Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pop Culture Refugee

Click on photos to enlarge!

" How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"
Satchel Paige

"Disillusion is the last illusion." Wallace Stevens

". . . But I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now."
The Byrds

As the years pass, we become refugees from our pop-culture era while it recedes along with our hairline.

All that made us hip, all that we shared: the music, clothes and slang, now mark us as passe'. We have become as irrelevant as grandpa's vinyl Big Band records.

Remaining interested in current youth culture exposes us to the charge of Peter Pan-ism, unless we can develop, retain, and nurture a genuineness which, like a magical lodestone, instantly transcends any temporal or cultural divide.

Then, a space exists for healthy sharing between generations, or even healthy mentor-ship.

Note: They told us that marijuana would harm our brains, but scientists now believe that it's active ingredient may reduce brain-damaging inflammation that accompanies Alzheimer's disease.

A L O H A, Cloudia

Friday, February 27, 2009

Waikiki Seasons

Shower Tree
Click on photos to enlarge!

"The seasons in Hawaii can be so subtle that you can miss them. Hawaii calls upon your observation skills and your intuitive biorythmns, to say, my god, something feels different and I am seeing a bird I didn't see last week, or the water temperature is cooler." Maile Meyer

"When you notice the golden shower tree going off, brilliant yellow, in places you didn't notice them before, suddenly it stands out. There are all kinds of fun things and they are all related." Sam Gon III

"The textbooks have four seasons, and the teachers teach the four seasons. I had one teacher tell me they have to learn about it. I said, 'Why do they? They don't experience it.'"

"I also realized that the seasons in the place you grow up become a part of your memories and your identity. To deny your children the reality of their experience, and to teach them about someone else's experience, makes no sense." Stephanie Feeney, Author of: Sun and Rain, a book for children and their friends about Hawaii's seasons.

Stephanie is right. Your childhood place, it's sights, smells and changes, remains imprinted on your identity all of your life.

For a long-time east coast "transplant" in Hawaii like me this creates a dynamic tension that feeds my imagination and fuels my pleasure of daily life. Watching a movie that's set in New York City winter, with the shades drawn and the air conditioner blasting, makes me believe that snow covered streets and icy winds are just outside.

Imagine how amazing it feels, over and over again, to go outside and see the deepest blue sky, whitest clouds, brilliant sunshine, waving palms, and to feel and smell the trade winds tumbling by like a parade of happy acrobats. To feel the subtropical sun on my skin and to realize . . .

. . . that I am home for good.
A L O H A! Cloudia

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Republicans Picking on Hawaii

Click on photos to enlarge!
"Some are so very studious of learning what was done by the ancients that they know not how to live with the moderns."

William Penn

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”
John Stuart Mill

Let's go loco!

"There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings."
Dorothy Thompson

Shadow play

On Tuesday night, President Obama spoke to our assembled U.S. Congress about his administration's plans to fix the economic disaster that he inherited.

Rather than contribute meaningfully, Republicans Bobby Jindal and John McCain tried to find problems with the strategy. They were like young kids complaining about dad's driving as he swerves to avoid an accident they don't perceive.

Demonstrating both the depth of their partisanship, and the shallowness of their reasoning, both picked on Hawaii as an easy target. Who knows about Hawaii? Who cares about Hawaii? Not them, apparently!

First of all, Jindal opened his remarks by referring once again to the race of the President. Though he was ostensibly praising America's progress, what he was actually doing was demeaning us all. Get over it, Bobby. Barack is not inspiring because of an accident of birth. He is a brilliant and inspiring PERSON, not a lucky example of some under-group affirmative action! Stop denying the President's stature by implying that what inspires is MERELY his color!

After "railing" against a supposed rail link between Las Vegas and California that is NOT in the bill, Jindal turned his dismissive attention to volcano monitoring in HAWAII as if this is a boondoggle.
Mr. Jindal, perhaps you don't realize that volcanic activity is NOW occurring in our STATE. Hawaii is the best place in the country to study volcanoes, and also has a population in serious NEED of such monitoring and understanding. What should we spend on? Is flood control in your State of Louisiana as "ridiculous?"

