Archive for March, 2011

KIMMIE THE CORK
March 28, 2011

I’m looking at an old leather covered photo album. It’s seen better days. The pictures, large old black and whites, are in excellent shape, but I think every bug between here and Manila has had a chomp at the covers.

The frontspiece is dated, Manila PI, 1957. Kim was 2. The first photograph is a picture of a sign that says CARMELENCE VILLA, 450 Lamayan. Sta.Ana Manila. The second shot is the broad private Avenue in front of the house. It was large estate on the Pasig River. There were three houses, ours was the first on the left, Carmen Melencia’s daughter lived in the house across the way on the river and the Thai Ambassador lived in the mansion next door, also on the river. Our  house was not on the river. The setting behind our house was a  landscaped jungle, hanging exotic orchids in every tree, and a twelve foot rock wall between us and the traffic snarled Santa Ana streets. Between the house and the wall was a large blue kidney shaped swimming pool-but I’m getting ahead of the story. At the street end of our Avenue were two enormous steel gates with a gateman who slept in a guard house twenty four hours a day and opened the gates for the likes of us.

The Avenue scene, opening shot, shows two kids, Billy on a scooter scooting, and a darling little blonde girl, barefoot and in a casual designer outfit with her back turned to the camerman in a halfway skipping jump with a whirligig in her hand. No traffic problem here.

The next six photos are of staff, three amahs, the cook, with a black eye,  a sleeping siamese cat in her arms, my husband and Kim’s three older siblings. The next picture is the star of the show, Kim. The most beautiful little curly haired blonde you ever saw. Dressed to the nines, black MaryJane’s, white socks,  a starched and ruffled pinafore and the sweet natured siamese cat, sleeping in the last picture, that she hauled around by the neck twenty four hours a day. She stood-full shot- center stage in  front of tall wrought iron sliding screen doors that opened  on  a tile courtyard, trees dripping orchids, a fireplace dripping bouganvillia and the swimming pool. The rest are all family.

Two of my favorites are of Kim and her brothers fighting over a water bucket with a little pet goat looking on. He was the cook’s favorite. He got a shot of Bill’s favorite Scotch every morning for breakfast. He died happily of alcohalism at an early age.

The cork story? With a pool in the vicinity it’s imperative that all kids know how to swim. Kim’s brothers and her sister were born swimming, I think. Kim? She was always the different one. She loved the water-was always in the pool- but she couldn’t swim for beans. What she would do is take a flying happy leap in, hit bottom, bounce up, take a deep breath-us, too- sink like a rock, bounce, take a breath, sink, bounce, sink, bounce and make it side to side and end to end. We called her Kimmie the cork.

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IT WAS THE WORST…
March 24, 2011

.. of times, it was the end of times, but not everyone on Kauai grieved. The best and the brightest had found ways to survive, while the locals scattered about in grass shacks eating local style, wild chicken and papaya, kept to themselves, very standoffish and armed to the teeth.

The elites and born agains not yet raptured made house in the finest estates and grandest hotels. While the sites were luxurious, food was often a problem. At the Hyatt Regency, where the elite of the elite took up residence, they had finally gone through the larder, the pantry and two cooks, who, skewered and served long pig style, proved to be not too tasty since no one in the group knew much about  cooking such exotic cuisine. Most of the diners ended up with belly aches which didn’t help. Hunting jaunts off into local territory usually ended badly; when local met elite there was usually hell on earth to pay. On the scoreboard it was Locals 10, Elites

Rage, anger, outright fisticuffs and bibles tossed at twenty paces were the order of the day. After all, they had the tanks, and the Hummers, and all the super-duper warlike stuff which of course did not respond without gasoline which was also in short supply. Further they were running out of ammunition and few of them knew how to do the bow and arrow thing.

All the animals, horses, dogs and cats and a few rats and every chicken within their limited hunting grounds had been snarfed and these gastronomical horrors  had not been too tasty, either. What made it worse is no one knew how to properly disguise the source. “Please pass some more Fido. She was such a dear and so goddam tough…” were not uncommon comments.

Most of the more militant had long disappeared either into the jaws of death or the jungles with the bunnys, leaving only one brave  high ranker and his faithful killer dog, Rudolph, who he guarded like a hawk from the pooch poachers.

When it finally came down to the last bread crumb and the last boiled leather bound bible, the end was near. High in his rather rumpled Presidential Suite,  this fellow and his faithful dog munched the last crumbs and planned the last orgy.  Meanwhile in the garden the unraptured born agains, those who had survived the kitchen ovens, prepared for the end.

