Fed Some Birds in Australia!

Well she was alone, so she didn’t care about his judging her for buying buttered popcorn from the vendor. She didn’t even think about what he’d say. She was on vacation, and she was going to buy herself some popcorn while he went to the museum. This was her time. She was alive and from a free country and she had time to herself and so what if she spent her time “wasting her time,” she thought, and who was he and what business was it of his anyway, what she did with her free time. He wanted to go to that naval museum and look at military boats or whatever it was in there; look at warship cannons and torpedos and all, which fine, they each decided to do what each wanted to do on their own today after that awful breakfast together, so whatever she did was just as important and meaningful as what he did, even if she decided she didn’t want to do anything. Yeah, even if she decided not to do anything. And right, till death do us part and all that but until then, you know, it was healthy to be apart, death or not, for a while, even for an afternoon, and so when she was apart from him if she wanted to buy and eat really expensive tourist-priced popcorn while in Sydney waiting for him to finish with his naval museum she would, dammit, and there wasn’t any reason to second guess herself or imagine what he’d think afterward when “all she did” was “sit there and eat expensive popcorn with fake butter” or whatever he’d probably think.

So she gave the popcorn vendor a twenty and he gave her back three two-dollar coins and scooped yellow popcorn into a square tub the size of a baby’s torso and asked if she wanted butter and she said yes please, thank you, smiling, and he pressed a button and a stream of dark, unbubbled yellow lasered down onto the tub of popcorn that he swirled in little circles beneath. She smiled and said Thank you and he said No worries! and she thought about her accent which wasn’t like the popcorn vendor’s because she wasn’t from Australia. She took a napkin and went to a bench and sitting down looked out at the harbor that was alive with sailing yachts and big industrial tugboats or whatever they were and over by the museum she hadn’t wanted to go into earlier there were old wooden ships that were probably a part of the museum, she thought. He’s probably learning about old boats like that in the museum and when he comes out he’ll tell me all about what he learned about those boats and say how much I missed not going into the museum. She ate popcorn and looked at all the people walking by who were all on vacation like her but not on vacation alone. Women pushed strollers carrying babies, and little kids held onto helium balloons and asked their parents questions while pointing at things they hadn’t ever seen before. Birds walked among the crowd looking for food, unafraid of the people above them.

She thought about how she had all this popcorn and how much a bird would like popcorn, and how good she’d feel giving some popcorn to one of the birds. A bird picked up a candy wrapper or something in its beak and then dropped it, and she thought it must be hungry, that decides it. She threw a piece of popcorn on the dock and hoped the bird would see it, and if not that bird, maybe another bird would see it. It saw it. The bird saw it and ate it and she thought how cute it was; just so cute how the bird didn’t know where the popcorn came from and frantically looked around for its source. She said hey buddy and threw some more popcorn, a few pieces. The bird saw her before she threw it and made eye contact and ate the popcorn from the ground in a few quick pecks and then made eye contact with her again and she said good huh? and the bird screamed at her and approached her with authority and screamed again and she said hoo boy and tossed another piece of popcorn onto the ground, just one kernel this time, and she said that’s enough now you’ll spoil your appetite and the bird looked at her and screamed at her again in bird.

She realized the bird was used to getting what it wants from tourists like her and regretted feeding the bird and thought about signs that said things like don’t feed the animals in zoos and how much sense those signs made. She said again that’s enough now but the bird pecked around her feet and she pressed her knees together and put one flip-flopped foot on top of the other and said geez and tossed a few pieces of popcorn down onto the ground but kind of away from her so the bird woudn’t be so close to her feet while it ate it, which worked. She thought the bird was pretty aggressive, thought that even though it wasn’t a seagull like back home it was she guessed a kind of Autralian seagull, like same size and a sea-bird too, which meant it must eat fish, not popcorn. She thought if everyone died in an apocalypse that this bird would know what to do for food assuming fish or sand crabs or whatever it could eat weren’t wiped out along with humanity and the bird screamed at her again and stepped up to her never breaking eye contact and it screamed at her again and touched the soft skin of the top of her foot with its beak and looked at her in the eye and screamed at her again in bird.

