IMR: 1999: September: 02 —  Thursday, 10:31 a.m.
Room 201, Crawford Hall, Univ. of Hawai`i-Manoa, Hawai`i

Waiting for class to start just now, I was chatting with some of the journalism students gathered on the Craword Hall steps. Some familiar veterans — Margie Pamintuan just got picked up by KITV — and many fresh, shiny, naive smiling faces I'd never seen before.

Not surprisingly, someone was complaining about their editor at Ka Leo. And it was then I realized the Earth had now witnessed the Sixth Sign of the coming Apocalypse:

Shauna "F." Goya is an editor. In fact, she's the news editor.

I'm absolutely flabbergasted. Greg's gonna flip. But in a sick, sad way, it makes a lot of sense.

As a result of the revelation, I absolutely had no choice but to pick up a copy this morning. Now, I have to admit, the new look is rather pretty... in a PR magazine sort of way. But it doesn't take much reading to see that the New Order of Happytown instituted after our tenure is still alive and well down there.

The only worthwhile item — besides the cartoon by the immortal Roy Chang and a classified ad recruiting for an "Internet Hostess" — was a deliciously nasty letter from Kalawaia Moore, with whom I had the pleasure of working back in 1996. He was our Hawaiian language columnist, a position that by its mere existence created a bit of a stir on campus.

Now he's kicking ass at the Graduate Student Organization, and today he's excoriating the Ka Leo staff for, not surprisingly, missing the boat on the actual news on campus.

I wonder how long it'll go on like this. I wonder if it's just a tiny symptom of the overall shift to conservatism we're seeing everywhere else, what with evolution off the books in Kansas and presidential candidates running on "Go God!" platforms.

Today it's all about personal enrichment and saving souls, and between the lawyers and Republicans, maybe there's just no room for provocative, albeit occasionally goofy, journalism.

Nah. There'll always be Dateline NBC.

I never thought I'd say this, but Ka Leo needs a Kalawaia Moore at the helm, a C. Mamo Kim — just for a while. Maybe things will get messy now and then, but damn, if there's any place for a newspaper that asks tough questions and rocks the boat, it's in college.

For the time being, Mary has the right idea, applying to work on the Ka Leo web team. It's where most newsrooms today are throwing the most money with the least oversight, and even better, you get to say, "I don't write it, I just shovel it onto the web."

D'oh! Busted. Brislin just caught me zoning. Um, what were we talking about?

Tragically, another chance missed to make a smart-ass remark.

Thursday, 11:12 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Jen rented Brazil tonight. Absolutely, wonderfully bizarre. Definitely pure Terry Gilliam.

"Consumers for Christ!"

She wanted to see it after catching several references to it in a documentary on the making of 12 Monkeys, perhaps the only movie in which Brad Pitt didn't make an idiot out of himself (ironically, by specifically playing an idiot).

I'm not sure what's more frightening. Gilliam's absurd and twisted vision of the near future, or the slim possibility that he might be right.

A crazy day at work, but a good one. A good 600 pounds of hot-off-the-press books and hand-assembled media and PR kits are on their way to Auckland as I type, shipped out on the last available plane to New Zealand before the one we're taking ourselves.

We had been dreading for weeks that tomorrow night — just over 24 hours before we get on the plane — we'd be in the office past 10 p.m., pulling together the dozens of individually configured three-ring binders that are needed for the array of board meetings that take place at these meetings.

It's an unfortunate human tendency to leave everything for the last minute, and these binders are the epitome of that particular failing at work. The night before the gang left for Hong Kong, they were holed up in the conference room until midnight, copying, collating, hole-punching and snapping heaps of paper into their little one-inch shells.

The memory of that experience, however, burned fresh in Lacene's mind, and she was resolute in making sure history didn't repeat itself. Sure, "Never again!" is a frequent declaration in the office, but she meant it this time. So she set a deadline of yesterday for submitting the material and stuck to it. And she got seven of us playing assembly line this afternoon.

We were stunned to find everything sorted and boxed away before 4:30 p.m.

Lacene got a round of applause, David brought in some slices of cake, and everyone marveled at the fact that a good 90 percent of what needs to be done was done today, and we still have all of tomorrow to work before the padlocks are snapped on our huge Rubbermaid lockers.

Now, foremost in our mind is the fact that we'll have to meet at the office at midnight on Saturday in order to leave together for the airport and make our 3 a.m. flight. And that an entire day will vanish into thin air as we cross that sneaky International Dateline. And that everyone else gets Monday as a holiday.

One of the greatest, new joys in my life — especially after a long day at work — is coming home, immediately sweeping Katie off her feet, and taking her over to Makiki District Park just down the street. She gets to run around and shriek, I get some fresh air, and Jen gets a well-deserved break.

Lately, though, a couple of things have soured my mood.

First, of course, is that universal parental realization that everyone else's kids are nothing but rude, uncultured thugs or bullies.

It's amazing to see how oblivious Katie is to the hoards of rowdy hellions swarming around her, and also how much adrenaline is pumped into my system as I worry that one of the bigger kids will crash into her or shove her any minute. Especially since some of these kids (and I use the term loosely) have no business roughhousing on a childrens' playground.

I mean, if you're old enough to shave, get your butt off the monkey bars already.

The second, and related, problem is that some over-aged, lead-footed goober has apparently broken one of the three plastic slides that Katie loves so much. Punched straight through it, no doubt while trying to run up it during a game of tag or something.

With the already excessive number of kids climbing on the equipment every afternoon, there's no chance for Katie to get even one good, giggling whoosh anymore. And I don't expect it to be fixed anytime soon.

Why? Because our illustrious mayor is busy building a swimming pool and a skate park a few feet away. With contractors happily bulldozing their way through a $370,000 budget, no way they're going waste time patching up a little yellow kiddie slide.

That Harris. He's a clever one, all right. Skateboarders aren't exactly the most valuable constituents, after all, but skate parks are notoriously cheap to build and excessively visible. And who doesn't want a pool? Even if there are already three, four others within five miles. When he makes that inevitable gubernatorial bid, there's no question the flyer we'll get in the mail will feature a beaming, skateboarding teen caught in midair. "Thanks Jeremy!"

Forget community priorities, there are voters to woo! Potential traffic problems and insufficient parking for the pool? "We'll deal with that later." Reports of radioactive material buried beneath the park, from back when the lot was home to an industrial lab? "Hey, I'll be a senator by the time those three-headed kids are born!"

Meanwhile the adjacent Makiki Community Library, which the city abandoned years ago, is rusting to the ground, its collection rotting away, the building horrendously inaccessible to the handicapped. All those old buildings look abandoned, the upper floors completely unusable, half the windows cracked and boarded up. Whenever I go down there to work, it amazes me to see how much inconvenience and decay my neighbors will endure just to have easy access to books.

Reading is fundamental, but dammit, it's just not visible from the street.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 02 September 1999 · Last Modified: 06 September 1999