Mostly rickety ladies too old, tough and cranky to stew, dolled up in the last of their finery. Some of them still had a few pink Neiman Marcos teddies in their drawers. Raiding a long forgotten store of kiddy drinks, they readied themselves for the send off.  They’d found a stash of rat bait and Brandy with which they laced the nasty brew and Bibles in hand formed a circle in the dried up swan lake below the main lobby. When they’d glugged the last glug and raptured off, they flew through the roof of the Presidential suite without a backward glance.

The man and his dog who’d finished off the date, narrowingly eyed each other. “Here’s to the Last supper,” the man burped shooting Rudolph between the eyes.

SLURS
March 9, 2011

I thought this might be an interesting topic for today’s column since it seems so many of the mindless on the Forum discussion line uses them. Over and over and over they resort to silly, childish, stupid name-calling. Dirt heaping and ridiculous accusations slop like waste from a plugged up toilet overflowing.  Slurs  always have a negative  impact. They are  antonyms, or opposite to, most positive words and are most often used by ‘lower class’ minds; but they can be used and deliberately created by brilliant minds who know how to use them. They are always abusive and intended to denote a negative effect.

They can be racial. They can be political. They can be sexual. They are used by racists and misogynist and, admittedly, by both political parties in our country. They are used because they are effective. Simple minds respond to foolish slurs but I think I could make a case that they are most often a Republican tactic.

Verbally they are dull, flat, bland and often bald-faced lies. When one cannot respond to a question or a query, ridicule, accusation and scandal come in handy. If one dislikes or fears a more fertile and productive mind slurs are slung about like empty burger boxes out the window of a speeding car.

Anyone who does not spout the party line the slur addict or affectionado adheres to, is spit at and, if all else fails rocks and bricks are tossed with intent to physically harm.  When the first round of slurs are ineffective the slurist hauls it up a notch.

So, ratcheting this up a notch or two, we come to this brief  high-class political slur: Obama is the anti Christ.

This certifiable comment, this infantile fairy tale, goes like this: the anti Christ will be a man in his forties, he will be of Muslim decent, people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace…

I have also read Sol Weingarten’s My Daily Rules to Live and totally, whole-heartedly, disagree.  Do not turn the other cheek. Talk back. If reasoning minds do not respond to idiotic claims, idiotic claims become the order of the day. Once again I invoke Hitler, who rid Germany-in ovens or elsewhere-of those who did not buy his madness, and soon, everyone was mad. Goose steppers. Skin-headed, Joseph Goebbels propaganda believing nincompoops.

I love Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf. Nasty slurs and mud-slinging can only be countered with facts. Democracy can only survive if people get noisy.

I hold these truth to be self-evident…

WARREN BUFFETT AND ANIMAL COLLECTORS
March 8, 2011

Some people are collectors, some collect money, some collect animals. Many of us have watched in horror as reports crop up about this phenomenon. Individuals who have lost control of a situation and live in denial of their addiction create a mad and very sick environment for those they claim to love.

This addiction crops up anywhere and everywhere and is not  new, but because of today’s media construct it becomes the subject of increasing numbers of news articles and reports. Those of us who love life are horrified at videos allowing us to witness this pathetic mess. In one state a woman was found living in a small shack with  cats,  dogs, several sheep, a flock of chickens, a couple of cows and other farm animals. And, we’re told by those brave people who dealt with this at a ground level,  the  stench was  overpowering. Their eyes burned and stung. They couldn’t  breath.

Recently on Kauai a woman who loved horses but could neither feed nor care  nor part with them ended up clashing with the authorities. The horses have found new homes or are cared for at the Humane Society and a legal case is pending.

I, like many of you, love animals, but I am not a collector.  Tending my zoo is a full time job. Feeding, grooming and loving them can be challenging.  it costs me more to feed them than it does to feed me, and, I must confess, their beds are usually freshened up more often than mine.

My father taught me to love animals. My grandmother taught me to love money. I   remember her teaching me how money could earn money and I thought this a marvelous idea. I’m no fond of working too hard and I’d rather beat money than people. All money collecting needs is attention. Little physical sweat and labor is involved, it’s a mental trip. And so  began my collection; but, fortunately it did not become enormous or an obsession. Animals- and books, I must admit- thankfully got in the way.

