Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hawaiian Culture Series, Part II: Going Postal

The suburban area that I live in now is quiet. It is full of Haoles (that's a beautiful Hawaiian word for what we in Oakland used to call "honky crackers"). Nothing very exciting happens here besides the odd bake sale.

But there's one thing: mailboxes. They have more personality than some of the people I've met.

Some of them are lovingly hand painted:
Hand PaintedHandpaintedHandpainted
Or glued-on with shells and fake geckos:
Some have their own flowerpot attatched:
While others are mysteriously growing out of a flowerpot:
Some have their own garden:
But they are totally put to shame by the one with its own picket fence:I have my own picket fence.

Some of them try to hide or blend in with the scenery. I don't know if this is a matter of trying to stealthily trick the mailcarrier or if they are just shy.
"Nothing to see here, I'm just a bush..."
You can't see me! I'm hiding in a bush!Marijuana Bush
"I'm hiding in a tree!"
Tree Mail
"I'm just a lobster trap on a stick."
Lobster Trap

Or, there is the classic nonchalantly-sitting-on-top-of-a-bush style:DSC01370

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there's the overinflated-mailbox-ego.

"I'm a Swiss Chalet!"
Swiss Chalet
"I'm a pile of volcanic rocks."
"I'm a tiny house."
Not really sure what's going on here.
"That's nothing, I'm a tiny house with kittens, sprouting out of a faux well!"
Sprouting out of a well.
"I'm an island hut within a bush!"

You also have the Georgia O'Keefe mailbox:
Georgia O'Keefe

And the surrealist patriotic-dolphin-jumping-into-bush mailbox:
I'm a dolphin leaping into a bush!

Taking the lead in the suprising category of Sexy Mailboxes: two sexy mailboxes on a stick.
Hula Girls on a stick
Hula GirlsHula Girls
Which clearly wins the category (even though the girls don't have faces) because it was the only sexy mailbox, possibly in the world.

And then, here's the topper:
Anchors Away!
Yes, that's a real anchor. A Giant Anchor. If anyone can tell me what a mailbox has to do with an anchor I'd be grateful.

Keep in mind these are all within a two-block radius of my house. I'm far too lazy to go looking for this kind of thing. It's kind of making me feel insecure about the inadequacy of our own humble mailbox.
Maybe I'm supposed to glue tiny farm animals and beensy hay bales to the side or something.

Friday, May 27, 2005

My $14 Haircut

I got a chop, and I knew I needed a cheap one so I headed to the place with the funniest name. I usually either get it done at a schmancy place for fifty bucks or go to my mom's house for a free cut. This was a new experience.

Apparently the extra that you are paying for at an expensive shop is the right to not being bossed around while you get your hair cut. She told me what to do with my life, how bad my hair looked, and all kinds of other vivacious information that comes free with the service.

The funny part was that the actual hair cut took about four minutes, then she just fluffed it around and pretended to cut more off for about 20 minutes while she bossed me. I don't know if she just felt like I needed the advice or if she thought I'd feel ripped off if she didn't take a long time.

If she hadn't been so bossy, I would have taken a picture of her, too. She kept telling me that curly hair is bad, and she has it, too, and I should do what she did: "relaxed" the curls and bleached her hair blond to the point that it's a crispy mini-bale of hay atop her head. I said I'd think about it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Hawaiian Culture Series: Part I

So when you think of Hawaii, you probably think of beautiful beaches and mountains and Mai Tais and whatnot, right? Well then you're really missing out on a wealth of local culture. Fear not, I am here to provide for you.

Witness: Strip mall signage. All of these photos were taken in a lovely town called Enchanted Lake. No seriously, that's what it's called. And it's neither one of those things.

To appeal to people who would admit they live in a town called Enchanted lake, you must tailor your marketing.

Figure 1: For casual hungry people looking for a flourescent lit dining experience, offer an entire restaurant dedicated to the delicious treat that smells like feet:

Kim Chee!

Figure 2: Confuse people with your sign. Is it chocolate flavored sushi or chocolate in the shape of sushi? What the hell are you talking about? (Turns out it's a place with chocolate AND sushi, and therefore the most likely destination for me if I decided to become a competitive eater).

Chocolate Sushi!

Figure 3: For those hungry folks who cannot decipher the meaning of a restaurant sign, offer a more direct approach:

The Food Company

Figure 4: When you've eaten all the chocolate sushi you can handle, you might need some dental work done. Someone opened a business called Smiles Forever, and then much later they realized that people with big gaps in their grill didn't look that good smiling forever, and added a second establishment next door.

Smiles Forever!

