H. Doug Matsuoka's notes in the margin of the Big Everything.

5.13.2013

deOccupy Honolulu as Salon des Refusés

I've written tons of stuff about deOccupy Honolulu in my last year and a half of documenting them and supporting their cause. In preparation for tonight's Open Community Forum on Thomas Square hosted by Mayor Caldwell and Academy of Arts director Stephan Jost, I thought that instead of repeating or summarizing myself, I'd use pix and vidz and take a new approach.

For the longest time (around 500 days) the encampment was directly across the Academy of Arts. Whenever the Academy would host an evening "Art After Dark," deOccupy Honolulu would host an "Off Art After Dark," with it's own art and entertainment. Much of the deOccupy Honolulu artwork found exhibition at "Off Art." Of course, Off Art wasn't as well funded as the Academy's event, but that was kinda the point. Bourgeois on one side of Beretania and Bohemian on the other. Honolulu's own Salon des Refusés.

Sometimes, I think the term "Free Speech" is something of a misnomer. The sign of any vigorous political movement is usually the creation of art. And there was a lot of that from the very beginning.

[Anonymous artist okay with ephemeral chalk art. Week 2 of encampment.]


Not all artist were anonymous (or Anonymous). Renowned California muralist Raul Gonzalez of Mictlan Murals came to Thomas Square to paint a mural of Kānāwai Māmalahoe, the Law of the Splintered Paddle that Kamehameha I declared as the first law of Hawaii. Enshrined in the State Constitution it protects the humble lying by the roadside from abuse by the powerful.



Ironically, the mural – slated to be the centerpiece for the scheduled May 1 celebration was targeted for seizure by the City the very next day. The creation and recovery of the mural is a story in itself and if anyone is interested there is a 30 minute documentary about this (compiled mostly from my livestream video) here.

5.07.2013

Mayor Caldwell brings Maginot and Disney together at Thomas Square (and the Masked Limericist responds!)

OK, I get it, really. People would much rather see pink hibiscus bushes in planters than protesters in tents. And I would much rather live in a prosperous and happy community than a poor and contentious one.

Where I disagree with Mayor Caldwell is that I think the way to build a prosperous and happy community is to help the community become prosperous and happy. I know, easy to say, hard to do. Mayor Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council take the easy (and I say low) road: make being poor a crime and just simulate the appearance of prosperity.

There's bound to be some glaring evidence of inauthenticity when you do things that way. When you go to Disneyland and see Mickey Mouse, you'll have to notice that his smile is permanently sculpted into his mug. He can't frown (and if he did he'd get fired).

The City used armed police to take the possessions of protesters and the homeless and kick them off the sidewalk. Then they put up 65 planters along the sidewalk. What you can't see in this video is the more recently constructed fence along the other side of the sidewalk allowing for what I would eyeball as the exact 36 inches required under ADA regulations. Of course, that means that when a wheelchair coming from the Ward end comes upon another coming from the Victoria side -- well, it's a Robin Hood meets Little John situation. Neither can pass or turn around. Nice job!



You can't just simulate the appearance of prosperity and happiness using a Disneyland Maginot Line of hibiscus planters.


Reaction to this has been swift. Larry Geller in an article in Disappeared News points out that the City "believes that by doing things to homeless people it is solving a problem, while so far avoiding doing anything for homeless people that would help solve their problem."

And the one I have dubbed "The Masked Limericist" dropped off another limerick around midnight last night:


And I'll have more to say in a day or two, for sure.

H. Doug Matsuoka
7 May 2013
Makiki, Honolulu