actually found "It" even though he understood so completely what It
is. It reminded me of the book by Aldous Huxley, the first written after
his experiments with psychoactive drugs, where he speaks of finally
experiencing what he had been writing about for so many years. Well, at
least he had the illusion of experiencing. There goes my last
guru. What can its meaning be?
In any case, I feel more comfortable reading a fellow searching pilgrim
than any of those who wrote from a supposed position of having arrived at
the destination. Even Krishnamurti, whose writings can be so wonderfully
refreshing and comforting, sometimes strikes me as a bit pompous, almost
overly self-satisfied with his inner discipline and powers of perception,
and he is one of the arrived pilgrims with the best manners; reading some
of the others would probably make me physically ill at this point.
Meanwhile, I survived the Mars-Saturn square, was more or less tricked
into indulging in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, heard some most
excellent music on several occasions, saw two amusing films (Mars
Attacks and Star Trek: First Contact) and always had plenty
to drink: that was the holiday that was.
Several projected Tales have been in the works for weeks and Tale 014d has
given me the greatest problems, was written with pen on paper and sat in
my backpack for days in between re-reading, amending and adding. It still
doesn't greatly please me, but the I Ching gave the green light for
putting it up. It is easy, even enjoyable to write these rambles about
day-to-day life and thinking; fairly easy to write about the distant past,
aside from trying to distill information until it takes the form of these
snapshots; but difficult to write of people who are still living, of times
in the Magic Theatre and the expulsions from it. Neither Egbert nor Kevyn
have been given satisfactory portraits; I could have done better with
paint on canvas (and did, with Egbert).
I should be grateful no one has asked me why I am writing these
There were numerous public and private replies to my not-too-serious
question as to whether having sex twice with the same person could be
called having an affair, some of them quite amusing ("not if you're
married" was my favorite). I don't think I could consider it an affair
unless the two participants at least knew each other's name, which is not
the case with my own example. And no, I wasn't (alas) referring to the
Japanese lad. This two-time one-night stand, as another reader put it,
involves a Korean.
Having added yet one more nationality to the list, I had fun remembering a
similar representative of each country. USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico,
Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, England,
Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia,
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Egypt, Rhodesia, South Africa,
India, Thailand, China, Japan and now, Korea. Well, just remember it was
spread out over 43 years since the very first encounter (Mexican). But ok,
I don't object if anyone calls me a slut.
There goes my last guru ...
I have a key. It gives me access to an
empty apartment for two weeks. The apartment is in Waikiki, near the Ala
Wai almost in the midpoint between places it can be crossed. The walk to
UH would thus be much shorter by taking a quick swim across the canal, but
life might be, too. It was so windy walking along the canal on Wednesday
morning I thought a sudden gust might blow me into the water, could
fantasize dropping to my knees and crawling to keep firmer contact with
The apartment has no electricity, which is perfect
since it interferes less with the natural rhythm of life as an urban
nomad. It does have a large, soft bed. An evening by candlelight with
that soft bed across the room encourages more hours spent sleeping than I
have known for a long time. There are three fish in a bucket of water,
awaiting their future destiny when the apartment is returned to the
landlord's custody. There is a crippled ground dove who limps in each
morning from the lanai and wanders around the room searching for seeds
left over from the birds who formerly lived there.
Aside from the
fish and the visiting ground dove, there is the utter luxury of being
alone for hours, free to sit and stare at the small area of sky visible
from the lanai, to read or listen to music, to dance or lay on the bed, to
shower, eat, drink ... to live without an audience.
A book was
left on the table, a hardcover novel published in 1995: Flesh and
Blood by Michael Cunningham. It is a well written novel, reminiscent
of John O'Hara but in this case about people I knew, even if the names are
different. Cunningham has a way of slipping in an elegantly turned phrase
which is sometimes slightly outrageous showing-off but more often like a
line of fine poetry dropped into an ordinary narrative passage, and twice
he made me laugh aloud. It's a good read and I'm glad it was left on the
For two days, there was a newspaper outside the door each
morning, so I sat like an ordinary householder, sipped on coffee and read
the newspaper. I could read the newspaper every day at Hamilton Library,
any number of newspapers from all over the world, but I'm glad I don't.
The coffee was canned Kona coffee with milk, happily on sale at 99 cents
from the nearby Food Pantry where everything seems too expensive, even
when offered at a special price.
I receive three daily mailings
from a Hindu organization on Kauai. One of them is a series of lessons
called Merging with Siva. This week they have talked about the
power of affirmation; that old trick of looking into the mirror and saying
"every day I am getting better" and variations on the theme, including
yesterday and today, of saying "I will get whatever money I need"
(emphasis on need, not want). Jay T. writes about being even more
broke than I am, but he has a huge CD collection and must have plenty he
can take to Rainbow Books and never miss.
Anyway, it was time to
shut the Underworld back in his cage, he was getting too rowdy;
time to tell the Tourist to stop whining about the holiday season;
time to let the Pilgrim have a go. But then I felt guilty because
I hadn't entered Harold Kama's gigs into the Donaghy database, so left the
sanctuary on the Ala Wai and took that windy walk to Hamilton Library.
There's a Christmas tree in the lobby, complete with wrapped gifts under
it. I wonder if they are just empty boxes.
You're under the influence, now, of a powerful, energising planetary
aspect. In consequence, you may be feeling exhausted. How come? Because
there's so much happening at once that you're getting overloaded. You may
need to reduce the amount of activity in your world so you can forget
everything else and focus on getting one thing absolutely right.
Perhaps that is what I was thinking, too, although I would not expect to
get even one thing "absolutely right", no matter how much I reduced the
amount of activity in my world.
And walking through that small
area between Manoa Garden and the Art Building is a melancholy experience
with no Chloe running out from some unknown place to greet me.
I am in truth the Steppenwolf that I often call myself; that beast
astray who finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is
strange and incomprehensible to him.
Re-reading Hesse's Steppenwolf was inevitable, so why postpone it.
I stopped in Rainbow Books and said to Wade "if you have the book I want,
will you buy it for me?" They had it, and he went half on the price and
paid the tax. I hadn't read it in at least ten years, as I recall, and
this may be the first time I read it without being under the influence of
anything stronger than beer. That hardly matters, every paragraph is
memory-saturated with far more exotic refreshments.
I think I have read this book more than any other
and having finished it, shall begin again because I got carried away and
swept through it too quickly in my pleasure over the re-encounter. There
are things that are not there which I thought were; embellishments or
interpretations I had added to it and through force of memory had come to
think of actually being in the book rather than just suggested by
And certainly for the first time, I felt almost comforted by
knowing that no matter how twisted my thinking has been recently, it
hasn't gotten quite as entangled as poor old Harry's. This is small
comfort, of course, since I know my silly mind is quite capable of
matching his at its worst.
It was too dark already to read more
when I returned to sanctuary, so I sat and looked at the candle flame for
an hour or so, remembering such hours long ago. I had become
disillusioned with the Rosicrucians whose exercises seemed little more
than an education in self-hypnotism; I was bored with muttering "gate,
gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi-sva" for hours. I found I could just
look at a candle flame and say "tick tock" to myself. Tricks to play on
the mind, so silly even if they do work. There was even a time I had the
tick-tock method so mastered I could persuade myself I was about to smoke
a cigarette laced with hashish and thus get quite stoned on an ordinary
cigarette. My pleasure at learning such tricks was tempered by being
annoyed at how stupid the mind is.
The Guardian Angel of Supplies [G.A.S.] wasn't working very hard
yesterday, although he was unusually generous with cigarettes, guiding my
path to where 7 or 8 totally unsmoked ones awaited discovery. There was
possible reason for his relaxed attitude otherwise. I rejected most of a
lunch which Kory K had already rejected and was thus available for the
taking; three dumpling-like objects of dreadful meat wrapped in equally
dreadful white dough, worse than manapua. I did eat one of the things,
but the Angel could understandably have said "oh well, be picky" when I
declined the other two. He did put a half-liter of Pepsi in my path, and
of course he knew I still had half a loaf of bread and a bit of mozzarella
cheese in the sanctuary. Assisted by the ABC stores, he also provided two
samples of Kona coffee during a moonlight walk along the beach in Waikiki,
so I am certainly not complaining.
Whoever ... angel or devil ... is looking out for the Underworld
dude was on duty, too. In the building next door, a young couple, Asian
but from the distance I could not tell if Japanese or Korean, proceeded to
remove all their clothes and demonstrate a number of positions together,
most of which included his feet and legs jiggling wildly in the air. Poor
fellow didn't have much staying power because the exhibition didn't last
very long but was quite enjoyable and I was grateful they didn't bother to
pull the drapes fully across their window.
But there is something a little lost about these days, something which
makes the Steppenwolf appropriate company. It's good having him
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and ..... errrr .... a roast chicken and
a pack of cigarettes.
Sharply reduced nicotine intake means a vastly increased hunger level. At
one point, I was walking around the campus thinking "I'd sell my soul for
a plate of fries and a beer." No market these days for souls, alas, and
mine is probably already too much in hock to have any resale value. I
rounded a corner and saw someone place one of those telltale neatly-tied
white plastic bags in a trash can. Eureka! A quarter of a leftover plate
lunch, consisting mainly of kim chee and rice. All those academicians and
social workers on the Homeless mail-list should toss aside everything they
have learned about helping the "homeless" and understand that the first
thing everyone should do is neatly re-tie their plastic lunch bags before
throwing them away.
Much of my thinking recently, too much of it, has been occupied with the
question of assistance from other people, inspired by their own games,
doubts and concerns. I thought I had sufficiently covered that in two
months of writing, but then I realized I still hadn't totally come to
terms with it myself. This is partly because of long-ago incidents. I
can still vividly recall the afternoon in the Himalayan foothills when I
received a letter from my mother saying they would not send me any more
money so long as I was in India -- and the money in question was my
money, left with them in case of emergency. Oh mama, can this really
be the end ...
And part of it is because of more recent times, although predating the
abandonment of the life of householder. Someone whose opinion I value is
firmly locked into the work for the night is coming Protestant work
ethic, rumbled warnings of disaster, and suggested I would be the
grasshopper of the fable, expecting my friends the ants to provide for me.
Another person wrote a variation on the theme, inspiring a passage in an
early Tale where I said I did not expect anything from anyone.
Now I am hearing different reactions, perhaps having more in common with
my mother's long-ago stance ... people wondering if their assistance is
really "good for" me, whether it might interfere with the "discipline" of
this path. How fortunate the Hindu wanderer in the fourth stage of his
life, surrounded by a culture which allows a householder to put rice in
the wanderer's bowl without such burdens of conscience, and allows him to
accept it without fear of being a parasite.
Echo from off-stage: There goes my last guru.
Ah, gentle readers (as authors of yore often wrote), if you wish to
contribute, ease your minds by thinking of me as an entertainer, a street
musician, a gypsy fortune-teller. If you read these tales, you must be
deriving some pleasure from them, perhaps vicariously enjoying a boss-free
life, perhaps feeling superior for being so sensible and self-sufficient,
perhaps for reasons I would never think of. I am not going to hold out a
cap, a tip bucket, a begging bowl. I am not going to think any less of
you if you contribute nothing, not even mere words of comment,
encouragement or criticism. But if you feel the urge to participate, do
not trouble yourself with concerns about whether it will be "good for" me,
please. Let me decide that.
Steppenwolf had the luxury of interest income from investments, could stop
in a gasthaus and order "a roast chicken" and a tumbler of wine. Oddly
enough, I have some interest income sitting in England waiting until I
write and say yes, send the check over, I'll try to find some way to cash
it. It wouldn't provide many roast chickens or tumblers of wine, but
would have been handy on the evening after I wrote the above when I
stopped in Duke's to hear Matt Swalinkavich. The bartender was amused
when I insisted upon glasses of iced water. I'm lucky to have spent so
much time in places like Duke's; no one minds if I sit around drinking
Of course I continued to think about the subject of this Tale on my walk
back to Waikiki and throughout the evening. Instant "publication" is, for
me, an integral part of the writing of these Tales; otherwise, I could
simply disappear from the online community and write for six months or a
year, then think of making it public. I enjoy the immediate feedback this
method provides and I enjoy the influence writing these things has upon
the way I live from day-to-day. What I don't like is having to think,
"can I write this, or will people just think it's a plea for sympathy?".
The opening of this Tale is such an example.
Well, that is my problem, not the reader's. My goal is to document this
trip as honestly as I can, both the inner and the outer aspects of it.
Caring what people think is probably my biggest problem right now. I am
not sure if walking right up to a public ashtray and taking the
longest butt there, no matter who is watching, is something I can ever
No, I did not regret the past. My regret was for the present day, for
all the countless hours and days that I lost in mere passivity and that
brought me nothing, not even the shocks of awakening.
There has been more reaction to Tale 024 than to any thus far, although
the tucked-away tale of the Japanese Garden also came in for much
attention. I especially enjoyed the remarks from readers who said don't
worry about who is watching, take what you want from the ashtrays or the
trash cans. Easier said than done, for me. I passed a trash can area on
the way to UH and there was an entire sound system thrown out there; the
speakers were clearly in good condition and I'd be willing to bet there
was only some minor problem (if any) with the amplifier. If I still had
an apartment, I certainly would have taken it all, with no qualms. In New
York, all of the carpets and most of the furniture came from those nights
on the Upper East Side when it was time to put out such "garbage", and
many of my friends used the same source for furniture and houseware.
There's something different about taking long cigarette butts and leftover
food. There shouldn't be. I'm working on it, and appreciate the
One reader said he had
been defending me with people who didn't believe some of the Tales. It
surprised me that anyone would not believe them, surprised me even more
that it would be a topic of discussion. The doubt seems to center on the
"famous" people who are mentioned in the Tales.
Ah, memories ... My mother claims that we met most of the famous movie
stars of the 40s, but I think by "met", she meant we waited in line and
got their autographs. I can remember only Victor Mature, because he was
so huge it nearly scared me to death when he took me in his arms and
hugged me and thus made a lasting impression on me. Independently, the
first "star" I met was Eddie Fisher, before he was married to Debbie
Reynolds. He would sing for the soldiers on Saturday nights at Fort Sam
Houston and was, I think, somewhat amused by the teenage kid in uniform
who had such a heavy crush on him. During that same time, Rick Nelson
came to San Antonio and I claimed to be a reporter on the Norwalk High
newspaper and got into the press conference, shook his hand and could have
fainted over how incredibly beautiful his blue eyes were.
Jumping to the major league, I stood outside the hall in Wiesbaden,
Germany to hand Maria Callas a single, beautiful rose, carefully selected
by me and the florist who was so impressed by my plans for it he refused
any payment. Like Fisher, I think she was amused by the teenage kid in
uniform, took my offering and kissed me on the cheek.
The first time I asked anyone for an autograph was in Atlanta. Judy
Garland played there on the way to her famous Carnegie Hall concert. My
friend, Buddy Jones, did the flowers for the show and gave me a huge
bouquet to toss on stage at the end. Afterwards, he took me backstage to
meet her. She was sitting in front of a mirror, fixing her mascara. I
asked if she would autograph my programme, and she did so, using the
mascara pencil. I had it framed on my walls for years, but it perished in
that Chelsea Hotel fire along with so many other such knick-knacks.
I was years later introduced to Marlene Dietrich in much the same way. My
doctor was also her doctor when she was in London, and she wanted him
backstage at every performance. It was a very special evening for me,
watching her from the wings, meeting her after the performance.
