tales from the year of the tiger
He said: The pivot that does not wobble;
looking into the mind and then doing; attain this?
Few men have for long.
ride the tiger
after the fall
che gelida manina
second moon of the tiger
there's a fool moon on the rise
on the threshold of the ram
third moon of the tiger
the bull of the tiger
castor, pollux and the tiger
summertime, and the livin' is easy
I wrote before that "Kundun" is a beautiful work of art. True, but
I realize that's irrelevant. I also think it is a great film, a classic,
but that, too, is irrelevant. What makes "Kundun" extraordinary is
the power it has over a mind ready to open to that power. I didn't
understand that until a few days after seeing it the first time.
The strange, exotic, deeply esoteric images and even more strange sounds
and music of Tibet are obviously a major factor in that power. The
Tibetan boys and young men chosen to depict the Dalai Lama at various
stages of his life are also part of it. The Dalai Lama himself is a
significant part of that power, too, even if his role was only one of
"cooperation" with the making of the film.
The noble and beautiful message of Gautama Buddha, although so
non-evangelistically included in the film, is the real core of its power,
I think. I cannot think of any film which comes even close to being the
kind of vehicle for Christianity that "Kundun" is for Buddhism.
I went to see it again. For me personally, it is like a beacon welcoming
the Year of the Tiger. For the Pilgrim in me it is,
understandably, almost a call to arms (despite the inappropriateness of
Its reminder to really, deeply, consider the possibility that this is only
one of many lives, that what we are doing right now will not only affect
us in this life, but in those to come, has set off a "war in heaven" in my
mind. Such inner events have always been a part of my own living through
a year of the cat, something of the kind was expected and it will not
surprise me to see the battle intensify as Aries draws nearer. Such was
the case with the last two Tigers.
The Underworld Dude, no doubt feeling somewhat slighted by
the recent description of his greatest interest as "not a driving force",
called forth his demons to distract the Pilgrim from his
meditations on the film, the Tourist shuddered and went into
seclusion, and the Survivor began to sort through his arsenal, just
in case he had to intervene in the war (and he did have to,
All in all, it was a most interesting night under the Southern
There are, as yet, no casualties. The Pilgrim has a decided
advantage with "Kundun" as an ally.
Note, on the following morning: I was thinking about this tale as I
settled down for the night and considered zapping it altogether, but I
guess I'll let it stand, with a few notations.
This is so totally weird, which, I know, sounds like something from one of
the favorite television programs of my long life. Can you guess?
I intended to hear Mister Clinton's State of the Union speech. I
thought it was going to be the day after when it actually was, and
expected to be sitting on a beach listening to it on my battery
Kory K didn't know that. He probably didn't know either that the speech
was going to be on Tuesday when he sent me an email saying he had to stop
Auwe! Just this moment realized he asked me to go to the "garden" with
him, but he meant the Japanese Garden! Not in the middle of a weekday
afternoon, Kory! Better Manoa Garden, which is where we ended up, and
which was where arrangements had been made for viewing Mister Clinton's
State of the Union Address. Selected students from the University of
Hawai'i were chosen by the White House schmooz unit to provide feedback
on the speech, one of four universities so "honored".
Odd, how that made me think of Chairman Mao and the Dalai Lama, but it's
*that* movie again.
One of my best friends thinks, or at one time thought, I was George
Washington once upon a time. I don't think so. I think I was a soldier
in the Revolutionary War, the one whose grave I "accidentally" stumbled
across in my walk across New Jersey and over which I inexplicably, some
would say, burst into tears. If I'm right, I gave my life for this
country called "The United States of America", opposing a country I have
loved in many lives.
Ok, ok, I'm in Buddhist mode right now and likely to stay in it for some
Mister Clinton embarrassed me today more than any American President has
done in my almost fifty-eight years on this planet. The man did not one
time let the word "Asia" cross his lips. [Note: a misperception. The
transcript reveals that he did in fact mention it several times.] It
was my pleasure to point that out to the students providing "feedback"
even if I, and I am sure they, know it won't matter in the slightest,
never mind all the local television "news" crews in attendance. [They
hadn't noticed the references, either.]
Yes, I said "embarrassed ... more". And no, I have not forgotten Richard
[sarcasm mode on] You think just because I am a wandering
mendicant, I don't take notice of these things? You think just because I
have a circle of addict friends who are foolishly spending their money to
help me kill myself with beer, I don't notice these things? You think
just because I stay one haole in this
state-which-probably-shouldn't-be-a-state, I don't notice these things?
[sarcasm mode off]
Ok, Clinton made me mad. His smarmy wife, sucking up to everyone who
would wave to her, made me mad. I don't want to be angry with anyone, not
the people who are close to me who have disappointed me, not with the
leader of this country I do care about so much ... not with
But one thing you can believe. I am going to do my very best not to lie
to myself at this stage in life, and I have spent far too much time
feeling angry in recent weeks.
Most of all, with myself.
That is not the aspect of the Tiger which is welcome here. If any one of
I is listening ...
A reader asks if I really believe in reincarnation and cautions, "If you
start talking about your past lifes, people will think you're
I agree with the caution. I used to think it was a harmlessly crazy
aspect of my friend who has devoted a lot of his time and energy to a
"hobby" of researching past identities, his own and others. But then
people think I'm nuts already, so no big deal.
No, I don't really believe in it. I wish I did. There is some evidence I
trust which appears to confirm it, men like the Dalai Lama and Satya Sai
Baba, but that isn't sufficient to totally convince me. Rather than say
"believe in it", I say "I accept it". It makes the most sense to me of
all the possible structures of existence, from the extremes of "we live
this life, we die, that's it" to the nightmare of the Christian fate of
eternal bliss or eternal damnation. Despite what his followers have
constructed as their Canon, as I understand it Gautama Buddha thought it
was useless to speculate on the subject, that for real, "Life" and "Death"
are just names, there is no coming and going, and eliminating that which
blocks the full awareness of this truth, waking from the dream, is what
matters. Yet even he is reported to have often spoken of his own past
As for talking about what may have been my own, there is not much to say.
Based on a particularly extraordinary acid experience, I think I was a
scribe in Egypt but could not from the experience place it in any specific
time. I may have been William Fredericks, a soldier in General
Washington's army, who was killed in New Jersey shortly after the crossing
of the Delaware. In the last century, Pan Tao Shih, a Taoist monk in
China. And earlier in this one, Graham Robertson, an insignificant
English artist. All I can say is that I would not be at all surprised if
that were somehow proven to be the case.
It doesn't really matter.
If it is true, I'm grateful to have none of the memories, at least
consciously. Bad enough to walk around with the debris from this life. I
was reminded during lunch hour on campus yesterday by the students
swarming everywhere of the unpleasant habit I had as a child of taking a
stick and attacking an ant hill, just for the fun of watching the ants go
berserk. Even worse, a friend and I used to catch grasshoppers, pull off
their back legs, and drop them in the middle of the crazed ants. Ouch,
what nasty little karmic waves that must have stirred.
Meanwhile, I was sent some excerpts from the transcript of Clinton's
speech which prove he did, in fact, refer to Asia several times, also
proving that even though I was earnestly trying to listen to him, I
obviously didn't do a very good job of it. It probably would have been
better to simply read the transcript of the speech because he's really a
lousy actor, never has been able to play the role of statesman. A preview
of the upcoming Mike Nichols film which features John Travolta as a
presidential candidate suggests Travolta does a better job of playing
Clinton than Clinton does playing President.
I stopped writing at that point and went downtown to have lunch with a
friend. It was the first time I had eaten at Zaffron, the Indian
restaurant on the edge of Chinatown. The menu led me to expect South
Indian cooking but it was definitely North Indian, very mildly seasoned.
Quite decent, though, even if the chapatti was too gentrified and not
immediately off the griddle like the real peasant type. Yummy iced
When I got back to Hamilton I thought I'd better spend a little more time
with the Buddhist canon if I'm going to go sounding off about it, so I
read the Diamond Sutra. It's a translation I hadn't seen before,
with an introduction by Evans-Wentz whose Tibetan translations were a
constant part of my life in the high acid years. I probably put a Taoist
gloss on all my interpretations of Buddhist writings, but maybe that's not
such a bad thing.
A pleasant New Year's Day. Past Tiger years have always been very
prosperous ones for me, marked by inner struggles, "wars in heaven". I
sometimes think that if I did really believe in reincarnation, I'd live my
life much differently. Maybe not. If I don't have the sense to practise
enough moderation in the early part of the month to prevent the famine and
drought of the last week, would I be likely to "invest" in something as
remote as a future life?
It's not my fault! I walk up the steps to Hamilton Library as the sun is
just about to peek over that hill. Sitting on a bench by the bulletin
boards is one of my favorite men on campus. If I were casting director
for a project that needed an ideal haole surfer dude, this fellow would be
at the top of the list. He either has a great hairdresser or his
beautifully colored hair is natural sun frosting; I suspect the latter.
His skin is an equally beautiful shade of golden brown. I gave one deeply
admiring look and sat on a bench on the other side of the boards, safely
out of viewing range. I was reading the campus newspaper for the day,
waiting to greet the rising sun with appropriately profound thoughts when
he got up and sat on the bench beside me, less than three feet away!
Okay, so the second day of the Tiger got off to a most excellent
"Take care of yourself," my hacienda buddy said, as we were leaving one
morning. "You, too," I replied, giving him a casual salute which is a
more natural gesture for me than the local shaka. It was the first time
we had spoken to each other and it suggested a farewell, not just a
parting for the day. Such seems to be the case. He was not at the
hacienda that evening. I'll miss his company, silent though it
"Hacienda", like "cloisters" which I'll mention later, is a nickname for a
sanctuary where it is possible to sleep. It seems prudent to omit real
names and details.
Although my buddy did not return that evening, some newcomers did, alas,
arrive at the hacienda. A family! A young couple with two hyperactive
little girls. I was already asleep but was awakened by all the chatter.
"Are you folks staying long?" I asked. "We're sleeping here," replied the
young father. "Well, it might be best to go to sleep then, because they
wake you up early," I suggested. No joy, they did nothing to stop the
post-midnight revels of their children. I lit a cigarette. The mother
asked if I had a spare one. "You must be joking," I grumbled, gathered up
my things and left, as did two of the other awakened regular residents. I
hope the family had just missed a last bus and were not planning to take
up extended residence at the hacienda.
I walked over to the Kakaako Waterfront Park, the first time I had visited
it in the middle of the night. On the way I was thinking how much I'd
really like a Pepsi. Voila, two bus stops down was an abandoned plastic
bottle about half full of Pepsi.
The Waterfront Park was deserted, just me and a bunch of cats and off in
the distance the silhouettes of three people with lights down on the
boulders at the water's edge, probably night fishing. There is no
overhead shelter in the park and the only haven if it began to rain would
be the buildings housing the toilets. The surf crashes very loudly
against the boulders, too, so it's a splendid place but not for
I walked on to Ala Moana Beach Park where there were still quite a few
people roaming around or settled under covers asleep. There were no
clouds and the Southern Cross was mesmerizing. "When you see the
Southern Cross for the first time, you'll know then why you came this way
...". That Stephen Stills song is one reason I did come this way. I
sat on a bench and watched it and what was going on around me. At one
point, two cars drove up, parked outside the shower building. Two
Japanese men got out of the cars and walked together into the building.
After about fifteen minutes, I got curious and went over to have a look.
They were together in the handicapped stall on the toilet side! There
must be somewhere more appealing for a clandestine rendezvous than that.
They stayed for at least another quarter hour, then one came out,
got in his car and drove away. The other one went into the shower. I had
a look. Probably in his mid-thirties, definitely not someone I would have
expected to be engaging in such a strange middle-of-the-night
I returned to my bench and spent the rest of the night watching the stars,
the occasional passers-by, the police patrols (only one fellow stopped and
went into the shower building briefly, probably just to take a leak). I
walked out and around Magic Island several times during the night. It's
indeed "magic" out there on a clear night when no one else is
That was the first time I've stayed up all night in a long time, and I
thought about my initial plans when this trip began, the idea that it
would be better to stay up all night and sleep during the day. Finding
quiet places to sleep, especially if it's raining, was too big a hassle so
I dumped that idea. But certainly an occasional all-night session seems a
good, and an interesting, idea.
Just before dawn I was running out of cigarette butts, so went on to
Waikiki. Outside a Chinese restaurant on Kuhio Avenue was a neatly tied
white plastic bag which contained a large plate-lunch box filled with
fried rice mixed with peas and carrots. There was even a napkin and a
little tub of very hot sauce. A most excellent breakfast! That's not the
first time I have found such bags deliberately placed outside a Chinese
eatery ... I wonder if they are left there to appease hungry ghosts or
something like that? In any case, this hungry ghost was most
That morning, and the next, I made the rounds of all three floors of the
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, getting enough of a tobacco supply to last
until after dark when the rounds of campus can be made to replenish it.
I've been carrying one pack of "virgin" cigarettes to smoke when in the
company of other smokers, so they don't feel guilty seeing me smoke the
leftovers. (Don't bother with Kory K, of course ... bugger wouldn't
feel guilty, anyway, and besides he either offers one of his or I strongly
hint for one. There are no rules.) But now it's that time when even
niceties like that must fall by the wayside.
Days on campus, at the terminal or upstairs exploring the Buddhist
collection or walking around campus admiring the little Buddhas around me.
Taking up a bench at the "cloisters" after Hamilton closes, sleeping
undisturbed by the greater noise level there than at the hacienda.
Despite the brief distraction of national politics and the dwindling
static from earlier in the month, the Tiger is off to a fine
Hexagram 61. Inner Truth.
War in heaven. Had to stop and think about how I acquired that and then
what I mean by it. First part is easy, comes from my friend Felix who, I
think, used it to describe more intense than usual inner turmoil or
struggles. It's a bit flambouyant, but the kingdom of heaven is within,
it's written somewhere, so inner battles are "war in heaven",
When I devised, somewhat casually, the four-part structure of my life as a
nomad, I think I was more on target than I realized at the time. As an
intellectual device for contemplating self, inner life, outer behavior, it
has proven to be quite useful.
The "I" who exists apart from those four voices has tried and is
continuing to try to remain neutral, to merely observe life when one or
the other is in the driver's seat, to note the machinations of each to get
what it thinks at that moment of vital importance, to watch the battles
between them from a distance.
The current round seems to have entered a new phase. Each voice is
aligning itself with allies. The Pilgrim, encouraged by the effect of
"Kundun", now brings the Dalai Lama himself to the inner stage by
means of his writings. The Tourist made a grand play with alcohol as bait
but it didn't work, so fell back on the long-time reliable ally, tobacco,
to finally interrupt the Pilgrim's reinforcement of his arsenal. The
Underground Dude made a weak attempt to capture the spotlight but has to
rely upon fate throwing the right ally in the path, has no reliable bait
because all the possibles are too unattainable. The Survivor isn't
concerned at this stage, his turf isn't being invaded.
I ran around in circles somewhat on Thursday as one or the other gained
the upper hand and said "now we'll do this", only in midstream to have
another one take over and say "nope, not now" or "not yet". Then I took a
look at what Cainer had to say.
I WISH I could promise a quiet weekend. You deserve a break but the
planets seem reluctant to provide this yet. Rather, they seem determined
to stir something up to the point where action simply has to be taken. ...
You are justifiably, understandably cross about something or someone.
Whilst you should try not to let this get to you, you can't just thrust
your hands in your pocket and whistle nonchalantly. A big, brave decision
must be reached... and implemented.
Yeh, I know that, and it's "I" who has to make it, those guys aren't going
to compromise and reach some comfortable balance on their own. Full
integration would be the ideal solution, I suppose, but there are too many
absolute contradictions. It's not possible. The method used up to now,
trying to give each the time and energy needed to keep it content is
I finally got tired of the chasing around and said, ok guys, that's it,
we're leaving this playground. Took a bus to the McDonald's near Ward
Centre and used the last of the vouchers for dinner. The Supply Angel had
been cranky all day, never did turn up some remnants of a Pepsi which for
some reason had been much craved (sugar deprivation, perhaps). But after
the sandwich and fries, walking on to Ward Centre, there was an abandoned,
unopened 20 oz. bottle of Mountain Dew. Perhaps it was the intercession
of Saint Helen.
The next morning, the Supply Angel was in prankster mode. I went into
Jack-in-the-Box for a 26-cent senior cup of coffee, then walked out to
find someone had left a large cup of the stuff on the newsbox outside,
hadn't been there when I went in or I could have saved 26 cents. For
most of the day, there was nothing to eat anywhere, then suddenly a
bonanza of stuff turned up.
I had stayed on the beach in Waikiki all morning enjoying the warmth of
the sun after a very chilly night and those grim pre-dawn hours which have
been unusually cold all week. When I got to UH, the State Library system
was down, so aside from checking email a couple of times, it was an
offline day. There was something for everyone. The Survivor had a large,
quite delicious plate lunch from Shirokiya; the Underground Dude was more
than content with his adventure, including a sweet Malaysian lad with
smiling dark eyes; the Pilgrim spent more time with the Dalai Lama's books
in addition to his morning meditations by the ocean; and for the Tourist
there was the evening, most enjoyably spent visiting a friend, happily
munching cheese and crackers and ending a three-day (non-voluntary)
abstinence from alcohol with a six-pack of Budweiser.
But it was only a temporary lull, one of those very rare days when the
balance was so close to just right no one had real cause to
complain. Just a lull, a day to postpone "big brave decisions".
Something's happening here but you don't know what it is, do you,
Mister Jones? Don't worry, Jones, me neither. Not yet.
And who over the ruins of his life pursued its fleeting, fluttering
significance, while he suffered its seeming meaninglessness and lived its
seeming madness, and who hoped in secret at the last turn of the labyrinth
of Chaos for revelation and God's presence?
"The Dalai Lama does not believe in war." Me neither. I don't
know if it's a "bold" or a "brave" decision, but the decision was to make
It was a pleasant afternoon on campus. The Dalai Lama's book on
opening the "eye of Wisdom" is heavy going and most of the afternoon
hours were spent trying to absorb at least the surface of it to get some
ground for studying it further. After about fifty pages, I decided it was
time for a break and went over to Manoa Garden (which was closed) and sat
outside at the table with the view of Diamond Head and read
Steppenwolf for awhile. It's solid evidence how profound a book
is the Dalai Lama's, when Hesse is "break" reading.
I worked for awhile on a Tale, only the second one written using pen and
paper. I doubt it will ever get "published", but writing it is a useful
Then I went to see "Kundun" again.
There is one scene in the film which totally zaps me, when the Regent
realizes he has found the fourteenth Dalai Lama and says something in
Tibetan. It is stronger than even the most special temple bells I have
heard. Having now read the Dalai Lama's own account of his childhood
I better understood some of the things in the film. I hadn't realized
that the family only knew their young son was an incarnation of a high
lama; not until it was publicly announced did they know he was not just a
high lama, but the highest in the Tibetan heirarchy. And the
moment of slight confusion when he debates between two staffs is
explained by the fact that both staffs had actually belonged to
him, but he had given one away. The film stays very close to the
book, even using some lines directly from it.
From the theatre, I walked over to Ala Moana and then continued on to Ward
Centre and Ward Warehouse, stopping outside Kincaid's for awhile to listen
to BB Shawn, who was appropriately singing "Is Anybody Going to San
Antone?" when I arrived. (I hope not I, anyway.) When I got to the
hacienda there was a young newcomer sitting on a bench outside, a fellow
in his mid-twenties with shoulder-length hair. He seemed to be getting
ready to sleep there. I stopped to finish my cigarette. He said
something about how awful the music blaring from across the street was,
and I agreed. I told him it looked like rain was likely, that he'd
probably be wise to settle inside if he was planning to stay the night,
and he said since he didn't know the place, he didn't want to take someone
else's bench. "No reservations," I said, but offered to show him which
ones were usually occupied by regulars. He took the one next to mine
which has been empty since my teenage buddy disappeared.
He seemed slightly drunk and very unhappy, just sat there without making
any move to settle down for the night. Then he asked if the police ever
came to check the area. I said I thought it was out of their
jurisdiction, but in any case, I had never seen them walk up there. So he
opened his bag and pulled out one of those large bottles of Colt 45 and
asked if I'd like some. I was impressed that he was willing not only to
share, but to drink from the same bottle. Some nomads are wierdly finicky
about such things. So I said sure, and he moved over to my bench and we
had a few exchanges of the bottle. He broke up with his lady friend very
recently, has no job and so couldn't get a place of his own, had been
sleeping in the stairwell of a small shopping mall until the night before
when he'd been spotted by security and warned that he'd be arrested if
seen there again. I asked him about the lady and was at something of a
loss when he put his head down on his knees and started sobbing. I sat
quietly until the storm passed, then he apologized and said he couldn't
really talk about it yet, had better go to sleep. I didn't pressure him,
and we finished the beer without saying anything else, then he thanked me
for having a drink with him, went over to his bench and was asleep before
I'd even finished getting myself ready to do the same. When I woke up, he
was already gone.
The night had not been as cold as most nights last week, and it was cloudy
with occasional rain in the predawn hours, but soon cleared. I got a cup
of coffee and went out to Magic Island to enjoy the early morning sun.
Then I walked back to the showers. A young Filipino nomad was sitting at
the picnic table outside the showers and not long after I went in, he
joined me. I am inclined to think that I somehow appear as a "safe"
person to some of the young nomads, and this was another, waiting
for a comfortable opportunity to use the shower. Couldn't blame him, he
had a beautiful body which must inspire a lot of invitations, welcome or
otherwise. He was smiling and friendly, showered with white boxer shorts
on which were so low on the waist that half of his cute little butt was
exposed. I lingered longer than I would have, enjoying the
Then I went over to the shopping center to see Kanilau on Centerstage,
with a bunch of youngsters doing the hula. I felt sorry for the
teacher of those young boys, don't think I have ever seen such an
ungraceful bunch before. But Kanilau were in good form, the female
dancers were more promising, and it was an enjoyable hour.
As I was walking to the bus, I spotted my shower companion sitting at a
table outside Foodland, eating something from a small bag and drinking
from a container of milk. I was tempted to tell him how much I'd enjoyed
the shower with him, but figured that unless he was very, very naive, he
knew that already.
It was another pleasant afternoon on campus, mostly spent reading. It
isn't unusual to find no leftovers on a Sunday, but the Survivor's
instinct turned the feet in just the right direction at the right time to
come across five egg rolls and a large container of fried rice, another
time to be grateful for students who are so affluent they can afford to
generously overestimate their appetites.
And it is that "instinct", perhaps the karma of each of the four voices,
which must make any decisions ... bold, brave or otherwise. I was falling
into the trap some readers have fallen in, thinking there was a need to
"do something". Some readers tell me I should be "helping" people,
failing to see that unlike the academics and former homeless folk who
dominate online discussions on the subject, unlike the social workers
manning the "rescue" operations, I'm there with them.
In the inner landscape, if it is the instinct of one voice that some
decision should be made and another voice opposes it, I will stay neutral.
Either they come to some compromise or we continue as is. I will not
impose any external rules unless prompted by an unopposed inner impulse.
It's not light yet, but it's getting there.
"How unfortunate," said the Dalai Lama. Indeed. Of course, he was
talking about the Chinese and I am talking about the infinitely less
important fact that my glorious pension check is late. It's the first
time in the more than a year-and-a-half I've been getting it that it has
I dislike borrowing money, but feel less uncomfortable about it when I
know it will be quickly possible to repay it. So I negotiated a small
loan against the anticipated check and spent it all on food, walked around
feeling absurdly proud of myself for not having yielded to the temptation
to buy a pack of cigarettes. Then the check still didn't arrive on
Monday, the day when that wonderful Red Hook Double Black Stout was
supposed to make its final appearance at Manoa Garden. So I arranged
another small loan, determined to participate in the event and, it is
true, suffering from considerable yearning for a glass of beer.
As it turns out, the final keg of Double Black is lasting longer than
anticipated and it now appears the last day for it will be Thursday. That
would indeed be appropriate, since Thursday afternoons have for so long
been special ones for me at Manoa Garden. Not quite so special this term,
though, since Tomita-san's schedule has changed.
As I've said, I like
Bartender Bryant a lot. But he is one of those people who rely upon
"running jokes", in his case so heavily it is almost impossible to have a
real conversation with him even when, as yesterday, it was only the two of
us at the bar for most of the time. My only interest in going to bars is
for conversation, to meet and talk with people, unless I'm there for
music. It's wiser to buy one of those big bottles of Mickey's Ice Ale for
$2 and take it to a secluded place on the beach after sunset if I want to
drink. So unless there is someone there I know, Manoa Garden isn't likely
to play much of a role for the rest of this term. (Bring on that check
and I'll return to bid the Double Black farewell, however).
MTV was showing the "Ten Cheesiest Videos of All Time" which was amusing
and horrific at the same time. They weren't very brave; I would have
picked some much heavier candidates, including the new Janet Jackson
"African" one. But they no doubt have to keep an eye on advertising
revenues when planning these gentle slams.
After that finished, I moved outside to continue reading
Steppenwolf with the rest of my glass of beer. When I returned to
Hamilton to check email, a young fellow sat at the terminal across from
me with stunningly perfect Buddha eyes. I've gotten used to seeing living
images that look like they just stepped out of classic Asian paintings but
this was way out beyond anything I've seen thus far. It was impossible
not to constantly glance up at them, tempting to just sit and stare. I
decided I'd better leave before I embarrassed or annoyed the
So I went to see "Kundun" again.
In the inner landscape, if it is the instinct of one voice that some
decision should be made and another voice opposes it, I will stay neutral.
Either they come to some compromise or we continue as is. I will not
impose any external rules unless prompted by an unopposed inner
This is not to say I have no thoughts on the subject, no inclinations as
to how the journey should proceed.
So ... the last of the "indirect oracles", as we reach Tale and Hexagram
After the film on Monday evening, I walked to Ala Moana and took a bus to
the hacienda. A fellow was sitting on the outside bench. He had stayed
there before, but I hadn't seen him for a week or so. I've never gotten a
very good look at him, because he has usually already been laying down in
the dark interior area, still awake with one leg slung over the back of
the bench. And in the morning, the moment there is a sign of activity
inside, he jumps up quickly and walks off. Not sure why, but I've always
thought of him as "Rocky". We've never spoken to each other, but once in
awhile he says a few words, in a harsh tone, to no one in particular.
I've never understood what he says. Anyway, he seems to have joined my
"flock" because he got up and followed me in, settled down on the bench
next to me.
It wasn't nearly as chilly on Tuesday morning as it has been recently, a
welcome change. I walked up South Street to check the mail and on to
Jack-in-the-Box at Ward Avenue for the usual senior coffee. I've finally
gotten totally comfortable about saying "senior coffee", helped a lot by a
very friendly young man who works at the Ala Moana McDonald's and always
gets a kick out of feeding my McExtra card in the gadget. Even though
there are no points gained from the 26-cent purchase, there's the chance
of a random prize, as he gleefully points out each time I stop in there.
It turned out to be a fortunate day. In the mailbox were some most
welcome McDonald's gift certificates and when I later used one to buy
those silly little apple pies, I got a random prize. Quite a useless one,
for me anyway, $2 off on a $20 purchase at Foodland, but it gave the
young fellow at the counter a chance to smile broadly, ring a bell, and
congratulate me on my good luck. Going on to UH, there soon came the very
welcome news that the pension check had finally arrived, so I got on a bus
again and went downtown to get it, then to Waikiki to cash it.
But when I was at Ala Moana, I found a tee shirt. It is what I later
heard described as "burgundy" colored, very close to the color of a
Buddhist monk's robes. In that slightly annoying fuzzy lettering, it says
FAITH on the front. On the back: "walk by faith, not by sight". Tiny
letters identify the source as Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians,
Chapter 5, Verse 7. When I got back to Hamilton, I checked out the full
text. It's a nice tee shirt but I don't really feel comfortable wearing
words from my least favorite person in the history of religion. And
Confucius does say in an Analect that the Proper Man never wears anything
of a red or scarlet color. Would burgundy count? Was he making a comment
on the life of a monk? I don't even remember the relevant dates and it
doesn't seem worth following up, but finding the shirt did
provide interesting diversion.
I continued reading the Dalai Lama's My Land and My People, and was
surprised to learn that his first months in exile were spent at Mussoorie.
I certainly didn't know that when I decided in 1972 to go there and I
don't recall anyone having told me about it when there. This is a
book I should have read years ago, am surprised it escaped my
On-line life was far less pleasant. The homeless factions get to be very
annoying at times, the more so because they are dominated by academics,
social workers and formerly homeless people, all with their own agendas
which are often pretty far removed from the reality of life as an urban
nomad, and I suspect even further removed from the life of the
involuntarily homeless. All that static is echoed in the Usenet
newsgroups related to Hawaii where ego gamers sometimes out shout anything
of interest or relevance, adding to the unending sludge dumped in those
groups by the poseur, "Jai Maharaj". It's tempting to stop reading them
altogether, and certainly it is time to dump alt.culture.hawaii.
Unpleasant, too, but so silly that it was more amusing than annoying, was
the news that young "Kermit", as he is referred to in a Tale, sent notice
that there would be a daily fee for displaying his photograph on my
"Ohana" page. It is difficult to imagine how someone not yet thirty can
have acquired such a knack for being pompous, even more difficult to
comprehend how I could have so seriously misjudged character. But it is
touching to see elsewhere that he still carries with him copies of my
emails. Love springs eternal, but the photograph isn't worth paying rent
I saw my Korean friend for the first time this term and he told me he was
arranging an afternoon orgy (!) at a shall-be-unmentioned location on
campus. I jokingly said I'd need a beer before taking part and he gave me
a five dollar bill, said have one on me at the Garden and I'll see you
there later. Cool. I had the beer, stayed around for more than a half
hour after he was supposed to have arrived, and then went on my way.
Fine with me, wasn't in the mood for an orgy anyway.
After a brief stop back up at Hamilton, went off to ... uh-huh ... see
"Kundun" again, this time in the company of Helen and Mme de
of whom had seen it. I don't think I could ever get tired of watching
that film. There's so much to see and hear, each time I've enjoyed things
I hadn't paid much attention to before. The last two times, it has mainly
been a concentration on the exact tones used in the mantras. "Om mani
padme hum" sounds very different from Tibetans than it did when I heard
people in India murmuring it. I remember reading some person who said it
was a dangerous mantra to use if you don't get the pronunication just
right. Didn't believe it then, believe it even less now.
We had a post-movie snack at Jack-in-the-Box and then they went on their
way to my farewell "write me often", doing my best Mao wave.
Rocky was already on the bench when I got to the hacienda. It was so warm
he was laying there without his jacket, but he sat up to put it on shortly
after I arrived. It was even warmer in the morning, so much so that I
took off my long-sleeved shirt right away. I got up earlier than usual,
even before activity started inside, and walked over to Ala Moana for
apple pies and coffee from McDonald's (no bonus award that time). The
little Braun battery razor appears to have died and not even fresh
batteries revived it. The last time I bought one of those it lasted for
years, only ending its usefulness when Jonathan dropped it on a concrete
floor and the poor thing flew into pieces.
Took the bus up to campus, getting there more than an hour before dawn.
The day started off gray and cloudy, with occasional raindrops, but that
is a welcome change after those beautifully clear but unpleasantly cold
mornings last week. Stopped in Paradise Palms for a cup of tea when it
opened, the first tea I've had in a long time, and then to Hamilton to see
what had happened online overnight. Yep, time to dump alt.culture.hawaii.
Stopped over to see Kory K's dazzling new hairdo and to pick up my old
rechargeable razor. Now all I need to do is find a chair near an outlet
so I can recharge the razor while I'm reading.
064a: the fall
I've been telling myself all week I need to SLOW DOWN. The Tiger has
arrived in such a combative mood. No sooner did I get the interior
battles at least somewhat calmed, external conflicts rushed in to fill the
space. This is especially nonsensical because I have no business at all
getting involved with basically irrelevant online squabbles.
I left Hamilton after another round in the "Kermit" War and went over for
a glass of beer, sat outside and read Steppenwolf. I was in just
the right mood for that section on suicide, uh-huh. Stretched the beer
out over an hour or so, then walked back to the kiosk by Hamilton and
extravagantly bought a turkey sandwich. Two cats came along to share the
turkey with me and we had a delightful visit.
What happened next took place very quickly but I saw it all as if I
were an outside observer, watching a film in extreme slow motion.
I had almost gotten to the top of the steps outside Hamilton. The library
was still open but there was no one around. Without warning, I was
attacked by the most severe vertigo I've ever experienced. In that
perception of slow motion, I knew I was going to fall, knew there was not
even time to sit down. So I made a very deliberate effort to relax as
much as possible, fell down about three steps and continued until reaching
the sidewalk at the bottom. I was grateful there was no one around and I
was able to collect myself in peace.
Injuries would no doubt have been greater had I not managed to relax and
had the backpack not been there as a cushion for at least some of the
fall. There is a sizeable lump on the right side of my head, my entire
right side is bruised and quite painful. There's a large gash of skin
missing at the base of the right palm, another gash in the left big toe,
and several other scrapes and cuts. Worst is the right foot which seems
have been sprained in the fall. It was so painful when I awoke I
wasn't sure I would be able to step up onto a bus (and it was a
I had Band-aids for the worst cuts, had to stop in at Long's and buy more.
Every step, every movement is accompanied by pain, but aspirin makes it a
little less excruciating, which is a blessing.
Looking for the silver lining, it certainly achieved what I have been
unable to do all week, force that slow down.
I see I have a new reason to remain quite continuously conscious of where
I am and what I am doing. The vertigo returned but this time I was more
alert, got the very subtle early warning I didn't get yesterday, sat down
immediately. Yes, ok, there is something physically wrong. Actually,
there are several things, not including all the bruises, scrapes and
disgustingly seeping wounds from the Fall. There's this wretched cough,
for one thing, which is quite close to agony with the wrecked condition of
my right side, even when aspirin deadened.
I'm just a little annoyed at all this junk, a mere four months into this
trip, and reminded of that line from the I Ching,
continuously ill but still does not die.
I was even more annoyed with some of today's email. I appreciate the
messages of support for having taken an unpopular position. I appreciate
the scoldings for my unkindness to people who have "been so good to me",
helps me to see what's happening out there,
but even so, I get annoyed. On Usenet, I've always said what I thought at
the time I needed to say, there has never been any "bravery" about it.
Foolhardiness might be a better description.
I'm very very annoyed by people who appear to have made it a part of their
"net.celeb" personae, this going around boasting to other people about how
good they have been to me. Folks, the people who have REALLY been good to
me haven't said a word about it, they won't, and neither will I. That's
not what it's about.
And "what it's about" is the other thing that has me very very annoyed
today. There are a lot of misconceptions about what I am doing, people
trying to relate this to some conventional model, something they know from
their own experience, or at least think they know. I get this from some
"friends", I get it a lot from the professional homeless-helpers. The
model I get most disgusted by is the one clung to by the people who feel
most hurt by what they see as my rejection of their "help".
Now friends, I am only here laying in this gutter because of booze and
drugs. Oh yes, friends, yes Lord, I really want to be a respectable
citizen again, sitting at a desk eight hours a day, five days a week,
making enough money so I can buy you all drinks and tip bartenders
generously. Yes, believe it! But it's this "substance abuse", you see,
it has deluded me into thinking I'm happier sitting on the beach in the
morning, enjoying the early sunshine, watching the Java sparrows come
hopping over to me to see if I have something for them to eat. It's this
"substance abuse" which has dragged me to such depths of degradation I
will go pick long cigarette butts out of ashtrays and smoke them! I'll
even eat leftover, unwanted food!
If you really believe that, then get the hell out of my life, stop reading
what I write. GET LOST, okay? Just do me a big favor and really "help",
get lost. There's nothing I can do for you, you will not find a
vicarious trip to Enlightenment here, and there's nothing you can do for
It would be extraordinarily kind if you would also stop spreading your
pseudo-psychiatric theories around the community.
I'd probably feel more amused by this hogwash if I were roaring drunk
every night, had a quarter pound of hashish in my backpack and a few
bottles of assorted uppers and downers. But the fact is, there is
unfortunately a lot less "substance abuse" in my life right now than there
has been for this long a time since my teen years. And during one of my
heaviest times of "substance abuse" I was holding down a job that paid
more than any of the no-doubt well-intentioned, but totally deluded folks
make who are promoting this cockamamie theory.
The other thing somewhat irksome about recent online events and their
aftermath is the notion that I should "be nice" to people online because
they have bought me a few beers now and then. Hell, Rick Ermshar bought
me more beers than most members of the "Hui Lupo", that didn't stop me
from growling at him when I thought he deserved it.
Unlike too many of the active local participants on Usenet, my main
pleasure in it comes from positive, not negative contributions. I've had
more pleasure from the email about that pink-blossomed tree at Krauss Hall
than anything else resulting from Usenet recently. It's nice to know that
I reminded people of something they treasured themselves. I enjoyed
writing it, I enjoyed the feedback. It's way, way out ahead of the futile
effort to communicate with the wolves.
But of course, I am totally aware that all of this is my own fault, no one
else's. I don't need to read Usenet, especially cesspools like
alt.culture.hawaii. I should have enough judge of character to know when
someone is buying me a beer, or whatever, out of the pleasure of doing it
and reject any offers which might have hidden strings attached. I should
have enough discipline, even if I am dumb enough to read junk, not to
respond to it in anger, probably even better not to respond to it at
Little things make a lot of difference in this life of mine. A bus pass
as a Valentine, some McDonald's gift certificates, some movie tickets, yes
even an occasional beer or pack of cigarettes, a few dollars to enjoy a
music gig. Life without them would be a lot less pleasant, life without
knowing the people who are able to give freely would be less meaningful.
It's up to me to remember those blessings, to spend less time and energy
on any effort to communicate with people stuck in their own cliche
scenario for my life. It shouldn't take a clunk on the head to wake me up
to that, either.
One of the Austrians whose story was the subject of last year's film,
"Seven Years in Tibet" collaborated with the older brother of the
Dalai Lama on a book called "Tibet is My Country". The Rimpoche did it
orally, the Austrian taped it and then transcribed the tapes. It is a
delightful book, and begins with a wonderfully detailed account of
what it was like to grow up in a remote Tibetan village. As he says,
visitors would no doubt have looked at the village and felt sorry that
people had to live such a "deprived" existence. He knows better, and the
book suggests he is absolutely right.
No doubt quite intentionally, since it was concentrating on the life of
the Dalai Lama, "Kundun" only shows us the older brother as a
Buddhist monk. In fact, he too was considered the incarnation of a high
lama and was discovered before the Dalai Lama, was already installed
as Rimpoche in a relatively wealthy monastery. His account of being
removed from the family and of his education as a reincarnated Lama is as
fascinating as that of his childhood.
Many of the reading desks on the second floor of Hamilton, including those
nearest the largest of the Buddhist collections, have electric outlets on
the wall beside them. UH is an oasis for the urban nomad.
I considered removing Tale 065, was still undecided about it the next
morning after putting it up, but the email (including one quoted in
readers write) swayed the debate and the tale stays. I think, I
hope, it's the final word on the subject. After all, I have very nearly
58 years experience dealing with people who think they know me better than
I know myself and who think they know what is best for me, what I
should be doing. It is never possible to change such people's
thinking and by now I should know to shun or ignore them.
I stayed at Hamilton reading until a bit after eight, knew it was going to
be a less-than-comfortable night when I left the library and it was colder
outside than it was inside. Usually the building is kept so cold, it's a
welcome comfort to step outside for a warm-up smoke. But, as is often the
case, it turned out to be much cooler in Manoa than in Honolulu, and once
I got to Ala Moana I removed the long sleeve shirt until reaching the
Rocky was already on his bench. There were two "bundles" of blankets at
spots on the floor, not regular guests of the hacienda. I'm not quite
sure why anyone would find the concrete floor preferable to a wooden
bench, and I certainly hope one of the floor people doesn't become a
regular. He muttered to himself a good deal during the night, climaxing
in a very incoherent but apparently designed-to-be formal speech in the
morning, which even began "ladies and gentlemen ...". On the floor, off
the wall. Rocky slept through the morning speech. After finishing his
mostly incomprehensible oration, the fellow gathered up his stuff and left
and I soon did the same, leaving Rocky still asleep.
It's "Scab Day". Except for two wounds, all the cuts and scrapes now have
their scab coverings and it remains only to wait for them to fall off to
complete that part of the Fall experience. The gash on the left toe,
however, still is open and oozing clear liquid, but then it had been
covered with a band-aid until this morning. The larger gash on the right
palm is not oozing as badly today as it did yesterday, but the skin around
the edges has turned a sickly grayish color which looks quite ugly. It
remains under band-aids. Oddly enough, despite the large area of missing
skin, it doesn't hurt at all. The same cannot be said, alas, for the
right side which is still very painful, even when deadened by aspirin, and
both the right foot and wrist also remain very uncomfortable, especially
when the aspirin begins to lose its effectiveness. It was most difficult
to find some position on that wooden bench which did not add to the
Still, I am certainly not complaining. It could have been very much
I'm also not complaining about today's free lunch but I can easily
understand why someone would abandon a bowl of Marriott's "chili" and
rice. Unless it was a first-time purchase and they didn't know better, I
don't understand why they bought it, though.
I saw Bryant and learned that Tomita-san was at the Garden on Thursday
afternoon, after all. So much for the change in schedule, and for my plan
to put aside $20 of the pension money just for those afternoons, a plan
abandoned when I thought he'd no longer be there. Too late now, less than
twenty left already. Manoa Garden has become my biggest temptation, far
surpassing the lure of Gordon Biersch, Duke's, Pier Bar, Hot Lava ... all
of which had their day(s). Even a basically unsatisfying afternoon like
last Monday at the Garden only temporarily lessens the attraction of the
place because, after all, if Tomita-san isn't at the bar, there's still
the pleasure of sitting out in the garden with a jug of beer and a book.
The brewers should start a term grant, not too generous ... say $50 or
$100 a month open tab at the Garden. Probably be more competition for it
than a scholarship.
This week certainly seems to have gone by quickly. Can it really be time
to face another evening of 5pm closing?
Even before Hamilton closed, I left and went down the hill to buy a bottle
of Mickey's Ice Ale. There are two "mom-and-pop" stores near the corner
of University and King. One is run by a Korean family (I think), very
friendly people. The other is operated by a Vietnamese couple (again, I
think ... I am not very good at detecting exact Asian heritage). They
never smile, never say a word of greeting or of thanks. When I just want
to dash into a shop and buy something, dash out again, I go to the
Vietnamese one. I soothe my guilty conscience with the thought
that there cannot be all that much profit from a two-dollar bottle
Went back up to campus and sat in a secluded spot to enjoy the last of the
afternoon's sun. I had written in an email earlier that I really should
have bought some squares of surgical gauze for the hand wound but wouldn't
stretch the budget beyond a box of (generic) band-aids. So it was cause
for a considerable smile to spot a sealed first-aid packet containing one
2x2 piece of just such an object.
Discreetly poured beer into a
washed Coke cup and went back to reading Steppenwolf until it was
time to ...
Yes, again, go see "Kundun".
When I got to the hacienda no one was there yet. It was difficult finding
a position which didn't set the right side screaming and I spent most of
the night on my back, waking up every time I tried to turn onto my side.
It was even worse in the morning. Standing up from a sitting position is
quite unpleasant, especially before the first aspirin dose of the day has
been consumed. The aspirin bottle will run out soon. Perhaps I'll end up
sitting under that tree after all, unwilling to feel the pain of getting
I rode the bus over to Ala Moana for the last apple pie breakfast and it
was amusing that the final gift certificates brought the same "prize" as
the first ones had, $2 off on a $20 purchase at Foodland. All I need now
is to find someone who shops at Foodland. If nothing else, before they
expire I'll just go to a Foodland and give them to someone with a
basketfull of stuff.
When I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus to UH, I was
feeling very unhappy about my dirty pants. The hand wound seeped an
almost clear liquid, but it wasn't clear enough and left little splotch
marks whenever my hand touched my pant leg, making it look even dirtier
than it is. I've always been too fastidious about clothes, should have
known better than to buy such light gray pants. A worker strolled up
carrying a thermos and sat on a bench near me. His pants were filthy
although he otherwise looked very clean and well-groomed. Another fellow,
reading a newspaper, pulled up his white tee shirt and blew his nose on
it. Okay, okay, I got the message. Worry about more important things, if
you must worry about something.
At UH, I was sitting at a table near the Garden, waiting for the sun to
dry my feet and slippers after having washed them under a nearby faucet.
A blonde lady wearing sunglasses walked past, stopped, came over and said
"How are you!? What are you doing here?" Ooops. I've no idea who she was
or where we knew each other from, but chatted with her for a few minutes
as if I did.
A reader sent a delightfully colorful recommendation for dealing with the
bodily injuries and pains. I could be wrong, but I think the recipe
requires the ability to visualize. Except on very potent psychoactive
fuel or in some rare moments of exception, I am utterly blind with my eyes
closed. It was as difficult for some of my friends during the high acid
years to understand that as it was for me to understand they could smoke a
mild joint, close their eyes and watch the pictures flow. When I did for
the first time finally experience what they had been enjoying all along, I
can truly say I was "amazed".
"Do not be distracted. Do not be distracted." Those lines came to
mind a little later. I had washed out a polystyrene coffee cup, filled it
with water, heated it in a microwave, emptied my next-to-last packet
of spinach miso soup into it and was sitting on a bench in partial
sunshine enjoying it. A mosquito bit me. Uh-huh, do not be
distracted. A reader suggested working on a mental state which might
release a natural deterrent, create an atmosphere which gently suggested
to the little critters that they should stay out of my space. Interesting
idea, but since they attack most when I'm asleep, I decided to work on it
at the other side, after the bite. Step one, of course, is to get rid of
any animosity upon discovering the bite. So my pleasant interlude with a
cup of miso soup turned into a meditation-upon-a-mosquito-bite.
Lines from "Kundun" pervade my thinking recently. Perhaps it's a
bit tacky for lines from profound moments in the film to surface
at comparably very banal moments in my so-called life, but that's the way
the mind is working these days.
Do not be distracted.
Ahhhhh, greeting a sunny Monday morning in such luxury. Clean clothes!
Cigarettes! And it's not shivery cold, either.
But what a strange night. When I got to the hacienda only one regular
was there, a black man in his early thirties who sleeps on a bench in
the furthermost corner from me. At what I later noted to be just after
2:30, I was awakened by a loud clatter, sounding like a bunch of tin
cans falling. So it was. A young man had stumbled when entering and
was sprawled on the floor with two plastic shopping bags nearby, one
of which had been filled with empty cans. The black man was sitting up
looking as well. The fellow on the floor didn't move, so I got up and
asked him if he was ok. He was very drunk, possibly not just on
alcohol, sat up and mumbled something about having to take a shower.
