Posts Tagged ‘Tiare Friedman’

Hawaiianism

Saturday, November 6th, 2010
 Transcendent Realism

Transcendent Realism

idealism |īˈdē(ə)ˌlizəm|
noun
1 the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, esp. unrealistically : the idealism of youth. Compare with realism .
• (in art or literature) the representation of things in ideal or idealized form. Often contrasted with realism (sense 2).

We all judge everything and everybody. We really do. It is in our nature as independent beings which, due to our manifest destiny, were created to be able to function autonomously.

My perspective on life is very Ocean Centric. It is in my DNA,  in the ancestry from which I descended, and is a part of the heritage I leave the world through my work.

We live in a fascinating time, where information is abundantly available and connection between other autonomous beings occurs at light speed.

There are up sides, and down sides to that. For me, the up side is that you can see in very short order when you are being inspired and coaxed on to greater things, or being conned or lied to.  So this new light is bringing into cultural fashion a modern idealism that may not be founded on much else, aside from the author’s point of view. It brings us to someplace special: the crossroad of choice. And it does so with greater rapidity than ever before in human history.

The following piece was sent to me in response to the prior blog on Ethics. It was written by my cousin and describes the affect of our Grandfather, John Kalani Puu, and our last Queen, Liliuokalani on our Ohana. In this document, is the historic perspective from which I speak.

It explains the Hawaiian vista on life, love and the seas. It is my perspective as a Native, who chose to be an American. My Grandfather and I share that choice. We all choose to be here.

We are guaranteed choice as Americans. It is the tenet of Liberty which allows for that. What is yours? Do you have a cause or sabre that you rattle?

Hawaiians do. We belong to our land and Ocean. It is who we are.

Do you know who you are?

Want to?

Meet the Ocean.

Here is a prime example of how we think, in a story about Duane Desoto and Na Kama Kai.

Princess Pake

Princess Pake

Idealists and Realists

By Gayle Puu

Long after my grandfather died, a nephew recorded memories of earlier generations that he read to the “tribe” at a family reunion in August 1979.  I did not attend this reunion, but I remember hearing at the time that my grandmother didn’t agree with all of Harry Kim’s family history.  Another twenty-five years past before I actually read his words after taking custody of old newspaper clippings, photographs and assorted family papers my mother had saved over the years.  For my grandfather, he had written:

“Then came Uncle Puu, known as John Kalani Puu, ‘the maestro of music, an entertainer, actor, producer, artist, dancer, and above all idealistic and kind-hearted.’”

I knew my grandfather as a musician, entertainer and artist and as a kind-hearted man, but I had never before thought of him as idealistic.  And I couldn’t help but wonder why Harry Kim bracketed most of his description of my grandfather with quotation marks: Had someone other than this nephew noticed Grandpa’s idealistic tendencies?  Who was this person?  What did he or she mean?  Did Harry Kim mean the same thing? Was this description of Grandpa in the family history something that Grandma didn’t agree with?

I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but I can reflect on another important question: Why was I surprised by the association of the word “idealistic” with my grandfather?  To me, and a dictionary, an idealistic man forms his ideals and lives his life accordingly; or, he is a man who tends to see things as they should be, not as they really are.  Either way, an idealistic man pursues something that exists only in his mind, something imaginary, something lacking practicality.  Does this describe my grandfather?  To me, he is a practical man  who loved his family, God, his native islands and the Good Ol’ US of A.  And there is nothing unusual, or imaginary, or out of touch with reality in this list of Grandpa’s main attributes.

In all fairness, my grandfather’s life needs context as well as dictionary meaning.   A native Hawaiian, he was four years old when American annexationists, intent on protecting their business interests in the Kingdom of Hawaii, overthrew the monarchy to establish their own provisional government and, ultimately, annexation to the United States of America.  Grandpa was too young at the time to know that Queen Lili’uokalani surrendered her sovereignty to the United States, not the revolutionaries, believing that American justice would eventually restore her throne.  In her mind, once the real facts were known in Washington D.C., the United States government would align with her position and restore her power.  Her surrender of sovereignty was tactical, made under protest, and intended to save both her kingdom and the lives of her people.  The Queen knew she couldn’t out gun the Americans with military presence in her harbor, but she believed in American ideals and in American and international law.  She knew she could prove that the majority of native Hawaiians didn’t want to be annexed by the United States, and the consent of her people was prerequisite to annexation.

