Friday, May 29, 2009

Drama

Drama is always on time.

Lately I've been struggling with demons from my past. The demons have a name.... tobacco and alcohol. Not that I've consumed either of the two demons... but I think about them often. Especially when DRAMA appears.

How could drama happen just two hours before, what is supposed to be, a great evening at Aloha Tower with Goapele and Erykah Badu? **sigh**

I'm irritated. Absolutely batty for a cigarette and wishing I could drown my sorrows in an extremely large glass of TEQUILA SUNRISE. But I won't. I love myself too much to entertain two demons... and I know if I did have a drink tonight, it will be me singing "blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol".

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aloha Music Fest


It's called the Aloha Music Fest. I'm not sure if this is a new annual event here in Hawai'i but I'm so glad it's here! They handed out fliers at the Ladies of the 80's Concert I attended earlier this month. I've been looking forward to this ever since and it's finally here! The venue: Aloha Tower Market Place. Beautiful setting on the waterfront!

Friday's festivies feature a local group, Nesian Nine. I'm not sure if they do original music but they surely do cover a vast selection of 90's R&B. They will be the "house band" for the evening as other local R&B artists sing their hearts out. I love the whole live band sound cuz singing with a CD backing you up is just KARAOKE!!

Opening for the feature act is Goapele. I wonder what that name means. Does anybody know? Anyway, I really love her vibe and I'm so looking forward to hearing her live and in person. Ok... not really trying hard, I found out what Goapele means and how it is pronounced. According to about.com, Goapele is pronounced gwah-play. It means to "go forward" in the South African language Tswana. (Info Source)

The headlining act is Erykah Badu with her band. I'm almost as excited as I was when I bought tickets to the Prince concert in San Francisco, about 10 years ago. Only difference is, the promoters of the Prince concert cancelled due to scalpers purchasing a ridiculous amount of tickets. **heavy sigh** That was a sad moment in my life. LOL... Til this day, I have yet to see the Purple Majesty perform live. Of course Erykah is nowhere near Prince status for me, so comparing the two is downright silly. But still, I'm excited! Here she is, performing one of my favorite songs, I Want You.




**Erykah flier & Aloha Tower Photo Credit
**Goapele Photo Credit

Clouds



I got to look at this the other day, on my way to work. So gorgeous. Billowy clouds are so beautiful, especially against such a clear, blue sky.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hawai'i Aloha

I spent the weekend in Maui without my laptop. Thanks to my handy cell-phone, I twittered my bunz off and updated my facebook profile often.

Maui is so gorgeous. It used to be my favorite island but it lost some of its charm with all it's recent housing developments and strip malls. I didn't get to visit as many places as I had wanted to since I was on the island to help at a Youth Conference. This was not a leisure visit. I am glad, however, that I was able to hang out in Iao(pronounced ee-yow) Valley. That was probably the highlight of my stay there.

The many tourists that trample the valley contrasts so boldly against the legends that surround the valley, the bloody battles that took place there, and the symbolism of the phallic formation. We sat at the foot of the stairs that lead to a breathtaking view of Iao needle and broke out in Hawai'i Aloha.

I was in Maui with a singing group, many of us of Hawaiian heritage. There we were, singing such a beautiful song, in a beautifully ancient setting; all of us breaking out into traditional, Polynesian 3-part harmony. It was truly moving and I did shed tears of extreme longing for the Hawai'i of yesterday. A Hawai'i before my birth into this world. The Hawai'i that was free of American capitalism in it's earliest stages -- American/ Christian missionaries. **heavy sigh**

E Hawai'i e ku'u one hanau e
Ku'u home kulaiwi nei
'Oli no au i na pono lani ou
E Hawai'i, aloha e

E hau'oli e na 'opio o Hawai'i nei
'Oli e! 'Oli e!
Mai na aheahe makani e pa mai nei
Mau ke aloha, no Hawai'i


TRANSLATED:
O Hawai'i, O sands of my birth
My native home
I rejoice in the blessings of heaven
Hawai'i, aloha

Happy youth of Hawai'i
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Gentle breezes blow
Love always for Hawai'i


Ironically, this song is credited to a Christian minister, Lorenzo Lyons, who was born in Massachusetts and set sail to Hawai'i in 1831. He died here after erecting over a dozen churces in 1886. The words of Hawai'i Aloha are sung using the tune of an old hymn, "I Left It All With Jesus".


