4/25/07

Academy of Fine Arts

12 comments:

Rachel Loden said...

Ah. And did anyone else notice what almost seems like midrash on the scriptural body of this poem? Quoted from Linh's new Chax book on Ron Silliman's blog today:

22 January 3006 – Post-modern poem
Found in dog’s grave, tucked in anus.

Jamba Dunn said...

Linh,

Thank you. That just brightened my day.

Murat said...

Linh,

Did you see the short piece I posted to Ron Silliman's blog (in the response section on what he says about your book) a few days?

Ciao,

Murat

Linh Dinh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linh Dinh said...

Hi Murat,

Yes, thanks for those comments. I'm in Hawaii at the moment, on an invitation from Susan Schultz. My first time here. Oahu is a spectacular landscape marred by strip malls and parking lots. The weather is gorgeous but everyone is in his van or SUV. Minus the banana trees and stray chickens, you'd think you're in Chula Vista. Also, no taquerias here. I attended a pony league baseball game with Susan, to watch her son Sangha play. When the opposing team won by a mere seven runs, the winning coach made his squad do ten pushups as punishment. It was good to see several girls, including one recent German Swiss transplant, Inga, on the field. Hawaii leads the nation in Spam consumption. I had my first Spam musubi, a sort of supersized canned meat sushi, yesterday. It won't be my last.

4/29/2007 8:14 AM

Susan said...

Oh my gosh, Linh! Is THAT what Oahu's like? I mean, can't you buy the tourist bureau line about our beauty and aloha? Instead, you are clearly fixated on spam and bad coaching! For shame! Next time I'll invite Mary Oliver or somebody who will appreciate our delicate beauty!!

aloha (seriously), Susan

Linh Dinh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linh Dinh said...

To be fair to Susan, here's an Oahu update: at a street fair in Kailua today, I saw the US Marines show band. Clean cut guys, yet fun-loving. Nothing overtly jingoistic, although their mere presence was deft propaganda. At ten pieces, also expensive.

"These young guys put their lives on the line for what they believe. Now that's what I call integrity," the middle-aged MC gushed. "Look at how young they are. How old are you guys, twenty? Who's the oldest one here? How old are you, thirty?"

Several whites, one Hispanic, one black, one Hawaiian, they started out with Santana, then sang the queer classic, YMCA:

"Young man, there's a place you can go./ I said, young man, when you're short on your dough/

[...]

They have everything for you men to enjoy./ You can hang out with all the boys

[...]

No man does it all by himself./ I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf"

"It's a don't ask, don't tell song," Susan commented. It's a don't ask, don't tell military, and here's a clean-cut, weapon-free, fun version to serenade the homeland.

Jamba Dunn said...

Linh,

As a child I traveled to Hawaii several times to visit relatives on Maui. The next time I went back was when my father moved to Maui just 7 years ago.

Somewhere in that space of time between my visits I came across an interesting article discussing the concept that the soft palate of the mouth changes in shape depending on the language one speaks.

In that space of time, some 20 years, the islands had become dominated by West Coasters, mostly Californians. And something strange happened. The soft palate of the landscape came to resemble the language of its populace: mini malls, tanning parlors, tract homes, West Coast chain stores...

Many places that strive to make a claim on being "Hawaiian" end up as nothing more than a mockery of the very idea of Hawaii. A Hawaiian restaurant, for instance, in a mini mall tauting a pink neon sign in the shape of a palm tree or some natural feature no longer extant in the immediate environment.

I lived on the Big Island for a few months and marveled at the volume of people who spend their days (myself included) wandering around Walmart and Home Depot.

Good luck getting out of the city.

Linh Dinh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linh Dinh said...

Hi Jamba,

Thanks for your observations. As a virgin to Hawaii, I was rudely deleied. It's sad to see a gloriously beautiful island, Oahu, tamped down by a version of California, a state I don't much care for except for San Francisco and a handful of other, smaller places.

Joe Bageant, author of "Deer Hunting with Jesus," sent me these comments:

"The 'Big Island' has more meaningful indigenous culture and small communities of native Hawaiians stuck around here and there. Even Maui, believe it or not, has some very good ones way up in the hills down the little back roads. I spent a week up there once. They are proud holdouts... part of the hidden poverty of the so-called "honeymoon paradise."

Then too there is that tiny island reserve where only indigenous islanders are allowed to live, kind of like a voluntary reservation or something. You don't hear much about it, which is probably a good thing.

Good people."


And on my last day in Oahu, I found this entry in James Howard Kunstler's blog, Clusterfuck, from March 26, 2007:

"Zowie

[...]