What does this have to do with Warren Buffett? As a youngster Warren became fascinated with the idea of making money and with Warren, I would argue, his fascination became an obsession. An addiction. Yes, he’s a good man. He’s a devout believer in charity. His contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates Charities  represent a large percent of  his holdings. But, I think, charity often makes big time money collectors feel more comfortable with their obsession. It certainly gives them  a feeling of worth and lots of attention.

In Hawaii we had Harry Weinberg, a dreadful man, but one who said when he was dying, “I had the fun of making it, now I’m gonna have the fun of giving it away.”

The point: I wish Warren and Bill and Melinda would consider investing their vast collection in industries that put people back to work. I wish they were more Henry Fords than money collectors. i wish they’d do a little more sweating and a little less thinking and back patting.

THUMPERS, FROTHERS, SLINGERS AND MAD TIN HATERS
March 6, 2011

So what do they have to do with the responses in the Forum discussion groups to ROLF BEIBER’S letter about Kauai skies? First of all, they are all men responders and they all jump on the same bandwagon. They have, today- and always- the same sound bite approach to an answer. “Tin hats. Tin hats'” It’s so utterly stupid, old, boring and obvious anyone with half a brain in his or her head should pitch a full on Irish fit.

Today the slingers and the frothers and the tin haters-ala Lewis Carroll- are the most evident. I guess, because it’s Sunday, the thumpers are keeping their distance.  No doubt studying and, of course, interpreting their ridiculous book of myths and legends preparing their  sound bite response to anyone who dares to disagree with that herd mentality. They use the same words. You guys need a really good Roget’s.

So far, no one has come up with the whacko, witch, zombie, communist, socialist label to pin on ROLF BEIBER, or toss at him like beer bottles from your Hog. I mean is the tin hat thing the best you can do? As many of you know I have a sharp tongue and a poisoned pen, which I use on appropriate occasions. Ask me, I’ll see if I can’t dream up some newer slurs.

All of you use ridicule, character assassination and the power of your mindless numbers to put anyone down who disagree with you. Who asks another question. What dares to ask another question. Demand another answer.  Even suggest there is another answer.

But I intend to delve deeper into the frother, slinger, thumper, mad tin hater bucket of  you know what.  You are the ones-always the ones- who, together, sing the corpse vampiric-and insist that  this country is or should be a theocratic capitalistic republic. You all whistle your silly ditty to the same toneless tune without asking for a minute what it means.  I’ll tell you this: a theocratic, capitalistic republic is as different from a secular, socialistic democracy as day is from night. As up is from down. As right is from left….

Theocracy in America? Christian, of course. A Christian theocracy. What else? They have the true answers or at least their truthful interpretations. Gays must be exterminated. Wade vs Roe must go. No planned parenthood. No public schools. No sex education. Ideas only crazy whackoos, witch whatevers could dream up. And you snap and snarl and snip at each other like hungry vampires  on a blood rampage. Where do you come from? The fifteenth century?

You are the most contentious, mindless brown shirted, murderous fascists I’ve ever encountered.  You’d do well, all of you, in a skin-headed goose stepping parade.

When we get to the democracy thing- a social term-I want to scream. “We’re a Republic,” you say with forked tongue,  “we aren’t a democracy.” And then, frothing from the other side of your face, you scream, “But we’re…well not us…but our brave troops…are dying to spread democracy to the rest of the world.” That’s insanity, you know. You simply can’t have it both ways.  That’s by definition paranoid schizophrenia. You can’t know that black is white, that up is down and two plus two equals five and remain sane.  If your brain is the size of a coconut your amygdala is the size of a pineapple. Please note, that gland keeps enlarging every time we have a confrontation. You are Neanderthals. And, unfortunately, you do have Nukes; and whatever in the hell those crazy high flying toys are. You are proud citizens of a lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant of a failed fascist state.  Ruled by big brass killers in the Pentagon. Preached at by televangelist with big bucks. Run by  super rich oil men who profit and prosper from the capitalistic economic system of wars and misery….

…and who dare to call decent honest questing men like ROLF BEIBER  a tin hat wearer. I don’t think so. My money’s on it fitting your head.

SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
March 6, 2011

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Diane von Furstenberg will launch a series of events in her shops worldwide. She will also donate 10% of sales from all boutiques to Vital Voices rom March 2nd to March 8th.

“I am happy to have found a global organization like Vital Voices who truly supports, empowers and equips women and believes, as I do, that to invest in women will improve the world,” she says.