**Photo Credit

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Secret Life of Bee's and the Ramblings That Were In My Head

The Secret Life of Bees... I just got through watching the movie. I attempted reading the book several years ago but was thoroughly uninterested in the way the story was moving. I wonder if the movie is how the author intended the story to be portrayed.

In the media, there is an archetype and/or stereotype given to American Black women, pre-civil rights era. It is termed the "mammy" archetype. (FYI: According to wikipedia, "mammy" is now a slur.) The characters in the movie that portray these archetypes are Queen Latifah as well as Jennifer Hudson. They both mother a little Caucasian girl who is in search of someone to love her.

I don't necessarily object to the implied relationship between the little white girl, played by Dakota Fanning, and the "mammy's" because the story is probably a product of the time period. It astonishes me though that the same story is perpetuated throughout American Culture, in several American-made movies. White "savior" saves the brown people from themselves, as though we are helpless without them. I think of movies like The Last of the Dogmen starring Tom Berenger. He saves an ancient tribe from the outside world. Dances With Wolves - Kevin Costner gets absorbed by a native american tribe. The absence of multi-ethnic characters in the media of yester-year is staggering.

How a society views themself is shaped by the stories that are told. A hundred years from now, maybe two or three hundred years from now, what will our posterity say about us? That "grasshopper", from the Kung-Fu dramatic series of the 1970's, could only be played by a white male (David Carradine)? The role was written for Bruce Lee but he was too Chinese. Is that the story America will leave for it's posterity? That the founding fathers of the United States purported to believe that "All men were created equal", yet every single one of the people involved with the American Revolution owned slaves. Are these the only stories that can be told to America?

In traditional Polynesian cultures, we enjoy oral history. Western philosophy requires things to be written before it is considered a valid entry into it's history. However, Polynesians didn't need the documentation for proof. Our proof is in the stories that are handed down from generation to generation, in our genealogy that is carefully, painstakingly preserved in chant.

Children of Hawai'i grew up with stories of Maui, the demi-God who pulled the islands from the ocean so that we could live and flourish; who stopped the sun from progressing too quickly across the sky. My favorite, above all, are the tales of Pele the Fire Goddess. Though her lava flows destroy everything in its path, the lava creates more land and brings balance to the landscape. Her beauty, her shape-shifting, her jealousy, her love; they make her utterly human. Yet, her ability to create land make her a goddess. These are the stories I want to tell my children one day; that they are part of a beautiful, ancient heritage. That they must have strong, self-assured knowledge of who they are because of where they come from. That they will define themselves and identify wholely with the richness of their birthright.

Stories like the Secret Life of Bees will never fall on the ears of my children. And if they did, I will tell them more of the heritage from which they came. Even if the world would call Polynesians savages, my children will know the stories of our ancestors through me and they can determine who the real savages are. Me and my house will never bend to the whims of popular media. I decide my identity, not based on what "they" think of me but of what I think of myself.

NeenaLove drops the mic


**...Bees Photo Credit
**Grasshopper Photo Credit
**Maui Photo Credit
**Pele Photo Credit

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ladies of the 80's Concert

Saturday Night, May 9th, 2009 -- attended the Ladies of the 80's concert. It was.... so much fun! The concert featured Lisa Lisa, SWV, and Salt N Pepa and Spinderella. Can I just say that Lisa Lisa brought back some delicious memories from my childhood! SWV -- all I have to say is that Koko can "sang" her butt off. She rocked it!!! Salt N Pepa... they still got maddd skillz!!!