Figure 5: It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Tsunamis are big; tsunamis are tall. But in light of recent events, it seems a little creepy.


Figure 6: Across the street, a divey sports bar that doesn't put on any airs:

The Shack

There may not be a lake, but I'm starting to feel the enchantment.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bolinas: Mellow scene with lounge vibe.

Before leaving the bay, I took a little day trip with my good friend Heidi to Bolinas. Bolinas is a wacky little town that is loathe to promote tourism, so much so that it's residents go out to the main road and steal the road sign showing how to get there. Not to be deterred by a little thing like locals not wanting us around, we did the obligatory couple of U-turns required to get on the right road and headed in to see it for ourselves.

First impression: cute. Lots of little gardens and hand painted signs and whatnot. The beach has an interesting sign poking out of the water reading "GROIN." Not sure what that means, but it's funnier imagining what it might mean, so we didn't ask anyone.


We meandered around a bit before finding some food. We saw a couple of awesome cars as we walked, one of them had a brass-knuckle gear shifter. That's got to come in handy when your drive-in movie date gets out of hand.

I want this car.

Brass knuckle gear shifter!

Here's another lovely car:
Another cool Bolinas Car

There was also a funky old Volvo, not so glamorous but with the best "For Sale" sign I've ever seen.

Zipping down the street was a... something. Sort of a go cart? A three-wheeled-something that looked to me like a sidecar that had taken off without it's motorcycle.
Go Cart

That and a truck that looked ready house a fortune teller on tour with the circus.
I need one of these.
These are all evidence that Bolinas is clearly in an alternate automotive universe.

We walked into a teeny shop full of crystals and wind chimes and other Northern California small town detritus, and were immediately turned away because the shop owner had a class to go to. I'd like that kind of work schedule. We also passed a dentist's office with a "Gone Fishin'" sign.

Lunch break.

There's something the people of Bolinas know about work that I don't. Like how to get out of it when you don't feel like doing it. The dogs of Bolinas also apparently have an edge on me- they just wander around town by themselves. People stop to pet them and feed them, but otherwise they are just doing their own thing.

We sat on a bench to take in the lovely view of the tide coming in between the beach and a little bay.

Bench Sitting.

We spied a harbor seal swimming around and got all excited and waxed poetic about the beauty of nature the way only true city folks can. Suddenly one of the ownerless dogs of Bolinas jumped in and decided to have some words with the harbor seal. They swam around each other in circles with their little heads poking out of the water. I don't know what the dog was thinking, the seal had maybe 75 pounds on him and some obvious advantages in the swimming department. The conversation went a little something like this:

"Arf! Arf!"

I don't really know what they were saying, but at some point the dog realized he was outbarked and got out of the water. Like any good public argument, a group of people had gathered on shore to watch.
The argument.
I think maybe the dog felt pressure to repair his reputation with the people of Bolinas, because he jumped back in for more. The conversation pretty much went the same and the seal was again victorious. The dog meandered off toward the center of town with his head hanging. The seal disappeared, probably off to brag to his friends. I decided that going to the countryside is not that much different than sitting on a bench in Oakland across the street from a dive bar: maybe dumb turf wars are inevitable.

Back in town (a block away), we found another bench to sit on(maybe you are sensing a theme?) and absorb some more local color. There we met a dude named Merlin who was handing out flyers to a "Independent Film World Premiere" later that evening of a movie he had made at school. He explained that if we attended we'd be privy to a "like totally chilled out scene" and a "mellow lounge vibe." We explained that we had mellow vibes and chill scenes to attend to back in Oakland that evening. He invited us to sleep over on the couches in his parents' barn in town, and "party" with him and his friends. We decided to mellow out and chill on our bench instead. I imagine that for every fellow like Merlin there must be a gal named Stardust for whom partying in his parents' barn and sleeping on the couch is like a dream come true. He continued his publicity tour on foot.


We crossed the street for dinner when the restaurant opened. Our friend the seal-fighting dog wandered up and joined us to beg at the table.
Bolinas wet dog
We just looked at him for a while and then the two nine year old girls (who were also unattended) eating hot dogs at the next table over from us gave him most of their food, bit by bit, by throwing chunks of it. The only bits he didn't get were the ones that landed on the tops of cars, to be found much later by confused tourists.

All in all we managed to escape with a few life lessons:

1) It's worth going where you're not wanted because it's probably good.
2) When selling your car, it is important to point out its mechanical highlights.
3) It's okay to close your windchime store in the middle of the day even if there are customers inside the store.
4) You don't have to be the same species to get into a pointless argument at the top of your lungs.
5) Even people who live in the most laid back place I've ever been want to go to a lounge party with a chilled out vibe.