Monday, July 6, 2009

Hawaiians Rock on the Fourth

Hawaiians Rocks (and North Korean Rockets) on the U.S. Fourth

By Raymond Gaynor (aka Gary Martine)

The Fourth of July is one of the strangest holidays in no-man's-land Hawaii.

On the outside, Hawaii looks very America, USA, thank-you-very-much: American streets, American stop signs and street lights, American police, American English. Well, that last one's not entirely true. English is the language of record, yes, but it’s not the main language spoken or used here.

Yep, it's the only state in the USA where Caucasians and their English are true minorities, right along with the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and Hongkongese. Oh, and did I forget the Hawaiians? Well, everyone, including the good olde USA, forgets them, too.

This weekend I celebrated the holy Fourth by going out for an "all-American" dinner at a French restaurant, owned by an illegal Hongkongese, with a Thai chef trained at the Cordon Bleu, and with Filipino hostess and servers. The busboy was a young student from somewhere in China.

There were gabby people at 15 different restaurant tables and not a bit of English to be heard. Even the servers spoke local chop-suey pidgin: "You wanna me get chai-chai fo' amai wahine, eh?" one of the waiters asked with a toothy grin and sly wink (translation: "Would your partner like some tea?" the terminal "eh" is, I believe, Australia's contribution to our rainbow society). I love this place! I nodded, but my hoa pili, he shakka wiki-wiki and say iiea, he "takeah udda", meaning that that he wanted "the other" i.e. coffee. For dinner we had Thai vegetables on Chinese crystal noodles, spritzed lightly with a thin French-like Thai curry sauce. Afterwards, we lingered over the thick Thai iced tea laced with sugar and condensed milk (said to be a commercial spinoff of NASA's secret rocket fuel research). Ah, at last, something American! Though I've lived here for over 20 years, I still feel like I'm visiting a foreign country.

Of course, the languages spoken aren’t the only things unique to Hawaii. The Fourth of July is another.

First, there’s a general law banning fireworks, because of fire and safety reasons (implemented after Chinatown and a good portion of Honolulu was accidently burned to the ground; a fact that no one, even the foreign perpetrator realized until the next day and then no one really cared). It's a law which everyone, including the police who are highly trained to assist tourists in having a good time simply ignore.

The Chinese make certain that several megatons of fireworks somehow slip past customs and are used up between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., not to celebrate freedom and independence, but to chase off any ill-spirited dragons that might still be lurking here after Chinese New Year (the really big firecracker holiday) that might in any way dampen business. The only thing louder than the firecrackers is the chink of money flowing from Hawaii to China to aide in China’s efforts for world domination.

The Japanese in Hawaii watch haughtily and mumble that the "fireflowers" are much better in Japan while sipping cold sake.

The Filipinos in Hawaii watch it all from the beaches while barbequing aromatic longganisa sausages over charcoal to the sound of their hordes of children squealing.

The Hongkoneses in Hawaii man their stores as they always do on holidays and inch themselves a little closer toward achieving the American dream.

The Hawaiians watch, shake their heads, and head out for the nearest surf.

I decided to do something different and went out on a private boat party with my old friend "Tiger", a Japanese fisherman who moved to Hawaii with one yen that was supposed to be the basis for making him rich (a popular international joke); he now owns six 60-foot boats and a major tourist operation. Tiger gets his name from his aggressive daily pursuit to achieve rock-star status. His wife Yoshiko-sama, though, believes he works for the CIA and that his R&R practice is simply a cover for a sound-based Star Wars missile protection program so advanced it keeps the North Korean rockets from getting too far out of NK airspace. Anyway, this all-American holiday, Tiger hosted forty friends and a gaggle of tourists to a Fourth of July Hard Rock N' Roll Cruise off Waikiki. I’d heard him perform, at sea, before, so I was sure to bring earplugs. Loud or not, damn he’s good! I would have sworn George Harrison was there on deck pumping out riffs while the boat rocked and rolled on the ocean swells, and the guests and crew danced themselves crazy while the sky thundered and lit up like a Michael Jackson concert in millions of colors. It was a party I'll long remember. Some say that the NK missiles actually made it all the way to Waikiki but couldn't break through Tiger's sound shield.

Anyway, that’s what I did over the good ole' American Fourth here in Honolulu. God bless America!

And, in the rainbow tradition, I would like to leave you with this Hawaiian blessing: May the ala waele always rise to your okole, may the trade winds always be at your back, may you never run out of 50 spf sun-blocker, may the sweet tongue of Hawaii always touch softly all over your naked body, and, until we meet again, may Pele quickly discover your endowments and bless you with ever-flowing rivers of explosive volcanic sex. Actually, I think the Irish (another definite minority here in Hawaii) ended this with something about being "held in the hollow of someone's hand", which is a nice touch, but it's still nowhere close, in my mind, to explosive volcanic sex.

Raymond Gaynor (aka Gary Martine) is the author of …
Author of the Kingsley & I Series from MLR Press
- "Kingsley & I"
- "Kingsley & I Together"

And the soon to be published TOTAL MELTDOWN, written with William Maltese

MLR Bookstore at
Author Website at
Author Blog at


Z.A. Maxfield said...

I love to hear the pidgin. Great post!

Jardonn Smith said...

I know. Hope to see more texted portraits of Hawaii, as Gary aka Raymond has joined us to froth anytime he wishes. Welcome, Gary, and thank you, Z.A.

williammaltese said...

I just love this piece. So been there, done that, got the t-shirt!