MY ALTER EGO, LEROY THE BADASS, DUMONT
I AM THE NICE ONE, ANTONE DE CASAS DE DIAS Y SOUZA
KEEP THINGS STRAIGHT
Each of us is more than a single personality. We are multiples but usually call them "moods". Through the practice of deep meditation which I developed as a child sitting quietly and letting the birds gather about me. They were as curious as I am, listening to their chatter and psyching out their body language. In a way, l learned to talk jungle-like in boonies where I grew up. It made me not tune in but tune outward, being emersed in the habitat in which I observed. It was the best kind of meditation and it let me survive the ravages of war with my sanity not only intact but expanded. I was a real country boy, growing up in a four bedroom house my father, uncles, cousins and I built. We had no indoor facilities, just an outhouse and the great outdoors, no electricity, only a car battery powered shortwave radio to keep in touch with the outside world. We hunted and fished, and lived off the natural native vegetation for our food. We were a family, a close knitted clan that stood together against the world until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and killed several of my relatives. Then, we went to war. Every one from age six forward did something to support the war effort and the thousands of marines that came through the Big Island on their way to war. I made friends amongst the junior officers and lost friends and relatives in the battles that ensued. All of the islands, Saipan, Midway, and the rest were personal places where someone close lost his life. This was the nature of my youth, the events that made who I am. It was reality at its rawest edge but yet a happy time where you enjoyed every friendship and every day as if it was your last because, for many, it was. Only a deep cut sense of humor let us, and me, survive. Like the kanakas say: Eat hearty today, for tomorrow you die. They also say: No huhu, don't sweat it and, for the males, hang loose. Don't get your balls in an uproar. Live life ee-sah-lee, braddah. Tomorrow, today will be over.
THE KALIHI SAND DRAGONS
Sand Dragons is a very, very polite euphemism for a Hawaiian obscenity a group of us inked on the backs of our Ike Jackets (Eisenhower Jackets utilized by the U.S. Army and Marines). Except for a couple of friends who had agreeable (spelled g-u-l-l-i-b-l-e) parents who allowed them to procure driver's licenses, the rest of us were members of the bicycle-brigade. Whenever asked by parents or haoles (non-kanakas) what our jacket inscription said we would reply "Knights of the Weed" meaning "cigarettes" which in the Forties and early Fifties were referred to as such. All it would garner was a slow shake of the head and the mild admonition "You should not smoke until you graduate from high school" or something similar since cigarettes were an acceptable vice advertised and participated in by almost everyone. At any rate, we proudly wore our jackets even to the high school social event. The jackets along with shoes were considered proper "formal" attire.
As you might have gathered, we were not very committed to the formalities of the "Ozzie and Harriet" generation. Television did not arrive at Oahu, Hawaii until the late Fifties and very few could afford the sets to watch the two stations that mostly ran old reruns of movies and live amateur shows that were called the "Puke Night" fare. Short-wave radio was the better fare. You received the latest comedy, crime and drama shows as they were aired in the 48 states.
Local entertainment consisted of spending twenty-cents-a-piece for an evening movie or nine cents for an early matinee. The closest thing to a first run movie was the Kuhio Theater for an "outrageous" dollar and forty-five cents. The alternative was private socials at parent-chaperoned evenings or hanging around a soda fountain. The "Sand Dragons" chose to find other means of entertainment which I really will not divulge here. Some of it is explained in my partial autobiography, "Growing Up Kanaka" available here FREE in pdf format on our Novels Page . Simply click the title to open in a separate window to read and/or download.
The local environment consisted of unofficial "turfs". Each district had its own gang circa New York City. They were the Palama, Kapalama, Kalihi (Mauka - Upper), Kalihi (Makai - Lower), et cetera. You get the picture. No one packed pistols. Switch blade knives were the weapon of choice (straight edge razors for the Filipinos). But, for the most part, fists and feet were utilized. Everyone fought with their feet, karate-style. The first symbolic act was taking off one's shoes if you wore them. That meant the fight was on.
