Sunday, August 9, 2009

Memory, Storm, and Song

A L O H A!!
click on photos to enlarge your creative virility Waikiki Skies Welcome You
"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
Mark Twain

Hawaiian Hall - Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it."
Mark Twain

Hawaiian Hall - Interior

"The very ink with which history is written
is merely fluid prejudice."
Mark Twain

Traditional "Little Grass Shack"
Pili Hale (Pili-Grass House)
(Note the guarding spirals surrounding it.)

"Whether they live in an igloo or a grass shack or a mud hut, people around the world all want the same thing:
a better house."
Jack Handey

I still remember my first night in Hawaii.
I had given my winter coat to the friend who drove me to Newark Airport, said goodbye forever to my past, and endured a 12 hour non-stop flight.

The air at Honolulu Int'l Airport smelled sweet as we stepped into it for the first time. It is always sweet, but especially when returning from somewhere far away.
The first time: it is a revelation. Especially to an immigrant.
That first lei I received was fragrant and invisible.

Riding along the darkened freeway (H-1) I could see the fascinating building in the second picture.

"I wanna check that out."
Newbie Newcomer Malihini (me) said.
Little did I know then what an important roll Hawaiian people and culture would come to play in my life. And I had never heard of the Bishop Museum, the world headquarters for Polynesian studies.

This institution is responsible for much of what has been saved; both artifacts and information.

Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop bequeathed her royal fortune to the Kamehameha Schools in order to help her people thrive in a modern world.

Her Beloved husband, Charles Reed Bishop, had come here from Boston as a young man of vision. He was very handsome, impressed everyone in our Honolulu (including the royals) and started our first real bank, Bishops Bank which is today our First Hawaiian Bank. Honolulu's main street through the downtown business district is Bishop Street and well deserved.

When Pauahi was a child princess, her home was consumed by fire (ahi) but the flames mysteriously died before touching the girl. Hence her name: Pau (finished) Ahi.

When she passed, Charles Reed used considerable funds to construct and endow this seminal cultural institution in his wife's name.

This weekend, Hawaii Hall re-opened after extensive refurbishment.
The Pili Hale, which was the last such structures in the islands was dismantled from it's Kauai site around 1909 and brought to the museum where generations of scholars and school children have cherished it.

It has now been re-woven of fresh pili grass on it's original wooden framework, in part by high school students from the Hawaiian Academy of Farrington High School (where I facilitated an after-school group for a couple of amazing years). Farrington is a hard knocks school in an urban (for Honolulu) setting with a large number of immigrants (Samoan, Micronesian, Filipino, et al). It meant a lot to these kids to touch their own cultural greatness, and to contribute to a society that often sees only gangs and poverty when it thinks of them at all.

On that first night in the taxi I didn't know what a powerful role this magical place would ultimately play in my life. I was "fresh off the jet" with only fantasies, hopes and dreams about Hawaii.

After telling me: "That's the Bishop Museum," the taxi driver also told me that rain is a blessing in Hawaii. A light rain was cleansing us as we drove through the late Honolulu night.
It took some time on the neighbor island first, but I ended up irresistibly drawn back to this great town. I drove my own Honolulu night taxi for a while, and even wrote my little novel "Aloha Where You Like Go?" about it.

That driver was right. Rain in Hawaii IS a blessing. I was baptized into a whole other life here.

I hope Hurricane Felicia is a mere (!) tropical storm before coming into our waters on Monday night, or that she fizzles to a tropical depression or even less.
Too much tropic fire-hose rain is too like a full immersion baptism into an angry nature religion!

Below you will find yet another little video gem: Bruddah Iz (Israel Kamakawio`ole) singing a classic!
Warm Aloha my Friends!