Such encounters are sweet memories, an honor to have been even briefly in
the company of much admired artists. But they were the result of being in
the right place at the right time, and having the good fortune to know
peripheral players. The longer-lasting encounters, the friendships, were
different and they all came about because I genuinely admired and
respected what the people were doing, and I told them so. It's a
life-long habit, still continuing. I only know so many Hawaiian musicians
because I love their music and I tell them so; it was no different with
Virgil Thomson or Maxwell Davies.
Many of the now-famous painters and sculptors I know were just beginning
when I first met them. Andy Warhol was better known in the fashion world
for his shoe ad designs than as an artist; even when he began to achieve a
small part of his later notoriety, it was still possible to find myself
sitting with him on Virgil's bed, sympathizing as he wept because he
couldn't get the money to do a film he wanted to do. Bob Rauschenberg was
further on his way to becoming a superstar of the art world, Jasper Johns
hadn't even had his first solo exhibition. It was much the same in the
London music world of the 60's ... musicians that later needed a stadium
to accommodate their fans were then playing in small theatres or even in
pubs. It was no different for me to go on Sunday and watch Jimi Hendrix
grin at me than it is to do it now with Harold Kama, Jr.
I am certain the main reason I have come to know so many notable people is
the genuine love I have had for their work. Another factor is that I have
never taken "fame" very seriously. How could anyone who had the laughable
honor to be called "the most promising young American artist since Jackson
Pollock" in a public lecture possibly take "fame" seriously? I loved the
work, often I came to love the creator of the work, and it mattered not to
me (or to them) whether they were "famous", how many magazines printed how
many silly articles about them, how many mayflies swarmed around them when
the cameras were rolling and were never seen otherwise.
I had been considering this "aside" for awhile now, but the notion that
the historic Tales might be fiction brought it to the fore. As I said to
the Reader, if I were writing a fictional past for myself, it would be far
more glamorous! Jean-Paul Belmondo or Alain Delon would have been my
lover while I was in the Army in Germany, just for starters.
There is much to be said for
contentment and painlessness, for these bearable and submissive days, on
which neither pain nor pleasure is audible, but pass by whispering and on
A couple of weeks ago, someone gave me a coupon from the McDonald's card
campaign entitling me to a free choice of several food options and a small
cup of coffee. I had tucked it away, saving it for some future time when
I was "desperate". I mentioned to a reader that I had been walking around
feeling hungry all day and might resort to using that coupon. She noted
that it was unlike me to have saved it to begin with and wondered if that
represented some shift in attitude. Voila! Little wonder the Guardian
Angel of Supplies had been so inactive; why should he trouble himself when
I was walking around with a free meal in my pocket.
So on my way back to Waikiki from UH, I stopped and had a Broiled Chicken
Deluxe Sandwich and a small coffee. The lady behind the counter said "you
were lucky to get both free!", correcting her mistake in ringing up the
coffee. Quite true.
The next morning, I found three pennies within minutes of starting the
walk to UH, a fine omen. And the Angel was back on duty. I was prepared
for lunch, with a packet of dried spinach-miso soup, but when making my
tea-time rounds of the best ashtrays (one has to stay ahead of the army of
Filipino ladies cleaning them out), I found the remains of a chicken katsu
mini-plate which was quite delicious despite those vegetables which are
still totally alien to me, an almost full cup of hot chocolate, and most
unusual of all, half a cup of tea. One must be grateful the student body
at UH is so affluent they can buy such things and then decide they don't
want them, so lazy that instead of taking them to the nearest trash can,
they simply leave them sitting on benches.
On the walk back to Waikiki, there was a penny in the middle of the
street. I walked past it, stopped, waited for traffic to pass, returned
and pocketed the penny. It isn't wise to ignore the melon that falls from
heaven, no matter how small. When darkness began to fall, I sat for
awhile in the twilight until Venus was shining brightly, then lit the
candle and thought, let's try that old trick, let's turn water into
tequila. Out of practice though I am, after a few minutes of the
exercise, the water gave me a warm inner glow and I went to lie down for
Captain John was supposed to be at the Irish Rose, as is his usual habit
on Tuesdays, so I walked first past Duke's to see if he was there. He
wasn't, so I went on to the Rose. Only one fellow I knew was there,
lamenting how broke he was. We hugged and commiserated. I went on to the
Shorebird to say hello to one of my favorite bartenders, Greg, who
insisted I have a beer, and we had a good time talking about the recently
departed J.P. and old times at Duke's, where Greg was the bartender during
the time it was my daily afternoon habitat. A fellow visiting from Alaska
was there and the conversation turned to art. I said I only wished I had
made paintings of beer cans before Andy did soup.
The Alaskan dude went on his way, so I returned to the Rose which was
almost empty. I sat on a concrete block outside, waiting to see if John
would arrive, and was soon joined by a lady who had been handing out
leaflets for one of those tour desk operations. It was the end of her
shift so she was just waiting for time to go home. She is a former
stripper, said she made lots of money at it but spent it all on drugs and
ended up living under a bridge for two years. By working seven days a
week, she makes enough handing out leaflets to keep a roof over her head.
We exchanged stories of life on the streets in Waikiki and then she said
"I want you to have a beer on me", gave me two dollars (and change for the
tax) and told me to go get a 40 oz. bottle of Mickey's. What a cool
We said goodbye to each other and I walked through the Royal Hawaiian
Shopping Center to replenish my tobacco supply. It was tempting to spend
that two dollars on the bottle of beer, but I thought I'd really rather
have cups of coffee for the next couple of days and was sure she'd
The next morning was clear and beautiful. I decided to forego my usual
trek to the University and spend the day in Waikiki. A corner shop offers
large cups of excellent coffee for 51 cents, so I bought one of those and
walked to the beach to enjoy it and watch the beachboys setting up their
stands and the Marathon runners out for early practice. I dallied too
long, the Shopping Center cleaning staff had already begun the rounds of
the ashtrays. So I walked along the beach to the Zoo corner, headed for
the local library and its email terminal, discovering along the way two
ashtrays outside the Queen Kapiolani Hotel which were heavy laden with
lengthy cigarette butts.
After checking email at the library, I returned to the beach and spotted
Captain John waiting for enough customers to take his catamaran out. We
talked for awhile, then he said he wanted some eggs and asked if I'd share
a breakfast. The man has such style, he made it seem like I would be
doing him a favor by agreeing. The place next to the Police Station
certainly takes good care of the beach workers; that plate-lunch
breakfast must have weighed five pounds: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage,
macaroni salad and two scoops rice. John told me to take it on board
while he was getting ready to cast off, and to eat all the meat especially
because he didn't want any. Delicious bacon! After finishing the iced
tea he bought to go with it, I had two beers from the boat's ice chest, a
most excellent breakfast indeed, especially in that beautiful setting in
the calm waters off Diamond Head.
John tried to get me to put on a life preserver (I cannot swim) and go in
the water, but I said I'd need to have five beers before I'd go in water
that deep, preserver or not. One of these days I'll do it.
Now whether these short and occasional hours of happiness balanced and
alleviated the lot of the Steppenwolf in such a fashion that in the upshot
happiness and suffering held the scales even, or whether perhaps the short
but intense happiness of those few hours outweighed all suffering and left
a balance over is again a question over which idle persons may meditate to
their hearts' content.
As has happened several times in recent weeks, I ended up spending
Thursday afternoon at the Manoa Garden. I had stopped over to see Kory K
and to pick up my Willie K tee shirt, both for the added warmth under my
sweatshirt and in the unlikely event I made it down to the Pier Bar to see
Willie later. Kory talked so much about the good drinks he had consumed
the night before that he made us both thirsty so we moved the conversation
to Manoa Garden where Bryant the bartender was in full swing and one of my
favorite drinking buddies, Tomita-san, was already in progress with his
session. They serve 32 oz. tumblers of a wicked dark brew called Red Hook
Double Black Stout which is so good it makes Guinness taste awful. On top
of several of those came a demonstration of how the bottle top on Cuervo
1800 makes two perfect shots when the bottle is turned upside down, only
the two perfect shots got poured into one glass and the demonstration was
repeated, with Tomita-san and I left to destroy the evidence.
I honestly cannot remember exactly what happened after a certain point,
have no idea whether I left the bar first or Tomita-san did. I vaguely
recall seeing Ryan Ozawa in the garden outside and talking with him; he
mentioned the next day something about a tuna sandwich but the only thing
I know about that was waking up the next morning and finding a piece of
bread neatly wrapped in plastic, tucked in my back pocket and destined for
the crippled ground dove which comes to visit every morning.
I think I walked down to Rainbow Books and was given a ride to Waikiki by
Wade Nakaya, but I'm not sure. Wade and I stayed for the entire Genoa gig
and I know I talked to Aunty Genoa afterwards but haven't got a clue what
I said to her. I don't remember getting back to the sanctuary, either,
but woke up at dawn with an elegant electric cigarette lighter, the piece
of bread, and most strange of all, someone's pay slip (minus check) in my
I think I had a wonderful time, in fact I'm quite sure of it.
Strangely enough, there was absolutely no hangover from the long drinking
sessions, despite having had almost nothing to eat all day. I walked in
the next morning's pre-dawn light up Kapahulu Avenue toward UH, continued
further up than had been my habit and thus saw that delightful Bangkok
Nights club with its wall painting of the full moon over Bangkok and the
wonderful Thai dragon. It makes the Wyland murals look even more banal in
Finals time at the University means the library stays open every
night until midnight but the campus is almost deserted and I could stay on
a terminal for as long as I liked without worrying about anyone else
needing it. Consequently I discovered that even though one is given a
warning about an "automatic logoff" after 50 minutes, in fact no such
thing happens. Live and learn ...
During a break I strolled over to the art building and had a cup of
coffee while enjoying the bamboo grove. A student came out and sat beside
me, talked about the next exhibition which will be at the Commons Gallery
and gave me an invitation to the opening on the 20th. I suppose with that
in my possession I can partake of the free food and drink without feeling
like a party crasher, as I would have at the other openings this
I worked on a couple of the historical tales and decided two of them were
ready to put up, but I re-read and grumbled over west cromwell
road. The second half of the 60s was a very exciting time to be in
London and that tale makes it sound all too ordinary, tells little of the
fun and excitement of watching new musicians appear on the scene and
become almost overnight world celebrities. That one needs some
In the mid-afternoon I walked down to the Church of the Crossroads to see
Helen Rapozo who, contrary to the newspaper obituary reports was still
very much alive (it was a different H.R.), and was there to set up the
lights and sound for the play to be presented that evening. Helen kindly
played early Santa and presented me with some AA batteries so I can go
back to rewinding the tape to hear Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" over and over.
After visiting with her, I finally yielded and used a dollar of the meagre
resources to buy a Whopper at Burger King and another fifty cents to get a
vending machine coffee to go with it (the machine coffee is not only
better than BK's, it is cheaper). It turned out to be an unusually clear
night over Manoa and the moon, planets and stars were dazzling there and
during my walk back to Waikiki. Back in sanctuary, I read
Steppenwolf for awhile by candlelight while serenaded by the
hellish sound of karaoke from the nearby hotel bar, unpleasant but
not altogether an inappropriate background for the book.
The predawn walk to UH the next morning involved lots of getting out of
the way of the armies of joggers preparing for the Marathon, some of whom
gave friendly smiles, others who glared as if the sidewalk was their
private running track. Outside Sam Choy's on Kapahulu, one of those
neatly tied white plastic bags was sitting on the ledge. I went to
investigate and found inside a complete serving of kalua pig and cabbage,
totally untouched. Wondering why someone would buy it and just leave it
there like that, I nevertheless took it up to UH, put it in the microwave
to warm it, and murmured praise for the Guardian Angel of Supply as I
enjoyed a thoroughly delicious breakfast.
Another was that he was numbered among the suicides. And here it must
be said that to call suicides only those who actually destroy themselves
is false. The "suicide", and Harry was one, need not necessarily live in a
peculiarly close relationship to death. What is peculiar to the suicide
is that his ego, rightly or wrongly, is felt to be an extremely dangerous,
dubious, and doomed germ of nature ...
I wish this long life was over ...
and about three Jesus cried aloud "eli, eli, lema sabachtani", which
means "my god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?"
I remembered it as "eloi, eloi, lama sabachtani", but the above is the way
the New English Bible puts it. After some considerable research
here at the most excellent Hamilton Library of the University of Hawai'i,
the one I like the best is "alohi, alohi, l'mono shecach theni". That's
from a very early version of the Gospel According to Mark, where it was
thought Jesus of Nazareth was speaking in Syriac. Seems no one knew what
language he was uttering. I looked through lots of volumes of writings by
the "Church Fathers", who so far as I could find totally ignored
Only Matthew and Mark's Gospels mention it.
But it must be crucial. I can't find Bertrand Russell's Why I
Am Not a Christian in this gawdawfully arranged library, but there are
three reasons I am not a Christian.
Jesus of Nazareth cursed the fig tree. It wasn't time for the tree to be
bearing fruit, says so right in the Book. But no, HE was HUNGRY, wanted a
damned fig, and because the tree couldn't give him the treat he wanted, He
CURSED it. If that's "divine", I'm the Queen of Sheba.
Never mind the excuses, I've read them all. That was tacky.
Then, hanging on the Cross, knowing that was his Destiny, he moans "eloi,
eloi, lama sabachtani"??? Excuse me? One really cool dude named Clarke
who wrote voluminous commentaries on the Gospels, tries really, really
hard to weasel out from it. Oh well, at least he mentioned it, unlike
Augustine and Gregory.
Ok, so I have been wrestling with Jesus this week. Not too surprising,
given the mania which grips the world at this time of the year. Fuck it,
celebrate the Winter Solstice, makes much more sense.
Ah, you wonder about the title of this chapter? There's something
totally, absolutely, completely weird about the fact that when I feel
right at the bottom of my resources, just want to bid aloha oe to this
so-called life, a local Japanese dude steps in to tell me it's worth
Tomita-san, I love you, and I hope you have a long life full of all the
best it can offer. I love you, you are one MAJOR sweetheart and
you deserve some kine BEEG reward for being so kind to an old dude
And me ke aloha pumehana to everyone who wrote to ask if I'm okay.
No, but thanks for asking.
Just before dawn in downtown Honolulu, a group of people dressed all in
yellow were doing Tai Chi in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. They do a
simpler version than the young man who does it each morning at Ala Moana
Beach, but after watching him for some time now, I'm inclined to think
he's just showing off. I could be wrong and if so, offer up apologies via
that great switchboard in the sky which directs such things to the proper
I have been drinking too much all week. It isn't likely I'll do anything
to correct that until these wretched holidays are over, but then there
might be a drying out break until January 12th when Manoa Garden re-opens.
Note that I said might be.
It is my great good fortune to have the keys to an apartment on the 33rd
floor of the Honolulu Tower until after Christmas. The lanai provides a
splendid view of the mountains and Nuuanu valley and off into the distance
past Tripler. Before dawn the mountains were wrapped in low, misty clouds
which gave way to white, fluffy ones shining in the bright December sun.
Behaving myself, I've only made one change to the decor, temporarily
replacing a watercolor which was hanging over the computer with a
photograph of Harold Kama, Jr. in a Russian enamel frame.