She threw a fistfull of popcorn as far away from herself as she could and the bird set in to eating it as fast as it could, which was blindingly fast, and she thought about how popcorn was something no bird would ever know if it wasn’t for people, and specifically people like her, who fed birds popcorn. A child toddled toward the bird and the bird turned and dropped a piece of popcorn from its mouth and screamed at the child and the child cried and ran away from the bird which would be the child’s first memory and the bird went back to eating the popcorn, and other birds flapped down from the sky and tried to eat the popcorn, and these birds all screamed at each other and paced around still flapping their wings, and they fought over the last bits of popcorn and she said uh oh, she really said uh oh, like that, and just when one of the birds snapped up the last piece of popcorn more birds swooped down from the sky even though there was no more popcorn to be found. But they all knew the popcorn came from her. They approached her without fear, screaming at her, all of them screaming at her, and she put her knees to her chest, burying the popcorn, protecting it as she would the soft, exposed face of a bjorned baby, and she reached into the buttery carton and flung a handful out into the air as a person would slap away a spiderweb they’d walked through and the birds, dozens of birds, screamed and flapped and jumped and devoured the popcorn before most of it had a chance to reach the ground, and several birds flapped up onto the bench next to her and behind her and now she screamed, she was screaming now, and the birds pecked at her bare arms and her ankles and screamed and she screamed and she heard people laughing and she reached into the carton and threw out another fistful of popcorn and another and another but each time the birds en masse flapped up and ate it before she could even throw it nearly and she was dead centered in a cacophony of screams including her own and she thought about him and how he was inside the museum away from all the birds of the world and how he wouldn’t feel a bit sorry for her and how she was all alone except for these birds screaming at her and these people laughing at her and the birds flapped and landed on her and dug their birdfeet into her clothing and skin and she shivered them off but fast as one was shooed off another took its place and she heard even more laughing than screaming now and she threw the popcorn into the air, the whole carton, just away from her, get it away from her, get it away, but so many birds blocked its trajectory and it exploded in a flapping, screaming cloud of feathers and popcorn and she curled up into a fetal position there on the bench while these weird foreign Southern Hemisphere seabirds walked and pecked all over her and screamed at each other forgetting her completely and they fought over the last of all the popcorn on and around her and the bench until they flew away, most of them, she still there curled up in horror, listening to tourists laughing and iPhones and DSLR cameras making their sounds at her, but she didn’t see any of the tourists, she covered her face with her hands, just covered her face with her hands.