Beautiful as much of it may be, it is hard not to view it through a tragic lens. Most of the damage on Maui has been inflicted over the past 30-odd years -- that is, since the Pepsi Generation got their mitts on the island. Certainly, there were massive prior insults, starting with the first landings of the Haole (foreigners, in particular caucasians) in the late 18th century, the introduction of cattle, eucalyptus trees, the mongoose, the monoculture of sugar cane, and other intrusions that upset the island's ecology. But the boomer-hippies really iced it.

Those who managed to stop smoking marijuana long enough to string two consecutive thoughts together grokked the related notions of tropical paradise and land development with predictable results. That is, they turned the place into just an annex of California. The flatlands were allowed to develop along the lines of Fresno or Lodi, while the uplands became Pacific Palisades Lite. The longest stretch of the best beaches in the place with the least rainfall was converted into a strip of jive-plastic supersized resort hotels. The automobile was given first dibs in all civic design matters.

The island's beauty has not been entirely defeated, but the usual complaints are heard for the usual reasons -- mainly, that the overwhelming majority of buildings, both residential and commercial (including the big hotels), are graceless industrial sheds, deployed artlessly on over-engineered streets, which has conditioned the public to believe that all man-made things are worthless pieces of shit. This in turn conditions the public to believe that nothing man-made can be ultimately beneficial, which makes it impossible for us to imagine coexistence with the rest of nature, and so on into the usual swamps of suburban dialectic.

The terrain, of course, has largely determined the situation with the car. Maui is mostly composed of two rugged mountains, and cars have made it possible for people other than farmers to settle the slopes. Without motor vehicles, a person living up in Makawao, maybe two or three thousand feet above sea level, would be lucky to get down to the main trading town once a month, let alone to a job every day. But work-a-day Maui operates just like work-a-day California, and all the associated norms of behavior are in place. You drive everywhere for everything.

As far as I could tell, even the educated locals out in Maui today are consumed with the same trivialities about traffic and "density" that you'd hear back in any mainland town. They are not thinking beyond the usual NIMBY issues. But it seems perfectly obvious that Maui life will change drastically in a future of oil-and-gas scarcity. The commercial airlines are the "canaries in the coal mine" of advanced industrial civilization, and they are very sick canaries right now -- even with the price of oil relatively stable the past six months.

The airlines have pared down their employee ranks about as far as possible. The scene at the Maui airport this Sunday was a clusterfuck -- largely due to the fact that United Airlines had only one person manning the ticket counter, and 98 percent of the visitors have to check through luggage. A couple more rounds of oil price spikes and the airlines are going to be lying tits up with glazed eyes. Perhaps aviation will then reorganize itself on a smaller scale serving only the elite, for a while, anyway. In any case, that will be the end of the mass middle class consumer phase of commercial aviation -- and also of mass middle class type tourism.

Few people on Maui I spoke to were mentally prepared for the implications of this. But it's perfectly obvious that the Hawaiian Islands will become much more isolated again, and that the way of life that has developed there since 1970 will have to change drastically. I'm glad I went. I don't know if I'll ever go back. Beautiful as it was, I got tired of being in the car all the time and there was really no place to walk."

Jamba Dunn said...

Linh,

Gristly insights deftly elucidated. The piece by Kunstler says what I often perceived but could not put into words.

Several years ago I purchased a plot of land on the Big Island with the intention of creating a writing community in Pahoa, the last great antiquated town on the island.

For three months I cleared a little area in the jungle (we're about two miles from any cluster of homes)and we planned on hiding a small sustainable structure made of local woods and hidden in the jungle.

But every day I was out there on my land I had recent implants from Cali driving by to ask if I had permits for what I was doing? Turns out the "neighbors", mostly 2-3 year implants from Cali, who were desperately trying to gentrify a densely packed strip of suburban homes surrounded with chainlink fences (presently having issues with crack and glue and violence) because a sustainable structure would not raise property values.

To make things worse, the coqui frogs had arrived and their nightly chirping was too much for the locals who decided to spray lime into the jungle, which causes the frogs to slowly and painfully melt. I refused to let them onto my land and again some of the "locals" were not pleased.

So there I sat in the middle of a jungle in Hawaii, miles from anyone, in a zone of land that will most certainly be covered in lava flow in the next 20 years or less, and I'm told my house must conform to what amounts to California building codes--double wall architecture, nothing less than 900 square feet, on and on. And for what? Walmart, Starbucks, Office Depot, Borders, this is the new environment. So many people have sublimated a corporate sense of style that a departure is seen as an eyesore and anything non conforming (even the frogs) must be brought into line.

Sad.