Ah, but where were we with these current tales? Like I said, drank too
much beer and far too many Surfers on Acid last week ... at Manoa
Garden, Duke's, and Pier Bar primarily. The highlight of the week was
definitely Thursday and the long delightful afternoon with Tomita-san (and
especially the dance of getting him onto a homeward-bound bus) followed by
three hours in the excellent company of Aunty Genoa and crew, then Willie
K and Harold and Guy at the Pier Bar. I was fairly drunk at one point in
Manoa Garden but got a little worried about Wesley and that sobered
me up slightly; then I felt such a heavy mixture of warm happiness over
the afternoon with him plus sadness at knowing I probably won't see him
until the 12th that it took awhile for Genoa to lift my mood. Can't
resist the love from that woman for long, though ... her happiness is
Willie was in a good mood, too, and Bryant the bartender from the Garden
stopped down, so the Surfers flowed all night, the music was great,
and the only bummer was staggering over to the Immigration Building where
some poor dude hacked and coughed so loudly all night it kept waking me
(and everyone else) up. I was so weary of listening to him, I
left at about 5:30 and went over to the beach at Ala Moana for the
sunrise. Consequently I was feeling pretty trashed by
mid-morning, paid only a brief visit to UH, and then set out for
downtown and the agreed-upon meeting to collect the key. I was
sufficiently early that I stopped by the Pier Bar and it was good
to see Jimbo, reminding me again that more of my favorite people
in this town are bartenders than any other profession ... and so
much for any thoughts of drinking less.
I see I have some .... errr ... interesting potential reading here. John
Milton's Complete Poems and Major Prose, a heavy looking volume of
Seventeenth Century Prose and Poetry, and an even heavier looking
two-volume set entitled The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
But I spent the first evening with my own India notebooks, and I guess
I'll go back to that, now.
No plain not followed by a slope, no going not followed by a return.
He who remains persevering in danger is without blame. Do not complain
about this truth; enjoy the good fortune you still possess.
I've given away more money this month than I've spent on myself. It
doesn't really feel any different to have given fifty dollars to a dear
old lady who needs it than it does to have spent almost that much at the
wretchedly expensive Kincaid's in Ward Warehouse. Not really. I suppose
if I thought it was going to feel different, my motives weren't screwed on
right to begin with. There is at least the comfort of knowing that no
matter what my motives, genuine or imagined, the recipients won't need to
be concerned with that, it's entirely my problem.
After almost three months of this nomadic existence, I've come to know
most of the Waikiki and Manoa nomads, if not by name and to talk to,
certainly by almost daily observation and familiarity. Some of the most
destitute would not even be recognized as such by casual observers,
perhaps the most destitute of all somehow find ways to remain invisible
until those empty early hours before dawn.
One morning last week, just before the sun rose, I met one such nomad, a
middle-aged Filipino fellow who had a warm and wonderful smile despite
missing quite a few of his teeth. He didn't even have a shirt, was trying
to warm himself by rubbing his arms vigorously. The only tee shirt I
was carrying that I could have given him was the Willie K one Harold
Kama gave to me. I did seriously consider it and feel thoroughly
disgusted with myself for not having either given him that or the UH shirt
I was wearing, my favorite at the moment. Instead I gave him money to buy
one. I should have done both. It's not dark yet, but it's getting
there. It's not light yet, and sometimes I wonder if it ever will get
Strange thoughts, sitting up here in the eagle's nest of this splendid
apartment in downtown Honolulu. The sun hasn't risen yet, hasn't even
begun to touch the sky with light. Oahu twinkles below me. Even those
ugly encroachments of buildings up the sides of the beautiful mountains
look magical at night and in the early morning hours, fingers of lights
reaching into the darkness. By 5:30, the low hum of traffic on the
highways begins to increase and the landscape of lights becomes more
active, more and more points of light begin to trace ribbons between the
unmoving ones as people make their way to what they consider their duties
on this first day when the light begins to strengthen again, the days
finally begin the slow crawl back to the other Solstice.
Until this year, winter has always been my favorite time in Hawai'i, but
an urban nomad cannot help but look forward to the longer days and warmer
nights promised by passing through that deepest winter night.
I pour a second cup of tea. The luxury of it! Even on the Journey to the
East, which is so occupying my thoughts as the Tales progress and the
notebooks are re-read, I had to wait for someone to bring me tea in the
morning or go out in search of somewhere to buy it. Hot showers, a soft
plump futon for sleeping, a view that is worth a fortune (and costs a
small one), excellent computer gear ... an Aladdin's cave for the Winter
Solstice of '97.
And the luxury of solitude, of existing unobserved.
The sky grows light enough to make out the shape of the clouds and the
silhouette of the mountains. Soon the downtown district, the most alien
place of all for me, will fully wake up and resume its mysterious
business. I don't understand life on the streets of downtown, neither the
daytime mix of straight-looking "business" folk rushing about their
"business" with their briefcases and worried looks, the old Filipino
gentlemen who gather in flocks and chatter all day, the destitutes who lie
collapsed in doorways with their brown-bagged empty bottles by their
sides, or the night-time mix of revelers from the Aloha Tower Marketplace
or Restaurant Row wandering around looking for whatever they are looking
for amidst the destitutes not yet collapsed and the hookers who have
deteriorated too much to work on Kuhio Avenue. The "seedy" part of
Chinatown is almost gone. Even on the one main block which still remains
of its once rowdy night-life, many of the buildings are now vacant,
awaiting the arrival of another posh restaurant or quaint gallery. The
Chinatown of fresh fruits and vegetables, wonderful smells of herbalists
and small, family-run eateries is the only part of downtown which makes
sense to me, the only place I feel comfortable.
I didn't go out at all on my first evening in this sanctuary, only briefly
went out during the daytime on Saturday. On Saturday evening I went to
hear BB Shawn because he deserves a bigger audience than he was likely to
get on an evening when so many other things were happening in this town.
Sunday afternoon I walked down to the Aloha Tower to say hello to Kevin
Murphy and other friends who work there but didn't linger, returned to
sanctuary and work on the Tales and the dusty links of the old Panther's
Cave. I would have gone out to listen to music on Sunday evening but I
learned my lesson earlier this month ... first I get a January bus pass
before I go anywhere I might end up spending that money.
I sit and watch the dawn of the first Monday of Winter. Venus and Mars
are conjunct today, as they were on the day of my birth. It's going to be
a beautiful day. Now all I need to do is make the inner as the outer.
The white clouds are denser over the mountains today but it seems to be
blue sky elsewhere. From the view here, it is difficult to tell what the
weather might be over Waikiki. Rain is falling in Nuuanu Valley and the
peak at the back of the valley is almost totally obscured. My mind felt
much like that when I awoke.
After that time of almost total seclusion, I decided to walk down to the
Aloha Tower, intending to stay briefly at Pier Bar for a chat with Jimbo.
A Japanese fishing boat was parked alongside and I was enjoying watching
the crew who were sitting on deck eating watermelon. Then a strikingly
handsome young man came out on deck and leaned on the rail looking over at
the bar. He stayed in that same area for hours, sometimes sitting down
and smoking a cigarette, other times standing again at the rail. He wore
a white cloth tied in a band around his head and was dressed almost all in
white, a very romantic image. I forgot about plans to make it a brief
visit and stayed until late afternoon, chatting with Jimbo and some other
people who stopped down, and watching the fisherman who was clearly aware
of my attention, as was another of the crew members who appeared to be
teasing him about it at one point. As they began to prepare for
departure, he went to the front of the boat and pulled in the ropes; a
rat-barrier disc got trapped in the hole and he had to swing partly over
the railing to get it through. I left the bar and stood on the pier
closer to the ship, watching it pull away and as they were about to turn
for the exit from the harbor, he smiled and waved at me. A sweet
Then I made the mistake of stopping in Gordon Biersch to wish some friends
there happy holidays. As if I hadn't already had enough beer from the
afternoon at Pier Bar, I accepted a glass of GB's wicked Christmas Bock,
maybe had a second, and a Surfer on Acid. Little wonder my mind
was as obscured by mist as the mountains this morning.
Continuing my way through those India notebooks, I've reached the point
where the days seem to melt into one continuous hunt for ways to get high
and it's hard to see through the babble and remember what a basically
happy time it was. I can vividly recall the feel of the dining room at
the YMCA Tourist Hostel in Jai Singh Road, of walking out and seeing the
ancient astronomical complex across the street; the unique and always
interesting grand circle of Connaught Place and all those juice bars and
cafes and restaurants where I'd spend most of every day sitting around
talking with fellow travelers and the few young Indians who could afford
to join us.
There are many parallels to life now, almost 25 years later. My time was
my own, I had no job to go to, no set obligations. I was constantly
broke, but spent more money on dope than I did on food. I was even
reading the same book. I was on a pilgrimage but I didn't know to where
and had no defined goal, never had that "search for the Wisdom of the
East" trip that so many Westerners have out there.
The clouds and rain are now obscuring the entire mountain range outside, a
continuing mirror of my mind. Sitting in this eagle's nest, I don't have
to concern myself with finding something to eat, because there is a
well-stocked kitchen with permission to raid. There is even a large
supply of beer of various kinds. If I would buy a carton of cigarettes, I
wouldn't have to leave here at all this week. It's tempting to do that
even if it would leave me virtually penniless. Or, because that time
approaches in the India Notebooks, I could continue the parallel by having
no cigarettes, a less attractive temptation but one, nonetheless.
Yesterday was a mistake, despite enjoying so much that interlude with the
Japanese sailor. Lots of days documented in those notebooks were
mistakes, maybe most of them. Occasionally I realized it even then. It's
a little discouraging to see myself 25 years ago and compare it to now.
So little progress, so many of the same sillinesses and self-indulgences,
so much of the same confusion. Boredom alleviated by hashish or boredom
alleviated by beer, it's hardly any different. Amusement provided by a
dark-eyed Indian lad or by a handsome young Japanese sailor, it's no
But thought's the slave of life, and life's time's fool, and time,
that takes survey of all the world, must have a stop.
Ho ho ho.
My first Christmas memory is from the year I was three or four and it
snowed in San Antonio, an event rare enough for anyone to remember. I was
given a big playhouse and had a fierce argument with my mother because I
wanted to put it outside. I couldn't understand the sense of having "a
house inside a house". Only later did I realize it was my first attempt to
run away from home. Another Christmas from those days I only remember
from the photograph of me standing on the front porch surrounded by war
game toys. In a nation involved in a humongous war and reduced to using
books of ration stamps (yep, remember those, too), seems ludicrous that
people were buying their children toy tanks and guns.
I didn't much like Christmas as a child. I liked the colored light from
the tree and most especially the first year they had those amazing bubble
lights. I loved my Lionel train which was only brought out at Christmas
and circled the tree. My father spent more time playing with it than I
did, though. It was really his train, mine in name only. I loved hard
candy, especially those ribbons, and I liked some of the music. But there
weren't enough plusses to balance all the fuss and bother, and then, as
now, I hated having to wait for something that I knew I was going to get
once the calendar said it was finally time.
Christmas in the Army was an even greater nuisance because I had to buy
presents and get them in the mail. I pretty much gave up on that once out
of the Army, but it took me a couple of decades to get brave enough to
stop sending cards as well. Germany, though, is certainly one of the
better places to spend the Christmas season. Not sure about now, but
forty years ago the German way of celebrating seemed less artificial,
warmer and more beautiful.
New York must be one of the worst places. The city is always too crowded,
anyway, and the combination of the Christian and Jewish holidays sends it
over the edge. Yes, it is beautiful at Rockefeller Center with the big
tree and the skaters on ice in that art deco setting, but the shopping
mania which grips the world in late December turns Manhattan into a
nightmare. And the parties, the dinners, the drinks, the thousand ways to
find a thousand excuses not to attend ... even now I shudder at the
memory. My favorite Christmas in New York in the 60's was the year we
decided to open the summer studio in Frenchtown and invite a small group
of friends to stay out there for ten days. Frances flew up from
Washington. It was very cold and the water supply which came from a
natural spring, collected and pumped into a tank, kept getting shut off by
ice. There was a huge oil heater in the main haybarn area which never got
the room really warm, but did a great job now and then of spluttering and
filling the place with fumes. But it was a real country Christmas and
despite the inconveniences, spending a holiday season out in the country
with a small group of good friends was infinitely better than slogging
through the dirty mush of crowded Manhattan streets to spend time with
people I didn't particularly want to see at any time, much less
In London, we always seemed to be especially broke at Christmas time.
This was largely because much of our income came from educational
institutions which ran out of money toward the end of the year and
postponed their purchases until January. One year the University of Texas
must have had a surplus they had to spend, and it was a bonanza for us,
but that was a rare exception. Our best friend, though, was one of those
people who truly enjoys buying gifts for people and he would go nuts at
Christmas, many years single-handedly stuffing our stockings and filling
the place with brightly wrapped boxes.
At the end of that Cromwell Road era, I spent my first Christmas in years
with my parents and sister in California. I stayed smashed out of my head
on valium and hashish-spiked cigarettes. My mother had put an exhaust fan
in the window of the bedroom and I was required to smoke either outside or
in front of that fan. It was perfect ... until I learned the next door
neighbor worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency! I got so smashed on
Christmas Eve, I nearly fell into the Christmas tree, was only rescued by
my brother-in-law grabbing me and helping me regain my balance. It was,
indeed, a Nightmare Christmas, that year of "bye, bye Miss American
The best Christmas of my life was in 1973. There is no Christmas in
Kathmandu, no decorations, no carols, nothing. It's just another day. I
had gone to the Unity Restaurant for Dawn's wonderful, traditional
American dinner on Thanksgiving, but was adamant about avoiding the place
during the week before Christmas since it was one of the few places in
town which might have gotten infected by the alien bug. Still, I did
yield to the inescapable conditioning and made it a slightly special day
by having a hamburger at the posh Annapurna Hotel. The only flaw
in that holiday was a group of Australians who played "Feed the
World" over and over until I was ready to scream "let the buggers
During the Vanderbilt Y years, I made some small gesture to the season by
putting up a little greenery and lights. That childhood love of the
colored light effect in a room is one aspect of Christmas I have always
enjoyed. And I made one final visit to the family home in California when
was more than mellowed out by the recent killing of John Lennon and was
subdued compared to my prior visit. It was not a success, however, and I
was determined never to repeat the mistake.
During the high-income mid-80's years in London, for the first time in my
life I was the one who went shopping berserk. Almost every day I was on
the telephone in some shop getting Visa and MasterCard to raise my credit
limit one more time. Some days Jonathan and I were so laden with
packages, we had to take a taxi home and leave them before returning to
resume the hunt. It was madness.
Here in Honolulu, when Jonathan was living with me, I yielded to his love
for the season. The apartment was always decorated from top to bottom
(mostly top, since Chloe would trash anything she could reach), lots of
tapes of seasonal music were to be heard playing all month, all the
television specials and long-time traditional films were watched, the
place was full of chocolate and candies, and the usual feast was prepared
(even including, one year, a traditional rum-soaked pudding which Mama
White sent from England).
Those may be the last "traditional" Christmases of my life.
Okage sama de, genki desu...
"Because of the Shadow, I am fine." Another person crazy enough to write
publicly about what is going on in his life and in his head talks about
that Japanese phrase. "I am what I am because of you" or "My
accomplishments, big and small, have been made possible because of
you." Since I've been lucky enough to have this sanctuary for a week
with its fine computer gear, I've gone back over all these Tales, my
Shadow. Made a few minor revisions, especially to the history series,
fixed some typos, but basically they can stand as is. These day-to-day
rambles are easy to write, moving back and forth between the inner and the
outer. Some of the ones about the past were also easy, but some of them
were really tough, both to think about and to set down in words. The more
a person contributed to the Shadow, the harder it is to write about them.
