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Misadventures In Paradise

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I thought it essential that I include some of the weird stuff that went on during my early years at KMVI-AM before I get too old to remember them. There are some misadventures, I am sure, that I’ve already forgotten. I’ll just start with the ones freshest in my mind…

As I recall it must have been 1971 or 2 when this story begins. I was sharing an apartment at Puuone Gardens with my old friend Tim. The radio station had recently hired a tall dark and mysterious looking gentleman who called himself  Tom Brady. It must have been a stage name because he was very proud of his German Heritage and to me, Brady didn’t sound very German at all. When he first came to us, he was pretty much broke and very much new in town, so myself and Tim having big hearts decided to let him use our couch while he looked for a place of his own.

One day while Tom was at work, Tim and I were at the apartment together and we couldn’t help but notice Tom’s huge old beat up trunk that he kept his worldly possessions in, just setting there in the living room daring us to open it.  Tim looked at me and I looked at him and then we both without speaking, immediately made a unanimous decision to have a look-see inside. To rationalize our misdeed, we tried to think of ourselves as not being busy-body snoops, but actually investigating a somewhat shady character with whom we were sharing personal space. With that accomplished, we set about opening the unlocked chest. We both drew in a startled breath of air in response to what had just presented itself to us… It was a neatly folded Nazi flag that looked kind of lumpy- as though it was being used to protect something precious.  It looked as though an object had been meticulously wrapped up inside it.  With curiosity continuing to get the best of us, we excitedly and very carefully unwrapped the object, paying particular attention as to how it was folded, to make certain the flag could be re-folded in a such a way as to not give away the fact it had been tampered with. We received another high energy shock at what we found… an authentic and fully loaded German made pistol.  A pre-World War II Lugar P08 pistol in fact.

We took note of a very well deserved look of horror on each others face as we very calmly, very carefully re-packaged the gun in the flag and placed it back exactly as we found it. Some time after we closed the lid, and after the shock wore off we began to formulate a plan to force Tom’s eviction from our apartment.  What made matters worse was the fact that I was still immersed at the time in a recent “conversion” to Judaism and I had a custom painted Star of David in blue on both sides of my white motorcycle helmet which I always kept in plain sight next to the TV. Not good. Not good at all.

I cannot quite recall all of the details, but we eventually got him out of the apartment, surprisingly without much difficulty at all. I got the impression that he was just as anxious to leave as we were to have him leave. Sadly, later that month poor Tom Brady was summarily fired for locking himself in the studio at the radio station and playing non-stop German marches on the air until we were able to get the door open and have the police usher him out of the building. As the story goes, he later landed a job at a radio station  in Honolulu, but tragically after just a few weeks I read in the Honolulu Advertiser that poor Tom had been found dead in his YMCA hotel room. He had taken his own life with a single bullet to the head from that very same pistol we discovered that fateful day months earlier. We never really did find out out where he came from or anything about his background. He never talked about it and somehow always managed to dodge any inquiries… but that is a mystery I’ll be happy to let be. Still…

I mentioned earlier that back in the early years of my tenure at KMVI I was “self-immersed” in Judaism. The reason why is a kind of a weird story in itself. During High School I dated all kinds of girls with all kinds of religious backgrounds. Back then my testosterone level was way higher than it is now and back then I would have become anything just to win a young lady’s love. One of the last memories relating to my teenage love life was that of the day I met this beautiful, very proper young Jewish girl who’s name I cannot reveal out of common courtesy. We were in love and were serious enough for me to try to complete my conversion to Judaism before marriage, which was a “requirement” of her parents if they were going to give us their blessing.  Cut scene…

It was right up until I was to be officially confirmed as Jewish that I got cold feet and wound up in Hawaii immediately upon graduating from a broadcast trade school in Milwaukee Wisconsin known as the John Cameron Swayze School of Famous Broadcasters. The course lasted roughly four months, plus the school offered a great placement service upon graduation- which was the main reason I had decided to take the course. On the application for enrollment I was required to give a first and second choice of where I wanted to work. With my immediate family rapidly disintegrating back home, I was bound and determined to get as far away from there as I could and still remain in the good ol’ USA…. so for my first choice I put down Hawaii. My teenage years were tumultuous to say the least with my parents gradually building up animosity between the two of them. The actual divorce itself was the catalyst for my entire family exploding outwards in all directions like a series of Saturn 5 rocket boosters. Only the oldest of  my two sisters stayed in Michigan with our dad. The other sister moved to Miami and my younger brother ended up in Washington State. Obviously, I ended up on Maui. On a less domestic note, while our family was disintegrating, nearby Detroit was going up in flames during the well publicized race riots of 1967, the year I graduated from high school. Growing up in southeast Michigan I learned to vehemently hate the racial bigotry and violence prominent in the area and I found myself desperately needing to get away. Far away. The further the better. I didn’t want to leave the country so obviously the Hawaiian Islands were as far away as I could get from ground zero and still be in the United States. So the first leg of my migration to the South Pacific was to leave my former home near Lansing Michigan and go to Milwaukee where the trade school I mentioned had set up shop and where I first met my teenage bride that was not to be. My first real experience of true love.