The Resting Place

Amid the palm trees on the white sandy beaches of Beach Island Resort on Beach Island rest lounge chairs just like the ones you're imagining, shaded by witch-hat thatch-roofs stabbed umbrella-wise into the white sand. The lounge chairs point to blue water, the kind of turquiose blue water seen in postcards from places like Beach Island Resort. What it is, my vantage point I mean, is The Lagoon Bar, which is tables and chairs in sand, all beneath a thatch-roof, facing the blue-blue water, and between The Lagoon Bar and all this improbably blue salt water are the witch-hat-shaded lounge chairs and palm trees and beach and then the water, the water being say forty paces from The Lagoon Bar. Between any two palm trees there is always a hammock-for-two, the kind of hammock made of white-rope-webbing between two lengths of wood perpendicularly suspended from the trees. In The Lagoon Bar are wooden tables and wooden chairs, as well as a line of blue beanbag chairs. The beanbag chairs are fluffed up with a final twist by a Fijian man wearing a floral print shirt and a flower behind his left ear. Children run on the white sandy beach looking for and finding what they call hermit crabs, which they may be. The crabs, I mean. In the water mask-and-snorkeled snorkelers snorkel. Fluorescent fins. The Fijian man with the flower behind his ear tells a Kiwi that he played rugby as a youth. The Kiwi when asked says he is fifty-nine. The Fijian is fifty-two, he claims, unasked. Both laugh in strange wonder at this discovery. Both played rugby, in their youth, they soon discover. They have become too old to play now, they agree, and laugh. The Kiwi holds a paperback book, which he reads after the Fijian bows away from their discussion. A woman holding a saucer and cup of tea or coffee eases herself into one of the hammocks, resting in slack-faced horror after realizing her hammock-error too late. Hammock-error is sitting in a public hammock. Nothing to be done, she owns her action and follows through, feigning comfort, pushing feet into sand, ass wobbling backwards into the center of the web, this center pushing down to maybe five or six inches from the sand. Get Lucky by Daft Punk plays softly. In the hammock, this woman of indeterminate ethnicity, brown and slight of build, digs further into the hammock, lifting her bare legs into the hammock, and now pushes herself deeper in from the hammock itself; heel of left foot jutting her body into the center of the web, her only thought possible now is a realization that she has reached a point of no return, and maybe a sense of pride and relief in having managed to entangle herself into objectively-perceived hammock-comfort without spilling the hot contents of her cup onto self, hammock, or sand. Now what's key is remaining in the hammock, using body language to spin hammock-error into apparent hammock-comfort, in front of everyone in The Lagoon Bar and The Pacific Ocean. I'd say to maintain the ruse of hammock-comfort a mimimum of ten hammock-minutes are required. The hammock-minute is tricky; for those of us without the disposition hammocks require the hammock-minute may seem an eternity. This unease, coupled with a hot beverage, cannot be quantified. Aussie or Kiwi children chirp loudly at the sand, swatting at it with handheld flip flops; an aurally fortuitous development the woman in the hammock surely finds to be a major boon, their screams of delight diverting the audience's attention from her situation in the hammock. The children have dug a small sand-pit into which found “hermit crabs” are placed. The children refer to the pit as “the resting place.” The children indeed took my attention from the woman in the hammock long enough to miss the fact that she has doubled down by lighting a cigarette, a bold move in comfort-feigning. In each hand she holds at bay fiery or scalding peril, and the wind is strong enough to rock her back and forth. A man carrying saucer and cup of tea or coffee approaches; her companion of indeterminate ethnicity, brown and of slight build. She silently rests as he circles the hammock and sits down on it, in it, becoming as she has, of it. He too, can only be thinking of his error, as he too holds a hot beverage, squirming back toward the middle of the hammock seemingly to be nearer to his companion, which in a hammock has far more to do with physics than desire. They speak. Broadly they can only be talking about one thing: the terrific error of the hammock situation they've gotten themselves into. Specifically, the man can only–behind a false smile of ease–be softly asking his companion why in fuck she didn't warn him not to get into that hammock; but of course he too is publicly of the hammock now and along with his companion must also own it, the situation, and keep up the ruse of hammock-comfort in front of all onlookers. They share the cigarette, and each, after passing the cigarette to their companion, quickly