Maybe he thought he was at Ala Moana. The black man had walked over,
grumbled "oh, him", and went back to his bench. I told the guy sitting on
the floor there were no showers and offered to help pick his
stuff up. He insisted he had to have a shower, staggered to his feet and
started taking his clothes off. Since he was only wearing shorts and a
tee shirt, he was soon standing there stark naked, looking for the shower.
I had collected the cans, so put his two bags on a bench, and tried again
to convince him there was no shower, pointed toward Ala Moana and told him
he'd have to walk down there. He picked up the bags and started to walk
off, leaving his clothes on the floor. I said "wait, put your clothes
back on first!", picked up his shorts and handed them to him. He was like
a little kid, held onto my shoulder while he struggled to get his foot
into the leg of the shorts, but finally got them on, draped the tee shirt
over one shoulder and set off down the road. I had a cigarette while
waiting around to make sure he really was gone, then went back to my bench
hoping I'll never get quite that far gone.
As Cainer predicted, it was a comfortable weekend (comfortable except for
the persistently painful right side and the return, after an absence of
several days, of that boring dull pain in the central chest). After a
pleasant day at Hamilton on Saturday, I went to Waikiki to see BB Shawn at
the International Marketplace. He was in exceptionally fine form, sang
some of his favorite songs even better than I've heard him do them before,
and had a newly acquired twelve-string guitar with a beautiful tone. His
grandad and I killed a couple of pitchers of beer. I was going to
steal Nancy's very pretty birthday lei but figured that would
really get the wolves on my butt, so restrained myself.
When I left there, just wanted to get out of Waikiki on the first bus that
came along. Turned out to be a #8 to Ala Moana. When I got off there,
spotted an almost full bottle of Mickey's Malt sitting right on the bench,
not even in a brown bag. Bizarre that someone would buy it, evidently sit
there openly drinking it, and then leave 90% of it. Murmuring thanks
to the Supply Angel, I put it in my backback and crossed over to the park
to enjoy it under the stars. A group of local folks had a tape machine
with a fine selection of music playing, so it ended up being a delightful
end to a fine day.
Rocky was on his bench already at the hacienda and there was a larger
crowd than usual but no one had taken my bench. Despite the
boom-boom bass noise from the club across the street, I quickly fell
asleep and didn't wake until the sky already showed signs of the coming
dawn (Sunday being the one day when there's no activity at the building,
so no wake-up call). It was quite chilly, so I hopped on a bus down to
Ala Moana, got a coffee from McDonald's and sat in the warm area outside
Zippy's until the sun made its appearance. Spent the morning on the beach
at Magic Island, had a shower (all by myself, for a change) and then went
up to UH.
It was a comparatively brief visit since I had been invited to a late
afternoon dinner downtown. There is one certain perfect match between two
people in this universe: someone who loves to cook and someone who loves
good cooking. The hostess is a delightful and adventurous chef; I am
always happy to be the other half of the match, and this time had the
pleasure of Helen R.'s company in demolishing a large pot of Jamaican goat
curry, yummy roti, a very strange chutney, and several glasses of beer.
The curry recipe was Jamaican, the goat was actually a former resident of
the Big Island. So far as I know, I've not eaten goat meat before. It
was deliciously tender and had I not known otherwise, I would have thought
it prime quality beef. Since my appetite has been ridiculously active
recently (perhaps because I had to take my belt in yet another notch), I
ate twice as much as I normally would.
The feast was followed by watching "Independence Day 4" and "Men
in Black". I think that was my eighth time for ID4, six of which were
in a theatre, but my first time for MiB. Even though it was the one
billed as "comedy", I still think ID4 was the funniest of the two, often
And then I put on my clean clothes which had spent the visit tumbling in
the washer and dryer, and went off to the hacienda. No Rocky. I hope
it's just another temporary absence. Despite these silent relationships,
something of a bond does get formed after a week of sleeping next to
someone. And it would have been fun to see his reaction to the man in
search of a shower.
Two sessions with "Russ" in one day ... most auspicious! I call him Russ
because he looks a lot like Russ Tamblyn at the time of "Seven Brides
for Seven Brothers", but with dark, almost black hair. Such a cute
smile, too. We end up at terminals across from each other so often it's
uncanny, and it's a delight to watch him as he is responding to email. The
first time he spoke to me was when a workman was replacing a light bulb
and dropped something with a loud noise. Russ said "poor computers!".
One morning he sneezed, I said "bless you!" and he said "thank you." By
now he must have figured out how much I like watching him, but he seems
not to mind, gives me a smile of greeting as he sits down. The little
pleasures of life at Hamilton Library.
Somewhere a mother would be very happy to know the excellent sandwich she
prepared for her ungrateful little brat didn't go to waste. Ham, cheese
and lettuce on rye, with mustard, neatly wrapped in aluminum foil. I'd
better check that spot again, see if the wasteful student dumps his/her
lunch often. I did that, too, when I was in school, but usually only if
it was tuna fish sandwiches. Considering how much I grew to like tuna in
later years, it's odd that I hated it as a kid. It may have been a side
effect of just disliking fish in general. My cousins all loved to fish; I
hated it. I especially hated it knowing that cottonmouths and other vile
reptiles were known to lurk on the river banks where the fishing took
place. And since most of the catch were those ugly catfish, so hard to
eat without swallowing a bone, I hated it even more.
Cainer suggests this is likely to be a delicate time because everything is
so well balanced, that we Aries folk prefer it to be all or nothing,
either terrifically good or awesomely awful. Like much he writes, there's
truth in that. I think I wouldn't object to a little spell of boredom but
am sure I would change my mind the minute it hit. Being bored is still
one of the states of mind I most hate, especially since I always feel it
is entirely my fault and thus wallow in it even more during severe
attacks. Minor attacks can usually be warded off by spending a little
money on diversion; in a major attack even spending money is boring. I'm
already very close to being penniless, so it's not a very good time to get
minorly bored, best go all the way and get a major attack so being broke
won't even matter.
But I'm not sure Cainer is entirely right about that balance, maybe
doesn't give enough weight to the effect of a new Year of the Tiger and
wouldn't, writing for a global audience, add the stronger advance effect
of Aries which seems to be felt in these more tropical climes. That
combination might keep my personal inner landscape a little more lively
than the usual Aries-born person will experience. And isn't it odd to
devote so much thought to something I can't even claim to really believe
Oh well, not nearly as odd as all the thought people are apparently giving
to a certain politician's sex life.
But stop nattering, Albert. Ants get drunk. I didn't know that before.
I was enjoying one of my last, barring unexpected developments, sunset
hours with a bottle of Mickey's in a secluded spot on campus. A group of
ants came over to sip on the water which was collecting off the cup (found
with ice cubes still in it, even). I put a drop of beer on the bench and
several of them moved over to it. One was really slugging the stuff down,
fell in it, but managed to swim out, then staggered around in circles
(literally, leaving a beery trail behind it), before getting back to "dry
land" and curling up in a ball. I thought it was dead. Nope, after
awhile it stretched and moved on. Meanwhile, an absolutely prehistoric
creature was crawling up my ankle. Looked like a fat cockroach, but black
and more armored. I brushed it off without thinking ... well, maybe with
an involuntary shudder of horror ... but it recovered nicely and wandered
on its way.
I was reading Steppenwolf and came to that brief but remarkable
passage about the invention of the "wireless" which reminded me of one of
my serious readers. Yes, I do have a few of them, even if I foolishly
concentrate so much of my attention on the babes in the wood who have
stumbled into my path. The reader I was reminded of is one of the few
people I have met who understands that Time, as we think of it, is an
illusion and every now and then he gently nudges me. I sat there between
the setting sun and the almost-full rising moon and felt most grateful to
him for putting up with me.
Such a long, long time ago I saw and knew there are infinite
realities simultaneously existing. But it was like old Zarathustra coming
down from the mountaintop. So I put it over on the shelf labeled
"Curious Facts I Have Noticed" and no longer mentioned it. As for here
and now, in this little insignificant one of those infinite possibilities,
perhaps when I get myself a lunar calendar I might actually be starting to
have some fun again. Prayer beads would be cool, too.
The full moon kept the sky so bright all night that it completely threw
off the intuitive sense of time judged by the sky. I woke up, glanced at
my watch and thought it said 5:40. Only after walking out of the hacienda
and down the road a bit did it occur to me how quiet traffic was for that
hour. Looked at my watch again and it said 3:50. I had gotten to sleep
early, so no matter, kept on walking. The Jack-in-the-Box at Ward and
Kapiolani claims to be open 24 hours but in fact only the drive-in window
is open at that hour, the main doors are locked. So I "drove in" on my
two feet and got a senior coffee. The lady was quite nice, put it in a
bag for me with the requested cream and sugars, plus a stirrer and some
I sat at the bus stop across the street to drink my coffee and a very
pretty, young black cat stopped to visit for awhile. That first cup of
coffee is such a luxury I really should at least get it together enough to
budget 26-cents a day from that pension check. I walked slowly on to Ala
Moana and once I got over to Magic Island, I was very happy I had gotten
up so unintentionally early. Watching the moon set as the first rays of
the sun arrived made for a very special dawn.
A group of about 25 men, all of whom could be described as beefcake,
formed a circle and did calisthenics under the direction of a leader.
Some of them were badly out of shape, judging by the lack of grace and
stiff movements, but others were beautifully flexible for such muscled
bodies and it was like watching a ballet.
I got to UH just after Hamilton opened, sat down at a terminal, and Russ
walked in wearing new sunglasses, smiled and sat at the terminal opposite
me. I missed seeing his eyes so was happy when he slid the glasses up
onto his head.
"Lava rocks?!" (readers write). Hmmmm, doesn't have quite the
imagery I was looking for in this Tibetan period.
Then I did some stuff. Well, I should leave it at that but I'm supposed
to be candid and honest in these Tales. So ... I spent one of my
remaining four dollar bills on a cup of peach yogurt, into which I mixed
all the magic mushrooms I had left. Having eaten that, I returned to
Hamilton and spent an hour with The Tibetan Book of the Great
Liberation (which Evans-Wentz called it), a tiny book with a massive
introduction by E-W and a fairly lengthy one by Carl Jung. I skipped
their stuff and went straight to the Tibetan. Then I went down the hill,
got a bottle of Mickey's Ice with two of my remaining three dollars, went
back up the hill and sat in my favorite place drinking it while continuing
And, of course, that was all a preface to going to see "Kundun".
My dear wife Fruitbat Cutmore-Smith ...
From the Acknowledgments page of Ngakpa Chogyam's Rainbow of Liberated
Energy, one of a small stack of books someone had thrown away, waiting
to be found by me as I was leaving campus. Looks like someone got fed up
with Eastern philosophy. I checked out the collection, decided to keep
that one, and took the rest down the hill to Rainbow Books. $5.60 worth.
Cool. Whoppers for dinner.
Before leaving Hamilton, I posted my swan song to alt.music.hawaiian and
unsubscribed to it. A bit pretentious, but most swan songs are. At least
I didn't say I was leaving and would never return, etc. That leaves me
with only soc.culture.hawaii, hawaii.nortle and hawaii.test from the
should-be-locally-relevant newsgroups, and it wouldn't much surprise me to
see SCH go soon, too.
The seventh time through "Kundun" was in many ways the best,
assisted by the glow of the mushrooms which greatly enhanced the music.
Reting Rimpoche's first undisguised meeting with the Dalai Lama is so
perfectly done, by far my favorite moments of the film. You are here to
love all living beings ...
The sky was incredibly beautiful when I left the theatre, fluffy white
clouds and the full moon, so I walked over to Ala Moana, bought a bottle
of Mickey's and went over to the park to enjoy the beer, the afterglow of
the film, and the heavens. Orion was almost directly overhead. The
profound was mixed with the mundane when the sprinkler cycle began. I
hadn't been in the area before when the sprinklers go on around the shower
building, and they must be the most absurd ones in the park. One sprays
directly against the wall of the women's side of the building, never
moving. Another's turning has about half its cycle actually spraying into
the men's showers. Jerry Santos should see that.
At the bus stop there was a very silly, slightly annoying young black
couple to test my own highly inadequate ability to feel compassion for all
After a relatively quiet and peaceful night, I walked over to the
Jack-in-the-Box on Ward for coffee and sat watching the dawn approach.
The colors were unusually vivid, needed no mushroom assistance to dazzle
the eye. I had planned to go on to Ala Moana, but followed a whim and got
on a #3 bus, thinking I'd get off at University and catch a #4. The bus
filled up with a lot of young people who looked as if they might have the
same goal in mind. I was sitting on a seat in the front section with my
backpack in my lap and my arms draped over it. A young man, probably
Filipino, got on and was standing in front of me. He was wearing a long
basketball shirt and shorts, carrying a small backpack. A couple of times
he brushed up against my hand and I thought it was just the movement of
the bus and the crowd, but then he leaned forward a bit and kept his
crotch in contact with my hand ... and got hard. Yikes, what a sweet
little slut. None of the youngsters got off at University and I was in no
hurry to end the lad's use of my hand, so I stayed on and the amusement
continued until we got to the community college near Diamond Head when he
and the rest of the youngsters got off. He hadn't looked at me during the
ride, but gave me a smile just as he was leaving the bus. Maybe I'm
hanging out on the wrong campus.
How unfortunate, said the Dalai Lama about the Chinese. How
fortunate! he said about the gift of an elephant from the Nepalese.
The exact tone of both lines is engraved in my memory and they keep
popping up as circumstances inspire.
For the first time in weeks, there was more email yesterday which was not
related to the Tales but to the indeed unfortunate events in
alt.music.hawaiian. I don't wish to read any of the AMH stuff, deleted
unread an email which forwarded several items from the newsgroup. I said
all I had to say in my last posts there and don't want any further
involvement with the debates and with many of the people engaged in them.
There can't be any Usenet forum more divorced from the true spirit of its
supposed subject than alt.music.hawaiian.
Several readers have commented on my puzzlement over Jonathan Cainer's
message for today. Leaving aside the general validity of astrology, being
firmly convinced there are no accidents, it necessarily follows that an
"oracle" of any kind which I happen to see must have some relevance. Over
the past year, what Cainer has written has proven to be extraordinarily on
target. So when he writes something and I find myself saying "whaaa???",
I have to stop and ponder it. I agree with his caution today that I am
"thinking too much", but I don't know what the "idea" is which I
supposedly have and should just "act on". I've no idea.
I had taken a break mid-morning from Hamilton activities, returned from a
stroll around campus and saw Russ sitting at his usual terminal.
Unfortunately, a young lady was sitting at the one across from him which I
often use. But he looked up at me, smiled and nodded, so unfortunate
turned to fortunate, and I went on to use the more isolated amber-on-black
terminal where I spend most of my online time, especially during time
segments when Russ is not usually around.
Since I had only two dollars and some change left, I refrained from using
the vending machines, so was most pleased later when I found a large,
juicy pear in a Foodland bag, left on a bench next to a cup of coffee.
The coffee was no longer warm, so I assumed it and the pear had indeed
been abandoned, took the coffee to a microwave to warm it, and enjoyed my
lunch under a beautiful flowering tree outside St. John's.
Stopped over to see Kory K later and he bummed a cigarette off me,
shameless hussy. But that act was surpassed later in the day when some
street person asked if I could spare a "couple of dollars"!
Went down in the early evening to the Aloha Tower, my first visit there
this year, to join the birthday dinner for "Mme de Crécy" at Gordon
Biersch. Helen R., Tutu and the Dolphin were in attendance, in addition
to the Birthday Lady. I declined to order anything when I saw a perfect
set-up lurking ... a glass of water and some bread. Eventually Mme de
Crécy prodded, asked if I didn't want a beer, and I got to say "no, I'm
perfectly happy with bread and water". Les miserables. Having completed
the little skit, I yielded and drank the first glass of Dunkles I've had
in at least two years. It's junk beer compared to Red Hook Double Black,
but went better with the bread than water. The bread was good. A sample
of Helen's linguini and Mme de Crécy's stir-fried chicken suggested the
cuisine at GB ain't haute, but the desserts were a little better. Had a
taste of Helen's multi-sauce ice cream sundae, then Tutu gave up and
couldn't finish her cheesecake so passed it on to me.
I was supposed to show up at Pier Bar but was enjoying the conversation
and nibbles so much it was too late before I noticed it, so instead I
joined Mme de Crécy at Indigo for a nightcap. A Budweiser was
supplemented by a
couple of glasses of wine which were mistaken-pours or whatever (just call
me a human liquid garbage disposal unit), and a few bites of an absolutely
scrumptious pecan tart dessert provided to Mme de Crécy as a birthday
Since I'm told I now have the added merit badge of net.alcoholic in
addition to all my Maharaj laurels, I guess two beers and two glasses of
wine are sufficient to add lustre to the legend. Surely beats the
bottle-a-day Mickey's habit, anyway. (Admittedly, I did have two bottles
of Mickey's one day this week, so what they say must be true).
Bartender Nancy congratulated me on surviving four months and asked, "are
you ready to return to the real world yet?". "But this is the real
world," I replied. Although she was saying it in humor, that obviously is
a factor in many people's thinking ... this is just a temporary
aberration. Well, I've never said I was committed to living this way for
the rest of my life but I certainly haven't yet seen any reason to give up
this freedom for "respectable slavery".
On the way to Indigo, I found a dime. In the morning, at one of those
Japanese trolley stops, I found two dimes. If we can encourage the
Japanese visitors to regard dimes as not being worth picking up, as
Americans seem to regard pennies, it would be just fine with me.
After a peaceful night, I took the bus over to Ala Moana and used the
first of a surprise Valentine bouquet of gift certificates to get a senior
coffee at McDonalds, resisting the temptation to indulge in those apple
pies by promising myself a cup of tea later at Paradise Palms with the
change instead. At one of the entrances to the parking lots, there is an
older, bald Filipino man (I think) who sits every morning with a
paper-tape type calculator, busily feeding numbers into it. He is
probably close to the ultimate mathematical secret of the Universe and no
one will ever know it.
After four months of observing the dawn, I can usually tell when the
sunrise is going to be especially beautiful and the clouds, though fairly
heavy, had just the right space between them to turn the entire sky into a
myriad of colors as the sun rose. Yep, I knew it was going to be a good
one. How fortunate to be watching it from Magic Island.
Whether because of the Tiger, or the promise of Aries, or some factor in
my birth heaven, or all three, Cainer's view of the general trend for
Aries-born people this week is well off target for me. Rather than the
balance he saw, there has been a more extreme see-saw than I've
experienced in a long time. I remember writing awhile back when there was
a day which zapped back and forth from highest to lowest, often from one
to the other within minutes, and so it has been for much of this week, and
most especially on Thursday.
You make me feel so young ... you make me feel like Spring has sprung
... but I don't want to feel like that, it's totally absurd, I won't
have it. And so what had been a peaceful inner landscape after a morning
of reading Rainbow of Liberated Energy turned into "The Black
Eagle" from Steppenwolf, with Tomita-san as my Hermione. I left,
declining the invitation of another beer, walked around in circles waiting
for the dust to settle, for the desire to jump off a building to pass,
waiting to feel old and alone again. Being in his company is too good,
easier to suffer the sadness of voluntarily ending it.
Then Helen R. came up to the campus and we went over to visit Kory
"Blondie" K. before, ohmygawd, going to Manoa Garden. Tomita-san
had left, but Bartender Bryant said he was going to return, and so he did.
Back to The Black Eagle, strike up the band.
It is very difficult when you like someone so much you suffer fear of not
being up to the challenge of friendship with them, and when a relationship
like that crosses its previously defined, if unspoken, nature it is all
that more difficult. "Bar buddies" don't really have serious
conversations, that lies outside the definition of that kind of
friendship. "Things change, Kundun."
Helen left first, then karaoke began and Tomita-san sang one
song before leaving, too, with his usual warm and almost
affectionate manner of saying goodbye.
It had been a delightful afternoon but I was not at all pleased with my
performance. And that, I realized, was the relevant thorn:
"performance". It is complete nonsense to try to be other than you really
are, and the more you care for a person, the more important and sensible
it is to be yourself. The friendship began because the other person
responded to you liking them. Had they not found your company for some
reason interesting or entertaining, it would not have continued. Thus
lecturing myself, I wandered around campus with a little dark cloud
hovering over me. Perhaps I was just being myself, perhaps it wasn't a
performance at all, perhaps it is always that way and just the
mysterious importance of this particular friendship invoked that kind of
My unhappy and somewhat irritable ruminations on the subject were
interrupted by going to hear Angela Davis speak. She is the epitome of
the slogan "you've come a long way, baby". Elegant, eloquent speaker of
imminently sensible words. If she were to run for President, I would take
the trouble to register to vote even if she probably wouldn't stand a
chance of winning and, if by some miracle she did, would probably be
assassinated. She is too sensible to be allowed much real power.
The pleasure of her company added to my feelings of annoyance with my own
ineffectiveness which had been stirred by the hours with Tomita-san, so I
left the campus in an almost growling mood, went directly to the hacienda
and mercifully fell asleep almost immediately.
And then it was Friday the Thirteenth ...
Friday the Thirteenth has never had any special meaning in my life, I've
never detected them as anything peculiarly inauspicious, and so it was
with the one of February 1998.
For example, sitting watching the stars at Ala Moana Park. A nomad couple
took possession of the picnic table next to me. I was a little annoyed
they didn't maintain greater distance, especially since she had a worse
and more frequent cough than I, but then he came over and asked if I'd
like to share their hotdogs and rice. I thanked him but explained I had
just come from McDonald's where a bonus award had provided a free Grilled
Chicken Deluxe Sandwich, then later wished them both Happy Valentine's Day
as I was leaving.
It had been a very pleasant day. I went to Hamilton early, after a senior
coffee at McDonald's Ala Moana, checked email and news, then spent the
rest of the morning continuing to read the life story of the Dalai Lama's
elder brother. There is a most remarkable tale there, his journey from
the remote monastery, where he was essentially the most important person,
to Lhasa. It was a journey which took months, traveling overland in a
caravan of thousands of people and tens of thousands of animals. It reads
as if one were reading an account from the days of Genghis Khan, but it
happened when I was a boy. The journey itself and the early months after
he had finally arrived in Lhasa provided several hours of fascinating
escape from "reality".
I took a break and went to the Condom Fair at the Campus Center, highly
amusing on a totally different level. A group of young musicians were
playing, with a female singer very much in the Robi mode, but I didn't
catch the name of the band on the one occasion when it was mentioned.
Starbucks Coffee was giving away free samples of two different iced
coffees, quite delicious and much appreciated.
Taking the second sample, I went to my favorite "secluded spot" and read
further into Rainbow of Liberated Energy. It is a deceptively
simple book, an attempt to present Tibetan Tantric methods in Western
terminology, and a very well done one. I had a brief fantasy of doing
some watercolors based on the color schemes discussed, but cast the idea
aside, too much of a bother getting the necessaries together.
After another visit to Hamilton, I took the bus to Waikiki and walked over
to the Marketplace to hear Leon & Kawika. It was delightfully casual,
laidback playing and singing of some classic local music, including a fine
version of "Hi'ilawe". I talked with Daniel the Dancing Man briefly and
with Carole ("Ma Kettle") who was leaving today for a week on the Big
Island. Then Ellen joined me and I told her about the Pure Heart gig on
Saturday, again encouraging her to get them down there. Evidently the
future of the Marketplace is yet again hanging and no one there is sure
what is happening or how much longer it will survive before being replaced
by yet another "shopping complex". It is without question a bit hokey,
that area, but really, the very last thing Waikiki needs is another
concrete and glass "shopping complex", no matter how large the crowds at
Niketown's opening the next morning.
Daniel mentioned there was a rumor that Cecilio would be stopping down to
join Kapono at the Pier Bar later, I considered going but after an hour or
so at Ala Moana decided just to call it an early night and went on to the
hacienda. Rocky still hasn't reappeared but there are two new regulars on
the nearest benches to mine and both were already asleep when I got there.
It was a wonderfully warm morning, shed the long-sleeve shirt immediately
and walked over to Jack-in-the-Box for coffee, continuing on to Ala Moana
where I sat on the beach and awaited the sunrise. A group of six
bagpipers walked by, at the head of a group of walkers who appeared to
have some connection to the Great Aloha Run. That Scottish music in the
just-predawn hour was indeed touching, zapped right to the heart.
Once the sun was up, showered with a Filipino lad I had not seen before
and then sat at a picnic table in the sun until fully dry. Rather than
stop up at UH, I decided to go over to Waikiki and catch a bus there back
to Cinerama to transfer to a Kahala Mall bound one. Ok, a bit roundabout,
but I had some time to kill before getting to Pure Heart's gig and that
was more amusing than sitting around the mall would have been. It
was worth a big grin when my Hamilton computer buddy, Russ, walked
by at the Mall, but he seemed preoccupied so I didn't interrupt
him to say hello.
Pure Heart were wonderful, better than ever. Jon came over and introduced
himself, thanked me for my support (I assume Lopaka had pointed me out,
but I didn't try to say hello to him because there was such a crowd of
family and school friends there, plus lots of people waiting to get their
copies of the CD autographed). I was especially happy to see Ellen
arrive, gave her my chair and sat on the floor beside her for the gig, and
was even happier watching her reaction and seeing her talking with the
group's manager afterwards. Those fellows deserve all the breaks that
come their way.
When I got to campus, decided to sit in Manoa Garden to finish the
Rainbow book. A hula class was going on upstairs and a wonderful
woman was singing the same song over and over, with just 'ukelele
accompaniment. I know the song well, but don't know its name. Hearing it
so simply played and repeated over and over turned it into a mantra and
for much of the time I forgot about reading and just listened.
Finally went on to Hamilton, found lots of static in the mailbox, but it
doesn't really matter. It's insignificant compared to having gotten a
voucher for a free large fries when I used the last such voucher I had.
Not to mention the delightful time listening to Pure Heart.
A reader wrote, and since I couldn't possibly say it any better
Nice stories, Albert -- calming and reassuring. Everything is the same. As
bench ---- bed (no difference)
money ---- no money (no difference)
office job --- no job (no difference)
old coffee --- new coffee (no difference)
pain -------- no pain (no difference)
drugs ----- no drugs (no difference)
cat ---------- no cat (no difference)
rain ---------- no rain (no difference)
dirty -------- clean (no difference)
alone ------- together (no difference)
fall ------------ stand up (no difference)
music -------- no music (no difference)
sex -------- no sex (no difference)
beer ------- no beer (no difference)
new book ---- old book (no difference)
good mail ---- bad mail (no difference)
food ------ no food (no difference)
Thanks for the reminder!
If only it were true!
There is a new nomad on the scene. He is a beautiful man, reminiscent of
the young Alain Delon but a little more rugged. It was tempting to say,
"Go upstairs at Ala Moana, sit outside the Armani Emporium. If they don't
have you showered, dressed and in front of a camera before the day ends,
Giorgio should fire the manager of that store." When I first met him, he
was brushing his teeth in the shower house at Ala Moana Park, where I had
gone to do the same. We exchanged nods. He asked if I would sell him a
cigarette. I told him I was sorry, if I had any, would have given him
one. I saw him again the next morning outside McDonald's. I can't
imagine him being on the streets for long.
From the time these Tales began, readers have often mentioned money. I
have responded to the remarks several times, but there has been a recent
flurry of new remarks from readers. Some complain I talk too much about
it (although one reader did, accurately, note that I rarely mention it
until the supply is very low), one even writes to say that mentioning it
sounds like begging. I challenge anyone to live as I am living and not
have money play a major role in their thinking. I don't say I am happy
with that, far from it. But that's the way it is. So for a time at
least, we'll keep that counter on the opening page, get the subject out of
the way right from the start. If anyone feels uncomfortable with that,
there are thousands upon thousands of other web pages, many I am sure
more worth reading than these.
It was particularly amusing on Sunday evening. I had $2.05. A bottle of
Mickey's is $2.07. What an absolutely perfect opportunity to spend my
VERY LAST PENNY on beer! Do you think I could find two pennies? NOT! It
gave me another good chuckle the next morning when, within five minutes of
waking, I found a dime.
A number of readers have voiced concern that I should be following the
debates in the newsgroups. One even said "they are destroying your
reputation!" Hmmmm, my online reputation plus $2.07 will buy me a bottle
of Mickey's, so I'll worry about the $2.07. But I did consult the I
Ching on the subject, asked if I should follow that advice and resume
reading the newsgroups in question. It said, "nothing that would
further." End of discussion.
As has become my habit in recent weeks, I left Hamilton before closing on
Saturday and went down to Waikiki to hear music at the International
Marketplace. The Ka'ala Boys were there, a group I had not seen before.
One of the singers and the 'ukelele player is a very handsome man, but
there are few 'uke players in town who fare well when the memory of Jake
Shimabukuro is fresh in the mind. They opened with a fine "Paauo Liko Ka
Lehua" and went on to do a number of my favorites, most enjoyably.
Usually I immediately jump on a bus to escape the crowds and noise of
Waikiki on a Saturday night, but it was a beautiful balmy evening so I
decided I'd just walk through town, see what music I could hear. I made
no effort to find out who I was hearing, but certainly heard some fine
On Kuhio Beach, a group of ladies were dancing to "Hi'ilawe" as I walked
by. I get to hear that song a lot but it's fairly rare to see folks
dancing to it. Most excellent. Of several hotels where music could be
heard, most fascinating was the Waikiki Beach Hotel where a splendid
fellow was singing some of the falsetto classics. He was so good I was
for the first time tempted to stop over and find out who it was, but stuck
to my original plan and after listening for awhile, continued to walk
along the beach. At the acquarium, some kind of party was going on in the
garden and two young men I've never seen before were singing, one with
guitar and the other playing bass. They would have been very much more
enjoyable without their percussion synthesizer.
As a weird but delightful finale to the evening's music, at the Kapiolani
Bandstand a group of folks were doing country dances. No doubt that style
of group dance has a particular name. It was like square dancing but more
elaborate and, as with square dancing, the lyrics of the songs included
instructions to the dancers on what moves and formations were next.
Wonderful stuff. I settled at a picnic table with a clear view of the
stage. There was a couple at a nearby table and the young man walked over
after awhile and said, "we can't possibly finish this pizza, would you
like some?" Two evenings in a row when people offered me food! Perhaps
what some folks say about me looking terribly thin is right. If so, it's
working to my advantage. I said "sure, thanks very much" and walked over
to get it -- three large slices of cheese and pepperoni from Pizza
I had planned to end the evening outside the Hilton listening to Olomana
but feeling full and a little tired, I decided I'd just call it a night
and head off to sleep. Rocky was back and all was well with the world.
Not even the tacky music from across the street could interfere with my
happy and contented mood.
I woke early and headed down to Ala Moana for that welcome cup of senior
coffee at dawn, being extravagant and using a certificate for those little
apple pies. The old nomad in front of me ordered four of them. I begin
to wonder if there's something addictive about those things -- or maybe
it's just that they are the only $1 food item offered at that McDonald's.
It was obvious, just after dawn, that it was going to be a beautiful
and the beach was consequently going to be very crowded and noisy. So I
had a shower (with yet another not-before-seen young Filipino nomad) and
went on up to the university. The campus was almost deserted. On a bench
outside Sinclair someone had left a couple of teabags in cellophane
packets, including one of Earl Gray, so I found a cup and used one of the
microwaves to make tea. The night before I had found an M&M Kudos bar
which I tucked away for later, and later had come. A very nice treat to
accompany the last section of the Rainbow book.
The fine mood of the previous evening continued and certainly the absence
of pain, for the first time since the fall, contributed to that. When
Hamilton opened and I checked email there was sufficient static to tilt
the balance, so I left most of it unanswered and went for a stroll around
campus to think about it and, more importantly, to try and stop thinking
Continuing to read the book by the Dalai Lama's elder brother, I came upon
a section I had been looking forward to, a mention of the events preceding
the death of the former Regent, Reting Rimpoche. The book is as vague as
"Kundun" on the subject. He had mentioned paying a visit to Reting
Rimpoche as his caravan to Lhasa passed the monastery where the former
Regent was in retreat (or was it "in exile"?). He says there was almost a
small civil war as Reting Rimpoche's followers attempted to set off a bomb
(apparently the attempt on the current Regent's life, mentioned in the
film). The bomb failed and, after an armed struggle, the followers of
Reting Rimpoche surrendered. He says the events surrounding Reting
Rimpoche's death were never resolved. So the film's depiction, which
could have been suicide or murder, remains unresolved as well.
The book does reveal one glaring historical inaccuracy in the film. The
body of the Dalai Lama's father was cremated. The metaphorically powerful
scene in the film is thus very far-fetched poetic license but since it
makes its point with such gruesome beauty, it seems to me a forgivable
departure from fact.
I stopped reading at the point where he was about to embark on a
pilgrimage to Nepal and India, took another stroll around campus, and then
went down to Waikiki to enjoy what was certainly one of the most dramatic
sunsets in many weeks, using my last award voucher to get a large order of
fries from McDonald's to munch on while watching the crimson sky show.
I'd planned to listen to the concert from outside the Shell but the
weather was looking quite uncertain; there had been light rain on campus
earlier and there were heavy, dark clouds over the mountains. So I headed
off to bed (or bench) very early and, for the first time since this trip
began, went to sleep actually feeling very hungry.
Our leaders strain every nerve, and with success, to get the next war
going, while the rest of us, meanwhile dance, earn money and eat
chocolates -- in such a time the world must indeed cut a poor
Thanks to Mister Hesse for that reminder that some things never
Not that I really needed any confirmation of a special connection, but as
I was walking across campus enjoying the late morning sunshine, I suddenly
had a strong feeling, "Tomita-san is on campus". Happy thought. About
ten minutes later I spotted him, hurrying down the walk leading out of
Campus Center. Cool. Looked like he was late for his class, so I didn't
make any effort to intercept him, just enjoyed the little "psychic flash"
and the brief glimpse of him.
I wrote some stuff about that, but it was junk so I'm deleting it. I'm
told a reader had the colossal arrogance to object to my revising a Tale.
That had me curious enough to ask for details. Ahhh, was one of those
revisions which occur when feedback suggests people are taking a joke
seriously. This time I wasn't making a joke, but it was one. As I was
settling down to sleep, or maybe after I was already asleep, I had a
thought-picture of Karoli Baba sitting, as usual, wrapped in his plaid
blanket. Then he opened the blanket in the front and flapped it at me
like a bird. My thanks to Babaji for returning my laughter.
I was awakened on the holiday morning by the unusual sound of hundreds of
voices, sat up and saw police cars blocking the boulevard, large crowds of
people. Aha, the Great Aloha Run. I walked over to the Federal Building,
found an unopened bottle of "All Sport Body Quencher" and sat on a bench
drinking it, enjoying the spectacle of masses of men in shorts and tee
shirts, preparing for the Run. When it finally got underway, each group
started off in formation, many chanting "yer left, yer right" cadences as
they went. A delightful way to begin the morning. I felt somewhat
nostalgic, remembering the year I actually managed to complete that Run,
and later felt a little envious when I saw how much nicer the finishers'
tee shirt is this year compared to the one I got.
Then I walked up to Honolulu Hale and caught a bus to Waikiki, ignoring
dozens of bottles of that body-quenching drink (which I didn't think worth
the effort of carrying), got a senior coffee with my last certificate and
enjoyed drinking it on the beach as the sun was rising. I read for awhile
and then went on to the Zoo. Although I bought an annual pass when
deciding on the nomadic life, that was the first time I used it. There
were many small changes and improvements, indicating the management of the
Zoo continues to make progress despite the shortage of funds, and it was a
pleasure to visit some of my long-time friends. As I was leaving I
reminded myself I should spend more time there, I didn't make the effort
to buy that pass without reason.
I had a delicious lunch at the invitation of a friend, made even more
delicious by being quite hungry still, and enjoyed an afternoon of
conversation, a little television and a little music, and a few beers.
Then I decided to stop over at the Aloha Tower Marketplace to see the Navy
ship which was berthed there for the holiday weekend. It was too late to
board the ship as a guest, but not too late to enjoy watching the crew,
both onboard and as they returned from shore leave. The Marketplace was
relatively deserted aside from folks eating in the restaurants, but I
enjoyed a couple of hours there, watching the ship and strolling
When I got to the hacienda, Rocky was already on the bench next to me and
had switched back to his flowery shorts. Just like old times ...
I woke very early the next morning so once again had to "drive in" to
Jack-in-the-Box for my senior coffee, then strolled slowly on to Ala Moana
where I greedily used a bonus voucher for yet another cup of coffee from
McDonald's. The Armani Man was outside, quite took my breath away. As
Jarvin said, "I fell on my side" ... well, fortunately not literally, I'm
enjoying the pain-free side far too much to bruise it again just
Wandered around replenishing my tobacco supply, then when Foodland opened
I went in and looked around for someone who might be purchasing $20 worth
of goods. Found the perfect one, a sweet old lady diligently trying to
pick out the best on-sale chunks of meat. She already had enough in her
cart to match the limit, then a friend called her over to look at some
other bargain, so I was able to slip one of the McDonald's save-$2
vouchers on top of her purchases without being noticed.
Got up to campus, happy to be there after the holiday absence. Email not
as stormy as it has been lately, newsgroups as hysterical as ever, cute
prospects all over the place, but Russ was oddly absent.
Another day in the life ...
Someone had left a light on at the hacienda which isn't usually on, so I
got a better look at Rocky than I'd had before. He's cute.
Speaking of cute, Russ didn't show up again. I worry when my lads go
missing like that. But I think I've met the true love of my life, a young
fellow who doesn't like macaroni salad! Yep, throws the whole scoop away,
plus the second scoop rice. All I need now is a list of places he goes to
eat his plate lunches.
The Survivor-Hunter had two very sparse days in a row, was feeling a bit
discouraged, but then around noon time on Wednesday things started to look
up. The cigarette pack which had been constantly running on empty was
suddenly full. Try wait ... that's not the Survivor-Hunter's territory, I
don't think, but then I can't quite figure out just whose territory
tobacco falls in. In any case, to quickly change that particular focus,
the search for tobacco greatly assists in all the other hunts since
there are a few special places proven to provide good harvests (except on
Sundays) and visiting them involves a long stroll around campus
which often turns up other treasures.
Funny, that. I think I've finally run up against a smoker who seems to
resent her leftovers being taken. I know who she is, but I'm pretty sure
she doesn't know who I am. She could hardly not notice the "pilferage",
though, since there are two of us keeping an eye on her ashtray. She's
one of the few people who use it and never seems to take more than 3 or 4
puffs before putting a cigarette out. But she has stopped using that
ashtray. I saw her near it, smoking, but I don't know what she did with
the butt afterwards. Since it is right outside her office, she has to be
making some special effort not to use it. Weird.
Anyway, the more relevant hunts also went well. One scoop fried rice,
one scoop plain rice, a bit of chicken and that yummy scoop macaroni
salad, a Pepsi still with ice in it, and a little Milky Way bar for
dessert ... a gourmet lunch, indeed. Half a roll of those orange-flavored
Vitamin C "candies" was a nice bonus, too.
I was sitting on a bench near Sinclair Library, a polite Japanese man
walked over and handed me a flyer for a Japanese anime film being shown on
Friday afternoon, "Shinran Shonin -- Light of the World", the story
of a Japanese Buddhist monk. I'd already heard about it, and thought I'd
probably attend. As I looked down to read the flyer, I spotted a penny
right by my feet. Careless Survivor-Hunter, to have missed it till then!
(It was worth a smile, too, when an email arrived later from a reader who
noticed the increase in the financial report.)
Then I was faced with a choice, either to leave campus and go to Waikiki
for a sail on Captain John's catamaran or to stay and continue my
reading. Since the former included both the pleasure of seeing John and
the distinct possibility of a couple of beers, it's surprising the Tourist
didn't raise a fit when it was decided to stay on campus. But then that
fellow is not quite who some people think he is ...
I had left off reading the Dalai Lama's autobiography after the Chinese
invasion, returned to it, first going back to make certain I was correct
in my assumption that he made no mention at all of Reting Rimpoche's
downfall and death. So he didn't. All the details of his trip to Peking
were dealt with accurately in "Kundun", as was his brief visit to
his home village on the return visit, even to the point of the old Tibetan
woman who replied to his question with tears and the standard Chinese
Communist answer to "are you happy?"
Not mentioned in the film was his first visit to India, for the Buddha
Jayanti festivities on the 2,500th anniversary of Buddha's birth. He met
with Nehru on that trip, even though it was a purely religious visit, and
was encouraged by him to return to Tibet, although the Dalai Lama had
already been thinking the only solution for him was to relinquish his
political/secular position and maintain his role as spiritual leader of
Tibetan Buddhism from exile. He also met with Chou En-Lai while in Delhi
and was given assurances that the situation in Tibet would improve,
reforms would be slowed or even postponed for six years. So he decided to
return to Lhasa and shortly thereafter came the invitation to the dance
concert which resulted in thousands of Lhasa residents surrounding the
Summer Palace and refusing to allow him to go (something which was not
quite made clear in the film).
In retrospect, it was a more rewarding way to spend the afternoon than
sailing on a catamaran drinking beer, but that wouldn't have been bad
wolves, hyenas and snakes, oh my ... wolves, hyenas and snakes
I had an email, essentially anonymous since it came from a Hotmail address
I'd not seen before, which said merely "beware the snakes of hawaii-l".
Hmmmm, coming on top of a reader noting that things in the local online
scene were getting "unpleasant", especially since that reader is known for
understatement, made me wonder what's going on. Not long ago I changed
the name of my "Cyber Ohana" page to "Local Style", since it seemed there
was no longer a real ohana. Already sporting my Maharaj, Miyata,
and Barrett-Lancette battle ribbons, what else awaits?
Only the Shadow knows ...
Thursday started out with one auspicious omen after another. Waking just
before six, I set out for Jack-in-the-Box (noting an empty mailbox on the
way) for that senior coffee. I came across two plate-lunch
boxes on a bus stop bench. One had been partly eaten, the other appeared
untouched. After tasting it, I could form an exact picture of the person
who had abandoned it. He was probably local, had gotten drunk, then felt
very hungry, went to a plate-lunch place and ordered three times as much
as he could eat, and doused it all heavily with tabasco sauce. Yep. It
was a fried rice and macaroni concoction and I would have carried some of
it with me but yikes, that stuff was HOT. I did nibble around the edges
which had gotten less saturated with tabasco and then went on to get the
At Ala Moana, there was an unusually large supply of tobacco, including a
rarely found almost-unsmoked Garam clove number, tucked away for later.
Then when I got on campus, I immediately found a completely unsmoked
Camel. Topping that by far was finding a nickel outside Manoa Garden,
ensuring the next day's senior coffee ... and then to complete the
auspicious picture, just as the sun appeared over the hill outside
Hamilton, Russ walked up.
There was a delightful email from the lead singer of my favorite local
group. Gave me a rain check on a beer, to be collected when he's old
enough to legally buy it. Sweetheart!
On my first stroll-break, found fifteen cents in the change slot of a
vending machine, with a penny dropped in front of it. Got a cup, heated
the water in the microwave and fixed some tofu miso soup, munched from a
bag of Konoha Arare I'd found earlier at Ala Moana. Neither of those
items played any role whatsoever in my life until I came to
So whatever critters may lurk in the online bushes, real life was
looking just fine on a beautiful Thursday morning.
to be continued ...
A reader told me some time ago, when a guide is needed, the guide
This was a special day.
It is a rare thing in my long life to hear a bartender say, "Thanks for
Some of you won't understand that at all, some of you will. I know a lot
more now about my Hotmail correspondent than I knew when I started this
Tale, and about everything that writer was talking about.
I don't know any language in which I could properly express how utterly
unimportant it is.
I wrote as a preface to this tale that Thursday was as close to a perfect
day as any I have ever known.
A delightfully over-educated reader responded:
Naturally, it occurs to me (from what I've read of your story) that
near-perfect day may very well may be one of those "greatest blessings"
that flows from the gift of divine madness.
What's equally interesting, though, is the rather attractive correspondence
between Plato's four subdivisions of divine madness and your four
levels/voices. He categorizes them as:
prophetic madness (inspired by Apollo);
ritualistic or mystical madness (inspired by Dionysus);
poetic madness (inspired by the Muses); and,
erotic madness (inspired by Aphrodite and Eros).
As interpreted for Phaedrus by Socrates (and for us by centuries' worth of
classicists), these four types correlate very neatly with your Survivor,
Tourist, Pilgrim, and Underworld Dude.
Yo! Thy fearful symmetry! Oh no, sorry; that's the Panthera -Tigris-....
(To be continued, maybe.)
Let us hope so.
As anticipated, the first complaint arrived about the money countdown on
the opening page. Too bad, I'm finding it a rather amusing exercise.
I'm inclined to think my entire existence, each and every day, is blessed
by "divine madness". There are just some days when I am paying more
attention and especially notice its blessings. Thursday was special in a
way which is impossible to write about because it was the accumulated
effect of so many "little" things, each elevating the spirit to a slightly
higher notch of happiness. A bartender thanking me for stopping by was
the example I mentioned. Seems so unimportant, but I could tell he meant
it and in the context of what has been going on (especially online), it
meant even more than it might have at some other time.
It was as if, from the moment I found that first nickel and thus ensured
the next day's morning coffee, one small thing after another served to
amuse, encourage and cheer me through almost every moment of the day. An
unexpected melon fell from heaven, too, and it removed a batch of little
worries ... soap bar and deodorant running out, that kind of small concern
that most people have only as things to remember on their shopping lists.
I have them as major purchases which should have been made in the first
week of the month; thus they appear in my thinking not only as things
which need to be acquired, but as little nagging tugs saying "look how
irresponsible you were, again".
When I left campus, that was the first mission, a little shopping
expedition. Having satisfied the "responsible", the "irresponsible" was
given a little luxury. For several days I had walked around feeling
slightly hungry all the time. This is a very rare sensation for me. All
my life I have been blessed with a very light appetite, often have eaten
just because I'm conditioned to think it's necessary at given intervals.
I don't like feeling hungry at all (even if there's on one level no
difference between hungry and not hungry). So I treated myself to one of
those scrumptious hot roast beef sandwiches at Moose's. I asked if I
could have an extra scoop of mashed potatoes and got a mountain of them,
smothered in that delicious gravy, no extra charge. About 30 senior
coffees down the tube, but I certainly wasn't feeling hungry
I wonder how many Americans measure expenditures as senior
Then for the first time in weeks, I went to hear Genoa Keawe at the
Regent's Lobby Bar and it was touching to be greeted by so many people.
