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Lou Reed: The Last Great American Whale

Lou ReedI saw the news. Lou Reed died yesterday.  It’s 8am Hawaii time, and way too early for that kinda knowledge.

There’s much that has, is and always will be said about his influence on music and art.  He was an extraordinary poet, musician and composer. Very much a New Yorker, very much an American man, but from the edges of whatever it means to be in the love-hate relationship conscious Americans have with that identity.

I never met him, but I saw him perform once at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.  He came out on stage and said something like, “I’m very sad for your city tonight,” then proceeded to perform a show that was more like a wake than a concert.  My friend and I assumed he was talking about the verdict in what became known as the Rodney King trial, wherein LAPD officers were acquitted for the brutal beating of King.  Unbeknown to us, at that moment, riots raged and parts of the city were burning.

Personally, his work inspired me with a sense of the incalculable value of being honest through one’s art, keeping things real, raw, and stripped down, being fiercely open and available to the most basic process of bearing life and bearing witness to life, however beautiful or ugly or in between these two destinies, which is where most of us live.

I pasted in the lyrics below from one of his many songs that once heard, left a mark on my spirit.

To me, Lou Reed was the last great American whale.

Last Great American Whale (from New York)

They say he didn’t have an enemy
his was a greatness to behold
He was the last surviving progeny
the last one on this side of the world

He measured a half mile from tip to tail
silver and black with powerful fins
They say he could split a mountain in two
that’s how we got the Grand Canyon

Last great American whale
last great American whale
Last great American whale
last great American whale

Some say they saw him at the Great Lakes
some say they saw him off of Florida
My mother said she saw him in Chinatown
but you can’t always trust your mother

Off the Carolinas the sun shines brightly in the day
the lighthouse glows ghostly there at night
The chief of a local tribe had killed a racist mayor’s son
and he’d been on death row since 1958

The mayor’s kid was a rowdy pig
spit on Indians and lots worse
The old chief buried a hatchet in his head
life compared to death for him seemed worse

The tribal brothers gathered in the lighthouse to sing
and tried to conjure up a storm or rain
The harbor parted, the great whale sprang full up
and caused a huge tidal wave

The wave crushed the jail and freed the chief
the tribe let out a roar
The whites were drowned, the browns and reds set free
but sadly one thing more

Some local yokel member of the NRA
kept a bazooka in his living room
And thinking he had the chief in his sight
blew the whale’s brains out with a lead harpoon

Last great American whale
last great American whale
Last great American whale
last great American whale

Well Americans don’t care for much of anything
land and water the least
And animal life is low on the totem pole
with human life not worth more than infected yeast

Americans don’t care too much for beauty
they’ll shit in a river, dump battery acid in a stream
They’ll watch dead rats wash up on the beach
and complain if they can’t swim

They say things are done for the majority
don’t believe half of what you see and none of what you hear
It’s like what my painter friend Donald said to me
“Stick a fork in their ass and turn them over, they’re done”

YouTube link: LastGreatAmericanWhale

Esther Figueroa ~ November 7th~ “Loving Jamaica”

fig pixLoving Jamaica – An Evening of Poetry, Prose and Film with Esther Figueroa

Date: November 7, 2013
Time: Refreshments 6:00pm; Presentation 6:30-8:00
Where: Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, HaLau ‘O Haumea, 2645 Dole Street
Sponsors: English Department, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

Here’s a link to a brilliant and informative interview Figgy did on KTUH’s “Iturnally Dread Meets Rudie’s Hi-Fi” show with DJs Tommy Fox and Irie-Sistable: soundcloud-file-esther-figueroa-interview

On November 7, Esther Figueroa, Ph.D., the Distinguished Visiting Writer in the English Department University of Hawai’i at Manoa will be giving the first ever reading from her forthcoming environmental novel Limbo (March, 2014, Arcade Publishing) and the first screening outside of Jamaica of her film “Cockpit Country is Our Home”. She will also be reading her poetry and that of others. The event is free and open to the Public.

A Jamaican independent filmmaker, writer, linguist, educator and curator/producer of art, literature and film events, Figueroa began her media-making career in Hawai’i. In 1985 she and Heather Haunani Giugni founded Juniroa Productions and produced numerous television series and specials, documentaries, educational videos, dvds, multimedia, and web content mainly focused on perpetuating indigenous knowledges, strengthening Native Hawaiian language, culture and sovereignty struggles, empowering communities, producing local content and countering the silences of mass media.
Since returning to Jamaica in 2006, Figueroa has dedicated herself to the natural environment, and has produced many films on environmental issues including fresh water and rivers, sea birds and wildlife, shoreline and marine conservation. Her award winning feature length documentary “Jamaica for Sale” about tourism and unsustainable development ( has been screened internationally. Her environmental shorts can be viewed on her you-tube channel.
Her publications include the canonical treatise Sociolinguistic Metatheory (Pergammon, 1994) and the literary anthology ” At Home the Green Remains – Caribbean Writing in Honor of John Figueroa (Caribbean Quarterly, 2003). Limbo (2014), an environmental novel about Jamaica, is her first novel to be published. She has an earlier (2001) unpublished novel about Hawai’i called Holes in the Heart.