Here are some of the pics from that night. I'm so amazed at the huge crowd.... that there is still so much interest in the "back in the dayz" sound. I can't believe my camera took such great pics. I love my camera!! Enjoy...













Monday, May 04, 2009

The Kite Runner

My commute to work is now 50 minutes, where before it was 5 minutes. Since I made the move in February to the central part of the island, my need for entertainment during my commute on the way to work has increased! I am relagated to static on the radio or my tiresome CD collection. It dawned on me yesterday that the Public Library has Audio Books to be borrowed! I took myself to the wonderful, Kahuku Public Library. They don't have a huge Audio Book selection but the ones that they do have are popular choices.

My first selection is The Kite Runner, by the same author of A Thousand Splendid Suns. The storyteller on the audio book is the actual author, Khaled Hosseini. It's a wonderful thing to hear the proper pronunciation of the ethnic words. The language rolls off his tongue so beautifully and I feel as if he's telling me HIS story.

**Disclaimer -- if you are currently reading The Kite Runner or have future plans of reading it, STOP reading this post NOW!


The story begins in the mid-60's, pre-communist, pre-Taliban era, in Afghanistan. Just how the author pronounces Afghanistan is so beautiful! It's like the 'g' is silent. Af-hawn-nee-stawn! The central character and the narrator of the story is Amir. I find myself saying "Amir jan" so often, trying hard to imitate the author. The story unfolds as Amir tells the story of Baba (pronounce baw-baw), his father, and Hassan the son of their servant, Ali.

There are so many similarities between Afghan culture and Polynesian culture. One of which is how you would call anyone older than you 'uncle' or 'aunty'; because we are all connected, we are all family! This is in extreme contrast to American/ British culture that always requires Mr. or Mrs. or Miss, Massah, indicating the difference in social station.

Baba and Hassan have a special relationship and Amir struggles to keep up with their growing affection for each other. Amir points out that Hassan is the son that Baba wished Amir could be - athletic, tough, able to stand on his own two feet against bullies, loyal! While Amir preferred books and poetry.

Amir recounts his life in Afghanistan before the intrusion of war in the 70's, how carefree it was. When he turned 18 though, the country had become so over run with Soviet presence they are forced to exit the country to Pakistan and eventually on to the United States.

I find myself feeling completely drawn into the political landscape of Afghanistan because of Khaled Hosseini's writing. My point of reference is my own homeland, stolen from beneath my ancestor's feet. Just as Amir and his Baba had to leave their beloved country, at times I feel like I must leave Hawai'i to preserve my peace of mind. It becomes taxing on my soul to see the continual injustices of the day yet running away from it doesn't bring peace of mind. There will always be a gnawing in my na'au, in my bowels, to want more for my people.

Amir exposes himself in so many shocking moments. It instantly makes me think of how our lives are just that, a series of shocking moments knit together. What we do with our opportunities, whether we live up to the expectations of our ancestors or cower in the face of struggle, determines who we are in each moment.

The story reads like a huge historic, political narrative and yet at the heart of it is Amir and his life. He is a witness to several atrocity's, probably more than the average person has to bear. Growing up without a mother, witnessing rape, murder, the passing of his father, and also dealing with his own insecurities that lead him to behave less than honorable. It's heartbreaking, downright cruel but joy always follows! By the end of Amir's story, he emerges from the darkness of his life by atoning for his past indiscretions. He returns to Afghanistan and rescues the son of Hassan who is left an orphan by the Taliban.

The story closes, not in a sugary-sweet, saccharine kind-of-way, but real and honest yet hopeful! We are all looking for redemption from who we think we are, who others define us to be, and who we genuinely are. Unraveling the layers that mold us into a certain way is our challenge. It is not impossible to change from what we are in the past to a better person in the present. That is what I strive to do -- to revamp who I am in every moment. Help me do this!

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**Photo Credit