palm the hammock with a freed hand in an instinctual act of stabilization. The children scream, peering into The Resting Place, nudging hermit crabs on the unseen bottom with flipflops. An Australian or Kiwi woman announces to an Australian or Kiwi man that she is going to get the camera to take a “fido” which is Kiwi or Australian for “photo,” as well as a common dog-name. The couple in the hammock are no longer smoking the cigarette. The held cigarette butt, the extinguishing of which I missed, opens a window of opportunity to legitimately de-hammock without losing face, by seeking a trash can or ashtray. The woman realizes this, the opportunity, and takes it, leaving her companion swinging alone with his dawning realization that he must remain prone and behammocked, else-wise lose face and gain a reputation as a kind of hammock-pussy, unable to hack the self-effacing relaxation hammocks require a person to give in to and publicly display. This will not happen, he decides, he will not become a behammocked caricature of himself. The children play Marco Polo in the sand, a few yards away from The Resting Place. The man in the hammock, still holding his hot beverage, makes like all is extremely well indeed thank you very much, and still holding cup and saucer elbows his way deeper into the hammock; bony joints protruding through the stretching web toward the sand, which is at times inches from his struggling, suspended body. Pivoting left, cup clinking on saucer, he throws a leg up onto the hammock, into the hammock, and the other leg dangles as he attempts the augmentation of his relaxation-ruse. From The Lagoon Bar speakers, a Coldplay song presses itself into the air like hotdog factory meat in zero gravity. The children laugh and scream and shriek “Polo,” one girl hand over eyes, at times dangerously and blindly close to The Resting Place, amid the other children, screaming “Marco.” I've never given much thought to the fact that there's really no requisite reason to play Marco Polo only in a liquid, chest-deep environment. The Man in the Hammock has managed to swing both legs into the hammock, and is lighting another cigarette; cup and saucer blocking the wind from his cigarette lighter. Cigarette in mouth the man pockets the lighter and heroically feigns hammock-comfort, which beginning from now, now that he's stretched himself out and lit that cigarette, will require a ten-hammock-minute follow through minimum, especially given the fact that he and his companion have both visually asserted their extreme comfort and ease with hammocks in general and this hammock in particular. A Fijian woman rakes the sand beneath and around the tables and chairs Zen-rock-garden-smooth in The Lagoon Bar. The Man in the Hammock smokes his cigarette and drinks his hot beverage in defiance of all reason; the wind is strong enough to rock him from side to side in his assumed comfort, elbow oscillating up and down to maintain parallel synchronicity between beverage and earth surfaces. Young people of both sexes walk past him, wearing swim suits and wicker fedoras, holding long, deep-blue beach towels. The Man in the Hammock can only be thinking of his situation in the hammock. He is thinking about hammocks and how much he resents them, and realizes that he has unwittingly initiated himself into the hammock-savvy contingent of humanity, that this is his rite of passage, and inwardly cringing, knows he has hunted for, found, and is sitting in the snipe of furniture, and wonders who around him in this savage brotherhood of scorn are inwardly, knowingly laughing at his mock-comfort and ease. He fools none of the previously-hammocked, he knows. He resents his now-absent companion for not warning him; for allowing him to take his place by her in the hammock at all, for requiring of him the company miserable companions love. The man in the hammock, lying prone lengthwise, pities himself and fumes inwardly. The wind increases and rocks him back and forth in externally-perceived comfort, heightening both his self-awareness and resolve to keep the hammock-lie alive. The hammock will not be his undoing; a bilious resolve spurs him on. He will go out fighting, hammock be damned. If this sip of coffee or tea spills and burns his face he will not grimace in pain, let alone scream in discomfort. He curses himself for not realizing that the hammock can only bring disgrace on a person, but like a frostbitten traveler gaining his second wind, surrounded by a shoreless sea of icy tundra, he chooses life and presses on; the hammock will win neither battle nor war. He still resents his companion who allowed this to happen to him, but he knows he would have and should have foreseen his undoing if he'd just thought about the physics of hammocks for a second or two before diving in. The Man in the Hammock accepts that he, if he is honest with himself, is the only one to blame. But was there a signal in his companion's