My only real memories of that period of time learning the broadcast trade were of trying to read a piece of live commercial copy with a soda cracker in my mouth. It was an exercise where you kept reading the same commercial copy over and over while adding an extra soda cracker to the mouth with each read through. The trick was to remain as intelligible as possible no matter how many crackers you had in your craw.  It sounds silly I know, but it really helped me improve my diction- my enunciation. There were several other exercises as well that were designed to effectively improve the speech process as I learned how to become a “proper” live announcer on the radio. Even though I had some radio experience before attending this trade school, I learned an awful lot in addition to what I already knew, that helped me in furthering my career. So after graduation, the school made good on it’s claim that it could place me in an area where I wanted to live and much to my surprise, I ended up on Maui. When I first appeared in the office of Nora I Cooper (General Manager of KMVI radio at the time) to have the job interview and make things “official” by filling out the employment application, I still considered myself Jewish if for no other reason than to be able to fill in the blank where it asked what religion I professed. In those days it was perfectly legal for the prospective employer to ask and I had no qualms about answering. However, for the purpose of “full disclosure” I must admit I have since, become a jaded non-believer, due in a large part to the bigotry and vitriol I was exposed to as a kid towards people of color in the community where I grew up. I stood up (all 6 foot 2 inches of me) and handed her the application. She glanced at it,  then after a few seconds of silence she looked up at me with eye brows raised far above the rims of her reddish-brown thick framed glasses and said: “Golly! You sure are tall for a Jewish kid!” Hmmmm. Okay… Well, come to find out, the announcers at the station during that period of time all had nicknames they went by on the air. KMVI’s broadcast schedule included names like J. “Akuhead Pupule” (Hawaiian for crazy fish head) who did the morning show. Followed by “Ernesto Che Clack” and/or “El Gecko” and/or “Uncle Cliffy” in the mid-day slot, “Poor Richard” Graham did the afternoon drive time shift and thus, I was “knighted” by Mrs. Nora I. Cooper, my beloved lady boss onto the KMVI announcer line up as “Little David”, taking over the evening slot. Since those early days I discarded the nickname, but because I had ended up gaining a deep appreciation for my lady boss, I kept the initials L.D. simply out of fondness, out of respect for the lady that continually, for the next 25 years of my life, bailed me out of all kinds of trouble I found easy enough to get into.  I intend to write a chapter later on dedicated to Mrs. Cooper, a person who never once had spoken a harsh word to me… Unless it was to admonish me for some stupid act I might have pulled either on the air or off. (Her unspoken nickname among the staff was “Mother”) I seemed very talented at creating situations that required her to swoop in and save my ass from some sort of quagmire or another that I may have found myself immersed in. One fine example of this happened during my radio show where I questioned the intellect of a certain Maui County Council member who came up with the idea of building a tramway though the scenic Iao Valley located in the nature preserved West Maui Mountains. Unfortunately it was during an election year whereby said councilman threatened to sue me and the station, blaming me for his unsuccessful bid for re-election. The lawsuit never happened. Thanks Mom.

As I recall, one of my other “troubles” resulted from a serious accident involving me on my motorcycle and a ’58 Buick. The driver never saw me coming even with my headlight on and never heard the loud noise my racing bike made. The driver made a left turn in front of me and I hit her car head on doing 35 miles an hour. I flew 30 feet over the top of her vehicle and landed flat on my back in the on-coming lane of traffic. I specifically remember two notable things about that accident. One was, I must have been at  least semi-conscious, I don’t remember much really, but the ambulance driver told me later that I asked to him to call Mrs. Cooper at the station to tell her I’d be a bit late for work. Then I passed out. I woke up in Maui Memorial Hospital where I stayed for almost two weeks. Black and blue from my knees to my navel resulting from Internal injuries which nearly did me in. The second major thing I remember about that accident was that Mrs. Cooper, my bad-ass lady boss and stand-in mother was the first person to come and visit me while I was on the mend.

Let me regress a bit as I feel I must include some needed background before I proceed to the next story. Please allow me to skip back temporarily to my broadcast trade school days. As I have already stated, I attended the Milwaukee based broadcast school because I had heard that they had a terrific placement service which was included in the price of the tuition.  And to reiterate, this is also the time where I fell in love with a young and beautiful Jewish Princess and HER name I will never forget but won’t mention it here to protect the innocent. I treated her as poorly as I did most all of the other girls I dated during that period of my life. There was much behind the scenes drama of which I was mostly unaware of. Especially as I was waiting for her to come to Hawaii after she graduated from High School. At least that was the plan. I remember one very cryptic long distance phone conversation where she suddenly and very coldly called our relationship off. That relationship ended badly like most of the other “relationships” I’ve experienced as a young boy. I mention this because it was a very dark period in my life for which I am very lucky to have survived  Long story short: my parents found out that she was Jewish and her parents found out I lied to them about being Jewish.  Let’s just say it was a combination of deceit on my part and hypocrisy on the part of my parents that put a tragic end to this budding romance. I carried a torch for her for many years after and I still think of her from time to time in a fond, wishful “what if only” fashion today. What a shallow lying fool  I was to her. But in my defense, I would have done anything, said anything to hold on to her love for me. I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. I am able to admit it now as now as I am much older and wiser and it really doesn’t matter anymore. It’s water long passed under the bridge. It was hard for me to admit even to myself that during my youth I was probably the most pretentious, condescending, impetuous, full-of-myself jerk there could possibly be- especially when it came to women. All I can say now is, after all these years and after so many busted relationships, I am certainly the most sorry for this one particular relationship. It seemed so long ago and so far away. Gone but not forgotten. Okay the record has been set straight. I admit it. I was a lying fool and was unscrupulous when it came to winning a young girls heart. Since then I have learned my lesson and have tried to be a much better person with regards to my relationships towards the opposite sex. At least that is my sincerest hope.  On to the next story…