The music was wonderful, but the little hugs and pats and smiles were even
more wonderful. By the end of the gig, I had that feeling I had a few
times after "Kundun", almost like they say, walking on air.
It is amusing but a little bizarre that some readers seem
almost jealous of my love affair with that film. There are a few readers
(very few, can count them with the fingers of one hand) who most
diligently read the Tales even though they seem disgusted by them and
never have anything to say that isn't negative, yet never resist saying
it. Sneering about "Kundun" is one of their common trademarks.
Most peculiar. I wish they'd simply stop reading these things, seems by
far the most sensible thing to do.
After a comfortable night on my bench next to Rocky's, I woke expecting to
feel a little letdown. Thursday had been just too good a day, Friday
almost had to be a disappointment. It wasn't.
The highlight of the day was the film, "Shinran Shonin".
I'm a total novice when it comes to Japanese animated films, but certainly
this one was visually charming. Shinran Shonin appears to be a major
figure in the development of the "Pure Land" school of Buddhism, but the
film deals only with his life up until he realized Enlightenment. That
particular moment was beautifully done in the film. One minute he didn't
know, the next he did. No dramatics.
More Buddhist research to be done ... I am assuming the Amida Buddha of
the Japanese is the same as the Amitabha Buddha of India, but must confirm
that with a little study. Hearing the call of Amida Buddha, understanding
his bodhisattva vow, was the key to Shinran Shonin's awakening, after more
than twenty years of a severely ascetic life.
The polite Japanese man who had handed me the flyer for the film was there
to introduce it. I like that man very much, he has a graceful, calm, and
peaceful aura and it feels good to be in his presence.
After the film, I found a ham and cheese roll which had been left in the
vending machine kiosk so I went down the hill, bought a bottle of Mickey's
and returned to campus to enjoy the snack and the beer, and to slowly
ponder the entrance of the Steppenwolf into the Magic Theatre. I always
read that crucial part of the book too quickly. This time I am
After a final check of email, which had been exceedingly unpleasant and
disturbing for most of the day, I went to Ala Moana to hear Pure Heart at
the House of Music. I admire those three young men more every time I see
and hear them, and it was a considerable pleasure to see the unusually
large number of people who were buying their CD. No one deserves success
Like Thursday, the day was full of those little things that added up to so
much more than would make sense if a list of them were written. The feet
knew the way to go at every step.
Life is always frightful. We cannot help it and we are responsible all
the same. One's born and at once one is guilty. You must have had a
remarkable sort of religious education if you did not know that.
It was cool, windy, gray and cloudy all day Saturday, with occasional
showers. Melancholy sky, slightly melancholy day. It was downright cold
again Saturday night, and Sunday morning was probably the worst one of the
winter, not the coldest but with light rain added to the still quite cool
temperature and the at-times strong wind, decidedly uncomfortable.
I'd gone down to Waikiki after Hamilton closed, stopped by the Marketplace
where the Reverend Dennis Kamakahi and his son Kawika were playing, with
BB Shawn on bass. Great music ... especially liked an instrumental
written by Dennis called "Monterrey Sun", featuring Kawika. On the way
there, stopped in Tower again to hear track 7 on the Pure Heart CD. Love
that song. And speaking of songs I love, got to hear one of my favorites
again this week when I walked over to the Kapiolani bandstand where the
country dancers were, as they had been last Saturday. They do one song,
"I'll Do My Crying in the Rain", which had stuck in my mind all week and
it was great to hear them launch into it just as I arrived.
I found an abandoned plate lunch container with a scoop and a half of
rice, half a scoop of macaroni salad and some thinly sliced steak with
gravy. Delicious stuff, but later it had me thinking fondly of the days
when I could go to the bathroom, get an Alka-Seltzer out of the cupboard
and plop it into a glass of water.
Moments like that are rare; I miss the luxuries of being a householder
less than I expected. A few people think I am glossing over some of the
hardships but I suspect it's partly a case of my truly not seeing as a
"hardship" things they might. Those months in India prepared me for more
basic living. It really doesn't bother me to sleep on a wooden bench, for
instance. Much nicer when it's warm, though. Saturday night the wind was
so erratic it actually blew up through the slats of the bench seat.
Once the sun rose, Sunday morning became a little more pleasant despite
continued intermittent sprinkles, and after a second cup of coffee on the
beach in Waikiki I went to the Zoo. It's remarkable how much interaction
can be had with some of the animals using body language, especially when
no one else is around. I had a "dialogue" with a spider monkey which went
on for about fifteen minutes, absolutely delightful, and an equally
enjoyable one with a wild African dog. I suspect the monkey was asking
for something to eat. He came right to the front of the cage, looked
directly at me and made an "oh-oh-oh" sound. I tried to imitate his
expression and the sound, which got him all excited. He climbed up the
cage a way, tilted his head to one side and repeated it, so I tilted my
head and did the same. So he went upside down to do it again, and I
turned my head way over to look at him upside down, too. That got him
really excited, he jumped to the floor and hopped backwards on all fours
until he got to the back of the cage. It reminded me of Chloe who used to
hop sideways like that when she was a kitten. Now that I didn't imitate,
so he came back to the front and the performance repeated. Great fun.
With the dog it was just a question of bending the neck and staring, then
weaving back and forth, but he had such an amusing look on his face, was
almost as if he was smiling. It was the first time I've had the savannah
area entirely to myself aside from one man feeding the birds in the little
aviary. Only pity was, meerkats seem to sleep late, no sign of any of
After a few hours work and reading at Hamilton, I was joined by a friend
who shared a rather strange "Barbecued Chicken Pizza" with me at Magoo's.
It certainly looked like pizza, but didn't taste anything at all like any
pizza I've ever had before, had something of an Indian flavor to it.
Quite tastey, and a most welcome solution to the usual Sunday famine when
there's often little to be found abandoned. Considering all the
things it had on it, I wouldn't have been surprised had the urge
for Alka-Seltzer arisen again, but it didn't.
Saturday I had bought a bottle of Mickey's and sat outside at Manoa Garden
enjoying it and reading over several times that strange "war against
machines" from Steppenwolf. It seems so out of context, somehow.
But I love the sequence with Mozart, the panorama of Brahms and Wagner
leading the dreary parade of musicians who had been forced to spend their
lives playing "superfluous" notes thanks to those masters' heavy
orchestration. That's a high class flame, indeed. I saved the very end of
the book until Sunday. Now, do I read it again, or find some other book to
carry with me?
Two readers asked this week if I had any plans to get these things
published in book form, echoing another reader who had pressured for it
some time ago. Yes, I think that's feasible, but there needs to be more
material to edit from. Maybe after a year, if I survive this madness that
long. The original thought was to mix the historical sketches, some of
which need to be expanded, with the current entries. We shall see
There was light drizzle on Sunday evening so I left early and went off to
my bench. This was fortunate, since I did at least get some sleep before
we were invaded by some party-type folks who had missed the last bus home,
the second time that has happened. I waited around awhile to see if
they'd ever settle down, but they seemed to almost do it and then would
start yakking again, so I got up and left. Luckily the rain had stopped
and it actually got a bit warmer around 2:30 in the morning. I didn't
feel sleepy at all so decided I'd walk over to Waikiki. I got a senior
coffee at Jack's and sat on a bench by Kuhio Beach drinking it and
watching the parade of hookers try to make a catch (none did while I was
watching). As things began to quiet down, I thought I'd let the Hunter
off the leash and see what he came up with in Waikiki. Amazingly enough,
from one end to the other, the only discovery was ONE PENNY. Either the
tourists are getting more careful or the competition is getting better at
spotting those stray coins.
Then that beautiful crescent moon of these final days of the First Month
of the Tiger rose. The full shadowed moon was very clearly visible as
well as that slightly lopsided Cheshire Cat grin of a crescent, and the
"Morning Star" (Venus??) which has been so brilliantly shining lately was
gracefully lined up with the moon. It was so dramatic, I walked over to
DeRussy Beach to better enjoy it and the other stars, found a Pepsi and
had a delightful half hour or so watching the heavenly show.
Took a bus to Ala Moana, went over to the shower house for a wash and
then bought coffee, sat on a bench to drink it while enjoying the company
again of a young workman who often sits on a bench outside the ABC store
waiting until it's time to go to work. He sits very calmly, almost as if
meditating and it's a pleasure to sit on the bench next to him. Some
people really do give off good vibes, as folks used to say back in the
flower power days.
The more of those in my life, the better. The more I become like one of
them, even the better.
You see, I have this very rare recording. Giuseppe di Stefano and
Maria Callas in Puccini's La Boheme.
I finally made it through the third act without getting arrested for
sitting on a bench on campus with tears running down my face.
Only one more act to go ...
How we love to have everything and everyone neatly labeled and tucked away
in the proper slot in our mind's storehouse ...
After giving it some thought and talking about it with some friends, I
came to see that my own definition of "alcoholic" was too limited and
happily accepted the label. The latest such badge I've no trouble at all
accepting: panhandler. That has a fine heritage. Rich men and
corporations were busy raping the natural resources of the land, poor men
stood downstream sorting through their trash. That's a fine label,
I like it.
Certainly it is my misfortune to be living in a society which has no grasp
of the Hindu concept of life stages. Even one of my most sympathetic
readers sees this path as abandoning "usefulness to society", even more
readers see a need to get me "back on my feet". I have lived the first
three stages of this life, it was time to leave the householder stage and
become a wandering mendicant. It was perhaps a few years premature, and
certainly it would have been easier and more luxurious to have waited
until Social Security enlarges that magnificent monthly pension, but I
feel no certainty there are still four years remaining to me. I did
feel totally certain I wanted to spend no more of what time is left
sitting in an office being useful to society by preparing insurance
proposals or other such monumental contributions to civilization.
Of course, ideally, even in my own eyes, I would have abandoned the
Tourist and the Underworld Dude at the same time I left
behind the life of householder. I have little appetite for severe
asceticism, none at all for the kind of inner repression which would be
required to fake that lifestyle. Perhaps I am moving slowly toward it and
I would welcome that, but it must be a natural and real
I think they still keep a list, but certainly the Roman Catholic Church no
longer wields the kind of influence they once had with their Index
of banned writers and writing. I thought of that as I was enjoying a cup
of coffee in the warm Manoa sunshine. A few of my readers should be
Catholics and the Church should still wield that authority. (I am sure
I'd be on the Index, probably even now if they knew about it). It is a
mystery to me why people continue to read the Tales even though they find
my lifestyle, my sexual preferences and many of my interests so abhorrent.
It was cloudy and threatening rain on Monday evening, but I wanted to hear
the last act of Boheme so I took the bus to Ala Moana, bought a
bottle of Mickey's and went over to the park. Ran into a noted Webmaster
as I was walking through the mall ... how his little boy
has grown since I last saw him!
Settled on a picnic bench in a darker area of the park, I could wallow in
total abandon to that outrageously heartstring-tugging music. The tapes
were recorded at a slightly fast speed so it is necessary to mentally
adjust the sound while listening, but I found it possible to quickly adapt
to that and no longer thought about it, just happily wallowed.
Then I really wanted a shower before heading off to the bench, so braved
the cool evening air and the icy-cold water to have one. Another nomad
came in, a local-looking fellow, and we shared a few laughs over how crazy
it was to have waited until after sunset to be there. He said he had to,
otherwise the stink would keep him awake. I wasn't quite that far gone,
but certainly it felt most refreshing and I went on to the night's shelter
still feeling the bittersweet glow of Puccini's masterpiece and the tingle
of that cold water balanced with the inner warmth of the beer. Combined
with the brief sleep the night before, it made for a very good night's
But ouch, it was cold in the morning. The temperature, again, was not as
low as it has been but the wind was blowing quite continuously ...
definitely shiver time. I jumped on the first bus that came along and
warmed up in the back seat.
Cainer says that adventure will come, if it hasn't yet. And it's Fat
Tuesday. What to do about Lent?
And this too was odd: that somewhere in a green valley vines were
tended by good, strong fellows and the wine pressed so that here and there
in the world, far away, a few disappointed, quietly drinking townsfolk and
dispirited Steppenwolves could sip a little heart and courage from their
I forgot to mention, decided to read Steppenwolf again.
I didn't realize until Cainer mentioned it that the Second Month of the
Tiger is going to start with an eclipse. Oh boy. And I'm about to get
"swept away". None of this seems quite in tune with Lent, so I think I'll
go with the stars and forget about Lent. That's it, give up Lent.
Very much easier than any of the suggestions that reader so kindly offered
The Survivor-Hunter had a very bad day yesterday but this morning found a
large container of noodles with an Italian sauce. Strange
thing to order for breakfast and whoever did it seems to have had instant
second thoughts because it was still warm and had been barely touched
before being abandoned on a planter ledge at Ala Moana. It was rather
exotically spiced, not something I'd enthuse over at any meal, but after a
day when the total menu consisted of one delicious cookie from the Hare
Krishna folks, a bit of plain rice, and a beer ... well, the noodles were
The sparse diet was partly my fault. It wasn't until I was on the bus
departing the campus that I remembered the miso soup packets in my bag,
and of course, I could have gone somewhere other than Ala Moana. The
competition for any useful scrap, leftover drink, cigarette butt, or
dropped coin is more intense there than anywhere else in town.
But it was a pleasant evening and I had been looking forward to another
listen to La Boheme with Mickey for company. Puccini's opera isn't
my favorite. That distinction, such as it is, definitely belongs to
Mozart and his Magic Flute, but Boheme has been a treasured
part of my life since childhood and I never tire of hearing it, never hear
or see it without shedding a tear or two. So I stopped in Foodland for
the bottle (the ABC store at Ala Moana has stopped carrying Mickey's for
some reason), and settled down under Orion to listen to the first two
acts. Often I think when I am doing something that there must be
thousands of other nomads in the world doing the same thing, as in
wondering how many people measure expense in terms of senior coffees. But
I thought sitting there that I was surely the only urban nomad in the
world sitting under the stars listening to Maria Callas as Mimi.
I also thought about some of the online static that has been cluttering my
atmosphere recently, it's next to impossible not to think of it. One
person or another has attacked almost everything about my life, not
just since this trip began but going back long before, reviving all the
bizarre "urban legends" which circulate about me in this tiny online
community. I think I've enjoyed myself too much. As we learned back in
the high acid days, the secret is not to look too happy, then no one will
know you're walking around in a glass onion.
Maybe another secret is, take your music and your beer and enjoy them both
with only the stars and the moon as company.
He was, further, opposed to the power of capital and yet he had
industrial securities lying at his bank and spent the interest from them
without a pang of conscience.
Ah, Steppenwolf, I know what you mean. About ten years ago I bought a
hundred shares in the Boots Company, a British pharmaceutical manufacturer
which also has a chain of stores throughout the U.K., rather like an
upscale Long's or Rexall's. They aren't lying in a bank, but are being
looked after for me. Dividends have been taken in added shares but during
the past year there have been several special dividends paid in cash
Well, paid in check, that is. The last afternoon of the first month of
the Tiger reminded me so much of India where sometimes entire days would
be spent doing nothing but trying to convert a piece of paper to usable
currency. Several dividend checks arrived, one of them very much delayed
due to the fact that letters go back and forth so infrequently. Hawaii
Check Cashing couldn't process that one, too old. But the kind lady there
telephoned Thomas Cook and was told they would handle it.
So after having gone downtown to pick up the checks, and then to Waikiki,
went back downtown to Thomas Cook. Ah, so sorry, we can only process them
on a "when-collected" basis. Oh for the days before England became so
Americanized ... The lady had worked for the Bank of Scotland (on which
the checks are drawn) and knew what a large and reputable company Boots
is, but rules are rules. In times of yore, Thomas Cook was known for its
incredibly accommodating style of business for travelers. Now it will
about three weeks to get my measly ninety dollars.
I kept the one most recent check, since Cook's handling charge was more
than Hawaii Check Cashing, and went back to campus. Fortunate move, found
an abandoned chicken and rice dish. And it wasn't in the standard
polystyrene container, but a small Rubbermaid covered dish just perfect
for microwaving (even if something of a nuisance to lug around).
As sunset approached, I returned to Waikiki to cash the check. With the
horrendous exchange rate offered and the handling fee, what was worth
about $17 got reduced to just over ten.
Steppenwolf, with his pints of Elsasser, good bread and roast chickens,
must have been a far more prolific investor.
The first day of the second month of the Tiger. There was an almost
totally clear sky in the hours before dawn and the stars were wonderful,
as was the sunrise (despite that slightly disturbing haze on the horizon
letting us know just how much we pollute the skies over this little
I had spent the evening listening to the second tape of Boheme,
enjoying my evening bottle of Mickey's. When the tape ended, I turned on
the radio and there was a terribly stilted male voice telling the story of
Macbeth, as retold by Verdi. He played a recording of Maria Callas
doing Lady Macbeth's entry, reading the letter and singing what he several
times called "the slow aria". It had been recorded live at La Scala and
made me grateful for the far better quality of the Boheme bootleg.
La Scala was full of coughers that night.
Suddenly there were three bicycles shining their lights on me and a young
policeman very politely told me it was illegal to drink in the park. I do
wish there had been Coke in my Coke cup! He told me I had to pour out
what was in the cup but said "you can take the rest home with you".
Fortunately, there was no "rest" and there was only about an inch left in
the cup. Serves me right for being lazy and not walking on to a more
remote spot. My compliments to the HPD for the gentlemanly way my
transgression was handled.
There really should be some designated areas on beaches where people could
legally sit and enjoy a beautiful evening with a beer, though (without
having to pay bar prices).
I lingered for awhile looking at the ocean and the stars, but didn't turn
the radio back on. Not long ago I wrote that boredom is one of my least
favorite states of mind. There's one that is far worse: feeling
sorry for yourself. It's a state of mind that is easy to slide into
without being aware I'm in it, at least not immediately. A perceptive
reader once gave me a (gratefully received) virtual slap up against the
head for being in one.
And there I'd slid into one again ...
There is some justification for it. Homeless people are the niggers of
Hawai'i. I suspect that is true in every Western society. I actually get
a very small taste of the resulting prejudice, usually only in those very
early hours of the morning when a man walking around in layered clothing,
carrying a backpack looks rather obviously homeless. The rest of the
time, even as with that polite policeman, I don't think most people
realize I'm a "street person". But in those early morning hours, I get
the treatment I'm sure most of my nomad comrades get all the time. Some
people are smiling and friendly, but far more are openly disdainful. At
the Ward Jack-in-the-Box, several of the ladies are totally gracious but a
couple of them are about as nasty as they can be, as are many drivers of
early morning buses.
I think experiencing this kind of thing on a daily basis gradually
distorts one's thinking, and probably eventually one's behavior. With
that undercurrent, the recent attacks from people I actually know had more
effect on me than I should have allowed them to, and I fell into at least
a borderline state of feeling sorry for myself. Well, I'm not having that
crap, so chugged away the rest of the evening and through much of the
night putting some distance between that state and where I got to by
It was a strange night. Both Rocky and I seemed to be unusually restless,
I'd often see him awake during the night when I yet again emerged from a
strange, relevant dream and woke to ponder the stars awhile, or else he'd
wake up after I had. It is so strange to share such moments, as it is to
sleep a few feet away from the man, and yet never exchanging a
It's a new moon, a new dawn. Never mind Lent. Of course, I can't really
forget it, but it isn't relevant for me this year. The Tiger, I think,
I've been (rather lazily) working with the form of meditation Tibetans
call Shi-Ne. It is by far one of the most simple modes of Eastern
meditation. No special physical posture is required, all one need do is
concentrate on the breathing and allow thoughts to come and go as they
arise, without following them. When distracted by thinking, the
concentration is redirected to observing the in and out of the
The strange thing is, as a very young child I was something of an expert
at this form of meditation and regarded it as a burden. In bed, waiting
to fall asleep, I'd become so aware of my breathing I could think of
nothing else, couldn't stop thinking about it, and couldn't fall asleep.
It went on for several years. It's not easy to return to the level of
expertise which came so naturally at the age of five or six.
After a pleasant afternoon reading this and that in the library and a few
quite unsuccessful hunting expeditions, at last a plate lunch container
showed up with leftover corn in it. Strange, never found a
one-scoop-corn variety before. I added it to a bowl of tofu miso soup,
possibly creating a new menu item for Japanese restaurants?
Then I went down to listen to Aunty Genoa. One of the best things about
most music venues in Waikiki and downtown is that you can find places to
sit and enjoy the music, often including being able to watch as well,
without having to spend any money at all, and such is the case at the
Hawaiian Regent. Gary Aiko and Alan Akaka were back from their trip to
Japan and both were in fine form. Aunty, of course, always is. My
favorite bartender wasn't there; just as well, would have been tempted to
ask him for a basket of the snacks they have at the bar.
I was still feeling hungry so had a look around Kapiolani Park.
Competition seems to be steadily on the increase in all the parks and
there was nothing to be found. Someone had even opened up a few leftover
plate lunch containers, leaving them out along with cups of water for the
cats. No complaints from me about sharing with those furry
There has been a running exchange in email recently about Hesse's remark
that a pint of Elsasser (Alsatian wine) and some good bread is the best of
meals, so it was an added delight to find later a discarded, beautiful
round loaf of crusty wheat bread, absolutely fresh. My guess is the
restaurant puts baskets of the little loaves on the table and then throws
out the entire basket-full, touched or untouched. What a waste! But how
fortunate for me, because that bread was delicious. In the interest of
discretion, I shall not mention the exact location of this bread supply,
but it's odd they have a man watching the area. Paying someone to guard
the garbage?! The timing of a short break he took was most fortuitous.
No pint of Elsasser, alas. But thinking about it while enjoying the
bread, it occurred to me that Steppenwolf was quite a drinker. A pint of
wine is a decent drink, to say the least, and he often seemed to have more
than one. I wish my "industrial investments" paid so well.
Perhaps Rocky was as exhausted by our restless previous night as I was,
because he was already sound asleep, didn't stir when I walked in. It was
lightly sprinkling rain but was much warmer than it had been for several
nights, good sleeping conditions. That silly man who mutters all night
and gives speeches arrived; another man said in a very authoritative tone,
"shut up!". End of muttering, and if there was a morning speech it didn't
happen until after I'd left.
Dirty pants, take two. I have two polo shirts, one a dark gray-green
Ralph Lauren version and a very light gray one with the UH seal
embroidered on it. Now I know to wear the UH one when the light gray
Levi's have been recently washed and save the Lauren one for later. I did
it vice-versa this time, and putting on the very clean gray one makes the
pants look twice as grubby as they look with the dark shirt. You might
not think such things important at all, and you're probably right, but
they still matter to me.
I was thinking during the early part of the search for food that this is
such a dumb way to live. What a difference a loaf of bread can make.
Much of Friday was spent in downtown Honolulu. There's no doubt about it,
the "campus" of Hawaii Pacific University just doesn't come close to UH
Manoa but the students there do leave very long cigarette butts in the
ashtrays. Despite the large nomad population in the area, there's not
competition for them, either. Most downtown street people are a separate
class of nomads, and they'd rather beg passers-by for a smoke than stoop
to picking a long butt out of an ashtray. To each his own ...
I joined a friend for lunch. I'd had a strange yearning for meatloaf and
mashed potatoes, the latter something not that often seen in this town of
rice-scoops. We found a place offering that most haole luncheon option
but it was too crowded (perhaps with other seekers of mash), so we went
instead to an Indian take-out establishment and I had chicken marsala
curry, tofu spinach dhaal with saffron rice. Once again, very Northern
India cuisine, mildly seasoned. One day I must sacrifice a quarter of my
pension check and indulge in a vindaloo curry at India House.
Speaking of that fabled check, it's late again. My feelings of compassion
for all living beings at Aetna are being severely tested.
A reader asks why I'm spending so little time in bars. Oh, hadn't you
heard, I've been thrown out of them all! Hmmm, I'll save that for the
"urban legends of the panther" tale that is bubbling away on the back
burner. No, I made a deliberate decision to cut down on my life as a
bar-rat. There are many reasons for that, some more important (at least
to me) than just the money question. I was reminded of it earlier
this week when I cashed that dividend check at Hawaii Check Cashing in
Waikiki. Used to be, I'd leave that place and head directly to Duke's.
Things change, Kundun..
Used to be, I would have left yesterday's lunch and headed over to the
Pier Bar, to spend the rest of the afternoon chatting with Jimbo.
Instead, I did laundry. Cheer! Could put on the gray UH polo shirt this
morning without the pants looking filthy. Even bigger cheer, I could wake
up, take off the long-sleeve shirt, take off the tee shirt, and put on
just the polo shirt -- first morning in weeks it has been warm enough for
that before sunrise. And Rocky was all sprawled out, sound asleep, in his
flowery shorts. Spring has sprung ...
So last evening, decked out in clean clothes and with a slightly choppy
self-inflicted haircut, I joined Helen R. and another friend at Cinerama
to see "The Wedding Singer". How to make a person feel old: make
a "period film" about the 80s. It was a light, cleverly made and quite
enjoyable film; cinematic fluff, but with likeable characters, good music
and a generous helping of chuckles. One of my readers who just can't get
over the notion of this being a trip of "self-discovery" will no doubt be
saddened to hear that I yet again wasted precious hours of my quest at the
cinema, this time even without the spiritual cachet of Buddhism, but
that's my real quest, get readers addicted to the tales and then annoy the
hell out of them.
Another reader grumbled about some Swami who was a Hindu and a
householder. Lots of them were, probably most of the ones whose names are
known in the West. Not just householders, but mansion-holders. They'll
all be reborn as houseflies, but c'est la wheel of fortune.
(I'm very bad.)
And I haven't had a bottle of Mickey's yet.
I look at all the lonely people ...
I found a dead male Java sparrow on the pavement at Holmes Hall. It
looked in the prime of life, nothing visible to suggest why it had left
this life for its next. Those are my favorites of the local birds, and I
felt saddened by its death even while congratulating it on its good
fortune at having somehow escaped that cycle of its existence. I wrapped
it in white napkins and gently deposited it in a dumpster, because burying
it seemed quite stupid, and I had no way to cremate it and scatter its
ashes in the ocean.
In the words of the immortal Roseanne Roseannadanna, "it's always
something ...". I woke up, took off my socks and put on the slippahs.
Ouch! Was a very tender spot on the bottom of my right foot which hadn't
been there the night before. It turned out to be a small blister, which
soon popped and was even more sore. I've no idea how I managed to get a
blister in the middle of my sole, but at least it's s-o-l-e and not
s-o-u-l. I think.
Kory K asked me what I did on the weekend. I said I'd fallen in love.
Not again! he scorned. Well, actually, no, I didn't really "fall in
love", just realized I had been for several weeks. Spring has sprung
Local readers of the Tales can brace themselves for a cold wave, however.
I (probably prematurely) traded the long-sleeve chamois winter shirt for a
Molokai sweatshirt (found object). Something about walking around on a
cool but not chilly pre-dawn morning wearing that dark gray shirt made me
feel like an old man. Bad enough being one, without any extras to make me
feel like one, blisters or no blisters.
Saturday afternoon I played in Usenet for a short time after the I
Ching gave the green-light. Such tedious players in those newsgroups,
for the most part ... it was actually more fun in the old days on the
local BBS scene. So I was quickly bored with that and headed down to the
beach to see some naked men. Saw quite a few of them over the weekend,
none worth getting as excited over as another one I saw wearing just
shorts. After sunset I returned to campus, stopping by the Vietnamese
shop for a bottle of Mickey's to enjoy before the concert of Japanese
I'd never heard such music before. There was an ensemble of about 25
musicians and the programme included a wide variety of groupings, from
solo singers to full chorus. There are no notes at all in the programme,
just a list of song titles and players, so I have no idea what any of the
songs were about and just as little about what instruments were being
played. But it was deeply stirring, beautiful music. I thought it very
odd, though, that none of the musicians ever smiled, even when
acknowledging the applause after a number. Still, it was a most elegant
evening, both sight and sound, and I hope I have the chance to hear more
Sunday was a beautiful day and I stayed on the beach at Ala Moana for most
of the morning. Instead of going out to Magic Island, I parked myself in
the main area of the beach, dug out the radio and "flashbacked" to
a classic rock station which treated me to some Floyd, Stones and
Fleetwood Mac tracks I haven't heard in years. Most excellent stuff,
loaded with most excellent memories. Despite being surrounded by some
charming young Japanese fellows, I was lost in the music for hours, only
surfaced occasionally to go splash around in the ocean.
Then I took the bus up to the Vietnamese shop. The lady said "thank
you"!! Got a bottle of Mickey's Malt instead of Ice, for a change, and
went to Manoa Garden to enjoy it while reading Steppenwolf. I had
been there on Saturday, too, but reading was put aside to enjoy the kumu
hula's wonderful singing and 'uke playing as the hula lessons proceeded
upstairs. The Sunday contingent included several young men who looked so
sad and lonely it inspired the internal jukebox to rev up "Eleanor Rigby".
I look at all the lonely people ...
So many of them, of us ... where do we all come from ...
Food, glorious food ... Yeukh, I hate this. Food has never been
important to me. Even during times when I became very enthusiastic about
cooking, often quite elaborate cooking, it was for other people. I had
little interest in actually eating the stuff, no matter how good it
tasted. So this new emphasis on food is really annoying me.
I'd had plenty to eat on Friday, even had two sweetbread rolls tucked away
in my bag, one of which was enjoyed with Saturday morning's senior coffee.
In the vending machine kiosk on campus, someone had left a "hamburger" and
two big slices of birthday cake. It's an insult to the term "hamburger"
using it to refer to one of those objects in Marriott's vending machines.
The only similar stretch of the term I can remember were those
seven-for-a-dollar burgers at White Tower, cookie-sized and about ninety
percent chopped onion. Nonetheless, I warmed the object in a microwave
and ate it plus one slice of cake with a second cup of coffee. With my
lunchtime bottle of Mickey's bought a ham-and-cheese sandwich from a
vending machine, but did share much of the bread (and the second piece of
cake) with the birds. Those Brazilian cardinals could charm bread from me
even if I were on the verge of starving.
Before the concert I had a bowl of miso soup and the second sweetbread
roll. So in terms of these five months of nomadic life, it was by no
means a food-deprived day. Sunday, it is true, was a little more sparse,
as Sundays usually are. Monday, too, was unusually famine-like. I
finally got so hungry I bought another vending machine sandwich to have
with miso soup and later even walked out to Kakaako Waterfront Park,
usually a bonanza of leftover plate lunches, but in tune with the rest of
the day, yielding only a container of KFC cole slaw (good stuff, even so,
and a shame its abandoner didn't do likewise with the mashed potatoes and
So I was sitting up waiting for Rocky to "get home" and my mind kept
playing through scenes of a bowl of Alpen with fresh, cold milk and thick
slices of cinnamon toast, grilled in the oven so the sugar, cinnamon and
butter fused into a crust. Sigh.
Yep, waited up for Rocky, as he seems to do for me if he gets there first.
That light that isn't usually on was again, and I could tell Rocky is
actually much younger than I had been thinking, possibly still a
teenager. He was in a happy mood, came almost skipping up the walk. But
there was someone on an outside bench he must have crossed swords with at
some point because he said something fairly harshly to him. All I
understood was "get to sleep!" Rocky has a very deep-pitched voice for
such a young kid.
Despite the brief but heavy rain in the afternoon, it had been a pleasant
day on campus. I'd had my early afternoon Mickey's in a different
secluded place than usual, continuing Steppenwolf, then permitted
myself a visit to the Forbidden Playroom. Seems a little silly to be so
discreet about it, especially after some student recently wrote about it
in Ka Leo O Hawai'i. I wonder if he was a patron of the
establishment, or if it's just a commonly-known campus legend? In any
case, I generally go there just to watch and that works out well because
most of the young guys who visit it just want someone to watch.
Yesterday's star, however, was rather more adventurous. He was a cute
hapa fellow, probably late teens, and was greatly enjoying the attention
of several admirers. He gave me a nice little show, then turned to the
opposite wall and inserted himself into a hole, giving me the fun of
watching his round little butt while he was being taken care of by the
probably-Thai lad I had seen go into that stall. Beats those 25-cent
dirty movie booths any day.
There was a time when I would undoubtedly have spent more time in that
Playroom than anywhere on campus, but I prefer saving it as a rare treat,
not only making visits there more special but also avoiding the reputation
(unlike my Korean friend) of being addicted to it.
Leaving profane pleasures behind, I went to see the exhibition of
beautiful photographs of India by Lindsay Hebbert which recently
opened at the East-West Center's gallery. There is a truly stunning one
of the Taj Mahal and a particularly touching one of the Himalayan snowcaps
which made me wish I had visited Himalachel Pradesh. Next life,
On the way to the Waterfront Park, I stopped in Border's and was very much
surprised to see a new book by Carlos Castaneda on the shelves. Thirty
years ago, the appearance of a new book from him was a major event in my
life, and I would have them flown over to England from the USA as soon as
they could be purchased. I never cared whether they were "factual" or
not, that debate didn't interest me at all. I'm convinced that everything
he describes can and does happen, not at all concerned whether the books
are a documentary of that or a well-informed fantasy. It's certainly not
fair to judge the new book on the basis of about twenty minutes scanning
it in a bookshop, but it's not what I could possibly have expected to see
from that man after all these years.
But then, I am not what I could possibly have expected myself to become
after all these years, either.
Early Tuesday afternoon, I went down the hill to the Vietnamese shop for
my daily bottle of Mickey's, returned to one of my favorite
reading-drinking spots, settled down for an hour with Hermann. A young
local-looking fellow, short but with a handsomely muscled body, sat on the
bench next to me, turned his back and straddled the bench, leaning over a
book. Broad shoulders, fine butt. Excuse me, fellow, I'm trying to read
here. Oh well, never mind, Hermann can wait. My companion's reading
material was a thick tome on the subject of Soil Mechanics. He lay
back on the bench, then, and began a new chapter called Constant
Head. Okay ...
Such interludes are true restoratives. I sometimes feel this lifestyle
involves a constant, small erosion of strength, even of life force itself.
The little slights from other people, the constant insecurity, the
physical hurts and pains; even worse, the mental hurts and pains.
Insecurity in italics, there, because of course sitting comfortably in an
enclosed space with a lock on the door and the key to it in your pocket is
absolutely not security anymore than sitting on a bench in the park. A
falling meteorite would take you out either way.
However we choose to live, it's a slow death. But maybe this way is just
a little faster.
Monday was unusual, didn't find a single coin even though I was keeping an
eye out for them. It often happens that I find none, but rarely if I am
paying active attention to the hunt. Very early Tuesday morning, the
balance shifted. On Kapiolani, near the edge of the road, was a very
battered quarter and a penny. Finding a "senior coffee" like that was
definitely worth a smile, but the quarter had obviously been there for
some time and I was surprised I had overlooked it until then. More
pennies turned up during the day ... still not enough to finance a second
senior coffee on Wednesday morning. No matter, one really is
By mid-afternoon on Tuesday I was thinking it definitely was a two-beer
day, even considered going to see Captain John, but then decided it would
be pitiful style to go there and not be able to offer to pay for the beer,
even if the offer was refused. I know, he wouldn't have minded, probably
would have been pleased if I'd just walked up and said "John, I'm dying
for a beer but haven't got any money." There are only a couple of people
I can be that honest with.
So I went downtown, wandered around the Aloha Tower Marketplace instead.
I waited until it was time for Jimbo to go off duty before stopping by to
pick up a calendar at the Pier Bar, since if I'd gone there earlier I
would have been back to the same dilemma as with John. That calendar is
pretty depressing, the least interesting month they've had at the Pier Bar
in a very long time. They're even resorting to a "videos night". I
suppose it would be slightly amusing to watch the Oscars telecast at one
of them, though.
Back at Ala Moana, I found about a quarter pound of Gummi Bears from the
candy store with the blue-stripe bags. Gummi Bears! If only Jonathan had
been with me, it would have been considered a major discovery. I was much
happier with one of those delicious round loaves of bread which turned up
That strange wound on the bottom of my foot continues to plague me. It's
probably another sign to slow down. If so, it's working very well indeed.
Three-quarters of a can of Pepsi, a quarter loaf of bread ... and ... and
... hmmmm, an abandoned pack of Kool king-sized with six cyclinders left
in it. Pretty unromantic compared to the jug of wine, etc. But then this
is 1998, not a time history is likely to view as a romantic age.
Had an almost tempting job offer this afternoon, better salary than I
would have thought possible in a town where every issue of the newspaper
screams about people losing their jobs. But what would I have done with
the money? Considering the salary and the responsibility, I probably
would have spent ten hours a day in an air-conditioned cube downtown, if
very lucky with a tiny piece of the sky visible outside the sealed window.
And then? Spend half of it on a decent apartment, maybe even with a lanai
overlooking the sunset which I'd never get home in time to see? Go buy
all of those wonderful Maria Callas EMI recordings which have yet again
been reissued, sit with imported beer and cry into it while listening.
I don't think so.
And on-line gets even more unpleasant. What the hell do some people want
I must be doing something wrong. I was offered another job.
Every day a little death ...
The internal jukebox woke up in a Bernstein-Sondheim mood this
Sitting over at Ala Moana by the beach, watching the sunrise, I thought
(not for the first time) that the one real "hardship" of this lifestyle is
never being alone. It's delightful to have Rocky as a sleeping companion,
far less delightful to share that should-be-quiet predawn hour with
yakking joggers. No escape.
I went downtown late Wednesday morning and for the first time ran into a
lot of people I knew, some of whom I used to work with. All of them had
moved on to other jobs. One fellow gave me five dollars and told me to
buy myself "a beer and some cigarettes". It was all the money he had in
his pocket, but he was on the way to an ATM. That was kind of him. So
was the job offer from another boss-type man. Wasn't his fault that just
thinking about it made me want to get drunk.
So I returned to campus, went to the Garden, and did. Broke in a new keg
of Killian's Red, wasn't sure it was worth the premium price so had to
test it again. Still not sure, so further tests may be necessary. I
didn't really get drunk, but certainly came closer than I have for quite
some time, and fell into one of my frequent close-to-drunk states, mulling
over the artist trip and pondering again whether to appeal to someone who
used to collect my stuff and has always come through in times of need.
But this isn't really a time of need, not yet anyway, and he comes through
so generously I'd go crazy, or crazier, probably run off to Nepal and
march into the mountains, get arrested for having no hiking permit and
be thrown out of the country. Or something like that.
Every man an artist and every artist a priest ...
Fell into thinking about Jackson Pollock again. I considered doing a
series of "vignettes", just putting down memories from the Sixties in a
disconnected tale, as they occurred to me. One would certainly be about
the last time I sat at a dinner party with Jackson's widow, Lee Krasner.
I hadn't realized until she started to talk about Jackson and his
influence how little the woman had understood the man as an artist.
I don't know if I can dredge up enough memories of what actually happened
that evening to write even a short account of it, no matter how much the
evening itself has lodged itself in my mental storehouse. Even then I
wished I'd had a little tape recorder concealed somewhere.
I'm sorry I never met Pollock. We probably wouldn't have liked each
I unsubscribed from the hawaii-l mail-list yesterday. I'd dropped off it
for brief times, especially since this trip began, but only with the
temporary "postpone" option. Gone for good, this time. There are lots of
good memories about the mail-list and some of the wacky times that were
had on it, and there are some less happy memories, too, one far worse for
me than the unpleasantness this time around since that one was my fault.
Well, you live almost 58 years, you make a few mistakes. Most of the
time, you get lucky and don't so badly misjudge the character of people
you consider friends, and they forgive you.
In Hawaii, I've made more mistaken judgments on that score than I've ever
made before. And only one of them was really cute, giving me at least
some shred of an excuse.
And so it was Thursday. Japanese people, waiting for it to get light
enough to begin their "gateball" (once known as "croquet") obsession were
almost screaming at each other in conversation. Some Japanese men speak as
if they are shouting, even if the person they are talking to is standing
right beside them.
It was Thursday. And a little time with my favorite bar buddy in all this
world made it worth staying alive for.
'Most men will not swim before they are able to.' Is not that witty?
Naturally, they won't swim! They are born for the solid earth, not for
the water. And naturally they won't think. They are made for life, not
for thought. Yes, and he who thinks, what's more, he who makes thought
his business, he may go far in it, but he has bartered the solid earth for
the water all the same, and one day he will drown.
I succeeded in getting quite drunk on Thursday. After a couple of hours
at lunchtime in Manoa Garden, returned again in the late afternoon. Had
the pleasure of Tomita-san's company at the early session, then was joined
by Kory K and Yvette at the later one. Kory wouldn't buy me a beer, guess
he's afraid of being an enabler. He did buy some junk drink which
I finished and wished I hadn't.
I agreed to quit smoking if he did. I wonder which of us would cheat the
There was no particular reason for getting drunk, I just felt like doing
it. Then I went straight to the bench from the Garden and slept without
waking until just before dawn, didn't even wait up for Rocky.
The strange and quite painful thing that's happening with my right foot
doubled with the appearance of a second small blister. They aren't caused
by rubbing, no idea what it is. The first blister has left a small crater
which still hasn't healed fully and is sore, the second one hasn't popped
and is even more sore. Nasty. As I said, maybe it's a sign that it's
time for me to sit under a bo tree, if there is one on this
Meanwhile, Cainer says: Mars rules your sign. It is now in your sign.
That's excellent news. No ifs and buts about it. This weekend, it links
up to Neptune and Venus. That too is unambiguously encouraging. Creative,
financial and romantic success awaits. I don't think I believe it,
don't see any sign of all that good stuff on the horizon.
I got very brave at lunchtime on Friday, went down the hill to the
Vietnamese shop (they sell single cigarettes there, something I haven't
seen since India), bought a bottle of Mickey's Malt. Went back up the
hill (both ways by bus, thanks to the bum foot), bought two Whoppers (if
only that were a Jack-in-the-Box instead of a Burger King across from the
University), and took it all to Manoa Garden to consume. It had been
threatening rain all morning, so I wanted at least an umbrella-ed table,
"outside food" or not. Even the umbrella didn't help all that much when
an absolute downpour started. Dug out the Crazy Shirts poncho, for the
first time in many weeks, and sat at least partly sheltered while I
finished the beer. Then made a dash to Sinclair Library, arriving with
pants wet from the knees down and very squishy slippahs from walking
through the lakes that accumulate all over campus. Not only were they a
bit whacko about how they laid out the walkways on campus, almost none of
them have proper drainage.
When the rain stopped for awhile, returned to Hamilton until closing.
For weeks I've been encouraging Ellen at the International Marketplace to
get Pure Heart there for a gig. Then she does it, and what happens? A
group of Tibet supporters schedule a meeting for the same evening. Much
as I love Pure Heart's music, I wanted more to be at that meeting. So
when Hamilton closed, I went downhill for another Mickey's, returned to
the Garden and enjoyed it with Steppenwolf until time for the
It opened with a young man who looked like he had stepped off the screen
from "Kundun" doing a chant in Tibetan, followed by a videotape of
a talk given by the Dalai Lama at Berkeley in 1996. He had a young
Tibetan interpreter with him and occasionally referred to him for a word,
once said a few entire sentences in Tibetan which were then translated,
but for the most part spoke in English. The man has such a delightful
sense of humor. The main thought which seemed strongest to me from what
he said was that the answer to the problems of the modern world is first
and foremost an individual solution, for every human being to
develop in themselves a "warm heart".
That video was followed by the A&E biography of the Dalai Lama, recently
enough made to include clips from "Kundun", with a few comments
from Martin Scorcese. It was very well done, a most rewarding hour, and
once again, brightened further by some humorous touches from the Dalai
Lama, recalling his earlier life.
The only thing that would have made it even more of a treat would have
been seeing "Kundun" again immediately after the meeting. Instead,
I went to my bench. Rocky was waiting up, outside, but took his usual
place once I got there and it was a peaceful night once some really awful
music from the club across the street ended.
Five months of livin' on the easy ...
like death warmed over ...
Hadn't thought of that phrase in a long time but it was totally
appropriate for how I felt when I woke up on Sunday morning.
After Hamilton closed on Saturday, I thought of staying on campus to see a
Korean film that was being shown at 7:30, but there was a fairly rowdy
crowd at the Garden so I didn't want to spend a couple of hours there. I
hadn't had anything to eat during the day except a bag of Fritos with a
Mickey's, so decided I'd go to McDonald's in Waikiki and pig out using the
last of the gift certificates. Two fish sandwiches, large fries and a
coffee later made me wish I hadn't gotten that little brainstorm. Too
much junk all at once.
There was a beautiful, red sunset even though much of the sky was filled
with rain-threatening clouds, so I sat by the beach for awhile and mulled
over just what it was that had gotten me into such low spirits. A simple
answer: on-line life, again. Not since the early days of MUD2 have I
encountered so many people willing to promote and spread increasingly
hostile and ugly "urban legends" about me. Of course, in MUD2 much of it
was part of the game. I guess it is here, too, except there are a few
"players" who are genuinely nasty people, not just role-playing. And
there is the problem of this nomadic lifestyle which seems to threaten
some people, especially those who are insecure about their own niche in
society or financial status.
The sun went down with no answers to the riddle, and I decided I'd just
head off to the bench and call it an evening. The foot, which had only
been painful when pressure was put on the sore area, woke me up several
times during the night feeling quite uncomfortable and I still felt
slightly nauseous from that ill-advised McFeast. So it was much less than
a pleasant night, more than meriting the "death warmed over"
I woke up very early and decided that rather than wait around for the
first bus to come by, I'd slowly walk up to the Jack-in-the-Box and "drive
in" for a cup of coffee. Got that and headed over to a bus stop bench to
drink it, spotted a dollar on the sidewalk next to some bottles of beer.
But it wasn't one dollar, it was eleven! And there was a twenty very
nearby. Three of the beers hadn't been opened, another was opened and
half-full, the other bottles were empty. Someone must have had a little
beer party there on Saturday night and gotten so drunk they didn't notice
dropping their money on the sidewalk. Feeling somewhat dazed by my good
fortune, I hid the three bottles of beer away nearby for possible later
use and went on to Ala Moana.
First purchase with the "melon from heaven" was a box of Band-aids with
built-in antiseptic, since my main concern with the strange foot problem
is infection. It turned out to have a soothing effect as well, so I was
doubly grateful to the poor fellow who lost 31 dollars the night
Good fortune or not, I was still feeling in fairly low spirits, stayed
around until the sun was up and had a shower, then went on up to campus.
