Monday, September 29, 2008

Maybe the X-Rated Files?

"So, what're you doing after we finish filming today?"

( -d k sh n)
1. A physical or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, such as a drug or alcohol. In physical addiction, the body adapts to the substance being used and gradually requires increased amounts to reproduce the effects originally produced by smaller doses. See more at

So, actor David Duchovny is a sex addict. That was something I’d always wanted to know about, because I really, really cared. God, the tragedies in some people’s lives, eh. While there are some concerned about ill-health, poverty, war, pestilence, where the hell the kids are at this godawful hour, Mr. Duchovny is distressed about his rampant horniness.

Is his sex addiction and his announcement thereof that he is going into rehab for it merely a matter of TMI compounded by bad taste, or is it something we should really be concerned about at, oh, I don’t know, a societal level?

What is the role of his wife, the beauteous Tea Leoni in all of this? I mean, if I was going around making public declaratrions that I was a rampant stag and it was really getting me down and I wanted all the world to know about it, I think my spouse might have some thoughts on the matter, including ones that contained the message: “Will you shut the fuck up!”

Anyway, here is one definition of this grievous affliction of sex addiction

Often likened to alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling, sex addiction is a form of compulsive behavior which is sending growing numbers of people into therapy but which is not formally recognized as a "diagnosable disorder" by the American Psychiatric Association.

According to this movement, a sex addict is typically someone who is frequently fantasizing or doing sexual things, even despite a dislike for such. This person’s sexual behaviors are considered out of control ... . for example, masturbating more than once a day. A sex addict is also one whose sexual behaviors fail to mirror his or her highest possible self.

So, the APA doesn’t recognize the affliction as actually being an affliction. As an addictions counsellor, I tend to agree with that august body. I know tthere is a Sex Addicts Anonymous body – “I admitted I was powerless over compulsive screwing and that my life had become unmanageable,” – but anybody can start a 12-step group about anything, should they so choose. Pathological Peanut Munchers Anonymous, anyone?

My thoughts on the matter are, if Mr. Duchovny’s obsessions and behavior are putting a strain on the marriage, then maybe that’s something that he and the missus should work out between them, along with some marriage counseling. If his sexual obsessions are leading to promiscuity and infidelity, then he and the missus ‘really’ have some things to work out between them. If his compulsions are leading him to court the services of professional sex providers, then he and Officer O’Toole of the Vice Squad might end up having something to work out between them.

My point in all of this is that it tends to trivialize the agonies undergone by those who suffer from what I regard as ‘real’ addictions, such as alcohol and drugs. You see, that shit can kill you, and will unless the addictions can be arrested. They are what genuine rehab and recovery programs are all about. I have seen people go to prisons, hospitals, die prematurely or utterly ruin their lives and the lives of family members due to their genuine addictions. Saddest are those who seem unable to get to the stage of grasping the steps they must take to be liberated from their misery. And there are many of those and it’s a sickening spectacle.

Some overprivileged actor sort who cannot keep his pecker in his pants just doesn’t cut it with me as an object of sympathy or even vague concern.

What is sex addiction? We all, men and women, have libidos that vary in intensity and due to the circumstances we’re in at any time. Sometimes it depends on the mood we’re in, the stsate of our general health, and the person we’re with. Some people, let’s face it, get them old pheromones soaring. We can feel rampant or neutral. And some people, perhaps like Mr. Duchovny, have libidos that are very demanding. This is the Errol Flynn or Bill Clinton Syndrome, I believe.

I just cannot bring myself to accept that the addiction of a horny guy (or girl) falls into the same category as that of a junkie or alcoholic. I do not believe that a withdrawing sex addict lies on his or her lonely cot sweating buckets, puking, shaking, suffering agonizing nightmares, screaming out or going through the horrors of the DTs. I have never heard of a sex addict ending up in hospital, a psychiatric ward, jail (well, except maybe Hugh Grant), or dying prematurely and in excruciating pain. You don’t find a lot of sex addicts living under viaducts drinking from a brown paper bag, or squatting in crack hosues in fecal flith and agony. Addicts undergoing withdrawal from drugs and booze can and do die. I’ve known some. I suspect the most horrible manifestation a withdrawing sex addict might have to undergo is a bit of crankiness.

It just doesn’t work for me. And, I really, really, really like sex, by the way. So, good luck to Mr. Duchovny and may his pain not be too great.

Oh, and I was never a really big fan of the X-Files, either.



