Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Homeless in Hawaii

Leave it to the homeless to dampen my enthusiasm for paradise.

I haven't blogged in awhile as I'm in Hawaii, the best new-empty-nesters gift my husband could have given me this winter.  I'd rather have a warm downpour than a frigid one, and the overcast skies punctuated by monsoon-style cloudbursts have offered enough intermittent sunshine to allow us some beachy afternoons and great tete-a-tetes with friends to create some fabulous photos and indelible memories.

Equally memorable were the "landed-homeless" whose blue-tarp-covered heaps of possessions pock the grass-strips between sidewalk and street, even in the most touristed areas of Waikiki. Their tents pitched under banyans in parks and their groaning shopping carts draped with plastic bags stationed along sidewalks remind us that hospitable liberal government would rather enable freeloading on public property than business to high per-square-foot rent-paying establishments.

I've seen matted-haired scavengers picking through trash bins along the beach, and even right in front of Kalakaua Avenue designer shops, searching for cans to redeem for pennies.  Last night my husband and I walked by a woman settled on a store stoop who appeared in her 50's, entreating passersby for their restaurant doggie bags.  On a drive around the island, we saw a public elementary school lawn food distribution, long tables of comestibles seemingly offered to anyone approaching.

If you've gotta be homeless, Hawaii's the place.  No huddling under freeway underpasses  when you can sleep unmolested to the sound of lapping waves in a green park on the Waikiki shore.  In doorways, in front of expensive shops, you can catch your zzz's.  On last night's walk, we saw a guy lying asleep on the Kalakaua thoroughfare sidewalk. Near his extended form he'd laid out a couple necklaces, ostensibly for sale. His fingers clutched some kind of rifle, even in his sleep.  His clothes and person were dark with dirt, in contrast to the white sidewalk.  What an appealing incentive to spend big bucks in Fendi, Coach, and the other glitzy stores a few feet away.

I think it's heartless to allow pitiable people to amass mountains of stuff inches from the street, rather than placing the sad souls with mental health providers or shelters, which they obviously need.  Peeking from under their tarps were all sorts of gleaned goods, including a baby car seat. Some of the piles were ten feet high--clear evidence of the problems these vagrants face.

We've been privileged to come to Honolulu, where my husband works during our stays, many times over the years. I've never seen so many and such conspicuous homeless encampments, just plopped down in the most desirable footage on the planet.

The graffiti seems to have increased, too.  Now, I'm not complaining, as my daughter in New York is stranded by a blizzard, and our friends back in the Great North-wet shiver under continuing wintry storms.  But you'd think that Hawaii would want to rely on more than just the weather to entice visitors. Their "shaka" attitude of casualness goes a little too far when tourists are forced to step around some pretty disgusting inhabitants, and doesn't serve those individuals or their neighbors at all.


  1. Urghhhh... please don't come to my hometown, lady. You wouldn't like us, and we wouldn't like you. People who complain about the effect of the homeless on tourism, and blame the homeless for it, are missing something very vital in their makeup.

  2. What SJohn said.

    Really, what a truly awful person. Sorry that the suffering of others got in the way of your high-end shopping pleasures, you pathetic excuse for a human being.

  3. I think it's heartless to allow pitiable people to amass mountains of stuff inches from the street, rather than placing the sad souls with mental health providers or shelters, which they obviously need.

    Me too. Too bad the Republicans, starting with your hero Reagan, cut mental health services for the poor and turned the word "tax" into an epithet.

    You reap what you sow, dearie.

  4. This article is so contemptible, I'm not going to bookmark it; I'm not going to encourage my friends to come see what an a-moral swine the author is; and I'm certainly not going to write about it elsewhere. I'm going to try to forget I ever saw it.

    But first, I'll direct this sentiment to the swine who wrote it: Swine, I sincerely hope that you and your family experience joy, security and bounty this coming year. And that the Lord Himself will bless you as He never has before.

  5. How sad you are. Profit & property trump humanity every time, don't they?

    Are you really so emptily materialistic? You mention "Kalakaua Avenue designer shops," "Fendi, Coach, and the other glitzy stores a few feet away," as if these were important, yet the human tragedies that your society of brutal capitalism & conspicuous consumption casts aside should simply go away, so as not to offend shoppers?

    The guy "clutching a rifle?" Not sure if you're being metaphoric here, but I'd find it hard to believe that people are wandering the streets w/ rifles. Is he, then, a veteran w/ an imaginary rifle, reliving in his dreams the atrocities that your war-loving society made him commit? A veteran your kind cast aside as soon as they're driven mad by murdering for God & country?

    Or maybe it is a real rifle, & he needs it to defend himself from the kinds of young punks who light "vagrants" on fire, beat them to death in their sleeping bags & so on. Such actions are a direct result of attitudes like yours that render homeless/mentally ill people less than human.

    (Please don't repeat the usual claptrap about video games, lack of faith, liberals & other strawmen when ascribing blame to someone who brutalizes homeless people. Look in your heart, as one of the phony "faiths" to which your kind pays lip service no doubt advises you, & see what truly allows such brutality.)

    "I've never seen so many and such conspicuous homeless encampments, just plopped down in the most desirable footage on the planet."

    "Conspicuous!" How dare they? (One of the reasons they're "conspicuous" is that if they hide themselves from noble consumers like you, their safety is reduced because the types you enable can abuse them w/o being seen, cowards that they are.)

