Defining What It Means to be an American; Aside From False Moral Superiority

imagesDefining What It Means to be an American

(I’d prefer no commentary on this post. I doubt anyone will read it anyway. Everyone I talk to gets their information from some source that’s owned by the very people responsible for all of these problems; or they don’t pay attention to anything at all. Get off Facebook, turn off CNN, Fox News and any other big media outlet and think for yourselves. Do some research. It’s as close as a google search.)

Alcoholism in America

An estimated 18.5 million Americans present signs of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence with an additional 7.2 million showing drinking behaviors associated with poor health and social interaction.

Poverty in America

America is the richest nation in history, yet we now have the highest poverty rate in the industrialized world with an unprecedented number of Americans living in dire straits and over 50 million citizens already living in poverty.

Obesity in America

America is home to the most obese people in the world. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), obesity in adults has increased by 60% within the past twenty years and obesity in children has tripled in the past thirty years. A staggering 33% of American adults are obese.

Illiteracy in America

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 42 million adult Americans can’t read; 50 million can recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level; one out of every four teenagers drops out of high school, and of those who graduate, one out of every four has the equivalent or less of an eighth grade education.

Unemployment in America

7.6 percent (at least that’s what they tell us)

Homelessness in America

On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.


Child Abuse in America

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States.

Religion in America

83% of Americans claim to be Christians, mostly as long as it doesn’t require you to act in the manner of Christ himself, or follow the Ten Commandments. Onward Christian Soldiers? You’re doing a great job.

Is freedom of speech only for those who agree with the US Government? Are facts just an inconvenience? You might want to think about what you’re really angry about (while the governments of the West deflect your attention from anything that matters) when it’s ok for you to tell your own brothers to leave the country. Sounds a bit like “my way or the highway.” I think I’d rather stay here and work on making this a better country by internalizing, analyzing, and understanding it’s many faults. I believe in what this country originally stood for but it has a long way to go in making the dream a reality. And after about 239 years, I doubt it ever will. We’re going backwards as we speak.

I respect your right to feel the way you do, can you possibly respect mine? Focusing on the negative? No, just seeing it for what it is. America is like an alcoholic who refuses to get help, a child who’s never been told “no,” and a very large ego who just refuses to be wrong.

So go ahead and “find your bliss, enjoy the moment, and embrace your inner child.” I’ve got work to do.


We Don’t Need Your Stinking Closets – “Affordable” Housing in Hawaii


Sadly this article is as relevant today as it was when I wrote it in 2002.

We don’t need your stinking closets or,
high density housing is an insult to our dignity.
by Philip Scott Wikel

[A response to David Rolland’s “Diversified Housing” editorial in the “Ventura County Reporter,” Thursday, May 2, 2002].

There is a much larger issue at stake and we need to look at it with both the eyes of the visionary and those of the accountant. “Diversified housing” means, in large part, making sure to provide housing for folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum. The lower end, or better, the bottom end is where the problem begins to take shape. It is not my argument that these folks need housing but that the housing they are forced to accept is below any American who might still be capable of dreaming.*

The lower end has bottomed out after several generations of welfare. And welfare is at the heart of the deterioration of the American view of acceptable housing. The standard by which that which is acceptable has dropped to an intolerable low. Welfare has woven itself into the American quilt in many ways. Two of the larger groups within the world of welfare recipients include those who choose not to support themselves and those who would like to but feel its futility when they see that welfare can pay more than the average job for which they are skilled.

The term welfare is loosely defined here and has many forms. It is used as a blanket term for any form of governmental hand-out ie. HUD housing, food stamps. Before welfare, being poor was considered the greatest social ill in our country. And now, while fewer people might be suffering from the physical aspects of poverty, there is something that I believe should be of greater concern to us all, the effect of deprivation on the human psyche. The current generation is the first to look toward the bottom for its models. So-called “white trash” has been glorified as a form of entertainment. Young people have taken a “if you can’t beat them join them attitude” because they feel that the mountain they’ve come to climb is something that would have made even Sir Thomas Mallory hesitate.

