Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

It turns out that it was not just the economy that brought out the Trump supporters but the shame that the white working class had previously felt about themselves. The Right was very successful in campaigning on the premise that it wasn’t the white working class that failed but some other villain – Muslims, Jews, Liberals, African-Americans, Immigrants, Gays, Feminists, the Media  – the list keeps growing.

The liberals and the media did not understand this deep level of classicism between the haves, have less or have-nots.

Right or wrong Donald Trump gave them back some pride. In doing that, he gave license to their rage and has done nothing to stop that.

I now live in an artsy, racially mixed (and by that I mean interracial couples)  neighborhood. I am at the beach and there are many visitors on the weekends. I was walking my dog and  there was a truck double parked facing in the wrong direction. A man driving by got out of his car to ask him what he was doing.  They were both white. The truck was an Escalade type thing. The car was the cheaper Mercedes model. The Mercedes driver wore a Hawaiian flowered shirt. They were arguing and it was getting ugly. As is my New York custom,  I crossed the street to avoid trouble. The truck driver yelled, “You are such a fucking faggot. You are a big loser. Did you vote for Hillary?”

The racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump used to advance his candidacy had found its way to my street. When things happen right in front of you,  it is hard to stay open and indifferent. White hate speech against white people in a very liberal neighborhood is new. It is nothing new for black or gay people anywhere. Venice is the kind of mixed arty community that people move into to avoid this. The big conversation among strangers here is how are the waves today or look at that sunset. The lid against hate has been blown off. 

I still say that I wasn’t brought up to hate. I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, McCarthyism and my parents’ fears.  I was raised not to sign anything, peacefully protest but not call too much attention to yourself by leading the march.  

A younger couple had heard it as well and they walked up to me. He is blond. She is Asian. They asked how it started. “Stay safe,” they say when they walk away.

Fly safe,

JAZ

For The Traveler

For the Traveler  (photos of New Zealand by Cordula Reins)

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

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New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.

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Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

0447_tongariroWhen you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,1011_okarito_mountain_view
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:0435_tongariro_taranaki_fallsHow you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening a conversation
You want to take in0705_lake_tekapo_bridgeview
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.1021_franz_josef_glacierWhen you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,0828_tsse_cruise_lake_wakatipu
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.0370_wai_o_tapu_champagne_poolA journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,0152_paihia_morning
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.0778_milford_soundMay you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;0954_walk_to_fox_glacierThat you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.0579_abel_tas_np_onetahutiMay you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.0498_winetasting_lookout_hill_cheers

John O’Donohue
from: To Bless the Space Between Us

Special thanks to Cordulia Reins for sharing  her beautiful vision.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Things I Have Learned In Auckland, New Zealand

Things I Have Learned In Auckland, New Zealand

“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.”  Simon Van Booy 

Auckland  is called Tamaki Makaurau in Maori. This area is known as the Tamaki plains. It means “Tamaki of a hundred lovers,” referring  to the many battles of tribes for the possession of this desirable region.

It is also known as “the city of sails”. It has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.  One in three Aucklanders have a boat.

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Kiwis are among the best sailors in the world. New Zealand won the last  America’s Cup .

The MPI ( Ministry For Prima industries) have serious recreational fishing rules. They want to keep fish available for everyone. There are rules around the number of fish and shellfish you can catch, the sizes of fish you are allowed to keep and where and how you can fish.

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Auckland  has largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. It was originally inhabited by Maori people.

The Sky Tower In Auckland  is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres. You can hurl yourself off and plummet 192 meters if you are looking for something to do in Auckland. Its called the Sky Jump and it has a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor which I guess makes it completely safe.

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Parnell and Ponsonby are trendy areas in Auckland full of bars, restaurants and cute stores.

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It is fun to walk around the lively marina and have green lipped mussels. I normally am not a fan of mussels but these are giant and delicious. They are supposed to be really healthy and help with joint inflammation.