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in he United State.

Today, IWD is an official holiday in many countries around the world but not in the United States. The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitude shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that  ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy.

While Diana von Furstenberg does not address this issue, she is one of the premier names in American fashion which was founded in 1972 by the designer. Her partnership with Vital Voices reflects her belief in the infinite power of women and their ability to effect significant change.

Vital Voices believes in the transformative impact of women’s participation in society and invests in women who are pioneers in economic development, political skills  and participate as entrepreneurs and business for  human rights, enabling them to enhance their capabilities. They are at the forefront of international coalitions to combat human trafficking, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and all forms of violence against women and girls.

Events will take place in London, Paris, Madrid and Lihue.  A cocktail reception will be held in London at the designer’s Bruton Street location, in honor of Baroness Mary Goudie. The Baroness, has a long history of working to build the Labour Party in the UK.  Maria Pacheco,who has strived to achieve economic empowerment for rural women in Guatemala will be introduced by Diane. Jianmei, founder and director of The Center of Women’s Law and Studies and Legal Services of Peking University will speak at the Avenue Montaigne location in Paris. In New York, a collaboration of seven playwrights will present a play based on personal interviews with seven women who have triumphed over enormous obstacles to bring about major changes in their homes countries.

We have sent out invitations to all these ladies and groups and invited them to our simple Kauaian celebration but as yet they’ve not responded. Perhaps we shall hear from them next year.

Meanwhile, all of you are invited,  I will keep you advised as to where and when.

All power to the Women. While you men argue and plot we’ll ride in to save the day.

EXTRA EXTRA
March 4, 2011

…rainy day on Kauai. Morning started wet and cold and got wetter and colder.  I’ve lived in the tropics for so long my blood has turned to ice water. This is not to say I’m cold-blooded, I’m not, it’s just that cold snaps hit hard.

My jungle dripped, the animals complained, wet hens tend to be huffy, but the big news is Ari beat me back to the barn. He actually broke into a canter. So good to see big red bouncing coltish. Think he was warning his old bones. His favorite spot under the plum, in a bed of thick yellow and brown leaves was almost a sponge. He ate, carrots, bran, alfalfa cubes, salt and bran, then meandered  down and plopped. He actually gave me a dirty look-his eyes narrowed and his ears twitched- as if he blamed me for the chilly  soak.  I think I live in the second to the wettest spot on earth.  Mt. Waialeale to the north of me is actually the wettest but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

The white orchid-like  heads of the walking Iris on the bank, the third wall of my computer room where I’m sitting in velvety blue sweat, socks,  and darling red booties, have fallen off and lie on the ground in a disgruntled snit. They’re kicking their heels and If they could talk I’ll bet the words would blister. The Lawai fern and wild fern look happy, though,  green and bold and snappy and I can watch the mold grow on the tree trunks and admire the red mushroomy toadstools that look like ears and sprout on anything handy.  They smell like tired old stream beds rushing.

Out in front, Duke tries to break into  song. I’ve never head him do that before. I think he’s trying to cheer us up. The sky is dark and low and threatening and the weather  report calls for flash flooding ’til tomorrow. The birds are tweeting, whistling and chirping. Lots of bird talk. A red cardinal flittered  low along the bank and a pair of brown and black thrush, darting and dashing, chased each other through the branches of the holly berry.

Duke just called for Beauregard, the name of my long dead precious leopard Appaloosa. The first time he did it, soon after he arrived, I almost fainted, I’d not used the word nor spoken to him about Beau, but it turned out he had a friend, another macaw, named Beauregard,  so it wasn’t my old friend’s spirit playing tricks.

Still slightly amused by my calling card with the BETTEJO address-http://bettejo.wordress.com/- and an invitation to visit across from the Forum page in the Garden Island snuggled comfortably on the bottom of the local Obituaries heap. I’ve instructed my kids that when I croak they are to place the card, in color, blue sky and fluffy white clouds, with a different address in the same spot;  but, meanwhile, just to spite my many detractors, here I am at the moment alive and well and kicking.

I’ll try to have a snappier column ready for tomorrow. ‘Til then signing off.  Peace and love ME

BETTE MIDLER
March 3, 2011

You are one of my favorite actresses. Hawaii raised, just like Barrack Obama. I’ve collected every film you ever made. Bought it at Borders. My favorite is one you made with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, FIRST WIVES CLUB.