Friday, September 26, 2008

Time for a brand new approach -- cut your arm off instead

At least a few times every year in recent years they come out for a good cause. Mayors, councillors, business notables and so forth – folk noted for a certain amount of community dignity. Then local hairdressing firms go to work on them, and some lowly cub reporter is expedited to take the mandatory photos.

I really do wish people would stop getting their heads shaved for cancer campaigns. I also wish small-town papers would cease running photos of them getting shorn, with the idea that those pictured, always grinning goofily, are making some sort of noble sacrifice.

The idea is that they are (I guess) showing some sort of solidarity with patients undergoing the rigors of chemotherapy – a process that often results in a temporary loss of hair. In the first place, you hardly ever see people getting chemo with big grins on their faces. Secondly, the fundraiser participants really are making no sacrifice at all, other than a slight compromise of vanity. So, you’ll look like a dope dealer or Elmer Fudd for a couple of weeks. So what?

The point is, aside from the fact it’s silly, is that cancer head-shaving is ‘old’. It has been done so many times that any impact it might once have had (and that’s dubious) has long since been lost. Hey, you want to make a gesture of impact, then why not lop off a limb in order to show solidarity with amputees? Or, consume a vast array of psychoactive drugs so that you can get an idea of what mental illness is about. You know, make a real sacrifice.

As it stands, the head-shaving thing today is about on a par with high school kids skipping lunch just to show their solidarity with Darfur famine victims.

Am I suggesting you should not, or I will not support certain charities (such as my particular favorite, the annual Hire the Morally Handicapped blitz) just because their fundraising campaigns are dumb, tired, clichéd or irritating? Of course not. All of the outfits you and I subscribe to and/or support are always desperately in need of support. I mean, I might say about certain cancer fundraisers, how come, considering the jillions of dollars of public support that have gone your way, how come there ain’t no cure yet? Huh? Well, hopefully there will be some day. Meanwhile, I keep on supporting. I support their campaigns even if I decry the way they go about it.

Those of you involved in charity fundraising or on the boards of non-profits know that raising needed bucks constitutes a tiresome, and sometimes even demeaning chore when you have to go door-to-door with cap in hand. You’re not even giving them Girl Scout cookies in return for their contributions.

Once, when I was still reporting, I went to a presentation by a woman who was an extremely successful fundraiser in a large Canadian city. Her primary point was that most charity drives think too small. What you have to do is offer major prizes as in incentive. Screw rinky-dink stuff like bake-sales, car-washes, or prizes worth a few bucks. Think biiiiiiiiiig and charge a whack for entry. Don’t just offer Hondas or Fords as car prizes, for example, offer Ferraris or Bentleys, and charge a lot for entry. People will pony up the cash. She knew. Her campaigns had worked.

A successful endeavor in recent years in raising hospital funds, for example, has been the house prize. Not just a cinderblock bungalow, but something manorial, and ask at least $100 per ticket. The cost of the house is minuscule compared with the bucks gleaned from those prepared to take the gamble – and there are lots who are.

You not only part with a mere C-note on the offchance of winning, you get to keep your hair and dignity.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Much ado about deli

Some people just don’t ‘get’ gallows humor. Not only do they not get it and are resolutely offended by it, they fail to understand the motivation behind a wisecrack as applied to a tragedy.

In other words, they shun God’s greatest survival gift to folks – an ability to laugh in the face of adversity. No other animals can do that. The ability to give the finger to the forces of evil and horror keeps us from going mad, in my esteem.

Currently there are masses of ‘sensitive’ lynch-mobs calling for the demise of Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for uttering what I thought was one of the best bits of gallows humor to come along in quite a while. Indeed, for a political party, the Conservative Party, which is noted for its humorlessness, to make an utterance like that gives me some hope for the future of a society that is fraught with tight-lips and sphincters these days.

Ritz’s gaffe was in reference to the recently tragic ‘listeriosis’ deaths of a number of Canadians who had partaken in a particular brand of deli meats. A horrible situation, and an inexcuasable one in the sense that it was preventable via proper controls and inspections.

Ritz, however, had the cheek to refer to it as “death by a thousand cold cuts.” The results of his so-called gaffe were predictable, and politicized all to hell. Interestingly, the people to rise to his defence have been journalists and columnists. That is because ink-stained wretches are wont to keep their sanity via black humor.

Do I think there is anything inherently funny about somebody dying from eating tainted meat? Of course not. It's horrible, and it was inexcusable at many levels. At the same time, it happened and steps must be taken to see that it doesn't happen again. Ritz's comment had nothing to do with disrespecting those who died. It was instead an attempt to defuse the passions around it so that sensible solutions might be found. Wailing, hand-wringing and rending of garments never succeeds in getting things done. Histrionics don't get the story written, but a wisecrack just might help. As I suggested, I see this as a kind of divine providence in enabling us to move on.

It makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for politicians (and I’m not suggesting I support Ritz or his party politically, for I never declare myself in terms of my own politics. That’s another hangover from my newspaper days) to wisecrack over a tragedy, but it’s not the end of the world, either. If you think of the awfulness that politicians of all callings get up to, then the Ritz crack is really small spuds, just a little slice of pastrami.

So, journalists speak darkly and profanely on a regular basis. That is because they deal with a great deal more tragedy and wretchedness on a daily basis than does the average person. Most journalists are more sensitive than a layperson might suspect, and we are as capable of being sickened by fatal fires, traffic accidents, murders and other bits of horror as anybody else. Yet, we still have to keep our wits, ask invasive questions of survivors, and write stories that are as accurate as possible. To combat the trauma scribes either take to the booze and nervous breakdowns, or they crack wise and inappropriately amongst themselves.

Other professional callings that deal with the icky and tragic sides of life do likewise. Indeed, journalists must definitely take a secondary place when hearing the ripostes of cops, for example, or firefighters who refer to victims of conflagrations as “crispy critters.”

The black references used by doctors and nurses would horrify the average patient and leave him or her wondering whether they should trust their health to such crass boors. Yes, we should. It is the boorishness that enables them to carry on and deal with death and suffering every day of their working lives.

Even schoolteachers, it must be realized, don’t refer to little Jason and Chantal in the terms they write on report cards when they are sitting in a staff room. If a teacher suggested that she really regards Jason as a “rotten little shit,” on that report card, then you would call for her head, much as people are calling for Gerry Ritz’s head.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Polynesian pastiche of sorts

Highly popular Poipu Beach not looking very popular that day

Old Koloa Town, a mecca of funk and the only remaining sugar town on Kauai

Surf's up!

There's a reason why Wailua-Kapaa is called the Coconut Coast

Now, for fear of becoming those tiresome friends or relatives who evoke cries of: "If they're going to show their %**&$#@ vacation slides again, I'm staying home!" I will make this my leave-taking of our recent trip to Kauai. I think you have the idea I enjoyed myself. So, it behooves me now to say "aloha" and "mahalo" to the subject and to move one with life. Sigh.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

How I came to loathe flying

Had I vast amounts of money and time I would take a ship to Hawaii the next time I go. How blissed I would be watching the flying fish and porpoises at play whilst sipping a libation on the afterdeck, with my only decisions of that moment being should I go for a swim in the pool or take a nap in my well-appointed stateroom.

I recall when I was quite young driving along the San Francisco docks with my parents and seeing the big white Matson Line ships. I asked my father where those ships went. He thought, Hawaii. I fell in love even then with the idea of going to Hawaii on a Matson liner.

Matson was the primary mode of transport from the west coast to the islands, and they opened up the concept of a Hawaiian vacation to the well-heeled. They not only provided the ships, they also offered primo accommodation at the other end at the famous ‘pink palace’, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

The change, however, came about when Pan-Am began flying folk across the 3,000 miles of Pacific. The Pan-Am Clippers epitomized easier access, still reserved for the rich. But, after World War Two, the Pan Am monopoly fell and countless other airlines got into the act. Prices fell and the islands became a reasonable vacation destination for even the average Joe Lunchbucket. Those were the glory days for the Hawaiian tourism industry.

I have, in my adult life, gone to Hawaii more than a dozen times on assorted airlines, though never by ship. I’ve flown there on now defunct CP Air, equally deceased and much lamented Wardair, Northwestern, Aloha, also dead Harmony, an atrocious service I was delighted to see go down called Royal, deceased Canada 3000, and the last time via Air Alaska. Somehow it seems ironic that Alaska should fly to Hawaii, since Hawaiian doesn’t fly to Alaska. Those last two states to be admitted to the Union should stick together more.

Anyway, the airline industry is in crisis and you’ll note the number of defunct airlines I mentioned. Some of them deserved to fold; others didn’t. But, the point must be considered that flying has become a dreadful experience. This isn’t due to such vagaries as the possibility of hurtling nose first towards the Pacific in a steep, powerless dive from 35,000 feet; or the fact that there is just enough leg room between rows of seats to almost guarantee deep-vein thrombosis. Even the new reality that gives us meals that are even worse than they used to be and you have to pay for them, or there are no meals whatsoever, is tolerable. Lost luggage is a pain in the ass, and so are late departures, but I can stand those.