    Ship 'em off to the camps where they won't trouble your beautiful, Barbara Bush mind, right?

    Are you even aware that there's a recession going on, that might lead to people being in more dire economic straits than on your previous trips?

    But let's shrink gov't., right? I'm sure you & your husband (And just what does he "produce" to be so well rewarded?) make large donations to the private agencies that are expected to take up the slack when gov't. has to cut social services rather than hurt the feelings of rich (lucky) people by expecting them to pay their share.

    Your utter lack of compassion & understanding indicates that you're probably in worse mental (&, since "faith" is so important to you, spiritual, whatever that means) health than most of the homeless you so despise.

    Wasn't it one of your heroes, Ronald Reagan, who decided not to care for those who need care, by letting/forcing them out of public institutions?

    I suppose if a more "liberal" gov't. decided to round people up & return them to institutions, you'd then be screeching about nanny-staters wanting to take away liberty & freedom, wouldn't you?

    As a former homeless person myself, my sincerest hope for the new year is that you undergo so much suffering & agony that you acquire even a tiny bit of compassion for those who can't shop at the glitzy stores. Not that anyone as truly wretched as you, & old enough to be an "empty-nester" would change this late in life.

    P.S.: Did your children leave the very minute they could? Wouldn't surprise me at all, although you may have succeeded in your goal of creating more hateful but faith-filled monsters. Do they like kicking people when they're down, too?

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  9. Oh Diane, don't listen to these louts. What do they know. I'm sure they'd take tourist dollars too for their hometowns.

    But what you write about is awful. Why can't they clear away the panhandlers during daylight hours? It doesn't make any sense. Anyway, let's get together next week. I've got some wonderful new lampshade recipes I can't wait to show you. Kaitlin

  10. About Mrs. Medved:

    I'm often touched to tears. I'm intensely involved in Jewish learning, observing and celebrating. I search for bright light not only as a transplant from sunny Southern California to this rainy, overcast clime, but because I seek to illuminate both the significant and mundane, in a stimulating way you'll enjoy.

    The bright hate of unreasoned hatred? No tears for the homeless, we see. Do you cry for the wealthy when they have to turn their heads to avoid seeing the least among us?

    I'm idly curious as what you've gotten from your "intense involvement in Jewish learning?" Hypocrisy? Just a hint, from an anti-theist who doesn't need a book to tell him what's right or wrong: Stop "observing" empty rituals; try to do something more for your fellow human being than celebrate your materialism.

  11. M. Bouffant: I know it didn't take being homeless for you to have compassion for the homeless, but, dear lord, don't you just wish that you could suddenly vanish, even temporarily, somebody else's material posessions for the sake of education / enlightenment? I mean, even somebody who's privilege meter pegs out like this gal's does could maybe learn something from direct experience.

    At least I like to hope so. I admit I have met a couple of homeless people who ragged about Obama's "socialism", but they were clearly mentally ill.

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  13. Don't go to Rio, dah-ling, until they clear out those unslightly favelas.

    You're truly despicable, you know that, don't you?

  14. Oh, pish posh, darling.
    Make all these yucky people go away and I'll bring out the scones and tea for us.

  15. I've never set foot in any of the designer shops on Kalakaua Avenue, but all these commenters who assume so exhibit more hatred (and envy?)in their comments than concern for the people they ostensibly defend.

    As I said, homeless who have to sleep on the hard concrete, and who make permanent tarp-topped piles instead of having a bed and place to keep their stuff, deserve help so they can get a job and improve their lives, rather than just being ignored and stepped around.

    Are people who are "homeless by choice," as one guy said on the radio, entitled to MAKE a home anywhere? Or should they be provided services and medical help if they're alcoholic or addicted? I think it was a mistake when Reagan defunded mental health services (that was while he was Gov. of CA, for that state, not President); homeless people who need treatment should get it rather than "letting" them fend for themselves on the streets.

    That's the problem with the homeless people lying on Waikiki streets and camping along its thoroughfares--they need help and don't get it--or won't take it.

    Secondarily, they approach, sometimes harass and even endanger the rest of the population, who have more right to walk unobstructed and unmolested on public sidewalks than homeless do to take up residence there.

    By the way, the people who earn their livings from tourists, paying rent for their space, work hard for their livelihoods, too.

  16. Whale Chowder, you need to know that the exodus from mental health facilities was started when the revolutionary ideas of the 60's radicalized such concepts as freedom--who is to say who is mentally "ill"? Not the establishment! Remember "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest"? Liberal lefties like you insisted the stigmatization of mentally ill people must stop, as well as the evil incarceration of them; adults w/minds that were merely "different", able to choose their own paths, etc. Regan et al merely did the libs bidding, w/a "if you can't beat em, join em" type attitude. It continues to this day.

  17. These comments blow my mind. The vitriol and hatred are absolutely unhinged and insane! And so insulting! Rather than just refuting an argument or idea, they attack the writer as a horrible person no less. Listen up people, the homeless problem in Hawaii is a HUGE deal, and indeed, NO ONE should have the right to just plop down where ever they want--beachfront no less! Who are these commenters? Homeless? Certainly don't seem "local" to me, as I know of no Hawaiians who have these freakishly hateful attitudes. Ease up guys, and go back to the mainland.