Toughest of all are those tales from the Underworld Dude. He's got
some more stuff to talk about but at least he spit some of it out. (One
reader will probably give me a hard time for speaking as if those tales
were written by another person, but in many ways that's not just "poetic
license", it's the way I think of it.)
Meanwhile, life goes on in this eagle's nest. There are five rooms, but
I've stayed in the smaller computer room most of the time with the big
glass sliding door to the lanai open, so it's like sitting outside. As I
told someone, the mountains seem nearer than the people down in the
streets. I had to partly close the door for the first time yesterday
because the wind was so strong it was blowing stuff all over the room, but
most of the time I can sit at the computer, glance over to my left and see
those beautiful mountains, feel the breeze of the tradewinds and be
reminded of sitting in the "room with a view" in Mussoorie, India, with
mountains looking much like those outside. It's a shame they put roads
and houses on so many of them here. At night, as I wrote, the lights from
that urbanization look quite beautiful. In the daytime, it's impossible
not to wish the entire range of mountains and the approaching hills
weren't declared off-limits to builders and wheels.
I haven't gone out much since that too-long afternoon at the Aloha Tower.
One day I stayed in for the entire day, only going over to Indigo
Restaurant at closing time to say hello to Nancy Manchester, another one
of those folks who make bartending into something more than just a job.
Although she's no longer there, Nancy was one of the bartenders who opened
Gordon Biersch and was certainly one of the reasons that place was my main
hangout for a year. And they wonder why their revenues have gone down
A party which had been planned for Christmas night was cancelled, somewhat
to my relief. Although I'm always happy to see Captain John, a Christmas
party is not my notion of an ideal occasion. In the early afternoon, I
went up to visit Kory K and sat on his lanai drinking vodka and Coke,
watching two guys setting off fireworks in the street below. One was
dressed in white, the other in black. They would run, one at a time, out
of the house, set off firecrackers and run back inside. It seemed to be
almost a contest between black and white, but neither had the sense to set
off a second batch a few moments after the first and thus create a bigger
impression. This is the first year I've noticed so many fireworks on
Christmas. It didn't much surprise me down here near Chinatown, but I
didn't expect them in Manoa.
Then it was down to Waikiki to see Genoa Keawe at the Regent. It was good
of them to play on Christmas evening. Given the size of her family, the
holiday must be a very busy time for her but if she was tired, there was
no sign of it. During one of the breaks, I was sitting at the bar
talking, not paying attention to what was going on around me, and Genoa
came up from behind, grabbed my head in her arms and hugged me. It felt
wonderful, a great Christmas present. Those hours each week with her and
her "band" are one of the most special things about living on this
At lunchtime on the day after Christmas, I went for a walk through the
business district. I saw two men from the office where I used to work but
they were on the other side of the street and didn't notice me. The walk
was a strong reminder of all those lunch hours I spent just walking around
downtown. Until Gordon Biersch opened, that is.
I don't think there is any way I could go back to spending five days a
week in a downtown Honolulu office.
In the evening I took a bus over to Waikiki. Actually, I took two buses.
It looked like it might rain, there was a long wait for a bus going
directly from Chinatown to Waikiki, so I got on one to Ala Moana.
Considering the fact that the day after Christmas is one of the busiest
times of the year there, the folks who manage The Bus seem pretty
clueless. After more than fifteen minutes, a Number 8 bus finally came.
I had walked down to the Ewa end bus stop, where the bus pretty much
filled up. At the main stop, the sidewalk was totally filled with people
waiting for a bus. There must have been more than a hundred people, most
heavily laden with parcels. After a lengthy attempt by the driver to cram
more people into the bus, we finally set out for Waikiki, and at every
stop the driver took off again even though people were shouting "wait!" as
they tried to squeeze their way to an exit. If The Bus ran a campaign to
nominate the Worst Driver, to match the Best Driver poll, that dude
definitely would get my vote.
At the International Marketplace there was a special, special unexpected
treat. BB Shawn was wonderful, the Reverend Dennis and his charming son,
Kawika, were as always a joy to watch and hear. But Harold Kama brought
his three-year-old son, Krissan, with him. Harold's a sweetheart, but
Krissan is THE cat's meow. He had his ukelele with him, and they sat on
two chairs beside each other. Krissan joined in on most of the songs and,
after getting over a little initial shyness, totally stole the show from
daddy. Krissan doesn't need anyone to make him a star, he is one
I haven't at all looked forward to this holiday season and there's no
question, it would have been a lot less pleasant without this
eagle's nest, this Panther's Cave in the Sky. But it also would have been
a lot less pleasant without some wonderful and special people who added
so much joy and warmth to it. Lucky to live Hawai'i.
You must not get any fixed notions about the world, in any way, any
that what you see today or tomorrow or the next is immutable. The
intelligent human being passes constantly from old worlds to new,
constantly discarding, renewing and inventing illusions. So you must be
prepared to shed your erroneous illusions and opinions, day by day, with
I went to the picnic. The Winter Picnic. Still the same special ground,
but the winter picnic doesn't quite evoke the same memories as the Summer
Then I went to Duke's. Maybe that's the last time I will go there. The
sweetheart from Kauai who is my favorite barback there totally ignored me,
even when standing right in front of me washing glasses. Finally I
couldn't stand it any longer and asked him why. He said it was because I
don't go down there anymore. Like it should matter to him?! Ok, I was
touched by his response, and explained that times have changed, I can no
longer afford to sit in Duke's all afternoon, no matter how much I love
the view of the glass-washing. (No, I didn't go quite that far, no need,
like lots of local boys, he knows he is being admired and is kind about
Talked to Laura the publisher who wants to read my "book". Go for it. Had
a delightful time talking with two Canadian dudes, one from Calgary and
the other from Edmonton, which seem to have some kind of traditional
rivalry. Kapena came in and played. Had seen them, also unintentionally,
the night before at Pier Bar and was again impressed by what a good show
they put on, even if half of the music they play is so boring. Still,
they did do "Hi'ilawe" and did a fine job of it, too.
When I finally forced myself to leave there, felt so hungry I went to
Jack-in-the-Box over on Kuhio and had a Jumbo and a "senior" coffee.
Didn't even have to ask for the discount. Then I thought, maybe I go see
"Titanic", since I still had a GMT pass. Stumbled back over to Kalakaua,
but the next show didn't start for another hour and a half. Walked to the
corner, and the ISKCON folks were chanting "hare Krishna" there. I
stopped to watch and listen.
A pale young mother in a sari was scolding her sweet little boy for
dancing. Ok, no way I was gonna put up with that, went over and scolded
her instead. "Let him dance!" Sheez, all these freaks beating their
drums and banging their cymbals, yelling the name of one Lord, and you're
telling this cute little dude to sit down and NOT DANCE! She either got
the message or else was too afraid to argue and left him alone. He danced
for a time, but was actually more interested in the steel drum dude who
was playing nearby. I watched those youngsters intently for an hour or
Sri-la Prabhupada was a wonderful man. He went from India to New York
City almost penniless. He had a dream. If everywhere on earth, folks
would chant "hare Krishna, hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna hare hare,
hare Rama, hare Rama, Rama Rama hare hare" the world would be
transformed. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has a similar dream, if everyone
will practice Transcendental Meditation [tm]. They were, or are, sincere
men, I have no doubt about it. I greatly admire both of them and would
sincerely bow to both.
Their empires are another matter.
After that, I decided I'd best go back to sanctuary before the day got any
more strange. I passed a young dude downtown who was rummaging through
the trash in a gutter. "What are you doing?!" I asked him. He explained
that sometimes people drop money at the bus stop and it washes to that
corner. I gave him my last dollar bill.
People really don't understand what life is about. No, I don't either,
don't even come as close as Sri-la Prabhupada or the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
or those folks over at the Scientology center which I pass whenever I go
out down here.
But maybe some of it's about giving away pieces of green paper to young
dudes who are looking for them. Wouldn't surprise me at all.
A reader wrote "what life is all about is giving up your last guru".
That, of course, has to mean giving up yourself since in the end we are
our own guru, no matter how many and what kind of substitutes we try to
dump the burden on. It's fairly easy to give up on yourself, not
so simple a matter to give up your self.
When I was looking at Laura's website, I had to smile at the list of books
which seem an unlikely enterprise for an elegantly stylish woman often
seen hanging out at Duke's, but I guess no more unlikely than me sitting
there, or in other bars, with a backpack holding a book by Hesse or the
Gita. I have my copy of the Gita from the London days here
in the eagle's nest. It's the Penguin paperback of the Juan Mascaro
translation, probably not one of the most exactingly authentic but
certainly one of the most elegant. The cover is painted in gold with just
the statue of Krishna showing, and it always had a place of honor in the
A mist of rain has moved into Nuuanu Valley and a low rainbow is
beautifully arched over it. Rainbows are so frequent here, we tend to
forget how rare they are in many places. I have lived in places where
people simply stop and stare when a rainbow appears. Here, hardly anyone
pays any attention at all.
Today was to have been the last day in this sanctuary but the weather
gods intervened, dumped snow on East Coast airports and the owner's return
is postponed for a day. I assured her I have not been praying for snow,
and had to smile remembering my other lawyer friend, the one who talked to
unseen spirits all night, who would certainly blame me for the East Coast
storm. He was often convinced I was causing things like weather changes
even though I assured him I couldn't control the storms in my own
mind, much less those in earth's atmosphere. Still can't.
I went to Pier Bar where Jake Shimabukuro's band, Pure Heart, was supposed
to play but they had to cancel at the last minute so there was the
surprise of seeing Harold Kama, Jr. and his band instead. They were in
fine form, but I couldn't stay for the entire gig because I wanted to take
advantage of a ride up to Shipley's. Dennis Kamakahi, Ocean Kawili, Bobby
Ingano and Mike Ka'awa make such wonderful music, Shipley's is one of the
few places in this town I will go even though I basically don't like it.
You can't smoke until 10 o'clock (although not being able to smoke doesn't
stop me from enjoying the bar at Manoa Garden), you can't sit at the bar
and see the musicians because of that wall of stupid twigs they have as a
divider. There's nobody in this town I enjoy watching more than Mike,
even if one of my companions couldn't understand the fascination. Maybe I
don't, either. There's just something about that man that makes watching
him as special for me as listening to him.
Afterwards, I asked to be dropped off at Hot Lava Cafe despite resolving
not to go there for awhile, but changed my mind before we got there and
came back to sanctuary instead.
One of the conversations during the evening was about the dilemma some
people have over giving to other people, whether money or drinks or
whatever. One of the people who had been buying me beers said she wasn't
worried about whether it was "good for" me or not, but wasn't sure if it
was good for her. I told her that we both know it isn't on one level, but
I'd try to find an out. Having nothing left but coins, I would certainly
have been sipping on iced water last night if not for some generous
drinking companions. Well, ok, here's one "out". Establishments which
are good enough to book local musicians look at their revenues for an
evening. If the take isn't good enough, those musicians may not find
themselves being asked back. So buying me a beer is indirectly supporting
local music. See, I knew I could do it.
That reminds me. Harold left his beer in my care when he had to start
playing. Now that boy isn't dumb, he knew damned well I wasn't going to
be able to resist drinking that beer. Had nothing to do with the beer, I
had my own. Thanks, Harold. Silly server person at Pier Bar picked up
the bottle at one point and poured the rest of it into my glass. Clueless
I'm such a slut.
In the almost three months this project has been going, this is only
the second time a Tale of current life was withdrawn and revised. It was
originally written with the attitude of an arrogant householder. A cold
night on a hard bench is a great attitude adjuster.
I stayed in the eagle's nest all day but shall soon be leaving it since
the airplane carrying its owner is now only a bit more than an hour away
from the islands. It was chilly up here today, almost cold, but I've
learned not to judge the street temperature by the feel of a windy day
on the 33rd floor.
There was a lot of interesting email but the one which most
caught my attention was from someone whose name I have not seen on the
Incoming Mail list in a very long time.
Discretion, of course, is always a concern when writing things like this,
whether the current record or tales from the past. It almost goes without
saying that many of the perceptions are mine alone, the other members of
the cast undoubtedly saw the play in a totally different way and would
speak of it as they saw it. In a couple of the Tales, I even took the
trouble to say so at the beginning. But there is also the concern that
even a highly accurate account could cause embarrassment or discomfort to
the person involved and in those cases I have taken care to write in a way
that no positive identification could be made, only participants at the
time would know who I was talking about and nothing I write would be any
news to them.
These are concerns known to everyone in the Web Diarist School, but I
think perhaps some readers either underestimate the problem or feel the
artists using this medium don't take it into consideration. Not so. We
see two of the best in these islands either retiring altogether or
attempting elaborate methods of hiding their work, at least
partly because of these problems.
Ah well, more immediate concerns at hand. Hamilton Library being closed
on the weekends is a serious disruption of my lifestyle for the next
twelve days. The mountains being invisible outside because rain is
falling so heavily on them is an even more immediate concern. The endless
fireworks we have endured since Christmas Eve are only going to get worse.
Don't let it bring you down, it's only castles burning ...
just find someone who's turning, and you will come around ...
A burning castle may have been going a bit overboard but I wouldn't have
minded a beam or two from one burning in a fireplace on my first night out
of sanctuary. I have never spent that cold a night without at least a
tent as shelter. My bench was under an overhanging roof, but the wind was
blowing in such an erratic fashion that there was really no shelter from
it. Space blankets do a wonderful job of creating a warm, humid
atmosphere by holding in body heat and moisture. What I had never noticed
before is that they stay cold. If bare skin is touching them, it gets
very cold, too, as I discovered when I awoke with my hand frozen. Che
gelida manina ... and my mind launched into playing about a quarter of
the first act of La Boheme before I went back to sleep.
Every time I shifted position, I was awakened by some cold breeze having
found a bit of open space it could squeeze through and I had to tuck the
blanket in around me again. It wasn't a very pleasant night, but I was
much better off than some of the other nomads there who had no blankets
at all. More importantly, I deserved it for the tantrum I threw
I don't remember where it is in his writings but I've long been impressed
by Spinoza insisting it is a basic law that we get back what we give out.
That works both ways, of course. We give back what we get. It's an
important first step to self-knowledge to break that chain. I don't think
it's necessary to go so far as to "turn the other cheek", that can lead to
pathetic masochism. But if someone communicates with you like a crazed
little rooster, it achieves nothing to respond in kind. I know better, I
know my inner reaction was wrong as well, but it took me much of the
evening to reach the point where I could think calmly about it. I really
don't like anyone having that much power over me, but it's my fault, not
Getting so frazzled by the prospect of shorter daily hours and no weekends
on-line was equally stupid. A man who professes to believe there are no
accidents can only sensibly view such a thing as a "signal from heaven"
that an adjustment is needed. Certainly in recent days there has been far
too much on-line time, not enough time spent "smelling the roses". Maybe
that's part of the reason some reactions to other people have been so
unbalanced. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to agree with Candide that
"all's for the best in this best of all possible worlds", but that
attitude is a lot better than the one I was walking around with yesterday.
