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JIM MURRAY

Are Sports Missing? Not Here

October 09, 1994|JIM MURRAY

Listen! Had it up to here with the O.J. Simpson story? Tired of drive-by shootings, sirens in the night? Angry because there's no World Series, the Rams are packing, hockey's in jeopardy? Clinton and Haiti getting tiresome?

Do what I did. Get yourself on a plane and fly over the rainbow to a Land of Oz where the trade winds blow and the land is so sweet it grows sugar and pineapple and the mountains glow at night and rivers of fire run down their sides liquefying rock and fossilizing trees and reminding us again we live on a ball of fire that will one day incinerate all who live on it and it will disappear in the same cosmic, cataclysmic explosion that brought it here in the first place. The Bible is right. The world will die in its own furnace, the oceans will turn to steam, the ice caps will bubble and melt. Man has about 2 million years to get out.

The big island of Hawaii is an active volcano. It rests atop the mightiest mountain on the planet. If you take measurements from the ocean floor it would make Everest seem like a ski slope. In the equatorial sun it has snow on top.

It is a place where colors grow so vivid it almost hurts to look at them, where sunsets melting into the blue sea are the most exquisite on the planet.

It was here the Polynesians put ashore after their epic journey into the unknown armed only with canoe oars and bravery hundreds of years before Columbus.

It is an island of tranquillity where even the music is sweet, such a high glucose content that it is an adult lullaby far from the harsh discordant version of the ancient art in our own music. It still has melody as soft as the swaying winds, not just a beat like a locomotive piston.

It is always 200 years ago here. It is a young island, the youngest of the Hawaiian flotilla, barely 800,000 years old, an adolescent of landfalls, and it is lush with such beauty and soaring cliffs and lakes of lava it is ageless. The air is so pure that ecstatic astronomers place their telescopes atop it the better to study the vastness we are a part of. They may find God from the peaks of Mauna Loa some night.

There are only 30 people per square mile here, not counting the tourists who flock through in their colored shorts and hanging cameras and golf bags and shirts with palm trees on them.

They share their island. They like people, and hospitality is a way of life for them. They are island people but not clannish, and they are as happy as their music.

The great resorts like Mauna Lani and Waikaloa match anything the captains and kings used to flock to on the French Riviera or the spas of Europe. Captain Cook was killed here, but a monument is raised to him because he brought the news of Hawaii--which he called the Sandwich Islands--to a world that had never seen a bougainvillea or tasted a coconut or pineapple and he died a benefactor to mankind.

The tourists play golf, and why not on holes surrounded by the bluest sea you ever will see, and the fairways are lined with anthurium and lava and the air is so soft you can touch it when the trades whistle through the palms. The mongooses play in the lava and the birds, as gaily plumed as any in ornithology, flutter through the hibiscus. Out to sea you can see the white sails spanking in the breeze. The sun always shines, the rain falls mainly in the mountains, not the plains.

It is a place where you get orchids not only in the moonlight but on your eggs, and its 4,000 square miles host only 120,000 permanent citizens. England by comparison fits 50 million in 40,000 square miles and New York City you don't want to know about.

The big island has murders, assaults and robberies, but not one-an-hour or less. It is an oasis of beauty ringed by the mightiest moat in the world, the Pacific Ocean. As Joe Louis said, you can run but you can't hide.

No wonder they have such a deep belief in God. They can hear Him in the basement, see Him in the night sky.

Their language is as sweet as their fruit. It has only 13 letters in it, so they use all of them in every word and some of their words are so long they should be serialized and every word has at least 5 "o's" and "i's' plus a few "k's." It is a language so pretty it almost has to be sung, the words so long they seem to be stuttered.

It is a corner of the world everyone should spend some part of his or her life in, a reminder of what the earth was before man began his marauding. To hear the dulcet tones of Sweet Leilani or The Wedding Song or sway to the hula is restorative and gets you ready for another year of the Santa Monica Freeway or the Sig Alerts of San Fernando.

On the greens of Waikaloa, you don't really miss the World Series or worry the Rams will go or hockey will be iced. You are sure if it is not heaven, it is at least a corner of it. Even the weeds are gorgeous. You can go back in time even for a place that has telephones and television, faxes and par threes.

It is therapeutic. On the golf course, I hit 29 "Oh, no, not over theres!" 14 "Anybody see where that wents?" 20 "I could have sworn that broke lefts" and 23 "Anybody see what I'm doing wrongs?"

It didn't matter. You can't get mad in Hawaii.

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