What does the denial of a sense of accomplishment do to the minds of people who are poor or on welfare. I believe it has created a collective inferiority complex and thereby an unhealthy neurosis that invariably either lashes out or self-destructs. Gang violence and rioting (such as in LA ten years ago) are two very apparent examples of this lashing out and, before we jump to conclusions about race and get derailed from the topic at hand, we should remember that most every ethnic group in this country has at some time in our history been a party to gang violence. And suicide, alcoholism, and drug abuse are just symptoms of the larger problem. (Have you ever been short of cash? Doesn’t feel good. How about being short of cash for days, weeks, even years.)

And while this alone is quite disheartening, this collective complex has a deeper stigma attached to it that reaches all the way down to our roots. Our values have been compromised. While bending to include heretofore unacceptable levels of decadence for those who will sink lower and lower, and while honorable and bleeding, though sadly misdirected hearts, will chase after them, dragging the entire scale further down as they go, and social workers will run around sticking their fingers in holes in the dike, this problem can only be repaired with a concerted effort on the part of the whole and with a redefinition of what, as a culture, we find acceptable. We’ve come now to a point where the issues have been blurred and greyed to be almost indiscernible, so I’ll attempt to clarify.

We live in a market-driven economy, a capitalist society fueled by shiny trinkets, packaged and sold to us by Madison Ave (Watch television for 30 minutes and ask yourself if you didn’t see something you thought you might want or need in one of those commercials). Some of this stuff adds enjoyment and diversion to our lives. But now imagine you are someone without the means to purchase these things because your primary concern is maintaining a roof over your children’s heads and keeping food on the table. You work at least 40 hours per week, if not 50 or 60, but because your income seems to fall just a bit short of covering your expenses with each paycheck (rent alone is eating up an average of 50 percent of the average income)**, you never feel like you’re doing enough or providing enough or sometimes, even living at all.*** If you put this next to all of the unseen or intangible commodities we’re losing ie. kindness, sharing, trust, friendship and even love, commodities of the heart, you might say we may as well already be dead.

As you read on, bear the next couple of thoughts in mind:
Nearly 200 years ago Henry David Thoreau warned us to be wary of “spending too much life.” He further stated that he would rather sit on a pumpkin than on a chair for which he was making payments.

Some say: “if money’s a problem, then get a second job.” Sounds simple, a quick fix. However, with mom already working and the kids in daycare, when is it that the family is going to get to practice these “family values” so many continue to talk about but haven’t the time to practice. The question of how to keep a roof over our heads and this feeling that we need to keep up with Madison Avenue pre-occupies us so that the family has disintegrated into a loose grouping of strangers on divergent paths, struggling for their own individual survival; children with almost no interaction with their parents or any sort of reference point from which to view their world, and parents, so frazzled by trying to make ends meet, that they’re not at leisure to enjoy the families they’ve created or to offer their children something of themselves. It’s not just dad on the treadmill anymore, the whole family is right behind him, if not in front.

It’s no one’s fault and, at the same time, we’re not victims. It’s just that, as a people, as a tribe, and as a society we must relearn that we’re all a part of a greater whole, a very powerful collective spirit, a spirit that burns brightest and most beautiful with proper feeding and, of equal importance, diligent temperance; not tolerance, temperance. Temperance does things with intelligence, tolerance allows things to happen and turns a blind and pompous eye to it.

The mission is to serve the greater good, and this is where many of you will begin to squirm and question: “Well who decides what the greater good is?”
Here’s a starting point for the debate with one caveat. Do not go spinning into nothingness and forget the original mission.

I believe that no one’s rent or mortgage should equal more than one-fourth of their net income and one person should have at least 750 square feet of living space (Each additional person should be allotted an additional 250 square feet of space so that a family of four might have at least 1500 square feet of living space). With that calculated how might we adjust the average wage to close the gap. Business owners will balk at this but I contend that, if you can’t afford to pay someone a decent wage then you have no business doing business or you need to do something about the monopolistic, China-driven companies who are taking away your ability to function. This isn’t a quick fix. Native Americans believed in planning for the seventh generation from now. Meaningful goals are worth the wait and this will take some time. But time is a commodity that the powers that be have a great deal of, and often squander. So let’s stop arguing over subtle nuances, (patting ourselves on the back all the while for our skill at debating meaningless subjectivity), misleading statistics, or poorly written ordinances and codes. Think “Greater Good,” and you’ll be able to feel your way through.