Mr. McCain lambasted astronomy in Hawaii as another obvious waste. Just because Mauna Kea is a WORLD CLASS scientific village of telescopes and instruments producing cutting-edge knowledge and providing educational opportunities as well as many skilled jobs - does that make it ridiculous and wasteful to you - or is it just reflexive disdain for our State? You did meet your wife in Waikiki, and you should know better!

Our loyal, strategic, unique State only adds immeasurably to the social and cultural fabric of this country. Oh, plus our community mid-wifed and raised our President Obama.

If these are your "considered" problems with the plan to rescue our economy, then I must conclude that you are lazy thinkers and unworthy to lead.

Why not contribute something to our nation and world besides spin and foot dragging. Or do you want the President, and all of us, to fail?

They used to call that treason. . .
A L O H A! Cloudia

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hau Tree Lanai

Click on photos to enlarge!

The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel is a sweet little boutique place in Kapiolani Park right on the beach. It was a favorite of fashion designer Geoffrey Beene, and has a cool restaurant by the sand: the Hau Tree Lanai. Beautiful koi set the tone as you enter.

A large, airy room awaits!

"Bailing out the banks and Wall Street looks like giving insurance money to the arsonist." Chris Mathews

As we are seated under the huge hau tree, I instinctively look up the beach just beyond the balustrade.

Kona Coffee!

"Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected."

Oscar Wilde

"He that does good for good's sake seeks neither paradise nor reward, but he is sure of both in the end."

William Penn

Then back to real life. . . but beauty is everywhere!
"We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s."
President Barack Obama
A L O H A! Cloudia

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Malassada Day!

Click on photos to enlarge!

"Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than the arguments of its opposers." William Penn

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." William Penn

Carnaval Tonight in Honolulu!

Leonard's! Malassadas!

We got parking under the banner. . .
No line yesterday. . .

Almost our turn. . .


Special Note:

"I want all the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."
Mahatma Gandhi
Congratulations to the great people of Mumbai, and ALL of INDIA for World's BEST PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire!!! Well done!!!!
Well deserved!!

Aloha and Happy Malassada Day!
Wait - what's a malassada, you ask?
It only a warm, chewy, sweet, little ball of heaven, that's all!
On the day before Ash Wednesday and the long days of Lent, the devoutly Catholic Portuguese (who had been coming from the Azores to work on Hawaii's plantations since 1878) used up all their lard and sugar in one last blow out - no Portugee sweet bread (pao doce) till Easter! And so the Malassada was born. We still love them today. . .

Egg-sized balls of yeasty golden dough are deep-fried in oil then dusted generously with granulated sugar. No hole, no filling, NO PROBLEM!

Today few of us mortify the flesh in the traditional way, and malassadas are regularly available here in Hawaii. Even so, there will be lines today at the high church of malassadas: Leonards Bakery.

Damien Memorial High School will also be selling the pleasure bomb-lets, freshly fried from the cafeteria, in their parking lot from 6:30 to 11 am this morning: .70 cents a piece, $4 for 6, and 12 malassadas for $6.

The Pope set a date for Father Damien's canonization just days ago, so the spirit on campus is very high. However, rumors that this year's malassadas have a caloric dispensation from on high, or that they heal a number of minor physical ailments is probably just clever marketing.

Father Damian gave his life to serve the Hansen's disease (leprosy) patients incarcerated on the Molokai peninsula of Kalaupapa, ultimately contracting the disease himself. Now that IS a saint!

So treat yourself to a sugary indulgence today if you dare. Then burn off calories by doing something positive, whatever that may be for you. . .
A L O H A Cloudia

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Town Monday

Click on photos to enlarge!

"O Lord, help me not to despise or oppose what I do not understand."
William Penn

"Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more."
Oscar Wilde

"A moment's insight is sometimes worth a lifetime's experience."
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Honolulu Hale (hah-lay, a polynesian "house.")