In fact, our Alaska flight from Seattle to Kauai was extremely good (OK, there was the lost luggage thing, but we got it back the next day). It left on time and arrived well ahead of schedule. It was smooth and borderline pleasant (the less said about the ‘meals’ the better, or the fact they kept serving booze to the young preppie looking couple across from us even though they were getting thoroughly shitfaced; real irresponsible) and unchallenging.

No, the problem wasn’t the airline, but the MF terminals and their ineptitude and rudeness in how they deal with the traveling public. The legacy of 9/11 still looms large and the terrorist attack has somehow given termini not just in the US but globally the mandate to treat passengers as abusively and stupidly as ever they possibly can. If the Islamic bad guys really want to see the impact of their behavior earlier in the decade they should look at what the traveling public must go through in order to gain access to an airplane. Aside from the ludicrous restrictions on what can and cannot be taken aboard, what galls me the most is that there is no point in arguing with these illogical bozos that have been commissioned to carry out the screening. Should you argue or point out their often-stunning illogic you could be in for a major screening or worse.

When we were departing Kauai I was taken aside because I ‘beeped’. That is, aside from having no belt on, no shoes, and with my change and wallet in the little tray, I still beeped. That rendered me suspect. My beeping came about because I had neglected to remove my watch and the pendant I wear around my neck. Silly me. So, I was taken aside while some guy three months out of high school gave me the once over and eyed me suspiciously all the while. The man behind me, about the same age, was subject to the same scrutiny.

“I guess they were pinpointing old white guy terrorists this time around,” Wendy offered, after I’d been through the ordeal. Ironically, when I went through the next security check, later that same day, none of the aforementioned gear evoked a beep.

Meanwhile, the airlines are bleeding because a put-upon public has decided it would rather drive the family bus to Wichita Falls to see Grandma, than to fly. Can’t really blame them. Hawaiian tourism, meanwhile, is being whacked. Kauai, this time around, was tomblike compared with earlier ventures there. You want an uncrowded beach? On two occasions we were on the beach in front of where we stay – a beach that serves at least a half-dozen resorts – and we were the sole occupants thereof.
Will sanity ever return to the airline industry? Will flying ever again be an enjoyable experience costing within the bank account of the average Joe and Jill?

I no longer count on that, but I hope I’m wrong. Meanwhile, I am going to have to muster up the energy for the next time I fly, and that has nothing to do with being afraid of crashing. Crashing is easy, airport security is hell.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Out and about on Kauai

A friend once told me that she loves awakening in the early hours and hearing the wind riffling through palm fronds.

“That’s how I know, when the first hints of consciousness intrude, that I am somewhere nice.”

Palm trees are nice, and the nicest of all are the coconut palms, for they are truly tropical and will not thrive in any spot that gets a hint of frigidity during the 365 days of the year. Other palms are tougher; hell, I even have a rather handsome one growing in my front garden.

But, coconuts tell tales of the South Seas and their rustling fronds are unique. They’re tough trees, too. They handily withstand hurricanes. All the fronds can be blown off, but they’ll rejuvenate.

When we’re on Kauai we live in an area known as the Coconut Coast. There are coconut palms galore, and there are even the remaining sad vestiges of the Coco Palms Resort. If you’re past a certain age, you’ll recall the Coco Palms for it was where the wedding took place in the film Blue Hawaii. In those days it was all tiki torches and serene lagoons. Now it is a shattered, tumbledown remnant of its glory days. It has remained untouched since it was devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and is victim to an ongoing insurance war. Sadly, it just needs to be torn down.

Kauai is, for me, a facet of my collective consciousness. It is the ‘other’ place where I live in my soul. I know that, for from the moment I arrive (I hadn’t been there since 2004) it is as if I have never been away. I know my way about the place and virtually everything is familiar.

This time around (as our stay was too limited for either of our likings) we vowed to not overextend ourselves. We set a loose itinerary which included swimming down in front of our condo complex, Swimming again at the little bit of paradise known as Kealia Beach (a few miles north), and then to take at least one trip up through Hanalei to Tunnels Beach – our snorkelling lagoon. The view of the Hanalei Valley from the promontory at Princeville is one of the most photographed in the world.

Hanalei is great. It is jungle and a winding road with one-lane bridges, and the village still boasts a few of the vestigial ‘pakalolo’ inhaling hippies that once infiltrated the area. Tunnels, with its reef and lagoon is snorkelling and diving central on Kauai. Unfortunately, we were a little late in the season. The water was murky, the currents were disconcertingly strong, and the fish were not as plentiful as they were in high season. So, it wasn’t the best. But, we didn’t care. Sitting on the beach and gazing at Bali Hai in the distance made it all worthwhile.
Now, this is getting rambly and I shall close this chapter. I have some later thoughts about air travel (yech!) and the fallacy of basing an economy on tourism.

