IMR: 1998: November: 30 — Monday, 10:19 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

[ Ohana ]Having missed the official Thanksgiving festivities on my dad's side of the family, we were happy to visit last night for a quiet dinner instead. We fell into the family groove so easily, I had to keep reminding myself that it had been nearly three months since we last got together.

Grandma O. was there, thrilled to see her great-granddaughter again. Also in attendance was a young lady named Ging, an "international baccalaureate" student at Mid-Pacific Institute, whom dad was apparently entertaining as a favor for her family in Thailand.

As usual, Gayle whipped up the tastiest assortment of dishes, complemented by thick, juicy steaks that dad broiled outside on the grill. Also on the table were some insanely hot peppers grown right outside in the yard. But after seeing Gayle yelp in shock and seeing Jen — a certified Cajun veteran — fan her tongue, I didn't dare go near the stuff.

There wasn't a dish of leftover turkey in sight.

There's no question, that family knows how to eat. Now, once in a blue moon, I actually get so "Type A," I consider eating a nuisance — nothing more than a biological neccessity. That's never the case, however, at dad's.

We relaxed in front of the television, sort-of watching the Hawaiian Moving Company (Honolulu City Lights kicks off on Friday!) and shooting the breeze. Katie, not surprisingly, was the star of the evening, crawling everywhere, pulling up on the little card table and trying valiantly to get her fingers in everyone's plates. She and dad played together, smiling and laughing. Grandma cooed and clapped, and Katie clapped back, and that made everyone's night.

In exchange for some modem shopping advice, Gayle let me play with her new "work machine": a PowerBook G3. I swear, it felt like the fates put a gem like that right in my path specifically to needle me for buying this Sony laptop. A very nice, fast, amply-screened machine, seemingly straight out of the better parts of the Batman movies.

As the evening wound to a close, I was presented with some belated birthday presents, including an awesome array of dress shirts to outfit me for my now not-so-new job. Then, Gayle brought out our Christmas presents, and strongly hinted that we should open one set of boxes early. "You might want it before the holidays," she said.

Jen never needs an excuse to rip through wrapping paper, so she did the honors. She'd only gotten a few strips off, however, when she just froze and started gasping. "Yes, well, what?" I finally asked, succumbing to the drama.

It was a video camera.

Unbelievable. And it quickly seemed so perfectly timed. Besides Christmas and New Year's, after all, there's Katie's first birthday, sixty days away and counting. More exciting, perhaps, is the clear fact that Katie is weeks away from her first steps. Finally — although I don't doubt dad and Gayle expect to get some tape out of us — Jen is excited to have a small, easy camera she can use specifically because not a week goes by without her parents nagging her for some KTV.

We finally left as Katie's bedtime neared, our arms laden with boxes and bags. With loot like that, I joked, we've really no excuse for not dropping by more often.

So UH sacked Head Football Coach Fred vonAppen today.

On the surface, it's not hard to see why he was canned, even with another two years left on his contract. The team is 0-12 this season, with a losing streak stretching back more than a year. At this most recent game, it looked as if the fans that flew in with the visiting team outnumbered the locals in the stands at Aloha Stadium, and dismal game attendance has left the Athletic Department with a $700,000 budget deficit.

And since I know squat about sports, a couple of months ago I would be the first to say throw the guy out whenever the football team came up.

But I overheard some passionate defenses for vonAppen one morning in the CBA office, and made an effort to pay closer attention to the news. I talked to a coworker who knew several players on the team, who testified that despite the game record, morale was remarkably high. And most importantly, I started to appreciate vonAppen's style. No whining, no rationalizing, just straight talk, dealing with bad news head on.

Abbreviated recruiting schedules. High concentrations of young players. Losing several seniors at a time. Excuses or not, there seemed to be a number of legitimate reasons why the team wasn't doing well, and I wasn't sure the coach deserved most of the blame.

But, people were grumbling. The UH administration saw red on the books. And they sent vonAppen packing.

What's really bugging me now is this: exactly how big and fast a difference is this sudden coaching change going to make? More directly, are we sure that change will be positive?

It takes time, lots of time, to build a strong, coherent team.

In the arguably pithy world of student newspapering, I had two years at the helm of Ka Leo — the longest tenure in some time, and probably the last double-term it'll see — and still felt as if we had a way to go when I left. When editors change every year (or even every semester), the newspaper can never develop an identity, a distinct voice, let alone put out a consistently good product.

So vonAppen had three (?) years, and the team was still at rock bottom. Beyond the scoreboard, though, I'd wager that at the very least, the Rainbows had grown to be a tight, trusting unit, familiar with all the strategies and the expectations of the staff. Even if you presume (and I guess it's a safe presumption) that the team would have lost every game for the remainder of vonAppen's contract, I don't see how taking what little he's built and yanking it out will help.

Besides, to buy out his contract, benefits included, will cost upwards of $200,000. Barring a miracle with the new coach, I don't see how the athletic department can expect to see ticket sales hit 1992 levels in six months — meaning the current revenue deficit will probably continue for some time. If that loss is a given anyway, the $200,000 package only throws salt on the wound.

I only hope that the next coach has vonAppen's articulate, no-nonesense style. He's the first sports figure I've seen in some time who you could actually quote in an article using complete sentences.

Goddamn it. Bigot extraordinaire Mike Gabbard and his gang are at it again.

Seems they're not satisfied, despite having recently scared Hawai`i voters into turning the State Constitution into an exclusive, rather than an inclusive, document on civil rights. No, thrusting his engorged sense of moral righteousness into our government wasn't enough. After pounding a nail into the coffin of same-sex marriage, he now wants to burn the whole enchilada to the ground.

There's a new commercial out now, one that ironically debuted over the Thanksgiving weekend. Although there aren't comparisons between gay Americans and dogs (yet), the festering hatred for homosexuals is still apparent.

Their argument goes like this: Hawai`i voters said they want to stop same-sex marriage. Governor Ben Cayetano said that's fine, the sanctity of marriage is preserved, and for the more practical matters of taxes, custody and inheritance, we'll work on a "domestic partnership" classification to protect both homosexual and non-traditional households. Ben's compromise, however, clearly goes against the people's will. Ben is bad. Stop "domestic partnerships" too.

What the fuck? The crux of their initial campaign, the whole reason they probably won, is by relying on "tradition" and "morals" and Christianity. Marriage is not a legal matter, they argued, but a sacred, God-endorsed union between a man and a woman. As beautiful and intangible the various aspects of the word are, Gabbard maintains, they should not be shared with homosexuals.

So gay couples lose that opportunity, the chance to reach that level of identity and unity. It's still, I think, wrong, but it happened.

But through "domestic partnerships," at the very least, gays can at least register the interconnectedness of their lives, and prevent having a home they built together ultimately torn apart as if their relationship never existed. These benefits also help households that consist only of siblings, or two (or more) generations of single parents. Benefits that, under current law, already exist in some form or another.

Mike Gabbard wants to take it all away. Not only are gay couples entitled to exist spiritually, he seems to say, but they cannot be allowed in any legal context either... no matter how many other types of nontraditional households will have to be thrown out with them.

How many more steps of logic is it to argue that gays aren't really people? What's next?


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 30 November 1998 · Last Modified: 4 December 1998