I had finished Steppenwolf the day before, but started reading it
again, went down just before noon to get a Mickey's to go with the
reading. After an hour in the library, I went off to spend the afternoon
with friends, enjoying a roast chicken as much as Harry Haller ever did,
even if it was with some more Mickey's instead of a glass of
I've never read any of Tom Clancy's books and had not seen any of the
films based on them, so seeing "Clear and Present Danger" was a
novel experience. A brief description of the basic plot prepared me, so I
figured I'd be on the "bad guys" side, but I wasn't expecting such a
totally silly yarn. Sheez, the dopers in Colombia must all have copies of
the videotape to show when they want a really good laugh.
In any case, the good food, good company and silly film all served to lift
the gloom that had been hanging over the weekend, despite the
extraordinary good financial fortune which hadn't, alone, managed to do
it. I went off to the bench and sat outside for awhile watching the stars
and so, at manoa garden, in the mid-afternoon sun,
the haole tutor and the lad with japanese genes,
both legs twitching, patting rhythm to some unknown tune.
impatient, the tutor, as never i'd be
(however much better he might know the subject).
another young man with asian genes,
middle-long hair tied back in a yokozuna wish,
sniffling, snuffling, not stopping to blow his nose.
too busy making art, yes a drawing with pen-and-ink,
each mark punctuated with a sniff.
an older, pale man poring over a thick tome,
marking paragraphs with a yellow high-lighter.
a young lady, wagging her head back and forth
as she scanned the words of her paperback,
tiny feet in faded suede shoes.
sitting, glancing here and there between Hermann's words.
his childhood and his mother showed in a tender transfiguration
like a distant glimpse into the fathomless blue.
and i was lazy, as always, sitting in manoa garden.
"it's time," said the voice, with an admirable timbre
"time for what?" (though i knew already)
"time for a beer, you slug of a man"
(a christmas ghost which could change tone with each word)
"america is starving," screamed the newspaper
"this is news," i scowled. "let them eat cake."
between the pavement of the secluded place
concrete rivers poured, frozen in their long life
"but noble sir, our resources ..."
"so pessimistic you think you'll live till tomorrow?" scorned the
three cigarette butts, too short to smoke
in a minuet which went awry
two supervisors wearing aloha shirts
discussing faulty machinery, unwilling to call a workman
sunlight dappled, strange word, through trees with red berries
a truck, a seal, for official use only
a lady of uncertain age, in navy-blue tights, pink top and wide straw
my dear, can you learn the line
has anyone ever told you ... and etc.
she could, she was blanche dubois
and i? what one of the dramatis personae should i pick?
so many choices, so many steppenwolves and romeos and
then think, think deeply for a change
pick a role from all of mankind's drama
zarathustra, he thought, and cast it aside
gautama, he thinks not, and jesu even less
weary question, why ask such a meditation?
ok. james dean.
what a droll trip you've made of this, panther old friend
did you think going feline would stealth you?
those fool moon's eyes, kierkegaard and burroughs
wild boy's cushion
can't be forgotten, who would desire to
behind a mattress, above a mattress, up against the wall
a bathroom window across the back yard
those fool moon's eyes, leary and alpert
can't be forgotten, who would desire to
pompeiian fresco on walls of north london
rhodesia, star sapphire, persian helmet
those fool moon's eyes, laing and carl jung
can't be forgotten, who would desire to
to asia young fool in suburbs of delhi
mughals and hash oil, pants that need pressing
those fool moon's eyes, heyer and christie
can't be forgotten, who would desire to
repeat first act
it was a magpie in the sky
A reader suggested setting up the Tales as a password-entry web site, and
sell subscriptions. A password scheme, even if given out for free, is
contrary to the spirit of this online diarist school, I think. What the
best of these new diarists are doing is share their lives, their innermost
thoughts, their highs and their lows with the world, with anyone who
stumbles across their writings. Selling subscriptions? You might as well
try and get some print publication to pay you for it. Free passwords?
Why keep a diary and show it just to friends? No, it's a fine idea, but I
don't think so.
Kory K wrote in one of his recent entries that I was trying to "shock the
world". Well, as a founder of a publication called Dada News,
I guess "shock value" has played a role in my thinking as an artist,
would be pretty tacky to claim any kin to those noble Dadaists if not.
But just as with those pioneers, I think the real aim is awakening,
not shocking, and of course, as with all excursions into the non-material
world, the awakening is first of all self-aimed. I doubt I have either
shocked or awakened anyone, but at least this discipline has kept me from
falling asleep. Any reader who does find themselves falling asleep has,
naturally, only to logoff and go watch television.
It was interesting that Kory also mentioned a complaining reader. I've
had a lot of complaints about the Tales, individually and as a concept in
general, but never from anyone who also keeps an online journal. For me,
that pretty much says it all, in addition to the last line of the above
The foot, the foot. One reader considered scurvy, a beautifully classic,
Romantic disease, not quite up there with leprosy or consumption, but
still a nice one. Another conjured up thoughts of the flesh-eating virus,
which is very trendy. Yes, I like that. I don't know what it is but I
wish it would go away. The first "blister" now has a scab over the crater
it left, the second crater had a little ring of white around it in a
raised area which might suggest pus was gathering as a defense against
infection. Charming. Then it broke, smearing gook all over my slippah,
and continues to ooze. Both still hurt like hell, even when aspirin
deadened. Monday morning I actually walked over to Kaiser Permanente's
Honolulu Clinic, but it didn't open until eight o'clock, two hours later.
A sign suggested one should go to Moanalua in the event of an emergency.
This struck me as totally ludicrous. There are other medical
establishments in much closer proximity, are they that worried about
keeping a customer?
I decided to postpone action awhile longer.
A reader wrote about an Indian sage named Nisargadatta. His followers
added "Maharaj" to the name, as happens with many such men (even if the
contemporary online wannabe, who added it himself, tends to seriously
tarnish the tradition). I dallied for awhile, then poked around in the
Hindu section at Hamilton and found one volume of quotes attributed to
Nisargadatta. As in many such collections, there is one sparsely elegant
line from the sage followed by a paragraph of commentary from the
compiler. I skipped the paragraphs and read just the lines, a fine way to
spend a morning. There is nothing new under the sun, but it never hurts
to spend time with a man who can tell the truth with such style.
Slow, warm days. Lunch hours with Hesse and a bottle of Mickey's,
evenings with sunsets, then early to bench and early to rise.
I did manage to retrieve two of those three bottles of beer I found and
had hidden away, but when I returned the next morning the third one was
gone. The hiding place was at the edge of a construction fence, so I
guess some worker had an unexpected lunchtime beverage. Since the two
retrieved bottles were warm, I went to Manoa Garden to get a cup of ice.
Twenty-six cents! Another cup of senior coffee bites the dust.
There was enough money to buy sandwiches on Monday, and on Tuesday I had a
free voucher for one of McDonald's "deluxe" sandwiches, both days
supplemented by cups of miso soup. Wednesday it was back to keeping an
eye out for abandoned containers; found a good one with sliced beef, both
scoops of rice and a bit of kim chee, evidently the purchaser only liked
the fried noodles which had mostly disappeared. Unfortunately,
the "bread basket" hadn't been put out yet when I passed by there
in the early evening. Dining from that source requires keeping later
hours than I wanted to do on a night when that big round thing in the sky
was making it feel like loonies might start leaping from the bushes at any
None did, but Rocky was in one of his almost-skipping moods, came bouncing
up the sidewalk just behind me, looking quite handsome in a white tanktop
and dark trousers, illuminated by moonlight. Mars and Mercury, me and
Rocky, and those fool moon's eyes.
japanese porcupine with orange-tipped quills
yesterday's line, but we'll use it
chestnuts floating on a luna sea
the week's not fun enough, all the fun's in the sky
i thought you would ask about someone unusual
grumbled master kung, on the other side
as the breeze brings a paper, says tufgard, half-inch
above a tiny, straight riley or dull one by louis
in the predawn hour, a campus sidewalk tragedy
a baby sparrow, the java kind, fallen from its nest
we are in a magic theatre, a world of pictures, not realities
but death would still come to the fallen newcomer
all the fun's in the sky, in the sky, in the sky
and the dish ran away with the spoon
In the sunrise hour, a handsome young Buddha image sat across from me
on the bus. He had those especially narrow slits for eyes. I closed my
eyes, almost all the way, and wondered if that's how Asians with eyes like
that see the world, or is the eyeball adjusted to compensate? It's a
wonderfully sheltered view, if it's like having the eyes almost
Sitting with breakfast on campus, a young man walked up who looked vaguely
familiar, cheerily thanked me for my good advice and said he had quit the
job. Oh. I don't remember what job that was or why I gave him such
advice but I'm glad he seems so happy with the outcome.
Breakfast. Thursday was an austere day when it came to eating. Senior
coffee in the morning, a few abandoned sodas of one kind or another during
the day, but nothing to eat. By about four in the afternoon, I decided to
forget about it, just call it a day of fasting and be done with it. Then
on a final trip to a favorite tobacco source, sitting on a ledge was one
of those familiar white plastic bags, neatly tied. Tested its weight, was
promisingly heavy. Upon further investigation, its contents were revealed
as a beer bottle, empty alas, and a strange bento-type container which
appears to be a three-kind variation: fish, beef and chicken. There was a
large packet of tartar sauce, unopened, to add zest to the rather dull
piece of fish and there was so little missing from the container, I can
only guess the purchaser had drunk the beer and then decided he/she was
not hungry after all.
Later the breadbasket yielded one three-quarter loaf and one almost-half
loaf of that delicious wheat bread, so I ate the smaller piece and saved
the other for the above-mentioned breakfast, dropping chunks of it into a
bowl of beef boullion and sharing a final chunk with a variety of birds
who seemed to share my high opinion of the bread's quality. That was
the last of the boullion packets, an item to be placed very high on future
pension-check shopping lists.
Every now and then a little wave of nostalgia washes over me, memories of
a particular period in the past, often even of times which were not
especially memorable (or so it seemed then). Even the worst of times seem
so much better viewed in retrospect. The drama is complete, its best and
most awful moments are known and from a distance the best can be
emphasized, making the picture as a whole as bright as it probably was
even then, when the awful was close enough to cloud the vision.
Thursdays, even as recently as when these Tales began, were once the
marker of my weeks. There was a routine established, between the end of
my last in-office job and the beginning of this nomadic life. The early
afternoon would be spent at Duke's, limited only to beer and not too many
of those. The bartenders knew what the rest of the day promised, so
didn't encourage any unordered glasses. Then to the Hawaiian Regent and
three hours with Aunty Genoa and crew, again sticking to beer and again
not too many (although there the bartenders would occasionally tease with
a shot of tequila, "with love to Amie"). And then to Pier Bar, the ever
delightful Amie behind the bar, Willie K and Harold Kama on the stage. No
more not-too-many of whatever the drinks happened to be.
Duke's was replaced by Manoa Garden. Then Willie and Harold stopped doing
Thursdays at Pier Bar. Thursdays became just another day of the week.
But the nostalgia lingers on, and can usually be counted on to surface
sometime during Thursday afternoons, as it did yesterday. It was a very
different one from those days. I didn't go to the Garden because
weekly Thursdays there needs to be changed to first Thursdays of the
month. I didn't go to Genoa because I would have wanted a beer if I had.
So I went to Ala Moana and enjoyed a band concert instead. The Kalakaua
Intermediate School Band, to be precise. After a half hour of some
interesting but, at least to me, unknown music, they started on a medley
of rubbish from Phantom of the Opera so I wandered off in search of
tobacco, returned later to find a "swing band" segment of the full band in
session, complete with some cute little trombonists who did their best to
make annotated riffs sound spontaneously improvised. It was fun. So was
watching the rather large crowd gathered to listen.
Then I wandered off to the breadbasket and sat eating my loaf in the light
of the full moon, wondering if down the road I'll be struck with waves of
nostalgia for this time.
Rocky didn't come home. I hope he's ok. The gods sent a consolation,
even younger, even cuter, even more shy and terribly nervous, but I still
The gods, or something, also sent some truly amazing dreams, most of which
seemed to center on the theme of Light, a mystical understanding of Light
as Everything, and quite thoroughly dazzling me by being present at the
rebirth of Jesus.
I cannot recall ever having had a more remarkable night of dreams.
One of my favorite web sites is the On-Line Books listing. There is a
link to it on the Reading Room page of the Cave's Attic, going directly to
a list of the latest additions. Watching that page over the years has
been a bit like watching the Great Library of Alexandria being rebuilt,
only this time it is global and it will take more than a fire to destroy
The latest additions include a number of obscure works about the
antebellum South, mostly books by "ordinary" people about what it was like
to live there before the Civil War. There are also a couple of rarely
seen short books by the creator of Oz and a delightful work on manners by
none other than George Washington which gave me more grins per page than
any web site I've seen in a long time.
But my main attention, and the biggest grin, was saved for the appearance
of Madame Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine. I guess it's not quite
so secret now that it's available to the world for free on the
internet (not that it ever was all that secret to begin
So I spent some time reading that and pondering anew the strange riddle of
that ... errrrr ... remarkable woman. Now Aleister Crowley was often very
silly and quite intentionally so, he was even sometimes silly when I think
he didn't mean to be. But I don't think Blavatsky ever intended to
be silly and yet she almost constantly is. So much hocus pocus! Could
she really have believed all that, or did she spread it on to attract and
impress a following which she thought would respond to that approach?
This is not to say there isn't a great deal of interesting information in
her writings, because there is.
In this horrible mental system we are conditioned to from birth, there is
good-evil. Despite all the shades of gray, when considered to the
ultimate limit, each act comes down to good-evil, every decision. And the
thing itself, which may actually be neither good nor evil, is changed by
our choice of which label to give it. A good example is not eating, thus
feeling hunger. Hunger, seen as "bad", is painful and leads to some very
twisted thinking indeed, perhaps even to real starvation. Seen as "good",
it may still be painful but is one of the oldest, most time-honored
methods of getting "high". Very inexpensive, too.
Thoughts on this threshold of the ram ...
Among Friday's finer moments was hearing a splendid trumpet concerto by
Haydn, after embarrassing myself slightly by grumbling over a harpsichord
piece which struck me as utter drivel and turned out to be by old man J.S.
Bach himself. I shall not blame it on the performer, because I have no
idea if it was a good performance or not. I won't blame it on Bach,
either, because it may be the piece wasn't just endless piddling like it
sounded to me, but a problem with my own musical shallowness. Whatever,
the Haydn was wonderful.
So was the sunset, gloriously red ball sinking into the ocean. So was
that big round moon shining into what I realized is the most elegant
room I've ever had the privilege of sleeping in. Rocky was cool, too, and
it was very good to see him back after his night away.
Cute Filipino teenager asked if I could spare a smoke. Sorry, I said,
shaking my head no.
(I was limping around Ala Moana checking out the ashtrays.)
"No?" he asked, as if an old git like me could deny a cute young lad like
1) Repeat "sorry" and keep on walking?
2) Stop and explain that even if I didn't smoke, if I had any money I'd
go buy a pack and give him one?
The first option eroded his confidence. The second would have bolstered
it, perhaps at the price of further inflating his ego.
I chose the first.
Every moment of this life we have the opportunity to make a mistake.
occult manoa garden, circles split in thirds
he had heard of a third and he asked about it
chicken cutlets fried in batter
no alcohol, stop stop stop, beyond this point
it's time, gentlemen, please, said mister eliot, was it?
a time to live, a time to die
a time to drink beer under morning sky
in sad manoa garden
have another, please it's free
believe me sir, your tab's on me
voice of fate in manoa garden
luck cat walked in, left paw raised high
Luck, be a lady tonight ...
Dame Fortune was both brutal and kind to me on the last weekend before the
Ram arrives. Her nastiest gift was yet another of these strange
skin-volcanos, happily though on the ankle this time rather than the far
more inconvenient bottom of the foot.
Saturday was a lean day for hunters on campus and I was wandering around,
half limping, feeling quite hungry all morning. There had been very
little on Friday, too, so by midday on Saturday the worst part of feeling
hungry had passed and it had moved on to that rather cheerful lightheaded
state with a touch of acid vision which had me in such a good mood I even
cordially greeted The Diana when I encountered her outside
Then the famine ended in so huge a feast it became a question of how much
could be eaten and what could be saved for the next day, with still plenty
left behind for cats and other foragers. It began with teriyaki steak,
delicious, with noodles, cabbage and rice. Then a large container of
something which reminded me of cous-cous, interesting enough to
fill my covered dish with it. But shortly thereafter two containers of
excellent chicken were left waiting on a picnic table, one of them totally
untouched. The chicken breasts had been breaded, fried, and cut into
thick strips. So I emptied my dish onto a plate and left that for the
cats, filled it with chicken strips instead and then ate a few more until
I was feeling quite stuffed.
It was an amusingly inappropriate time to be honored with an invitation to
dine from the Grand Old Man of Kapiolani Park, the first time I've been
asked to join the group which gathers around his van. I explained that
the evening had turned out to be a total feast and I was a stuffed pig.
He laughed and said, yes, it's one of those good days.
I had sat across from the Waikiki Beach Hotel earlier listening to some
fine music and watching the sunset. In a time when every day has brought
yet another beautiful one, that sunset was especially striking. Then I
wandered on down to Kapiolani Park to watch the country dancers at the
bandstand and enjoy that step-calling music with the cornucopia of food,
before heading off to the bench.
I'd thought about attending Mass on Sunday morning, but as I settled down
on the bench and turned on the radio, they played a 14th-15th century mass
for the Feast of Saint Patrick and when it was over, I felt not only that
I had already been to church but that if the Holy Mother Church were still
worshipping its god that way, I'd go every Sunday.
According to the conductor, who was interviewed before the recording was
played, this is the closest they could get to reconstructing the mass as
it would have been sung in Ireland in the 14th century, some parts of it
taken from 15th century sources. If, five hundred years from now, someone
tried to reconstruct a musical piece by mixing material from the 19th and
the 20th century, it's not likely they'd achieve quite so seamless a
After the mass, a cello concerto by Schumann quite literally put me to
On Sunday morning I walked over to the Jack-in-the-Box by the Blaisdell
for my morning coffee and then decided I'd walk down Ward to Ala Moana
Park for a shower instead of my usual route via Kapiolani. Lucky choice!
Outside McDonald's were two 12-pack cartons of Budweiser and in one of
them were five unopened bottles. The backpack was happily much heavier as
I continued on my way to the shower, and the combination of the beer and
the chicken made for a most enjoyable brunch at Manoa Garden.
I finished Steppenwolf and it was laying on the table beside my
beer glass. I was mulling over the 12th book of the Confucian Analects,
some of which have always gotten me grumbling about what a pompous old git
Confucius was. I fell into that frame of mind again while pondering them,
a wind blew open the copy of Steppenwolf and the phrase "listen to
the radio" caught my eye. So I got out the radio and turned it on. That
beautiful adagio movement from Mahler's 4th (or 5th?) Symphony was
playing, with all its memories of Visconti's Death in Venice. (So,
there's the Commentary on Tale098d).
I wonder if not being able to remember whether it's the Fourth or Fifth
Symphony is yet another sign of creeping Altzheimer's? Every time I pass
the Altzheimer's Center at Ward, I see the old folks sitting inside and
wonder how they remembered the meeting was that day. I probably wouldn't.
I didn't remember until twenty minutes too late that there was a string
quartet recital I meant to attend on Monday.
Leaving campus much earlier than usual for a Sunday, I took the bus to
Waikiki and wandered through the crowds gathering for the Honolulu
Festival parade. With so many Japanese crowding the sidewalks, the
tobacco supply was more than abundant and an abandoned litre bottle of
Pepsi was likewise more than enough in the carbonated beverage category.
I ran into the son of a famous Hawaiian musician, but since in this case
it was Gary Aiko, I'm sure he won't mind his name being mentioned. I
couldn't begin to describe his costume, but it was as striking as many of
the participants in the parade. He said Waikiki was making him feel like
he was back in Tokyo, and certainly there was more Japanese music, dancing
and clothing filling the streets of Waikiki than there must have been
anywhere outside Japan itself. It was a very, very long parade and
because groups would stop to perform their dances, it also moved very
slowly, so it was possible to wander up and down Kalakaua enjoying the
parade while it was still happening as well as the spectacle of earlier
participants returning from the end point at Kapiolani Park.
And it was there I eventually ended up, greatly enjoying an hour watching
them dismantle and pack away the larger floats, including the huge
fire-breathing dragon and its cart with telephone-pole sized axles. There
was quite a selection of soft drinks available, but no food since it
seemed to have been an afternoon of large picnics with paper plates rather
than plate-lunch or bento containers. I didn't mind, still feeling
happy from my earlier chicken and beer brunch, so after watching until
they finished packing away the dragon, I went directly on to the bench
without stopping by the breadbasket.
Monday morning was, alas and alack, the start of no morning coffee. I had
not been looking forward to it, but no coins had turned up on Sunday aside
from one penny found in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Trips to
Waikiki which yield exactly one penny ... this is a "tradition" I could
live without. A Pepsi abandoned in the place where I usually find a good
early morning supply of tobacco did little to fill the gap, but half a
large bottle of Colt45 was more welcome.
One must be grateful Dame Fortune apparently isn't worried about being an
Oh delicious coffee! Wonderful lady at the School of Nursing, you are an
honor to Florence Nightingale. A large cup of delicious iced coffee, with
a trace of chocolate, half-full, abandoned. Paradise.
And praise be to the students of Business Administration who provided
Tuesday morning's Senior Coffee.
Thanks, too, for a small disposable lighter from Kory K. My old one
finally was running on empty, then ran out. I stopped in Foodland, Ala
Moana, since it was the only store open that early, and asked if I could
have some matches. "That'll be three cents," she said. THREE CENTS?!
But they're "Western Family" matches, shouldn't they be cheaper? (No, I
only thought it ... but actually, I thought they should be free).
There has been a theme in the daily email "lessons" in the series,
Uniting with Siva, reminding us to recall times in our past which
remind us of the present. The matchbook certainly did it ... a direct
link to those early 70s days when I was stranded in the Himalayan
foothills and spent my last pennies on matchboxes. The lessons advise us
to see what we can learn from such similarities. I'm looking ...
I was thinking again last evening of the notion that I "glamorize" the
homeless life. I'd gotten to the hacienda early and was relaxing
on the bench, looking around me with the increasing admiration I have for
that space, those noble arches, the esoteric elegance of the use of
threes, the strange but wonderful blend of Moorish, Egyptian, Mughal,
Mayan. Yma Sumac could have stood in the central arch for a concert, a
perfect setting. Or Sutherland in "Lakme".
The Great Bear was framed in one arch, just the handle of the upside-down
dipper visible. I'd never noticed before that one of the bright stars of
the handle has a tiny, barely visible companion. It was moving slowly up
through the arch and before I fell asleep, had vanished from
I turned on the radio and puzzled over what I was hearing. A symphony
with a first movement which sounded almost like Mozart, but not quite. A
third movement which was much more modern in feel. It was Shubert's
Fourth, as the announcer informed me in the intermission. And it was a
live performance of the Vienna Philharmonic, which continued with
Stravinksy's "Firebird", the 1919 version of the Suite. It must be thirty
years since I last heard that. If I had turned on the radio during it and
had forgotten that once very-familiar music, I could have guessed
Prokofiev or Rimsky-Korsakov. But for the third selection in the concert,
there would have been no doubt at all that I was hearing Richard Strauss.
Ein Heldenleben. Brave for a man to compose a work and call it "A
Hero's Life" and feature snippets from his own music, just in case we
didn't guess who the "hero" was.
Fine music, all of it, and an ever splendid orchestra playing from that
beautiful hall on the Ringstrasse. Beautiful starry skies between masonic
Yes, this life has its glamorous moments. I don't have to exaggerate them
to make it so, indeed I can downplay them and still have the glow of the
memory and be most grateful I walk this path. Such an evening does more
than enough to counterbalance the hardness of the bench, the sometimes
hours of hunger, the constant living of a public life, and all the other
very "un-glamorous" aspects of the nomad's life.
May the road rise up to meet you.
Saint Patrick's Day got off to a fine start. I had planned to spend the
morning on the beach, but there were dark, heavy clouds and an occasional
light sprinkle of rain. When I woke and raised my head to look at the
sky, Rocky was sitting up, surveying the scene as well. Evidently he
decided he might as well sleep awhile longer and curled back up on his
bench, but I had the cheering thought of Senior Coffee in my mind so
packed up and walked over to Jack-in-the-Box, stopping by the breadbasket
for a small loaf on my way. It had been a happy discovery the previous
morning that, if early enough, the breadbasket has not been emptied.
Such a pleasure, sitting on that bus stop bench across from the Blaisdell,
with that yummy cup of Jack's coffee. My good thoughts went out to the
student who left behind enough pennies at the School of Business Admin to
complete the financing of that cup.
I walked on to Ala Moana, made one quick round to top-up the tobacco
supply, then took the bus to campus. There is a tree in bloom at the
entrance by Metcalf which has the most horrendous odor of any plant I've
ever smelled, like strong ammonia. I have to breathe through my mouth
until past the monster. Strangely, it is not so bad when the sun
is up, dawn and twilight are its moments of dubious glory.
Another lucky find from the day before was a Rubbermaid one-pint container
for drinks which turned out to be quite suitable for brewing a cup of tea,
so I stopped by the microwave at Manoa Garden, made the tea and warmed the
bread, and enjoyed breakfast while reading Ka Leo O Hawai'i, the
campus newspaper. There was an amusing article about Saint Bridget, the
second most popular Irish saint, a contemporary of Patrick. That, and the
masthead being printed in green, were the first signs of the Day I'd seen.
A little later, I was sitting on a wall waiting for Hamilton Library to
open. I had the feeling, "I smell money". One of my aunts
thought I had the gift of dowsing, and she would lead me around her farm,
showing me how to hold a hickory dowsing-device and how to let it make its
signal without interfering. I think that early training has evolved into
a nose for dropped coins. I looked around, didn't see any, said to
myself, "well, there are four vending machines in front of you,
undoubtedly plenty of coins around." But that explanation didn't satisfy
me, so I bent down and looked under the vending machines. Sure enough,
there was a penny there. Picked it up, but still had the feeling, so
continued to look around, and spotted another penny lurking off to one
side, almost hidden by a trash barrel. Auntie's training triumphed
ezra could not resist being clever
showing off his erudition
nor could Confucius
so they make a great match
woman of a certain age emulating lansbury
legs crossed at the knee
holding fat romance in one hand
tan strapped purse on the bench beside the tray
tray purloined from manoa garden
if abandoned, my duty to return it
younger woman in fake tartan shirt
backpack on her right, burger bag on her left
sat on nearby bench, back discreetly turned
angela went modified lotus and lit a smoke
and the only cute one got up and left
so black and white, that young asian lad
not a trace of any color but those basics
angela had too much rouge on her upper cheeks
should get some sun, instead
she left the tray
and walked away
i'd take it back to beth
(wave to e.e.cummings)
After my mischievous reply to the reader (one of several) who recommended
a poetry site, it was reason to grin when I turned on the radio Wednesday
evening just in time to catch a reading of T.S. Eliot's wonderful "Mister
McCavity". Now that kind of poetry I do read. Well, used to. It's a
shame they didn't play Eliot's own recording of it, no one reads his
poetry as well as he did (or sets it to music as well as he read it,
either, for that matter).
What with the Ram peeking in the door, that also means it is time for J.S.
Bach's birthday so I guess I'll be stuck with his music a lot in the next
couple of days. Wednesday evening's broadcast of the Chicago orchestra
was, alas, mostly overblown orchestrations of works by Bach which should
have been left alone. But it did include excerpts from the splendid
Solti-led Saint Matthew Passion which helped compensate for the
travesties. Still, I think I have to conclude that unlike many, old age
is making me less fond of Bach rather than more.
It's a strange leap from evenings in bars listening to local musicians to
laying on a wooden bench under the stars listening to the classics, but is
perhaps an apt indicator of how life continues slowly to change from what
it was six months ago. One of my more ambitious-for-me readers reports
hearing me "drift" but not "dream". While the reader's context makes it
something of a complaint, I take it as a good sign. That is just the
idea: drift. To dream is to steer, to paddle, to strive. To drift is
ideal. However, if the drifting can indeed be heard, then I'm still
making too much noise, can't really just be drifting.
The Survivor is not a "dreamer", and he has been at the wheel for
much of the time this month, especially after the first week had passed.
Hunger does not inspire dreams until it reaches that point of fasting.
Pain does not inspire dreams unless they are nightmares (and it did
inspire some of those, including one in which a joker appeared and told me
the skin problem was Kaposi's Sarcoma ... which upon investigation bears
almost no relevance). Aside from the almost-daily gift of bread from the
breadbasket, hunger still rules. Pain took such a domineering role on
Thursday morning, it was finally necessary to seek assistance, as was told
in the foot.
First of all, thanks to readers who have written to express their concern
and offer suggestions.
Thursday morning, the bottom plague-points became quite painful again,
with or without pressure being put on them. The newer one, by the ankle
bone, was still oozing away.
I went over to the Straub Clinic across from the university campus and
asked for information on applying for Quest and whether there was
someplace I could go in the meantime while waiting for that to be
processed. A kindly young woman gave me the Quest application form.
Coverage is in place from the moment the application is filed (if one is
eventually accepted), but Straub policy is to require a $75 deposit for
treating persons with pending applications. (Queens asks only $45, she
When I said both options were out of reach, she asked me to wait a moment
and had a word with one of the two doctors who work at the clinic and he
said he wanted to see me. So I filled out their paperwork and was first
seen by a nurse for weight (just over 20 pounds lost in almost six months
is not so bad, eh?), blood pressure check (still marginally high),
temperature and pulse checks.
Then the doctor came in. I like him, a very sweet man who completely
won me over at one point when he said "I care about you." That's the
doctor I want, Quest folks.
Florida Mark will undoubtedly be interested to hear that the doctor
doesn't know what it is, doesn't match anything he has seen before. He is
treating it with a wide-range antibiotic called Cefprozil in huge 500 mg
tablets which need only be taken once a day, for ten days. Then he wants
to see me again, even if he's doing it for free. Yes, I like him very
He asked if I could afford to get a prescription filled and I said I could
borrow the money, so he gave me the tablets from his sample cabinet. He
also wants me to use some ointment on them, wrote out the name and said
"it only costs a few dollars". Considering he'd already given me at least
$150 worth of services and drugs, I didn't mention that was beyond reach,
too, will rely on the magic bullets.
The bottom one is secondarily infected, the one on the ankle "looks ok",
even if he doesn't know what its initial cause was.
For those who worry over my health, fear not, after a little stethoscope
session, he said he was far more concerned about my heart than my foot and
wants to send me off to a cardiologist as soon as the Quest papers have
been filed, told me to stop smoking immediately, and to go at once to an
emergency room the next time that mysterious chest pain reoccurs.
Time for a smoke break.
Hunger, but not fasting, and constant pain dull awareness. Two small cuts
on my fingers are proof of that, since both resulted from inattention and
could in no way be called an "accident". Stupid, yes. An accident,
There is no goal.
If I manage to "drift", especially to drift quietly, through the rest of
this life, I shall die a happy man. It might seem that the first step to
making the drifting more quiet would be to abandon this project, at least
then only I would know how much noise I was making. But that's not the
way I want to do it. If the Tales end, then readers can know I have found
the way to be quiet.
Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak.
It was a peaceful Saint Patrick's Day evening. I toasted the health of a
good "Irish" friend with a cup of senior coffee and went early to the
bench, blocking the loud party noise from nearby with the radio.
Stravinksy's Petrouchka and a long, somewhat twee program about
Hildegard of Bingen made for better listening than someone else's drunken
revels. Rocky took early refuge, too.
The next day I stood by for a friend, waiting for a pick-up to be made
from a downtown apartment. Once that had been accomplished, I walked
around downtown, again puzzling over the strange community of street
people down there. The tobacco supply is far better downtown than
anywhere else, despite what one would expect to be much greater
competition. They beg for money, they beg for a smoke, but they won't
take a long butt from an ashtray. It's a mystery. There were some
ashtrays which would have seemed a complete treasure chest to the nomads
of Ala Moana Center.
It was a total delight and a complete surprise to run into Tomita-san on
the corner by the Bank of Hawaii. That foot may be giving me an awfully
hard time these days, but it still knows which direction to go and when,
if I let it lead.
And that's the idea. Drift. Cast up on whatever corner the current
carries me to, and sometimes get lucky and find a wonderful reason to have
ended up there.
death, not even warmed over, served cold with three-day-old mold on
top, also dying ...
Nuclear holocaust in the universe of the body, millions of little
creatures lying dead or dying.
Wide-range antibiotic, indeed.
This drug is one of the strangest I've ever experienced, made more so by
being a continuous, twenty-four-hour trip, now going into its third day.
There was, the first morning after beginning the treatment, a feeling of
inner devastation. The earth under Hiroshima. Deep depression, which
took a long and concerted effort to break through, complicated by a
remoteness from reality, living in a glass bubble and seeing
everything and everyone around me as a three-dimensional television
programme, hearing sound as if it came via some cosmic shortwave radio,
dissociation from reality. In some ways, it is an experience not
unlike some which have been deliberately sought and found, chemically or
otherwise, and thus a little easier to cope with. But it has been
necessary to move slowly and with caution, and to at least try to think
with delicate care, remaining constantly aware that this is a slightly
alternate reality and may well remain so throughout this first week of
The arrival of Aries also brings the annual Spring Break at the
university. On-line hours will be reduced, the campus will be mostly
deserted and the larger food and drink providers will be closed. For the
contemplative aspect of the pilgrim, this promises to be a blessing; for
the survivor hunter, it holds no such promise. There were too many hungry
hours last week; an increase in their number is not a particularly
desirable prospect. (Okay, the question of food stamps is up for debate
Despite the uncanny side-effects of the drug, it does appear to be working
and the pain has begun to subside. The secondary infection of the bottom
craters was the major culprit, a particular quality of pain I still
remember well from twenty years ago when a large gash on my wrist became
similarly infected (no, you cannot flow through plate glass, no matter how
dusted by angels).
Had I not gone to the clinic, I would have been forced to seek help
somewhere that night when the pain was quite continuous and exceedingly
unpleasant, even deadened by aspirin. Knowing that treatment was underway
made it possible, if not to grin and bear it, at least to bear it.
This is all very tedious. I have never had much patience with a
so be easy and free when you're drinking with me
i'm a man you don't meet every day
kathmandu i'll soon be seeing you
and your strange bewildering time will hold me down
i might be a beast astray, with no sense of its environment
yet there was some meaning in my foolish life
will i even wake again or something
near them walked hamlet and the garlanded ophelia
fair similitudes of all sadness and misunderstanding in the world
you're gonna wind up where you started from
other lines in manoa garden
so be easy and free when you're drinking with me
i'm a man you don't meet every day
chop me some wood, we'll start a fire
you and me, the sun, mercury, mars and saturn
in this aries of nineteen hundred and ninety eight
you're gonna wind up where you started from
It's a miracle, I can walk! After two weeks of putting my right foot down
cautiously with each step, using only the "ball" of the foot (odd
terminology), I can put it flat down, with only a twinge of
You don't know what you've got till it's gone, and the ability to
walk comfortably has to be very, very high on that list of such
I've even begun to enjoy the strange trip this potent drug is giving
I have a wonderful new bar buddy. Now before anyone revs up their email
devices to fire off warnings about enabling me, gotta tell you,
this bar buddy is a Babe, but she ain't got email. Dame Fortune is
the name, although she is known by many others. It is a complete surprise
to me, the recent abundant supply of free beer.
Saturday evening I stopped by the International Marketplace to hear "BB
Shawn and Friends", and it turned out to be Shawn with Na Oiwi. No
complaint there. With that group, when Dennis Kamakahi starts to sing,
it's like a lightbulb going on. I only stayed for the first set because I
wanted to go to the Thai New Year's Festival at Kapiolani Park. That was
a little disappointing because the only music was recorded rock junk, not
one note of traditional Thai music to be heard. But I was offered two
skewers of barbecued beef, by a Buddhist monk (never mind the veg
discussion on alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan) and then my bar buddy showed
up bringing an unopened, cold 40 oz. bottle of Colt 45, leaving it on a
picnic table on the fringe of the festival. Cheers, Fatima!
Early to the bench. Rocky was just taking off his shoes and socks. The
temperature had dropped noticeably in the later afternoon, so while he was
taking his socks off and, as is his habit, hanging them on the bench back
to air, I was putting mine on.
After a later sleep than usual, I set out for senior coffee, and cheers
again to Lady Luck for the bottle of Heineken and the can of Coors Light.
One of my least favorite beers, the latter, but mixed half-and-half with
Heineken, not bad. Yes, I like my new bar buddy very much indeed.
A reader wrote: the mind-numbing selection of music that the HPR/NPR
stations play (here and elsewhere) is fucking appalling. Stravinsky and
Bartok are about as adventurous as they can get, -maybe- once a week, at
night, after the kids are in bed. Not that either man's music isn't worth
hearing, of course, but jeez you corporate Philistines, what about the
last 50 years of stunningly brilliant music?
True (and even the Stravinksy selections are the very safe "classics").
It has been more than ten years since I've listened to much music written
before 1940 (with the exception of Christmas carols and a few songs by
Liliuokalani), so it has been interesting to revisit some old friends.
But National Public Radio does sound a bit like Music Appreciation Class
from Junior High School.
Granted, all week they featured a particular orchestra each evening, so
the lack of adventurous programming reflects as much on those institutions
as NPR itself. But Sunday morning, in a program devoted to the "three
B's", all recorded selections, we got the First Brandenburg Concerto, the
(literally) crashingly dull Barenboim recording of the Moonlight Sonata,
and the Academic Festival Overture. Whoooaaaa, the daring!
But I think I'm turning into a musical Philistine in my old age, or else
I'm finally getting old and gnarly enough to growl about the Emperor's new
clothes. Brahms' Fourth had me sighing with boredom, Wagner's "Lohengrin"
from the Met on Saturday was so tedious I gave up halfway through the
I need to qualify that one, though. I've never enjoyed Wagner's operas
unless I was able to follow the dialogue with a libretto. "Parsifal" is
the only one I can listen to with pleasure without knowing exactly what
each line is saying. I doubt, though, that even a libretto would have
saved that "Lohengrin" from the Met (and also doubt that Robert Wilson's
horrible-sounding staging would have helped at all had I been able to see
it ... just listening to him discuss it in an intermission talk made me
What NPR needs is more "three M's": Monteverdi, Mozart and Mahler (even if
scheduling Mahler's Fifth twice in the same day is rather
Still, I forgive them a lot for playing that lovely "Tasso" by Franz Liszt
for me (I'm a Lisztomaniac). And who am I to complain, I left the
"Boheme" tapes in temporary storage and didn't bother (YET) to transfer
"Four Saints in Three Acts" from CD to tape. But shall before
I mentioned to a reader that I've been so out of it ("it" possibly being
defined as "high culture" here), I didn't even know Georg Solti had died.
Who, the reader asked?
How did a man born of Texas-Arkansas hillbillies end up with such
interests anyway? Could there really be something called karma?
Did I really know Hector B. and Giacomo R.? Questions of a thousand
Friday evening a friend invited me to dine and after listening to that
delightful debut recording of Pure Heart, we heard a tape of the 30th
Anniversary Tribute Concert for Bob Dylan. Except for The Band's
wonderful version of "When I Paint My Masterpiece", I had to agree with
the observation that Dylan's own versions of the songs are much better,
but it was touching to see so many musical stars of my generation show up
that evening to pay tribute to genius, and touching, too, to hear the tape
again after several years. There is no one of my generation I admire more
than Bob Dylan.
If I could have been something other than I've been in this long life, it
would be a musician.
Music has been more important to me, more treasured, than painting,
sculpture, writing of any kind, anything else called "art". Music, from
Monteverdi's "Orfeo" to Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and so much in
between, before and after ...
It's Mahler's Fifth.
magnifi cat in e flat major
one cool cat indeed
my kinda bach
monday brunch in manoa garden
the night's chill, the early morning showers gone
blue sky, manoa in the sun
haunted weekend gone, too
antibioticized alien world, plate glass onion
wandering lost soul in a laughing world
rocky's bare feet, a pint or two of beer
beacons in the wilderness of a universe
rapidly expanding (said the newspaper)
The wind is blowing, the snow is snowing ...
Well, not quite, but by island standards it has been close. I welcomed
Spring and greeted the Ram at the moment of its arrival, smoking a
cigarette with Kory K on the fourth floor of Holmes Hall. Then winter
came back. Sunday night, although the temperatures were only in the
fifties, the gusty, almost continual wind had me shivering on the bench
and thinking about all the beautiful, warm jackets and coats I've
During the IBM heydays in Manhattan, I bought everything at Brooks
Brothers. Can't get any safer than that, and it added value to the office
temp career. The most costly item was a tan camelhair overcoat, very
classic design. I left it with Felix when I set out on the walk. It
would have been the perfect thing to snuggle up in every night of the
first week of Spring 1998.
I told a reader yesterday that one advantage of this noxious antibiotic
trip was that no new mystery wounds had appeared. Wrong. I thought on
Sunday that there might be a new one forming, and so there is. This time
on the left arm, just above the wrist. It is progressing far more slowly
and I zapped it with the antibiotic cream which a friend kindly bought for
me, so maybe it won't turn into a big crater like the others. That bug
traveled a long distance, from right ankle to left wrist. I'm just glad
none turned up on the butt ... would have made sitting down extremely
These first days of Spring have been those ordinary days that Steppenwolf
so loathed, that made him think: I have a mad impulse to smash
something, a warehouse, perhaps, or a cathedral, or myself, to commit
outrages, to pull off the wigs of a few revered idols ....
I haven't felt quite that ambitious, but what should be seen as
"contentment" is a little lacklustre. After spending the day on Monday
with online chores and playing MUD2, I stopped by to wake-up Kory K (who
was so full of contentment he had gone home after work to nap and wouldn't
go out to play on Oscar Night). After visiting him and admiring his huge
new fishtank, I joined a couple of friends for an evening watching the
stars throw statues at the creators of Titanic and marveling at the
number of at-least-semi legends who are still alive.
Tuesday's major chore was dropping off the Quest application at their
office across from Honolulu Community College. Now to wait for a letter
from them setting up an interview to determine my eligibility. I wasn't
very favorably impressed with the atmosphere in that place, but if it
gives me access to Straub's services as a paying customer, it will be
worth playing the game.
It was heavily cloudy with already chilly wind and occasional showers when
Hamilton closed at five on Tuesday, so I picked up a bottle of Mickey's
and stopped by the breadbasket which most happily had two full loaves of
that delicious bread even though it was an unusually early hour for it to
have anything at all. The bottle and a loaf made for an excellent dinner,
and then I headed off to the bench, also at a very early hour. Gounod's
First Symphony was pleasurable; then the Cleveland Orchestra doing Barber
put me to sleep.
When I woke up around midnight, Rocky was all curled up as tightly as
possible on those narrow benches and had sensibly kept his shoes and socks
on. We had the place to ourselves. No complaint there, and I snuggled
under my tablecloth-cover and went back to sleep until five, happy with
the company, the thought of a loaf of bread for the next day's lunch, and
with life in general, even if contentment is, after all, rather boring.
So much food. It began on Wednesday with a bottle of Mickey's and the
loaf of bread for a late brunch. Then I stopped by Kory K's place after
the library closed. He was cooking a big pot of what could be called
chicken paella vindaloo, with an emphasis on the vindaloo.
Hot stuff! Delicious, too. I ate so much of it I couldn't drink any more
beer, which is even more ridiculous than watching Independence Day
4 (well, half of it) for the nine-and-one-halfth time. Crept off early
to the bench for a long, peaceful sleep.
Thursday was Kuhio Day, a State holiday that not many places observe, but
the university did and most things were closed. It was yet again a day
when it rained for fifteen minutes and then got sunny for the next fifteen
before raining again, so I abandoned plans to stay awhile in Waikiki,
grabbed a bottle of Mickey's and headed to Manoa Garden. I had a loaf of
bread as well as a plate lunch container of fried chicken and potatoes, so
the birds and I had a grand brunch. Several people I know on campus
stopped by during the afternoon and, aside from two trips downhill to
replenish the beverage supply, I ended up sitting there all day enjoying
the beer and the company of both the birds and the humans, along with some
decent music, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis particularly.
It was a fine way to celebrate Tomita-san's birthday, and many toasts were
drunk in his honor. So many I lost count of the coinage and thus
discovered on Friday morning I was three pennies short of a senior
coffee. As usual in such situations, not one penny was to be found
anywhere in Ala Moana. I could have taken a discarded cup and had it
refilled, but I feel cheap asking for a refill even when I've paid the
senior price, much less when I haven't bought anything at all.
No pennies, but a loaf of French bread ... happily, since the breadbasket
had been emptied by the time I got to it ... and half a pint of Mickey's,
plus a bag of dried cranberries. Then what must be almost two pounds of
cheese turned up, three different kinds, cubed for a party platter. I
didn't know birds like cheese (cheddar seems to be the preferred variety).
This bonanza was supplemented by a large plate-lunch container, full of
chicken and fried rice. So Friday was marked with a decided shortage of
beverage options but an abundance of food.
It was also time for the follow-up visit to the doctor. He said the
infection seems to be healing well, so no need to do anything but continue
to use the cream until it is completely gone. He grilled me again about
the chest pain and is eager to see me off to a cardiologist. Meanwhile,
I'm not to "exert" myself. Now that's a medical order I find much easier
to follow than his repeated injunction to stop smoking.
NPR played Mahler's Fifth yet again, the third time in one week, so I
listened for the second time (having missed one outing). And they did a
nice bit of synchronicity with my recent "Shall we dance?" question by
playing that Gershwin song in a continuing series observing the hundred
anniversary of his birth. Read a bit of Steppenwolf now and then,
spent a lot of time just watching and feeding the birds, walking around
from place to place with not much hurry to get from one to
Just keeping on keeping on ...
A reader who takes me far too seriously nevertheless got the weekend
started with a big grin, writing: "When you 'paint your masterpiece' it
won't be with paint. This is it!"
Art is life, life is art ... no dividing line. What the Dadaists and
Marcel Duchamp started to say, Rauschenberg brought into our times when he
painted his quilt, stood the entire little bed on end and called it "Bed".
Work with available materials, indeed. The great advantage, though, of
using paint and canvas is that boring bits can be painted over or, if
worse comes to worse, the whole thing can be junked and you start with a
fresh canvas. Life can be dealt with the same way, goes one theory, but
there are some who say junking it means you start off with a bum new
Okay, this is my masterpiece. Just don't look at it yet, at least not too
Friday was one of those strange coinless days, not a single penny being
found ... and I needed three for the next morning's senior coffee. After
leaving campus, I went to Ala Moana where the tobacco supply was so
plentiful the search had to detour to looking for a second empty pack to
put the treasure in. Dame Fortune doesn't seem as concerned about smoking
as the Straub Doc does. No coins, though.