* “High California rent pushes working poor into cheap motels”, 2001
** “California Housing Project,” Dept. of Housing and Community Development, 2001
*** “Housing takes bigger bite out of American Paychecks” – Kenneth Leventhal of Ernst & Young, 1999

“Songs of Gratitude” – Maui AMPFest Live in Wailuku

maui music2.4

Aloha Folks,
In addition to the Video/TV version of the next Maui AMPFest – “Songs of Gratitude” we will be holding a live event to benefit the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center (KHAKO) in Wailuku, Maui.

The event on November 14th will begin with a prayer walk to Iao Valley, (7am) from the State Building and back, followed by an all day “Open House” event including live music from 2-6 and plenty food and fun. In addition “Grow The Change” will be opening the food forest at the resource center to all attendees, with a keiki art show and info on community gardens.

We’re looking at having three local bands who offered their time and talent. If you would like to contribute to the event in any way, please contact either myself, Philip Scott Wikel or Peggy at 808-281-6020 or Erin Lowenthal, Resource Center CEO, at

Mahalo Nui Loa,
Philip Wikel and Peggy Johnson

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Island singer-songwriter Jamie Gallo releases new album ‘Awakening’

Sonic Smash-Music!

The singer and songwriter from Hawaii known as Jamie Gallo has released her much awaited full-length record, “Awakening.” The LP contains 10 original tracks for an approximate total listening time of 40 minutes. It has been published as an independent music release without the involvement of the corporate music industry. Melodic, rocking, thrilling, beautiful, powerful and full of the original alternative rock tradition, “Awakening” by Jamie Gallo is the rock record the scene has been wanting.

Jamie Gallo cites as main artistic influences Joni Mitchell, Thom Yorke, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks, and Al Green. Her own vocal sound and style reflects her great taste in music, having elements of Mitchell and Nicks both, as well as the precision of Houston and the insouciance of Aguilera. Gallo’s overall tone blends groove with grunge and adds a touch of funk. Her “Awakening” album also boasts that particular tenor…

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The Tradewinds: A Coming of Age Novel

The Tradewinds: A Coming of Age Novel
by Philip Scott Wikel

Advance Review: The Tradewinds received a five star rating and was considered “very highly recommended” by the Midwest Book Review.

The Tradewinds is essentially the story of two people who realize their dreams against the odds. Set in the mid to late 70s, it is an epic tale of coming-of-age in the wake of a world transformed by the currents of social, political and philosophical upheaval that began in the 60s.

Aloha ʻĀina Project, with Mauna Kea, featuring Hawane Rios

Aloha ʻĀina Project welcomed Mauna Kea protectors. 4 Miles released a new video featuring Hāwane Rios. WARRIOR RISING. Protect Mauna Kea

Maui SALT & SAGE would like to share this video with our readers. We included it in the current Maui AMPFest with our theme being Labor Day. This was a labor of love. We saw this as the way people not only take back their power but nurture each other in the process. Powerful, Moving, and the most Inspiring footage we’ve seen in some time.

We hope you’ll be moved and inspired as well. And as Hawane taught me, Ke Aloha nui, from our bowl to yours.

Maui Salt and Sage

Aloha ʻĀina Project welcomed Mauna Kea protectors. 4 Miles released a new video featuring Hāwane Rios. WARRIOR RISING. Protect Mauna Kea

Maui SALT & SAGE would like to share this video with our readers. We included it in the current Maui AMPFest with our theme being Labor Day. This was a labor of love. We saw this as the way people not only take back their power but nurture each other in the process. Powerful, Moving, and the most Inspiring footage we’ve seen in some time.

We hope you’ll be moved and inspired as well. And as Hawane taught me, Ke Aloha nui, from our bowl to yours.

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Revolution! Maui AMPFest #3 – Labor Edition

Revolution: Workers of The World Unite!

The Maui AMPFest is part of The Aloha Project:
Promoting Aloha, Music, Hawaiian Culture & sustainable living through international collaboration.

This Video Fest strives to showcase diverse bands from around the world with Hawaiian Culture and music as it’s centerpiece, thusly perpetuating the Spirit of Aloha and creating a worldwide bond between socially and politically conscious people and musicians from around the world.