A Hui Hou to Our Beloved Free Speech Radio News

FSRN pixOn Friday, September 27th, FSRN, a daily, international news program that aired on stations throughout the U.S. and in other countries, went silent.  I listened to the last broadcast and wept when it was pau.

For over a decade, FSRN has provided independent journalists, like myself, with a space to produce and air stories that would otherwise not be heard anywhere.  Because of the collective talent and effort of professional producers, many stories about Hawaiian resistance to militarization, desecration and occupation had an audience of millions.  To my knowledge, the only other news program willing to broadcast pro-Hawaiian stories was Independent Native News (INN), and that went off the air in 2006.

As a reporter, I often found myself feeling embarrassed for not being a better producer, or for sounding like a zombie because by the time I got to the end of the writing and producing and was supposed to do my voicing I was exhausted and still fighting a deadline.  I usually did my voice over in a bathroom with a heavy wool coat over my head in a futile attempt to block out the urban sounds of Honolulu.  And I always found it impossible to read my copy and sound perky while holding a microphone, hoping not to pick up too much mic noise!

But FSRN (like INN before them) never turned me down.  They were always interested in Hawaiian stories of ku’e and mana.  They even aired two, 30-minute documentaries I produced, one about Memorial Day for Hawaiians, and one about homeless Hawaiians.

The loss of FSRN is immeasurable.  Even though I have not filed much for them over the past few years, just knowing they were there and that if I needed to get a story out they would be the ones to go to, meant something.

Like many, I hope the FSRN organization regroups into a news program that will still be open to Hawaiian stories and other stories from around the world.  I look forward to being a part of whatever it becomes.

I’ve linked a few of the stories I filed with them here.  Mahalo nui to everyone at FSRN who always made my stories better and always taught me something new about reporting and producing.  It was great to file Hawaiian stories that were broadcast beside other international stories.  Whether those stories were about the war in Iraq or a tsunami or any other world event, FSRN always took Hawaiian issues just as seriously, and treated them as the international stories they truly are.  The producers were open to learning about the U.S. occupation of Hawaii and once understood, they never questioned Hawaiian claims to independence, they simply allowed me to report that perspective as it unfolded in front of the microphone.  For this and everything else, I am forever grateful to them.

On Being Hawaiian and Homeless-2009

Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) report-2012

US Supreme Court Takes up Hawaiian Land Title – 2009

GMO-Kalo hearing-January-2008 (23:30 into the report)

Akaka Bill Resistance – 2005 (21:50 into the report)

Hypnosis as a means of healing from the unwellness manufactured by… mass hypnosis, of course!

amy pixWe’re all being distracted and hypnotized by mass media, or by people and situations hypnotized and created by mass media, or by governments and industries that use media to massively hypnotize all of us into being too afraid to believe we can change anything.  But I digress.

Gifted hypnotist, Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, ACS, CI (how’z that for an alphabet soup!), will be teaching the tools of the trade in Puna on Hawaii Island from 3 to 8 PM, Jan. 19-21. These are hypnosis certification classes, so if you are interested in a potential business, these classes lead to certification from the National Guild of Hypnotists.  But if you just want to learn this art for the inroads to healing it offers, all are welcome.

Although she lives in northern-Cal, Amy has a longtime connection to Hawaii Nei and is offering scholarships to Oiwi who are interested in learning how to heal through hypnosis, but may not be able to afford the program.  There is much more being offered here, so please check out Amy’s You Tube video and decide for yourself.

On a personal note, Amy Marsh is a dear friend who has used her abilities to help me through several (emotionally) painful events that I might otherwise have collapsed beneath.  So I’m grateful to her and can attest to her skill and generosity as an intelligent, creative thinker and healer.

She is also an ally to Kanaka Oiwi and the Hawaiian independence movement.  And her aloha for one of our longtime  warriors, Ku Ching, makes her a part of our community beyond the political.  Then again, to love, to be loving is one of the most political things we can do, isn’t it?  Now that’s a revolution waiting to take place.