I'd told a few friends about the discovery of a way to, if not MAKE MONEY
FAST, at least to pick up a bit rather quickly and almost effortlessly. I
thought perhaps of not mentioning it in the Tales, but what the heck,
there are enough to go around for any potential readers who might be
competitors ... and I tire of the game fairly quickly anyway. It's those
shopping carts that require a quarter deposit. One night I got very
fortunate, saw one after another and ended up with over two dollars in
less than half an hour. Young women with a baby or a couple of small
children are naturals. It just isn't worth their bother taking the empty
carts back for a quarter. I waited around awhile Friday evening, but saw
no opportunities. Then as I was thinking of leaving the mall and made one
last swing around Liberty House, there was my senior coffee waiting in the
furthermost corner of the parking lot. Wheeling that cart back for a
quarter was probably the hardest I've ever worked for twenty-five cents in
my life. But it was worth it the next morning.
The funny thing is Daiei, which everyone still calls Holiday Mart. The
chains on their carts are too long, you can retrieve the quarter with the
cart's own key, no need to take it back. I didn't know that until
spotting one in the Ala Moana parking lot which had been
Some folks either own the keys or it's possible to use something else to
retrieve the quarter, too, because I do spot abandoned quarter-less
carts. Must admit, I wouldn't mind owning one of those keys
Thursday night it had been almost a full house at the hacienda.
Maybe the relative crowd scared everyone off, because I had the entire
place to myself on Friday night. Not even Rocky showed up. It was
occasionally windy, but not nearly as cold as it had been earlier in the
week, and it was a pleasant evening watching the stars appear between
fast-moving clouds and listening to a delightful selection of dance music
from Rameau's opera Les Boreads and the abundantly awesome
Coronation Mass by Mozart, with a little thing sandwiched in
between called Eroica by Ludwig-somebody.
I woke up too early, went back to sleep and slept too long. Too late for
the breadbasket, second day in a row. I need to either stay up later and
do my bread shopping at night, or get off that bench before five. And
it's getting lighter earlier every day. Ah well, at the first beer stop
there was half a bottle of Mickey's, which decidedly improved my mood and
will no doubt do so even more when I get around to drinking it. At the
second beer stop, things had gotten rowdy and there were no full or
half-full bottles but several broken ones. I'm glad I missed that
After the sheer luxury of that senior coffee, I went on to Ala Moana and
decided to risk having a shower. It was decently warm when the wind
stopped briefly and the sun was out, quite chilly when the sun was covered
by clouds and the wind gusted. Since the two were alternating in fairly
rapid cycles (as has been the case all week), I hoped for a warmer cycle
upon emerging from the cold water, and got lucky. I suppose my shower
companion was also a lucky break, since he was a handsome Filipino,
probably in his late thirties, who proceeded to demonstrate how large his
already-sizeable equipment could become. I don't think it was
intentional; he seemed slightly embarrassed about it, but I looked at it
and grinned at him, went back to shiveringly trying to get myself
scrubbed, and he relaxed and stopped trying to hide it. Amusing. Damned
cold, but amusing.
After sitting in the sun to dry, I took the bus to campus and almost
immediately found a nickel, ensuring Sunday's senior coffee.
And then there was the Sunday Morning That Came From Hell, but at least
the moon moved out of Aries ...
There is a worse place than Hell. The Place That Monday Morning Came
Comes in like a Lamb, goes out like a Lion ...
I've never paid much attention to how well that applies to the month
of March in Hawaii. It worked most of the time in Manhattan and
London, and has certainly done so this year in Hawaii. Not only is March
going out like a Lion, it's going out like a nasty, cross, wet Lion,
especially when it wakes up in the morning before sunrise.
I'm sure most, maybe none, of my readers will understand Tales 106a and
106b. You need to have been awake at least an hour before sunrise and to
have been outside in IT. In these almost six months of nomadic life,
there have been amazingly few mornings when rain was falling when I left
sanctuary. Two in a row is an unprecedented event, and not just with rain
but with gusting wind and decidedly cool temperatures.
Sunday morning, though, was horrendous not just because of the weather.
It seemed no matter what I did, where I went, something unpleasant
(weather), annoying (people) or stupid (my mind) contrived to make it even
worse. Even on my usual sheltered bus stop bench, which was not totally
free of wind-driven raindrops, the quiet pre-dawn pleasure of a cup of
senior coffee was wrecked by two old Filipino gentlemen who yakked quite
continuously. For most of the day it seemed as if a small army of people
had been sent into the world with specific orders to get on my nerves.
They succeeded admirably on several occasions, but at least I didn't go
totally berserk and pull out an Uzi and blow them away (although I will
admit to thinking of it). Sunday, bloody Sunday.
Sunday night brought another unprecedented event. The wind was so strong
and the rain so persistent, Rocky had to abandon his usual bench and move
even closer to me. (Every cloud has a silver lining?) I figured he would
be unhappy about it, so diligently ignored the fact that I could turn over
and almost look into his face. I'm glad he doesn't usually sleep on that
too-near bench, it's much better for both of us for him to be on the one
next in the same row and not in the one beside mine in the next
The still-persisting wind and rain in the early hours of Monday morning
had me waiting for a bus to go directly to Ala Moana, not stopping by
Jack-in-the-Box or checking breadbaskets or beer gardens. Then another
unprecedented event: I asked Victor at McD's for a refill of my senior
coffee. If I'd had 26 cents, I would have bought a second cup because I
do think asking for a refill is a bit much when you've gotten it so
cheaply. But I only had one penny left.
Into the netherworld of gloomy skies and rainy wind, the long arm of
mercy reached down from heaven and left one of those little apple pies
from McD's and a yummy blueberry muffin to go with my free refill. The
rain stopped, and the sun rose. Even lions have their better moments.
Overall, that's why readers would probably be puzzled by the complaints of
106a-and-b, since Sunday turned out to be quite a pleasant day, at least
so far as weather is considered, and Monday looked far more promising
after sunrise than it did before.
Having the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Mars and Saturn in Aries at one time is
just a little too crowded, having it happen in the always troublesome
final days of the month while waiting for the fabled pension check is even
more of a nuisance. Sunday was a tormented dervish day, I couldn't sit
still for long, couldn't think even halfway clearly, set out to do things
and changed my mind halfway there, and just generally walked around in a
muddled mess with no ability to grab hold of the leash and say "sit!".
Not until I collapsed on the bench and put the earphones on did temporary
relief arrive in the form of Mozart 35.
Not being totally convinced of the validity of astrology, I can't really
blame the heavens (even if I strongly suspect it is playing a role in this
maelstrom). But there's no doubt at all what role MONEY is playing: it
has been driving me CRAZY. There's always something of an itch in the
days before that pension check arrives, but it has never before reached
this level of intolerable ... my mind goes blank, I can't think of that
word for fixatedly thinking of one thing. I hate it, and I hate even more
the inability to shove it aside. Not until I've finally given up and
fallen on that bench have I been able to put it on the shelf until the
Obsession. Ah yes, that's the word.
But neither the most unusual conjunction of Mercury-Mars-Saturn in Aries
nor the far less unusual state of empty pockets suffice as reasons for
this bizarre inner landscape. Health problems are a little of it. At one
point I thought the foot infection had a new outbreak, but it turned out
to be an ordinary scratch which was making each step uncomfortable (if not
sufficiently so for me to get the message and SIT DOWN). The chest pain
returned with a vengeance and, unusually, in the late afternoon, and I
realized they had probably been absent more because I was taking aspirin
continuously for the foot pain than because of any long-term improvement.
Combined with the rest of the inner atmosphere, that made me feel even
less reluctant to pursue Straub's offer to "speed up" the Quest procedure.
If I am standing on the Palm Court level at Ala Moana wondering if it's
high enough to do the job, doesn't make much sense to waste some doctors'
Yes, it got that strange, with some old debates surfacing ... what if it
doesn't really matter after all, and you're just being stupid, living this
useless life when you could either be non-enjoying, but also
non-not-enjoying, the bliss of oblivion, or off to a fresh start in a
brand-new life? And it wasn't because of anything I've written here,
either, or even a combination of them all, no matter how much of a role
they played. It's an almost-but-not-quite-fed-up-enough limbo that
inspires inaction without keeping still, despair without really caring
enough to truly despair, knowing but not knowing, living but not.
Well, Sunday night I had the strangest dream. I met "Jai Maharaj" for the
first time and we had a most entertaining, interesting conversation.
Although he never fully, openly admitted to it, there was the
understanding that his strange, often aggravating Usenet career is a
deliberate, calculated game ... and since he is genuinely an admirer of
chess, it would not at all surprise me if that were actually the case.
Although I don't remember any details of the conversation, it was so
delightful that I woke feeling quite happy and stood in the drizzle to
smoke a cigarette. In fact, it was at that point I became aware Rocky was
on the nearest bench, since I'd been asleep when he arrived.
It is interesting that the hacienda is one place where everyone
observes the rules, even leaving the interior area to smoke. And I've
very rarely seen anyone litter there; on the few occasions it has
happened, I pick it up or someone else does. Perhaps the denizens are a
little too well-behaved. On Friday someone had left a plastic bag
containing something on an outside bench, and no one had disturbed it ...
when it finally was opened (sometime on Sunday), it turned out to have had
smaller plastic bags of food in it, probably left by some well-intentioned
person as an act of charity. Most of it seemed to have been bits of
fruit, sadly turned to mush.
Like my brain.
... it's raining vye-oh-letts
What you looking at! Never heard a Jolson imitation before?!
Oh to be in England, now that ...
Might as well be in England, considering the junk weather here.
Waved goodbye and good riddance to March 1998 in a marathon, starting at
Manoa Garden, moving to Pier Bar for sunset, ending at Gordon
An innocent start with 32oz of Budweiser, topped with 32oz of Killian's
Red, supplemented at Pier Bar by three Surfers on Acid, two Bloody
Mary's and who-knows-how-many Steinlagers, a shot of Blackberry Brandy,
and two big jugs of GB Marzen for a nightcap.
If I ever sober up, I may have a horrendous hangover, so I'd better go
downhill for a Mickey's ...
Jonathan Cainer's message for the first day of April 1998 was definitely
worth a big grin.
"You can't allow yourself to be pushed about by others ..."
It occurred to me on Monday, sitting in my favorite secluded place on
campus, that there are just too many disapprovers in my life. Some
of them should be totally irrelevant to me, like that little Chihuahua.
Others have very good intentions, almost demand to be concerned for my
welfare, but if told any of the details (privately or via the Tales), can
do nothing but respond with no doubt noble bourgeois ideals. This, of
course, is not at all their fault. Clinging to "moral standards" is a
fairly safe way to retain some semblance of sanity. An insane friend must
be a great inconvenience for them.
It also occurred to me that suicide is pointless because I am probably
already dead, a preta, a hungry ghost, and this is hell, wandering
the earth in search of nourishment and satisfaction, never finding it,
always with an overdraft. A bottle of beer and a loaf of bread for lunch,
and a few minutes of almost-contentment, and then time to search for
dinner. Two packs of cigarettes that go up in smoke and time to search
It could be, indeed, that life is just one long April Fool's joke.
He learned in his wanderings to tell from people's expressions what
they expected from him, what would give them pleasure: for one, a loud
cheerful greeting; for another, a quiet glance; or when someone wanted to
be left alone, to be undisturbed.
From Hesse's wonderful short story, "Augustus", part of a collection
Penguin Books decided to call "Strange News from Another Star",
after another little fable in the compilation. I bought it and
"Journey to the East" at Rainbow Books for 98 cents each, after
passing on my much battered copy of "Steppenwolf" to a friend and
feeling a dreaded Hesse-deprivation. S'ok, the books are more than
worth the price of a Mickey's.
At the hacienda, the benches are arranged in two rows, like church
pews. One exception: there are two benches which, for some strange
reason, face each other. And it was those two on which Rocky and I ended
up on a very full Friday night house. We now cannot get any closer while
sleeping unless we're in each other's arms on the same bench. Having had
an entire night to more closely observe him, he is not as cute as I
thought but I have a very deep affection for him. Soul mate.
The first week of April, the last week of the first six months of
nomadic life, was awful, possibly one of the worst seven days of my life.
It was, and is, partly the weather. Unceasing wind, all too many clouds,
and a great deal of rain, combined with lower than comfortable
temperatures could, if it doesn't stop soon, bring new meaning to April
is the cruellest month ...
But the weather was actually the least of it, hellish though it was.
There was not a single day during the week when I did not at least once
think of suicide, consider what buildings would be tall enough and have
possible roof access (given that the Aloha Tower is closed at the moment).
With no access to more comfortable means, that seems the most sensible
The argument is, as I told myself when starting this weird trip, might as
well stick around and see just how much more crap life can offer ...
just in case the reincarnationists are right, for one reason, and because
it seems such a shabby way to end even a rather non-distinguished life.
But there were a few times in the week when those arguments didn't carry
much weight and it was as banal a thing as the rain which kept me sitting
where I was instead of going off to find a leaping spot.
Like, you gonna kill yourself, it matters if you're wet?!
(The sick humor did not escape my notice).
I went with friends to see a production of Genet's "The Maids" and
it was so awful I mercifully fell asleep for about three-quarters of it.
I bought a pair of black jeans because the gray 501's from the first six
months were beyond filthy and it is nice to have something lingering for
awhile to remind me of my investment in Boots Limited, the dividend from
which provided the pants, if not much else. I spent far too much time in
Manoa Garden, especially since Tomita-san wasn't there. I listened to a
fine broadcast of live Neil Young performances from old Farm-Aid concerts.
I finally managed to wash my hair after five days when the weather made it
extremely inconvenient to do so. The nasty bug which infected my foot did
not die from that horrendous antibiotic deluge, but created a new spot
near the original one although it doesn't seem to be capable of making the
same huge crater in the skin, fortunately. Someone offered me a mink
stole for warmth at night, and I imagined myself sitting swathed in it at
a terminal in Hamilton Library.
That was the week that was ...
A reader agreed with me about Bob Dylan being the most admired person of
our generation, but added that "number two doesn't even come
Number Two, and Number Three, come very close for me.
My favorite "song" is, with apologies to Graham Nash for any inaccuracy in
I am a simple man
And I sing a simple tune
Wish that I could see you once again across the room
Like the first time
I just want to hold you
Don't want to hold you down
like a cat, i wash my feet
a little spit on a finger
rub a dirty spot and it flakes away
It was as though he were listening at a half-open door and behind it
the most enchanting secret was being breathed, and just when he felt that
at that very moment everything would be made plain to him and would be
fulfilled, the door swung shut and the chill wind of the world blew over
An apt line, from Hesse's "Iris", for my early April feeling ...
"Really?" has been the tone of much email. One reader asks if that
Farewell to March drink marathon was an April Fool tale. Maybe, but not
in the sense of a deliberate fake. I did indeed drink all that, but it
was spread over 9-10 hours. And no, I didn't have to pay for most of it.
A reader tells me not to even joke about suicide, another reminds me
that although crazy people are left to wander the streets it is still
possible in this barbaric society for people to be locked up against their
will if judged to be "suicidal", another asks if I'd really jump off a
Probably not. I dread the thought of that instant of pain on impact.
Even if the dive went flawlessly and death was "instantaneous", I suspect
it would seem a very long "instant" and an extremely painful one. I'd
have to get so drunk to conquer the dread of that instant, I probably
wouldn't be capable of getting onto a sufficiently high rooftop. So no,
the more likely way is just to slowly starve to death. And since I gather
from the homeless-l mail-list that new regulations mean food stamps are no
longer given to single people, starving could be a definite
Graham Nash? Really? Well, I'm a sentimental type, and he's a master of
sentimental songs. I'm also assuming he was the driving force behind
CS&N. And number three? Cat Stevens.
I went to the street festival at the East-West Center on Saturday evening.
It didn't rain, but the wind was ferocious, as it had been all day.
Although I was greatly enjoying the music and the dancing, especially that
circle Bon Dance the Japanese were doing, I got so distracted by the huge
amount of food that was being thrown away, I had to leave. I wasn't
particularly hungry, but to see one plate lunch container after another
being dumped even though half or more of the contents were still in it was
just too much.
The wind continued, the rain returned. So Rocky had to leave his bench
and take the one behind me again. I had been dozing when he moved, sat
up and noticed he had left his regular bench and when I looked to the side
and saw him there, he was looking right at me. That's the most direct
contact we have had yet. And I changed my mind, I wish he'd sleep on that
bench all the time.
But I should be careful with that word "wish", as is made very clear in
several of the wonderful stories by Hesse in Strange News From Another
A reader earnestly advised me to give up Usenet. I agreed. I should give
up alcohol, tobacco and Usenet. Not that it really matters.
... it has always been my opinion up until now that a poet is someone
who has written his collected works and has been dead for quite some
Hesse: Report from Normalia
blue sky, sunshine
immediately to the beach
it's raining again
magic place, secluded grove in manoa
ground of transformation pending
imminent even, perhaps
hurry up please, it's time
six moons striving
six times twenty nine
is there need for hurry?
the sacred week of the west
weariness of millenia
trudging to golgotha
hurry up please, it's time
Coincidence, or what I later came to see as synchronicity, has always
fascinated and often delighted me. Carl Jung transformed my thinking on
the subject but later synchronicity replaced coincidence as a concept for
me. "Meaningful coincidence"? They all are, just some with deeper
meaning than others, some that are easier to note and to
On Monday I was reading Hesse's "Piktor's Metamorphosis" from a
volume of his short stories they have at Hamilton Library. The stories
are known as "Marzen" in German (dunno how to get an umlaut over the A
using Pico), generally translated as "fairy tales" although modern usage
would no doubt have "fantasies" as the better definition. As I was
leaving campus, I came across a bottle of Gordon Biersch "Marzen". I
emptied it into my pint jug, tucked the jug into the backpack. Later when
I settled on the bench, took out the jug to enjoy as a nightcap with the
evening's concert by the Vienna Philharmonic, they were just beginning
"Metamorphosen" by Richard Strauss. That's difficult music, so the
amusing threads of Marzen and metamorphosis provided a welcome
That story is a difficult one, too. For a long time Hesse would not allow
it to be published, but made a number of handwritten copies complete with
watercolor illustrations. The volume they have at Hamilton reproduces one
of those in a color section, so it is possible to read the story along
with the illustrations, as was the original intention. A little
Like most recent mornings, Monday began with gray skies and drizzle but
changed to sunshine. So I left campus and headed to the beach, had a
shower and enjoyed the sun until midday. Returning to campus, picking up
a bottle of Mickey's on the way, I sat reading Hesse until the clouds and
drizzle returned. I have not been doing very well with coming to terms
with the weather. When the campus libraries are not open and it is
drizzling rain, there are few pleasant options for sitting and
enjoying a book or even just watching people pass by, and that's even
more true when the drizzle is accompanied by gusty winds as it has been
for over a week now. I feel sorry for people who spent a lot of money and
effort to come here for a visit at such a time.
I even felt sorry for me a few times.
The weather was more pleasant on Tuesday but my mood was not much
improved. Cainer said of Monday that it was as though Aries folk had
found themselves on a speeding train and then suddenly realized they
weren't sure they were headed to the right destination, advised us to
simply stand by and wait for an announcement. Waiting.
Then at lunchtime, with what I had thought would be my last bottle of
Mickey's for a time, there was an acid-like revelation which my mind is
trying to push back into a cupboard. I've been thinking of "no accidents"
in far too limited a sense. It's all-encompassing, applies every moment
to everything happening. I was reading Journey to the East, a
young Asian student walked past, I paused in my reading and watched him
walk through the grove. He made two gestures, one brushing back his hair
and another a slight shrug of the shoulders. Both seemed to be direct
messages to me, as if he had sensed my thoughts, although I am
sure he wasn't consciously aiming his gestures at me.
How to explain that moment ... I knew it wouldn't make sense just from
telling what happened. One moment everything is the same, but everything
is different, and the events which triggered the change were seemingly
insignificant. And then the mind rebels against so enormous a change and
tries to file it neatly away.
But the cupboard door won't stay closed, and I'm happy with that.
Or no doubt shall be, eventually.
I stopped smoking for three hours. I told myself there should be no
special occasion, no ceremony, nothing at all significant, just one moment
when I'm a smoker and the next when I'm not. It wasn't the moment, as it
turned out, but it was an interesting experience and added to the pleasure
of sitting on the beach at Ala Moana watching the sunset.
On my way to Border's, I found an unlit Marlboro. End of experience.
Made a stop in Border's to sample BB Shawn's new CD and enjoyed his
version of "My Romance" so much I listened to it twice before starting to
feel guilty about dominating that listening station and went on my way to
the bench. Settling down and turning on the radio, the Valkyries were
screeching away and I said "oh no" and switched to a recent discovery, an
AM country music station which I stayed with for the rest of the evening.
At one point I dozed off and when I woke, I saw my wish had come true, at
least for that night. Rocky was on the bench behind me again. He was
quite soundly asleep already so I could enjoy watching him for awhile.
I'm not really physically attracted to him, I just like him very, very
much and am glad he has been a part of my life for these six
Yes, it's the Six Month mark.
magic place, secluded grove in manoa
our father who
heaven in art
then knowing it had never been understood
a glimpse into responsibility
wind on a clump of grass
broken from its roots
still there, the next day
less green, more brown
answer blowing in the wind
hurry up please, it's time
just a clump of grass
maundy morning in manoa swamp
Hmmm, has possibilities for one of those poem-things. Very true, too. It
must have rained heavily during the night on campus for so many little
lakes to have formed. Fortunately it was far drier by the
And by the seaside was the way I spent the early hours of Maundy Thursday,
after Rocky stumbled in after one in the morning with a loony. The guy
was fairly young, wild frizzy hair, and drunk, drugged, just plain crazy,
or all three ... and very very loud, despite Rocky's repeated attempts to
get him to quiet down. After about half an hour of him, I packed up and
left. It was pleasantly warm and the sky was mostly clear, so clear I was
able to spend a lot of time enjoying the stars and the reflection of that
nearing-full moon's light on the ocean, and get totally puzzled by the Big
Dipper which seemed to have shifted position too much compared to how it
appears at the hacienda in the early evening. I could, of course,
just spend one entire night watching its movement.
Nearing-full moon ... and on Saturday night, a holiday weekend. It sounds
like a certain recipe for widespread mania, even bacchanalia. I shudder.
Usually I am myself revving into high manic gear this far into Aries, but
it appears for an hour or two and idles out. I appreciate the concern
some readers have expressed over my gloomy, doomy mood, but trust me,
that's probably better for me, and for the world in general, than some of
the high manic swings of Aries past.
I was feeling a little annoyed with Rocky for his lack of consideration,
but remembering what a quiet, peaceful companion he has been for so many
nights, that was churlish of me. Even worse, I was already trying to
diligently forget the lesson of the grove, and I was still trying to
ignore a thought which had several times recently entered my head, namely
that part of the discontentment has to do with living too settled and
regulated a life. A daily, weekly routine is contrary to nomadic living,
never mind how comfortable it is in some ways. Settling on the same
bench, listening to music, sleeping, getting up and walking the same
paths, visiting the same places, brushing my teeth when the Ala Moana
Center toilets open, catching the bus to campus ... day in, day out, the
same routine. So I owe Rocky, yet again, for being 'round.
I didn't remember the meaning of Maundy, so actually made a visit to the
big dictionary which sits behind the desk I use most of the time at
Hamilton. It derives from the Latin for "mandate", referring to the
mandate Jesus gave the disciples when he washed their feet before the Last
Supper. My mind immediately jumped to the memory of Captain John washing
the passengers' feet on his catamaran, but too late, he isn't on it until
I need some acid.
Good Friday ponderings, locked in a life and death battle. We all are,
all living things are, perhaps even those we regard as without life. Does
a mountain suffer from erosion? We say that, but is it just a
"figure of speech"? Language can be a wonderful teacher of the truth of
no accidents. Under the blessing of LSD, an "innocent" conversation can
be a catalyst to great understanding. It is always so, of course. Most
of us just need extraordinary fuel to wipe clear our dirty windshields of
We struggle against death, whether with the simple act of eating whatever
will keep our bodies functioning or through the profundity of an earnest
prayer to "help us make it through the night". Some gamble extravagantly
in the battle, taunting death with aptly labelled "death-defying" feats,
others huddle like misers in cloistered cells murmuring prayers and hoping
only to avoid any threat to continued existence until gently taken to the
target of their petition.
I am a fool. Not der Reine Tor of this day of Parzival, just a
fool, welcoming death ... even so, come quickly ... but unwilling to force
my company on him. Would I catapult myself into Death's drawing room? I
went to a research clinic on Good Friday morning. Among a long catalogue
of ailments and conditions to which I was asked to reply "are you now or
have you ever been ..." was a delightful question asking if I had a "plan"
for committing suicide. A plan! I replied that if I had one, I would
have used it. They probably won't accept me for the study.
"I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified," intruded NPR on my
thoughts, when an appalling voice read some scripture in between two
excerpts of decent music apparently dealing with the events of this
weekend, two millenia ago.
I talk too much, even worse I write too much. It has been a lifelong
failing. My friend Frances saved every word I sent her. Even today,
people are saving my emails, ephemeral though that art form should be. It
should shock me into silence. When Frances died, her sister wrote to ask
if there was anything I wanted. No, I had the magic bronze bell, I still
have it. I just asked that everything I had written to Frances be
destroyed. Hesse was not so lucky -- volumes of Collected Correspondence,
Earlier this week a reader mentioned that I seem to have a high regard for
Hermann Hesse, another wondered if Burroughs might not be more expected
than Hesse and Confucius. Burroughs and Crowley ... ah yes, that could
have been the life that was.
Uh-oh, the "appalling voice" belonged to Martin Luther King, Jr. Mea
culpa, but he should never have gotten involved with Bach's B Minor Mass.
"Decent music" ... I must be studying the delicate art of
A tale of the Weekend of Holy Week, written in real-time, like the
"poetry", on paper, using Kevyn's pen.
I had my best birthday present early, very early on Good Friday morning.
Some noble deed I did in a past life yielded its inevitable blessing and I
awoke from a wonderfully peaceful sleep, rolled from my right side onto my
back and turned my head to the other side. Rocky was doing that which
young men often do, old men too when they can find the energy. The
pleasure of watching until he finished, then rolled over onto his stomach
and returned to sleep, was surpassed by gratitude that he feels
comfortable enough to share so intimate a moment. Perhaps consciously he
did not know I was watching, perhaps he thought I was still asleep. But
some part of him knew and shared, and it was a greater gift than I could
have expected, well beyond what I could have allowed myself to wish for.
And for a moment I was grateful, too, that I'd stayed alive and that I
walk this strange path through nomadic life. Good Friday, indeed.
And of the less "profane" aspects of this day? Rudolf Steiner felt the
"Golgotha Event" was the most important moment of mankind's history. Men
died by crucifixion, that seems a historical fact. It may be, as they
say, that a radical young man, who would have been given honored guru
status in the East because of his elegantly insightful teachings, became
overly involved in the established religious politics of the region where
he was instead born, and was destined to die in such a barbaric
That by doing so, he cancelled the fabled debt of Adam's "original sin",
that he was somehow a son of an all-powerful god who was sent on a mission
to save us through such a vile passage into death is way out beyond my
ability to believe. If we had a totally different history and such a
thing had never happened, if that can be imagined, and a writer wrote an
elaborate fantasy novel using all the plot elements and characters of
these events, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a publisher rejected it as
too far fetched.
Yet two thousand years of this planet's history revolve around it, just as
surely as the planet circles the sun every 365 days or thereabouts, if it
does. In some places, and not all that long ago, I could have been burned
at the stake (another flambouyantly unpleasant way to die) for writing
On a trip downhill from campus, where I spent early Good Friday afternoon,
I stopped by the Church of the Crossroads. I thought I'd sit awhile and
ponder what I was thinking about Easter.
The Church was closed.
Sheep may safely graze. Indeed.
The church was closed, but NPR was open and after a comforting ditty to
let the sheep know they could munch without worrying about wolves, they
promised the entire B Minor Mass of that most immortal of
Yes, I have the greatest respect and admiration for Hermann Hesse. I wish
I'd written everything he wrote.
Tammy Wynette died, was buried on Maundy Thursday. I wish I'd known how
to "take care of my man", Tammy. Thanks for being 'round.
Wishes are fishes, bringing us back to the esoteric, the catacombs of
Rome, where I walked as a young man, even in this life, sign of Pisces on
Seven Last Words, including the Infamous Whine. Allow me, noble Jesus, to
I wanted a copy of the New Testament to read this weekend, but wouldn't
buy it, didn't know where to get a free one. The church was closed.
There was a copy in the waiting room at the clinic, but I wouldn't steal
Meanwhile, in a project of self-flagellation to arrange it so I can feel
absolutely as sorry for myself as I could possibly feel on my birthday, I
tried to spend every penny I possess and yet found a five dollar bill. A
pack of Pall Malls, then. Not even close to the gift Rocky gave me, but
Then NPR cheated and confessed they were only going to play the last
twenty-five minutes of the B Minor Mass. Rationed immortality. So spend
$1.35 on a sandwich to feed the birds ...
And after all is said and done, is there anything better to do on a Good
Friday afternoon, when the church is closed, than feed the birds?
I left campus to go downhill for a bottle, just missed a bus, walked down,
passed the closed church, and it started to rain, so I headed over to see
if Kory K was at home. He was. I'd been wondering about his childhood
school in Hilo and was horrified to learn those poor kids go through their
entire education in the same small area, all the school buildings grouped
closely together. Imagine being stuck for twelve years with the
reputation established in the first grade! I'm glad I was an Army
The notorious Yvette joined us, making the late afternoon even more
Kory had a hot dinner date, so we left him to prepare himself and I walked
over to Daiei, stopped to say hello to Helen R but she was out, so I went
into the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul for the first time. I can't
imagine how any architect could design so ugly an interior for a "house of
god". An evening service was about to begin, but I was so put off by the
building itself and the gathering congregation that I fled out. Despite
it being the most solemn holy day in the Christian calendar, people were
chattering and laughing before the service began as if they were in some
social club or bar. The purple-shrouded crucifix and the Host-less altar,
doors open to an empty space, had no effect on the mood of the
I went to my bench and ended Good Friday next to Rocky, listening to
country music and sipping on a jug of wine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata Mundi, suscipe ...
Life and death struggle. I had not heard the details of Krishnamurti's
death until the morning of Holy Saturday. I put the aurum
metallicum back into my left pocket. I want to believe in a basic
justice in existence. He got what he deserved? Do we all?
Questions of two thousand Holy Saturdays ...
I erred. I can enjoy Der Meistersinger without libretto.
I am a simple man so I sing a simple song
Never been so much in love and never hurt so bad at the same time
I am a simple man and I play a simple tune
Wish that I could see you once again across the room
Like the first time
Just want to hold you, don't want to hold you down
I hear what you're saying and you're spinning my head around
And I can't make it alone.
A song for Easter and a birthday, sitting by DeRussy Beach with a pint of
wine for breakfast as the weather changed rapidly from warm sunshine to
Alone at the hacienda the night before, full moon pouring its magic
light onto the grand stage of that mystic building. The radio played an
hour of Titanic music, excerpts from the new Broadway musical, selections
by the re-created White Star Orchestra of that doomed ship, and a few
appropriate vintage recordings, including a wonderful version of
"Alexander's Ragtime Band". Dancing to ragtime under the fool moon's
eyes, behind those arches, was a fine, absurd way to bid farewell to the
fifty-seventh year. I was sorry Rocky didn't come home, but just as well
he, and the rest of mankind, missed that performance. The moon has seen it
all and couldn't mind.
Smiling Hawaiian man outside Halekulani wishing me a good morning and a
happy Easter. That said more about these islands than all the words on
Huddling in shelter from the rain by Kuhio Beach, sipping a senior coffee,
waiting until the handsome Japanese visitor put out his cigarette so I
could continue smoking it. Sitting in my favorite place on the island,
with a bottle of Mickey's for lunch, with Bach's beyond immortal Saint
The ending of the tale is the singing of the song
Make me proud to be your man, only you can make me strong
Like the last time.
Just want to hold you, don't want to hold you down
I hear what you're saying and you're spinning my head around
And I can't make it alone.
Got a brand new drug ... maybe. It's a triple-blind study, some folks
will be taking 5mg a day, some 15mg, and some stuck with sugar pills.
Capsules, that is, big white ones. The doctor at the clinic is a
sweetheart, the psychiatrist has a sense of humor and says "hmmmm" a lot.
I think I'm going to enjoy this, especially if I get the 15mg and
experience one of the reported side-effects, "light-headedness". Cool.
Both doctors were most kind and assured me they want to help, whether with
this particular study on SR46349B or via other approaches.
So what, a few readers might wonder, the hell am I doing? Hey, if nobody
else, including me, wants my body, might as well let science have it. And
three months with an extra fifteen dollars a week is okay, too, although
in honesty I'm not doing it for "help" or for the money, but because it's
something novel to do. The fifteen dollars briefly improves my mood and
who knows, maybe SR46349B will be some good stuff. How many people you
know can list SR46349B on the list of drugs they've done?
Conversations with psychiatrists, professional conversations, are always
good fun, too, and this particular one is the best I've encountered since
Ronny Laing. My favorite moment was the look he gave me when I explained
why I wouldn't seek public welfare assistance. It was like "dude, you're
a sick man, go for it" in an elegantly subtle Asian manner. I also
enjoyed the one which followed my answer explaining I had taken 15mg of
valium three times a day for years. "I didn't even know they made them
that strong," he said. "They're blue," I said. "I trust you," he
This is one of the things Cainer has been talking about, I think. Another
was sticking a toe back into the water of the contemporary art world, or
at least giving it a try. A friend helped me revive a long, long dormant
glass bead game with a respected author, critic and collector. Even if
nothing comes of it, making the move was a major leap for me. I thought
I'd given it up forever. It's as manic as this Aries has gotten, although
the gentleman has reason to remember far more extravagant ones.
Meanwhile, I've gained four pounds in three weeks, which is absurd. It's
the fault (or to the credit) of the people who so kindly help me patronize
McDonalds (gift certificates and free bonuses) and whoever it is who keeps
leaving bags of food outside the hacienda. Such a splendid bag
awaiting on the evening of Easter Sunday! Yummy rice balls with
mayonnaise and cucumber slices inside, some kind of meat on others, all
wrapped neatly and tied with green ribbon.
It's also partly Kory K's fault since he fed me again, twice. On a
pre-Easter visit, he had a bowl of a (strange) mixture of beef stew, Kalua
pig and rice from Yama's, and said I could eat it. Did. Then he not only
let me attack his bottle of Jack Daniels, but also prepared more food on
Easter Sunday. Yeh, yeh, it was my birthday, too, and Kory's mama
obviously taught him well to be kind to old folks.
And most kind it was. I was a terrible guest, but he'd have been
disappointed if I hadn't gotten drunk and a little loud ... still, that
was partly Yvette and Barbra's fault.
Hello, Dolly. Hello, SR46349B.
Day One of SR46349B got off to a fine start, waking in the wee hours to
see Rocky sleeping beside me, returning to sleep, waking again with the
birds and going off for a senior coffee and two capsules, finding a bright
shiney new penny, and an Ace of Hearts.
It occurs to me that the inimitable Helen R. shares part of the blame (or
credit) for the reversal in the weight trend. As part of a pre-birthday
treat, Helen provided my first experience of the new "McFlurry", a very
thick milkshake concoction crammed with bits of Oreo cookies. Must be at
least a quarter-pound of fat explained there.
"Sir, would you like a Pony or a Transformer with that?"
[While Bobby grinned at me from the next register.]
Thanks to Helen R.'s Monopoly win, I had my very first "Happy Meal" at
McDonald's. And thanks to a gift from Yvette, that little Coke became the
best Coke I've ever had in McDonald's.
Looking around the place, spotted a lady who didn't look as if she was
rolling in money and had a little girl with her, asked the mother if the
child might like my Pony. Smiles all around.
Guess that's why they call them Happy Meals.
And just when I thought the Party was over, ran into Tomita-san.
Okay, I'll admit it. Was worth living fifty-eight years ...
Things I didn't expect on my fifty-eighth birthday:
waking on a wooden bench
drinking coffee at a bus stop before dawn
brushing my teeth at Ala Moana Shopping Center
drinking Jack Daniels
washing Kory K's dishes
watching "Hello Dolly"
pretending to steal Kory K's last pack of cigarettes
drinking a shot of Seagrams Seven as a nightcap
going to sleep on a wooden bench
And, most of all:
Among the online birthday greetings there was one, tongue firmly in
cheek, a variation on "another year older, another year wiser". I'm
inclined to believe we are born wise and it diminishes with each passing
year. One advantage I do perceive of advancing age is the change in
love, or more exactly, the change in loving. Encountering someone
for whom we feel love is itself a blessing, there is no longer the
hunger of youth to have those feelings returned. And loving is not so
dependent on the physical but arises from an immediately sensed
comradeship, a spiritual affinity, so to speak.
K.M. is probably the last of the old-style "loves" and even that was
only falsely perceived as such by me, looking for a familiar
It is my great good fortune to have two admirable guides into
this changed experience of loving, neither consciously aware of the role
they play. "You don't owe me anything," said one. "I owe you more than
you know," I replied. The other says nothing, just shares my life as
intimately as any man has done before.
Namo Amitabha on a tee shirt. In my London MUD days, I created a
character called Amitabha on the chance that it is true, just thinking,
saying -- even typing -- the name is alone an advance in the search for
fulfillment. There were many times when I sat pleasantly enjoying a
little hashish and smiling when some opponent typed "kill amitabha".
If you meet the Buddha on the road ... I'd like one of those tee
Readers ask what the drug is doing. It is creating an awareness of
something happening in the brain. I said in one mail that my brain was
being re-arranged, and not only do I not mind, I quite enjoy it. There's
a physical sensation of fullness in the skull, unlike anything I've known
before. At first I told myself I was making it up, I'm just taking sugar
pills and my fantasy center is working overtime, but as the first day went
on, I began to doubt that.
There's a dash of speediness, a certain brightness of color and a tendency
to chatter which I noticed particularly during my time with Tomita-san and
sharply curbed. When with him, I want to listen to him, not
A young lady was at the email terminal. She was agonizing over one reply.
She would write something (probably nasty), get a triumphant look briefly,
then have second thoughts and delete it, try again. It went on for over
half an hour, my observation interrupted deliciously when Tomita-san
bounced into Hamilton Library to tell me something he'd forgotten to say.
Then back to observing the torment. Finally I walked over to her and
mentioned the 15-minute time limit. She was, of course, totally unaware
she'd exceeded it almost threefold. I suggested that perhaps she should
store the message with Pine's postpone option and think if she really
wanted to send it. "How did you know?! Could you read what I was
writing?" "No, my eyes aren't capable of that, it was the vibes, as we
used to say in the old days." She sat on a stool beside me for a few
minutes and we talked, she thanked me, and left.
Pay no attention to me, my child, I'm doing drugs.
My baby's left me and I'm feeling lowdown ...
Hmmmm. The only baby that's left is Mars, who finally skedaddled out of
Aries, but I'd expect that to be a feeling of relief, not a downer.
Perhaps someone important to me died during the night. Whatever, after a
relatively upbeat mood this week, it changed dramatically in the early
morning hours of Thursday.
I had fallen asleep during Bruckner's Seventh, dreamed I was having an
interesting conversation with Marjorie Scott when Wade Nakaya came into
the room, doing an imitation of Willie K singing one of those melodramatic
German Lieder. I told him to shut up, then I woke and, indeed, just such
music was bruising my ears albeit not, I'm sure, being sung by Willie or
Wade. I looked to the side, no Rocky, but there he was, curled up asleep
on his usual bench at my feet. I switched the radio to the country music
station and drifted back into sleep. A few hours later I woke again
feeling decidedly blahhhh, a sharp change in mood which not even that
teary, beery music could have inspired. Turned the radio off, returned to
sleep, and woke in the same mood.
Wednesday had been one of those restless days. I didn't feel like
reading, didn't want to sit on the beach despite the welcome sunshine,
wandered around aimlessly. I stopped by Kory K's to pick up the razor I'd
forgotten on Sunday and then instead of returning to campus went down to
Waikiki and sat for awhile in Kapiolani Park. When I eventually walked
over to get a bus back to campus, I noticed a young man, probably in his
late teens and possibly Filipino, walking unsteadily into the park. He
went several times into the men's room behind the bandshell, then headed
straight toward me, looking directly into my eyes the whole time. He was
a cute little puppy of a fellow, very glazed eyes suggesting downers of
some kind. "Are you okay?" I asked him. He said "no", and after weaving
back and forth awhile, sat down beside me on the bus stop bench. I put my
hand on his shoulder and asked him what was wrong. He seemed to be having
a very difficult time speaking, would move his lips but nothing came out.
My bus arrived, I ignored it. Finally the lad pointed to his crotch and
said "buy sex". A subtle approach! I thought how odd it was that such
encounters never happened to me when I would have welcomed them and, in
his case, certainly would have taken him home. In his condition, it's not
likely he would have been able to deliver, but it would have been a
pleasure just to undress him and spend some time snuggling up against
I told him I was sorry, but I had no money. After continuing to look into
my eyes for awhile, a #8 bus came along and he got up and staggered onto
it. After he left, another nomad sitting on the bench told me a #47 was
approaching. "Waiting for a #4," I said, "and missed one seeing if I
could help that young man." "He's way out there, very heavy downers,"
Jack said. Yes, his name was Jack and it was a rare event for me, not
only carrying on a conversation with another nomad but even ending it with
an exchange of names and a handshake. Jack sleeps in Mililani, where he
said the cops don't hassle you like they do in Waikiki, but hangs out
watching the people in Kapiolani Park. He's an old-hippy type, and I
wondered just how many "homeless people" are, like me, folks who turned on
and tuned in, but just waited a few decades before dropping out.
When the next #4 came along, I said goodbye to Jack and returned to
campus, found a huge plate-lunch container with a Korean specialty I've
eaten once before altho forgetting what it's called ... meat sliced thinly
and fried in egg, along with at least three scoops of rice. I was glad I
hadn't used my last voucher for a "Deluxe" sandwich at McDonald's.
Later, after taking the #4 downtown and walking to the bench, I spotted a
dollar bill in the gutter beside the Federal Building. I almost missed it
since it just looked like a crumpled bit of paper in the twilight. It was
a pleasurable finishing touch to a rather strange, aimless day.
And the blah mood of Thursday morning? We'll see ...
secluded grove in manoa
grove littered with little seed balls
cannot call them fruit
relentlessly dropped by the striving trees
not even the birds will eat them
special place, that grove in manoa
dappled, again, by the setting sun
miles to go, long journey ahead
and a tiny red bug crept onto my page
onto my hand
so nudged it to safety
to a briefly continued life
don't step on those, said the passing woman
they're berries, or don't know what
the tree knows, the birds don't care
Namo Amitabha ... Namo Amitabha ... Namo Amitabha ...
It works quite well as a method of returning the mind to something closer
to tranquillity when outside distractions become disturbing. It doesn't
work as well as a pint of beer or wine as a nightcap, though. Nice as it
is to enjoy a beer or two at lunchtime in the Garden or the grove, it's
more important before settling down on that bench for the night. The
hardness of the bench, the steady drone of the traffic, the frequent
boom-booms from the nearby club, even dulled by radio music in the ears,
all do more to deter sleep when completely sober. And there's nothing
more important in the life of a nomad than a few hours of peaceful
I've stayed with the country music station most of the time recently and
it has made me think about how uninteresting the lyrics are for most
Hawaiian contemporary music sung in English. The same might be true for
contemporary Hawaiian music sung in Hawaiian, in which case not knowing
the language is a blessing. Although much of the country music is still
based on the old teary sentimental slush which has always been its
trademark, there seem to be more and more songs now which go much further
in talking about life and love and drink, perhaps reaching back to the
days when country music was more truly Volksmusik and less jukebox
fodder. On the few occasions when I try to listen to Hawaiian music on
KINE-FM, I'm soon driven away by the trite lyrics.
Thursday morning's oddly down mood was improved somewhat by spending the
morning on the beach, enjoying the sunshine, splashing in the ocean,
watching the handsome young men and pretty young ladies watching each
other. I would have lingered even longer, but after several weeks of
spending little time in the direct sun, it seemed prudent to take it a
little at a time and I was grateful for the precaution later in the day
when I realized a man carrying a backpack should avoid sunburned
That backpack is so annoying. I occasionally wish I had the nerve (or
lack of sense?) to get rid of it and join the more devoted nomads who walk
around with nothing but what they are wearing, and often little of that.
Even Rocky carries only a very small backpack which, so far as I can tell,
contains nothing but his radio and earphones, a long-sleeved shirt and a
pair of dark trousers or his flowery shorts, depending on which he is
wearing. In all these months, I've never seen him take anything else out
Penniless days again, dependent on Dame Fortune for food and drink. There
was a large breakfast from Zippy's left on a bus-stop bench for Friday
morning but the beer gardens were empty. An angel's desk drawer ensured
senior coffees until Wednesday -- is there any better kind of angel than
one who doesn't like to carry change in pockets? But the rest of
the day was poor hunting.
I spent most of the day reading, beginning again Hesse's Magister
Ludi and interspersing it for a few hours reading various shorter
works by Novalis, an early German author Hesse often quotes. Strange and
In the late afternoon I went down to the Varsity and saw "The Object of My
Affection", a sweet little film with a few good laughs and one occasion
for cheering when the author didn't take the easy way out with the plot
Then I went to Ala Moana to see the promotional gig for the Homegrown CD
project which turned out to be karaoke ... well, the original singer was
there, but the backing was taped. Even worse, the songs weren't very
good, so I wandered on down through Ward Center and Warehouse to the
bench. Rocky came home early, too, wearing his flowery shorts for the
first time in weeks. But we both had a restless evening, and I didn't
finally fall asleep until well after midnight. Bring on the bottle of
That other angel of mercy left a bag of food at the hacienda in the
very early hours of Saturday morning. Then the breadbasket had not only
bread but enough untouched baked potatos to fill the backpack, if it had
been empty. I hid some of the bonanza away in case Sunday morning is not
so bountiful. Unless the rats find it, the hiding place should be a good
one, and if they do, well, we all must eat somehow. Maybe.