expression before he hastily lowered himself to this state? Is she truly so unfamiliar to him that he is unable to detect in her the level of discomfort that only a public hammock can bring? What else is he unable to see in her, what other horrors is she hiding from him? What other paths to despair is she allowing him to walk along? Or is she hiding nothing after all? Maybe it's he who is unable to read the obvious in her face. There must have been a momentary wince in her, some sign of discomfort, even for a split second, as he blindly walked into the hammock's maw. The hammock awakens in him a grim understanding that he is certain of nothing, and realizes it's not only hammock-communication, but a whole host of misunderstood signals from his companion that he is unable to interpret. His lack of understanding, he furthermore realizes, isn't limited to signals from his companion, but in fact extends to everyone else in the world as well. The hammock is currently the joke he remains the butt of for every passing moment he remains there, but with that realization comes this crisis of identity on a universal level. The hammock-savvy know this but he will show them he's the stronger. After a length of time it will be unclear even to the hammock-savvy if he is feigning relaxation or not. He will remain in the hammock for hours if need be. If there is a god, he too will be fooled into believing The Man in the Hammock is at ease. The Man in the Hammock will feign fitful sleep as well as simple relaxation. The hammock-savvy will find him an anomaly; someone who in fact does find hammocks relaxing, recharging, and it's the hammock-savvy who will second-guess themselves; including his wayward companion. She too will wonder at his stamina after a time, after say maybe two or three hours of his staying in the hammock. He will calmly finish his tea, and deftly use the natural swing of the hammock to idly and neatly place his cup and saucer onto the sand beneath him, in screamingly evident defiance of an opportunity of hammock-escape that comes only with windows opened by things like the emptied teacup. It can't be more than a few hours until lunch is served, and he resolves that he will remain in the hammock until then, feigning sleep, or even better, achieving sleep, and his companion will need to rouse him in order to tell him lunch is being served. He will need to be cajoled from the hammock and his extreme and obviously-for-real relaxation; he will receive silent, invisible nods from the hammock-savvy, who will see in him one of two things: 1) A man capable of heroic comfort-feigning well beyond the reaches of their limited imaginations up to this point, or 2) even more amazingly, they will find him to be in fact a man for whom hammocks give comfort, someone who when seeing a hammock, probably says, “oooooh a hammock!” in earnest. Either way, his companion and anyone else on the island, to say nothing of the hammock itself, won't have a goddam thing to say about his folly in hopping headlong into the hammock. His companion will be the one to question herself re: her ability to perceive and understand him; it is she and they and IT who will second-guess their own notions, not the other way around. An often played song by the abysmal The Counting Crows plays from The Lagoon Bar's speakers, it's the song that has the emphatically sung lyric “it's very very late,” and the children kick sand into The Resting Place, filling it up and patting it disappeared on this beach on an island in The Pacific Ocean, and as near as The Man in the Hammock can tell none of this registers to any of the revelers here as anything other than reality as it utterly is and should be. Or, The Man in the Hammock might not notice any of it, The Resting Place, The Counting Crows, the outrageous finality and temerity of it all, of all of it. The Man in the Hammock might not see beyond his hammock; the universe may be an abstraction; existence itself just something to hopefully fool into believing he is at ease. Perhaps he only wonders if anyone sees him in the hammock, if they judge him or not. He likely wonders over the definitions of “victory” and “defeat,” and if after stepping into the role of The Man In The Hammock, victorious or otherwise, if he is human at all anymore. The Counting Crows continue to beat the shit out of every dead horse they can find in public without noticeable reaction from anyone, –or is there, a reaction I mean; The Counting Crows a horrible hammock of sound that humanity as a whole claims to enjoy, forgetting it's a lie, fooling only ourselves, or no one at all; one or the other. No grey area. Mr. Jones and me etc etc etc etc. I'm on an island in The Pacific Ocean in a chair surrounded by The Counting Crows and everything that that means and implies. The Man in the Hammock remains The Man in the Hammock. Hammocks are everywhere, here. Each step a hammock-choice. As is the case everywhere, really.