I love walking around my town of Honolulu. We have cool one-of-a kind restaurants like Helena’s Hawaiian Food on North School Street. Chef Helen Kwock Chock passed on last year, but her family maintains the recipes at her wonderful little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant that was a favorite of gourmand James Beard. He ate there at every opportunity, presenting Helen with a respected “Beard Award,” and inviting the unassuming grandma to New York City to prepare a meal for the world’s great foodies. Nuff said? Eat at Helena’s!

So what’s with the lines of hungry people in front of chain restaurants here in Waikiki? You can eat that stuff back home, or anywhere! Why not try wonderful food with warm service at my favorite Bombay Indian Restaurant (Ala Moana by Hobron Lane)? Besides Helena’s and Bombay, there are so many other little culinary gems in our town, like the singular shrimp tempura at Hifumi in chinatown. After a recent concert, blues man Taj Mahal eschewed fine dining for the comfort food at tiny Liliha Bakery Coffee Shop (Kuakini off Liliha street-open all night). . . When you are here, eat somewhere local and unique, you!

Like Seinfeld’s George, I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect. I had a wonderful opportunity to do just that recently as I strolled along on a downtown architectural walking tour offered by the Honolulu Chapter, American Institute of Architects. Who knew that our city hall, Honolulu Hale, is a sort of Italian castle? Check out the fortified elements in this beloved Douglas Fairbanks of a building the next time you’re there. We walk by historical riches every day here in Honolulu town, though the surpassing beauty of green mountain, eloquent sky & seas oft upstages them. And don’t forget US! Everyone is beautiful here. Just look around at us!

The US Census reports that Hawaii leads in ethnic diversity, with “minorities” around 75% of our human treasure. “Minorities,” what does that even mean when there is no overwhelming “majority?” Whatever you call us- it (mostly) works. . . "Imagine" having a president who grew up in such a place. . .

Were those night marchers a while back in Kaneohe? Even today, distant drumbeats and chanting are sometimes heard in certain districts after midnight. The chiefs of old still inspecting “their” lands. But no, this time it was modern warriors, OUR folks, Kaneohe Marines training in the dark before going into a war zone. Out of respect for the public, cadences were not called so quiet was maintained. Nonetheless, many local residents paid their respects from front yards, and were frankly awed by the Mana surrounding these citizen soldiers. However you may feel about this war, or that police action, we all admire and appreciate those so young who make such a commitment to serve. . .

Sitting by my computer as I write this, a ripe mango tempts me. I picked it up off the grounds of the Mission Houses Museum from trees that real Queens admired long ago. History, beauty, sustenance, aloha, all offer themselves freely under isle skies. You see, in Hawaii living a rich life is less about money than it is in most other places. Sure, our visitors and we can find here all the things that money can buy (in abundance!) but Honolulu’s real treasure is found in our environment, and in each other; it’s about attitude, engagement and down-home enjoyment of all the cultures that make up our unique chop-suey island. . . the sorts of things you discover. . . when you’re walking in Waikiki. Aloha!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Click on photos to enlarge!

"Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied." Pearl Buck

"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery." Bacon

"I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down." Lincoln

This is the face of Hawaii

Thank you for visiting today!!

The Half full moon
Is my silver doubloon
The setting sun my gold
So I am young
And I am rich
And shall be
Till I'm old.
A L O H A! Cloudia

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Club NOT a Gang

Click on photos to enlarge!

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.