I remember it was when I was still doing my show I like to call “Nitetime Radio” on KMVI, the much maligned 6 to midnight evening shift. All the newbies had to pull that shift for a while, building tenure. At most stations the newbie shift was over night, midnight to 6am. But KMVI in those days signed off the air at midnight. It was also during my first (and most successful) marriage. I was actually the only entertainment on the radio during those years during that time slot,  as the stores all closed up at 5pm, most of the TV stations signed off after the 10:30 news and the only night life was on the west side of Maui in the in Lahaina-Kaanapali area. Plus to my advantage, the more popular Honolulu Top 40 stations didn’t come in very well on Maui during the evening hours. So one might say I was popular by default. (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone I said that!) I must also honestly admit that for a short time there was an alternative to my show, that was the DJ on opposite to myself on KNUI, “the other guys” then operating on 1310 khz. They were the  only other radio station on the island back then, another plus for me as with little or no competition it was easier to garner a large “listenership”. (According to my spell-checker that is not a word.) There were no “Arbitron-like” ratings services available during those days so it was difficult to tell who was number one. I’ll devote another chapter later  on devoted to those highly charged days where the only two stations on the island at the time really had much dislike for the other while competing for limited advertising dollars. But this particular story comes from somewhere within the year 1974.  I was doing my usual “play the hits” shtick on a Friday evening, it was  about 10PM. I had left the back door to the station unlocked (you could do that on Maui in those days and be perfectly safe) because I was expecting my young wife and newborn daughter to come to the station after she got off work. I was in the middle of a live commercial when this very strange looking bearded, long haired, gentleman in a white, nearly floor length cotton bath robe with a rope for a waist high belt came strolling through the propped open studio door. I was used to getting visited by “fans” and close friends during the evening so I didn’t really think much of it until I noticed he was carrying a Bible and a well worn walking stick. Something told me this was no run-of-the-mill hippie type and lord knows in those days we had plenty of those. (And I use the word “hippie” as a term of endearment) Anyway. I gave him an acknowledged glance and quickly finished up my ad-libbed commercial about the big sale on Pampers at Ooka’s Supermarket and started a tune playing on turntable one. Then, he introduced himself  (I kid you not) as “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum was quietly playing on the studio monitors. I discovered I had in my presence a visitor from Heaven by the name of Jesus Christ.

Okay. Back then live announcers were noted for their ability to think on their feet (no need for that ability these days) so I decided that what the hell, I’d interview him while I waited for the men-in-white to come from the near by hospital to pick him up. What could possibly go wrong? He seemed like a really nice guy. Besides, It would make a great bit for the late night listening audience. (I had stealthily notified the police while he went to use the rest room. Thank the maker even crazy people have to pee.)  Then what happened during the proceeding 10 minutes was probably the most unusual thing that ever happened to me in all my 50 plus years of broadcasting.  He agreed to the interview and as soon as the Norman Greenbuam tune had ended I opened the guest microphone and started asking him questions as though he were any other regular run-of-the-mill honored guest on my show.  Sure enough when I asked him who he was, he identified himself as, his words: “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God and of Mother Mary.” The interview was mind blowing. What could have been a very bad experience for me and my soon to be arriving wife, turned out to be one of the most interesting and entertaining interviews I ever did.  His knowledge of the Bible was astounding and he answered every question I threw at him with calm, confident and I must say, mostly accurate answers- Biblically  correct in every way.  I was then and still am today an outspoken atheist, after becoming very familiar with the Bible but I swear, by the time the interview was over I thought, hey man, this really could be him! The phones were ringing off the hook from people who wanted to know what the hell was going on. It was almost like Orson Well’s “War of The Worlds” all over again. Only THIS time it was the “Second Coming”. Totally nuts! But, like all good things, this interview had to be concluded. The guys in the white jackets had finally arrived and Jesus  left as calmly and quietly as he came. Later, the hospital, located a stone’s throw away from the station apologized for the incident and mentioned in passing that they did occasionally have patients wander out of the low security low risk wing and did I wish to file a compliant with the police. What? Are you kidding? That whole 15 or 20 minutes of my career were probably the most exciting I had ever experienced- if there had been ratings they would have been through the roof and by the time my wife and child arrived this incident was history.

Coming up! The Great Storm of 1980!


Written by ldreynolds

February 3, 2012 at 12:56 am

Posted in General

Paradise Found…

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I thought carefully about using a particular opening statement for this book I’m writing. I know its been used ad nauseum, but I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to set the scene…

It was a dark and stormy night. It was 2am Hawaiian Standard Time. I had just disembarked at Honolulu International Airport after a 12 hour, non-stop flight from Chicago. It was 8 degrees above zero and snowing when I got on the United Airlines Flight and when I got off,  it was a muggy 80 degrees and pouring down rain. Only it was unlike any downpour I’d ever seen.  So very alien and yet familiar. The smell of the air was different. The air felt different. The ambient sounds around me were different… This is how I began the rest of my life in Paradise. A tall, lanky 18 year old, far from home, setting on my luggage in the rain,  in the open air causeway of the Aloha Airlines lobby at  the inter island terminal. Wondering what to do next.