Speaking of eating, I saw the oddest thing. Among the goodies was a
plastic bag of Cheerios, both plain and frosted, mixed. I crumpled some
up for the birds at Manoa Garden, while enjoying a microwave-warmed
potato. Two European sparrows arrived and one was flapping its wings and
cheeping, begging the other for food. The other one fed it. But the one
begging was bigger and fatter! Talk about arrested adolescence.
And speaking of food, this day is going to be a nuisance. The great "food
drive" has already annoyed me twice and it isn't even noon yet.
Namo Amitabha ... Namo Amitabha ...
A constant underlying theme of the last Sunday in Aries was the search for
enough money to buy a bottle of Mickey's. It wasn't at all a serious
quest, indeed I wasn't even certain I would buy one if enough money did
turn up. The hunt became more and more amusing as the goal drew nearer.
Starting from a point when over fifty cents was still needed, when several
hours later I found a dime in the street I was still three cents short and
went grinning off to the bench, finding an almost full bottle of Don Equs
"Special Lager" on the way. And at the hacienda, there was a penny
on the floor. Two cents away from a Mickey's!
It was a highly amusing game with serious undercurrents, perhaps more
serious than they would have been had I not read Jonathan Cainer's
perceptive analysis of conditions prevailing over the weekend and in the
The game started anew on Monday morning when the acquisition of a senior
coffee reset the goal counter to twenty-eight cents and, immediately after
arriving on campus, the discovery of a dime put it at eighteen pennies
away from a Mickey's.
I know what I am doing. I am watching the game with great interest, and
At two on a Monday afternoon, seven cents to go. As on Sunday, the
biggest grin came from a dime. Sunday's dime was the one which pushed the
goal to three cents. On Monday, it was a "dowsed" dime that did it. I
very rarely go into the stores at Ala Moana, except for Long's, but as I
was walking past Shirokiya I had that feeling ... there's money on the
floor in there. Yep, surely was ... a dime. Then as I was walking past
Foodland, I spotted a penny on the floor very near the entrance, so walked
in grinning, picked up the penny and walked out.
Now a search for seven cents ...
The hunter-gatherer game was fun all weekend, and not just the search for
the means to a free Mickey's. Both days yielded an unusually large
harvest of yummy goodies. Saturday's included two delicious macadamia nut
muffins and eight large cookies, four peanut butter and four chocolate
chip. Even better, the same treasure lode provided a goodly supply of
those large-bag instant coffee packets, making coffee an available treat
throughout the day instead of just that divine senior one first thing in
the morning. On Sunday, I was making the rounds of the Ala Moana parking
lots (a major source of dropped coins). On my second swing through the
area near Liberty House, I spotted a large white box which had not been
there before. It contained ten large, absolutely scrumptious pastries
from the bakery at Shirokiya. Now why would someone abandon such a treat?
Could it have been someone supposed to be on a diet who yielded,
massively, to temptation, bought a dozen assorted pastries, ate two, and
fled, guiltily leaving the rest behind? Whatever the explanation, it
certainly made for some fine snacks during the rest of the day and at
breakfast on Monday morning.
As for the hacienda angel, I suspect it is actually Rocky who is
abandoning those bags of food. Perhaps he visits an auntie or his
grandmother and they send him away with bags of food; it would explain why
they are so lovingly packaged. On Saturday there was a newcomer at the
hacienda, a young Irish lad with accent so thick it was difficult to
understand him. He had found one of those bags and was busily eating the
contents. I think he may have been talking to Rocky, but when I arrived
he came over and offered me one of the rice packets, then sat to chat for
awhile. I hadn't been able to see what he was offering, asked "what's
that?", and he explained it was rice with Chinese cucumber, something I
doubt he would have known had Rocky not told him. Rocky put his
headphones on and settled back on his bench. Thinking about it, I
realized those bags are usually on the bench outside where Rocky sometimes
sits before going inside and they are always left between the time I've
settled for the night and the time I get up. If my theory is correct,
it's very sweet of him to lug the bags down there instead of just dumping
them, since he doesn't seem to want the contents himself.
And it was sweet, too, that we had the hacienda to ourselves on Sunday
The second round of the Free Mickey's Game was lost at five cents. I told
my opponent I thought she had played rather a boring game Monday
afternoon, that I was going to Ala Moana and if I did not find at least
one coin on the walk from the bus stop to Long's, I was buying a 22oz can
of Sapporo (on sale for $1.34, including tax) and calling it a day. No
coins, so that's just what I did. Junk beer compared to Mickey's Malt,
but it made for a fine nightcap while the Vienna Philharmonic played
Mendelssohn's Fifth Symphony. Okay, so Felix didn't like his own
symphony. He probably wouldn't have liked the beer, either.
Readers have already weighed in, blue stockings firmly in place, with
grumbles about the "desperate search for alcohol", utterly missing the
spirit of the game. To put it quite bluntly, I wish people would fuck off
with their judgments about me and alcohol. And I'm quite aware that
sentiment goes into the file as further evidence of my "affliction". Not
that I see any real need for justifying, but it does seem to me that
anyone truly desperate for a drink would not have abandoned Sunday's game
when only three cents were missing.
Aries 1998 gone with the wind. Good riddance. I cannot remember a more
boring Aries, despite this one's super-abundant planetary
As for that last weekend of the Ram, there were two fine music events
which I wrote about in soc.culture.hawaii:
Of several musical events, a decidedly enjoyable one was Saturday evening
at the Orvis Auditorium on the UH Manoa Campus. The UH Opera Workshop
presented an evening of excerpts from a dozen stage works, ranging from
baroque opera to a love duet from a new musical currently on Broadway.
The excerpts were staged, in costume, and delightfully seamed together by
the antics and banter of directors John Mount and Laurence Paxton,
evidently continuing what has become something of a tradition for these
The biggest surprise came for me during a lengthy excerpt from Puccini's
"La Boheme", almost the entire third act. When Jordan Shanahan, playing
Marcello, started to sing it was difficult to believe I was at a student
concert. He has a mature, splendid voice and I hope to hear more of him
in the future. The Mimi in that excerpt, Amber Sudduth, was also
excellent, both looked and sounded the part.
I think my favorite excerpt, though, was the Opening Scene of Gian-Carlo
Menotti's "Old Maid and the Thief". The staging was delightful, all the
participants did an excellent job, and I'd love to see them do the entire
work. Sam Collins, better known for other reasons on campus, was a fine
figure when he strode in wearing the UH Football shirt, even finer once
the ladies almost ripped it off him.
The selection of works was admirable and even more surprising was the
choice of particular segments. I had seen the list of works to be
included and almost all of my guesses as to individual songs or arias were
wrong ... not "If I Were a Rich Man" from "Fiddler on the Roof" but the
amusing, and amusingly done, "Matchmaker", etc.
It was, though, somewhat ironic to be sitting there enjoying the evening
while at the same time thinking that two of best musicians in the house
weren't on stage at all, but sitting a few rows behind us.
And those two, Jon and Jake, I got to see with Lopaka at Ala Moana Center
Stage on Sunday afternoon when Pure Heart, as always, wowed the crowd with
their incredible energy, enthusiasm, humor and, most of all, musical
wizardry. Their debut CD is wonderful, but there's just nothing like
seeing and watching them live and it never goes on long enough to suit
And, no, it was NOT I who requested the Pink Panther Theme.
Late Sunday afternoon at Ala Moana, I spotted that young man I'd met in
Kapiolani Park, the fellow I thought was on downers. He was sitting on
one of the benches in the suburban bus-stop area, so I sat down on the
bench behind him. I misjudged that lad, I think. He suffers from some
mental and/or physical condition which simulates dosage on downers, and he
obviously has considerable difficulty controlling it. My arrival got him
noticeably agitated but after a few minutes of struggle, he turned around
and said "hi" to me. Then we just sat smiling at each for about fifteen
minutes until the Salt Lake bus arrived and he got up to leave, turned
around and said "bye" with a big smile. A difficult challenge, that young
man, but I hope I get the opportunity to know him better, if not to accept
his initial interesting financial proposal. He was dressed very neatly in
a pink polo shirt and tan trousers, so someone is looking after him well,
but he must lead a very unhappy life with people constantly misdiagnosing
the reason for his odd behavior. Definitely a challenge, but one I'd
And welcome, too, whatever challenges The Bull brings with him in the
Year of the Tiger ...
The "id". Ah, long time since hearing that term. "The part of the psyche
associated with instinctual impulses and the desire for instant
And whilst, as they say Over There, writing that (with Kevyn's pen), the
delightful gentleman from the Shinran Shonin group walked by and handed me
a flyer for the meeting on Friday which I had already written into the
datebook Kory K gave me. The second part of the animated film about
Shinran Shonin will be shown.
The "id". Hasn't all that been totally discredited yet as infantile
EKGs must be overly simplified, too. On my second visit to the Research
Clinic, after my blood pressure must have been raised a notch by that dish
of a young doctor, it was still only "borderline high". The EKG, though,
had to be faxed to a cardiologist and I had to wait around an hour for his
consent before I could continue my career as a guinea pig. He gave it.
Time for a Mickey's. Oh happy "id".
Despite the pastries, I lost a pound.
Maybe the hacienda should be renamed the Rocky Horror Social Club. That
lad must have been the kind of kid who took stray dogs home. Fairly early
on Wednesday evening he walked up with a newcomer. I was just finishing
my Mickey's nightcap, sat and stared at them (although it's too dark to
tell exactly what anyone is looking at unless very close). After a little
chat, they both settled down. Then two fellows walked up the path. I'd
guess they were former school chums of Rocky's, judging by the
conversation. It looked like being a long gabfest so, checking my watch
and seeing it was only about ten, I left and caught the bus to the
cloisters, my first night there in many weeks. In some ways it's a
better sanctuary, especially since the benches aren't confined to one
small area, but there are lights left on all night which is a nuisance and
the traffic noise is worse since the road is much nearer. And, of course,
there's no Rocky.
Before Rocky and the stranger arrived, I had been enjoying station-hopping
on the radio and then fell into the longest reverie about K.M. in a very
long time, partly because of my remark in a recent tale about misjudging
the nature of that relationship, or at least my side of it. That was
incorrect. It was indeed a case of "falling in love". Never wanted
to, what am I to do, can't help it ... Absurdly enough, I still
can't, I'm still in love with the man. Sheez. (I'm sure he'd not only
echo that but use stronger terminology.) As the young woman said in
Object of My Affection, we can't control who we fall in love with,
or something like that. In any case, it was an hour of thinking which had
me in no mood for Rocky's class reunion so I'm grateful for the
alternative of the cloisters, the more so since it was a wet and windy
Clouds prevented seeing that dazzling early morning sky dance of Venus,
Jupiter and the crescent moon which has made the predawn hour so magical
all week, and it was such an odd feeling to awaken in a different place
and miss all my habitual morning routine, Thursday got off to a rocky (if
Rocky-less) start. I hadn't eaten anything on Wednesday but a loaf of
bread, shared with the birds, so a large chunk of chocolate cake made for
a welcome breakfast, even if it wasn't especially good cake. The birds
enjoyed it, too, and it was fun watching those sassy little sparrows
try to fly off with big chunks of it. No luck, it was too crumbly to
hold together during attempted lift-off.
Sparrows in Manoa with frustrated ids.
Madama Fortuna doesn't want to stop playing. Fifty-two cents and I wasn't
even trying. But with the Free Mickey's Game, as with everything else in
life, I play better when not trying to succeed.
Thursday was a splendid day so far as the weather was concerned. After a
short time on campus I went to Ala Moana to shower and wash my UH polo
shirt. The back of a bench on Magic Island makes a most excellent
clothesline, sitting and gazing at Diamond Head in the distance and
watching the surfers outside the harbor entrance. Someone had spilled
some French fries, so I crumbled them up for the ground doves. The birds
are far more shy and cautious there than on campus. In Manoa they will
flock over and eat from a piece of bread held in the hand (at times the
only way to defeat the sparrows and other more aggressive birds who will
grab as big a piece as possible and fly off with it). The ground doves
will even perch on my hand as they eat the bread; at Magic Island they
were worried about having to come within a couple of feet from me. Life
on the UH Manoa campus is good, for the birds and for the urban
As Stephen Stills sang, "I have been arou-ow-ow-nd the world", but there's
only one place I love more than the UH Manoa campus and that's Durbar
Square in Kathmandu.
The Institute for Human Services was having a picnic on Magic Island so I
suppose I could have had a free lunch but didn't feel hungry enough to
tackle a crowd of strangers to get it. I think I should go to IHS
sometime just to add to my (actually very naive) knowledge of so-called
homeless life. I've never heard anyone mention the place without some
degree of scorn, though. Several nomads have told me they sometimes go
there to eat but wouldn't stay there.
While waiting for the bus to Ala Moana, I spotted Tomita-san crossing the
street and walking over to the Education building. Walk that walk! Again
I thought how strange it is, the great affection I have for that man. As
he was standing outside the building entrance, he spotted me and we
exchanged waves. Now that's an "anti-depressant" no laboratory could
And my id was instantly gratified.
Sitting on a bench by Ala Moana Beach, waiting for the cleaning man to
finish in the shower building, I was treated to a lengthy battle between
two large ringneck doves. They don't seem to use their beaks at all in
fighting, just their feet. By the time they finally gave it up, one's
wing was drooping and the other had a few feathers about to fall out. And
all that over a few square feet of sand. It was impossible not to think
of Saddam Hussein and our Leader.
Friday afternoon I was hurrying across campus, concerned I might be late
for the film, and I ran into Tomita-san so stopped being concerned and
enjoyed a few minutes of his company. Then Russ walked past and gave me
that special smile of his. Yowza.
The second part of Shinran Shonin: Light of the World was, as an
animated film, as charming as the first part, but it was far more
difficult to fully comprehend. Some advance study of the Japanese
terminology would have been most helpful. While two of his "Great
Debates" were understandable, the meaning of the third totally escaped me.
And I was a little disturbed by the Christian-like emphasis on Amida
Buddha being the only path to salvation, while certainly feeling
great sympathy with the then almost heretical notion that Amida Buddha's
path is there for all human beings, not just unmarried monks who do not
eat meat. There are four more parts to the epic. I look forward to
seeing them and wouldn't mind seeing the second part again after more
thoroughly perusing the printed material they gave us before the
I sat in the grove after the film and read some Tales I had printed out
earlier. I do prefer reading them on paper.
Then I went to Ala Moana and stopped to watch the taping of "Hawaii
Stars". The less said about that, the better.
And it was one of those wonderful nights I most treasure, just me and
Oh my aching back. No, wasn't that everhard wooden bench, but my backpack
which must have weighed twice as much as usual on Sunday morning. Baked
potatos are delicious, but rather heavy. Beer is even more delicious but
also not featherweight.
The Free Mickey's Game was won before dawn on Sunday. I didn't find the
$1.23 needed to buy a bottle, I found the bottle. It's understandable.
It is my favorite brew but it's also very cheap, and I can understand why
someone would decide in the wee hours after a night of drinking that it
just wasn't worth lugging home. So I filled my one-litre Rubbermaid flask
and an empty Mountain Dew bottle with the contents, and squeezed them into
the backpack with the potatos and two loaves of bread.
Then I found an almost full bottle of Beck's, the dark version. No room,
no room. Well, you know what they say about "waste not", so for the first
time in my long life, so far as I can remember, I watched the sunrise with
a bottle of Beck's. A most excellent "breakfast dessert" to follow up the
senior coffee. Going (more happily) on my way, I found about half a
bottle of Corona, the big bottle. Okay.
Just to prove I'm not a total degenerate, I did have two cups of coffee
and a microwave-warmed potato once I got to campus.
Saturday morning's stroll only yielded a pint of Budweiser. I had
intended to save it for a nightcap but ended up drinking it while
listening to part of Massenet's "Herodiae". Not as interesting a beer as
Mickey's and not as interesting a Salome as that of Strauss.
Sinclair Library was oddly deserted all afternoon so I spent a lot of time
in MUD2 before leaving campus for Waikiki. Dennis and Kawika Kamakahi and
BB Shawn were playing at the International Marketplace, looking very smart
with large posters of their album covers hanging behind them, sounding as
smooth and wonderful as always although without the kind of almost rolling
rhythm heard when the full Na Oiwi ensemble is playing. Speaking of
rolling rhythm, the surf off Waikiki was just that ... wonderful to watch
under a glorious sunset. I stopped in Kapiolani Park to listen to the
country dance music for awhile before heading on to the bench, then
wished I had gone earlier since I'd missed most of a program devoted to
Bing Crosby's recordings of American theatre songs.
Rocky didn't come home. The Snorer did. Things change, Kundun. Today
you lose, tomorrow you may win.
The Proper Man arranges the calendar and makes the seasons
Second day of the Fourth Month of the Tiger, first day of the Year 1419 by
Islamic reckoning. My watch says it is Sunday, April 26, but it's a day
Write on the blackboard 100 times: "I am not interested. I am not
interested." That's what I told myself last night when Rocky walked over
between my bench and the one behind me and took his shirt off. He had
brought home another stray dog, a young, cute one this time. They were
sitting on his usual bench quietly talking when the dreaded Snorer arrived
and sat on the bench facing it, started rambling away in a loud voice. I
turned my radio up and that's the point when Rocky strolled over and
displayed his torso. Then he went to the bench behind that and settled
down, his new friend went to one most distant from the Snorer and settled
down as well. Luckily I could only see Rocky through slits in the back of
the bench between us, but he twice got up and walked out, probably for a
pee, and walked back in, so I kept on writing on the mental blackboard.
It wasn't really warm enough to settle down barechested, don't know what
he was up to.
I was listening to some fine blues on NPR, then switched to the other
station where they were playing very spacey electronic stuff, so I walked
out to have a cigarette and look at the stars. Rocky's stray puppy came
out and asked me if there was a restroom in Restaurant Row; I suggested he
could probably walk in and use the one at Pizza Bob's with no trouble,
explained where it was, but he didn't make the attempt. Cute kid, very
nicely spoken, too.
By that time the Snorer had started his horrendous nocturnal sound
pollution and a person who had been bundled up on the floor in the far
corner got up and left. Rocky and I had our radios as defense. If the
batteries ever run out in mine when the Snorer is in residence, I'll be
walking out, too.
I'd spent much of the afternoon reading Lin Yutang's Importance of
Living after wandering along the shelves on the second floor at
Hamilton waiting for an impulse to suggest pulling a book off the shelf.
I haven't read that book since the early Sixties, had forgotten how
elegant and witty it is. I should xerox his remarks on smoking and keep
them with me in case I ever fall victim to the delusional notion of
Each visit, the psychiatrist has asked me if I have paranoid feelings. I
think I'll answer yes this time, tell him Filipino cleaners are out to get
me. It feels that way sometimes, when I arrive at Ala Moana and spot
one of them a few ashtrays ahead of me, having destroyed all the treasure
as they passed. Such was the case Sunday evening and I finally walked
over to the Ala Moana Hotel where the cleaners are not so conscientious.
It was a fortuitous visit, since a large plate of meatloaf with gravy,
chicken and rice, with a side dish of something fried in pastry shells,
was waiting on a ledge, barely touched. It was tempting to pull out the
pint of beer I'd managed to save all day and enjoy it with the meal, but I
went on saving it for a nightcap and later was very happy I had.
Sunday's cornucopia of food and drink did not, alas, continue into Monday
morning. Although there were some loaves of the sourdough Italian bread,
there was none of the much better wheat bread and all the beer gardens
were empty, a cruel blow in these last days before the fabled pension
The only way I could get more "freedom" than I have now, as suggested by
Cainer in his message for this week, would be to get rid of craving for
tobacco, alcohol and food.
Not gonna happen, Jonathan.
I've said it before, and I hope I'll have plenty of opportunities to say
it again. There's nothing like some time with Tomita-san.
secluded grove in manoa
most special place indeed
asian lad, sunglasses drag down the neck of his tee
eating thin sandwich, examining slips of paper
seed balls bombarding from a windy heaven
will those trees never stop
beer through a straw
oh so raw
have no intention
beat me daddy eight to a bar
and a seed ball falls on my head
Wow, far out man!
About the only thing I could think to say about the interview on NPR last
night with Peter Coyote, promoting his just-published memoirs. Having
been at the party in London he talked about, his perception of it, and of
that whole strange expedition, was cause for a big grin.
In the late Sixties, a group of the Diggers, Ken Kesey and some of his
people, and other San Francisco folk made up an ambassadorial troupe to
"investigate" the Beatles, find out if they were as "real" as their music
suggested. They made the possible error of including some Hells Angels in
the group. Their overall attitude, which many people in the London
"underground" found absurdly patronizing, was given a physically
aggressive appearance (and on a couple of occasions, actuality) by the
Angels. To those of us watching from the sidelines, it seemed that the
Beatles and their people handled the entire thing very well, but Coyote
reported last night that the West Coast group had decided in the end that
the Beatles were not "real" even if their music was acceptable.
Those were the days, my friend, we knew they'd sometime end ... not with a
bang or a whimper, but with a bunch of hardcover memoirs.
Readers have written from time to time commending the benefits of
contemplating the ocean. Although I enjoy sitting for awhile and watching
it, and did for an hour at Ala Moana on Saturday morning, doing so has no
significant effect on my mood or state of mind. Perhaps the esoteric
calendars of West and East provide a clue. Born under a Western Fire sign
and in a year of the Elder Fire Dragon, it might not be surprising that an
open fireplace or a campfire would be a more appropriate vehicle.
Opportunities to watch flames, aside from the Usenet variety, are rather
rare in Hawaii, alas.
I could have used some method of altering the state of mind during much of
the last week of April. A profound boredom settled over me and I wasn't
interested in doing anything but was not content to do nothing. It wasn't
until Friday evening when a performance of the Bach Magnificat from
Philadelphia finally restored my ability to enjoy listening to music,
after days of using it only as a means to block less pleasant sounds. I
stopped reading Magister Ludi and went back to Journey to the
East but it, too, failed to capture my attention until Friday. And as
readers will have noticed, there were no new Tales.
Rocky spoke. He even quoted a recent Tale.
"What you looking at?"
I was, of course, looking at him. He had walked up the path, couldn't
miss noticing his usual bench was taken, and then paced back and forth
several times. I was so astounded by him speaking to me that I just told
him the truth.
"Watching to see where you're going to settle down."
Later I wished I'd replied "what *you* looking at?", since he had to have
been looking at me to begin with.
The hacienda went through strange times during the last week of
April. A couple who had been there a few times before, a large local man
and a small woman, stayed for three nights in a row, each time moving
Rocky's usual bench and the one facing it closer together to form a
"double bed". Rocky was absent the first two nights. On the third night,
I arrived later than usual. The couple was in place, but my usual bench
had been turned around and moved similarly close to the one behind it. On
those two were Rocky and one of the young men he had brought in earlier in
the week. Why they, too, wanted a "double bed" I don't know. Then, on the
night of Rocky's question to me, the large local man had arrived on his
own and took Rocky's usual bench after spending some time going around and
moving each bench he seemed to think wasn't perfectly aligned.
Rocky eventually settled two benches away from me, without further
The next night, when the large local man was on the bench facing the
one which had been Rocky's usual spot, Rocky must have decided to reclaim
his territory because he settled down there despite the large, close
One night, for the first time, every bench was taken and a latecomer had
to make do with one of the outside benches. It has been a little
unsettling to have so much variation in that sanctuary, after many
weeks of relative sameness. It was also unsettling to have winter return
unexpectedly and, having already stashed my sweatshirt and a long-sleeve
shirt, I spent one night feeling decidedly cold with just the nylon
windbreaker I recently found. The long-sleeves were promptly returned to
the backpack until Spring comes around again.
The week's visit to the Clinic was unremarkable. Each week's
questionnaire is essentially identical and most of the questions seem
strangely irrelevant. I did have the feeling that it would be amusing to
have a non-test relationship with a psychiatrist and, not for the first
time, felt a little envious of Hermann Hesse's good fortune to have not
only had one, but with Carl Jung himself. If the capsules I am taking for
this research have any drug in them, it certainly isn't a very noticeable
one. Unless, of course, they found a drug which creates boredom, in which
case it is a tremendous success. That could be a line of research, get a
patient so bored he doesn't give a damn if he's depressed.
... how sweet, how innocent, how blissful had been that dream which
haunted my youth, which made me a story-teller, a musician, and a
novitiate, and had led me to Morbio ... wrote Hesse in Journey to
I wanted violin lessons. My parents wouldn't hear of it. I got piano
lessons instead, learned to read music, play a little Bach and Beethoven
very badly. "Little clouds go drifting by, through the sky, through the
sky". As they did at midday over the secluded grove in Manoa.
I learned to play harmonica, had a large collection of Hohner's. Then
bought a beautiful mahogany recorder and tried to be Pan.
But nothing, nothing, matched the shiney red electric Gibson guitar.
Arranging the electronics so I could hear in headphones the results of my
fingers, the pain of acquiring calluses to make the strings my friends
A little acid, an hour, a day, a night, just me and my guitar.
"Who would you be if not yourself?" asked friends one night as we sat
around the fire passing a hashish joint. "James Taylor," I said,
foregoing the pinnacle of Clapton.
Rain, rain go away ... Oh, what tiresome weather. This spring is the
opposite of all the romantic images one might have had about life in the
Hawaiian Islands, those fantasies of reclining on the warm sand in the
moonlight, balmy tradewinds rustling the palms. No, this year the
signature is gray sky, drizzle, chilly gusts of wind, the sun nowhere to
As without, so within.
Fine music in the afternoon, good food and good company in the early
evening, an interesting experience in the theatre afterwards. No, it
couldn't budge me from the intense ennui of these days, echoed so
perfectly by the weather. A few moments of pleasure, of feeling happy to
be alive, just a veneer on the Weltschmerz. What is the matter with me?
Is there a Seven Month Itch to nomadic life?
Two Indian astrologer/palmists told me I'd live into my Eighties. They
mistakenly thought I'd be pleased. Unless there is a dramatic shift in my
life, I certainly hope they were wrong. Twenty-plus more years of this
sounds worse than a prison sentence.
Rocky didn't come home. The Snorer and the Big Dude did, and totally
surprised me when their conversation awoke me on Sunday morning. Both
sounded so educated, so literate. I would not have expected it at all. I
wished the Snorer a "good morning" when leaving, he returned the
greeting. I could have told him to find somewhere else to stay, but is a
snorer any worse than the awful guitarist who was my neighbor for too many
months, when I was paying six hundred a month to endure his
Does everyone who writes these things turn into a whiner?
Four little ground doves, after sharing my lunch, sat on my table and
fluffed up their feathers. Little feather balls to keep me company and
give me a smile on a gray Sunday morning.
One lesson I really should by now have learned much better is to pay close
attention to intuition. Now and then I may mis-read it and, say, walk in
a different direction which in the end didn't seem to make any difference
or be worth the diversion, but most of the time intuition is handing out
highly accurate and useful advice.
I certainly should have listened to it on Sunday morning when doubts were
raised about the advisability of eating some unknown mixture of stuff from
an abandoned plate-lunch container. The rice, I'm sure, would have been
fine, the other stuff obviously wasn't. I was sitting at a terminal in
Sinclair Library when I suddenly felt decidedly seasick, walked over to
the blue-green building and lay on a bench for awhile and then had to make
a bee-line to Sakamaki Hall to use the vomitorium, usually known as the
men's room. I thought it best to attempt to flush out any remaining
offensive material in my stomach, so gulped down a Pepsi rather quickly
and returned to a reclining position on the bench until it, too, was ready
for a quick exit, seemingly taking the rest of my unfortunate breakfast
out with it. That seems to have provided the cure but I didn't feel
entirely well for the rest of the afternoon, didn't go down for my usual
Sunday Mickey's and regretfully missed the Hot Lix Hawaiian Style concert
at Kapiolani Park.
Discovering three packs of "Golden Dinner Rolls" (six rolls to a pack)
abandoned at a bus stop on Monday morning undoubtedly makes for a much
safer breakfast ... and the birds loved them, too.
I've finally made friends with one of the Brazilian Cardinals. They are
usually much shyer about approaching as close as the doves will, but this
one, a wonderfully stylish fellow who keeps himself in top condition, now
lands on my table and waits for me to provide a private stash rather than
scrambling with the others on the ground. UH Manoa already has a Cat Man,
so I think I'm becoming the Bird Man. I even looked at Long's to see how
much birdseed packets are. The cheapest was $2.69, so day-old bread would
be a more sensible purchase on those rare days when something doesn't turn
up for free.
The dreary weather lasted throughout Sunday and continued on Monday
morning. I missed my original appointment with the Quest medical program
people and have to go any morning at 7:45 for a standby appointment. If
Dame Fortune wants me to embark on a second medical game, she has to
provide a morning with at least partly clear skies and no drizzle. She
has thirty days to come up with one.
I went off to the bench early on Sunday evening and enjoyed the weekly
broadcast of vintage blues on NPR. They stretch the definition of "blues"
somewhat, but I've no complaint. Although much of what they played on
Sunday was unfamiliar to me, it mostly dated from the first half of the
Forties so I had the feeling I'd undoubtedly heard it before.
Rocky didn't come home, it was just me, the Big Dude and the Snorer. Then
the Big Dude's lady friend walked in, they sat and chatted for a time
before settling down, but at some time after I went to sleep, both of them
left and the snorer had moved onto Rocky's usual bench. Fortunately I
slept so deeply, his monotonous racket didn't awaken me.
I stopped in Rainbow Books earlier to see if they had a copy of Hesse's
Narciss und Goldmund. They did, but it was six dollars, so I guess
I'll have to read it at Hamilton. The air-conditioning was out at Holmes
Hall and Kory K was complaining. I wish it would go out at Hamilton.
secluded grove in manoa
birds strangely scarce
deterred perhaps by falling "berries"
bombarding prolific trees
now finished with their procreation
the birds still cautious
doves, two large, two small
dine on golden dinner rolls
young ladies chattering like absent mynahs
pick flowers and photograph each other
blue sky, at last, after solid gray
a touch of sun, reminder of spring
fly lands on the foot and crawls across it
strange choice in that magic place
place of transformation pending
hurry up please, it's time
secluded grove in manoa
zebra doves, sensing the tree was finished
flocked to lunch on golden dinner rolls
aggressive spotted dove arched its wings
at unliked bulbul, unwelcome guest
finishing their feast, doves departed
a birdless interlude, breeze in dappled sunlight
lone sparrow arrived, stunned by its good fortune
nervous being the only guest
surrounded by berries, joy comes as a crumb of bread
then a black cat walked in
Egbert's birthday. Midpoint between equinox and solstice, Beltane as it
was in the days before everyone yielded to Gregory's calendar and settled
on May first. Earth moving through the celestial junkyard left by Comet
Halley, too many clouds to catch a falling star. Mind moving through the
all-too-earthbound junkyard, or treasure cave, of memories. Dreary, gray
wet morning in Manoa.
On Monday evening, a newcomer arrived at the hacienda, a young lad with
curly hair, wearing glasses. Unusually, he said "hello" when he came in
and settled on the bench behind me. More newcomers, another couple,
arrived and took benches on the other side of the space. The man walked
over and asked if I could spare a cigarette. I explained that I had no
cigarettes but he was welcome to a little filtered cigar; he thanked me,
took it, then returned to offer me a large sweet pretzel. Curly pulled a
sheet over him and lay back, but his feet kept jiggling and several times
he sat up, went out to look for a cigarette butt and settled down again.
The third time I said "I thought you were going to sleep". "Can't sleep,"
he said. I offered him a little cigar, too. The snorer arrived, settled
on the bench across from Rocky's. I fell asleep before Rocky
The next night the new couple were already settled by the time I arrived,
a few other people were also bedded down. When the Big Dude and his lady
arrived, there were no two benches together, so they went away. Then
Rocky and Curly came strolling up the path together, sounding drunk and
merry. They stayed on an outside bench, I turned up the music to block
the noise. A Webern transcription of Bach ... what an oddity. But I
didn't feel like listening to Ives, so went back to the country station
when it began, and soon fell asleep.
Ordinary nights at the hacienda followed by dreary mornings when my mood
was as foul as the weather. Can we blame El Nino for the moods as
I wished I was in Delhi, escaping the hot blazing sun in the shade of
royal Mughal pavilions, or as on this day twenty-five years ago, walking
down the winding road from Mussoorie to Bhatta, splashing in the clear,
sparkling pool by the waterfall.
Although judging by Ka Leo the students find ample reasons to
grumble, there are few things I dislike about the UH Manoa campus. The
frigid temperature in Hamilton Library, young Asian ladies who speak with
antiquated Valley Girl accents ... most of all, that man with one of those
awful blowers who thoroughly disturbs the peace every weekday morning
behind Manoa Garden. Not his fault, of course.
There's much more to like than dislike about life on campus. Friends, the
feathered kind and the human kind, especially some of the latter who spend
no time on-line and thus form friendships where that static is absent, or
the friends who don't let that nonsense interfere with friendship;
beautiful secluded spots to sit and enjoy a book or watch the people pass
by; and, of course, the infrequently visited Playroom.
Everyone yielded on Wednesday and let the Underground Dude rule for
awhile. Venus in Aries smiled on the venture and there was no one there
but me and a young Asian fellow, probably Thai. If I'd seen him in the
Garden, I would have been content just to sit and enjoy the view. I more
than enjoyed it in the Playroom, where the view was considerably more
extensive than it would have been at the Garden. Although he allowed me
to sample the goods a few times, he was eventually insistent upon
providing a service rather than receiving it. Milk cow boogie, boogie
on. A delightful interlude which cast a glow over the rest of an
otherwise gray, damp day.
Enjoying the memory later when settled on my bench, I thought how I never
would have expected such a thing to happen at this point in my life. I'd
long thought the only intimate contact I was likely to have with a young
man would have to be purchased. Life is strange, and so are people. I'm
sometimes very happy that is so.
Since it either drizzled or poured water from the sky all day, I stayed in
Hamilton Library for most of the time, making one quick trip downhill for
some beer and smokes. The lady in the Korean shop used to order an extra
carton of Pall Malls for me each week. When I switched to the far cheaper
Captain Black's Sweets, I told her I wouldn't be buying Pall Malls very
often. A mistake. She said she'd order Captain Black's for me, and did.
But she's charging $1.85 a pack for them, same as Long's Ala Moana.
Long's Downtown sells them for $1.45. So, in order to be nice to her for
having been nice to me, I spend an extra forty cents. Life is strange,
like I said.
Seven months as an Urban Nomad. Yes, life is strange.
Thursday was a real rollercoaster of a day. The weather continued to be
vile for most of it. The Snorer had been so loud during the night that
someone kept making a noise to wake him up, then there would be a few
minutes of quiet until he started up again, so it was easier to sleep with
music going all night via the earphones, but it doesn't make for an
especially restful sleep. Even without that bad a night, every morning
of the week started off in an especially low mood, the gloom matching the
thick gray clouds which hid every dawn, and Thursday was no
The weekly visit to the Clinic was, however, a complete delight. The
psychiatrist and the nurse were both absent so my entire session was
conducted by the young doctor. And since the nurse wasn't there to take
the blood sample, he drove me to a nearby lab to have that done and then
drove me back to the clinic. That gave me the chance to ask him questions
for a change and I learned that he was raised here, went to Punahou but
switched to a small Christian academy for his final years of high school.
He's the kind of man who will be slow to ripen into "handsome", is still
best described as "cute", and very much that. He has a gentle, shy manner
which would make old ladies and children (and some old men) fall in love
with him as their doctor and it seems a shame for him to be working in
that research clinic instead of being in general practice.
I asked if they knew, and he said that they aren't told who is getting the
drug and who is getting the placebo. I told him I didn't think I was
getting it or, if so, getting the low dosage version. Thinking about it
later, it seems cruel in a way to put depressed people through a lengthy
sugar-pill program when known possibly-helpful medications might provide
more immediate relief, but perhaps they don't accept people for the
program if they are seriously, dangerously depressed. On the other hand,
it seems unlikely such people would approach the clinic, anyway. In any
case, it's a dilemma I wouldn't like to face as a doctor.
The hour with him was indeed a pleasure and I enjoyed some time in the
grove afterwards with a Whopper and a Mickey's, thinking about the
conversations with him and the Clinic experience in general, and reading a
little of Journey to the East. This sentence always strikes home
when I come to it: Once in their youth the light shone for them; they
saw the light and followed the star, but then came reason and the mockery
of the world; then came faint-heartedness and apparent failure; then came
weariness and disillusionment, and so they lost their way again, they
became blind again.
I was planning to return to Hamilton and work on a Tale, but instead got
caught up in other online stuff, including the neverending squabbles on
alt.culture.hawaii, got quite angry at some of it and wrote some dumb
posts, then stomped off to the Garden for a beer. Tomita-san won't be
around until finals are over, but Bryant was in a jolly mood and his
company plus an amusing Oprah show about varying international concepts of
beauty lifted my mood back up to at least almost as high as it had been
after the time with the young doctor.
A brief online session lowered it again (I really should be able to see a
clue in the pattern). Then I went to the Regent to listen to Aunty Genoa
and company, something guaranteed to lift the spirits. I'd missed those
Thursday evenings for so long, there were a lot of hearty welcome backs,
too many free drinks and even half a chocolate bar from the sweet old
fellow who sits at the bar there every Thursday. I returned the favor by
going out and getting a couple of Hershey bars, one for me and one for
But after the high of those hours, I sat on the beach awhile and returned
to gloom, feeling so annoyed with myself for getting involved with the
junk on Usenet and for adding to the poisonous atmosphere too often
present in those newsgroups.
Rocky and Curly seem to have formed a buddy team which would be splendid;
they're so young to be living in the streets on their own. They were
already settled on Rocky's usual bench and the one facing it. I settled
on mine but after falling asleep was awakened by the dreaded Snorer who
had, alas, taken the bench right behind me. So I moved to the other
side of the area where a bench was luckily still available behind the Big
Dude and his lady. I had planned to stop in Long's and buy some earplugs,
but since a bus had come along in Waikiki which took me directly to the
hacienda, I decided to postpone the trip to Long's. Wish I
But then "wish I hadn't" was a main theme of that gray, dreary, damp
Thursday. There are more than enough factors in my life to add those
down-dips to the rollercoaster without creating any myself.
secluded grove in manoa
oh, naughty black cat
smart girl has discovered the secret
the man who feeds, the doves who eat
and comes looking for lunch
no mynahs to spread the alarm
the man did it
traitor to felinity
little black ants, so stupid
too fragile to brush off
too dumb to be offered safe exit
patch of blue sky, so rare in gray days
refreshing lightness of a single shirt
crushing melancholy relieved by adjusted attire
softening another day of unwanted existence
Beautiful little Buddha walked over to me. "Excuse me, sir. Would it be
possible to borrow a lighter?"
"Everything I have is yours, my child."
Okay, no I didn't say that, but I certainly thought it, only wished
"everything" wasn't so little to offer. No matter how hard chemists work,
they'll never discover a drug that can change the mood as much as some
Sing a hymn of praise to earplugs ... quiet, peaceful night without the
drone of traffic or the horror of the dreaded Snorer.
It looks like the buddy act didn't quite jell, at least not yet. Curly
came in, friendly as always, but Rocky didn't come home. Big Dude and his
lady were there, dreaded Snorer took a bench on the far side making it
even easier for the earplugs to eliminate him.
Mahler's Third Symphony started to annoy me about halfway through because
of its constant extremes of dynamics, too much straining to hear very,
very soft passages and then being blasted off the bench by tympani and
horns just made it too irksome. Back to country music and drifting off to
sleep, awakening briefly to change sound-producing earplugs for
A loaf of bread, two unopened cans of beer, a nickel and four pennies ...
all before the sun rose. And the sun, at last, rising in a sky not full
of clunky gray clouds. Fine start to a Saturday morning. More treasures,
edible and readable, had the backpack groaningly full before mid-morning.
Venus in Aries, shine on.
A treasury of Asian literature, from Persia, India, China, Japan. I'll
keep that to read. A bunch of computer books and textbooks, I'll take
those to Rainbow later. It's that time when lazy students just abandon
their books rather than take them to a buyer. A copy of the literary
magazine, Hungry Mind Review, first time I've seen that kind of
publication in many years. I'm surprised by the excellence of the
writing, both in style and content.
Venus in Aries, shine on.
Worthless books. Ah well, I guess that wasn't the "practical assistance"
Cainer predicted for this weekend. A shame. This is probably going to be
the most poverty stricken month yet in this bizarre exercise, so each
little assist is most welcome. With the textbooks, I was not surprised.
Publishers of such epics have long discovered that issuing a "new
edition", even if it only means changing the edition number on the title
page, leads to continued profit. But I wouldn't have thought there had
been sufficient changes in "Forth" and "C" to render two-year-old books on
the subjects worthless. Poor authors, relegated to the trashcan. Which
is where the books were left.
Verdi's "Nabucco". What a shameless hussy he was.
The Treasury of Asian Literature, sections ripped off after being read to
lighten the weight, is indeed a treasury.
A huge collection of coldcuts ... ham, roast beef, turkey. Last week's
experience had me too suspicious, I distributed it to the cats, creatures
with stronger digestive systems.
Blue sky, but showers of rain now and then nonetheless. Memories of a boy
with fantasies of Arabia, magical mechanical flying horses, lamps housing
genies, frankincense and myrrh, tales of a thousand and one nights. Yes,
Of course, it, I probably could have successfully sold.
Fond though I am of young Asian men, they have, or most of them have, one
odd habit. They jiggle in a nervous rhythm one leg, or both of them, when
sitting. This can be a curious delight or a source of some irritation,
depending upon the environment and, as always, the mood of the eye of the
beholder. When the environment includes a wooden surface turning their
strange manifestation of energy into drum beats, and the mood of the eye
is one of concentration upon a written text, the young Asian man loses his
attraction. The fault, of course, lies with the beholder.
Cellular phones are a prime sign of the end of civilization as we knew it,
a harbinger of doom like no other. Sanctuaries of more noble achievements
of mankind like libraries, churches, temples and theatres should not allow
such devices to be present on the premises. Thus I, and the other folks
using the reserve room at Sinclair Library, would have been spared
learning that David is very cute but sadly has no interest in the female
person using one of those infernal devices, nor would we have known her
plans for spending Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Signs of an afternoon plagued by demons in human form ...
There's a major hole in my education. Well, I am sure there are many.
I've never managed to finish Joyce's Ulysses or Proust's
multi-volume epic despite many starts. But I've never even begun The
Tale of Genji. After completing the lengthy, delightful excerpt in
that found Treasury of Asian Literature, I am resolved to correct my
oversight by reading more about Genji who, like many apparently, I fell in
love with just from hearing about him.
I was never much interested in Japan or things Japanese until coming to
Hawaii, never made an effort to spend more time there when landing to
change planes. My focus had always been on India, the Himalayan kingdoms,
It was a strange Saturday afternoon and I fell into an increasingly weird
mood, was inclined to hide away somewhere in puzzled seclusion. But some
friends asked me to join them in Waikiki to see "Deep Impact", so at the
last minute I stirred myself and managed to get to the theatre on time.
It was, I thought, a rather silly film not coming even close to the new
benchmark in doomed-mankind epics set by "ID4", but it had its amusing
moments in between overly-long segments dealing with overly-boring
secondary plot lines. Certainly not a film I'd want to see more than
once, however delightful it is to see Manhattan, yet again, get thoroughly
trashed. I'll wait for Godzilla to do it again.
I went directly to the bench after the film, in no mood for crowds and
music, thus foregoing the block party at Restaurant Row. Neither Rocky
nor Curly came home but, of course, the Snorer did, again happily
obliterated from existence by earplugs. Sunday morning brought the
discovery of yet another beer garden and a full bottle of Mickey's as well
as two bottles of an exceedingly strange beverage from Seagram's, a brewed
malt concoction with a "wild berry" flavor which provided ample reason for
having been abandoned. A fortuitious omen, nonetheless, for an early
start to penniless days. Yes, the fabled pension check gone already,
weekly proceeds of selling my body likewise.
I go to Dame Fortune for refuge. Luck, be a Lady tonight.
Sunday afternoon and evening were dominated by the events of a few moments
which I wrote about to a mail-list:
Death on University Avenue
Why did the chicken cross the road? I dunno, but it didn't
make it. A large black hen had made it halfway across,
headed for the Church of the Crossroads. A car hit it.
It was laying on its back, flapped one wing weakly a few
times and was still.
It's the first time in many years I've watched anything
larger than an insect actually die. Sickening feeling.
Why did it have such a strong effect on me? It was just a chicken.
Hundreds of thousands of them are slaughtered every day for frying
pans, ovens and stewpots around the world. Maybe it was partly my
friendship with the birds on campus, but I think it was mostly the more
abstract experience of being present while the Grim Reaper stood in the
middle of the avenue over the fallen bird and took its life.
It did make me feel literally sick and I headed for the nearest
bus-stop bench to sit for a few minutes. There was a full, large bottle
of Miller beer in a bag behind the bench. I was grateful for the beer,
but still wished I had not happened to walk down the avenue at just that
I'd gone downhill to get my last bottle of Mickey's, having enough money
for just one more and deciding I'd rather go ahead and drink the thing
than walk around any longer debating whether to save it for the evening or
not. The free bottle settled that debate and it was a pleasure later to
have the Mickey's under a sky dominated by the almost-full moon shining
amongst fluffy white clouds, looking like that logo-sequence for the
Dreamworks film company (for me, the best part of "Deep Impact"). I
listened to the blues program on NPR for an hour, but they were playing
music only from 1953 all evening and one hour of that was enough. I'd
almost finished the beer and was about to settle down for the night when
the Snorer arrived and offered me half a sandwich. It was one of those
"melt" concoctions, very messy but quite delicious. Since my dinner up
till then had consisted of a leftover "super-sized" box of fries from
McDonald's, I was grateful for the bedtime snack. And since my earplugs
were ready to block his awful nocturnal noises, I could be glad without
reservation that the Snorer had come home.
Neither Rocky nor Curly did, but a newcomer arrived late and took the
bench behind me, a young man wearing a white baseball cap and, oddly,
carrying his belongings in a Cuervo box. Stylish luggage, if somewhat
awkward to lug around.
I'd spent most of the afternoon reading. Although the fiction, drama and
poetry sections of the Asian Treasury contained much that was completely
new to me, having arrived at the Scriptures section, there is nothing I've
not encountered before: the Gita, Tao te Ching, Confucian Analects,
Dhammapada, Koran. Most of the translations are new to me, though, except
for Legge's version of the Analects. They are so colorless and stilted
compared to Pound's. I'm in too dull a frame of mind for any of it to
really touch me. Some of the songs on the country music station have a
stronger impact on me right now, not to mention close encounters with
And those fool moon's eyes ...
