BRAIN Farts: I want to be a Lono

Palms at the Place of Refuge

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (“Place of Refuge”) was one of the spots that took a beating from the tsunami. Hunter S. Thompson wrote of it in “The Curse of Lono,” describing another of his “Fear and Loathing” outings.

Editor’s note: In honor of Daylight Saving Time, something that serves no useful purpose, here’s a column that never ran. It wasn’t rejected, exactly; I gave the editor two choices and he picked the other one. Maybe he didn’t get the Klingon gag in the second subhed.

Son of a beach! Why am I not in Hawaii?

I am no day at the beach. — Richard Pryor, “Richard Pryor: Live On the Sunset Strip”

At the first cold snap of autumn 2012 my wife fled to Hawaii, tormenting me with photos of snorkeling, videos of playing bikini-clad footsie with the Pacific, and audio recollections of the freshest of fish, guacamole descended from homegrown avocados, and — oh, the unspeakable agony — free drinks.

Confined to the mainland, packed like a pallid sequence of overstuffed Irish bangers into sweatpants, socks and long-sleeved T-shirt, I passed the chilly days wrangling our critters, burning my brand onto some wandering word count and pushing a passel of pixels in the service of what passes for bicycle journalism along the Front Strange.

Here there were deadlines, dreary weather and other irritants that make sand in your Speedo feel like a quick pat on the pistol pocket from Rosario Dawson. There was little time for splashing about in the deep blue ocean that does not surround Colorado or for the consumption of delicacies that the Centennial State does not produce.

And the only person picking up my bar tabs was me.

I don’t need this … well, you know. This wouldn’t be so much of a much, were it not that whenever my wife gets a hankering for an ocean view, she tends to leave a wake around the dock upon departure.

Last year Herself’s vacations coincided with bowel disorders afflicting two-thirds of the family herd. The first struck down Bouncing Buddy Boo the Spinning Japanese Wonder Chin; the second, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment). Only Miss Mia Sopaipilla, an unruffled Russian blue, remained blessedly continent.

The Boo is a fragile flower of an alleged dog, yet bore up without complaint under post-poop cleanups. The Turk, on the other hand — well, let’s just say that scrubbing the hind end of an outraged 16-pound male cat, with fangs Nosferatu would have envied and paws like tennis balls studded with surgical implements, is right up there with trying to squeegee buzzard guts off a turbofan jet engine while the sumbitch is running. At 30,000 feet. Over the Big Island.

Qu’vatlh! Dor’sho’gha! Herself’s final holiday excursion of the year provided the occasion for the demise of our 10-year-old audio-video receiver, which snuffed it with a home-theatrical snap, crackle and pop just moments after wheels up.

I dashed out to buy a replacement only to discover that the setup instructions were in the original Klingon, which is not one of my languages (I am fluent only in American and Gutter).

Nevertheless, after spending a maddeningly unproductive day or two staring blankly at the Klingon-English dictionary on my iPad, fists full of HDMI, PC and audio cables like some feeble-minded snake-handler flunking out of Elmer Gantry Elementary, my increasingly profane prayers finally caused this unholy trinity — Sony, Toshiba and Yamaha — to smile beatifically upon me in all its high-definition glory.

It was only then, of course, that I remembered there was nothing I really wanted to watch.

Ain’t nothing to it but a Job. “Why does the Lord want me to serve him in this way?” That’s novelist Thomas McGuane, speaking through a leathery 60-year-old rancher in his novel “Nothing But Blue Skies.”

The answer is, as always: Who knows? The Lord works in mysterious ways, or so I’m told. So do I, although the mystery lies mostly in why any sane person would offer me a position as a cycling journalist—or as a husband, for that matter. Like the late, lamented Richard Pryor, I am no day at the beach, especially when the beach is there and I am here.

There is sand in the immediate vicinity, however. And before I reapply nose to grindstone this morning I will go out and run on it, or ride in it.

You needn’t fear that I’ll be doing this in a Speedo, either. I’m not a triathlete, and this definitely isn’t Hawaii. The only body of water within eyeshot is surrounded by porcelain. It has a seat, a lid and a handle, and I consider it fit only for an extremely limited range of water sports.