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Waiheke Island is a beautiful island 40 minutes away by ferry from Auckland.

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It has become quite expensive in the last few years but still has a relaxed island feel.

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It is known as New Zealand’s island of wine.

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Mudbrick and Te Whau wineries stand out, with their stunning views, great food and superb wine.  

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There are  wine tasting tours or do it on your own.

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You can do it as a day trip as i did or stay a few days as my daughter and son-in-law do. It is one of their favorite places. I  can see why.

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The island is small but not walkable. We toured some art galleries and met local artists.(Gabriella Lewenz Studio Gallery)

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(Waiheke Community Art Gallery)

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We stopped in the little town of Oneroa with plenty of  restaurant options and on to the beach. I would have been happy to stay there with a book for the rest of the day.

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I spent a beautiful day on Waiheke Island with Niki Walker of Ananda Tours.www.ananda.co.nz/ She is fun, knowledgeable and clearly loves this island. Thanks for a lovely day.

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New Zealand’s most famous soap opera, Shortland Street, is filmed on the North Shore of Auckland.

Auckland is the largest as well as the most populous urban area of New Zealand.

One in three adults in New Zealand are obese. Though it is bad for their health, it makes it a great place to go to the beach as opposed to Los Angeles.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mt. Everest lived in Auckland. His number was in the phone book. When school children, did a report on him, some called him up to get the information directly from him. He was happy to help. Eighteen thousand people showed up for his funeral.

Australians love to tell sheep jokes to New Zealanders. New Zealanders laugh it off because they know Australians come from criminal stock. (Ha) They have a good-natured rivalry.

The Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park, and one of the largest in the city.  The park is home to one of Auckland’s main tourist attractions, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which sits prominently on the crater rim of Pukekawa.

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Pukekawa, is one of the oldest volcanoes  in the Auckland Volcanic Field.

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Rangitoto is a baby volcano in Auckland and is only about 600-700 years old when compared to the other giant volcanoes.

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Auckland is built on a volcanic field. There are about 50 volcanoes in Auckland, all of which were active in the last 600 years or so and 96 per cent extinct. 

The city of Auckland  uses their volcanic craters as sports fields.

Auckland has two harbors on two separate major bodies of water, namely Manukau Harbor on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbor on the Pacific Ocean.

The Harbor Bridge in Auckland has 8 lanes and the central barrier in the bridge is moveable.

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Kauri trees in New Zealand are among the oldest trees in the world. By the time Auckland became the capital of New Zealand Kauri was being used  for building. It was a prestigious timber to have and nine out ten houses were being built from it inside and out. The supply of Kauri is dwindling so boats and houses made from kauri are worth a lot of money in Auckland. People try to keep them in the family.

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Auckland has a perfect, 100 km of coastline and is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world.

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You can get a government no interest loan for college if you stop the brain drain and stay in New Zealand. if you leave, the Kiwis say it raises the IQ of both countries.

If you have an engineering degree from the University of Auckland you are guaranteed a job around the world.

Auckland is the breeding ground for the New Zealand Sea Lion, which is the most endangered of the five species of sea-lion in the world.

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A very weird fact is that ‘pigeon post’ is still considered an official posting service in Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. Pigeon post refers to using pigeons to carry the mail. Pigeons were used to post letters between the North and South island before 1908. The stamps are very valuable now.

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In regard to the quality of life, Auckland currently ranks 5th among 218 major cities of the world.