I just received a film, probably the last I will ever buy at Borders, IRON JAWED ANGELS and I’ll discuss this with you and anyone else reading my column, later. It’s a powerful film, just as you are a powerful woman who loves Kauai as much as I, and many others do. I simply cannot picture myself standing in a line to buy all the music, books and DVD’s Border’s will be selling in their death throes, their agonies their going out of business capitalistic collapse festivities.

What I suggest is: all of us who mourn these days- that day- picket this stupid economic event, and play with great joy the Alice Paul role and those of others who fought and suffered  on the home front  to keep and make this country great.  In protest of an economic collapse which we did not create and  from which we do not benefit,  we’ll stand together, books lovers all. Young, old, male, female, gay, straight, intellectual or religious bright.  Leave Borders with tons of books, music and  DVD’s to toss in the trash and burn, or ship at great expense  to other Borders in other towns to sell at discount prices.

No one should benefit from this.

A while ago the Editors of the Garden Island Newspaper chastised all of us for not buying more books, music, DVD’s at Borders; for using it as a public library. May I say to them: when one cannot pay the rent, put food on the table, care for the sick and elderly, see a way open for future promise, books, music and films are the first to go. Kids cannot eat books. Neither can grandma or grandpa. Books and music and culture-the strength of a great nation- do not offer shelter from the rain. They feed the mind., and, according to many in this messed up country, the mind is the last thing one would want to feed.  Keep them weak. Keep them stupid. Keep them hungry. We don’t burn books and culture in American, we just make them impossible for minds, young and old, to possess.

A promise, BETTE MIDLER: I, and many others -I’ll put my money on it – will be on the front lines, joined by the workers, to embarrass and harass they  who would take advantage of this awful situation; fill  book shelves with knowledge and culture for their kids, leaving the people hungry.

Help us pay the rent, hire those who know how to run a book store run a book store. We’ll do the heavy lifting. Clean up. Sell, for free, behind counters. Help to make enough money-give us a year- to put this great source of learning for ourselves and our kids back in business.

This is a people’s war and we’re all people; it’s a mixed economy, or should be. Let’s make it work on Kauai.

PIXIES
March 2, 2011

I like the sound of pixie best but  really don’t know much about them. Went searching, found this, first crack out of the box, and it balanced my Obituary in the paper that morning…

The Pixie knows no sorrow, the Pixie feels no fear,

She takes no care for trouble but loves a mug of beer;

Age lays no finger on her, the reaper trots on by

The Pixie, she who changes not, does not grow old or die.

That was a stanza from a poem written by a late 19th century poet, Nora Chesson. I changed it a bit and fell in love.

Found out  pixies are drawn to horses;  and horse to them, I’m sure. They like to ride unbroken colts and make tangles of their manes. My jungle must be full of them, Ari wakes up ever morning with a mane so tangled I despair. I have to use a special horse shampoo that untangles the tangles. His tail gets tangled, too, but nothing I read said anything about them making tangles in horse’s tails and he’s not exactly a colt at the ripe old age of 90, but he thinks he is. Maybe he fooled them.

I understand pixies  are still taken pretty seriously in South-west England and in some areas are actually believed to be real. I have no idea how they got to Kauai but if when I see one, I’ll ask. They are also, say some, racial remnants of Pictish tribes and, if you saw the new film ARTHUR, you would have learned  this was the tribe that helped Arthur run the Romans out of England.  Guenevere was actually a great Pictish warrior who Arthur fell in love with and married.  Her tribe was the one that  painted themselves blue. (Maybe that’s why I love blue? Thinking of my blue sweats, my floppy and my big bug blue sun glasses.)  They were also matriarchal.  It seems there is no proven connection between pixies and Picts and Arthur, but I think I’ll just believe there is ’cause that’s what I want to do. My roots are Irish, Scottish and Welsh and my husband, who was also irish-and Jewish-swore I was fey.  Don’t you just love that word? Fey: having brought about by, or relating to supernatural powers or magic. Wow! I’m in way over my head. What fun.

As everyone knows I am a devout non believer but I think if I were to ‘believe’ in anything, I’d believe in pixies. Here’s some more stuff. They have a taste for bits of finery but run around often ill-clothed or naked. That’s nice.

They were quite small, loved music and dancing and nature and sought husbands among humans.  They are uncommonly beautiful…

I’m going to cut this short. I think I just saw one swinging on a branch in a tree on the bank outside. I’ll be back tomorrow unless I’m not…

“Pixie, here, pixie…”