Oh, to be a son of a beach instead of the other thing.

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22 Responses to “BRAIN Farts: I want to be a Lono”

  1. md anderson Says:

    Cruel, that is just cruel and unusual punishment right there. The photo brought back memories of the many times my husband I have snorkeled in that exact spot; it’s our favorite on the Big Island. In 2000 we rented a house about 5 minutes mauka of there. It was surrounded by coffee and banana trees and the kiddos had a great time chasing the geckos that accumulated on the lanais. Heaven.

    Here in the Hispanic hinterlands of northern NM we are recovering from both a couple days of chilly wet weather and a headcold. Being just two weeks before I make my annual pain pilgrimage to bike camp in Tucson I am going to flog myself on the trainer while watching yesterday’s Paris-Nice. Hell.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      MD, that’s what we did. Herself has a librarian pal who rents her place in Captain Cook, so we took it for a week back in 2011. Black sand and blue water is looking pretty good right now after two weeks of gargling snot and running the Hyperbole Drive 24/7 until it throws a plutonium fuel rod.

      I’m jealous of your desert time. I need some the way Lindsey Graham needs a fainting couch, but I can’t quite figure out how to squeeze it in between chores. Arrrghh, etc.

  2. Trailer Park Cyclist Says:

    I wrote a pretty inflammatory letter to the good doctor accusing him and ralf of degenerating into the world of comic books in the case of that book you mentioned, then went out and bought ten copies to pass out among my friends. (Passing out among my friends has indeed been known to occur.)

    I remember fondly when he was holed up in that house of refuse, using a bullhorn to ask, if memory serves, for more whiskey and ice.

    He will not be missed, even though I miss him already.

    On my coffee table (why do they call them that? Beer table would be more better…) on my beer table is the rolling stoned edition where that weasly little fucker Jann Wenner cashed in one last time on the semi-greatness of Hunter S and if you read it, you might detect a certain sense of relief that he was gone.

    No day at the beach, that one.

    As I type this the roar of harleys fills my head. The beach, while only a mile away, will be packed and a source of dismay. But next week will be the beginning of the sailing season. It is traditionally the end of bike week that heralds the start of the sailing, the launching of the Hobies and the sailing that ensues.

    Thanks for listening.


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ol’ HST had pretty much written that one three or four times before “Lono,” eh? He had it more or less down by then. Still, when he was on (and depending upon what he was on) he could really hammer out the old Symbiotic Trapezoid Quote. I miss aspects of him, probably because I never actually met him.

      A Christopher Walken line in “Seven Psychopaths,” an occasionally brilliant movie we watched last night stuck with me: “You’re the one that thought psychopaths were so interesting. They get tiresome after a while, don’t you think?”

  3. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    I will take the canine poopus butt cleaning over changing out the receiver in a surround sound system any day.
    Our 12 year old Onkyo receiver (i before e except after c which is a weird rule) also died last December. I love HD movies and DTS sound, but hooking those things up is worse than 10 rounds with Mr. Duran. No mas, NO MAS!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      This is one reason I refuse to upgrade our Innertubes service, though I know faster and better DSL modems are available. If I have to serve as midwife to one more electronic breech birth I’m gonna kill someone, and it won’t be me.

  4. Larry T. Says:

    Nice to read I’m not the only one who hates connecting audio/video components. Our shack in Iowa needs some new carpet (now that we own it and can no longer pester the landlord for things like this) but I dread taking all the furniture out and rewiring said componentry when the job is done. A friend of mine volunteered to do it for me – he might be regretting this offer when I get back to Iowa in July!

  5. Steve O Says:

    I’ve never had a problem hooking up cables.

    It’s the boxes on each end I can’t figure out.