Come to find out my journey wasn’t quite finished. I had another 90 miles of ocean to cross. And here I was, a soggy haole teenager with 100 dollars worth of personal checks in my pocket and no way to finish the final leg. Being a naive smart-ass teenager finally on my own in a strange and distant land I was under the impression that I was where I was supposed to be. But according to a passing Taxi driver who I could barely understand,  lo and behold Maui was not a town on the island I was on, but a whole island in and unto its self.

So with pride swallowed, I proceeded to call my new boss at 3 o’clock in the morning to ask a favor, one of what would the first of many. To my surprise, she didn’t send me packing back to Michigan, but with groggy voice gave me her credit card number so I could finish my flight to Maui. I couldn’t believe how trusting and kind she was over the phone other than to think that I must have given her quite a story to tell at the place where I was to begin my career in broadcasting. The Aloha Flight wouldn’t be taking off until 6:30am so I got about to waiting, three hours to go sitting on my luggage in the pouring down rain. It was December 1st, 1967.

Now that I think of it 42 years later, I believe she thought the story was so worth the telling she even put me up at a hotel until I could find a place to live on a more permanent basis. I hadn’t really given much thought to where I would be staying when I got there and I felt stupid when she asked me where I would be spending the next few days. I wound up in a musty smelling room with a bed and a bathroom at The Maui Beach Hotel for 8 dollars and 65 cents a night.  It took me a week to find an a decent place to call home. One of the stafffers by the name of  Richard Graham was charitable enough to rent one of the bedrooms in a place he was staying at.  It was an older plantation style house located on Halama Street, a shady narrow lane 50 feet from the beach in a sleepy, dusty little town called Kihei.  My rent was 50 dollars a month.

So it came to pass.  I began a 20 year stint at KMVI AM starting at a whopping $2.95 an hour.

I was an impetuous, full of myself teen, recently sprung from a highly dysfunctional family and I barely remembered to thank her the next morning when I wandered into her office, having not slept since I left my dad standing on the tarmac at the Lansing Metro Airport just 28 hours hence.  I never looked back.

Chapter Two…

My first days, weeks, months on the island are very much a blur. My official reason for this is age. I believe I waited too long to write all this stuff down. However, I fear the real reason for the “fuzziness” was that my brain at the time was being subjected to all the rebellious things teenagers did back in that summer of love. Not all of them legal.

The population of the entire island in the late sixties was nearing 30,000 souls.  It was still a community, albeit a large one, where everyone knew everyone else in some way shape or form. It was very much like a microcosm of the mainland, except our east coast was Hana, not New York, our west coast was Lahaina/Kaanapali and not L.A.  My new home had everything my old home had and so much more. I loved the fact that you could either freeze to death at 10,000 feet at the summit of Mount Haleakala or cook in the sweltering heat of Makena . You could enjoy the fall-like temporate climate of upcountry Kula or explore the rain forests of Wainapanapa, and all of this within a few hours drive of wherever you decided to hang your hat. This was the age of  enlightenment for me: 1967 to 1972. An era during which I discovered sex, drugs and rock and roll.

The friends I made during this time were some of the best I’ve ever had. Unselfish, caring friends who all grew up in this sleepy island community and who accepted me sight unseen. Certainly  most of the population remianed suspious of me like they did every newcomer. Here, you had to prove your worth by being subjected to a certain “reverse discrimination”. You were accepted into the community only after you endured a few years of this without turning tail and running back to where you came from. I believe now, that this process was used to determine whether you would  become a contributor to the community or just another “pain-in-the-ass” malahini. I passed this test of fire although it was by the skin of my teeth and to this day, I am so very grateful.

My very first friend, Richard Graham made sure I saw all of the high points of the island. He wanted to aclimatize me so I’d “be more believable on the air”. I admit, this new land was entirely alien to me. Not even close to what my preconceptions were before I arrived. He drove me everywhere, pointing out the sights and giving me a general education about the culture. He made me practice the language by reading road signs as we drove along. He made sure I had a decent place to live during my first few years on Maui. He worked as KMVI’s afternoon drive guy and who I followed on the air every weekday at 6PM back in 1967.

Did I say he was my first friend? Well, now that I think about it, he was  maybe a close second. I might list Nora I. Cooper as my first friend. That’s the lady I mentioned in chapter one. The one who didn’t bat an eye lash at my geographical folly at the airport. In fact, the clearest memory I have of this time period was the day I walked into her office on my first official day of duty. I was 6 feet 3 inches tall and a skinny 168 pounds, bursting with ego and impetuous as all holy hell. There were no chairs in her small office so I stood there smiling my best mischiveous teenager smile. Back then, you were required to indicate your religion on the application for employment and I, having just run away from a wedding to a Jewish high school sweetheart, wrote down Judaism, even though I had never finished the conversion process. You see, according to my parents, I was an upstanding  Christian boy. I hated labels even then.

In those days all the DJ’s on KMVI had nicknames. There was J. Akuhead Pupule, (Hal Lewis) in the morning drive, The Riddle King (McAvoy Lane), Crusty ol’ (Bob Frost), Da Carrabao (Rick Medina), El Gecko/Uncle Cliffy (Cliff Arquette) and Poor Richard (Dick Graham). She looked down at my application, then looked up at me and said: “You’re a little tall for a Jewish kid aren’t you? I think we’ll call you “Little David”. Ha Ha. It stuck. I was part of the team.

