Every road trip has its own language and all of America deserves exploration of this dynamic debut book. In it, Han Vance chronicles the amusing and ultimately life-altering quest of a soon-to-be-divorced father from Atlanta as he travels turn of the millennium California, immersing in the urban grittiness of the Bay Area, glitzy yet morally ambiguous quirkiness of Hollywood, slow burn reclusiveness of the Emerald Triangle and practically everything else along the way. Already a cult classic of note on the West Coast supported by an extensive American tour, publisher Silver Stone Press is pleased to offer Vance’s edgy portrayal of the ragged glory of the Golden State.
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Making up poetic words about this hidden village in the most western of American states because this ain’t no professional journalism. This is American culture reporting, and the village of Holualoa has some of the most per-capita culture of any in the Americas. Postage stamp tiny. Teensy. Tee-ninecy and with roughly the number of active art galleries as the capital of the South, where I live. Without the art, it’d only be the coffee. The great Kona region stretching below us and visible from our perfectly perched mountain suite.
We stroll to town almost daily to have a nosh and engage with the locals. Many we see aren’t locals in the pure sense of the term, they are instead what I might guess the me-called Hawaiian “Nationals” call Howlies and the Mexicans call Gringos. Whites selecting to be in the service industry here or born into this paradise. Born into this. It’s as paradisiacal as popsicles made of Guava. Mango madness. Pineapple passion punch.
We hear they – the “real” locals – pick fights with the tourist whites in the watering holes here at night, but that’s way down the slope in the city of Kona where we had dinner last night, near the port. Tourism and real estate supports much of the economy here, and there is an obviously artisanal, by hand, ruggedness to the local residents, in many ways, regardless of the heritage of those individuals.
An acquaintance I met in a local bar back home lived in Hawaii briefly and said of it, ” The best thing to do with Hawaii, is leave it the Fuck alone.” He had a point, and I understand the level of privilege I’m receiving to be able to spend some time here. I intend no poaching.
Before dinner it was the quaintest little village. I needed a haircut and went to the local barber shop. The lady there gave me a slightly crooked cut but no more crooked than this slanted space we call Earth. Up in these volcanic mountains everything has a lean to it. She had eleven brothers and was as local as the coffee. They grew it. She exported it and ensured it was of the highest quality.
Before that I was once turned upside down, in my mind, altered, disoriented amongst the rough lava rocks.
They talk story. The locals.
Me too…me talk real pretty.