On New Year's Eve, I couldn't think what to do or where to go. I would
have spent the evening at Hot Lava Cafe but they were closed, so I
wandered around Waikiki for awhile and watched the sunset. I looked in at
Duke's but it was already very crowded in the early evening, stopped over
to Shore Bird but Greg wasn't working. Wandered around some more, and then
thought about the old Mai Tai Lounge. A good idea, that was. Rose, who
was a server back in those happy days when Harold was playing the Mai Tai,
is now the bartender and the small group of people who were there were
seeking the same thing I was, a haven from the madness raging outside. We
listened to KINE-FM all evening, the tv set stayed off. Rose was supposed
to close at 11:30 but kept the bar going until a bit past midnight and
brought out shots of Cuervo to welcome 1998.
I see young Jay T. made a list of admirable resolutions. I thought about
a few things I could have made into a New Year's Resolution, but threw
them all out. Just for auld lang syne, I made one. I resolve not to buy
any tequila in 1998. Notice I said "buy", not "drink". That's a N.Y.R. I
can live with, I think.
By the time I left the Mai Tai, I was drunker than I realized when sitting
comfortably at the bar. Someone had given Rose a packet of firecrackers
and she gave them to me, so I made a small contribution to the horrendous
racket that was still going on in the streets of Waikiki. Then I made my
way through the mobs to DeRussy Beach where the grinning moon had set but
the stars were shining brightly and it was surprisingly quiet there, with
only a few people still igniting fireworks. I was dead tired as well as
drunk, so ended up spending the night at what used to be the entrance to
the Tahitian Lanai. There's no shelter there, but if it's not raining
it's one of the best places in Waikiki at night.
Someone gave me some McDonald's gift certificates, so I had my last meal
of 1997 in one and then the first meal of 1998 (pancakes and sausage).
Afterwards, I went out to Magic Island and fell asleep on the beach. When
I woke up there was a man nearby with his young daughter. He was fairly
handsome with a decent body and he seemed to be making some effort to
impress me with it; a good thing he had his daughter along or I would
definitely have considered it an invitation to play. Perhaps it was. I
wasn't really interested but paid enough attention to him to say thanks
for the show, then put the Dylan tape in the machine and vanished into the
music. Not long after the tape ended, it started to rain lightly so I
headed for the shower and then over to Ala Moana. Outside the shower, one
of the habitual nomads of the area was having a bad day. She's a
middle-aged, heavy set woman who usually can be seen plodding around the
park with an unhappy scowl on her face, but was that day loudly sobbing
and berating someone because she had thrown away her "purity", then
shouted "oh God, can't you just leave me alone!" Voices, I guess. I'm
glad I've never experienced that except in a drugged state.
I was feeling very lost again, couldn't decide what to do. I bought a
bowl of vegetable ramen which was a mistake because I'm useless at eating
that stuff with chopsticks. They had run out of the larger spoons so were
handing out only chopsticks and a small plastic teaspoon, no choice but to
try and cope. It wasn't made any easier when a Japanese man and his two
teenage sons sat at the table next to me.
For a couple of weeks I've been having a pain in the middle of my chest.
It's usually worst in the early mornings but on New Year's Day it lingered
into afternoon and steadily got more uncomfortable. I had to sit down for
awhile at one point because it took all my energy to cope with the pain.
There's nothing like a little real pain to take the mind off everything
"Take two aspirins and a beer, and call me in the morning," advised
the inner doctor, so I took the bus over to Waikiki, congratulating myself
again on having sensibly bought a bus pass before spending the money on
something less useful, and went to the Shore Bird. I was sitting in
between a roughly handsome and very friendly fellow from Alaska and a
chubby salesman type here to scout out the retirement possibilities, so
the conversation was typical tourist chit-chat but not unwelcome. The
bartender was close to clueless, kept trying to pour me Coors Light
instead of Bud and did things like empty my ashtray and give it to the
Alaskan who was using the one in front of him already. Being cute just
isn't enough when it comes to tending bar.
Then it was over to the Regent for Genoa and crew. The doc's prescription
had worked, no more pain. Good company, wonderful music, cool bartender.
If I had known in advance that a reader was going to pick up my tab, I
would've had a Surfer or two. (Naw, naw, just teasing). Headed down to
Aloha Tower with Gino and as we walked past Gordon Biersch, I saw Mikey V.
was at the outside bar, so we settled down for a couple of those wicked
winter brews. It was the first time in many months I've sat at that
outside bar. The place is crawling with memories, almost all of them
I had the "hacienda" all to myself so it was a relatively quiet
and peaceful night, the longest unbroken sleep I've had since leaving the
downtown eagle's nest. Dawn from Magic Island was beautiful, but I was
grateful Hamilton was going to be open so I could escape that lost feeling
for the day. The transition from the downtown eagle's nest to life on the
street is in some ways a combination culture shock and jet lag. I miss the
usual life on campus and especially Tomita-san. But there's more to the
current state of mind than that and part of the lost feeling is not
knowing more about it, not being able to figure out why there is such
restlessness and discontent.
A reader complained that the most recent Tales lack "edge". They reflect
my reality; if life lacks "edge", so will the tales. Perhaps I should do
something to make life and the tales more interesting, but on the other
hand the perfect tale might be one of a day when I did nothing but sit in
one spot and watch.
When Hamilton Library closed, I walked down to Waikiki (even with a bus
pass in pocket, a little exercise does no harm). Three outrigger
canoes were racing on the Ala Wai, so I sat on a bench across from the
landing spot and enjoyed the show. The sight of a crew of trim brown
bodies moving in unison is a fine one indeed.
When the race finished, I walked on to the International Marketplace
and sat for an hour or so listening to Moana Chang and her group.
I was tired by the time the show was over, even though it was still
fairly early, so took a bus over to the hacienda and
settled down for the night to the sound of loud music coming from the
club across the street. I think it may have been Fiji in the
early part of the evening, but it changed to a very tedious techno
sound later. Just before midnight some fellow staggered in with a
twelve-pack of Coors and wanted me to have a drink with him. I told
him I just wanted to get some sleep, so he gave me a beer and went on
his way. It was warm, but I drank it and settled down again until
In the morning, Kona winds were blowing, the skies looked like it was
going to be a very unsettled day so I abandoned plans to stay on the beach
and decided instead to spend the day taking the Circle Island trip. When
I got to Kaneohe, I thought it would be a good chance to stop and visit
some good friends, a local ohana, something I had been promising to do for
In retrospect, that was a decision I wish I had not made.
The house is on a hill which slopes so steeply that the roof of
the house behind it is on a level with the back fence, so it is a
clear view across to the Ko'olau range and to the new H3 highway.
Sitting in the front yard of the house, the slope of the hill is just
right, so the roof of the house blocks the view of the highway and
aside from one huge ugly power line that swings up higher than seems
necessary and back down again, the mountains look like they must have
for centuries, untouched and beautiful.
It was to be the weekly shopping day and I was invited to go along.
The first stop was Costco in Hawaii Kai, the trip there made even more
enjoyable by the makua kane's stories of growing up in Waimanalo, playing
football on what is now a major road but was then a dead-end street
with so little traffic it could be the main playing field. It's the
kind of story which didn't make "Waimanalo Blues" but adds much to the
message of the song. The time in Costco reminded me of the difficulty
I had returning from the crowded alleys of Old Delhi and stepping into
a large American supermarket. The quantity of merchandise, the huge
amounts in one package (enough laundry detergent in one box to last me
through at least two years of washing), the people wandering the aisles
adding more and more to their already loaded carts -- a fascinating but
slightly horrifying spectacle.
On the way back to Kaneohe, we stopped in a small local store in
Waimanalo which had a photo on display from the day when President
Clinton visited the store. The inside of the store reminded me of a
similar one in South San Antonio where my grandmother would send me
almost every day to purchase some small thing she had forgotten to buy.
I suspect her reason was more to educate me in the ways of the
adult world, using money, making sure the change was correct,
completing a business transaction satisfactorily. My grandmother was a
Next door to that general store was what had once been a filling station,
converted into a shop selling local crafts. There was a small section
devoted to the work of Patrick Ching. His drawings of Hawaiian wildlife
are delightful and I wish the paintings were as subtle. There was a young
lady visiting the store who used to work at Gordon Biersch. She walked
right past me without recognizing me, one of those funny things where you
don't see what is right in front of you because you don't expect it to be
there. The makua kane and I were sitting at a table in front of the shop
when she left. "Didn't you used to work at Gordon Biersch?" he asked.
She said yes, spotted me, and said "Albert!" and came over to give me a
hug. I really enjoyed seeing someone in Waimanalo who was a part of my
life "on the other side".
The second part of the grand shopping day took us over the mountains
using the new H3 highway. No one can be very happy with the way the
highway cuts across the Ko'olau range or view those especially ugly
structures at the entrance to the tunnels with anything but disgust,
but the view from the highway itself is magnificent and the ride,
elevated at treetop level, through the untouched valley on the other
side is magical. We were headed to Walmart and another exercise in
watching mass consumerism in action.
After returning to Kaneohe and a dinner which included all the
traditional local foods (of which I only had lau lau, kalua pig and
rice, declining the poi, lomilomi salmon, etc.), we went to the very
crowded Ko'olau Ranch House where the Kamalamalama Brothers had the
audience in the palm of their hands, as they say. There are more
technically skilled musicians in this town, but none that put on a
better show than those fellows, and no one does "Kanaka Wai Wai" more
beautifully. It was a perfect end to a splendid day.
The Kona winds were still around on Sunday morning, promising another
day of unsettled weather, but the view of the Ko'olau range is always
interesting no matter what the weather. I didn't know just how
spectacular it could be until evening when the clouds were in just the
right relationship with the setting sun and the entire top of the range
was suddenly back-lit with a fiery red color. It would have been the
perfect opening shot for a film of the End of the World ... or the
start of a new one ... but no film or photograph could do more than
hint at the power and beauty of those mountains and clouds during those
"Red sky at dawn, sailors be warned. Red sky at night, sailor's
delight" doesn't work in Hawai'i. Despite the brilliantly red sky at
night, there was plenty of what was referred to in the weather forecast
as "passing showers". But then maybe in Kaneohe a 20-minute torrential
downpour is a passing shower. After one particularly fierce half hour
of wind and rain when the mountains couldn't be seen at all, it cleared
and there were dozens of waterfalls cascading in narrow strips down the
Sunday was a laidback, casual day. Despite less than ideal weather,
the two boys wanted to go to the beach so we drove down Kamehameha
Highway to a small beach where there were only about ten other people,
mostly fishermen. On the way we passed through Waihole and by the
fruit stand made famous in the song about the sweet lady and her
papayas. And at the beach I was shown an opihi, a baby one, I was told,
which had been clinging to a rock at water's edge. Life on this side
of the island calls to mind one song after another.
I've never before lived in a house with so many children and the age
range from two to eighteen means there's a group in between which has
always been a great delight for me, children old enough to communicate
with but not old enough to have lost the innocence of childhood. The
six-year-old lad is my favorite. The three-year-old boy is a
sweetheart but he gets so much attention that any from me is
superfluous. The girl with the secret language is in some ways the
most demanding and the greatest challenge. It was something of a
victory to have comprehended three entire words of her
sometimes abundant discussions.
On the first night here, I woke to the sound of a loud thump nearby,
looked down and saw a blanket-covered mound beside the bunkbed. It was
the six-year-old. At the same age, it was my habit whenever we visited my
uncle's house to somehow disable the restraining bar on my cousin's
bunkbed and end up on the floor just like that. I got him back into
bed, tucked him and "Mister Bear" in. I had a stuffed rabbit as my
sleeping companion and confidante, listener to all my secrets and woes,
and absorber of many tears. I never forgave my mother for throwing him
out one day while I was at school. Stupid things like that were the
main reason I decided very early that I did not want to have children
of my own. I was afraid I'd be as bad at it as my parents were.
The mosquitos of Manoa are rank amateurs compared to the hungry beasts
of Kaneohe. I thought by getting out of bed in the morning, putting on
Levi's and a long-sleeved shirt, I could stand outside with one hand in
my pocket and have a quick smoke without getting targeted. Wrong. One
monster discovered the narrow strip of exposed skin between the bottom
of the shirt and the top of the pants pocket and decided it was a great
breakfast bar. If there is a supreme intelligence which guided
creation, I'd like to ask why mosquitos couldn't just suck blood
without leaving an itchy lump behind. Malaria is understandable as a
kind of crude population control, but an ordinary, non-disease-carrying
mosquito should be able to feed without the irrelevant but
uncomfortable consequences to the feeder.
I have a project to accomplish here. The makua wahine's uncle wrote a
book about being a young man in the Netherlands in 1940-45 and I am
transcribing the manuscript into bytes. The book opens on the morning the
Germans launched a surprise attack on Rotterdam. It is amazing the Dutch
had been thinking they could sit there unmolested while war was raging
between the English, French and Germans, but the book does a fine job of
narrating the surprised shock of awakening to the sound of artillery fire
and coming to grips with the fact that it wasn't just some military
exercise but an actual invasion. However bad my choice of re-entry to
life may have been, I have to be grateful it was the San Antonio of 1940
and not Rotterdam, or just about anywhere else in Europe in that
But if it were re-entry time right now, a man could certainly not
complain if he ended up in Kaneohe.
When the six-year-old came home from school, I read his book for him. As
part of their homework, they're assigned a short book which is supposed to
be read to them and the reader has to sign a form to prove the "work" was
done. It was a pretty sad excuse for a book, although the drawings were
nice -- a tale of a boy who was having a day when everything went wrong
until the happy ending. But there were so many references that wouldn't
mean much to a child growing up in Hawai'i. Seems to me that story books
based in the islands would be a much more sensible choice, but maybe there
aren't enough to fill the need.
I screwed up as a homework assistant, though. Didn't notice that the
page of pictures which had to be colored had two sides, so only one
side got done. Ooops. Still, his teacher had written "Excellent!" and
put a smiley face on the work from the day before, so maybe he won't
get into too much trouble over the unfinished second page. Tricky
business, playing tutor to an almost seven-year-old boy.
Anyway, most of the journal keepers write much smaller entries than
mine so instead of trying to think of some clever wrap-up, I'll just
shut up and go outside for a smoke. Out the front door, so I don't get
lectured again by the almost-four-year-old on the evils of "blowing
Someone wrote an email about local people who keep these online journals.
That set off an email exchange between a few of those people, only two of
whom I have met in person, although a third one claims we have met but
that I was probably too drunk to remember it. I can believe that with no
problem. I'm not sure I like the comment one person made about me
"cruising around campus". Ok, ok, I enjoy the "scenery" there but I
wouldn't call wandering between Hamilton and Manoa Garden and incidentally
enjoying the passing bodies on the way "cruising".
Some of the journal keepers seem to fear being stalked or getting
approached by "weirdos". It's difficult to imagine anyone being much
weirder than some of the writers themselves, self included. Anyway, I
wouldn't mind being approached in person by someone who was reading the
Tales, as long as they don't hit me. If they shoot, shoot to kill, and
no problem with that either. I like getting email from total strangers
who know so much about me because of the Tales. We can skip all the
introductory bullshit, from my side at least.
Completely changing the subject, I love the smell of those green
mosquito coils. Until I went to India, I had never seen them. In my
childhood we relied upon citronella oil to deter the little vampires.
But I quickly learned to appreciate the value of having one of those
coils smoldering away in the room at night and the smell brings back
many happy memories.