Schweppes Indian Tonic Water Contains Quinine

Back in Savusavu. Aussies or Kiwis peer with flashlights through slits of the dock behind their boat. Aussies or Kiwis with torches, I mean. An engine belt of some kind screams from under the hood of a taxi in the street. A live band plays across the street in a restaurant/bar named Dinner's Paradise, which is grand re-opening, and is having an $8 FJD buffet. So like $4 something US. Here among the pic-a-nic tables an Aussie or Kiwi child runs around and blows a party horn three times over say five minutes; considerable restraint for a boy of maybe eight, I find. He is unattended and has license to blow the party horn all he wants. The Kiwi or Aussies horribly mispronounce their words loudly in what are known as Kiwi or Aussie accents. Native English speakers are very conservative with vowel sounds in the Southern Hemisphere. They only use three, and those three they try to pronounce the same way, often combining them. The engine belt still screams. I sit at a pic-a-nic table that's been painted white, and am drinking a Schweppes Indian Tonic Water. It's seven pm but the sun sets here at five-thirty or so, and it's night by 6. I kayaked here from the boat. Moonless, just now. Ten minutes maybe. To get the laundry. It won't be ready till Monday morning, I'm now told. It's saturday here now. I said that will be fine. That I will be here Monday morning. “Here” is a yacht club called Copra Shed Marina. A Kiwi or Aussie boy wearing an LED headlight throws bread from the dock behind his parents' boat, and the boats of others. Another Kiwi or Aussie girl does the same thing. They all could be Kiwis or Aussies. I cant discern. The boy lays on his stomach, head over the dock, peering into the water, where he has thrown soft bread. He looks for fish. A bearded man carries a dozen eggs by me to the other side of a building. There is nothing on the other side, I have been there. When I say nothing I mean a plastic chair, and old outboard motors, and little else. The engine belt screams. A table of young adults talk and laugh at another pic-a-nic table. At least one of the group is Fijian, and is teaching the young white people Fijian words. The Aussies or Kiwis now know how to say vagina in Fijian, perhaps, but I definitely now know vagina in Aussie (or Kiwi) ends with an R. Aussie and Kiwis really do say G'day, mate. The boy on the dock looks at his hand that he dipped in the water, illuminated by his LED headlight. The band at Dinners Paradise has stopped playing their instruments. An Aussie or Kiwi girl excitedly tells the boy that she sees the big fish. While paddling the kayak over here from the boat I saw a meteor and audibly said “oh my god, wow,” to myself. It was like a roman candle. From down here. The Eagles' Hotel California plays on the Dinners Paradise house speakers. The children have called for and brought their mother from their boat to see the big fish, all with headlights. They point and whisper. At Dinners Paradise the band begins playing again. Rubbery covers of I don't know what songs, like a weirdly familiar person whose bones have turned to suet, skin to unscented wax. The Dinners Paradise clientele cry “yeahhhh!” and clap along with the beat. There is not enough light pollution to obscure a view of the Milky Way. The band at Dinners Paradise are playing a blues song now, harmonica and all. The harmonica sounds like a dizzy harmonica. Heard and understood lyrics: “come back baby,” “_____ git you girl,” etc. The keyboardist plays a solo mainly in the upper register banging a few of the same keys over and over, like in blues songs. This excites the crowd. Someone whistles loudly. Earlier today while dropping off the boat's laundry a Fijian-Indian man told me about a club, and offered to take me there and buy me a drink, maybe lunch. No no no, thank you. But it is a very nice club. No, thank you. Etc. The band at Dinners Paradise plays a reggae song now. Now another blues song. “Baby” is a prominent word, and the singer doesn't want to make Baby lonely, like in blues songs. The singer has Baby's number. Baby has the singer's number too. Baby keep callin on him with that number. The children still look for fish, and have run out of soft bread to offer. Now happy birthday is being played for the benefit of a Brian. The band, perhaps Fijians in general, say “have a long life to you,” as well as “happy birthday to you.” I haven't heard the taxi with the screaming fan belt in some time. Earlier today a shirtless American named Bill told me he was going to take a shower, and where prostitutes could be found. A mermaid with large naked breasts was tattooed on his left bicep. He said he used to have a very nice house somewhere on the east coast of the USA, but now his ex wife has a very nice house somewhere on the east coast of the USA. This was not the first time he said that, I felt. He knew where the house is, but I've forgotten. I said I heard that yeah there are a lot of Chinese prostitutes here. He said yeah whatever you want you can get, that rates vary according to quality if ha ha ha I know what he means. I smiled and nodded. Now the children have a white bucket. Maybe they are trying to hand-fish. A dinghy was spotted drifting far from any boats, earlier today, by a Fijian man named Steve. I kayaked to it, hoping not to find a corpse in it. Hotel California is playing on the house speakers over at Dinners Paradise again. The dinghy was caught in some reef, luckily, and I tied its bow line to the kayak and paddled back. An American wearing a shirt named Bill, not the same Bill who knows about prostitutes, said wooooo Scott! as I returned, dinghy in tow. He would have to buy me a coke, next time, he said. I said yeah okay, and that I was glad there wasn't a corpse in his dinghy. Clark told him I don't drink, he said, and repeated his offer to buy me a coke. I said yeah, okay, cool, etc. He pressed the issue and asked if I did AA, I said no, and asked if he did, he said no, but his wife was into it, and that he goes sometimes, and I said yeah whatever works, but not for me. I truly never know what the date is, or the day of the week, now. A rugby game is on TV in the bar behind me. The Aussies and Kiwis are viscerally affected by the rugby game, wincing and saying oooo, like all are gut punched at once. White men visiting Fiji really do wear floral print shirts. I just realized that there is a mast cabled to the ground, right next to my table here in the courtyard. It's huge of course, very tall. The children have finished looking for fish in the water. I imagine they are in their boat. The band at Dinners Paradise have begun La Bamba. It is the most recognizable song of the evening so far, and the crowd is going wild. The voice of A Kiwi or Aussie sportscaster grinds out of the TV in the bar. The lights in the courtyard here have been turned off.