I lived in mid-Kalihi which had a gang of sorts at the end of my block. When I moved in, the gang leader came over to challenge me but, when he saw the Junior Golden Gloves jacket I wore, he asked the obvious, "You box?". I said yes and we proceeded to the garage the gang called home. I demonstrated my prowess on the punching bag hanging from a rafter and the gang leader suggested an exhibition bout between myself and their best boxer. The idiot was a klutz, throwing round-houses that I easily blocked and countered. Needless to say, I won, knocking him down three times before he conceded. I earned the respect of the gang and was invited to join them which I declined. As far as I was concerned, I was not about to team up with losers.
Later, I met a more distant neighbor one year my junior who trained with his father, the head customs agent at Honolulu International Airport. His mother was a pure blood Hawaiian, native to the Islands. My friend had a rock-hard stomach and a muscular 210-pound, 5 foot 10 inch build. His sports were wrestling and karate. With our union, the Sand Dragons was born.
THORNY DRAGONS OF AUSTRALIA
The thorny dragon or thorny devil (Moloch horridus) is an Australian Lizard, also known as the mountain devil, the thorny lizard, or the moloch. This is the sole species of genus Moloch. The thorny dragon grows up to 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, and it can live for up to 20 years. Most of these lizards are coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns and tans. These colours change from pale colours during warm weather and to darker colours during cold weather. These animals are covered entirely with conical spines that re mostly uncalcified.
The thorny dragon also features a spiny "false head" on the back of its neck, and the lizard presents this to potential predators by dipping its real head. The "false head" is made of soft tissue. The females are larger than the males. The thorny dragon's scales are ridged, enabling the animal to collect water from any part of its body. That water is then conveyed to its mouth.
An intimidating array of spikes covers the entire upper side of the body of the thorny dragon. These thorny scales also help to defend it from predators. Camouflage and deception may also be used to evade predation. This lizard's unusual gait involves freezing and rocking as it moves about slowly in search of food, water, and mates.
The names given to this lizard reflect its appearance: the two large horned scales on its head complete the illusion of a dragon. Although the name Moloch was formerly used for a deity of the ancient Near East, this name began to be used later in demonology to refer to the fallen angel and Prince of Hell. Thethorny dragon also has other nicknames people have given it such as the "devil lizard", "thorny devil", "horned lizard", and the "thorny toad".
The thorny dragon was first described in writing by the biologist John Edward Gray in 1841. While it is the only one contained in the genus Moloch, many taxonomists suspect another species might remain to be found in the wild. The thorny dragon is only distantly related to the similar (morphologically speaking) North American horned lizards of the genus Phrynosoma. This similarity is usually thought of as an example of convergent evolution.
The thorny dragon usually lives in the arid scrubland and desert that covers most of central Australia. For example, it inhabits the Spinifex (Triodia) sandplain and sandridge desert in the deep interior and the mallee belt
The habitation of the thorny dragon coincides more with the regions of sandy loam soils than with a particular climate in Western Australia.
The thorny dragon is covered in hard, rather sharp spines that dissuade attacks by predators by making it difficult to swallow. It also has a false head on its back. When it feels threatened by other animals, it lowers its head between its front legs, and then presents its false head.
The thorny dragon mainly subsists on ants, especially Ochetellus flavipes and other species in the Iridomyrmex or Ochetellus genera. Thorny dragons often eat thousands of ants in one day
Thorny dragons collect moisture in the dry desert by the condensation of dew on their bodies at night. This dew forms on its skin, and then it is channelled to its mouth in hygroscopic grooves between its spines. During rainfalls, capillary action allows the thorny dragon to suck in water from all over its body.
The females lay clutch of three to ten eggs during the September–December season (spring-summer). They put these in a nesting burrow about 30 cm underground. The eggs hatch after about three to four months. Predators that consume thorny dragons include wild birds and goannas.