To this day I have kept the initials “LD” as part of my radio stage name in deference to the person who really became more of a second mother to me than a boss. from that day on and  for many years after, Little David  became king of night time radio on Maui. ( In all fairness however, there wasn’t much else in the line of entertainment for Maui’s Youth after 9PM anyway. So I guess you could say I was king by default.)

Of course in those days, radio was a much different thing than it is today. Due to the size of the market and its geography, KMVI took on an additional role as well as being the presenter of news, sports, and music.  On Maui, radio was more than just entertainment and news. It actually formed the function of bringing the island community together. Radio was the community’s hub, where folks got their town gossip, news from the outside world, ocean conditions for the fishermen, agricultural news for the farmers and language programs for the different ethnic groups who made up the community itself.

I remember having to read paid segments from both of the islands funeral homes… a five minute obituary report of who died, when the services were to be held, who they were survived by and which cemetary the burial would take place. Bulgo’s Mortuary and Norman’s  Mortuary I believe they were called.  I also prided myself in finding many a lost pet. It was an amazingly satisfying feeling to get that tearful thank you call from a listener recently reunited with their little furry friend as a direct result of the announcement of the missing animal over the air.

Back then it wasn’t unusual to have to ‘ad lib’ a 60 second supermarket ad right out of the Maui news, complete with the sound of the paper rattling in the background. And I wonder who will remember “Dialing For Dollars”… a call-in contest where the listener got an opportunity to answer three decreasingly difficult questions, with a dollar “disappearing” with every wrong answer. The contestant started out with three dollars and while not too many listeners were able to answer the first question, most were able to get the last one correct and were thrilled to receive the one dollar bill. However the biggest thrill for the listener obviously, was talking to the D.J. on the air. That, I believe, was the biggest prize of all. The money was never the reason for the interest in the contest, it was an early version of American Idol on a super small basis. The listener was a radio star for three minutes. They loved it!

KMVI at 550khz on the dial, was one of only two stations serving Maui County during this era. The other station, KNUI was operating on 1310khz at the time and needless to say the competition was intense. The rivalry between the two stations was a beautiful thing to someone like me, who loved to compete, who craved to be compared favorably to the other guy who was on the air opposite me in my time slot. No matter who he was or what kind of person he was, he was the enemy and I went after him with a vengence.  Those days in the ‘backwater’ as I called it, we had no ratings services. There was no Arbitron or Neilson to tell us who was number one. But even then good ratings was everything. It made selling ads on the station easier if we could prove somehow that we had the highest number of listeners. So we made due with our own research methods which admittedly were very quaint, but just as accurate.

I remember getting out of my 1967 volkswagen in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center (the only other shopping center at the time was the Lahaina Shopping Center) with my clip board and walking down the rows of cars, peaking into the windows and jotting down which side of the dial the radio was set on. KMVI operated on a frequency of 550khz and was on the left side of the analog tuning dial, KNUI at 1310khz was on the right.  As long as there were more check marks in the KMVI column we were happy. And I am very proud to say back then, the KMVI column was indeed the longest one on any given day in any given parking lot.

Chapter Three

These earliest days of my new life on Maui happened during a time of much confusion for me. I had, for all practical purposes, run away from home. I was trying to get as far away from all of the hypocrisy and bigotry I had discovered going on around me as I could, while under the impression that the world was being guided by God’s hands. My folks were beginning a long and nasty divorce and I was being exposed to things I wanted no part of.  So, when I chose the market I wanted to be placed in when I graduated from Broadcasting School, I chose the furthest place on the planet I could go and still remain in the United States- Hawaii.

I wanted to get as far away from Michigan as I could and I had always fantasized as a kid about  having adventures in exotic, faraway places. In fact, the theme of one of my favorite TV shows as a teenagerwas called “Adventures In Paradise”. All those National Geographic Magazines in the Dentist and Doctor’s wating rooms had a heavy influence my decision as well. I was looking for a place where race wasn’t an issue, where everyone lived together in harmony. Where all those things I learned in Sunday School were practiced and not just preached.

I figured since Hawaii was supposed to be the “melting pot” of America, there I might find my dreams come true. There, people of many cultures lived next to each other, you never heard of any race riots or hate crimes and families stayed together. I decided I wanted to be a part of this community. There,  I would find palm trees blowing in the trade winds, white sandy beaches and perhaps the love of my life. Well, I did find most all of that. The rest is a mixture of bliss and disappointment.

(I will be constantly adding to and upgrading this post for quite some time. Please feel free to check in often and add your comments and maybe some of your own memories of this time. Mahalo!)

I am adding this at the request of a friend of mine. It was a comment to a news post he posted on Facebook about how tourism is killing Maui. It is also as possible ending paragraph to this book I am trying to write about my life’s experience on Maui as a popular radio personality during the late 60’s to the present day. This was my comment (slightly re-written):

With the way things are going in the Western hemisphere these days with all of the political turmoil and the added pressure of impending doom from what scientists have named climate change, I’m afraid too many people are (frantically?) searching for “Shangrala”.(sp?) When I got off the plane here in the islands back in 1967 there was a gentle rain, the air smelled “different”… alien-like. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. (More accurately Michigan- but I needed Kansas for effect.) It was so overwhelmingly strange and wonderful, I was hooked. I was sensing something dramatically different, that I could more than see, I could smell it, taste it, feel it all around me,   I knew right then and there that I was finally home. I knew that I would never be able to leave… Now? 50 some years later? I can’t tell the difference between here and San Diego. The people are looking for what I was looking for: paradise… but they won’t find it here anymore. It’s gone. But what I remember will stay with me until the very end. That will have to do.