All but the very loudest traffic noise is completely blocked by the
earplugs, but there are two sources of noise which can defeat them: the
Snorer at his worst, and a cat in heat. Both managed it on Monday
night while the full moon was trying to peek through rain-laden clouds.
Someone did something to make the Snorer change position and at least
lower the volume level and the cat went off to look elsewhere for
satisfaction, so the rest of the night remained quiet and
It had been a pleasant day, if a bit windy, but in the late afternoon
Manoa became enshrouded in a heavy gray mist and rain started to either
drizzle or moderately pour almost continuously. So I stayed in Hamilton
Library, explored more shelves on the frigidly cold second floor. If I
tried to read The Tale of Genji while sitting up there, I'd need an
electric blanket. That's a BIG book.
There had been no beer in the beer gardens, not surprising since it had
also rained on Sunday night. The one sheltered spot had an unopened can
of V-8 juice, a nice breakfast treat but not quite what I had been looking
for. There was little bread in the breadbasket, but a couple of baked
potatos. When I was warming those later in the microwave outside Manoa
Garden, a Very Important Supervisor Person who had stopped by to grumble
at a workman turned his attention to me and haughtily informed me those
microwaves were there for the use of people who purchased food from the
vending machines. Foregoing all the many possible responses, I merely
smiled and nodded, waited for my potatos to finish heating.
Considering the fact those microwaves are undoubtedly used far more
by the students for non-machine-provided food, that poor man must lead an
unhappy life, worrying over the theft of electricity. He'd probably like
to see them install coin-operated microwaves, twenty-five cents per
The nasty weather did give me a break, stopped long enough for me to get
to the sheltered bus stop and, once at Ala Moana, stopped again while I
got a bus to the hacienda, only once again started its windblown
drizzle act after I had reached my bench. It was so nasty that all the
outer benches were subject to periodic showers and when Rocky came in,
rather late, one of those was his only option. He stayed a short while
and then went away. Curly was already asleep on the bench behind me.
Aside from the two coincident outbursts from the Snorer and the tomcat, it
was a night of good sleep and extraordinarily vivid dreams.
There was still a light drizzle in the morning, and I wasn't at all
surprised that the beer gardens were empty again on Tuesday morning, not
after that nasty night. The breadbaskets, alas, were also useless. People
seem to have eaten all their bread and left all their salad. There was
also, as often happens, almost a full bin of plain pasta. If I'd had
tongs, I think I would have filled my casserole container with it. After
sprinkling a few packets of the freely-available grated cheese from Pizza
Hut over it and using illicit electricity to warm it, I don't think
anything resembling gourmet spaghetti would result, but it would be
edible. And by mid-day on Tuesday, anything at all edible was more than
Most of the morning was spent playing MUD2. I'd created a new character
on Monday so played it up to Superhero level despite the efforts of
various livestock and assorted undead creatures to eliminate me. Like any
attempt to read lengthy books, after awhile playing MUD in Hamilton
Library also becomes an Operation DeepFreeze. It's surprising, even to
me, that a text-based game like Bartle's MUD2 has held such an attraction
for over eleven years of playing it, but it's the other players who make
it always a fresh and often amusing experience. The game itself is
excellent and it's fun to occasionally find myself in it all alone, but
most fun of all when there's a good group of regular players.
When I took a warm-up break outside, the sun was finally shining and for
the first time in days it was possible to get rid of the sweatshirt. I
ran into Kory K which was unusual; it's very rare to unexpectedly
encounter him on campus. He was out buying a chicken bento and kindly got
me a most welcome cup of coffee. Kory eats that whirligig thing from the
bento first! That's almost always found in leftover bento boxes, often
the only thing still in them.
After forty-eight hours without a drink, alcohol was starting to occupy
more and more of my thinking. I had added a link to Madame Blavatsky's
Occult Studies on the Cave's Occult page and glanced through the first
part of it. She claims that alcohol absorbs the "negative magnetism" of
its maker and should therefore be avoided. I think that's nonsense. It's
easy to accept the notion that anything, and especially food and drink,
might acquire subtle qualities from its owner or maker, that food lovingly
prepared might have a greater value to one's well-being than food more
automatically produced. But that alcohol should have the peculiar
property of absorbing only a negative quality, I can't believe. I think
such a peculiarity would have been known to esoteric savants and we would
never have seen Benedictine or any of the other brews made by monks, East
and West. In any case, it was one more stimulus to thinking of beer and,
happily, I had stashed half a bottle of Mickey's in a friend's
refrigerator and went to get it, negative magnetism be damned.
When I got to the bench on Wednesday night I noticed a magazine on another
bench, discovered it was a New Yorker (March 30th), and put it in
my backpack. For years that magazine was a weekly part of my life, long
before I actually moved to New York and during times when I lived
elsewhere. When now and then the strange sense of living in Kathmandu
became too eerie, I'd go to the USIA library and read the New
Yorker as a kind of anchor to "reality". After my last visit to
Manhattan in 1986, I swore I'd never set foot on that island again and
even stopped reading the magazine. If it has been generally as fine as
the found issue, that was my loss.
Aside from the interesting poem, "Panther", by Ned O'Gorman (which I put
up temporarily on the web), there is a delightful story, "The Master's
Last Dancing", by Mary Butts, one of the truly neglected writers of that
time in Paris when so much was being created. I looked to see if Hamilton
Library has anything of hers. It doesn't, but the Hawaii State Library
does have one book. Virgil Thomson was very fond of Mary and greatly
admired her work. It's easy to see why, reading that story. There is
also an amusing review by John Updike of a new book about Isaac Newton. A
class act, that issue of the New Yorker, glad I found it.
The weekly visit to the Clinic was enlivened by an exhibition of my EKG
graphics. The earlier ones were unexceptional, smooth waves, but the most
recent one was considerably more dramatic with sharp spikes at irregular
intervals, the result, I was told, of the right ventricle doing something
earlier than it should. I didn't pay very close attention to the exact
details. It has been clear for quite some time now that something was a
bit whacko with that vital organ so getting official medical notice came
as no surprise. Because all of the blood chemistry test results were
within normal range, the doctors didn't think it a matter of urgency but
have changed my routine to include a weekly EKG and urged me to proceed
with the Quest application and undergo more thorough tests; if for some
reason the Quest program doesn't accept me, they will find some
alternative. I'm yet again impressed by the caring attitude of these
Aside from the little EKG melodrama, the visit was unexceptional, but the
psychiatrist did whistle a tune softly as he pored over the accumulated
papers in my ever-growing file. "So much paperwork for these studies," he
My contribution to science completed, I bought a bottle of Mickey's and
returned to campus to enjoy reading the magazine and drinking the beer
which had been much missed on Wednesday. A long-time friend had arrived
from Tokyo and since he hadn't brought his laptop on this trip, I got
periodic updates on his plans from Kory K. The plans included being at
Genoa's gig at the Regent, so I went down and joined him there for a most
enjoyable few hours talking about living in Japan and all and everything,
with that always wonderful music and several bottles of Asahi adding to
the pleasure. As we were leaving the Regent, I stopped to acquire a few
long butts from the ashtray, slightly shocking a young Japanese man who
was standing right by it, and he offered both of us a cigarette. Perhaps
I should use that routine more often, rather than trying to filch the
butts without attracting attention.
Kory K hadn't joined us, riveted instead (like who knows how many million
other addicts) to the television screen for the Last Seinfeld. So we went
to his place, arriving after that momentous event but in time to see the
first bulletins announcing the death of Frank Sinatra.
Pizza and more beer and the season finale of "E.R." put me to sleep on the
floor, but I roused myself at some point and wandered off to the
cloisters, sufficiently lubricated to instantly fall asleep despite
noise from patrons of Liquid and Hot Lava. A fine evening, a good night's
And now the routine shifts somewhat. Both UH libraries will be closed on
the weekend, and starting today, Hamilton will close at five every day
until the Summer Session fully begins. I rarely stay much later than that
anyway, but will miss having the option to do so, and will miss the
students and the usual activity on campus during the interim week. Until
embarking on this nomadic adventure, I had only visited the university two
or three times in the nine years of living here. Now it is the center of
Sharing food with the birds is more noble than offering food to the gods.
I decided I didn't like the original Tale 130 so took it down after a
couple of hours for some re-arranging and editing, put up the
aphorism which is now Tale 130 instead. Is it really an aphorism?
A new section for the Tales? Probably not the latter, anyway, because if
you start to think in aphoristic form, the mind gets very silly quite
The off-line weekend, the short library hours during the week, and the
even longer off-line weekend ahead, plus the comparatively deserted
campus, makes for a time quite unlike anything in these almost-eight
months of nomadic life. And writing about the events of several days
instead of the usual daily commentary changes the nature of writing the
So amidst the strangeness of the time, it was comforting to have Rocky
sleeping on the bench beside me on Monday and Tuesday nights, after a
longer absence than usual, and it was an interesting experiment spending
all day on Saturday in the mall, encountering so many people I knew that
it made Honolulu seem like a very small town indeed.
Viktor and Bobby, from McDonald's, were the first people I ran into,
outside the restaurant; then I spotted another Bobby, from the group
Kolea, and shortly afterwards saw Jake Shimabukuro. I went upstairs over
Center Stage for the Ilona Irvine set, saw Mamaloa get up and dance, so
went downstairs to say hello to her and sat beside her on the floor at one
side of the stage. Bruce Howard came over and joined us and we both got
fed Famous Amos cookies (after I declined the offer of a full plate lunch
which they'd given Mamaloa at Patti's Chinese Kitchen). Kory K turned up
for the Pure Heart gig and after chatting with him and Bruce afterwards,
then going on my way, I ran into Myra. Panther the Mall Rat.
Someone brought a box of food from 7-Eleven and left it outside
McDonald's. It was mostly sandwiches that were dated the last day of
sale, but there was also a beef bowl concoction which was mostly rice, and
some pastries. I grabbed the beef bowl, two sandwiches and two pieces of
cake just in time before some of the other nomads spotted the box and
quickly emptied it out. Very kind of someone to have dropped it off
there. Then I found a bag with a can of corned beef, tuna fish and a can
which is probably sardines but was missing the label, so I put the tuna in
my backpack with the 7-Eleven goodies and stashed the other two cans away
in a hiding place which has come in handy several times before.
Cigarettes were in short supply ... it seemed there was always a cleaning
person a few steps ahead of me. So I ended up walking down to Ward Centre
and Warehouse to get the evening supply of tobacco, picking up a bottle of
Mickey's at the new 7-Eleven, and then finding a huge salad with chunks of
chicken abandoned at the Centre. It seemed as if I'd spent the entire day
eating, and was still feeling hungry. Maybe the body wants the two pounds
back it lost last week, because appetite has been unusually strong.
That's not very good timing, considering the scarcity of abandoned plate
lunch boxes on campus this week.
Sunday morning I decided to go to Waikiki for a change, did a tobacco run
through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and then sat outside the Zoo
for awhile, trying to spot someone who might buy the two free passes I
have or else someone I wanted to just give them to. Didn't see likely
candidates for either, so crossed over to use the lua and ran into a
long-time friend and/or enemy, depending on the circumstances, and had a
cup of coffee with him and a chat about health problems and
Monday morning I had gone, as usual, to get a cup of senior coffee from
the Ward Avenue Jack-in-the-Box and crossed the street to sit at the
sheltered bus-stop. A white pick-up pulled over nearby and a man got out
carrying two white bags. It looked like he was going to dump them in the
wastebasket which seemed rather odd. Instead, it turned out to be a
notable webmaster who was kindly stopping to bring me breakfast.
Breakfast Jack, hash browns and another cup of coffee, delivered! A most
excellent start to the strange week of no school.
The bonanza of discarded books continued on campus and Monday morning I
found a very large paperback volume which is an overall survey of world
religions, giving a fairly detailed history of all the major ones with
chapters discussing off-shoots and less orthodox varieties. It is a
special edition, with a chapter on Hawaiian religion added. The book was
far too heavy to lug around, so I broke it into chapters, put three in my
bag and stashed the rest for later, then sat in the grove, read the
Hawaiian material and began the chapter on Hinduism, with its pre-Vedic
and Vedic forerunners. The book takes a very neutral, unbiased stance and
is well-written, a welcome discovery. I don't feel at all touched by
Hawaiian mythology or religion, at least not via any sources I've
encountered yet, and this one is no exception.
The chapter on Hinduism was the inspiration for that aphorism. Finishing
that, I went on to the chapter on Christianity which is particularly
interesting in its tracing of the earliest developments and the possible
paths that religion might have taken. Some cleaning person got too
thorough and the chapters I had stashed were gone on Tuesday, so I'm left
with just Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. More than enough religion
for any one person, any one life.
Tuesday evening I was walking along Ward Warehouse, passed one of the
Japanese trolley stops where a trolley was parked and the driver standing
beside it. There was a dollar bill laying in the grass near the sidewalk,
so I picked it up. The driver said with a grin, "I suppose you won't
believe it if I told you I just dropped that." "Nope, I sure wouldn't."
That unexpected bonus to my rather empty pockets, plus three dimes found
earlier in the walk, revived the old Free Mickey's game on Wednesday
morning when, after a senior coffee, I was only missing twenty cents. The
Angel of the Coins provided the missing links so Wednesday was off to a
fine start as a Lucky Day. But then, despite the rationed on-line time
and the relatively deserted campus, it has been very much a Lucky Week.
One of the few real worries I've had recently was over my too-overdue bill
from LavaNet and a mainland friend and admirer of the Tales astonished and
delighted me by eliminating that worry. As I said, it is a bit crazy that
I can walk around feeling hungry and neither worry much about it nor
consider appealing to anyone for assistance, but the thought of losing
access to firstname.lastname@example.org was definitely a worry.
Hunger hasn't played the role I thought it might this week, either,
although it has been unprecedented to have actually spent more money on
food than on beer. As I was leaving campus on Wednesday, after a day
spent mostly playing MUD, I found an abandoned plate lunch container which
hadn't been eaten at all ... broccoli and beef, roast chicken, noodles and
bits of chicken, and brown rice. As if that weren't huge enough a meal, I
ran into Helen R. whom I was supposed to meet later at the Varsity Theatre
and we went to Sushi No Ka Oi for my second encounter with sushi. (The
first such adventure was a couple of years ago when K.M. introduced me to
that odd culinary custom, at a sushi bar where a man stood behind the
counter and prepared each item). Sushi No Ka Oi is more of a variation on
the Manhattan automats, except the dishes move around the counter on a
long narrow conveyor belt providing an endless spectacle (and puzzle)
while sampling the more interesting specimens. Having only just finished
that huge plate lunch, I didn't sample many things but it was interesting
nonetheless and made even more enjoyable when the owner left the
restaurant briefly and returned with a large complimentary can of
By then thoroughly stuffed, we joined another friend and went to see "Mrs.
Dalloway", a charming and elegant film based on Virginia Woolf's admirable
novel, with a splendid performance by Vanessa Redgrave in the title role.
I was grateful Honolulu is at least cosmopolitan enough to offer the
chance to see such a film in a cinema; undoubtedly many mainland residents
will have to wait until it arrives on television via "Masterpiece
Theatre". My favorite moments of the film, aside from greatly enjoying
familiar scenes in London, were those when we overheard Mrs. Dalloway's
thoughts, especially when greeting guests at the party which is the
centerpiece of the novel and film. All of us walk around talking in our
heads like that. How fortunate it is people cannot, consciously at least,
hear what we are saying.
Rocky didn't come home, but Curly did and took the bench behind mine.
Someone really annoyed the Big Local Dude at one point. No idea what the
fellow did, because the B.L.D. is generally very quiet and polite, but he
was well riled up and the offender quickly left the premises. "This is
Hawai`i and I am Hawaiian," said the B.L.D. amidst more strongly worded
phrases directed at the departing offender. That's the first such
disturbance I've seen at the hacienda. The B.L.D. definitely adds much to
the feeling of security at that sanctuary.
Lucky day, lucky week, lucky panther ... and the Moon moved into Aries.
One of my favorite ladies in the world told Kory and me on Thursday
evening that she had stopped reading my Tales and his journal because they
were too "depressing". Can't blame her for that. The week before at the
Clinic, the psychiatrist mentioned that one component of the study was
something called the Hamilton Scale of Depression (giving me an instant
inner grin from the synchronicity with my main hangout, Hamilton Library).
He said my score on the scale was lower that week than it had been the
week before, lower meaning less depressed. I told a friend I'd have to
work on getting a higher score. Hey, I was just joking! But without
trying at all and, in fact, quite surprising me, I had the highest score
yet on Thursday. That's a more subtle measuring tool than I had thought.
He partly answered my earlier ponderings about letting truly depressed
people (I don't think of myself as one, you see) continue with a program
which might just be sugar pills by offering to let me switch to another
study. Sugar pills or not, he said they were seeing no significant
results in any of the participants. Maybe it's just a dud drug. (He
didn't say that, but did say "I don't know what that says for the company
making it"). I said I might as well carry on with this study, having
gotten this far. And I've reached the point where it goes two weeks
without a visit to the Clinic. Very bad timing from the financial
viewpoint. A double payment in the first week of the month will come at a
time when least needed. Oh well ...
Myra told me that since her birthday was the next day, she really hoped
I'd be at the Regent for Genoa on Thursday evening. Given that the $15
blood money has to be stretched until the pension check arrives, I
certainly wouldn't have considered spending $2.50 on the weekly special,
but only 12oz, beer at the Regent, knowing, too, that I'd be buying one
for her as well. But after thinking about it, I decided I wanted to do
what I could to make her evening special even if I ended up spending it
all. It's only money.
Leaving campus, I saw I had just missed both a #4 and a #6 bus, so I
hopped on an express bus even though I had no idea where I'd end up.
Minutes later, after a quick zoom down the highway, I was at Kahala Mall.
First time I'd been there in many months, but hardly closer to my
destination. The timing was right, though, because a Waikiki-bound bus
came along fairly soon. There are some incredibly tacky, ostentatious
houses along that road on the "backside" of Diamond Head. I'd not noticed
before a few adorned in truly amazing bad taste. I was surprised by how
brown and dry everything is on that side of Diamond Head. With the amount
of rain we've had in recent weeks, it's a puzzle.
Spending time with Genoa Keawe and her crew is always a pleasure and this
week's was especially so. Kory K generously helped with the festivities
for Myra and she was one very happy lady by the end of the evening. I
told Alan Akaka about it being her birthday, so she even got the
traditional serenade and danced to several songs. No one deserves the
good time more ... Myra is truly one sweet lady.
After I left and headed off to the bench I was feeling very annoyed with
myself, though. I thought my own performance was lousy. And that's the
key word: "performance". All my life, I've felt like that about almost
everything. It isn't real, I'm not really living it but am just an actor
playing a role. Sometimes the performance is passably okay, other times
it stinks. And there ain't no critic in this world who is as tough on me
as I am on myself.
One of the questions on that Hamilton Scale of Depression asks if one has
had "paranoid feelings". Despite joking to friends about saying "yes, the
cleaning people at Ala Moana Shopping Center are out to get me", I've
always answered "no" to that question. There was a time when I simply
didn't believe at all in "paranoia", subscribing to the idea that
"you're not paranoid, they really are out to get you", and I still
believe that to an extent. But I have met people who were genuinely, even
pathologically paranoid, so have to admit it is a state of mind which
exists and, in cases where it is genuinely paranoia as I understand the
term, does involve an unrealistic perception that one is the object of
unjust persecution, or may be. Even so, no, I have not had "paranoid
feelings", so can't boost my score on the Scale without lying about it.
What some might see as paranoid feelings in my case is merely the
perception that some people do wildly misinterpret me and misunderstand
not only my past history but my current existence and motives for doing
things and attempt to use that against me and to persuade others that
their views are a reflection of the truth. The more unconventional one's
life is, the more one no doubt attracts such interpreters. So be it.
I've actually led a very conservative life and continue to do so. I'm
probably one of the most conservative "homeless people" in
That's partly why the start of the Summer Session at the University is a
mixed blessing. It's wonderful to have the students back again after the
week's break (and the unprecedented three-day off-line weekend). There
are more abandoned plate lunches, more lengthy cigarette butts in the
ashtrays, more delightfully charming young men to enjoy watching. But
there are also students lingering by every tempting ashtray. So I left
campus at mid-day to replenish my empty cigarette box from the
ever-abundant supply at Ala Moana. A bolder nomad would just have filled
his box from the campus ashtrays and ignored those who noticed.
The Summer Session isn't quite like the "real" school year. Both
libraries will be closed on Saturday and both operate with shorter hours,
as do all the food establishments on campus. Compared to the break, it
seems like there are a lot of people around, but it is a smaller
population than in the fall and spring (even if they all sometimes seem to
hang around promising ashtrays).
In any case, I'm increasingly fed-up with the smoking problem and wish I
could just stop. Perhaps I'll change my going-on-nine-year wish to "star
light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I
might, have the wish I wish tonight" and wish to stop smoking tobacco
instead of wishing for "peace and happiness in Honolulu".
Someday he'll come along, the man I love.
And he'll be walking dog, the man I love ...
Indication of what a silly mood I woke up in on Wednesday morning, a
welcome change from recent times when I woke feeling mentally bleak and
I don't really want to quit smoking, I enjoy tobacco too much. But I
would like to reduce its importance to that of other (oddly, even more
desirable) substances which I enjoy when I can get them and don't fret
over when I can't. (Of course, if campus ashtrays were as loaded
with marijuana as they are with tobacco, wouldn't matter how many
students were standing around, I'd be pushing them aside to get to
The highlights of the long weekend ...
Mornings on the beach, enjoying the sun and the early beach-goers before
the large crowds arrived, splashing in the ocean. I forgot about eating
on Saturday, had a Mickey's outside the Shell while listening to the
Makaha Bash (Pure Heart were very good, as always), then had another
Mickey's for a nightcap and consequently, on empty stomach, got fairly
drunk. So much for Saturday.
After another few hours on the beach Sunday morning, went to see
"Godzilla". Big-monster movies have never been one of my favorite genres
but since this was done by the ID4 team, I was expecting better than usual
and it was. I think they made a fundamental mistake by allowing the
monster to have such prolific powers of reproduction, even if "ultimate
threat to mankind's existence" seems to be one of their favorite themes.
It made any sympathy for the monster quite impossible and that would have
added another layer to the story's impact. They went a little overboard
with the totally implausible, as well, but there was no shortage of that
in ID4 either. In any case, an entertaining film.
That was followed by "Shear Madness" at the Manoa Valley Theatre, also
quite entertaining and amusing. Then back to the totally implausible with
"Deep Space Nine" on television and a story which thoroughly violated not
only quantum physics but the generally established traditions of sci-fi
Monday morning it was back to the beach until early afternoon when Kory K
gave me an in-depth education on the subject of "South Park". It's better
than I thought, Monty Python continued with an American flavor reminiscent
more of MAD magazine than Beavis and Butthead. Easy to see why it has
become so major a current pop-culture icon.
Radio on Sunday morning provided an amusing hour in tribute to Bob Dylan's
birthday by playing all the worst Dylan covers, including the truly
classic horror with William Shatner doing "Tambourine Man". Monday
evening the 25th anniversary of the release of the Floyd's "Dark Side of
the Moon" rated a special broadcast which included all the original
tracks, interviews and background information.
And when Tuesday morning finally rolled around, I found I hadn't really
missed being on-line as much as I had expected. But it's a major see-saw
of a time, up-down, up-down from one minute to the next as we moved into
the Fifth Moon of the Tiger and the ever-dreaded days before the Fabled
Pension Check arrives.
Such a strange day, the first Wednesday of the Fifth Moon of the Tiger.
Starting with that silly mood, encountering that extraordinarily handsome
young man walking his dog on Kapiolani Boulevard ... finding a box of odd
"vegetable rolls" (chopped veggies in a tortilla) but no beer ... finding
what Kory K later identified as a Chinese coin with "100" on it and then
later a piece of paper looking like Chinese money with "One Hundred
Dollars" and "Hell Bank Note" the only English on it (later identified by
Nathan as Chinese funeral money) ... speaking, at last, to the famous Cat
Man of the UH Manoa campus to let him know about the new family of kittens
at Krauss Hall ... listening to Kory K chat with a bona fide BMOC, another
Hilo lad, and enjoying every moment of it ... reading the current
Honolulu Weekly in the secluded grove while consuming a bottle of
Mickey's and a couple of those vegetable rolls ... stopping in Manoa
Garden and having a totally delightful time with Bryant the Bartender,
learning he, too, was born in Hilo ... going to Kory's to see "South
Who would've thought, after all these years, anyone would still remember
Ayn Rand at all, much less take the trouble to so wittily flame her. My
sincere compliments to the creators of "South Park".
Going off to the bench with my flask full of Heineken as a nightcap, being
greeted by a cute young newcomer ... watching the Big Local Dude and his
lady arrive, then the Snorer. The clouds and stars, the warm air making
it possible to stash the sweatshirt, hopefully until autumn.
Life goes on, within and without you ...
"This weekend is one of those rare times to put aside some of your
worries and appreciate the friends you have. And treasures they are."
Thus spake the lady filling in for Jonathan Cainer while he took a week's
vacation. I kept her advice in mind all weekend and did my best to put
aside not just some but ALL of my worries. Friends, most accurately
described above, helped considerably with that effort even if it was not
What? Me worry?
In front of him in the middle of a vast clearing, enormous white
pierrots were jumping about like rabbits in the moonlight.
I decided I needed to vary my reading material and settled upon a plan of
acquiring, from time to time, any volumes of potentially (or known)
interesting material available at Rainbow Books for under one dollar. The
first expedition based on this new strategy yielded Against Nature [A
Rebours] by Joris-Karl Huysmans and Time Must Have a Stop by
Aldous Huxley. The Huysmans I have not read in four decades; the Huxley
I discovered for the first time moldering in an old book cabinet at a YWCA
in an India hill-station and was particularly delighted to see
But I began with the Huysmans and was immediately reminded that a book (or
long story?) I have been writing in my head for several weeks is more
closely related to this outrageous book than I had remembered; the
connection had not even occurred to me. I wonder if Huysmans spent as
long a time mulling over the details of his secluded sanctuary as I have
spent on my fantasized one? His is far too heavy for my tastes and I
would never burden a tortoise with gilded shell adorned with precious gems
to set off a splendid, if too untrodden, oriental carpet. Better to
pluck from a rift in the fabric of time a floor covering properly aged and
worn. But then Huysmans was less ambitious and far more
determined to imagine himself as truly decadent.
Huysmans, though, was a man after my own heart, as they say. No one, but
no one, has ever flamed the British as delicately and as successfully as
he did in his account of his aborted expedition to that magic island. No
one has more absurdly chronicled the existence of an over-educated man
drowning in ennui (and he was wayyyyyyyyyyy out beyond me on that score).
Already he has made me laugh aloud twice.
That patriarchal legend of the San Jose on-line community, N.B,
arrived in Honolulu on Friday so I went down to Waikiki at noon to meet
him in Duke's. I've really tried very hard to break my addiction to that
bar but almost instantly realized that sometimes paying four times as much
to drink beer is worth it and returned again on my own Saturday afternoon,
confirming that notion. Those were the days, those months of spending
almost every afternoon sitting at the bar at Duke's, meeting people from
every corner of the world, enjoying the ocean vista, the ever delightful
staff, and a beer or six or seven. On Friday I also enjoyed a strangely
yuppie roast turkey and avocado sandwich, ridiculously overpriced (as is
most of the food at that still-admired establishment), and a long,
thoroughly interesting conversation with one of the most intelligent men
it has been my honor to meet.
N.B. is a difficult person, though, for me. He's not only unusually
intelligent, he has managed to plan and live his life, or at least these
latter years of it, with perceptive sensitivity and an emphasis on not
only his own welfare but that of a number of people who have earned his
consideration. He'd probably like for me to be one of those people, but
I've never found the way to earn it, not to my satisfaction or to his.
There is much in common between the way I think of N.B. and K.M.,
especially when it concerns "living up to". They are two men I have
simply not been able to decently justify knowing; that is to say, out of
my league. This doesn't stop me from immensely enjoying their company
even while thinking I haven't done a damned thing to deserve it and no
doubt never shall.
After a few hours at Duke's, we wandered on down to the Shorebird and then
finally to the new Starbucks at the Discovery Bay complex where I had what
they oddly call "Iced Chai Tea Latte". Since "chai" means "tea", I'm not
sure who dreamed up that title or why, but it was delicious.
I was only slightly drunk, but very tired, so went on to the bench for an
early night, tuned in to the less-classical NPR station just in time for
an hour profile of Billie Holiday. Bring out the bottle of wine ... or in
this case, Mickey's. Whatta dame ...
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
The beer gardens were overflowing on Saturday morning (although not until
Monday did it get totally outrageous when a twelve-pack of Bud Ice was
abandoned with only four cans missing) and, as mentioned, I set out to
Duke's in the late afternoon for a delightful couple of hours in the
company of the always-amusing Jackson the Bartender and a very large black
Marine as the main drinking buddy. Jackson and I encouraged him to try a
shot of Jagermeister, which he'd never tasted before, and the poor fellow
not long after vanished to the men's room, never returning. Then I
the street headed for the Food Court at the International Marketplace and
encountered N.B. just inside the entrance, bound for the same
destination. Dennis and Kawika Kamakahi with BB Shawn were as enjoyable
as they always are, and it was sad to learn it was Ellen's last night as
booking agent for the venue. She has done a great job with a limited
budget to provide interesting local music there on Friday and Saturday
I was already fairly stewed after my hours at Duke's, got even more so and
then N.B. and I went on to see Olomana at the Hilton. Haunani, alas,
wasn't making one of her frequent Saturday night appearances and Jerry
Santos seemed to be in one of his sometimes almost "automatic drive" moods
(can hardly blame the man after all these years of playing in that strange
lounge), but it was fun to be there after a too-long absence and one of
the bartenders gave me a cigarette lighter, a faux Zippo engraved
with "you've got Merit". Lousy cigarettes, cute lighter.
Somehow I managed to stagger to the bench ...
On Sunday I made a brief visit to campus, then went with friends on my
first visit to the Signature Theatre complex and Warren Beatty's
"Bulworth". Amusing film. I was a little dubious when I'd read about him
writing, directing and starring in a film based on politics, but he pulled
it off well. Always have liked Shirley's cute brother, no reason to
That was followed with a KFC-provided dinner while finally seeing the film
"Shine", thanks to the modern-day miracle of videotape. An earnest film,
I was tired, I am still tired and would love to have a quiet secluded
place where I could sleep for three days without interruption. So I
wandered off to the bench again. And then I woke up, found the Bud Ice,
and went back to wondering why my life is so plagued by Filipino cleaning
persons and enjoying the completely delicious, if ludicrous, passages by
Huysmans about aromas ...
The internal jukebox went whacko on Tuesday morning and kept insisting
upon playing Sousa's Washington Post March. I'd forcibly push its
button and make it change to something else but it kept sneaking back to
Sousa the moment I let my attention lapse.
Thinking about Tale 133, it occurred to me that I've always had something
of a problem with people who are ambitious for me, starting with my
father. That dread phrase "living up to your potential" evokes the
response, "what difference does it make", and that is not an attitude
well-meaning people find acceptable or attractive.
Friday-through-Monday was a time when alcohol consumption remained
consistently high, even by my standards. My long-time puritanical rule of
not drinking before noon, except on very special occasions, sensibly fell
by the wayside. There's much to be said for the pleasure of a decent beer
with sunrise, perhaps even more than the soothing nightcap. I wouldn't
mind at all staying a little drunk in every waking moment; the problem, of
course, with such a primitive drug is the difficulty in staying at the
"little" stage. By early evening on Monday I'd slipped well past it so
went off to an early night after Bryant sensibly and pleasantly told me
I'd had enough. That's my kind of bartender ...
The beer gardens yielded, unusually, a large can of Guinness on Tuesday
morning, so the dawn was greeted with that dark brew in the secluded
grove, a perfect set and setting for reading Huysmans. In the late
morning I went to Waikiki to meet N.B. and guided him back to campus for
lunch at Manoa Garden. Kory K joined us and N.B.'s presence seemed to
inspire Bryant the Bartender who regaled us with some hilarious stories
I'd not heard before, with a diverse scope ranging from tales of the
Halekulani to farming in the Hilo area.
After a rather long "lunch hour", Kory finally had to leave us. N.B. had
decided to prepare dinner for his host, so after some discussion about the
best places to acquire the supplies he needed (including salt and pepper,
the host not being an avid cook, to say the least), and despite the
obvious but far less convenient fact that suburban supermarkets are
probably the best option, N.B. settled for Foodland at Ala Moana, so I had
the pleasure of accompanying him on the foraging expedition. That task
completed, he decided he had time for another bar visit before beginning
dinner, so we went on to Waikiki, stopped up to his host's condo to drop
off the food (way cool view across the Marina), and then spent some time
in a little bar in the nether regions of the Ilikai Marina.
Leaving N.B. to go play chef, I went on to Ala Moana, acquired a
much-needed squirt bottle of "Off Deep Woods" disgusting liquid to combat
this season's incredibly voracious mosquitos, a tube of toothpaste and a
bottle of Mickey's Malt Liquor, and comfy in the security of the noxious
liquid, enjoyed the consumable one before settling on my bench at the
hacienda for a long, late Spring's rest.
Was not to be ...
It appears the "Authorities" are on a new campaign to make life difficult
for the Urban Nomad. For the first time in all these months, at a little
past one in the morning, two persons in white shirts waving big
flashlights arrived, woke everyone (including me, Rocky, and the Big
Local Dude) and told us to clear out. White shirts suggested they weren't
from the Honolulu Police Department; Feds of some kind perhaps? In any
case, I certainly wasn't going to question their authority and went on my
way to Ala Moana Beach Park. That this must be some coordinated campaign
occurred to me when, at about nine in the morning, an HPD sedan and
scooter team swept through the park waking everyone who was sleeping on a
bench or picnic table (although oddly leaving alone those on the ground
and even one fellow who has been pitching a small tent there for several
weeks, and is a late sleeper).
End of an era, or temporary aberration? A pre-election "clean-up"? Who
knows? Stay tuned to this station ...
The Tibetan monk, Khenpo Thrangu Rinpoche, is in town and is giving a
number of public talks. Cheapest admission for any in the series is $20,
not even as a "suggested donation". I'd have had warmer feelings about
his visit if he had included at least one free event. Wednesday evening's
meeting was at the Church of the Crossroads and I sat outside but couldn't
hear any details of what was said, saw the Rinpoche and his entourage
leave afterwards, and smiled over the flock of Mystic Ladies who then
exited. Serves him right for charging so much per hour. Since he
and the ladies will be at the Church every evening until the
weekend, I might as well find somewhere else to spend the time
between leaving campus and sleeping.
An American middle-aged man wearing Buddhist monk robes swept past me at
one point. He wore the costume with a certain arrogance that, had it
included an ounce of style, would have suggested a Roman emperor.
The great disadvantage to spending the night in Manoa is the absence of
resources, aside from on campus. There's not even a senior coffee
establishment readily available. I felt sufficiently deprived I took the
first bus that came along on Thursday morning and walked down Ward Avenue
to have my usual Jack-in-the-Box senior coffee at the sheltered bus stop,
going on to check the beer gardens along Kapiolani but still missing the
usual stroll through deserted Kakaako and the rooster crowing. There is a
rooster near Hot Lava Cafe in Manoa, too, but it must have been still
sleeping on Thursday morning. The Kakaako one is a very early riser,
begins greeting the dawn long before any sign of it has appeared in the
Never mind, I told myself, too settled a routine of habits just isn't
appropriate for a Nomad. And all things must pass ...
On Sunday evening, when I settled down to enjoy "Blues Before Sunrise" on
NPR, I thought it would be perfect if they played that delightful Pearl
Bailey song about just feeling so tired. It's the ideal theme song for
the last week of the seventh month of nomadic life. They didn't; but did
delight by playing the Jimmy Rushing/Count Basie tracks that always get my
feet tapping no matter how tired I'm feeling.
Life was back to "normal". N.B. had flown off to California in the
morning, I'd returned to on-line life for the first time since midday on
Friday, and then to the hacienda where Rocky, the Big Local Dude
and the Snorer were all present, the Snorer giving me a Whopper. One line
of speculation is that last week's "raid" at the hacienda came about
because they were looking for a specific person. Whatever the reason, I
returned there on Saturday night and the only disturbance was the drone of
the Snorer. So it was again on Sunday night. The varied sanctuaries of
the intervening nights made the hacienda seem even more of a treasure, not
so much for the physical aspects of the place, grand though it is, but
more because of the comfort and security of familiar benchmates.
Despite many delightful hours in bars during his visit, I think for me the
highlight of the time with N.B. came on Saturday afternoon when we took a
bus to the other side of Diamond Head and then walked through a quiet,
older residential area of Kaimuki which he knew from many years ago.
There was very little traffic on the narrow "avenues" of the area, no
quarrelsome dogs to protest strangers walking past and, even though the
house N.B. once knew has been replaced by two new houses, much of the area
must look the same as it did decades ago. When we reached the business
district after our walk in the very warm sun, we were both ready for a
cool place to quench our thirst and wandered into the first bar we came
across, oddly called the Family Lounge. After a barcrawl on Thursday
evening when we visited quite a collection of such establishments in
Waikiki, I'd jokingly said to N.B. that about the only thing left would be
a tour of Korean bars, so it was amusing to end up in one in so unexpected
a location. The young lady at the bar was very kind, even giving N.B. a
moistened napkin to wipe the sweat from his brow, and after a week of
paying Waikiki prices, he couldn't believe the change he got back from a
ten dollar bill.
There were quite a few hours spent in Duke's during his visit and I
finally discovered an item on their bar menu which I thoroughly enjoyed
eating, a roast beef and cheddar sandwich which was almost as delicious as
the hot roast beef sandwich at Moose's. The entire week was loaded with
far more to drink and to eat than is my usual habit, more time in Duke's
than I've spent for many months ... a delightful revisit, in a way, of
what my life was like in the year after leaving the world of office
drones. June first was a double anniversary, the second since the end of
the insurance broker, the first since the end of playing "consultant". I
certainly couldn't complain if the anniversary is celebrated as well in
the future as it was this time around.
And all through it I kept feeling so tired, on Friday night so much so
that I went to the cloisters, lay down on a bench and was fast
asleep within minutes despite several meetings going on, and I didn't even
wake when the meetings ended and people left. Part of that was no doubt
the intellectual challenge of being in N.B.'s company. He never makes it
necessary to defend a position (or to defend having no position, which is
often more the case with me) but it is as though he stands there holding
open a door and one is welcome to walk through it into a brighter and
better place but it is necessary to know what one WANTS to find on the
other side. There is the feeling that whatever it is, odds are it would
Talking about his (relatively new) acquisition of a beard, I said at one
point that at least he doesn't look like Santa Claus, no matter how many
people may look upon him as that gentleman. The young lady at the
Family Lounge also raised the topic of Santa Claus. And there is a
certain parallel with memories of childhood, trying desperately to decide
what was most wanted from Santa, suspecting that if the request were
reduced to one, basically reasonable, wish and all the energy concentrated
on asking for that, it would be received. So it often seems when talking
I, of course, don't know what I want. And that dilemma often leads to
just wanting to be dead so as maybe no longer having to be
concerned with the idea. That makes reading Time Must Have a Stop
even more strange, since it is surely quite unique in modern literature in
having as one of its continuing central characters a man who is dead and
who, horror of horrors, continues to find his thoughts occupied with the
same rubbish which filled them in life.
I read the book rather quickly the first time through and then began again
taking it more slowly, spending more time savoring the elegance of the
language and the precision of the descriptions and reported conversations.
I think it's my favorite of Aldous Huxley's books, a feeling I also had
when I first discovered it twenty-five years ago. Reading it again was an
appropriate interweaving in the fugue of N.B.'s visit. Fugue? Symphony,
Several evenings after leaving N.B., I'd get a bottle of Mickey's and go
up to campus and sit in Manoa Garden reading. And on one of those
evenings I discovered a poem written on one of the table tops:
As I drink
And want to shout
I have to think
What's it all about
Why do I force
Things that'll come
What's my course
And where am I from
You know less than do I
So don't bother to ask why
Your life is but a simple lie
In the end, we all shall fry
And time, indeed, must have a stop. But not yet.
An unhappy dust of nothingness, a poor little harmless clot of mere
privation, crushed from without, scattered from within, but still
resisting, still refusing, in spite of the anguish, to give up its right
to a separate existence.
As in life, so in death, Uncle Eustace.
How much to tell in tales, how much, for a myriad reasons, to leave untold
or only alluded to? Last week's visit to the clinic is a case in point.
I had the feeling they must have scheduled too many people in too short a
time that day and the result was somewhat like being put on a conveyor
belt and trundled through an assembly line of medical factory workers.
That may sound like a complaint, but it isn't, nor is noting the fact that
we all now regard this experiment as either being part of the placebo
control group or testing a dud drug. But having come this far even they
have switched to "stick it out and we'll try something else next, if
you're willing". Maybe they get a bonus for each completed series? (It
wouldn't be a bad idea if they offered one to the guinea pigs).
Time for those fool moon's eyes to shine again, always a signal (or an
excuse) for the Underworld Dude to demand his portion of the timeshare
those guys have arranged for my body and soul. Maybe it's because he
isn't very greedy or maybe it's longer-term reasons like karma and
all that, but however it comes about, he seems to have incredibly good
luck. I just wouldn't have expected it at this time in life.
I can't remember exactly when my fascination with young Japanese
men began. Certainly it didn't exist at all before I came to Hawai`i.
All experiences since then suggest it is a well-placed enthusiasm, whether
on the basis of friendship alone or more intimate encounters. The most
recent of the latter variety brightened the threshold of the Full Moon
even more than that shining ball could manage.
The arrangement of the area makes it possible to stay utterly discreet and
anonymous or to allow full identification and I always let the other
person make that decision. Since he chose the more revealing path, there
was the pleasure of knowing my neighbor was a young, decidedly cute
Japanese fellow with gelled spiked hair. At first it seemed he only
wanted to be watched, as is often the case with young Asian lads. Then
someone else came in on the other side of him, someone who wouldn't make
use of the convenient hole-in-the-wall despite a gesture of invitation but
instead wanted only a hand under the partition. My neighbor provided the
service, occasionally looking back over his shoulder to see if I was
watching. It was thoroughly amusing, brought to mind an image of a
milkmaid on a stool, bending over to reach the cow's udder. Once the deed
was done, the cow quickly departed, leaving the two of us alone. That
scenario seemed to have my companion in a state of high excitement and I
was offered the opportunity to complete his adventure. This time the
mental image conjured was the old commercial about the cereal shot from
cannons. I've never known anyone to erupt with such force. He gave me a
dazzling smile and went on his way, as the Underworld Dude was humming
hymns of thanksgiving and the knees went quite rubbery.
Vampirism or primitive religious ritual, the essence of young manhood as
the sacrament ... it's a concept I've long equated with the legendary
Fountain of Youth. The Japanese make such beautiful fountains.
"Not greedy." I tried to flatter him, to assuage him. No such luck. he
wants it again, and this time he wants that particular one again.
"... it was precisely on the exceptional and important occasions that
it was most necessary to keep other people in ignorance of what one was
No doubt. But it is too late for me to start listening to Aldous Huxley
now, even when he puts his pearls in the mouths of swine.
I knew instantly it would be one of those moments which would never leave
the memory of this life. The collection is a small one, but so potent,
and too many, one part of me says, of that collection has to do with the
absolutely, mysteriously bizarre thing called sex.
I was born loving men. I've no doubt of that, despite some by-ways which
tried to convince me that exclusivity is not only unnecessary but quite
stupid. I never wanted to be a woman ... menstruation alone would have
dissuaded me from that notion, no matter how many desirable men a woman's
body might have gained me. But my desires and my closest attempts to
attain what is called "love" for another human being were, from as early
as I can remember, directed at men.
The entire universe of "sexual urges" is "unfair". To be born into such a
strange sidetrack of it is even more "unfair". Where do I file my
But all the trifling which once enchanted him was now not only
profoundly wearisome, but also, in some negative way, profoundly evil.
And yet it had to be persisted in; for the alternative was a total
self-knowledge and self-abandonment, a total attention and exposure to the
What a sweetheart, that Aldous.
Stupid internal jukebox. Nothing at all wrong with getting stuck on a
Gershwin tune, but "I Got Rhythm"? As with its recent fascination with
Sousa, I tried to switch the music, even tried tricking it with "Lady Be
Good", but the moment my attention wandered, back it went to "I got my
man, who could ask for anything more."
Well, I haven't got. And I've told the Underworld Dude to just forget
about it, enjoy the memory, because we're not making any special effort to
bring about a repeat encounter. I may not know exactly what I want, but
I'm very sure falling in love with a young Japanese fellow shouldn't be on
After the luxurious opening to the month of June, I'm not at all looking
forward to the return of empty pockets but they're almost here and I'm not
doing much to postpone their arrival. I did refrain from buying a burger
on Tuesday, even though I wanted one, but I didn't stop myself from
spending sixty-five cents on a Butterfinger bar when the Chocolate Craving
Monster struck, almost surrendered to a second one. Drowned the Monster
with Mickey's, instead, hoping for a nice quiet read in the secluded grove
but was driven to shelter by persistent drizzle. The trip downhill to get
the bottle did yield an extra treat, running into Mikey V., one of my
all-time favorite bartenders and someone it's always a pleasure to
I forgot I have a free Deluxe sandwich voucher for Mac so ended up with
just another bottle of Mickey's for dinner. A Butterfinger bar and two
bottles of Mickey's, what a Nutritious Daily Diet.
The hacienda suffers from a population explosion including, alas,
another couple. I've nothing against them when, like the Big Local Dude
and his lady, they keep the chat to a minimum. The new ones not only yak
before sleeping, they picked the floor in the corner right by my bench for
their bed and woke me up a couple of times with more yakking during the
night. Not much, but enough to wake me. I hope they don't become
Sleep was interrupted just after four by some kind of major road accident
right in front of the building. I didn't stir until the place was full of
flashing blue light, looked out to see about half a dozen police cars, an
ambulance and, eventually, a fire truck. I couldn't see what had actually
happened but there was a car on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the
street for the direction it was heading. Since it looked very unlikely
further sleep was possible, I departed discreetly via the exit most
distant from the scene of the action and was rewarded by finding a quarter
in the street.
