Sunday, October 25, 2009
Little Beach, on the South-East shore of Maui, is a church for some and a hideaway for many. To get there, in short, hitchhike to Makena (past all the resorts of manicured Wailea), walk past Big Beach and up over the rocky cliffs to the small beach on the other side. The drum circle and considerable lack of bathing suits will let you know you've arrived at Little Beach.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
As a WWOOFer at Hale Akua Garden Farm, I take care of all sorts of plants: taro, Hawaiian ginger, tumeric, bok choy, carrots, beets, okra, etc. One of my more exciting responsibilities is caring for our 30+ banana plants using a very serious machete.
Thus, I give you an overview of what this task entails...
1. Pull all the weeds and extraneous grass away from the base of the clump. This will give you a clean workspace and room to consider the dense structure of the plant at hand. My boss is very exacting, so I’ve gotten used to doing a lot of weeding. Mostly, in this case it just looks nice.
2. Bananas like to keep a close-knit O’hana (Hawaiian for "family"): a daddy, a mommy, a teenager, and a baby (or one mature mommy and one less mature mommy – however PC you’d like to make this scenario, be my guest). Either way, kill the rest of the family with a giant machete. The stalks that are preparing to bear fruit get to stay. In addition to those, keep one slightly smaller one and also one young shoot. Cutting back family members will help ensure that the surviving ones have enough nutrients to bare fruit.
4. Be careful not to hit your head on the enormous banana flower as you are moving around the clump.
5. Harvest the bananas (the actual fruits) the moment they begin to turn from green to yellow.
And check out this delicious baked treat from Gourmet that we prepared using our harvested bananas.
Friday, September 04, 2009
On the North Shore of Maui, hitchhiking is a way of life.
Snagging a Ride:
1. Remember the buddy system? It worked in shopping malls and Disneyland, and it works on Hawaii's Hana Highway, too. Having a friend with you may limit your options for rides, but it will help if you get into a sticky situation.
2. Nothing says "pick me up" like a sundress -- even if you're a guy. No, just kidding. But, in the least, try to look presentable.
3. Find a good location. Cars whipping around corners are generally in no position to stop for you. If you can walk to a straightaway, then you will give your approaching car more time to notice your needs and your sundress.
4. To smile or not to smile? That depends on your teeth. If you're missing teeth or sporting some gold, lay low with all of that. Retainers and braces will make you seem like a runaway. If the smile doesn't match the sundress, just keep a neutral expression.
6. Generally, you either get a customer immediately (within five minutes) or never. If you are willing to walk to your destination, you might pause every couple of minutes to try again in a new spot.
7. Try to keep a positive outlook, because it can't hurt. If you look fun and hopeful, you may get more bites than if you are dragging your heels and bumming-out on the side of the road.
1. Make sure you know the address or intersection of where you are going to (unless it's a landmark or something generally well-known). Civilian drivers, even if they are knowledgeable locals, are not tour guides; they may not know where the road with a "big guava tree" and "lots of mailboxes" just "a little past Haiku" is.
1. Yes, for the 20-minute drive home, you are a God-fearing (boy/girl). If the topic never comes up, no need to bring it up. If it does, it's better to at least pretend to have some interest in The Almighty (whoever that might be to your driver) if you don't already. I realize this may be a bit of compromise to your integrity, but the ride will be much smoother for it.
2. Avoid political banter, as well. At a dinner party, you can walk away when things get heated between liberal you and your newly conservative friend from high school. In a car, you can't walk away from your driver, but your driver can and certainly will kick you out of his or her car. If your driver brings up something political, listen patiently or perhaps express curiosity rather than an opinion.
3. DON'T hitchhike with really valuable things you wish to hold onto. Need I explain why?
4. DO, perhaps, bring something nice you can give your driver if she, as a favor to you, decides to go beyond her own destination. This gift could be a beer, a piece of choice fruit or chocolate, a friendship bracelet... you get the idea. Fruit is generally a safe bet. BUT, remember that you are under no obligation as a hitchhiker to compensate your driver -- unless he brings it up initially, before you get in, and you agree.
5. Some Maui drivers like to party on the way home from Paia. If they are drinking, wait for the next car. It's up to you whether or not you want to smoke the peace pipe. Drivers probably won't be offended if you don't want to partake.
5. Remember to say "Please" and "Mahalo."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Summer is the home of frozen treats: popsicles, ice cream cones, and ice cream sandwiches (yes, shameless self-promotion). But one can't survive on sweets alone -- trust me, I've tried. So what can you do to keep cool during meal time? Here are a few of my favorite cold savory dishes from my cookbook collection for you to try during these sweltering dog days of summer:
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Serves 4. (Source: Garten, Ina. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999)
- 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of jumbo lump crabmeat
- 1 head of Bibb lettuce
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar if you'd like the green to really pop)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- a few cracks of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Charentais melon
1 package of prosciutto ham
Quarter melon and then slice flesh away from the rind so that you end up with crescents. Bisect each crescent to get more manageable pieces. Remove thin slices of prosciutto from the package and wrap completely around melon. Pop in mouth and enjoy!