Written by ldreynolds

October 26, 2009 at 6:01 am

Posted in General

Those Amazing Epiphanies

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I had formed my own theories about the things learned to be true about the Human condition back when I was too young to know what they were called. Things like the inherited desire for human companionship. How the human brain is wired in such a way that compels  us to function as  social animals.  How our brains are pre-programmed to be pattern seeking, to attempt at all cost to try to make order out of chaos. (That one can both be a blessing and a curse to us humans.)  I have learned through my studies that there are three things human beings are most fearful of: Death,  being alone and pain and suffering. Combine all of what I have said so far and you get very fertile ground for the beginnings of religion.

I don’t care how much of a hermit a particular human claims to be. If you took that human and put them say, on Mars and left them there with no way- no hope of ever rejoining society, they would slowly but surely fade away. They would die long before a natural death knowing they will never be able to touch another human, hear another human voice, smell the pheromones of someone other than themselves.  Certainly there have been successful clinical tests involving human beings in isolation, but these test subjects knew they would be rejoining humanity after the trails were concluded. There are folks who actually prefer to live their lives apart from society, but they are still aware of society all around them.  If they wanted to, they could rejoin the teaming masses at any time.  But put them in an impossibly distant place with not a chance of eventual repatriation and it’s a different story altogether. True isolation is not survivable.

Since the dawn of human history we have always gone out of our way to make sense of the unknown. It’s a process which has given us the constellations in the night sky. It is what allows us see a cloud in the shape of a volkswagen or a bust of President Lincoln as we lie in a grassy field looking up at the sky.   Rubik’s cube?  No problem.  Crossword puzzles? Good fun! Ask us what is different between several seemingly similar pictures? The longer we stare at them the more differences we can pick out. This brain function is what gave us math, chemistry, and physics… and religion.

And then there’s death. I’m sorry, there’s not much good anyone can say about death. We fear it most of all. We love life too much and we cannot stand the thought of having to give it up.  Today, science  still struggles with combating the aging process.  Whether they find the answers they  seek remains to be seen. In the meantime we will all have to face it eventually. All of us. And it scares us silly.

Thousands of years ago, as hunter-gatherers, we kept our families  together in a tight group as we roamed the savanna and when darkness fell we always kept a fire burning through the night. We carefully watched over each other as we had every good reason to. The world was out to eat us and we found strength and security in numbers. This eventually led to the formation villages, then cities, then city-states, provinces, kingdoms and finally whole countries.

I wonder who received the first epiphany. Who figured out what the big three human fears were and then devised a formula that took advantage of those fears to control mens minds. No one really knows the exact time in history when religion appeared, but slowly over time it became one of the most effective forms of crowd control known to man.  The shamans, the medicine men and the priests horded the science, they kept the knowledge to themselves. They turned our fears back on us and gave us a thing called religion. The plan was to indoctrinate the huddled masses by telling them that if they joined up, they would become part of a loving, extended family.  Safe,  protected from harm. They promised them  life  beyond the grave and reunification with loved ones who passed on before us.

Then, almost in the same breath we were told that if we refused allegiance we would burn in hell forever, to be consumed by fire and suffer unimaginable pain. Who wouldn’t buy that kind of sales pitch? If I were an ignorant cave man, I’d buy that line easy.

During the earliest days of our reign on Earth, whenever we witnessed a lightning strike or other stupefying natural phenomena, we would run frightened into our caves and wonder what it was we did to deserve such a display of unearthly violence. Whenever the fields turned dry and lifeless we had no idea that it was just a simple change in the normal weather patterns of the region. We thought it might be some invisible power we pissed off somehow and we did crazy things in order to appease it.  Well, how convenient that all we had to do was just join the cult, promise ten percent of our annual income and we would receive protection from these evil spirits from the skies and our fields would become fruitful once again. The shaman, medicine men and the priests knew very well the cycle would continue and the rains would eventually return. And when they did, well, it was all we needed. We were suckered  in for the long term. From then on we did what we were told.  Gods one, rational thought zero.

It is all a classic example of our brains struggling to make order out of chaos. The lightning strike was a natural event caused by the imbalance of positive and negative electrons in the atmosphere. It wasn’t the sky gods at all. Every time science advanced by explaining the unexplainable, the church would take one step backwards and re-draw the line in the sand. And still, the con continued. We discovered that the earth had weather patterns that caused dust bowls in one region and floods in another. As time marched on, we discovered the earth was round, not flat. The earth circled the sun, not the other way around. We discovered germs and bacteria caused illness not angry gods.  Still the con continued. The biggest blow to religion came on the day the theory of evolution became solid indisputable fact.  Still the con somehow managed to maintain it’s horrible stranglehold on humanity.

As we have begun to find out, biology comes into play here as well. The new theory is that after several thousand years of this clever ruse, our “religiousness” became ingrained into our DNA. We evolved pre-wired to accept this clever con, making us easy marks for future shamans,  medicine men and priests.  This explains why even when these seemingly  supernatural events were explained logically by the more rational of our human population, the con was able to survive. In fact, the rational thinkers of the day were usually imprisoned or put to death for speaking out. Today they are still subjected to isolation, ridicule and discrimination.