Roosters crowing, donkeys braying ... it feels more like the country
here than a suburb, even if the immediate surroundings could be an area
outside many mainland cities. It has especially the feel of the areas
north of Seattle, except that there are sidewalks lining all the
streets. But looking out toward the mountains, there is one area that
really reminds me of Kathmandu valley with its lush, varied greenery
and the few housetops scattered among it. Only a little pagoda tower
or some rice paddies are needed to complete the illusion.
This mento family I am fortunate enough to be staying with are doing
their New Year's cleaning late (even if they're not Japanese) or their
Spring cleaning early. Whichever, they start at 9:30 or ten in the
evening throwing all the accumulated junk out of the cupboards onto the
floor and then try to decide what can go and what can't. I think the
informal rule I heard, "if it hasn't been used for six months, it can
go" has been ignored a few times. Can't be sure, because I've usually
flaked out and gone to bed while the bedlam rages around me. I was so
exhausted last night, I fell asleep to the sound of a vacuum
Part of the exhaustion is a result of the unfamiliar challenge of
dealing with young children whose energy far surpasses mine, some from
the psychological exhaustion caused by this book I am typing, but
probably more of it is from coping with these stupid pains. Yep, pain
in the plural. The boring chest pain has been supplemented by lower
back pain. Now that one's my fault. I showed the smallest boy how a
crazy man can be a human swing by putting his arms under theirs and
swinging them up into the air. Then the others had to have a swing,
too. Auwe. Oh well, it's a more interesting way to get that ailment
than the last time I got it by bending over a trash can to throw a
teabag in it.
Toothache has been the pain of my long life, but the
lower back nonsense has been a long-time pitfall, too. No big deal,
who needs to bend over, anyway. And it will go away, eventually. At
least it always has before.
I did some work on my Diary Keepers page yesterday. Ryan and Jen are
brave to both be keeping online journals. During my Grand Dutch Love of
the early 70s, we both kept daily records and read each other's now and
then. At first it was totally inhibiting, then it became a way of saying
stuff I didn't have the nerve to say outright, in person. I'm not sure if
it prolonged or shortened the length of that interlude, perhaps it didn't
really matter. It's a totally different thing in most ways now, when one
member of this household is reading the Tales, but it still makes a
difference. Other people who know them are readers, too. I should
probably make them all anonymous. Perhaps I'll ask each of them what they
would like to be called instead of their real names. [Later note:
achieved the same result by omitting names.]
If I could have a name other than my own, I'd choose Matthew.
Barney is a really stupid entertainment. But the keiki seem to love
it, so I guess the people doing the things know what they're up to.
Thought inspired by the background sounds ...
Despite my ancestry, I realize now how little I know about the
Netherlands during the Second World War. In fact, I think the only
thing I do know is what was in the Diary of Anne Frank which was
almost literally viewing those momentous events through a keyhole. For
instance, I didn't know the Germans bombed Rotterdam even after the
Dutch had surrendered. Seems really stupid to me since Rotterdam was
one of Europe's major ports and would surely have been useful, at least
until the English bombed it for them. Even more bizarre is the tale of
the invading German soldiers buying all the stuff like coffee,
tea, chocolate, bananas and such from the Dutch shops, things that had
long been unavailable in Germany because of their fanatic concentration
on their war machine. Weird that in one part of such a tiny country,
the invaders were politely purchasing stuff from local shops while
their comrades were busy bombing a major city despite its inhabitants
Someday I'd like to read a history of the Second World War written from
a German point of view.
It's good fun to tease the wonderful Lady of the House.
This morning I thought I'd do my laundry, noticed my roommate had left
his sleeping outfit on his bed, so threw them in with my wash. I knew
Mama-san would be bugged if I told her so, so naturally I told her.
What?! Had he soiled his pants and I was covering up for him? Not!
Yeh, ok, I'm having fun, even if it is exhausting.
Cinderelly, Cinderelly ...
When I was a kid, the Disney classics were only re-released in theatres
every seven years and in between those special times there was no way
to see them. I often thought it was cruel that a child could be born
just after one of the reissues and not be able to see that film until
they were seven years old. Now I'm not so sure. The old way made the
films even more of a treat for those of us who had seen them and had to
wait for their reappearance. It's different when there's a shelf by
the computer with all of the classics sitting there waiting to be
watched whenever the mood strikes.
Yesterday afternoon I put "Cinderella" in the VCR (with some help from the
kids who know how to use it better than I do). I hadn't seen it since the
time before last when it was in theatres, never made it out to Kahala Mall
to see it during the most recent reissue. The two boys watched the
beginning with me, then the older one got called away to do homework and
chores. The younger one stayed interested until the Ball got underway and
then went looking for something else to do. Disney may have made far more
beautiful films, but looks like they aren't the attention-grabbers that
Barney is. Or is it just because the Barney things are so much
Whatever, I really enjoyed the film, from start to finish.
The younger lad complains frequently of being "bored". I don't think I
knew the word when I was four years old. It's a word that doesn't exist
in the Nepali language and I felt a little like the serpent in paradise
when I attempted to explain to a young lad from Kathmandu what the word
I haven't felt bored at all during this Kaneohe interlude. I don't
think I could ever get tired of just watching the Ko'olaus. If I had
one of those little grass shacks some people think we all live in here,
I could sit under the eaves and watch the mountains all day and all
evening, go to bed at nine and start over again before dawn. Early
to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Old
Ben Franklin was such a pompous git sometimes in his writings. Dunno
if that babble from Poor Richard is true or not. Doubt it. But I've
been going to bed very early compared to how I lived on the other side
of the island. Hasn't worked at all yet. I woke up just after four in
the morning, trying to find some position where the pains would go away
but it didn't work, so I tried aspirin instead (which never helps with
the back pain anymore than those silly pills that are supposedly just
for back pain help). So much for healthy. Wealthy? Well, I have
seven one-dollar bills and some change which I haven't counted, so
Ben's advice doesn't seem to be much assistance there, either. Wise?!
You must be joking, Ben babe.
Sugar on avocados?! Shudder. No one had heard of avocado
vinaigrette and thought I was nuts when I mixed some oil and
vinegar, salt and pepper and a dash of some herbs, poured it in the
crater of the de-seeded avocado and ate it. They put sugar on them.
I got a little sassy on Usenet yesterday. The Emperor of China gets on
my nerves now and then with his continual begging, had to give him a
poke. Then the fuss and fury over KCCN-AM's decision to change format,
but that has gotten too messy to participate in anymore. Billy V
appearing, like the ghost in Don Giovanni, rumbling his Ode to
an Employer; people confusing the issue with the obvious fact that the
music should be on the better quality FM spectrum; and the increasingly
tiresome rants that anything posted by Ermshar generates. It's not
surprising how few people actively participate in the Hawai'i
newsgroups, but I think it's worth it for some of the jewels that now
and then appear. Keali'i Reichel's recent remarks about huna
was the kind of posting that makes up for wading through an awful lot
Ooops, that word "garbage". Must say it quietly, else someone will yell
for the older boy to make his umpteenth trip to the trash bin lugging
filled plastic bags. Won't do any good right now because he's at school.
He takes the bus to school even though it's only a few blocks away. No
one over here walks, and the drivers are really rude to the few of us who
are crazy enough to trek the six blocks to the Mall. In Manoa, almost all
of the drivers are very courteous to people on foot. Even at the on- and
off- ramps to the freeway from University Avenue, most people stop and
wave a walking person on. Over here in Kaneohe, you just have to be brave
and dare them to kill you, even when you have the right of way. I asked
the salesclerk in Long's at Windward Mall if I could have a bag for the
beer because I was walking and didn't like carrying the twelve-pack
unbagged. She looked at me like I was totally crazy and I'm sure it was
because I admitted to being on foot, not because of wanting the beer
I guess I'll wander off and read some other people's ramblings. Already
read the latest from Kory K and offered to help out with his sleeping
problem, but got rejected. Woe is me.
Forty-four. My least favorite hexagram in the I Ching. Yesterday
I went to Long's at Windward Mall to replenish the beer supply. The bill
came to $6.66. The Beast! Yikes, first there's the weekly astrological
forecast from Jonathan Cainer, an approaching Full Moon, and now
numerological omens drifting through this thing called my
Last night the sky was amazingly clear. I was sitting up at the top
of the driveway, KCCN-AM was playing softly from the garage, and I was
looking at the Ko'olaus thinking again about what it must be like to
walk across the top of them. Suddenly there was the biggest, brightest
meteor I've ever seen. Catch a falling star and put it in your
pocket... . It split in two, and fell beneath the horizon directly
over the tunnel entrance on the H3. Dazzling, but certainly
understandable how such a thing could be seen as an evil omen.
I didn't do any typing of the Dutch book yesterday because the eldest
daughter had a school project to complete and was on the computer all
morning. I'd discovered the night before that Harold Kama's web page had
somehow gone all whacko, so I spent some time sorting that out and making
a few minor changes. All I need to do now is persuade that fellow to cough
up some new photographs.
Gino visited in the evening to help work on a disabled automobile. Weird,
hanging out in a garage while greasy mechanics are working away. Kory K
writes about not being able to keep up with my interesting (?)
life. Yep, so interesting I crawled into another vehicle and fell asleep
on the back seat when everyone went inside to watch television.
When you make the inner as the outer ...
The outer is pretty hazy right now. Vog hangs heavily over Kaneohe town
and last evening the Ko'olaus were so obscured by it they were just gray
silhouettes, like background scenery in a shadow play. I think my writing
must have been pretty voggy recently, too, judging by the number of
misinterpretations received in email from readers.
Certainly the most serious one is the notion that any of the stories and
remarks about life in this Kaneohe house are "complaints". The children
here are delightful, all of them much nicer people and much better behaved
than I was at their age. Anything mentioned that might have been read as
a complaint was certainly meant in jest.
It was also said I was suggesting one of the children wasn't being treated
fairly. I re-read the tales that have been written since I've been here
and I don't see anything that implies that, unless it was the comments
about the older boy's chores. But they all have assigned chores to do
here. In such a large household that's almost essential and it makes good
sense, as well. Again, these children put me to shame. I used to make a
terrific fuss over having to mow the lawn once a week as my major chore,
and it was even more perverse since I actually liked doing yard and
A voggy day in Kaneohe town, had me low, had me down ...
Doesn't work, can't squeeze Kaneohe into the notes of the song instead of
London. And in any case, despite the somewhat disturbing mails generated
by the Tales, I feel better today than I did yesterday, especially in the
evening. Some people dropped by and there were good grinds followed by an
informal jam session in the garage, guitars and ukeleles and singing. It
was one of those days when I couldn't drink enough beer to squelch the
bodily discomfort, which thus increased the mental discomfort. I just
felt like crawling into a hole and whining, and that of course made it all
even worse. So I took refuge in my long-time haven of consolation, MUD2,
and spent a couple of hours having fun with the youngsters playing in
there as a way of taking my mind off everything else. Only problem was,
when I got up from the chair, I could barely walk and was pretty grouchy
about wanting to fall into bed, even if I did manage to say goodnight to
the folks still kanikapila-ing.
Saturday evening we all (well, all the adults) went over to Kincaid's to
hear Harold Kama, Jr. who had Tommy Chock along on the bass guitar. Fine
music, as always, and an amusing time. Tommy's such a good sport; after
he kissed the makua wahine on the cheek, I said "where's mine?" and got
one. Also had my first Surfers on Acid of the New Year.
They're just too good, those drinks, should be labeled with a
I didn't do much during the day on Sunday except try to stay out of the
way of the continued cleaning. Made one short trip to the mall and
discovered a pack of cigarettes that costs $2.60 in Manoa costs $3.19
in Kaneohe. Good thing I haven't been smoking as much as usual. One
reader said I shouldn't set a bad example by smoking in front of the
children. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.
In any case, I'm willing to compromise by posing as the "bad uncle" who
smokes cigarettes and drinks beer, but I don't really think there is
anything wrong with either so am not hiding in the bushes (not that such
an attempt would work anyway). About the only place in Kaneohe where a
man could smoke a cigarette without setting a "bad example" to kids might
be a bar, and I can't afford to go to one of them right now.
The children all think both smoking and drinking beer are nasty habits.
I'm glad they do.
There were several emails on the weekend from people I don't know at all
who are reading the Tales. Maybe they're shy because they don't know me
except from the Tales; whatever the reason, their mails suggest strangers
misinterpret less than friends.
Hexagram 46. Return, or The Turning Point. I doubt that if I consulted
the I Ching directly right now, I'd get that oracle.
After a pre-bedtime chat with my host and hostess about some of the things
from the day's netwaves, I crawled into bed and had a restless sleep,
waking to the sight of the full moon shining over the Ko'olaus in the hour
before dawn. Earlier in the evening the six-year-old joined me for a
short time at the top of the drive to watch the rising moon. He asked me
where the moon went to sleep during the day, so there was an impromptu
the presumed set-up of the solar system. Well, mankind went for so long
believing all kinds of tales about what happened with the sun and the moon
when they weren't visible, who am I to say this century's version is any
more accurate? But I stuck with the current orthodoxy, and he was quite
impressed that I had once lived on the other side of the world where it
was daytime when it was nighttime in Hawai'i. I didn't complicate things
by bringing up the seasons.
These informal gigs as teacher are fun. On the weekend, the
three-year-old came out as I was playing with some crayons and a piece of
paper, so we had an art class based on drawing the combination stop-sign
and street-sign at the corner and the yellow fire hydrant near it. He was
doing well, got the stop-sign shape exactly right, but then introduced
into his drawing some character from a tv show whose name meant nothing to
me. I guess a dedicated teacher would have to spend some time watching
the current children's television programming to stay culturally in tune.
Judging by what I've seen during my week there, it would not be an
especially enjoyable aspect of the teaching profession. Anyway, I was
told that my drawing was really good but was junk, a fine assessment which
suggests a possible future as an art critic.
Just before the astronomy lesson, a young Asian fellow ran by in jogging
gear. A car stopped and the driver asked him if he needed a lift. "No,
I'm jogging," he explained.
Several readers keep nagging me to go to a doctor, but I don't want to.
Well, at least not unless the Quest program is known to hand out valium on
request like doctors used to. Nothing to do about the back pain until it
goes away on its own. I've been more careful with lifting stuff or
playing with the children but it is still making walking a less than
comfortable enterprise, and getting up from a chair after being in it for
half an hour is major torture. I'm amazed I actually used to trudge into
an office in this condition and remember one morning when I could barely
manage to get up on the bus steps. The chest pain is a nuisance but not
harsh enough to worry about, not that I'd really worry about it if it gets
even worse. I'm ready to depart this life and if it's a road sign
indicating an approaching dead end, fine with me. Please, readers, spare
me the living vegetable stories, heard them all already. I don't think
that's a likely fate, but then I also doubt the dead end street is coming
up any time soon.
After the moon had set behind the Ko'olaus, I worked again on the Dutch
book, finishing a grim chapter in which a bomb fell on a house very near
that of the writer's family, everyone being awakened in the middle of the
night by all the glass in the house shattering, going out to find both
the father and the son of the neighbors with their legs blown off by the
explosion, both dying within hours as the writer tried to stop the
flow of blood until a doctor could arrive. Those personal accounts are
the most gruesome and riveting parts of the book, but the background
history and information are equally interesting. Every now and then I
feel surprised and a bit embarrassed at how little I know about World
War Two in Europe.
After a couple of hours typing the book, I finally set out on my first
trip to UH Manoa since the winter break ended. There's one moment on the
bus ride over the Pali Highway when you can clearly see the top ridge of
the mountains and at that particular place it can't be more than a couple
of feet wide, definitely not a section for the often thought of trek
across the top.
