Thursday, November 12, 2009


HANGIN’ LOOSE: We have the utmost respect for the journalistic skills of our friend Joan Conrow but today we’ve gotta take exception and question the source of her attack on another friend, Juan Wilson’s and his recent article on Larsen’s beach.

Quoting Wilson, Conrow wrote

I also chuckled just a little bit when I read the closing paragraph in Juan Wilson’s screed about the Larsen’s Beach access issue on his website, Island Breath:

“These attitudes and strategies are typical of property owners that see the land as a commodity with which to make money, and not the very source of our lives. It's time to take that attitude about "private property" behind the barn and put it down."

Funny, I distinctly remember interviewing Juan in the house he owns — and uses for his business — in Hanapepe. So how come Waioli Corp.’s private property is “the very source of our lives,” but his isn’t?

It’s really amazing how out of context the quote and comment are taken. Juan’s article specifically details the practices of Moloa`a area big landowners Bruce Laymon, Tom McCloskey and Peter Gruber who have sought to clear the area of those pesky citizens and deny them beach access, much of it with a thinly veiled hatred for perceived “hippies” and moreover naked people who frequent the isolated beaches in the area.

The beginning of Wilson’s sentence- his concluding though on the details of how the three and other large landowners abuse the power of that ownership- specially calls out “(t)hese attitudes and strategies” he detailed. Any reader cannot come away with the notion that Joan is condemning private property ownership in general- something that, as a matter of fact, we’ve been able to read into some of Joan’s postings on pre-western-contact Hawaiian culture without having to fill in too many blanks.

Could it be that there’s something behind Joan’s misdirectional quote? Well Conrow’s previous day’s post is certainly indicative (no pun intended) of something.

She wrote

Yesterday it was Larsen’s Beach, where I went to take some photographs and refresh my mind on the trails before writing another story about the access issue today.

The presence of nude sunbathers is a recurring complaint about that beach, and while I don’t mind if people swim or sun in the buff, there seems to be a fine line between naturism and exhibitionism. I’m thinking in particular of one old tourist, his face smeared with zinc oxide, who was dressed in an unbuttoned short-sleeved shirt, socks and shoes, but no pants.

Come on, buddy. Who are you trying to kid?

I guess what it comes down to is I don’t care if guys want to lie around with their dicks out, but it’s a different story when they seem intent on showing their members to me, which so often seems to be the case at clothing optional beaches.

Now we weren’t there but we can certainly remember times camping at Kalalau or Kaupea (aka Secret) Beach when it was a bit chilly or the sun was too much for our shoulders when we wore a shirt and no pants. And we can remember prudish individuals calling us out for it trying to intimidate us into kow-towing to their beliefs- religious or otherwise- despite our cultural penchant for going to a secluded place and not having to bend to the restrictive, straitlaced social norms of society.

Even more telling is Joan’s swallowing whole of the myth of the Na Pali pot growers- of which there are few or none these days- after talking to long time anti-camper, anti-nudity crusader, another friend, Sabra Kauka.

In the section just before her criticism of Wilson, Conrow wrote

It seems growers living in Kalalau and elsewhere along Na Pali Coast are responsible for a lot of the opala that piles up there, and according to some of the folks who malama that region, they also damage ancient rock walls when creating their plots and steal irrigation intended to nurture native plant seedlings.

When I interviewed Sabra Kauka of
Na Pali Coast `Ohana the other day, she said the group had given up on Kalalau because the problems there were so overwhelming, and each time they returned, all their work had been undone. So now they focus on Nualolo Kai, which has a chance to recover because it can only be accessed by boat.

I find it ironic that so many of those who choose to live outside “the system” and are dismissive of its private property rights think nothing of exploiting and mistreating public lands for their own economic purposes.

The fact is that Kauka and her friends have had a fifteen-year history through the DLNR created and controlled Na Pali Ohana (as PNN detailed in a Parxist Conspiracy TV newsmagazine in the mid-90’s) of overstating the presence of any problem with the “outlaws” in Kalalau who, if anything, actually benefit the valley and cultural vestiges by trying to encourage tourists and newcomers to respect the valley, using the characterization of “opala that piles up there” to describe the DOCARE’s destruction of the camp sites of the outlaws.

While the perennial campers in Kalalau are certainly there “illegally”- not by law but by DLNR rule- the actions of the state and the Na Pali Ohana are an over the top reaction to those who live simply and in fact do respect the valley, trying to make sure others do the same- especially after many of them tried to join the “`Ohana” during it nescient days and obtain permission to join in the stewardship programs but were rejected, many still claim, due to their “different” culture... and some say skin color.

While we respect the true host culture we’ve got to ask if in this instance whether the sans-attire culture is truly an insult to the Hawaiian culture- something we might project is at least partially behind Joan’s apparent attitude? Or is it more likely offensive to those who have either internalized- or actually become part of- the well-known 200% christian culture in the islands due to early post-contact missionary influences?

We figured out early on in life that clothes are simply something that, barring inclement weather, you wear so the cops don’t arrest you when you go outside

Nude is not lewd unless others have been somehow indoctrinated to overreact to it.

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