Eric Hoffer

"The follies which a man regrets most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity." Helen Rowland

"The learned man knows that he is ignorant." Victor Hugo

Above is the "patch" of my old motorcycle club, Na Wahine O Mana, Women of Power (Spiritual Energy) that a few of us founded here in Honolulu in the late 1980's.
The winged wahine/woman is holding the island of Oahu aloft. The "Bottom Rocker," Aloha State, (our domain) must be unique to each MC, Motorcycle Club, and it is through negotiation with the existing clubs that a group is permitted exclusive use of such a "turf."
There was potential masculinist trouble and raised eyebrows over the display of "MC" by a group of women. But we were tough women: taxi driver (me) federal police officer (Sandy) postal worker ("Elvis") airline flight mechanic (Cheryl) and the toughest of all: Marci, the dental hygienist.
Marci and I had been hanging around the garage with our guy-pal "Rat" of the Devil's Breed MC (readers of my novel might recognize a tall, intelligent, good looking motorcycle guy with an animal nickname). We worked on our bikes, broke all the rules, and learned the inside lore of the MC culture back to the post WWII Hells Angels made up of veteran fighter pilots. Rat was no poseur. Us gals were young and somewhat reckless, so we were ready to fly the "MC" and not be anybodies lady's auxiliary.
Over the Waipahu Formica table the presidents of the guy clubs said: "You're good to go as far as that is concerned, but you're not an "MC."
"See those things outside?" Marcie asked. "Those are motorcycles. We ride them everyday; we fix them; we stick together. We are a Motorcycle Club."
And we had the patches made.
The first few times we "flew" them we were ready to brawl if necessary. But we were received with respect at roadside dives, and charity runs alike. No one knew what to make of us. Gay? (My husband enjoyed that!) They were only half right, but that's no never mind. . .
One time, a club was having a big party at their clubhouse. We allowed one of their guys to ride up front beside our president and show us the way. We roared over the pineapple fields onto the H-1 at highly illegal speeds, just inches apart in perfect two-by-two formation. The only headgear? Baseball caps.
When we got to the party and cut the motors (cars have engines and drivers; motorcycles have motors & riders) he turned to us with a wind-dazzled expression and asked: "Where did you all learn to ride like that?!"
"Like what?" I asked him.
No one ever bothered us. We earned the respect.
Marci might argue the point, but the winged wahine was my idea; the club name too. I enjoyed being vice president and letting her play lioness.
I also wrote the "official" Club poem:
Na Wahine O Mana
Objects of light
Riding at night
Windward side below the Pali
Mistress moon, come join her rally
Wahine riders free brave and kind
Together in one pack
Together of one mind.
R.I.P. Sistah Cheryl
A L O H A! Cloudia

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Feel Good

Click on photos to enlarge!
"He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh."

"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."
M. F. K. Fisher
Public Servant

"I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again." William Penn

"Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one." Oscar Wilde

Glad to see you! Come on in . . .

Our old friend Sharon Black, who we met at Christmas time providing a gigantic outdoor feast for the homeless (link to December blog post: "Gilding the Pill" is )
has been recognized with the President's Volunteer Service Award for more than 20 years of direct service to Honolulu's neediest.

She started out pulling the food around Chinatown in her son's little red wagon, and her Great Danes always accompany her because "They make people smile" she says.

Every Saturday, hundreds of hungry people join them for the feast.
A L O H A! Cloudia

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friends Like These

Click on photos to enlarge!

"The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it."
James Baldwin

"Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion."

"The heart that loves is forever young." Greek Proverb

Here in Waikiki, the green forested Ko`olau Mountains are a vision at the end of long, high-rise & palm tree bracketed streets.

Tough kitty!
"You looking at me?!"
My best gal pal was wondering what to do.
Her formerly good friend, someone she had been close to, had listened to, and had encouraged through many emotional storms & alarms, had married a possessive Pete. My pal was jettisoned without even a 'thank you.'
Then, after months of silence my friend recieved a baby notice from that person. A transparent attempt to solicit a gift? My normally very giving friend felt sorely used. To be abandoned after years of "service" was one thing. To be solicited for a contribution just added insult to injury. She wanted to tell this person that it is NOT OK to be so self centered.
Which got me thinking about my "friends" who only phone when they want or need to talk. I support them. I do love them - but. I knew just what my pal was talking about. And this is what I told her:
We have at some point offered these people unconditional support and they have taken us up on it.
No one forced us to do it, we set our own boundaries after all.
We even knew that it wasn't "equal" from very near the start.
To get angry now seems pointless - or worse.
Our attention & support are golden gifts. And we gave of them freely.
This is the true coin of our caring; saying much more about ourselves than about the other person. To abdicate the generous role that we originated and have played only demeans us, somehow. Worse, it is a self inflicted wound. We may honorably fade away - relationships come and go throughout life. But to present a 'bill' for what we have freely given?
"Don't debase your coin with a grievance." I told her. "Send a gift, or move on."
What do YOU think?
A L O H A!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Characters and Plots

Click on photos to enlarge!