2 cups finely shredded napa cabbage
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
2 Tbsps. seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsps. soy sauce
2 tsps. sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup sliced Japanese pickled ginger
2 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
2 green onions, julienned
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Combine dressing ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. Pour dressing over noodle mixture. Add pickled ginger, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to evenly coat and let chill in fridge. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve. Serves 4. (Source: Yan, Martin. Martin Yan's Quick & Easy, 2005)
Thursday, June 25, 2009
On the other hand, picking up an invisible lover and finessing your way into his or her “bedroom” – now that is a different story. No doubt, making love to thin air is a skill, one that not all “air sex” proponents and performers have necessarily mastered.
As the name suggests, air sex is what you call it when an individual simulates sexual activity with an invisible partner. A group of bored, unsatisfied Japanese men are reported to have shaped the would-be private activity into an official music-driven, formally judged performance art competition in 2006. Some of the men’s moves leave me wondering what the receiving end would look like, were she more than just oxygen (and nitrogen and carbon dioxide). It would seem that sex is truly no holds barred when you are dancing with yourself in front of a group of indiscriminate, enthusiastic observers.
It didn’t take long for this bizarre pastime to trickle into the U.S., where it arrived stateside as an elaborately choreographed, straight-to-YouTube spectacular by a group of creative high school romeos with a thing for one very special ottoman…
…and was later adopted by Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse in 2007 as an official competition that would go on to sweep the country, one dry hump at a time.
Tonight, the Air Sex World Championship 2009 Tour is making a stop at one of my favorite San Diego venues, The Casbah. This is a notably small space for what is likely to be a sweaty, highly gesticular affair, so I have high hopes for an inspiring evening. If I’m lucky, I’ll pick up a few pointers… and maybe a date?
I'm still recovering from that experience. Here are a few glimpses of my favorite moments from the San Diego Air Sex Championships:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I've landed in San Diego for the summer. Now what? In addition to taking care of Miss Lucille...
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Noon – 2 p.m. Ferry Building Market
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Happy hour at Zeitgeist in the Mission
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Costume change at home
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Dinner at Little Star Pizza
It was between this show and the Black Moth Super Rainbow/School of Seven Bells show at Bottom of the Hill. Tough decision, but I reasoned The Independent is easier to get to (especially for the USF crowd) and I hoped this would mean more people would come. If you’d still like to argue for the other show, feel free…
Cocktails and gentle conversation at the Shea-Cortes-Tony Penthouse following the show.
May 29th (my actual birthday)
9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Breakfast at Zazie in Cole Valley
Let me know ahead of time if you’d like to come to this. If I can get six people on board I can actually make a reservation and then we won’t have to wait so long.
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Stroll through Golden Gate Park (which may or may not end up at the Bison Paddock).
1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Lunch at Old Shanghai Restaurant in the Outer Richmond
Xiao Long Bao! Delicious.
2 – 4 p.m. Downtime in the apartment. Come help me with last minute packing.
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Hanging out at Velo Rouge Cafe for happy hour
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Dinner at home. Come prepared to help.
Late night wine and finger painting at my place afterwards? Maybe.
Having scrunched my underwear up next to my car keys in an elementary-school style cubby, I exited the changing room at Harbin Hot Springs, a clothing-optional resort in Lake County, CA. My body was tightly wrapped with a stone blue organic hemp towel I had purchased only moments beforehand at the resort’s patchouli-scented gift shop after realizing mine was still back at the Bed & Breakfast in Calistoga where I was staying. “Oh, I love that book!” a fully clothed woman holding a small child said to me upon my immediate exit from the building. Other than my new earth-friendly towel, the only thing I had on me was a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Pretty soon, I would ditch the towel and join the many other towel-free individuals visiting the resort that afternoon. Can you blame me for wanting a prop? “Yeah, I can’t put it down,” I replied, carefully ignoring the naked bodies moving singly or in small herds on either side of us.
That exchange felt normal enough. Once the clothes come off, however, conversation takes on a new kind of delicacy. For me anyways, au natural isn’t entirely natural. I have lots of questions. For instance, when talking to a naked stranger, how close should you be? Where do you look? Do you acknowledge your mutual nakedness, if applicable? Do these guidelines change when just one person is naked? It’s hard to know how to interact in the buff.