I usually don’t write  about a half day tour of a city but I learned and retained more information with Wayne Thomas of Bush and Beach Tours http://www.bushandbeach.co.nz/, then any day tour I have ever been on. He has a way of passing on knowledge that is sometimes funny and sometimes personal  that makes you remember it.  This is a wonderful welcome tour of New Zealand. I highly recommend him.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Fake News

Fake News

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” Mitch Hedberg

Today President Trump closed his twitter account. The UN  divided up all the Syrian refugees  and every nation in the world took some in. Peace was declared in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Congo.  Other African countries are going to follow their example.  With a lot of effort on both parts, a peace agreement to the mutual satisfaction  of both sides, was finally reached between Israel and Palestine.  In a historic quick defeat resulting in no casualties, the Arab Nations banded together and defeated Isis. They are planning a joint effort against other terrorist groups as well. Boko Haram returned all the girls to Nigeria. They were unharmed and well taken care of. The Muslims Clerics issued a doctrine saying all girls must attend school. A mysterious virus is killing the opium and coca plants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Mexican cartels are looking into other businesses – perhaps building supplies. Scientists say that the hole in the ozone layer is noticeably smaller and that climate change is reversing due to the joint efforts of every country in the world.

The Republicans  have repealed and replaced Obama Care with a low-cost high level health care plan pleasing the medical profession, the patients and the insurance companies. Donald Trump has created so many new jobs that we need to take in more immigrants to fill them. Suicide and murder rates are the lowest they have ever been. America has been declared a smoke free country. A new drug has been approved that cures Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Autoimmune Diseases, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Racism. Pharmaceutical companies are working over time to cure-all other diseases as well. American billionaires have all banded together to eradicate homelessness and they are expecting everyone to have homes by 2025. The government has poured money into education and mental illness research and treatment. The police have issued a new  policy stating that if you get to your car while they are writing a parking ticket, they will rip it up. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in one hundred years.  Kindness is up fifty percent  and continues to soar.

If we are going to have fake news and alternative facts, let’s use it for good. Why not fake what we want the world to be like? Why not pretend to be the people that we didn’t think we could be?

Fly safe,

JAZ

“Everything We Need Is Free.” The Maori In New Zealand

“Everything We Need Is Free.” The Māori in New Zealand

I’ve always been fascinated by the Māori. They have cool tattoos and a great war dance and as indigenous people go, though their lives are harder, they have never been beaten by a European culture.

In Rotorua there are a variety of cultural shows and educational tours to learn about Māori life. Some are smaller and some have better food. They are touristy but you can still learn a lot. Te Po in Te Puia, Rotorua was one of the more touristy yet really enjoyable things I have ever done. We start in the gift shop (of course, I always start there anyway) where there is a nice choice of Māori everything.

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Greenstone is the Nephrite jade found in New Zealand and prized by the Maoris. It is sold all over New Zealand.  Māori tradition is never to keep the first piece of greenstone that you find and to give it to someone else. The objects made from pounami (greenstone) are passed down in Māori families not only linking them to their ancestors but to the maker and nature of the stone itself. In the Māori world, objects speak to their origins: whalebone to the whale, wood to the tree, pounamu to its source river and mountain.It is an acknowledgment of human impermanence, a truth expressed in a Māori proverb: People come and go, but the land endures.

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We walk to the marae (meeting hall).

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   The Māori guide picks his new best friend John (an American from Texas) to lead the cultural interaction. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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 John would have the honor to greet the warriors coming out of the marae and ask for permission to enter by putting down a branch. He  did a great job with his branch and we were promptly invited to proceed through the grounds and enter the marae. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Once seated, the cultural and musical entertainment program began. The Maori group performed some wonderful dances, rituals and songs. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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The haka is a Maori war dance. It is fierce and involves much chanting, stamping of hands and feet and some pretty scary looking faces doing the pukana (that wild eye thing they do). (photo by Cordula Reins)

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But while most people equate the haka with the start of a New Zealand rugby All Blacks match to try to scare the opposition, the haka is also done on occasions to honor great people. One of the most moving things you’ll see is a haka done at a wedding, funeral or when someone has achieved something great.