    My 2.75 year old initiated a FaceTime convo with my 70.75 year old dad. She navigates through the icons like Wayne Gretzky works his way around a rink, zipping from screen to screen at laser speed before opening an app before my tired old eyes can even start to bring it into focus. Then, when he answers and we invariably are greeted with a shot of his loafers, she reminds him to flip the camera around. It’s just amazing how the brain works when plaque hasn’t settled into the spaces created by cell-killing brew.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The younguns beat these suckers like rented digital mules, to be sure. A friend’s autistic son loves his iPad. Me, I think they’re OK, but then I also use my iPhone pretty much as a phone. I’m starting to wonder who’s really autistic here.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Our cell phone is just a cell phone. No text, no internet, no walkie talkie stuff. And we are grandfathered under a 10 year old switch from a local carrier, so we only pay $20 a month for 100 minutes. Sweet. It is only used for travel, or calling for a medevac when I crash my bike and can’t reach my beer.

  6. Khal Spencer Says:

    And to think I moved here to the Land of Entrapment from Paradise. Even weirder, the folks I work for now vouch for my sanity.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      One thing I’ve never done is live by the ocean. I’d like to give it a try sometime. Nearly got there when I looked like a mortal lock for a gig at the Ventura Star-Free Press, but the deal went sideways and I ended up in Santa Fe instead, at The New Mexican. That didn’t work out all that badly, since it’s where I met and married Herself. But I’d still like to live by the ocean some day, if she promises not to drown me in it.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        The only problem some folks have with Hawai’i is that you are not by the ocean. You are surrounded by it on a small rock a few miles each way, bobbing like a cork in its immensity. The ocean is not a part of the landscape, but dominates it. For example, that tsunami you talked about makes one feel pretty small. Some folks call it rock fever. In Hawai’i, the ocean is really big and so are the waves. Its an unspoken part of your life, like a watery god.

        Oahu was about 40×60 miles in dimension. At first, I felt trapped and claustrophobic, having moved there from New York. Eventually, I adjusted to the scale and it was actually a lot of fun. I did more riding then than now, in part because being an academic left me more discretion over my time. A ride home in the summer could be a direct shot of 11 miles or I could leave the University at Manoa, ride over the Pali Highway and back the Windward side to make a really lovely 25 mile ride over the pass and along the ocean back to Hawaii Kai. It was one of my favorite summer gigs.

        Hindsight is 20-20.

      • BruceM Says:

        Crap, Pat. I sent you a photo of the O’Grady cabin here in Manzanita. And you don’t come. The ocean is closer to it than I am.

      • Larry T. Says:

        We’re liking this ocean (I guess it’s actually the Ionian Sea here) living stuff down here on the east coast of Sicily. Especially now that we got the apartment boss to let us keep our shopping bikes inside, away from the salt spray. We might need to find a way to retire down here, I wonder if it could be more hot and humid in the summer than Iowa?

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Do you get trade winds in Sicily, Larry?

      • Larry T. Says:

        Beats me Khal, the wind blows, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much and in varying directions. Our cycling here can be a ride along the coast to the south or heading inland to the southwest, west or a bit northwest. Usually the headwind is on the way away from Siracusa, giving a tailwind for the ride back home…but as a cyclist you know that’s not always the case – we’ve fought headwinds back here a few times. I wouldn’t choose this spot purely for cycling reasons – it’s fine but not Piedmont, Tuscany, etc. But riding there in the winter is not for me, while here December and January are just fine….;pretty much like SoCal “weather” overall.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Sirocco Winds

        The Sirocco Winds are an important factor that sporadically affect Sicily’s climate. The winds are a mixture of the subtropical high and winds that originate in Arabia and the Sahara Desert. As the continental and maritime air mix, the circulation pushes the mixture across southern Europe. The Sirocco is responsible for storms and cold and wet weather in Sicily. The winds, which can be up to over 50 mph, typically occur in the fall and spring and may last for a half a day to several days.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Khal, We lived here last year from November until early May and have been here this year since January. Can’t say we’ve felt much of the scirocco so far, though a friend of mine had one of the VW cars with this name for awhile.

  7. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Steve, you are right. The cables are a minor pain compared to set up instructions in the owner’s manual, as Patrick said.

    By the way, the answer to the puzzle on Car Talk this weekend is that the paragraph does not have the letter “e” in it.

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