With man’s apparent laziness in his way of thinking, it is a good thing we have science. It is so much easier to blame things on a god rather than do the foot work and try to figure out why a certain event happens. It’s a good thing we have scientists who actually thrive on trying to figure things out or we’d still be believing  an angry god causes lightning strikes.  Could it be man’s inherent laziness is what continues to give religion it’s stranglehold on humanity? Why is it that after so many years,  science is still lagging behind religion on the scoreboard? Stay tuned.

Written by ldreynolds

October 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Posted in General

An Introduction

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I have been threatening for a long time to pick up my life story where I left off back in 1988, after those dark days of my divorce from my second wife. Those were the days when I needed God the most, but he just never showed up. What venue to tell the story? Well, I weighed all the options: write a book, continue a personal journal or start a blog.  Obviously the decision has been made and off I go into new uncharted territory.

In my posts I want to explain who I am now as opposed to who I was back then and why…  how I became the person I am today… a very happy card carrying atheist,  stripped of all the baggage of a brainwashed kid.  It’s a story full of lies and disillusionment, bigotry and racism. But it is a story that does have a happy ending. It is my hope that my story will help others who may have lived a similar childhood and right now may be sitting on the fence as far as their own religious views are concerned. Maybe what I have to say will help them climb down off the fence on the rational side,  joining the millions of free thinking humanists like myself with no more guilt, no more betrayal, no more living a lie.

My folks were not particularly deeply religious. They used the church the way a lot of  “grown-ups” use it,  as a social club of sorts. Human beings are a social animal after all, and I believe religion was born out of this inherited drive. It’s right there in our DNA.  But I digress. Deeply religious or not, my siblings and I were dragged to church kicking and screaming by our parents every Sunday all through our “formative years”.

Eventually I came to accept certain parts of the dogma: Love thine enemy as thyself, turn the other cheek, help those in need, do unto others, all of that good stuff. I was taught to accept my fellow man no matter what the color of his skin, his place of worship or his social status. As my young and formative brain sopped up all of this “information”, I slowly became the dangerously altruistic softy I am today. I was never exposed to the old testament ‘dark side’ as a child and for that I shall always despise the church- and it’s congregation.

My adolescent troubles  began when I started noticing the adults around me acting under a slightly different set of values than the ones I was being taught in Sunday School.  I must have been all of 11 years old. I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher having to leave town suddenly. Evidently she had a tryst with the preacher’s son and became very pregnant. I remember that it seemed like every time a preacher came along that I liked, he only lasted about three months and then the church board of directors would can him. I remember the sermons they gave about how great society would be if we could all just get along regardless of what color our skin was. A bouquet would be a boring thing indeed if all it’s flowers were the same color. (an analogy for the world and it’s many races.) I particularly liked the one based on another popular analogy, how science and religion were like the wings of a bird- which obviously could not fly without both wings working in perfect harmony and how Jesus got pissed at the church hierarchy and drove out the money changers. I bought it all hook, line and sinker.

However It wasn’t long before I learned that in the real world, all was not as the preacher had led me to believe.  At a very young age I became aware of the “Great Double Standard”. I discovered the definition of  hypocrisy long before I ever became familiar with the word.  I remember thinking: “What is up with this?”  Evidently all the values I learned in Sunday school were to be  discarded or at the very least altered somewhat as  a child grew into adulthood. Or maybe those lofty values were to be used selectively, when  convenient, when it suited me?  My problem was, I couldn’t just discard those values. I was stuck with them. I liked them and I stubbornly held on to them even when they worked against me- and that was usually more often than not.  Thanks a lot lord. You turned out to be the the worst role model a gullible child like me could have ever had.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that those values were not right, they were- they are.  It’s just that everyone has to go along with that game plan if it is ever going to work. They have to be switched on all the time, not just when it seems appropriate. Could it be that just like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, good old fashioned honest values are a fantasy as well? The answer I came up with was “yes”- as near as I could figure being limited by the brain of an 11 year old boy. I wrestled with these revelations along with all of the other lessons in life that happen to young adolescent humans. I held on to those values through Puberty, discovering the opposite sex, going through the usual phases that we chalk up to “growing pains”…  Then came the terrible teens.

I started hating my father for his attitude towards people of color.  I  didn’t understand why Dad never thought Jerry Lewis was funny. I remember sinking down out of sight in the back seat of the family car in embarrassment as we drove through the Black section of Flint, Michigan on the way to our Grandparents house in North Branch. He would yell at the top of his lungs “We’re going through nigger town!”.  All I could do was hope that none of the residents of that neighborhood were within ear shot.  Much later on in my life I discovered that my folks had quashed a teenage love affair between myself and a girl I met and fell in love with while attending a trade school in Milwaukee- because she was Jewish. Evidently my mother had had a few alcohol inspired antisemitic words with her mother over dinner one  evening and that was that.

I wondered for years after she broke off our relationship why it had happened. I would call her on the phone and ask but she just would not speak to me.  She truly despised me and at that time I was clueless as to her reasons. Then, many years later, just prior to my fathers death he admitted to me what had happened on that fateful night.  Then it all made sense.  I remember vividly one of the last things my mother said to me as I was preparing to leave for Hawaii.  She said: “Now don’t you  go getting hooked up with one of those Asian girls, David!”  But of course, that was one of the first things I did when I got there.