But, in closing, I must tell you about our rental car. We had booked an economy-sized car before heading off to Kauai. When we got to the rental place they had no small vehicles left. So, for the same price we were asked if we’d consider a Dodge Magnum. I had no idea what a Magnum was, so I said OK, if it’s for the same price. The car was a behemoth sort of station wagon thing with tinted little slitty windows. Wendy immediately hated it and referred to it as the ‘gangster car’, as it gave her visions of a machine gun stuck out the back window. I actually quite liked it. I hadn’t driven a ‘big’ car in years. But, it held the road beautifully and was very smooth and comfortable to drive, so I had no complaints. Wendy grudgingly accepted that it was comfortable, but she never warmed to it.

More to come.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

I came back-- sigh!

This was the view from the lanai that I gazed at while having my morning coffee each day for the last couple of weeks. Needless to say, it was just a little bit difficult to leave that.

But, I'm back. I'm weary from travel. I'm even wearier from airport security bullshit. But, the normal adversity we find with contemporary travel paranoia did not detract for one second from the heavenliness of our Kauai sojourn.

At the moment I am just personally regrouping as I come back down to this particular piece of earth upon which I live.

Will tell you all about it shortly, and will post some photos.

Good to reconnect with all my good folks.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Aloha -- Oyyy

Only three more sleeps, as the silly cliché goes. But, that is the tally as of this writing before the day in which we take off for Kauai. Not such a bad idea. This is despite the fact I’m dreading the flight. Not that I am afraid of flying – at least no more than any terrestrially bound creature who is unnaturally screaming along at 500 miles per at a place 35,000 feet above the firmament – but because of all the bullshit that has turned an airplane journey into a veritable nightmare of inconvenience and abuse by often very, very stupid people.

Remember when flying used to be fun? I do. While I never became a member of the infamous ‘Mile High Club’, a very comely flight attendant once overtly propositioned me. I tend to dine out on that one a lot.

Anyway, Hawaii, and specifically Kauai. This is a place that has always worked for me. Wonderful climate (considered the best in the world), scenery that is almost sexual in its lushness, azure and warm waters, tropical fish, the din of birdsong, and on Kauai, no mongooses (mongeese?) thank God, and tons of chickens everywhere. The chickens are mainly the result of Hurricane Iniki, which devastated the island in 1992. Aside from trashing literally thousands of residences and commercial properties, the big storm also liberated flocks galore of bantam-sized chickens. They then ‘intermarried’ with the wild jungle fowl of the island, and their numbers simply proliferated. They go where they choose, and nobody seems to mind much. It’s all good.

I first visited Hawaii back in 1983. I had never really wanted to go. In my biased view it had to be something like Vegas in the mid-Pacific; an entity entirely built around tourism and it surely must be as vulgar as that desert haven to gambling and other excesses. But, that summer my ex-wife and I wanted to go ‘somewhere’ and were at a loss in terms of destination. I suggested Hawaii, just to see what it was like. I thought I’d hate it.

I loved it. The moment I stepped off the plane and felt that velvety air and smelled the blossoms I know I was at an enchanting place. That first year we just did Waikiki; a spot that actually has many more virtues than deficits. Later on I visited assorted other islands: Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii, and ultimately, in 1989, Kauai. I decided then and there that this was ‘my place.’

Kauai is exquisite at virtually every level other than traffic wise – the flow ain’t swift. There is only one main road that goes around about 80% of the island, from the far western dunes and aridity of Polihale, and then around the island counterclockwise to the lush jungle of Haena and Kee at the far northwestern end. Ironically, Polihale and Haena are only about 18 miles apart.

We stay near to the town of Kapaa on the eastern shore. It works for us because it’s a sort of half-way point, and not too far from the ‘big smoke’ of Lihue, whence the planes come and go.
I have lost count of how many times I’ve been to Kauai, but suffice it to say I’ve had two honeymoons there with two different people.

One thing I have decided prior to my departure this time is that I want to make it, even if for only 10 days, a complete break. Consequently, my laptop is staying at home. I expect some agonies of withdrawal, but I think I should be able to handle it.

As a consequence, I won’t be in touch and won’t be blogging for nearly two weeks. When I get back I’ll tell you all about it. Keep the blogging faith, my dear friends.