Taking the Bus

Route #2 Took Us to Most of Our Destinations

As I planned for our trip to Hawaii, I had a bad feeling about the cost of renting and parking a car during our trip. I know that Americans as a rule tend to avoid public transportation like the plague, but Martine and I do not subscribe to that feeling. I figured that it would cost us well over $100 a day to rent a car, especially with liability and collision insurance. Added to that, most hotels charged between $25 and $50 a day to park the car overnight. Then add more bucks for gas and daytime parking. In no time at all, the cost would exceed $1,000.

Martine and I adopted a solution that cost a grand total of $30 for our transportation on O’ahu for the entire vacation!

How was that possible? First of all, both of us are seniors. Secondly, to use a Hawaiian pidgin term, we decided to be akamai (smart) about saving money. On our first day in Honolulu, we took the #2 bus from Waikiki to the Kalihi Transit Center at the end of the line and got two senior HOLO cards. They were ready in a few minutes, and I forked over the $30 in cash. And that was that!

We would simply tap our HOLO card on a special reader as we boarded the the bus and take our seats. The buses were comfortable and air-conditioned. At the Transit center, we had picked up all the schedules we needed, and the rest was pure gravy.

Are you on the mainland now and doing research for a trip? Go to TheBus.Org for schedules and route maps as well as more information on the different kinds of HOLO cards.

Forbidden

Sign on the Grounds of Iolani Palace

In the southeast corner of the grounds at Iolani Palace is a low mound that bears the Hawaiian language warning “Kapu.” Because the Hawaiian language doesn’t have the sounds of the consonants “t” and “b,” it would not make any sense if the sign red “Tabu.” Yet that is what it means.

Similarly, foods made from the pounded taro root are everywhere. Yet in Hawaiian, the word is written “kalo.” (There is no “r” in the language.)

The forbidden mound contains the remains of many old Hawaiian chieftains, or ali’i. Before the Iolani Palace was built in the late 19th century, there was an earlier, less European-looking palace that housed the great of O’ahu and the outlying islands. The earlier kings of the Kamehameha dynasty were buried there before a mausoleum was built to house their remains a mile or so to the west.

After the bones of the kings were removed, the Hawaiians had trouble identifying the other remains; so they fenced in the mound and made access to it Tabu.

Lili’uokalani

Queen Lili’uokalani, the Last Sovereign Monarch of Hawai’i

Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha was born in 1838 to a family of ali’i, or chieftains, in Honolulu. She was informally adopted by an even more noble couple and raised with their daughter, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, after whom the Bishop Museum is named. Her brother David Kalakaua was crowned King of Hawaii in 1874. When he died in 1891, Lili’uokalani, as she was now called, became Hawaii’s only regnant queen, at the age of 52.

Unfortunately, her reign was to last less than two years. Under Kalakaua, the American and European businessmen forced on the monarchy in 1887 what became referred to as the Bayonet Constitution, which, among other things, deprived native Hawaiians of the right to vote. In attempting to replace the Bayonet Constitution with one that recognized the rights of Native Hawaiians, Lili’uokalani ran afoul of the same bunch of avaricious businessmen who were responsible for the bayoneting of Hawaiian civil and voting rights.

The rest is history: Lili’uokalani was forced to abdicate. Then she was imprisoned in a room on the second floor of the Iolani Palace for treason committed against the “Provisional Government,” or PG, sometimes spelled PiG by Hawaiians. It took several years for the United States to annex Hawaii, which Grover Cleveland refused to do. But once the USS Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor, the land grab was on under President McKinley.

Although she reigned for only a short time, Lili’uokalani was a capable ruler, though not always able to decipher the deviousness of the Occidental mind. She was a talented musician who composed numerous songs still sung today, including “Aloha ’Oe.”

The Vacant Throne

The Throne Room at Iolani Palace, with King Kalakaua’s Ceremonial Uniform

On our first full day in Honolulu, Martine and I visited the Iolani Palace, which was the seat of the Hawaiian monarchy that was dethroned in 1893 by a cabal of crooked American businessmen, diplomats, and naval officers. Even after they succeeded, it was only the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 that led to Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory.

The story of the annexation of Hawaii is told in Stephen Dando-Collins’s Taking Hawaii: How Thirteen Honolulu Businessmen Overthrew the Queen of Hawaii in 1893, With a Bluff. The “founding fathers” of the annexation make Donald Trump look like a Boy Scout, what with their lies, braggadocio, and even cowardice. When the moment came to move, several of the members of the so-called Committee of Public Safety conveniently came down sick.

The Hawaiians of today revere their monarchy, especially Queen Lili’uokalani, who was an able ruler who failed only because she could not appease a cabal of American and European businessmen who did not even feel that Hawaiian natives should have the right to vote.

The Iolani Palace

The Palace was built by the penultimate ruler of the monarchy, King Kalakaua, in 1882. It is tastefully designed, with verandas on all sides permitting the cool ocean breezes to circulate through the building. Nowadays, all the windows are closed so that the paintings on the wall don’t fade prematurely.

Tiny Bubbles

Martine and I returned late last night from Hawaii. I decided to begin my vacation posts with a tribute to a Hawaiian singer much loved by Martine. I am referring to Donald Tai Loy Ho, better known as Don Ho (1930-2007). His most famous songs are“Tiny Bubbles” and “Pearly Shells.”

In the weeks before our flight to Honolulu, Martine spent hours on YouTube playing some of Don Ho’s songs. So I made a point of taking pictures of the street sign for Do Ho Street, which runs between Lewers St, and Royal Hawaiian Ave. for one block just south of the main drag at Kalakaua Avenue.