The only other place to see the haka (unless you know a Māori family) is at one of these shows.  It is the only time to have a chance to learn it. I’m obsessed with the haka, so I thought it was great that so many men ran to do it.  Seriously, how could you not?  (photo by Cordula Reins)

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At the beginning of the evening, everyone had  walked over to just outside the dining hall to take a look as the evening’s meal was being lifted out of the earth oven where it was being cooked in the steam. After the show, we went to the dining tables and learned about our table mates from all over the world while eating kumara and rewana bread. We walked to the geysers in this geothermal wonderland as the sun was setting.

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After a few minutes of drinking hot chocolate and taking photos in front of the bubbling pools and geysers, it was getting colder and we were happy to catch the little “train” back.

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Māori call themselves tangata whenua, people of the land.  Members of the various tribes distinguish themselves from other Māori by referring to the canoe that brought their ancestors to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and to special landmarks such as a river or a mountain.  In other words, they tie their collective and individual identities to ancestors and places. When they are formally introduced, they often will give not only their name, but also the names of their mountain, river and ancestors. (Lake Tarawera)

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Māori philosophy is that  all creatures are kin. All beings have life force (mauri), and all are sacred (tapu). People, birds, fish, trees and weather are all interconnected.

There is power in continually acknowledging ancestors. There is no alternative – to make sure there is success in fishing, long journeys, or handling life’s challenges, you have to trust your ancestors, who include the entire natural world.  Egotism is very difficult to keep up in an atmosphere of constant reminders of all who brought us here, those who make our lives possible today, and those who will follow after us. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Haere humarie,

JAZ

Politics At the Academy Awards In Los Angeles

Politics at the Academy Awards In Los Angeles

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” Winston S. Churchill

First part written on Saturday

I do usually cringe when celebrities use award shows to promote their political views. Trump is all Americans talk about these days anyway so I don’t think we will get though the Academy Awards without him. The Trump supporters will be disgusted by the out of touch Hollywood elitists who are trying to tell the normal people what to do. The liberals will say the overpaid celebrities are making it worse. The ceremony takes place in California and Hilary won easily here so we pretty much know how they feel. I think a few will be brilliant and most won’t. Something political will happen with best Foreign Film.  I liked Salesman the best  so I’m hoping for a win. It would be cool if Moonlight won.  Jimmy Kimmel is a given for political commentary, though he will probably tone it down for the event.  I hope it doesn’t turn into and the best anti Trump moment is. I think the speeches will be more about inclusion and diversity. Some of us are still PC.

To be continued tomorrow

Sunday

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. The show was a bit more stripped down and low-key than usual. It was going along smoothly and predictably. Everyone I wanted was winning. Jimmy Kimmel was the Greek chorus. A lot of it was expected  but he had a few really funny lines. In his praise of Meryl Streep for  her many overrated and underwhelming performances (Trump tweet), he asked if she was wearing an Ivanka? He told  all the people who worked for CNN and anyone with the word Times in their job – even Medieval to leave the room.

Viola’s speech was better than even I thought it would be. August Wilson would have been proud. Salesman won which it should have. The most powerful political statement of the evening  was read for the film’s director Asghar Farhadi who did not come in protest of the travel ban. All the “immigrants’ (I know because they said they were immigrants – I wasn’t judging)  expressed their disapproval and solidarity.

 Hollywood did what it does best at the Oscars. Hollywood celebrated its own with beautiful dresses, humor, reverence and appreciation. The attention was focused on the people in the room and the magic and healing of movies. Candy was flying everywhere. 

The reality is that I’ve always been a fan of the simple thank you at award shows. It was a simple thank you kind of night.

And then Oscar history was made. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced the wrong winner for best picture. I was worried when they came on. Warren always seems dazed to me and they are both way too vain to wear their glasses onstage. I was expecting some uncomfortable banter about that.  After La La Land’s producers made their thank you speeches, they were told it was a mistake and Moonlight had won. “This is not a joke.” and I quote.  Everyone was as dazed and confused as Warren (who apparently had been handed the wrong envelope).  It was a perfect Hollywood Ending with a twist.

Fly safe,

JAZ