Taxi Ride To Another Part of Another, Smaller, Island

We've sailed to another Fijian island, a smaller one, but without a map you'd never know that. From a taxi many things were seen, among which were palm trees like these pictured above, and palm trees of course bring to mind The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and I'm reminded of his spirit, which like a trampled blade of grass always rose again regardless of circumstance–oftentimes with a quivering lip in the face of Uncle Phil's chastisements and harsh reprimands, but never bitter, always better, for it. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air understood early on that life was a school of hard knocks, and he became head of the class in that school with his trademark quick wit, facial expressions of incredulity, and verbal japes–sometimes reluctantly, sometimes close to despair–but as we watched The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mature with each season we saw a boy become a man, as he grew to understand that his Uncle Phil was an embodiment of order; a great big mountain of control –with just as much spirit and thirst for life as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself but, contained. Under wraps. Not quashed, not at all, held in check merely, and Uncle Phil's stunning mansion complete with black manservant and family in Bel-Air were the undeniable fruits of this labor of love and restraint, rewards that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air saw first hand as possibilities he too may one day achieve as well, he realized, if he could approach life the way Uncle Phil did, without losing himself and everything that made him so fresh in the process. In one particularly memorable episode, I mean the one that I remember, these two different approaches to life that Uncle Phil and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air respectively brought to bear when interacting to the world were shown to great effect when Carlton and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air both applied to Uncle Phil's alma mater, a very prestigious university, as I recall. Carlton was well established as a hard working student, and though I don't remember any scenes from his bedroom, I can almost see the wall of scholastic prizes, ribbons of extracurricular accomplishment, trophies from chess tournaments, etc.–I imagine Carlton's room to be one of order and achievement, of promise, above all. Like Michael J. Fox's Alex P. Keaton of Family Ties, who had a poster of Richard Nixon on his bedroom wall–though Carlton was largely apolitical, Carlton and Alex were both old souls, conservatively steadfast in their resolve to achieve, well before most teenagers have finished piecing together their identities. Quite the contrast to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a deft move on the writers' part. So when Carlton, the imagined shoe-in for acceptance into Uncle Phil's alma mater was upstaged by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when the admissions recruiter visited the boys' prep school in Bel-Air, you can imagine my surprise, and that of the studio audience, and that of the musical score, when it was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rather than Carlton who got accepted. Here's what happened: Only Carlton was going to be interviewed first, I believe, but as a lark, in typical The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air style, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air decided to be interviewed too. Both boys were wearing their high school dinner jackets with the school seal on the breast, but unlike Carlton, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, on one of his whims, turned his jacket inside-out, revealing a wacky dinner jacket lining, a kind of taffeta material, purple, with yellow paisley design. I'm not certain but I'd be surprised if sunglasses and a sideways baseball hat weren't involved as well. The initial incredulity of the recruiter, taken aback as he was by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's zany caprice was quickly supplanted by an impossible to defy admiration for the lad's undeniably fresh antics and contagious joie de vivre, and as no one would have predicted, what began as a bit of fun ended up as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's acceptance to Uncle Phil's Alma Mater. Carlton, in just as surprising a turn of events, was not accepted. Up was down and down was up in Bel-Air. On their return to Uncle Phil's mansion, so overtaken with joy was Uncle Phil with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's acceptance into his alma mater, that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air saw an opportunity, and asked Uncle Phil if he could borrow the car for a night on the town. “Sure,” Uncle Phil unblinkingly responded. Overwhelmed with the ease of the transaction, far from commonplace, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air made light of the situation by joking, saying, “I didn't mean your normal car, Uncle Phil, I meant the Jag,” displaying his characteristically light-hearted ribbing of Uncle Phil. To the audience's surprise though, so overjoyed with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's success was Uncle Phil that he again said, “Sure,” with the same prideful gaze, at his awestruck nephew. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air enjoyed a night driving Uncle Phil's Jag, we imagined, and I don't know what Carlton did, but it's likely he was massaging his temples in that pristine bedroom, brows knitted, staring at the unsullied carpet that was surely beneath bis feet, plotting his next move. The following day, Carlton gave up trying to impress the recruiter with his very real scholastic accomplishments, and as his cousin The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did, Carlton turned his prep school dinner jacket inside-out, wore sunglasses indoors, wore a baseball hat in a unique manner, attempted to make light of the interview and life in general, but if anything, copping The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's devil-may-care approach to an important interview made him even less a worthy addition to his father's alma mater. The recruiter, in shocked disbelief, as I remember, dismissed Carlton from the office, and Carlton was reduced to returning, begging, baseball hat in hand, and in the end, both boys were accepted to Uncle Phil's alma mater. I don't know what the lesson was, that's where it all falls apart for me.