She was right.  The Blount Commission said she was right, and recommended restoration of her sovereignty.  President Cleveland said she was right, and recommended restoration of her sovereignty.  The Provisional Government in Honolulu, however, refused to honor either recommendation.  The U.S. Congress backed the annexationists: the Spanish American War made Hawaii’s strategic military location in the Pacific Ocean far too attractive for laws or ideals to stand in the way of American expansion.  Hawaii became a Republic, then a U.S. Territory.

President Grover Cleveland’s message to Congress delivered on December 18, 1893 made it clear that he was “ashamed of the whole affair.”  Queen Liliuokalani never stopped believing that sovereignty, illegally seized from her and her people, would eventually be restored.  They were idealists.

Nonetheless, my native Hawaiian grandfather was a proud American.  He was also talented and adventurous, traveling as a Hawaiian entertainer in Asia and continental United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.  He married a Kansan, in Kansas, and raised his family in Hawaii.  He sent his three oldest sons to fight for their country in World War II, and his youngest to the Korean conflict.  He worked hard.  He lived frugally.  He was law abiding and church going.  He was politically active.  He was a forward thinker.  Progressive.  And he wanted his children and grandchildren to live the American dream.

In the eyes of his Hawaiian extended family, did this make him idealistic?  Perhaps.  Several of his relatives had signed the anti-annexation petitions that were delivered to the U.S Congress, and they might have passed on their resistance to annexation, something that didn’t stick to Grandpa.  Perhaps his family didn’t like the path he chose as a young man and his desire to assimilate into American culture.  Perhaps they were annoyed with his choice of wife, a woman born on the American mainland, someone unlike themselves in race and upbringing.  Perhaps they resented my grandfather’s creative talents that endeared him to both native and adopted cultures.  Perhaps they misunderstood his connection to the present without abandoning his past.  Perhaps change was more of a struggle for them than for him.

But is it fair to characterize my grandfather as idealistic for choosing to be the best American a Hawaiian born native could be after annexation?  Not to me.  Grandpa knew what he wanted and how to achieve his goals.  He was able to find common ground, dig in his heels and hold his place in the world.  The word “realistic” more accurately describes the grandfather I know.  Given dictionary meaning, a realistic man is someone with the disposition to face facts and to deal with them practically.  And in context, a realistic man is someone who lives his life in the present.  Indeed, my grandfather was a realist.

Hawaiian Cultural Theory

Hawaiian Cultural Theory

Here is a performance of the Kumilipo, the Hawaiian Creation Chant translated by Queen Liliuokalani which is referred to in my cousin’s story, and in the prior blog. It was filmed at Anahouli Bay on the Big Island. The chanter is from the Waikoloa Halau, and is Chadwick Yap-Lim. This was the ancestral home of my family, so getting to  witness this was a great example for myself and crew of how in Hawaii, our ancestors are still with us in ways that modern culture does not get to experience often.

This performance of Aloha Oe is special, as my Grandmother was a Caucasian hula dancer. My Grandfather,  Hawaiian. You can see the difference. But they complement each other as the song and life passes. Strange finding this analogous piece.

Andy Irons just passed. A Caucasian man. Andy is as Hawaiian as it gets. This story says a lot. I will miss him. Aloha Oe, a hui ho my brother. Many mahalos. Tears fall for you and your family. But you know that.

A white man, Hawaiian? He made that choice when he married the ocean and the tenets of the tribe and Hawaiian people. That is how one becomes a part of any Nation. (It does go both ways.) So maybe not by blood, but by salt water. Funny how similar those two substances are.

Lydia Puu

John Kalani Puu

So consider that all of this heritage and history exists, in a culture of Ocean stewards who take great exception to a disconnected entity deciding what our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness should look like. We were there ages before you. This is our home. We let you take it, while trusting in the preeminent rule by law of the United States. We share it and our traditions. Aloha is more than a word. It is a spiritual concept.

Leave our ocean alone. We will defend her, and our rights, which cost Hawaii so much to acquire. We share it. Not vice- versa.

Here is a very Hawaii centic film I did awhile ago. Liquid Psalms.

Elements: Blood to Bone

Monday, May 24th, 2010
Air to Water

Air to Water

Water and air. Air and water. Blood to bone. Flesh of one’s own.

The uninitiate fascinate over the sea and the creatures in it. But for a surfer, the relationship is one of kindred spirit. “Oh yes, that is”: insert marvelously made marine entity, referred to casually by those in the water tribe, in similar manner to someone whose house you wake up in each day, HERE.

