In 1922, 16 year old Idris Galcia Hall read an advertisement in the Riviera edition of the Paris Herald caught her eye: “Brains, Beauty & Breeches – World Tour Offer For Lucky Young Woman… Wanted to join an expedition… Asia, Africa…” The pitch came from "Captain" Walter Wanderwell, a Polish national named Valerian Johannes Piecynski who chose a dashing name for an English speaking public. Idris joined him, becoming Aloha Wanderwell, and was soon the "World's Most Widely Traveled Girl," trekked through 43 countries and four continents. She served as a cinematographer, photographer, translator, driver, actress, and seamstress, filmed and wrote detailed descriptions of parts of the world that hadn't been documented yet. Her mode of choice: Model T Ford. [more inside]
In the spring of 2015, a billboard for the film Aloha was erected overlooking Logan Square in Chicago. It's still there today. While its fate and that of two others (mercifully blank) is fought over in court, fans of the billboard are planning a tiki party in honor of its first birthday.
Cameron Crowe's new movie Aloha got its first bad review when Amy Pascal's emails were hacked. "I'm never starting a movie again when the script is ridiculous," she wrote. "I don't care how much I love the director and the actors." This was before anyone got wind that this was the latest of in long, disgraceful history of movies set in Hawaii that erase POC from a location where the population is only around 30% Caucasian. But as Jen Yamoto points out in The Daily Beast, "Aloha actually features one of the more prominent Asian/mixed heritage female leads in any studio movie in recent memory. She just happens to be played by Emma Stone." [more inside]
... imagine for a moment that you didn’t have to rely on maps to navigate the unknown—that your memory, instincts, and knowledge of the environment sufficed. This is the art of Polynesian wayfinding. An article by Lily Bui, a researcher at MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, summarizing how Polynesians managed to reliably navigate between more than a thousand islands in 10 million square miles of water, an area slightly larger than the size of Canada, with limited instruments and great memories for details. [more inside]
Mau Piailug passed away last week at 78 years old. He was a Master Navigator from the tiny island of Satawal. In the seventies, he traveled to Hawaii to help the Polynesian Voyaging Society revive the wayfinder's art, navigating by the sun, moon, stars, animals, waves and clouds. In 1976, he steered the Hokule'a, a traditional sailing canoe, from Hawaii to Tahiti without even so much as a compass. He began teaching a new generation of navigators and helped launch a revival of Polynesian culture. To honor him, the Polynesian Voyaging Society is raising money to assist the people of Satawal, while also preparing for a world wide voyage on the Hokule'a, to use their ancient wisdom to help imagine a new relationship to the planet we share.