At the International Marketplace Shopping Center, there is a statue of Don Ho next to one of the escalators. Below is a picture of Martine in her aloha shirt standing next to the statue:

For those of you who are interested, here are the lyrics for Don Ho’s most iconic song, “Tiny Bubbles.” As many times as I heard Martine play the song, I never really got tired of hearing it:

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine).

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I‘m gonna
Love you till the end of time'

So here‘s to the golden moon
And here‘s to the silver sea
And mostly here‘s a toast
To you and me.

So here’s to the ginger lei
I give to you today
And here’s a kiss
That will not fade away.

What Happened to the Telephone?

I do not think that Alexander Graham Bell could ever have imagined what would become of his invention. What started out as a voice communication between two humans has developed into something quite different: One might even say it has merged in some ungodly way with computers and the internet.

Corporations want to talk to you, to find out what you are thinking, whether of their products or services, or your politics. But they don’t want you to communicate with them—unless to tell them you want to order now. That’s why we all have to go through a diabolically designed automated attendant service which has a computer asking you why you are calling. I find that they frequently omit the option that describes why I am calling them. Sometimes, there is no way to get through to a human.

Most of my incoming calls are tagged as SPAM RISK. That’s because there are firms and charities that want to romance you out of your money. One charity calls me every day: I even recognize the caller’s voice. And this for a “charity” that is not even tax-deductible. I have told him multiple times that I am on a fixed income and no longer contribute to charities. (That’s not exactly entirely true, but it is 100% true for people who try to collect money by making unsolicited phone calls.)

This morning, I received one UNCLASSIFIED call that wanted to ask about my political opinions. I politely informed the caller that I do not discuss politics with strangers because I am suspicious of their motives. That is particularly so as election time approaches. This is a dance I will perform numerous times come midterm elections in November.

It is sad that people have to protect themselves from the telephone. We try to insulate ourselves from callers by using voice mail or by communicating only by texting.

Dark Legacy or Not?

Carlos Castaneda: Real or Fake?

Back when I was a student at UCLA, there was a considerably more successful student across the campus from the film department’s Melnitz Hall. I am thinking of Carlos Castaneda, who electrified the publishing world in 1968 with The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and its sequels.

Reading his work, I was hooked—believing every word he said. As time went on, I heard strange things about Carlos. He tried to start some sort of movement called Tensegrity and surrounded himself with several women who idolized him, and whom he claimed were brujas, or witches. When Carlos died in 1998, several of these women went missing and apparently committed suicide.

Negative articles started appearing, such as this one entitled “The Dark Legacy of Carlos Castaneda.” Now, after some soul-searching and a bit of re-reading, I am in the position of the psychiatrist in the anecdote which I quoted five years ago in a post about Castaneda:

There is an anecdote about a patient describing his life to a psychiatrist, who keeps nodding his head and saying, “That’s very interesting!” Finally, the patient gets angry and says, “Well, that’s all a pack of lies which I just made up. What do you think of that?” The psychiatrist does not miss a beat: “That’s even MORE interesting!” That, in the end, is my reaction to Castaneda. I think there are some fascinating truths to be found in his books, along with some things that were just made up.

Among the things that were made up were Don Juan Matus, Carlos’s Yaqui teacher—and in fact all the Yaqui material, which demonstrates that he did not know the first thing about Yaqui culture, places, or language.

And yet, and yet, a lot of the material that forms the teachings of Don Juan has the ring of truth to it. You have to look at it obliquely, perhaps, but there is a lot of wisdom there, whatever its point of origin. Castaneda was actually a Peruvian, and it could be that he joined some Peruvian mystical teachings to a fictional Mexican source.

The one thing that did not influence me at all was Castaneda’s emphasis on peyote, jimson weed, psilocybin, and other psychedelic substances. I had just survived brain surgery in 1966 and was not in any mood to experiment on myself.

I am currently re-reading A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan. In the process, I keep bumping into my younger self. Very interesting.

Sushi

Assorted Sushi and Sushi Rolls

One of the best things about living in Southern California is the availability of good sushi. It’s something you have to be careful of, because sushi made with seafood that is not fresh can not only be disgusting, but can make you ill. So I always insist on going places that have a trained Japanese itamae, or sushi chef.

Also, I will only eat sushi in places where really fresh seafood is available. I have always joked about starting a rock band named Inland Sushi.

When we go to Honolulu next week, I hope to go some places where I can have sushi and Martine, who wouldn’t touch the stuff, could get something she likes close by. That is possible only in shopping malls like the Ala Moana Center and the International Marketplace and Royal Hawaiian Center. There used to be a couple of Japanese food malls near Waikiki, but they were shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At a Certain Age”

As Polish Poet Czeslaw Milosz shows us, the urge to confess can be a problem. Sometimes you just have to bottle it all up and hope it doesn’t burst.

At a Certain Age

We wanted to confess our sins but there were no takers.
White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind
Was too busy visiting sea after sea.
We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Dogs, disappointed, expected an order,
A cat, always immoral, was falling asleep.
A person seemingly very close
Did not care to hear of things long past.
Conversations with friends over vodka or coffee
Ought not to be prolonged beyond the first sign of boredom.
It would be humiliating to pay by the hour
A man with a diploma, just for listening.
Churches. Perhaps churches. But to confess there what?
That we used to see ourselves as handsome and noble
Yet later in our place an ugly toad
Half opens its thick eyelid
And one sees clearly: “That’s me.”