For me, leaving for Hawaii was not only the result of an overwhelming sense of adventure, but more so I believe now, it was just me trying to get as far away from the place of my childhood as I possibly could and still stay in the United States.  The year was 1967. My parents were divorcing and the four of us siblings were taking our shock and dismay out on each other. The family exploded into all parts of the country. One went south to Miami, one ended up in Seattle, one stayed in Jackson, Michigan and I, as I’ve already let on, made it all the way to Maui and only now, 40 plus years later, are we beginning to make an effort to patch things up and bring the family back together. It may happen eventually if my atheism doesn’t become a barrier.

I don’t know if I’ll ever finally grieve over the loss of my parents. I did love them and I am grateful to them for giving me my chance to shine in this life, on this planet. I know they put up with a lot of crap from me, my two younger sisters and one younger brother. Yet, I had to learn all of the “hard” stuff on my own- how the world really operated. If I only knew then what I know now. (What a beautifully honest truth that statement is!) If it hadn’t been for my books, my acute altruism would have killed me. I read all I could get my hands on about rational thought. How human beings think, believe and behave. I needed desperately to know what had happened to me and my family and why. Eventually I found the answers and I will discuss them all right here in the days and weeks ahead.

As I add to this blog, I will take you along on one of the most revealing journeys I’ve ever undertaken, where along the way I learned why most folks never really find what they are looking for, or even realize that they are missing vital information. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. I found the answers I needed before my confidence in humanity was completely destroyed, before I reached a point where it may have even destroyed myself.  It is my hope that these stories will help those of you who are as confused as I was and perhaps help you  find clarity and resolution along your own personal journey. You really do have to let go of a lot of baggage you picked up as a child. One of those lead weights you are going to have to drop is a fictitious old legend called Yahweh.

Believers would have you think that I am possessed by the devil. That I am a confused and godless heretic without a clue as to the true nature of life. But I know I am the enlightened one and they the ones who are blind. I chose to undertake a search that would take some  40 years of my life hunting for the answers I needed.  I’ve read the Bible several times cover to cover. Indeed it was the first time I ever read the Bible all the way through that I decided that yes, I really was an atheist.  I’ve studied the great philosophers like Aristophanes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russel, David Hume and so many others. I’ve read the biographies of our founding fathers and the writings of more contemporary thinkers like Micheal Shermer, Daniel C.  Dennett,  Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  I’ve become quite the History buff while in the process of digging for any factual evidence of the existence of Jesus in some of the best known books on world history ever written… and I found very little. In fact I found no direct historical eveidence at all that a man called Jesus Christ ever existed. You’d think with all those miracles he supposedly performed, there would be better documentation. Some sort of historical documentation.  I’ve read the offerings from our greatest scientific minds like Darwin, Einstein, Sagan and Dawkins and the more I learned the facts, the less I saw for a need for a supreme being.

Unlike my hard core christian friends I now know there are always facts that underlie any truth. Without facts the word “truth” becomes a relative term. It can mean anything we want it to mean. A big break through for me was finally coming to the realization that I will never be able to convince the evangelical  believer to see my way of looking at the world. All the answers they require are found in one old book, written centuries ago in an era where there was no science, no knowledge of the world outside the two or three hundred mile radius of where most of what happened in the Bible took place. The the world was flat and dragons waited at earth’s edge for those who were foolish enough to venture beyond the unknown.  The difference between us is that I rolled up my sleeves and did the research myself.  I studied hard and long and the learning continues to this day.  And not just one book but several.  I really worked at it. I found that the truth is out there and easily found if one would simply look. Maybe That’s why there are so many believers out there. Humans are just naturally lazy. It’s easier to rely on others for the truth than it is to go out and discover it for ourselves. To make matters worse there is a truth that is being spoken that is both easy to believe, ultimately damaging and hardly the truth at all…

It was difficult fro the longest time to sort it all out. There is so much MIS information out there that stood in my way, but I eventually found out why so many people believe the most ridiculous things. These many undereducated over zealous people live their lives believing that there is a better world waiting for those who will simply believe without question, believe in completely unprovable things, imaginary things. Myths, fables and fabrications.  Some just can’t wait for this life to end so they may enjoy the wonders of heaven. The difference between me and them is that they decided to take the easy way out and just join the club. They took that “leap of faith” as opposed to getting their hands dirty and finding the answers for themselves like I finally ended up doing.  The lazy bastards…

In this blog I intend to extend a helping hand to  anyone who might have had a similar childhood, to those who feel they were duped by the very people they counted on for guidance as I was.  I have a gut feeling that there are many more people like myself out there who are suffering for the truth.  I intend to give as much aid and comfort as I can to those whose lives, like my own, just happened to turn out to be nothing more than one giant snipe hunt…  I want more people to become curious enough to begin to explore what is real and wonderful in the natural world and then hopefully the same thing will happen to them that happened to me. Perhaps a day will come for them as it did for me when all the lights got switched on enabling my eyes to open wide and begin gazing out upon the world for the very first time.

A reading list for those who wish to pursue this further with me:

The Believing Brain – Michael Shermer

Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer

How We Believe – Michael Shermer

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

Breaking The Spell – Daniel C. Dennett

The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan

Atheist Universe – David Mills

Godless – Dan Barker

Losing My Religion – William Lbdell

God- The Failed Hypothesis – Victor J. Stenger

Quantum Gods – Victor J. Stenger

Farewell To God – Charles Templeton

Irreligion – John Allen Paulos

God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens

Arguably – Christopher Hitchens

Written by ldreynolds

October 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Posted in General