The campus seemed abuzz with activity after the relative emptiness during
the Finals period and the almost total emptiness during the break. It's
a little strange, needs some inner re-adjustment to regain the feeling of
being comfortably "at home" on the campus, but it's still my favorite
place on the island.
And it's one of those days when I really hate being broke.
"Uncle, are you going to stay forever and ever, or until you
Hmmmm, not unless I'm a much slower typist than I used to be, or that
dead end street is closer than I thought.
The long-awaited Thursday finally arrived. I'd be happy to
spend every afternoon for the rest of my life sitting at a bar
Ok, ok. Nosey people wanting details ...
On that long-awaited Thursday, I took a bus from Kaneohe to downtown
Honolulu and then another bus to the University. There were fairly long
waits for both of them but I arrived on campus in time to stop up and see
Kory K who joined me in the walk over to Campus Center where Pure Heart
was getting ready to start their gig. We chatted briefly with Lopaka
Colon who looked really cute in a funny little hat which he only took off
for a moment later to adjust his microphone, then we grabbed a spot in the
shade on the steps in front of the stage.
I've been an admirer of Jake Shimabukuro since the first time I saw him
when he sat in for a few numbers at Hot Lava one night. He's the
Hendrix of the 'ukelele, the epitome of the word virtuoso. He's also
as much fun to watch as to hear. After a number of times when I had
expected to see him with John Yamasato and Lopaka, his comrades in Pure
Heart, and had for one reason or another missed seeing them, it was a
delight to finally be at one of their gigs. They have a fresh,
exciting energy which made even some songs I don't like at all fun to
listen to, and when they tackled songs I really like, "Waimanalo Blues"
and "House at Pooh Corner" especially, they gave them a personal
interpretation which few local singers manage. The influence of John
Cruz is so strong, echoes of his vocal style and phrasing can be heard
all over town; John Y. has escaped it somehow and does everything his
own way, even songs Johnny C. does himself. And Jake is just
incredible, has tamed his exuberance enough to blend well with the
other musicians instead of outshining them as he sometimes did
Some of the youngsters around us on the steps were thoroughly amused by
Lopaka's bird calls, and I wondered if they had ever heard his daddy on
the Martin Denny classics of the Fifties. Whether accenting a song with
bird calls or playing with the vast array of percussion instruments he
always has along, Lopaka is a delightful young man and a musician with
impeccable taste and style.
After the gig, Kory went back to work (so to speak) and I walked over to
Manoa Garden. Tomita-san was already there, halfway through one of those
large jugs of Red Hook Double Black Stout. He and Bryant greeted me
enthusiastically and said they had just been talking about me. Tomita-san
said he had missed me, but I doubt he missed me as much as I missed him
during that long holiday break. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is
a most excellent drinking-buddy. We talked about what we did over the
holidays, with "getting drunk" an in-common theme, and what he will be
doing this semester at UH (only two courses, something like "Media in
Education" and "Chinese in Hawai'i"). He's interested in eventually
getting into the film industry. I asked if he knew Ken Russell's films,
but he didn't. We looked in the UH catalog and I was surprised to see
they have nothing like a History of the Cinema class.
He had to leave around 3 o'clock because he had promised to do some
shopping for his grandmother. I should have left the bar when he did, but
he bought me another jug of that wicked brew, so I stuck around to finish
it. I hadn't eaten anything all day so was already well buzzed. Some
real jerk sat at the end of the bar, one of those guys who must inspire
instant dislike from a lot of people and certainly did with me. So I
moved outside to finish my beer, went back in to say goodbye to Bryant,
and staggered down the hill to Hot Lava. Lisa was in one of her totally
bitchy moods, so I walked out without having anything and got a bus to
I had planned to stop by Harry's Bar to see Kevin Kama but was running too
late so went directly to Genoa Keawe's gig at the Regent Lobby Bar. Mark
Schmaltz is in town, visiting from Florida, and joined me at the bar.
Then Myra came in and joined us. She's a real sweetheart and dances with
such sincerity that it's always a delight to watch her. At one point Mark
asked me to switch seats with him so he could sit next to her; since he
was buying the beer for all of us, no argument from me. I don't think I
drank very much there, but certainly made up for it at our next stop, the
John Cruz was playing, joined by Matt Swalinkavich, Lopaka Colon and a
couple of other musicians, including Guy Cruz who joined in on a few
numbers. I'm not sure just why, but they never seemed to really get it
together and I found myself spending more time talking to people at the
bar than actually listening to the music. Many of the long-time Thursday
regulars were there and I hadn't seem them in weeks. Ditto the wonderful
Amie, who makes a wickedly delicious Surfer on Acid and did, at
least three times. Henry Kapono was in the crowd and Mark wanted to meet
him. I've sat at the bar there with Henry a couple of times but don't
really know him, but made the introduction anyway.
Mark and I left just before midnight and walked over to look at the
Alexander & Baldwin building, a favorite of his and mine, before he drove
me back over the Pali.
It was a Thursday worth waiting for.
Woke up Friday morning feeling most thoroughly trashed. No idea what I
did to it, but my right arm was really stiff and sore. I didn't feel like
doing anything and didn't for much of the day.
For the first time all week, Saturday morning brought dense gray clouds
and intermittent rain. It was my first journey over the Pali Highway
which included the odd sensation of riding into the clouds. Strangely,
it was much cooler on the other side than it had been in Kaneohe and
several times during the day I wished I had worn a long sleeve shirt. I
went up to Hamilton Library at UH and did some web work, drank a couple of
coffees from the vending machine which claims to grind the beans and brew
it when you make your selection. Then I got on a bus to Waikiki and
walked over to the International Marketplace.
The Reverend Dennis and Kawika Kamakahi, BB Shawn and Bobby Ingano were
all there early, setting up for the gig, and were soon joined by Ocean
Kawili and my current favorite on the local music scene, Mike
A reader sent me a note and a piece of green paper, saying she hoped that
would help with an evening of Mike K watching, noting it was a pleasure
she was in agreement with. Kind reader, excellent taste! Perfect timing,
too, since there are two evenings in a row providing a chance to get in
some Mike K watching.
The beautiful, glamorous, clever, and delightful Nancy Ishimoto joined me
at a table near the stage. I have to say those things because she
grumbled at not being included in the tale about Kory K. S'ok, they're
true, anyway. We were joined occasionally by Ellen, the lady whose job is
getting entertainment there every Friday and Saturday. She did an
excellent demonstration of how it pays to get a pitcher of beer there
rather than a glass, and I fought Nancy off and managed to drink most of
The music was exceptionally fine, the company was, too. "Ma Kettle", whom
I hadn't seen in several weeks, came in at one point but stayed on her own
until the music finished when she came over to update me on her progress
at adjusting to a recent divorce and settling in Hawai'i. That whacko
dude with the blonde halo haircut who hangs out at Duke's stopped down and
did his strange martial "hula", perhaps fortunately not arriving until the
very end of the gig and ending his performance by slipping on the wet
pavement and falling on his butt. Saturday night in Waikiki.
There was a long wait at Ala Moana for the bus going over the mountains,
but I had an interesting chat with a fellow from American Samoa who was
making his first visit to Hawai'i. When the bus finally came, I settled
into the back corner seat, a local gentleman taking the other corner,
complimenting me on my good sense at taking one of the warmest seats on
Cainer said about this week, "Here at last, comes a splendid week; your
first since 1998 began." I was thinking about that last night when
sitting at the bar in Shipley's, smelling Kawika Kamakahi's armpit for
ten minutes. Yep, it was that crowded, and if you are sitting on a bar
stool and someone Kawika's height stands next to you, that's the
result. I'm not complaining, he smelled good. I was not deliberately
eavesdropping on his conversation with BB Shawn but could hardly not
hear it. Never mind, I'm not reporting any of it. Fine young men,
I had taken the bus over from Kaneohe in the late morning, stopped
downtown to pick up mail. I noticed the gathering of sovereignty
advocates at Iolani Palace, but didn't stop to see what they were
making speeches about. It was a strange contrast to see that group
and, just across the street, an almost equally large crowd of tourists
busily photographing each other by the Kamehameha statue. Outside the
"Word of Life Christian Center", a fairly derelict-looking young man
stopped me to ask if I knew of an auto parts store in the neighborhood.
When I said I didn't know the neighborhood at all, he mumbled something
about just needing someone to hold his tools (?) and went on to explain
he was "a little short". I told him I was, too, so he abandoned his
effort by asking for a cigarette. Strange patter for a young
Then I went on up to UH, fed the vending machine with quarters for a
cup of coffee, and settled in at a terminal at Hamilton. At one point,
a young fellow sat at a terminal across from me who was a perfect
example of a living Buddha image, looked as if he had stepped right out
of a classic art work.
Took a bus up to Shipley's in the drizzling rain, all the while muttering
that Barry Flanagan must not have spent that much time in Manoa if he
thought rain there was worth a romantic ballad (or else that person he met
in the rain was the real inspiration). All-star line-up at Shipley's and
my first time seeing Bla Pahinui in a club gig. Great music but I really
don't like that place and it's too expensive.
Had to catch the 9:08 bus back to Ala Moana in order to get the last bus
over to Kaneohe. The long wait for that one was made less tedious by two
young Japanese fellows having an extended, deep discussion/argument which
occasionally got quite loud and then settled into scenes of one having his
arm around the other and speaking softly in his ear. At one point, the
cuter of the two came over and asked for a cigarette, told me his friend
was stupid. But he went back to the discussion anyway and it continued
until the Kaneohe bus arrived and they surprised me by getting on it,
By the end of the next day I was feeling very tired and my supply of
patience was so exhausted, I grabbed the backpack, got on that bus over
the mountains, and settled down on a wooden bench to sleep.
On the road again ...
Cainer wrote "Mercury's sharp link to Mars tells us that right now,
something in your life seems awkward and unappealing. Jupiter's alignment
to Mars tells us that this factor, on closer investigation, will yet prove
to contain a nugget of something with immense potential value to you."
"Awkward and unappealing" could apply to lots of "somethings" in my life
right now, especially some of the reactions I get in email to these Tales.
It's getting easier to understand how some of the pioneers in this "art
form" have either given up or gone incognito.
But in my case, when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose ...
Woke up well before dawn and left my wooden bench, walked over to Ala
Moana Beach Park. The "general store" at the boat basin wasn't open yet
so I had to continue on to the DH end of Ala Moana before I could get a
cup of coffee. I was feeling so weak, so totally shattered ... and that
was even before I went online.
Drank the coffee and went into the shower building, sat in the drying room
next to the showers and got out my battery razor, started rubbing it over
my chin. A dude I'd guess was in his early twenties passed by on his way
to the shower where someone else was already making a lot of ahem-ing
noises. After a very short time there (can't blame him, the sun wasn't up
yet and it must have been SO cold), he walked back over buck naked to
where I was sitting and faced me while drying off. Ok, so I looked. It
was too early and I was so weary, but I looked. Cute dude. If I'd had
someplace to take him, I would've asked him home. Since I didn't, I left
and went outside to sit at a picnic table to re-arrange stuff in my
backpack which I had rather hastily crammed in it when fleeing Kaneohe.
He came out and stood under a tree near the table. Wha??? Why one cute
young dude hanging out at that hour of the morning, looking for whatever
he was after? I should have asked him, but like I said, I was really
Eventually he walked off in the direction of Waikiki, and I crossed the
road to the shopping center to wait for a bus up to the University. Rode
up there, spent two of my last four dollars to buy two scoops scrambled
eggs, one scoop hash browns and a cup of tea. Yep, I was that
By the time I was finished, Hamilton Library had opened. It was a
miserably gray, damp morning, so much for any idea of sleeping on the
beach or later taking a catamaran ride. I emailed Kory K to see if he was
on campus, he was, so stopped over to visit him, then took the bus down to
the corner at the bottom of the hill to get cigarettes and another one
back up the hill again.
Manoa Garden. Red Hook Double Black Stout. They're going to replace that
soon with something else, which is either a saving grace for me or the
worst thing that has happened in years. I was determined to prove to
Bryant that I could sit quietly at the bar, and I did it, through two of
those large jugs of the stuff. He was a little concerned, I think,
waiting for me to break loose, go ballistic. Not! But playing it safe,
when I got the third one I went outside to drink it.
In my first half hour at the Garden I was grumbling to myself about the
unusual lack of cute prospects in the place. Fate socked it to me big
time, filled the place with them, inside and out. I still behaved myself,
although one old dude who was busy courting a sweet, far-too-young-for-him
Japanese lad probably wouldn't agree. Old guy gave up and went away. I
asked the abandoned one if he'd like a beer and he thanked me but said he
was still only nineteen. Okay.
By the end of the afternoon I was feeling really low, like looking at one
of those boxes which says, break glass with hammer, or whatever. So I
sent an email to one of my kindest friends and asked if I could have 48
hours shelter. 48 hours was stretching it, probably only need 12 solid
hours of sleep. Got an affirmative response. SWEETHEART!!!
But there stay one computer by the bed and I still haven't even tried to
go to sleep because I got so many emails, and some of them were so totally
misunderstanding I have to wonder why I promised not to jump off the
lanai. Or why I keep an Internet account. Or why I write these things.
Or why I promised not to jump off the lanai (aka "balcony").
Oh. I said that already.
Running' on empty, despite a night of recharging on a soft futon. I
didn't realize how exhausting the past two weeks have been, physically and
mentally, until I was back on the benches. That's the first time in the
almost four months this trip has been underway that I really felt a need
to be in a private, protected space. It was the space that was needed,
the futon was a bonus.
It was at least partly the exhaustion which led to the first time ever
thought of leaving Hawai'i, although I doubt that idea would have entered
my mind if not for on-line stuff. Usenet gives such a false impression of
life here, and some email contributed to the overall feeling of being
discouraged over the future. One writer said I was "glamorizing" my life.
I don't think so, still trying at least to tell it like it happens and
that isn't particularly glamorous.
Unless I somehow miraculously got enough money to fly to Nepal, I'm
not likely to leave Hawai'i. But I might not spend much time on the other
side of the mountains again.
Meanwhile, it's that time when the pockets are almost empty and the
Survivor will have to rev up the hunting mode, the Tourist
has to get along without beer. Yep, I know. Was really dumb to go to
Manoa Garden instead of waiting until Thursday and the possibility of
Tomita-san's company, especially when feeling so down and weak I knew I
wouldn't have the will power to stop drinking after one. No need for
anyone to kick me, I'm a master at it.
Some readers have the idea that I'm on a search for "enlightenment".
Sorry, that's not my trip and never has been. Even in the acid days, I
never expected to find Nirvana. I liked the vastly expanded powers of
perception and the ability to so thoroughly explore the inner landscape
but "enlightenment" wasn't a goal. If that had been or was now my aim,
I'd go for one of the classic Eastern techniques. Probably wouldn't work,
but the attempt that way would make more sense than doing drugs or
wandering around homeless in Honolulu. Self-knowledge, yes, I aim for
that, no matter how far astray the arrow sometimes flies.
When I read Erick's diary this morning, I thought ouch! I know just how
he feels. My current mood isn't as gloomy as his, but it certainly
qualifies as a major slump.
"Kundun" is a beautiful work of art. I have read remarks from some
critics who are debating whether it is a "great film" but I think the
academic technicalities they are nattering about are irrelevant. It is
beautiful to look at and, thanks to the extreme good fortune of having
Philip Glass on the project, beautiful to listen to. Perhaps most
important, it is a fitting tribute to one of the finest men of this
century. I felt fortunate that a friend had given me some tickets and I
had saved the last one for it.