Earlier in the week, I dropped in for a glass or two with a friend at a Castro wine bar called Blush!. As Anna and I were settling our bill, a lanky Adonis of a man wearing nothing but a scruffy beanie and red, Hot Cookie underpants pulled up for a beer a few seats down from us. He proceeded to tuck into his beverage like any other businessman who had come in that evening for a glass of Pinot or Syrah. And why shouldn’t he? Nudists probably appreciate happy hour just as much as the next guy.
Outside the bar, Anna and I shared an après-drink cigarette (a rarity for me, not so much for Anna), directly across the sidewalk from Mr. Hot Cookie himself, who had retained his hat but somehow lost his underwear. Staring at our friend (and his friend), Anna began giggling nervously and I knew immediately that she was mustering up the courage to do something silly. “I want to tell him he has a nice body!” she shouted into my ear. I think he was already on to us by this point. “Well, you might as well do it, then” I advised patiently. I held onto the last of our cigarette while Anna approached this man nearly twice her height with a Prince Albert piercing like a five-year-old attempting to ask a Disney character for an autograph. I’m not sure what I was expecting out of the situation, but the man appeared pleased with Anna, and soon I was being motioned over to place my hand on a sensuous stomach and smile for a photograph – his, not ours. Whatever his ultimate intention, this man had stumbled upon a great conversation starter.
At Harbin, on the other hand, conversation seems to be generally discouraged. Signs posted around each of the pools warn guests to “Refrain from loud conversation or sexual activity.” A reasonable request, I suppose.
Aside from its obvious associations, Harbin is also famous for its natural spring pools. One is super cold, one is super hot (up to 115 degrees – yowsah!), and one is just right. This pool – the “warm pool” – is approximately the temperature of amniotic fluid. It’s Harbin’s most popular and, despite being the largest, also the pool with the highest per capita of naked bodies. When I first entered this particular pool, there were only a handful of people: two couples spinning in slow, aimless circles in each other’s arms (unsexually, of course) and a few meditating wallflowers. The edge of the pool was lined with half-empty water bottles and well-thumbed books (I got one thing right, at least). I placed my own book down, gingerly lowered my towel and, thankfully, found a spot against the side of the pool within a matter of seconds.
Have you ever sat in a small waiting room with a handful of other people and no magazines to read or Top 40 radio to blot out the silence? Sitting in Harbin’s warm pool is a little like that, but with water and lots of skin. A couple on the wall to my left sounded like they might have been breaking the "No Horseplay" rule, but a quick sidelong glance revealed them to be in some deep meditative ecstasy and enjoying whatever subdued, throaty utterances came along with it. In my own space, I alternated between playing with the tiny bubbles that formed on my arms, watching small bits of unmistakably organic human matter float past me, and pretending to meditate in order to keep myself from accidentally staring at someone’s genitals.
Entering the pool was surprisingly easy – few people are willing to stare at you while you face them directly. Exiting the pool is a different matter. Since I had initially doggy-paddled my way to the side of the pool, the space had filled up considerably and there would be no departure without an audience. Does this sound conceited? Well, for a pool full of naked people who can’t converse or canoodle (or play marco polo, for that matter), an ascending rump is as exciting as it gets. No doubt, I turned to peek with all the rest of them. I saw all shapes and sizes of light, dark, bruised, dimpled, pimpled, wrinkled, swollen and stunning bums. I was truly “swimming in the gene pool,” as my mother has often said in crowded metropolitan places (though not nearly as appropriately as she would have on this occasion). The range of bodies was indeed reassuring to my own feeling of vulnerability. Still, I decided to wait for more pool-goers to leave before I inevitably shared my own bare bottom with a pool full of curious onlookers.
More people entered the pool, my fingers pruned, and I finally decided it was time to get out. I rose up the pool steps amid thunderous applause and chaotic splashing – no, only kidding. I stepped up, felt a slight breeze, and within seconds the coarse fibers of my organic towel were pressed tightly to my skin again. It wasn’t a big deal at all.
With a few hours still left on my resort day pass, I decided to leave. If someone had told me earlier in the week that I would get bored at a clothing-optional resort, I would have laughed. Yet, au natural had suddenly become too natural and the thrill was gone. I had become just another peaceful body wandering a small chunk of the Earth that honors less clothing. The novelty of being naked with other naked people had been replaced by the sort of calm that the resort promised all along.
become just another peaceful body wandering a small chunk of the Earth that honors less clothing. The novelty of being naked with other naked people had been replaced by the sort of calm that the resort promised all along.
The novelty of being naked with other naked people had been replaced by the sort of calm that the resort promised all along.
Perhaps next time I'll join Mr. Hot Cookie in the Castro instead. A nude wine bar outing sounds more my style anyways.
Perhaps next time I'll join Mr. Hot Cookie in the Castro instead. A nude wine bar outing sounds more my style anyways.