Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Ernest Kaai was the first Hawaiian-born virtuoso ukulele player and was a formidable figure in the Hawaiian music world in the first quarter of the 20th century. Besides being adept at the ukulele, Kaai was also a superb violin, guitar and steel guitar player. By the age of 19, he was playing in and organizing ensembles. At one time, he had as many as 12 bands playing in the Islands. He not only promoted Hawaiian music in Hawaii, but on the mainland as well. But it was as a ukulele player that most remember Kaai. It was Johnny Noble, Hawaii's greatest composer, who said Kaai was "Hawaii's greatest ukulele player". Due to his musical ability, he is credited with making the ukulele into a featured instrument in Hawaiian groups. He also published the first ukulele instruction book, "The Ukulele, A Hawaiian Guitar", published in 1916. This book presented the ukulele as a sophisticated musical instrument and included exotic chords and and complicated strums. In 1940, Kaai retired to Miami, Florida, where he opened a music store and performed off and on. He died in 1961.

Big Ernie and Tiny Tim, ay?
What is facinating about what we perceive to be Hawaiian music is that it is an amalgam of several musical cultures from over the last 100 years. There is Portuguese (from where the ukulele comes from); Japanese; Country and Western (from the mainland cowboys of the cattle industry on Oahu and the Big Island); Philipines (itself a "brassage" of cultures); and traditional Polynesian. In fact, it was a Portuguese railroad worker from Honolulu who popularized the wonderful steel guitar.

And of course, there is the eminent Hollywood Kitsch of the 40's and 50's - the Hawaii of the postcards; and the post-war Waikiki property-boom fuelled by the growth in tourism due to the increasingly affluent US middle class. Those gaudy short-sleeved shirts...

But Bernard, there is nothing better thatn to sit in a cafe on Waikiki beach (surrounded by Japanese tourists and Honeymooners) with the balmy evening breeze wafting through the hotel palms, drinking a Honolulu-rita with your better half.

Man, I like the sound of that resort style lounging around with the silky twang of ukelele wafting towards me, followed briskly by the drinks water. Reminds me of a very indolent stay in Bali, reading a terrific and disrespectful biography of Jack London.

On the subject of politics, I thought you'd be amused to hear that, according to news reports from the beloved BBC and ABC, "the Netherlands' reputation for tolerance is being called into question."

What IS wrong with you Dutchies? Can't cop the odd stab-and-shoot of a muck-racker on a bicycle? And don't you realise the stabber-and-shooters were simply engaged in their legitimate struggle against the Crusader-Zionist Alliance?
Over the past 5 years, the Dutch have been coming to realize that their unbridled tolerance for everything (except in money matters, of course) leads to tolerance for people who are extremely intolerant, dogmatic, and fanatical.

Since the assassination of Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch have been abandoning political correctness in a wholesale manner. The Dutch now talk openly about having too many Moroccans and Turks living in social welfare ghettos, and that, if they do not want to integrate (i.e. be as tolerant as the Dutch), then they should be deported.

Last year, the Dutch government issued 22,000 deportation orders (whether they are carried out is another matter).

This fits in well with the straight-talking Dutch.
Who knows how you decide whom to deport and whom not? But the central idea is sound: a tolerant society makes demands on those who would be citizens. And there's excellent reasons why a tolerant society cannot survive if it mistakes indifference to intolerance for true tolerance. This is not a contradiction, although it's taken for one by the pseudo multi-culti crew here down under. Likewise they don't seem to understand that there's no good reason why a multi-party democracy should allow a party committed to one-party tyranny (Nazis or Communists) to use the democratic process to further that end and thereby abolish democracy.

Anyway, to change tracks, it's pissing down here. Lovely and peaceful. The misses is in bed and I've had a rare half hour or so dipping into poetry: Peter Boyle (heard of him? An Oz bloke), Tranter and William Carlos Williams.
Peter Boyle? That old ornery Southern gentleman in "The Monsters' Ball"? No, that's the American actor.

You mean the cove famous for his translations of Spanish poems - he was published in the same e-zine as me - Big Bridge. We're virtual mates.

Do you like salmon?
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That Peter Boyle, that's the one. Big Bridge buddy, never before had best. Salmon, sure, I like salmon. What gives with the fish?
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