Blood to Water

Blood to Water

Dolphins live a life immersed. Yet linked to air, they have little issue being up and around in it. I see them fly a lot. No doubt exists, in spite of a lack of verbal discussion between us, on that very obvious point of connection.

As surfers we live a life in air, to dip in a mirrored justaposition to our dolphin kin. Kin you ask?

Saline Soliloquy

Saline Soliloquy

At what point do animal and man become related?

Blood to bone to flesh. Salt water connects us all.

Sublime in flow.

Not alone.

One.

One

One

Earth Angel

Friday, March 5th, 2010
Renewal

Renewal

angel |ˈānjəl|
noun
1. a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God.

“So let the Earth give testimony.”

I was raised in Santa Barbara. Most of my earliest and therefore strongest influences, were based on my native Hawaiian Culture’s perception of man’s place in the world, and the catch all of SB culture’s budding eco consciousness, and the science based tenets of our University and College.

But one of the most basic of principals, and something upon which my work is founded, came not from my social and cultural mores, it actually was planted in me at conception. No one really understands how life generates. For lack of any more accurate descriptive terminology, we call the impetus that creates life, the hand of God.

Man is unique in all that walks, swims and flies the Earth. He has a level of power to affect his environment. He is a minor architect fashioned in facsimile to a grand Architect. It is why we are so cognizant of beauty, and as our culture grows away from its native tribal roots, where we lived close to the land, this beauty can serve to bring our attention back to our primary essence. That is a very important aspect to having a healthy culture and society.

We reside in the most complex of systems. Recently, man has developed a computer that has exceeded the computational power of the human brain. We are capable of affecting Spaceship Earth either in a positive, or negative manner on a greater level than ever before in our history.

We parachute into this spinning, wonderous blue ball, and become someone.

Then we leave, small and great.  Each one of us has that in common.

The Earth was made for us. As a citizen of this place, residing in a country whose very Constitution recognizes the tenet of being under God, I have a great respect for our responsibility to reflect and nurture through stewardship, this amazing planet.

But here is the really great thing about this place: it goes on, whether we affect it positively or not. That is how God designed it. The Earth gives a living testimony to His Sovereignty.  Science bases much on the Law of Entropy, which is the progression of things towards disorder. Mankind is one of the only creatures that I am aware of, that can actually have some affect on Entropy, yet true affect is relatively minor, when put in a global scale, or geological timeline, for humanity.

But whether we choose to act as responsible passengers or not, the spaceship will arrive somewhere some day, with an entirely new crew.  So what is important to you? How do you fit in? What is your role?  In a season, there will be new flowers growing. Each a blossom unto itself.

Here is a link to a demo reel that I did awhile back. It is very illustrative of our Earth.

It pays to know who is in charge.  All the rest is just the short strokes.

U2 and Greenday: Getting it done. The saints are coming. And if that was not enough. Eno and U2 with One. Amazingly on point.

David Fortson of Loatree motivated this post. He is a catalyst for change and sustainable thinking.

Angel

Angel

Click on any of the images in the Gallery for a larger view. I did this edit as an Earthday Homage. It is a sliver of what I see, in any given moment, in my passage on this ship.

World Oceans Day

Monday, June 8th, 2009
Danny Moa, Islander

Danny Moa, Islander

I awoke late this Sunny Sunday, having spent the night wrapping a job on the computer and getting to sleep at 6:30 AM. I pulled myself away from my girlfriend Donna who was doing her best imitation of a dead woman at 9:15 am. I had some coffee and rolled down the valley into downtown Ventura for a haircut appointment at 10:00 am with my Samoan pal Danny Moa.

By twelve, after we had rapped out and talked  a lot of story and I stood squinting in the broad light of high noon, I felt different. It wasn’t the haircut. I was now more relaxed. It was from contact with Danny and the Pacific Islanders style and mindset. They always want to connect you to the ocean. He had.

Yesterday I did an edit for a client. They had asked for a waterman’s point of view. Here it is. Happy World Oceans day. May you all be connected to, and cherish the sea.  It is the source of all life on this blue ball. Let us  respect it, learn from it and eschew everything and everyone that would try to keep it from us and us in turn, from it. If an organization or entity ever comes between you and the ocean, I hope that you would know not to support it. God made the seas for you. Take care of them. Be the good steward.

Historian and Hawaiian Tom Stone once told me that the Polynesian’s home is the sea. That land is only where we go to rest. That makes a lot of sense to any water person.