My thanks to Margo for helping me remember by telling me that both The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and his cousin Carlton were accepted to Uncle Phil's alma mater; an important detail, though a mixed message, clearly.

I am in Fiji, home of the most emotionally aggressive public phones on Earth

So what's to be trifled with? I don't know, it's always what's not to be trifled with that's the concern, but so, topping my list of inanimate things one would be foolish to mentally trifle with is the Fijian phone booth, doubtlessly the most psychologically forbidding phone booth I've double-taken in…so far.


Based on the sails and mast of the Drua, a South Pacific war canoe which was once launched by being rolled over the bodies of ten or more men who had been slain first on deck to coat the vessel in human blood. To make it more seaworthy, you see. A sort of human coin in a fountain, …pulling out an eyelash for luck, etc. Do people do that? Thinking about someone pulling out an eyelash, or imagining someone noticing an eyelash that's fallen out of someone else's eyelid, saying, “oooh wait!” and delicately picking it up with gap-mouthed whimsy before blowing it away after making a wish, or for luck, is making me actively disgusted with humanity. The Drua launching thing, I'm not one to judge. That was in the past.

But I have no doubt the end of eyelash blowing is nowhere in sight.

But today, in a cab, witnessing the unflinching, heavy-lidded boredom of our Indian taxi driver whose side mirror may have knocked a pedestrian's hand off as he sped down the road, was the understatedly dull, flesh-and-bone-thudding highlight of an otherwise unbloody day. Externally unbloody, at any rate.

But the other day, which was Saturday I think, yes, the second day after our arrival in Suva, Fiji, –the other day brought with it a highlight to no less than three people in the catamaran moored next to the Champagne; three people who had never before seen a Magic Bullet blender and drink mixer, pictured here. I say no less than three because a fourth initiate to the Magic Bullet is out of frame. So four. Magic Bullet initiates are not required to participate in any bloodletting or otherwise violent rites of passage; rest assured that Clark's evenhanded enthusiasm for the Magic Bullet was all it took to properly enrapture his audience. Whether an expatriated English captain, seen here regarding the Magic Bullet, or a Fijian member of his crew, I can assure you that all parties concerned aboard the Dragonfly that evening were equally impressed with the Magic Bullet.


If you’re a jack-o-lantern guy, sailing might not be for you

A lot of time, not a lot of pumpkins. Definite bring your own pumpkin situation. Conspicuously absent from all blue water sailing guidebooks. I’m guessing–haven’t read any. I’d be surprised if “pumpkin” or “jack-o-lantern” either one are in blue water sailing book indexes. Pleasantly surprised, obviously, but, pretty sure nothing surprising’s happening in indexes re: jack-o-lanterns or pumpkins. Not in my lifetime. And to be fair it’s not just sailing guides; they’re just on my mind, since I’m sailing now.


Saturday, May 18th, 2011

WHALE DAY…yes at a bit after 8 am an enormous whale surfaced a boat length away off to port….sort of a dirty gray and exciting and frightening at the same time. It disappeared briefly and then resurfaced double the distance away but still very close and this time you could make out its longer than Champagne length. We all saw it and will relish this memory.
Earlier Scott and I saw a foot look fish jump out of the water about the same distance and direction as the whale…..looked like a tuna perfect to fill a frying pan if we had had a 20 foot net to snag it

As of 1040 am today we have covered 517 kms with 627 to go an average of about 130 kms per 24 hour days. Current location; S 27 degrees 07 min , E 177 degrees, 47 min bearing 015 going 6.7 kts with 15 to 20 kts of wind on a port tack out of the west.

Brilliant work from my crew…Karl and Heather during their 4 to 8 am shift set the full 110 jib to be mostly reefed [rolled up] and with the single reefed main and staysail we are driving like a race horse through some sloppy seas at great speed and a lovely sunny sky and Karl’s delicious banana rolled up in pancakes treat for breakfast we are all smiling….even if the two of them are now sleeping.

-Captain Clark

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