Tuesday, December 28, 2010


      On Molokai it's best not to wear clothes that you imagine people will wear in Hawaii. Leave your floral prints at home. Wear your old worn out clothes, like painting or hunting clothes, and definitely not new camo. Wash your clothes five hundred times, then you will marginally begin to blend when you go to town on Molokai. As much as people who are called haoles can anyway.
     HOW LEE, can be said matter of fact like the race distinction it is or alternately like you are the dog shit from someone’s shoe that just fouled the new carpet. Fuckin’ haole is self explanatory, but the dog shit inflection may be missed if you are lucky. I am a haole. A person without breath (the literal translation), although tonight I heard it explained that it also means without life. I didn’t take it personally because the mental image of zombies in loud floral clothing was temporarily amusing. 
    Molokai is beautiful, take the human element away and just about every square inch of the planet is stunning. I've painted the charming buildings in town and the gorgeous landscape, but I'd like to talk about Kaunakakai, without a pure cane sugar coating or culpability for leaving out the magic of rainbows just this once.
      I hear exhalations of rapturous love from haoles who have dug in and call Molokai home. "Don't you just l-u-u-ve Molokai?" I've been asked many times. Be warned though, any answer less than full agreement may incite anger. But come on, no place is perfect. Molokai includes the good, the bad and the boring. Still there is notably more declared love for this place than you will find in your average home town.  
      I’m a tourist, but I still wear my old clothes because I get slightly better service if I look like a loser. Not many places can claim that. A friend says you can always tell the new arrivals in town because they still tuck their shirts in. Toss your iron, unkempt is normal, Kaunakakai is a town with its pants down. Buildings are run down and gasping for paint. There are leaning buildings right in town and genuine boarded up storefronts. But the best are the fully functioning stores that look no different than the long abandoned buildings. Faded, old disintegrating items displayed in store windows are available for sale. Personally, I like it, it's more fun to draw old places with character, but sometimes it surprises tourists.
     Grocery stores carry products well beyond their expiration dates. The bakery is full of flies. The grease from the breakfast grill is so deep in the grain of the place only arson could clean it up. They sell fresh hot bread in the alley late at night, which has become a tourist experience not to be missed. I swear it is the town bragging. It swaggers a little when people with shirts neatly tucked in tiptoe down the alley for a third world experience right here in America. Haoles move here from all over the world. They get weirdly teary eyed about calling Molokai home, while the original residents not so affectionately call us the breathless walking dead. Possibly because they also love Molokai and don't want it to change. The town of Kaunakakai can say to itself “If people love me this much with my pants down I’ll never have to pull them up.”
     For the people who now want to tar me in the town square. I know you are still in romantic love with Molokai, but my relationship is more like two really old people who have seen each other’s worst faults and made quiet peace regardless. One day I hope you’ll understand.
This is all true;
I don’t mind being called a fuckin’ haole, Hawaiians earned the right to be angry, read the history of how Hawaii became a state.
I paint the beauty of Molokai because so much of it is truly beautiful.
I'm not a resident, but I visit often and sadly own a floral dress.
And I eat stuff from the bakery whenever I have the chance.

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