Here is a little film trailer from a piece we should hopefully complete sometime in the near future.

A beautiful piece by another sea tribe, Ireland’s native sons, U2 is here.

Holly Beck’s fantastic blog is here. Make sure to watch the video!

Ah, Project Kaisei is here. My friend George Orbelian kindly pointed out that in myopia, I had overlooked the project he had so generously included me on! Click that link and look around. It is revelatory.

A VERY fun film which is actually a demo reel that I did awhile ago won some festival acclaim recently and is here.

From Joe Noonan:

“I love the Native American saying that the white man took God from the earth and streams and waters and put ‘him’ way up in the sky, out of reach… the ocean’s my temple, church, playground and lover, where I experience the Divine so directly…”

Click on any of the images in the gallery for a larger view and a back story

When I am off center. I see this sign flashing.

When I am off center. I see this sign flashing.

Tiare and the Spinners

Tiare and the Spinners

Balinese Morning

Balinese Morning

Blue Ombak

Blue Ombak

Javanese Reflection

Javanese Reflection

Just a Wave

Just a Wave

Maldivian Eve

Maldivian Eve

Makaha Rush

Makaha Rush

Rockpile Sunset Push

Rockpile Sunset Push

Indian Ocean Fireworks

Indian Ocean Fireworks

Morning Magic

Morning Magic

Dawn Patrol

Dawn Patrol

World Champions, Hobie 16

World Champions, Hobie 16

Dolphin Swim

Dolphin Swim

Why

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
Donnas jumping off point. Port of San Francisco.

Donnas jumping off point. Port of San Francisco.

I just finished building a little video for my girlfriend Donna, and her eco themed company, Betty Belts- Betty B. The video is a requirement for grant payment in a competition created by US business software company Intuit. We just finalized the piece and Donna managed to get out the door, a bit teary eyed, without actually having to pry my hands off her neck. Yes, we did this together.

I knew going in, that this project, which was to be a summary of her story that won the grant and you can read here, would be difficult.  The parameters would be much more narrow than if I were producing a film. To make it fair we would shoot on one camera, use no sound guy and rely on ourselves and friends to assemble a life’s story into ummm, here is the tricky part: four minutes. Oh, and zero budget. (Yea I know all you Indy film makers are laughing right now, going: “What ELSE is new?”.  Well F off, I am already IN your club. LOL) The piece needed to follow the storyline on the website, while being creative, educational, inspiring. (Yeaaaaa, riiggghhhht.)

From day one I had called the collaborative effort, my “Four Minutes of Hell ” project. Shot it all in a day. Added some of my stills, scans from her family album, then posted it in Final Cut Pro in the timeline and checked the run time.  Ah yes, twelve minutes. (Which needed to become four.)  Time to reduct, a process whereby you boil off the liquid and what remains at the end is a semi solid grist of  emotion, color, and sound that comprises a screen story. I knew that it would be a difficult thing for Donna to tolerate. As with most business owners, she likes to control all aspects related to her company. Yet she IS her company and the story being about her, well, it passes very close to the heart. Tricky.

Here is part of Donna’s Intuit story in a youtube link. Yes it is meant to make you laugh, and that is Donna in the music video which was filmed in Tenerif. Her music is a two edged aspect which we wanted to communicate in that grant video which Intuit will post in a bit.  And yes, we did manage to showcase her musical talents. The song soundtrack in the grant video is from a piece she wrote and performed while in Berlin. It gave the film a fantastic level of subtle personalization. It is the polar opposite of the song in the youtube link, but it hooks you almost as strongly.

By today at project finalization, I figure that there is more time than I care to admit to in this, and zero pay for me. Yet I persisted, having committed.

Writer, blogger, cultural marketing sage, Seth Godin explains why we do things,  in an incredible TED Talk HERE. If you have never heard of TED or Seth, do yourself a favor. WATCH it.

The upshot of the Donna video, which is titled Passages, after the story title,  is that it has motivated me to do a longer, more detailed version of her life, where I can better and more fully communicate how one person truly can make a positive difference in this world, and how that seed which we plant, will forever bear fruit.

Now you know the answer to the blog title: Why.  It is both question and answer in one three letter word.

The stills below are some from the video. Snapshots of Donna’s  life and a few of the talented women she collaborates with and supports through her company. She is very brave to bare her life and world in the process of working with me. I do not know that I could do the same were positions reversed.  Click on any of the images for a larger view and a back story.

 Below the surface of perception

Below the surface of perception

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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