Except for one almost-full bottle of Heineken, the beer gardens were
empty but I did come across a very large, ripe mango which got
Wednesday's Nutritious Daily Diet off to a somewhat healthier start,
supplemented later with an abandoned Breakfast Burrito from Mac. Looks
like someone bought two of the things, ate one and left the other in the
bag on a bench. I don't much blame them.
Jeff, my barback buddy at Duke's, is planning to move to San Jose. Jay T
is moving to San Francisco. Maybe it's abandoning a sinking ship, but I
can't help feeling they're taking refuge on the Titanic.
Musical bench game at the hacienda. On Wednesday evening, I moved
to the bench behind my usual one in case that new couple returned. They
didn't. Rocky took my former place, with the same pattern repeated on
Thursday. Sleeping close together again, but I can only see him through
the slats of the bench-back. No doubt just as well.
Thursday was Kamehameha Day, all libraries closed. So I stayed on Magic
Island for much of the morning until it started to get too crowded. The
shopping center was jam packed, too, so I fled to campus which was almost
totally deserted. I was sitting in the grove reading Time Must Have a
Stop and then fell into an extended daydream about what I'd do if I
had lots and lots of money, following the unwinding thread of individual
fantasies with so much detail it was almost as though I had suddenly
become rich and had many things to do, to work out. A few times I had the
thought that it's fortunate I'm not likely to become suddenly rich. It
would be a lot of work.
It would, though, be quite fortunate to be not so utterly poor, especially
on a day when the campus is empty and there's nothing to eat. And at a
time when one of my few remaining teeth is finally suggesting the time has
come for it to become past history and, as they all have done, is
delivering its message in a thoroughly uncomfortable manner. I should
have gone to the Quest office on Friday morning but I felt too lousy to
tackle it at the required hour of 7:45 a.m., so if the pain from the tooth
worsens, I'll have to find another way to research how a penniless man
finds someone who will pull a tooth pro bono.
Sometimes they have been painful for a few days and then have settled down
again for months, repeating the process until finally pain turns to agony
and the thing has to go. It's an unpleasant cycle I've been through again
and again all through this life and a thoroughly unwelcome one
now, as always.
I stopped down in mid-afternoon to see Kory K and met his sister for the
first time. They were watching wrestling on television. My mother was an
avid wrestling fan and during the Korean war, we'd go to matches once or
twice a week. She always believed it was real, I never did. Today's
version is even more blatantly unreal, terrible acting and lousy
choreography, but the crowd seemed to be full of believers.
Leaving Kory's, I took a bus, got off near Daiea and thought I'd see if
Helen was home. She was, and kindly suggested a trip to Kentucky Fried
Chicken so I didn't have to send myself off to bed, or bench, hungry.
On the way there, I found a copy of the afternoon newspaper and, since it
was still a little too early for the hacienda, I sat and read the paper
which suggested there is much in this world as unreal as WWF
wrestling but still with crowds of believers. Reading a newspaper every
day must surely be hazardous to anyone's mental health.
Earlier, sitting at a bus-stop, sipping on a cup of beer I'd carried with
me from Kory's place, I scribbled on an envelope:
subaru hubcap interlaced, gaelic illumination
brown boy spits in canal
turquoise shirt with plastic bag
life on oahu
little brown boy hits tree with stick
slams metal lamp post
bored at ten, and who can blame him
life on oahu
white pickup truck, boombox blaring
stops for red light
bored at twenty, and who can blame him
life on oahu
old man sitting at avenue bus stop
watching life pass round him
bored at sixty, who can blame him
life on oahu
I found one of those silly ball-heads from Jack-in-the-Box so went to add
it to the cooperative sculpture in the art building courtyard on campus.
Someone had added a one dollar bill, neatly folded into a little triangle.
Jack's head in exchange for a Jumbo Jack, seems a fair trade.
The beer gardens were empty of brew on Friday morning, but in one an
abandoned bag contained a fragment of a bacon cheeseburger from McDonald's
and an unwrapped, untouched one with about half a portion of large fries.
I love people who get drunk, get hungry, and order twice what they end up
eating, especially when they leave it on a ledge outside my favorite
Every month I seem to forget or neglect one item which that fabled pension
check should have provided. Last month it was the mosquito repellent, an
oversight corrected this month while failing to replenish the suppy of
boullion cubes. I hadn't been using them for awhile so didn't notice how
low the supply is running. Something is always running out ...
Japanese couple in their fifties. Most obviously local Japanese, since he
said to her "whatcha gonna do brah." That thing in Athens with maidens as
pillars, strange echo of it in a double roofed add-on to the Pekingesque
Neiman-Marcus. "Where's it start?" asked a lady, seeking the parade.
Downtown. Cue up Petula Clark.
Crazy haole in gray faux camouflage pants, walked through giving middle
finger to all Japanese. Dude was sick, not old enough to have known the
War. Unless his father was killed in it.
Found a bottle of Boone Farms "apple wine" with dashes of raspberry and
cranberry juice. Nice breakfast beverage with a bit of a punch. Flask
already full of found Heineken, couldn't use it. And then half a Mickey's
outside Sears, under those elegant fern-like palms. Into Jack's coffee
cup in installments, a chaser for the Boone's.
Sitting on the ledge of a planter with a small umbrella tree plant I tried
so hard to grown in London.
Sit in one place all day. Is this the time and place?
It may have been the place, but it wasn't the time.
Friday night's Ho'olaule'a (translates "block party") in Waikiki was fun,
although it was too bad it coincided with the opening festivities for the
Convention Center. Joining the Pan-Pacific Festival with the Kamehameha
Day celebration seems a good idea though (I'm not sure why they call it
"Pan-Pacific" since it's only Japan and Hawai'i participating, so far as
I've seen). I wandered from the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center down to
the Regent where the stage was featuring Hawaiian music. The Opihi
Pickers were just starting as I got there. Cute kids but, as with their
CD, the musical selections were all over the place. They remind me of
that whacko internal jukebox of mine. They were followed by
Ledward Kaapana and I Kona.
All the food being offered up and down the avenue would have driven me
crazy, but I had a lucky break and found a large plate lunch container
with beef stir fry and noodles, oddly enough abandoned in the Regent Hotel
lobby, and that more than took care of any hunger for the rest of the
Ran into Nathan and Dave, but didn't see anyone else I knew, and wandered
off to the bench just after nine, tired of the crowd.
As I wrote, there was an ample supply in the beer gardens on Saturday
morning, and again on Sunday morning, always most welcome when the days
come to count pennies for that first coffee of the morning. And it's
definitely that time until Wednesday's visit to the clinic.
There's an article in the current Weekly lamenting the stereotyping
of Polynesians by Hollywood, but they do it themselves, too, and perhaps
in an even more hokey way sometimes. A few of the floats in the
Kamehameha parade were classics of the genre. Otherwise the parade was
the standard island model, the princesses and ladies from each island on
horseback, the usual military bands and marching units, the usual high
school bands, the convertibles with Miss So-and-So and
Before it was over, I wandered along the parade route from Ala Moana to
Ward Center and watched the very end of the parade from there. Then I got
a bus downtown and went to the Hawai'i State Library, my first visit there
in a very long time. They use an even more weird method of classifying
books than the one at Hamilton Library and I gave up trying to find the
volume by Mary Butts they supposedly have, went on-line briefly, browsed
through a hefty biography of Tennessee Williams, glanced at some Gertrude
Stein, and scanned the titles of the hodgepodge of "fiction in English"
section. Hamilton is certainly a far more impressive library.
Took a bus back to Ala Moana and watched some of the Pan-Pacific Festival
offerings at Center Stage, including a very amusing ukelele group from
Japan. Then I found an abandoned bowl of soup in the Food Court and after
enjoying that, ran into Tomita-san. The rascal decided not to take any
courses at all during the summer sessions, so it's not likely he'll be on
campus again until the fall. Rats.
Back to Waikiki in the evening and, after watching the sunset from the
beach, a walk down to Kapiolani Park where the large gathering was just
getting ready to start the Bon Dance. I found two quite beautiful orchid
leis, probably leftovers from the parade. They were very loosely strung,
so I spent some time pushing the blossoms closer together and then joined
the two, making one much plusher, longer lei which I wore while watching
the dancers. I love the Bon Dance. Even when the music is sometimes far
too flavored by trashy Western musical styles, there's something mystic
about people dancing in a great circle, all making simultaneous gestures
I wasn't so lucky with the food, though. Some greedy black man was just
finishing cleaning out the more remote trash barrels, had a plastic bag
stuffed full of plate-lunch containers and was busy pigging one down as he
wandered. Sheez, the greed! The containers near the dancers were all
chock full of stuff, but I didn't want to explore those in the midst of
When I left to head off to the bench, I walked over to the Gandhi statue
and draped my lei over his arm, pleased it was the prettiest and biggest
one in the collection already there.
It was the Rocky Horror Social Club again. His school chums who visited
once before walked in with him and they were still yakking when I blocked
them out with earplugs and went to sleep. The chums left during the
night, and Rocky took the bench behind my new spot instead of my
The theatre show on NPR had been doing an hour profile on Bobby Short and
I was sorry to catch only the last fifteen minutes of it. Even that small
dose of him was enough to strongly evoke memories of the time in Atlanta
after my army duty and the early years in New York City, and after the
show I drifted off to sleep in a happy haze of memories and, barring
unforeseen events, the mellow glow from the last Mickey's nightcap for a
Zippy's macaroni salad, like their chili, is a good base for building a
decent version. Add some chopped, very lightly braised celery, some
chopped stuffed green olives and a dollop of mustard to start making
macaroni salad. Oh well, a kitchen-less person must make do with the
basics, so it was a pleasure to find an enormous tub of the stuff in one
of the beer gardens. There were also two full plate-lunch containers of
what appeared to be beef and broccoli, but a taste of it didn't have the
appeal it might have had if not for the bucket. I filled my casserole
container with the macaroni, and a large ziplock bag, and ate as much of
the rest as I could manage. Macaroni Salad Monday.
Cainer wrote about Monday: "SOMETHING will give way today. A key factor in
your life has been getting progressively more tense and stressful. You're
fed up; with a situation, a person, a syndrome or a silly state of mind."
That could apply to a great many things, including the hacienda
which seems to have entered a phase of one deterring factor after another.
This time it's Rocky's Social Horror Club, accelerated no doubt by school
break and more young people out and about with time to kill. On
Sunday evening two of Rocky's youngest chums arrived first, settled down,
but then began a lengthy chat. The earplugs are wonderfully effective in
blocking traffic noise but seem to be totally useless with certain
frequency ranges including, alas, that of adolescent male voices.
Then Rocky arrived with another one of his lads, the first two sat up, and
it felt like I'd suddenly found myself at a teenage slumber party where
the likelihood of much slumber seemed fairly remote. So I went on my way
and spent the night at the cloisters in relative peace and quiet,
with the bonus of finding half a large bottle of Miller Lite at the bus
stop on the way.
But Cainer continued: "You have had enough of whatever it is... but so
far, you have been unable to make a decisive gesture for fear of creating
too much trouble."
That doesn't sound like the hacienda is the subject of his message
because there's nothing to do about that situation but take it or leave
it. Because of its proximity to clubs that stay open after the last buses
have departed, it will always be subject to occasional casual visitors,
stranded for the night and less attuned to the usual nomad etiquette.
With Rocky as their apparent heroic role model, it now appears likely it
will be a haven for teenage kids too hyper to worry much about getting any
sleep. But there's no "decisive gesture" to be made about it.
"Saturn's sharp link to Mars speaks of a turning point. There may be a
brief moment when it seems things are turning the wrong way... but fear
not. They are turning the RIGHT way."
A turning point would be most welcome because my thinking has fallen into
I spent much of Sunday afternoon reading. Huxley's short story, "The Rest
Cure", was disappointing, particularly since it comes from the latter part
of his writing career. Maybe it was an earlier work he dusted off and
completed with an uncharacteristic little twist at the end which did
nothing to rescue it from insignificance. Then I started his strange
novel, Ape and Essence, which isn't easy reading but held my
attention for an hour and staked a claim on whatever hours are needed to
Although the library was open until six, I left early to catch the bus to
Waikiki for the parade which ended the Pan-Pacific Festival. The Japanese
are even worse than the Hawaiians when it comes to staging parades, both
in determining the arrangement of the participating groups and in working
out the timing. Several of the local high school bands, Mililani
especially, were far too close to floats with those wonderful Japanese
dummers. Mililani's band had to cope with two truckloads of drummers;
their own drummers could have just stayed home. And there was such a long
gap between about the first half of the parade and the second half that
many people thought the parade had ended. That first part had moved far
too quickly, not pausing often enough for the dance groups to perform,
while the second half paused perhaps too often and for too long. Still,
it was a delightful parade and a fine way to spend the sunset hours on the
beach in Waikiki.
And such a day of discipline! I saved a can of Bud Light, found in the
predawn hours, all through the day to have as a nightcap. For such a feat
of self-control, the reward really should have been a more decent beer.
And a more interesting setting than a teenage slumber party.
Thanks to the Angel of the Coins, there was an unexpected bottle of
Mickey's on Monday. That put Wednesday morning's senior coffee in
jeopardy by a missing fourteen cents (it was twenty-four, but as happens
with uncanny regularity, a dime was found immediately after leaving the
Angel of the Coins). A little later, I passed a payphone. Ordinarily I
don't bother to see if there's anything in the refund box, although I
often see nomads checking out each one they pass. This time, though, the
dowser nudge came, I checked it, and sure enough, there was a quarter. So
down the hill I went for the bottle of Mickey's, happy with the knowledge
that the financing for Tuesday and Wednesday senior coffees was in place.
No Wall Street financier could have felt more pleased with the state of
I filled my flask with Mickey's, put it away for a nightcap and enjoyed
the rest while beginning again the volume of Hesse short stories which I'd
retrieved from storage. Thus far, only Hesse's books have been tucked
away in the storage drawer or left with a friend so as to be available for
re-reading. I particularly wanted to read again the story called
"Augustus". A reader recently suggested a scheme for clarifying in my
mind what it may be that I really want, and part of the plan is to think
of five things I want before going to sleep each night ... just think of
them, no more. The reader suggested it was possible to make some or all
of those things wishes for other people, and that brought to mind
"Augustus", one of the best fables I know on the subject of the danger in
wishing things for others. I don't think I want to risk wishing for
anything on behalf of someone else. Even so simple a thing as wishing
"happiness" for someone might have untold consequences.
For my own part, I haven't been able to come up with five such thoughts.
One would do it. I'd like to have fifty dollars a week income, in
addition to the pension check which could then be used for "capital
expenses" like new slippers, or mosquito repellent, or toothpaste. Fifty
a week would provide the daily luxuries of basic food, drink and smoke,
without all the temptations and diversions that a larger amount would make
possible. A modest "want", methinks.
Perhaps a second would be a ticket to Delhi and Kathmandu, both of which
would be very pleasant on a fifty-dollar-a-week income.
Social Security will, of course, grant those wishes, if I survive four
more years of wishing for them.
My passport expires on Friday, so I could add a wish for a renewed
passport to the list, especially if that ticket is on it. Since it's my
only "photo id", it will need to be replaced, either with a new passport
(the more expensive option) or a State ID card. As Roseanne Roseannadanna
so aptly said, it's always something ...
Thoughts of the passport expiring led to remembering that awful evening at
Gaylord's in New Delhi where my nephew and I had gone, as usual for
dinner, sitting on the red velvet banquette which lines the wall of that
elegant establishment. If I'd had any sense, I'd have kept my bag between
me and my nephew instead of on the other side, and then those wretched
Hong Kong ladies sitting next to me wouldn't have managed to slip my
wallet out of it ... but who thought of such things when sitting in the
supposed secure comfort of Gaylord's. Passports, cash, traveller's checks
vanished into the Hong Kong underground ten years ago on Friday. Since
only the cash was a permanent loss, there was little penalty for my
carelessness except a couple of days of crazy running to and fro from
American Express to the American Embassy to the British Embassy ... and
Mastercard refusing to provide a replacement card until my return to the
UK! I vowed I'd get even with them for that, and I did, letting them
pay my first six months rent in Honolulu.
A much more remote memory was evoked on Tuesday morning. I was curled up
on "my" bench at the cloisters, gradually emerging from sleep, a
pair of shorts draped over my face to block the ever-present lights.
Someone said "hey buddy" a few times. I wasn't sure if he was speaking to
me or my nearest neighbor, but decided to ignore him because I didn't like
the tone or that particular phrase. After a few minutes, I sat up, no one
was around, but a bottle of Coors had been left by my bench. I suppose
the owner of the voice had left it and was seeking thanks. No style in
that method of giving, but a welcome gift (even if a lousy beer).
And the memory it evoked is one of the clearest from my childhood. I was
seven or eight years old, we were living in a two-storey house in Utah and
it was New Year's Eve. We weren't allowed to stay up for midnight, so I
was in bed determined to secretly stay awake until the magic hour. Every
year I did that, and most of the time finally yielded to sleep without
reaching the goal. That year I had succeeded and just before midnight my
father came to the bedroom door and softly called my name. I pretended I
was asleep and didn't answer. Later I heard him and my mother talking at
the bottom of the stairs and when he told her I was sound asleep, she said
that was too bad, it would have been fun for me to taste my first
"highball" to celebrate. Of course, I had long since secretly tasted
Seagrams Seven and Coke, her version of a "highball", but still kicked
myself for having missed out on such an adult treat.
I'm glad Tuesday's donor left the gift even without my response, and I
tucked the bottle away in the nightcap slot.
The cloisters is full up, all benches taken and even the best floor
spots are usually occupied. There is one bench shorter than the others,
too short to fully stretch out on without letting the lower legs hang over
the armrest, but I don't mind sleeping partly curled up and have managed
to get that bench on both of the first two nights of my return to that
sanctuary. Earplugs block the traffic noise and the post-midnight
departure of nearby club patrons. The refugees are all single men, no
kids and no couples (yet), so it actually is a better haven than the
hacienda despite being so far from the morning hunting
The buses don't run until nearly six o'clock and since I was awake by five
on Tuesday, I walked down to Ala Moana, found a half bottle of some
banana-raspberry-white wine concoction, a bottle of apple juice, and a
bottle of Absolut vodka with about a shot left in it. Mixed it all in
my flask, went over to the park, showered and washed my UH polo shirt and
drank the strange "cocktail" while enjoying the sun and waiting for the
shirt to dry. The internal jukebox was playing "Oh What a Beautiful
Morning" (which it was) and the phrase "a bright golden haze on the
meadow" reminded me of old Mr. Cowmmeaddoww, manager of the YMCA Tourist
Hostel in New Delhi during my first visit there. One morning I heard his
wife giving the room boy a real tongue-lashing because she'd found dust in
my room and I intervened, explaining that I'd not been feeling well
(euphemism for it has been so damned hot I've stayed stoned in my room)
and hadn't been out, thus had asked him to postpone more thorough
cleaning. She was offended by my interruption and was fairly rude,
evidently complained to her husband who came to see me and apologized for
her behavior! He turned out to be quite an interesting old geezer, deeply
interested in handwriting analysis, and I was sorry to learn he was no
longer alive when my nephew and I arrived at the Tourist Hostel.
Sunny, penniless days filled with small events and old memories ...
There was a time when the moon moving into Aries was justification for
rolling an extra big one and puffing in celebration. It still would be
that time if there were anything available to roll, but since there isn't,
Mickey's will have to do. A toast to the Moon in Aries!
I created a new character in MUD called Pollux but he turned out to have
terrible stats, was quite a wimp at swordsman level, so I let him get
killed off by a nasty Fiend who is one of those only-sometimes critters in
the Land, and created Castor instead, played him to Hero. Then I thought
it was time for some different playing, so visited the Playroom. A
strange young black man was dominating the place, having taken possession
of the center booth. When I entered, he immediately covered the hole with
toilet paper, then slowly uncovered it a bit at a time. Hmmm, a tease.
Then he passed a piece of paper and a pen under the partition. It was a
note asking me to loan him five dollars. All those young dudes eager to
give it away and he expected to get paid?! I sent the note back merely
saying, "No. Sorry." After a couple of minutes, he uncovered more of the
hole but only enough to give me a glimpse of what he had to offer when he
moved into a particular spot. Yes, a definite tease. Next he passed me
the pen and another note which asked "what is so special about a black
cock?" I refrained from saying "nothing, it's not worth five dollars"
but just said "color doesn't matter", and sent the note back. He returned
it, without the pen, writing "I just told someone else that."
I kept the note, but he motioned that he wanted it back, so I gave it to
him. He uncovered a bit more of the hole. I was getting slightly bored
with the routine by that time, so uncovered the rest of the hole myself
and he didn't object but went to work displaying his very long, slender
"black cock". I had to think it was quite special but that, indeed, color
didn't matter, and much enjoyed the show, then left. It was certainly one
of the more strange interludes in the Playroom.
It was one of those afternoons when I very much wanted a beer but
refrained from drinking the bottle I'd been carrying around since early
morning, determined to save that for a nightcap. Some abandoned "cajun"
chicken wings turned up for dinner. Cajun seems to be the latest buzz
word in local take-outs, but there was nothing remotely Cajun about those
chicken wings, welcome though they were, as were some grilled pieces of
hot-dog like sausage which were with them. I had stashed a bag of the
macaroni salad in Hamilton Library, figuring the cooler temperature there
might keep it from spoiling overnight. A shelf of books by a Major
American Author [tm] provided a perfect stash spot, probably the most
useful thing his books have ever done (and I suspect he'd agree with me
if he were still around). It worked, the stash wasn't discovered and it
hadn't spoiled, so the chicken and sausage were backed-up with the last of
the macaroni salad and the beer, a fine dinner.
Then it was off, fairly early, to the cloisters where, fortunately,
no meetings were going on and I was asleep before ten. About six hours of
solid sleep is quite sufficient for me, so I was awake at four on
Wednesday morning. With nothing particular to do, and no where particular
to go, at that hour, I walked slowly down to the Jack-in-the-Box at Ward,
taking about an hour to get there. Checking one beer garden on the way, I
found a plate lunch box with chunks of meat in a thick sauce and a large
helping of fried rice with vegetables, but there was no beer there or the
other gardens and I got to the Ala Moana garage beer garden too late, the
cleaners had already struck. Since it was clinic day, no big
And the Clinic ...
"How was your libido, your sex drive?"
"Chile, when with you it's in Warp 2."
No, I didn't say that. I've tried, earnestly tried, to be honest with the
well-meaning folks at that research clinic, but I just didn't have the
nerve to say that, even if it would have been true and even if it is "Gay
Pride Week". I didn't know that until today. Rats. Wednesday already,
so I missed half of it. Just as well. I really don't see any reason to
feel "proud" about one's sexual orientation, whatever it may be.
The psychiatrist was detained by a "crisis at the hospital", so the young
doctor did the interview part of my visit, after the most thorough
physical examination yet. He is such a sweetheart. Not only is he the
most sexually attractive human being I have met in decades (I know what I
am saying), he's a truly sweet man and I'd love to have him as a
We diverted for awhile and had a most interesting conversation on the
subject of paranoia, since I was prepared, honestly, to elevate my
Hamilton Scale of Depression score by answering yes to the question about
"have you had feelings of paranoia". Alas, as he said, there truly are
people out there with "uhhhh... not your best interest in mind", a gentle
way of phrasing "they really are out to get you", so I'm not sure if I
ended up scoring on that one or not, but much enjoyed the
Next week will mark the end of this study. I told him the fifteen dollars
was far more effective as an "anti-depressant" than the junk drug, and
this week there will be no drug, just fifteen dollars. A most excellent
Then I finally had a campus revelation. What I need to do is cultivate an
image as a campus eccentric. Every campus has them. At UH, the Cat Man
is the ideal role model. What is needed is to find the right balance so
that students either don't mind you or feel sorry for you or even secretly
admire you for your eccentricity, and you do nothing which alarms the
security folk. Then you can wander around picking out long butts from the
ashtrays with impunity and, who knows, there may even be kind Japanese
students who will offer you a virgin cigarette ... or their body. Ooops,
scratch the latter, I never said that.
After the clinic, I went directly to the McCully 7-Eleven for a bottle of
Mickey's, hopped on a bus and returned to campus to enjoy it and the rest
of the Hesse short story collection. After a short time on-line, it was
then to Manoa Garden where I spent four times as much as I should have
(i.e., four Mickey's worth). The next morning one inner voice was
bitching away about it and I told it to shut up, we had a great time at
the Garden, and that was true. Like I said recently, sometimes it's
definitely worth spending a little more for beer.
Then it was off to Waikiki and the Pure Heart concert at the Zoo. I was
able to find a spot right in front by the stage. The crowd was large and
enthusiastic so I could yell a few times without even being noticed, and
certainly did when they amazed me by breaking into "Hi'ilawe". It's the
first time I've heard them do it and was so unexpected it took a bit
for it to register ... wow, they're doing "Hi'ilawe"! Those guys are far
and away the best thing to happen on the local scene since Harold Kama
started doing solo gigs. After the gig I spotted Matt Swalinkavich even
though he looked as if he was trying to be incognito, as I accused him.
He agreed, he was trying. Didn't work. He's a sweetheart. I walked
around to say hello to Lopaka and asked whose idea it was to do
"Hi'ilawe". The culprit was unnamed but he said they decided to do it
"just for the heck of it."
Thanks to the gig, the internal jukebox was stuck on "Hi'ilawe" Thursday
morning, but at some point switched to "When You Wish Upon a Star". I'd
gotten to the cloisters a little earlier than usual and there was
still a meeting going on so a bearded young nomad who usually sleeps on a
bench outside that meeting room was sitting on my little bench, but moved
over to the next one when I arrived. Everyone there is puzzled by my
taking that little bench and several of them have encouraged me to take
one of the longer benches instead. I explained, again, to him that my
preference is to take whatever spot is least in demand, whether it's a
bench or a computer terminal. I'd seen him in Hamilton occasionally, so
that remark led to a bit of chat about computers, a more comfortable
territory than his opening conversation which explained how he sees
himself as an informal watchman for the place and proudly boasted about
the people he'd driven off since they hadn't lived up to his standard
(pissing in the bushes is one capital crime, in his book). He should move
to the hacienda for awhile, straighten out Rocky and his
The fellow who usually sleeps on that bench then arrived, so the bearded
fellow wandered off to wait for the meeting to end, and I settled down to
sleep. On Thursday night, there were two meetings still going on, even
though it was a little after nine when I got there, and one was being held
in the room by my bench. Fortunately it ended after a few
I was up just after four on Thursday morning so repeated the new custom of
walking casually down to Ala Moana, taking a slightly different route.
There was a bottle of one of those wine cooler concoctions in a beer
garden, so I filled the flask with that and it made a pleasant
mid-morning refreshment, although I'd never actually buy that stuff.
After awhile on-line, including some time in MUD, I went down for a
Mickey's and sat in the grove enjoying it and starting again Time Must
Have a Stop, since I can't add to the $1 book collection until pension
check time. Back on-line for awhile and then I got the urge to see "The
Truman Show", so caught a bus out to Kahala Mall.
That's a great place for cigarette "shopping", even though it does have
the drawback of people almost always sitting by the ashtrays. I had
almost an hour to kill before the film started, and had a pack and a half
of lengthy butts stashed away before it was time to enter the
I probably wouldn't have seen the film had it not been directed by Peter
Weir, but I'm glad I did. It's a real horror story, made even more so by
some parallels with my own life, especially the aspect of never being
alone, always subject to someone watching. But I thought it was very well
done and would only have added one small visual touch by placing somewhere
in the film that classic woodcut of a man crawling through the dome from
earth into a starry heaven.
It's surprising how much cooler it is in Kahala compared to Manoa, despite
the short distance between them, and I was happy to get back to Manoa and
discover that, even though cooler than it has been lately, it was
noticeably warmer than it had been outside the Mall. Even though I
shouldn't have, I bought a Mickey's and went to the Garden to drink it
(not willing to impose upon the hospitality of the cloisters with
drink, with or without the "watchman", who would strenuously object, I'm
sure, since he doesn't approve of cigarettes, either).
Friday morning there was at last treasure in the beer garden right by the
cloisters. A younger crowd hangs out there and rarely leaves
anything unemptied, but there were two large bottles of Asahi with
sufficient contents to fill the flask to the litre mark. In another beer
garden, I found a one-pound packet of Kraft American Cheese slices ... odd
thing to abandon. A pity they didn't leave some bread or crackers with
it. Urban hunting can sometimes be a very amusing, but puzzling,
Two tee shirts also turned up, one with a T&C Surf design and the other
from a "Torch Run" with the Bank of Hawai'i logo on the front. Even
though the run was a couple of years ago, the shirt seems to have been
worn very little, is like new. The surfer one is nicely faded but in
prime shape. Both are green.
Beer, cheese, and tee shirts ... like I said, an amusing but puzzling
Memo to Supply Angel:
Thanks very much for Saturday morning's flask of (mixed) beer, the can
of Budweiser, the tube of Pringle's potato chips, the revival of the Free
Mickey's Game with forty-six cents worth of coins, and the new tee
A pair of shorts would be cool, preferably the T&C surfer kine design on
sale at Ala Moana for $32.95.
Three new tee shirts in one week. Weird. I did abandon one of the green
ones, the T&C one, because it was only a medium. Extra large is best, but
they have to be at least large to feel comfortable. The newest one is a
bright blue extra-large Hanes with a colorful Sierra Nevada Ale design.
I managed to get fairly drunk on Friday evening, the first time since
N.B.'s departure. Since that excellent condition was reached via a
combination of wine and beer, a hangover was definitely expected on
Saturday morning but didn't happen. Maybe it was the KFC chicken and
mashed potato dinner which offset the hangover? It couldn't be winning
two games of Scrabble, surely.
And I returned to the hacienda, getting there much later than
usual. Rocky was sound asleep in his pretty flowery shorts, and none of
his teenybopper friends were on the premises. The Big Local Dude wasn't
there, nor was the Snorer, and it was so quiet I didn't even bother with
the earplugs (being drunk helps a lot in that respect, too, of course). A
most excellent sleep, stretched out fully for the first time in a week,
continued until almost five-thirty. Rocky was still sound asleep when I
left and it was light enough to get one of my rare opportunities to
closely look at him. Cute guy, no doubt about it.
The Eve of the Summer Solstice of the Year of the Tiger, the end of the
time with Castor and Pollux. The internal jukebox starting with Richard
Rodger's "Carousel Waltz", getting sidetracked in the shower when a local
fellow came in humming Brahms' Lullaby. Sitting at a picnic table after
the shower and being rained on from a clear blue sky.
Not a bad start to the last day of Spring.
The Supply Angel certainly was listening. A pair of flowery shorts turned
up on Sunday morning. They weren't quite the right kind, too short, but
worse than that, some auto mechanic had been using them as a grease rag
and it didn't seem likely they'd ever be clean again. But it was still
a grin to come across them, so soon after the hint.
A much more rapid response came when I thought how nice it would be to
find one of those bottles of berry-flavored concoctions, either the wine
cooler version or the malt liquor type. Not ten minutes later, an almost
full bottle of the malt liquor materialized, "Wild Berry". As I wrote, I
certainly wouldn't buy the stuff, but it does make a refreshing late
morning beverage, more interesting than Coke or Pepsi, less dozey than
The last day of spring did turn out to be quite pleasant, as its start had
suggested it would be. A bottle of Mickey's for lunch was later
supplemented by a can of Budweiser, a rare find on campus. There was the
usual weekend shortage of food, but I wasn't feeling particularly hungry
anyway and was satisfied with a KFC biscuit leftover from the night
before and the rest of that cheese I'd found, fed a second biscuit to the
birds who seemed to like it so much it inspired several squabbles,
especially amongst the Zebra doves.
Because it drizzled on and off all day, I went over to Krauss Hall and sat
under shelter by the lily pond to listen to a broadcast of Puccini's
"Madama Butterfly". It has been more than ten years since I last heard it
and was a fine performance from the Chicago Lyric Opera, most
I had been delighted the evening before by the very vocal toads who reside
in and around that pond, and was amazed at the number of tadpoles swimming
around in it. I assume a great many of them won't make it, otherwise
there's going to be a population explosion at Krauss Hall.
Then it was off to Waikiki to join some friends in seeing "X Files". I've
only once seen the television show and wasn't inspired to make any effort
to see it again, so no doubt lacked much of the background which might
have contributed to enjoyment of the film. It was certainly a handsome
production, but I must confess I didn't understand an awful lot of what
went on and it definitely doesn't make my list of favorite films of 1998.
I stayed in Waikiki after the film, walked around a bit and then went on
to Ala Moana. I thought I'd try the hacienda again, and there's
not much point in arriving too early, especially on Saturdays. When
I did get there, my traditional bench was empty, but the other three
benches in that group were occupied, happily by adults who had already
settled down to sleep. Two of Rocky's social horrors walked up a bit
later but one of them settled down immediately. The other one, a really
cute fellow, polite and softly spoken, asked me for a cigarette. I told
him I just had a collection of butts and he was happy with one of those.
I don't know what's happening with Rocky, though. He used to be such a
model of nomad etiquette, but he's definitely changed. I was woken up
just after one by his arrival and he also woke up one of his social
horrors and they sat and talked quite loudly for almost half an hour.
Since it wasn't raining, it would have been far more considerate to have
moved to an outside bench, as Rocky used to do when he wasn't ready to
sleep yet. Strange fellow.
Partly due to the interrupted sleep, I woke up later than usual on Sunday
morning, went off on the hunt for supplies which were more sparse than
ordinarily happens. People seem to have had a less boisterous Saturday
night this week. Still, there was a flask's worth of beer, the bottle of
berry flavored malt liquor, and half a Mounds bar. And the filthy flowery
Helen gave me a voucher for a free breakfast sandwich at McD's, so I
started Summer by having a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and then went, for
the first time in months, way out to the end of Magic Island. There were
elaborate preparations going on for welcoming the U.S.S. Missouri,
including a mobile ATM from Bankoh with a "Big Mo Souvenirs" tent next to
it. I can't say I'm particularly excited about the ship coming to Pearl
Harbor, although it makes perfect sense for it to be there, and I was out
there more to enjoy the ocean crashing against the boulders than with any
hope the ship would come into view. It was hazily cloudy and occasionally
drizzling lightly, but I filled my McD's coffee cup several times with the
Wild Berry malt liquor and lingered until I ran out of tobacco.
After replenishing the tobacco supply, I stopped to listen to Kanilau on
Center Stage and watch the young hula dancers. Kanilau is, I think, an
underrated group on the local scene. Their mellow style with local songs
brings to mind Peter, Paul and Mary, but in Hawaiian. Once again I felt
sorry for the kumu hula because some of those young boys are just
incredibly stiff, so concentrated on trying to remember the arm and hand
movements that they forget about their legs.
There was an unusually long wait, even by ordinary Sunday standards, for a
bus to campus and by the time I got there it was almost time to leave for
Kahala Mall to see Willie K and Amy. So after a brief on-line interlude,
I switched into my (Harold's) Willie K tee shirt and headed off to Kahala.
Confounded cleaning people had been very busy and most of the ashtrays
were recently emptied. I settled into a spot on the floor near the stage
as Willie and Amy were on the other side getting ready to start the gig.
"How you doing, Albert?" Willie asked as he went on stage. Nothing to do
but grin, and nod. I was doing just fine, very happy to see him again
after an unusually long time. Amy prodded him into doing a solo. I'm not
sure of the name of the song, a Spanish-flavored rock tune which he often
does, and it was so good it had me sighing for the days when he and the
band made Thursdays so special at the Pier Bar.
The gig was far too short but completely delightful. I'd considered
seeing "Mulan" afterwards, but there was such a crowd at the Mall I
thought it would be wiser to wait until a weekday afternoon and got back
on a bus to return to campus. The weather, which had been dubious all
day, got worse with heavy gray clouds and more than light drizzle.
"It's always something ..." and now it's a foot again. The one major
drawback to Hawaiian-style "slippers" is the callus which tends to form
around the edge of the heel from wearing them all the time. On the right
foot, the callus has become so thick on one side that it has split and is
quite uncomfortable. It's a condition I see on many slipper-wearing
nomads. I shall have to do some research to find out how to deal with the
But a slightly sore heel and what may well be a developing cold in the
head, oddly enough, and throughly dreary weather still didn't manage to
lower my spirits on the first day of the Summer of the Tiger.
Monday morning is ordinarily one of the worst days of the week for urban
nomad hunters, especially when the weather has been as vile as it was on
the first Sunday of Summer. But the first Monday of Summer turned out to
be an exception. The weather was still vile, solid gray sky with frequent
drizzle, often heavy, but the beer gardens nonetheless turned up a full
flask and so much beyond that it was necessary to search for a plastic
bottle for the excess. The breadbasket had saved me from going to bed
hungry on Sunday evening and came to the rescue again on Monday morning
with three baked potatoes and half a loaf of that delicious wheat bread.
I think at least part of the reason for the unusual variation in fortune
was Sunday's festivities to celebrate the arrival of the U.S.S. Missouri,
and I was happy to catch a glimpse of that famous vessel on Sunday evening
and enjoyed the fireworks display in its honor at Magic Island.
But on both Sunday evening and Monday morning there was a severe
shortage of tobacco. This, too, turned out to be fortunate since I made
an unusual early morning visit to Waikiki hoping to increase the supply of
that noble weed. Continuing the recent series of wardrobe additions, I
found a gray-white-and-blue striped tanktop which I liked so much I stayed
in Waikiki to wash it and let it dry in the sun which eventually, and
intermittently, appeared. I decided to dump the Sedona polo shirt I'd
found (why would they want a shirt made of such heavy fabric in Arizona?)
and the too-gaudy ale tee shirt, so someone else could enjoy the good
fortune of finding them in Kapiolani Park.
Once the tanktop had dried, I walked over to the Zoo entrance and,
conquering my timidity, asked a haole tourist couple who approached if
they intended to pay cash. They did. I offered them two free passes for
five dollars, instead of the twelve they would've had to pay. He was very
suspicious, so I assured him I would remain there until I saw if the
passes really worked and, if they didn't, I'd return his five dollars.
The passes worked, I was five dollars richer and he'd saved seven, and was
quite pleased with the arrangement. Me, too. I assume the Zoo made some
kind of deal with McDonald's and also got some income from it.
That, plus some coins found during the earlier hunt, ensured the
availability of three bottles of Mickey's, enough to get me through the
hours before the next clinic visit. Oh happy day ...
Give me a kiss to build a dream on, and my imagination will make that
moment live, give me what you alone can give, a kiss to build a dream on
That was the internal jukebox's morning selection. Heaven knows what
distant memory bank it dredged that one up from. The night before, when I
settled on the bench and turned on the radio, NPR was just starting
"Summertime" ... that wonderful Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
version. Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon ...
I think I know what Rocky is up to. He's trying to get rid of some of the
hacienda regulars, the Snorer especially and perhaps me as well.
Once again he and one of his social horrors turned up after midnight and
sat very loudly chatting (about nothing at all interesting) and laughing.
It seemed a very deliberate performance. They were on the other side of
the area, so after having been awakened, I adjusted the earplugs and was
no longer bothered by their antics, went back to sleep. Alas, the Snorer
had taken the bench next to me and when he started going full force just
after four in the morning, no earplugs could block it. I left.
That absurd waste of time, Usenet, occupied too many of my thoughts on the
weekend and too much of my time on Monday.
And I do have a cold, the first real one I've had since this nomadic trip
began. There have been a couple of mild sniffles, but this is the Real
Thing, aggravating the apparently chronic bronchitis and going through a
substantial supply of McDonald's napkins during the day. I've no idea how
I got it, but it's not exceptionally unpleasant so shall just be endured
until it goes away. Far more irksome is the return of that wretched chest
pain which was so bad on Sunday morning I had to sit on benches and rest
three times between Ward Avenue and Ala Moana Center, and was almost as
bad on Monday morning. No amount of slowing down, conscious attempts to
relax or "meditation" have any effect on it. There's nothing to do but
sit very, very still until it subsides. I am not pleased at all with such
But otherwise, Summer's definitely off to a fine start.
The unprecedented severe tobacco shortage continued through Monday and
into Tuesday morning, and the disposable lighter I'd recently found on a
bus ran out. Is there a message here? Yes, use some of the last
blood money to buy a pack of cigarettes and a new lighter. (I'm not
giving up that easily).
I stopped by the Garden about half an hour before closing on Monday, so
was able to enjoy a light nightcap of Budweiser after filling my flask
before draining the glass. But even with the nightcap and the calm, quiet
atmosphere at the cloisters, I still woke up several times during
the night thanks to the wretched head cold. Such congestion I had to
breathe through my mouth which then got so dry it woke me up. But despite
the gray damp weather, the cold seemed over its worst on Tuesday morning.
Outdoor living appears to be a sensible treatment for head colds.
It was so wet and nasty on Tuesday morning that I only checked the two
main sheltered beer gardens, both empty which was no surprise. But I did
find a dollar bill laying on the sidewalk outside Bert's Cafe on McCully.
Thanks, careless patron of Bert's!
The jukebox woke up with "La Traviata" which was fun at first, but after
an hour of libiamo, libiamo ... I suggested it might be time to
change the record. It didn't listen.
The flare-up on Usenet continued on Tuesday morning. It's puzzling to me
why some people so deeply resent the Tales, constantly make public
references to them and do it as if they are "exposing" me. Weird,
considering it's all here for anyone to read. And they can't see the
distinction between Usenet and the Web, between writing a review of a gig
for alt.music.hawaiian or writing about the gig in the Tales. In the
Tales, what was important to me is relevant; often it isn't relevant at
all in a newsgroup. But of course I knew they'd jump on my recent
reference to Willie saying hello and I mentioned it, I confess, with
mischievous intent. Willie always says hello to me. So? Why wouldn't
he, I'm one of his most devoted fans.
Some folks recommend giving up Usenet altogether but I think the better
answer is to frequently remind myself there are only a very few people
conducting the attacks on me and others, no one who means anything to me
pays much attention to them (or even reads them), and there's fun to be
had by participating in the newsgroups despite their petty potshots.
I was sitting in the covered walk of the building near Hamilton (the name
of which I never remember). The sun had finally broken through the clouds
and was shining on a pool of water, creating a reflection on the wall
behind it. Drops of water occasionally fell into the pool, making a
psychedelic light show of the reflection. If the jukebox had knocked it
off with Traviata and geared up a little Floyd, it could have been major
Ahhh, the delicious joy of a virgin Pall Mall. With the insatiable greed
which has plagued my life, probably from the moment I was born if not
before, I smoked three right in a row. I was reminded of Eustace in
Time Must Have a Stop who, after a delightful evening with his
beautiful nephew Sebastian, lit one of his treasured Romeo and
Juliet cigars, went into the bathroom for some bicarbonate to ease the
aftermath of a luxurious dinner, and fell face down on the floor,
I wouldn't have minded in the least if I'd shared his fate after the third
Pall Mall, even without the luxury of a Florentine villa bathroom to do it
You reach the peak of a mountain and you look down at the plains, swamps
and jungles you've walked, or crawled, through to get there and you know
you've reached an apex, it can't get any better, so you'd be happy just to
let the silly saga end.
I can remember exactly the last time I felt that happy. K.M. and I were
at the Club OB and were having a long conversation about all and
everything. He diagrammed some of what we were talking about on a napkin.
I kept it, framed it and had it on my wall for as long as I had a wall. I
should have looked at it more often.
After an enjoyable visit to Kory K's office, the first in some time, and
another round of the Usenet squabbles which have finally reached the point
of being completely amusing rather than irksome, mainly because the
opponents in this "war" have become so inept, I spent several hours in the
company of one of my favorite bartenders who stuffed me with food. I must
be looking thinner than usual.
We watched a bizarre Italian-made film called "Army of Darkness" which I'd
not seen before and was more fun to watch in his company than it would
have been on my own.
Then I rushed, rather tardily, to the clinic and a totally delightful
conversation with the young doctor who has been one of the bright points
in my life for these past few months. I told him about the Tales. If he
does find them (I didn't give him the address and he's not highly net
literate), he'll be the first person to discover from the Tales how much I
like and admire him. As an "anti-depressant", he's superb, just being in
his company makes me feel instantly better. A natural born
Later, of course, I thought omygawd, should I go back and edit anything,
make any changes knowing he might read them, and decided that would be
stupid as well as unnecessary. I only have one more visit to the clinic
and then, alas, probably shall never see him again. What difference does
it make if he discovers he has a major fan, and a grateful
At this stage in life I really don't expect to have moments as happy as
those with him. A grateful patient, indeed.
If I used young journal-keeper Erick's method of rating days on a 1-10
scale, the First Tuesday of Summer definitely rated a nine, maybe even 9.5
during the chat with the young doctor at the clinic, the highest in a very
long time. So I expected to wake up Wednesday morning feeling gawdawful,
but the glow remained.
After the clinic, I'd picked up the pack of Pall Malls, a new cigarette
lighter and a bottle of Mickey's, and returned to campus. When it neared
time for the library to close, I went over to the Garden where I happily
had the place to myself and could enjoy an hour with Hesse and a beer
before heading off to the cloisters.
I retrieved my copy of Glass Bead Game yesterday, time to read it
again. It's wonderful that a writer as great as Hesse could create such a
masterwork as the capstone of his career.
... just a photograph to tell my troubles to.
The jukebox really had to dig into deep caves of memory to find that one,
and I don't remember all the words. Still, it's a great song and I didn't
mind at all starting off Wednesday morning with it. The unprecedented
tobacco famine continued. Kory K suggested it might be a side-effect of
the Japanese economic woes, and he may be right. They are still walking
around laden with Chanel and Vuitton and Armani shopping bags, but they
are definitely smoking their cigarettes longer and may be smoking less.
Both N.B. and Florida Mark have expressed concern over the Asian financial
woes. N.B. was surprised so little attention was being paid in the local
press, but that was the week before it made front page headlines. Odd to
think that such a global matter could filter down and directly affect the
life of an old geezer living on the streets of Honolulu, but it may be
I made a new, bold wish on the first star of Tuesday evening, ignoring
Cainer's recent advice to want only something I can get. What's the fun
in that kind of wishing? This wish I won't get, but it was fun thinking
about it ... and still is. Wishing for a $50 a week income is no fun,
either. I know I could get that, just don't know exactly what to do to
earn it that would be sufficiently interesting or amusing to justify the
expenditure of time.
One reader had the interesting idea that since I've experienced life as a
householder with a job, life as a householder without a job, and life as a
nomad without a job, I should add life as a nomad with a job to my list of
experiences. Maybe so, but I think not until October comes and the
one-year mark is reached.
I never thought I'd make it, am still not at all sure I will, and I don't
really care. "9" days with 9.5 moments just don't come along often enough.