Andi Starr: Driving For The Sun

578712_10151928742662069_1116880356_nAndi Starr is a classically trained pianist, identical twin, and pastor’s daughter, who at twenty-two-years old, picked up a $100 guitar to help her find a way out of the religious upbringing that no longer worked for her.

Over a decade and seven albums later, the resulting music reflects not only the ambiance and dynamics of her classical upbringing but has garnered comparisons to The Cranberries, Mazzy Star, and Tori Amos. Starr’s particular gift is in turning difficult subject matter into heartfelt, sometimes haunting, and always beautiful compositions. Culturespill Magazine states: “Andi Starr hits the right notes: the notes that hurt, the notes that know you, the notes that make you meet yourself.”

As a multi-instrument, singer-songwriter and producer, Starr first started performing in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she worked with indie producer Larry Crane (Slater Kinney, Cat Power, Elliott Smith), and played sold-out shows at some of the premier venues, including Mississippi Studios and the legendary Crystal Ballroom.

But it wasn’t always easy. Starr battled intense, debilitating stage fright in her early years. Troubled by this and haunted by overwhelming nighttime dreams, she turned to psychology (particularly the work of Carl Jung) to understand her dreams and overcome her fear, which also, in turn, deepened her songwriting.

Starr has received much radio attention for her work, including Sirius XM (Coffee House Station 33), KINK (101.9 FM) in Portland, Oregon, and KMTT (103.7 FM, The Mountain) in Seattle, Washington; has had songs featured in television and film; and has played over one hundred shows (including the prestigious venue Crystal Ballroom). Her song “American Doll (Live at Reed College)” was aired over the opening credits in Espisode 12, Season 2, of the television show “Charmed,” as released on the DVD version.

For her seventh album, and fourth studio release, “Entrance,” Starr worked with long-time co-producers, prize-winning poet S. Asher Sund and Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp) and recorded with session musicians Dave PalmerTim YoungPaul BryanScott Seiver and Jordan Richter. These musicians have played, produced and toured with Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Fleetwood Mac, Fiona Apple, Air, Chris Isaak, Marc Cohn, Band of Horses, Supertramp, and many others.

See Her in The Maui AMPFest:

Mailani Makainai – Holding ‘Ohana, Community and Tradition close to her heart…


Singer-songwriter Mailani Makainai returns to the Hawaiian music scene with her first solo album on the Mountain Apple Company label. “Mailani” features her beautiful, unique voice and original songs that have endeared her to fans in Hawai‘i and around the world.

Mailani, who grew up in Kailua Town on O‘ahu’s Windward Coast, is part of a musical family. She started signing at the age of two and taught herself ‘ukulele while in high school. It was at Maryknoll Schools that she met Lei Melket, with whom she later formed Keahiwai, one of the most popular female duos in Hawai‘i.

Keahiwai released its first album, “Local Girls,” in May 2001. “Local Girls” garnered the duo two Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards and growing acclaim. Their sophomore album, “Satisfied,” was released the following year in 2002, and included the hit song “Falling.” The duo went on to release three additional award-winning albums and tour throughout Polynesia and the West Coast.

Mailani, who balanced her music career with college, went on to graduate from the University of Hawai`i at Mänoa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hawaiian Studies. Subsequently, she built on her interest in the healing arts by becoming a licensed massage therapist and a practioner of lomilomi.

In 2003 and 2004, Mailani was honored to perform at the Merrie Monarch Festival in support of Halau Mohala ‘Ilima with Uncle Kihei, Aunty Mapu, and their daughter Kapalai’ula de Silva.

In 2006, Mailani was invited to do a podcast with Doctor Trey and Jroq that focused on the Hawaiian music industry. This involvement led her to begin a new project with two other women in the industry, Jenn Jroq Wright of Kanalo and Simple Souls, and Tiki Suan from Milo Shade. Together, they formed Mighty J and in 2007, released the album “Calling Out.”

Mailani continues to explore new ventures, most recently opening a boutique day spa in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu. The Oasen Spa is located right next door to her parent’s business, Makainai Cabinets.

The 5 original songs on this new album hold true to Mailani’s belief in holding ‘ohana, community and tradition close to her heart. Her sweet distinctive voice and honest emotions come through in every song, making her one of Hawai‘i’s most endearing rising stars.

Please click on the photo below to hear her perform the Hawaiian National Anthem on the Maui AMPFest!Mailani