"How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct."
Benjamin Disraeli

"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."
Will Rogers

"When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others."
Anais Nin

Youth has a great narrative drive and plot: Get bigger, get freer; find out about life, others and self. Everything's exciting: the "best" or the "worst" EVER!

Adolescence is a love story, a comedy, a drama, a farce. A collage of fears, first times, and aspirations. All seem tailor-made for a story arc, for songs, or movies; not to mention fodder for gossip.

Girl chases guy, or the other way around.

The world must be saved! (Again).

Grownups just don't understand. We'll never be like them!

Then they kiss, and the credits roll.

All this, mind you, takes place in the first thirty or so years.

Then, offstage, distracted by work and by children

-by the negotiations and nuances of marriage -

we tread the mill Monday through Friday,

Fall to Summer vacation, year after year.

Till we look up to realize with surprise that we are not the young stars anymore.

But we're still years (God willing) from the end!

Though the best roles seem to be passing us by, to younger actors.

Our cozy character work fits us like a glove.

Besides: it pays the bills.

A fixation on beauty is common to the young, engendering an involuntary aversion to the blemishes and badges of age.

But fortunately (skeptics will call it self-serving) we see at last the deeper beauties of maturity. The light from within illuminates the merely physical with lovely survior-ness.

The plot lines of maturity are not necessarily dark, it just takes greater skills to write them. Maturity in a writer is not a bad thing. As illusion is stripped away, we find the truffles of satisfaction where we may. Unexpectedly we cherish the homely hearth that once seemed a prison.

A L O H A! Cloudia

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Strolling Along

Click on photos to enlarge!

"Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to."

Oscar Wilde

"Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book."
Edward Gibbon

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
Mark Twain
The face of comfort.

Every teaching of spirituality is a heroic attempt to share the inexplicable in words.

Traditions and teachings can only point us in the right direction - but unless scripture awakens an answering resonance from within, it will remain only mental.

The mind contorts and con volutes to make itself grand. But wisdom looks on with the quiet pleasure of comprehension. . .

Light, color, bird song are all vibrations. A bed of flowers is a massed choir: harmonies and soloists respirating each in their own voice. . . Stop and listen!

Whales sport off Maui. In neighbor island uplands, fireplaces warm and scent the crispy nights. On the Big Island, lava is flowing into an indignant sea. Typical Hawaii February weather: high clouds, brief showers. . .

What will happen next?
None of us knows.
So keep your eyes half open, like kitty does (above) even as you lay your 20th Century burdens down.

Inventing a better future is fearsome work. So why do we whistle as we stroll through the wreckage?
A L O H A! Cloudia

Monday, February 16, 2009

DoG the Beauty Hunter

Click on photos to enlarge!

Sun Yat Sen remembers his Honolulu schoolboy days. Nice lei someone brought him!

"Effective leaders know that you have to touch peoples hearts before you can ask them for their hand."

Frederick Douglass

"Fans (and fans of irony) got to meet Dog the Bounty Hunter at the opening of Wolfgang's in Waikiki

"One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
There is something idescribable:
sunlight gilding the fronds of a palm.
As the palm hulas in the wind
the light dances accross the leaves.
How describe the play of pure light?
Green? Silver?
Poetic but not true.
Just pure light dancing
with the leaves.
But even in Hawaii
few consciously enjoy them
or contamplate the cloudscapes
where the people of old
saw movies from
Akua. *
*Hawaiian word for the Divine, or God. A L O H A! Cloudia