The film did much to shift my position. The pivot may not be unwobbling
but it's no longer skewing all over the place. A quiet night on a
sheltered bench helped, too, although I woke up far earlier than
necessary. It had been so warm there that no blanket was needed during
the night, but with the wind constantly blowing in from the ocean at Magic
Island in the predawn hours, it was quite chilly and I was greatly looking
forward to the warmth of the sun.
Another reader, agreeing with the one who said I was "glamorizing"
my life, said I made being homeless sound "like a lark". She should have
been there. Believe me folks, there is nothing even slightly glamorous
about those hours between the time when you can sleep undisturbed on a
public bench and the time the sun rises, or at least until the half hour
before it rises, when the sky is usually so beautiful it takes your mind
off being cold and lonely. And so it was this morning.
When McDonald's finally opened, I walked over and used the last of the
Christmas-gift certificates to buy those little two-for-a-dollar "apple
pies" and a free-small-coffee voucher provided something to wash the
things down with. When you're hungry enough, almost anything tastes
really good. That McDonald's card campaign certainly came at the
right time for me. I know someone who buys stuff there a lot and
has been passing on the vouchers to me. On my own card, only just
reached the point of getting one cup of coffee free.
Then I returned to Magic Island for a few hours in the sun, with
occasional short naps. During one of them I dreamed of Chloe for the
first time since she left my life, and it was sweet to be reminded of how
much I love that cat. A very slim Filipino lad came along and sat not far
from me. He was proud of his flat belly and kept doing things to flex his
upper body, accenting the waist. Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"
played in my head, but I didn't blame him. A young Japanese couple
arrived and started doing some fairly heavy necking while laying on the
beach, unusual for Magic Island at that time of the morning.
When I left and went into the shower a young fellow was in there
whose ethnic origin I couldn't guess at all. He looked South American.
He was showering with his white jockey shorts on which was kind of weird,
especially since wet they did nothing to conceal, were almost transparent.
He was replaced by a bleached blonde with black fingernail polish, a
rather chubby body and a very tiny penis. So much variety, those Ala
On the bus to the University, I decided to re-title this series of tales,
"back in the saddle again".
It is painful to leave the world; it is painful to be in the world; it
is painful to be alone amongst the many. The long road of transmigration
is a road of pain for the traveller; let him rest by the road and be
Cainer promises an "exceptionally inspiring weekend". On Thursday
he promised that either love or money would come, depending on which I
wanted most. I found a dime. And I was thinking love was the choice.
Whatever, I assume something in my personal chart overrode the general
cosmic drift of things.
I had a small glass of wine at lunchtime on Wednesday, so it has been 48
hours since I last had something alcoholic to drink. Please, please, hold
the applause. I only mention it for those readers who seem to think I am
in the grip of Demon Rum and would spend my last dollar on a bottle of
beer. I would, if I were really in the mood for a beer. Even that
wouldn't be necessary, there are several bartenders in this town who would
front me a few beers if I stopped by. A pity you don't tip at
Jack-in-the-Box. I would no doubt have been as generous there as I was in
bars and would have buddies behind the counter who'd slip me a free Jumbo
Jack or two. I've been more in the mood for Jumbo Jacks than beer. It
always happens when I'm running out of money. I start to feel hungry all
the time. It's so perverse; I know I'm really not that
hungry, even if I have had very little to eat for days.
I think part of the Demon Rum misperception by some people I know has to
do with quantity more than frequency, though. I have always had a very
high tolerance for all drugs, by which I mean it takes either very strong
drugs or very large quantities to alter my usual state of consciousness.
This is (perhaps) fortunate since otherwise I would have been dead already
from two deliberate attempts to overdose and heaven knows how many
"accidental" ones. It is unfortunate because it makes the enjoyment of
any drug an expensive hobby, owing to the quantity required. While having
access to a refrigerator, it is possible to buy 12 cans of beer for the
price of two in a bar. There is no more effect on me from 12 cans than
from 2, but I don't expect anyone to believe that. We are talking
ordinary, cheap American beer, of course. Twelve cans of Red Hook Double
Black Stout and I'd probably not remember anything that happened during a
few hours after the consumption, but it's highly unlikely I'd
pass out or be sick. Just doesn't happen with beer.
Of course, there are some readers with their own scripts for this roadshow
who sip or puff their drugs of choice and tell me I should take the pure
path, give them all up. They think I'm their little pet Gautama sitting
under a palm tree?
Speaking of that admirable gentleman, the film "Kundun" sent me in
search of the Buddhist section at Hamilton. As with most categories in
this strange arrangement, there turned out to be several such sections. I
was looking for the Dhammapada, whence comes the opening quote to
this Tale, and was surprised to see they had only one translation.
Actually, they have many but the others are in another section I did not
discover until the following day. It has been decades since I last read
the Dhammapada and it's a pleasure to revisit it, even if it
does set goals far too lofty for me. In this life, anyway.
When I left Hamilton and took the bus to Waikiki, it was a surprise to
discover it had been raining heavily there and was still drizzling. It is
not often one finds Manoa dry while Waikiki is wet. I went on to Ala
Moana where it was once again raining fairly hard, so I sat and watched
the shoppers from a sheltered bench until the rain stopped. Then I
crossed to the park, put a plastic bag on a wet bench, and sat to watch
the reflection of lights in the water, thinking about the book, the film,
the Dalai Lama. Thinking that the best of these "tales" aren't here at
all. They were written in my head at times like those hours watching the
water, and what actually gets written is just a reflection, scattered and
broken like those lights fragmented by waves.
He gives up home, and desires to be homeless, a hard choice. Like a
bird invisibly flying in the sky, he lives without possessions, knowledge
his food, freedom his world, while others wonder.
Hexagram 55. Abundance. Certainly are abundant cute prospects on campus
already this morning. The Atlanta artist, Jarvin Parks, had a favorite
expression to describe meeting a particularly cute prospect: "I fell on my
side". My side would be bruised.
The internal jukebox is in a wacky mood this morning, went from "Surrey
With the Fringe on Top" to "Beautiful Dreamer" to "Because of You". I
had a phase in my teens when I really hated that inner muzak but
gave up the struggle and learned to live with it. There are thousands of
songs I can call up on demand, but generally it just plays away in random
order. It's a good indicator of how aware I am at any given moment; if it
can get halfway through a song before I even notice it, then I know I'm
off wandering somewhere and could easily stub my toe or worse.
It's a perfect beach day. I'm happy for the nine-to-fivers but for us
nomads, such a beautiful weekend day isn't especially cause for
celebration. The beaches and parks will be very crowded, there won't be
much peace and quiet to be found anywhere outside.
Thursday night a very young nomad showed up looking for a vacant bench.
He could be as young as sixteen, seems in very happy spirits, walks
with a slight bounce, and falls asleep with his ear-button headphones on.
When I arrived for Friday's night sleep, he was on a bench outside but got
up and followed me, settled down on the bench next to me. I have the
feeling he looks on me as protection of sorts, and projecting that
feeling, he's guaranteed of whatever protection I can offer.
He's lucky he could fall asleep listening to whatever music he likes,
because there was some pretty awful stuff coming from a nearby club until
the small hours of the morning. I drifted in and out of sleep as long as
the music continued, then stepped outside for a smoke. Earlier in the
park someone had offered me a hit from some deliciously potent grass and
the cigarette picked up on it ... off to a gentle sleep.
I had been treated to dinner earlier, too, and then stopped in Kincaid's
for BB Shawn's first set where I enjoyed a couple of beers. Have to
remember that Cainer writes for the British time zone, sometimes what he
predicts may be a bit late in arriving here.
Panther the speed freak. Nope, sorry folks, you missed that. Had to be
around in the late 60s-early 70s for that trip. I was going to just let
this topic slide, but ok, let's deal with it. The day after leaving
Kaneohe, took some amphetamine tablets. Mentioned it in one email and
made a vague reference to it elsewhere as the reason I didn't go
catamaran-ing. Now I've had a bunch of email from people who think I am
"doing speed". Sheez, what a flock of innocents I've landed with. Well,
forget it. Speed without good grass is a bore. Brighter lights and colors
and a little zippier thought processes aren't worth the physical payout it
requires. Admittedly, wished I'd had it to go with that toke I was
It surprised me how innocent most people seem to be about the subject,
reminiscent of heroin propaganda. Try it once and you are doomed, hooked
and enslaved for life, etc. It's bizarre that a doctor-sanctified drug
like diazepam, so much more addictive than heroin or amphetamines, never
shared in the aura of horror. I enjoyed talking to a friend at Kincaid's
who was once a heavy speed user. Like everyone I know who did the stuff
heavily, self included, he regards it with loathing. But we seem to have
had very, very different responses to the drug. He spoke of an initial
reaction of being very out-going, loving everyone. For me it was a
deeply introspective experience. I was always so enthralled by the mind
games it generated that I had no time for most other people; only rarely
did I find a playmate whose conversation would even further stimulate the
drug's influence on the mind.
In any case, all the readers who were concerned that I might get all weird
because I was "doing speed" can relax. It's funny that some of those who
were concerned have actually been in my company when I was under the
influence of those far more potent substances, LSD and mushrooms, and were
totally unaware of it. I'm too "weird" to get any weirder.
Thursday night and Friday night were much the same (except for the blaring
music on Friday), Thursday morning and Friday morning, likewise, dozing in
the sun on the beach at Magic Island, heading over to the shower and then
up to the university. Early Friday evening sitting in the park watching
the reflection of the lights on the water, again. Days and nights of
simple living, simple pleasures. I was thinking about mosquitos and of
the emphasis in "Kundun" on having love and compassion for all
living creatures, nicely illustrated when the very young Dalai Lama did
not react negatively to the sight of a rat lapping water from an altar
dish. Yeh, ok, I'll work on my thinking about the lowly mosquito.
And thinking about the pairing of the Buddhist credo, "I go to the Buddha
for refuge" and the verse from the Dhammapada which reads "You are
your own refuge; there is no other refuge. This refuge is hard to
Was given some more movie tickets, will see "Kundun" again.
A reader whose opinion I respect has accused me of cowardice, says I must
be deliberately leaving a lot of stuff out. Knowing me perhaps better
than most readers, he suspects that lust is playing more of a role than I
am admitting and, with his characteristic bluntness, asked "don't you ever
jerk off?". In a time when incoming email has played a large role in this
endeavor, often in a fairly disturbing manner, I enjoyed the laugh that
question evoked and passed it on to the Underworld Dude for a
reply. He called it my so-called lusty life.
Monday morning was so chilly I got on a bus after leaving the hacienda at
the same time my buddy did (we still haven't spoken a word to each other).
The back seat of Honolulu buses is the equivalent of those sidewalk grills
in New York City where the heat from the subway rises, often a haven for
urban nomads. Judging by reports in alt.society.homeless, there has been
a major effort to get people off the streets in Manhattan, driving them
into more fringe areas of the city. I have no problem with that, don't
understand why a nomad would want to be conspicuously present anyway
unless, like some, they are feeling sorry for themselves and are
deliberately standing in well-traveled places as if saying "look at poor
me, I'm homeless and poor amidst all this splendor".
I was walking with Helen R. through Waikiki last evening and we passed one
such nomad. He was dirty, very very dirty. His feet were almost black
with caked dirt. A nomad spotted in an isolated spot in the park who is
that dirty is most likely using the grubby appearance as a further
deterrent to people approaching. Many nomads seem to just want to be left
alone. Those like the dirty young man we passed who stand in a very
public place obviously have other motives and I'm convinced the main one
is an appeal for sympathy. They get mine, but they would have it anyway,
no need to resort to such extremes.
That verse from the Dhammapada perfectly describes what I think is
the more admirable path for an urban nomad: like a bird invisibly
flying in the sky. But, of course, to each his own.
One advantage of arriving on campus early, at least for me, is getting to
see the sleepy-looking young fellows walking around. Lads of Asian
descent are particularly cute with that dozey look, as evidenced by the
photo of Jay on my Diary Keepers page. I saw one fellow who must be
Nepalese. He could easily have been a room boy at Kathmandu's Hotel
Manaslu, looked very much like the one who was assigned to me on my last
visit there. Well-born, indeed, to instead be a student at the University
A disadvantage of getting to campus early is that hill that blocks the
sun. Some research revealed that the best place near Hamilton Library is
a bench on the porch of Webster Hall. The sun reaches it at about 7:40.
(Webster Hall is not named after Daniel, just as Hamilton is not named
Young Asian-type lads wander around looking sleepily cute and sexy. Young
Asian-type lasses seem to wake up in full giggle and chatter mode, like
the mynah birds greeting the sun from the trees on campus. So the
disadvantage of that bench at Webster Hall is the parade of young ladies
on their way to the nursing school, merrily chirping away.
I'm not so sure Cainer's prediction of a "particularly inspiring" weekend
was accurate but it certainly was a pleasant one. I had decided to
sharply curtail my visits to bars featuring music, not most certainly
because of any decrease in my love for the music and some of the
musicians, but for lack of money and no wish to occupy space which might
otherwise be filled with a paying customer indirectly contributing to the
musicians, or to impose upon people who might feel obligated to offer me a
drink. There are people who happily buy drinks for people and there are
people who do so only out of "good manners"; I'm in the first group when I
have the means to be. I'd rather stop getting drinks from the second
So I stayed away from the Regent and the Pier Bar on Thursday evening, but
was specifically invited to Kincaid's on Friday to hear BB Shawn, and
again to the International Marketplace on Saturday. I had planned to
avoid Kincaid's that evening, after being told Harold Kama and John Feary
would be playing. It's too delightful a combination for me to resist
playing tease. But I was urged to go, and since I actually did very much
want to be there, it didn't take much urging. Once there I made the
mistake of sitting at a table with three female friends who had also been
at the Marketplace. The table was right by the stage and they told me to
take the chair which placed me almost with my chin on John Feary's knee. I
didn't behave as well as I should have but he was, as always, very sweet
about it, and it was a good lesson. I'll never sit that close to him at a
The return to the hacienda provided another good lesson, or extension of
that one, as mentioned in the new tale from the Underworld Dude.
After a short visit to Hamilton on Sunday, I joined Helen R. in Waikiki
and we went to see "Titanic". I thought it a most handsome film
but it didn't touch me as much as the old black-and-white version of the
story. I can recall sobbing in that one as everyone sang "Nearer My God
to Thee". In the new one, I was never close to shedding a tear despite
some nicely crafted mixes of images and sounds designed to evoke them.
The tragedy of the real story seemed so secondary in this film to the
fictional tragic love story, and the fictional one was too much of a fairy
tale for me to take it very seriously at any point. Leonardo is certainly
very cute, I can understand why he has so devoted a following amongst
young ladies, but he doesn't inspire that kind of interest from me, nor
did any of the other actors and actresses in the film. Kathy Bates,
though, is always a delight to watch, no matter what the role. Like I
said, a handsome film but more romantic fluff than tragedy.
After a post-movie snack at Taco Bell (my first visit to one of those
places in Hawai'i), we walked through Waikiki and I continued on to Ala
Moana and a bus to the hacienda where my buddy was already on his
neighboring bench, wearing long pants for the first time (and wisely,
since it was cooler than it had been for some nights), laying down but
awake and listening to his radio as usual.
Yep, a pleasant weekend.