Daily Archives: 02/27/2005

Guam Museum In Trouble-Again

Remember the Guam Museum? Every couple years the deplorable state of the museum makes the rounds with the local media. Every couple years people are shocked at the conditions and the lack of funding. Well, it’s time again for a round of stories. KUAM’s got a story, so does the PDN. The angle this time is how the ancestral landowners are evicting the museum from a decommissioned barracks at Tiyan unless they come up with $54,000. Of course this is happening at the same time the Attorney General is getting his butt tossed out of the courthouse, so it makes for a good story. It certainly highlights the failings of GovGuam, despite the governor’s assertion that everything is just rosy.

Guam Museum faces eviction, too
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Variety News Staff
IT looks like the Attorney General’s office has a company in misery – the Guam Museum – which would be homeless soon unless it gets money either for rent payment or for relocation cost.

Anthropologists and archaeologists are appealing to the government to help the Guam Museum rescue the artifacts and other historical items that are stored in a Tiyan building, which currently houses the museum’s administration office and storage facility.

The Guam Museum has been holding office rent-free at an old barracks in Tiyan since 1996, when the US government turned over to the Guam government the property previously used by the US Navy. In December 2003, the Department of Ancestral Lands returned the properties to the original landowners.

The deed of the property being occupied by the Guam Museum is under the name of Francisco Santos Camacho, whose heirs have notified Museum director Tony Palomo about their intention to re-possess the property.

“For a long time, we never received any notice from anyone or any agency regarding this building. No one told us to move out until we got a letter three weeks ago from a representative of the estate of Francisco Santos Camacho telling us about re-assumption of the property,” Palomo said.

Palomo said the property claimants had informed him that his office owed them rent dues for 13 months, covering the period from the date that they were re-awarded the land deed.

“They were charging us $4,000 a month, which would have a total of $54,000 for the 13-month rent dues that they were trying to collect,” Palomo said.

He said the letter “doesn’t mention anything about eviction, but I’m sure that if we don’t pay the rent, that’s where it will lead.”

The Museum gets a share of less than $3,000 from the Department of Chamorro Lands’ $800,000 annual budget. It doesn’t have appropriated funds for rent since the Museum has not been made to pay the rent. It doesn’t even have enough budget to hire a curator, Palomo said. He said the museum has employees and assistants who do not have technical expertise in maintaining a museum.

Dr. Rosalinda Hunter-Anderson, an archaeologist and senior partner at Micronesian Archaeological Research Services, laments the current condition of the historical artifacts at the storage facility, which is not even properly air-conditioned.

“We deposit artifacts at the museum but they are not taking care of them,” Hunter-Anderson said. “They are perishable materials.”

She also laments the lack of professional staff who have expertise in museum work. “So it’s a double negative,” Hunter-Anderson said. “This is an embarrassment for Guam. CNMI has a lovely museum. They have a system for sectioning. They have a curator. Guam doesn’t have any of that.”

She added that “it’s about time our politicians, who just give lip service to respecting the culture, step up and do something.”

Dr. Gary Heathcote of the University of Guam’s Anthropology Resource and Research Center said he has asked the private sector to assist the Museum in resolving what “seems like a crisis situation.” Heathcote had asked UOG to accommodate the Museum be he said university could not find a space there either.

He suggested the vacant Hakubotan Building near the ITC Building in Tamuning could be a good relocation site. “That’s a big building that’s been empty. I don’t know what their plans are for that building and it would be a fine thing if we can step in temporarily,” Heathcote said.

Palomo said he has requested the Attorney General’s Office to review the estate heir’s claim. Attorney General Douglas Moylan said Assistant Attorney General has received the request for legal opinion, but is not likely to attend to it anytime soon due to the office space crisis that his own office is dealing with.

Palomo said he is banking on the help of the Department of Public Works, which he said has began scouting for a relocation site for the Museum. Museum employees have begun boxing up some of the items in preparation for the possible eviction.
–Marianas Variety, Friday February 25, 2005

Basically the museum is treated like the red-headed step child of GovGuam. The Hakubotan Building mentioned in the article was occupied by some GovGuam agency for a couple years when plenty of government own property was available – one of those sweetheart deals that everybody forgets so quickly. Kind of like how the governor relocated his staff into the PDN building and got FEMA to foot the bill for a year. Hell, the Attorney General got $250,000 this weekend to move into government offices at Adelup. With the government of Guam it is a question of whoever screams the loudest gets the quick fix of cash. It seems like there is a systemic inability to forecast, budget and plan within GovGuam. Everything is allowed to decay into a state of crisis, some emergency funds are thrown at the problem to make it go away and then things start collapsing again.

Samuel L. Jackson, Jedi Master

Saw a clip today about how the last of the Star Wars movies is coming out in May, and how Samuel L. Jackson has a glorious death in the movie. That got me thinking about a great email that was making the rounds back when that first episode came out in 1999: Samuel L. Jackson, Jedi Master

Samuel L. Jackson is playing a Jedi Master in the new Star Wars prequels. The TOP 10 Things We Want To Hear Samuel L. Jackson’s Character “Jedi Master Mace Wendu” Say in the Star Wars Prequels are:

10. You don’t need to see my goddamn identification, ’cause these ain’t the motherfuckin’ droids you’re looking for.

9. Womp rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’ll never know, ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfuckers.

8. This is your father’s lightsaber. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfuckin’ stormtrooper in the room… accept no substitutes.

7. If Obi-wan ain’t home then I don’t know what the fuck we’re gonna do. I ain’t got no other connections on Tattooine.

6. Feel the Force, motherfucker.

5. “What” ain’t no planet I ever heard of! Do they speak Bocce on What?

4. You sendin’ the Fett? Shit, Hutt, that’s all you had to say!

3. Yeah, Chewie Rocky Horror’s got a hair problem. What the brother gonna do? He’s a wookie.

2. Does Jabba the Hutt look like a bitch?

1. Hand me my lightsaber… it’s the one that says, “Bad Mother Fucker.”

That one still kills me.

The Long Fall

The power failed last night for several hours, a far to typical event for Guam. Usually these blackouts are the result of major transmission lines blowing or one of the base load generators shutting down, causing large swaths of the island to embrace darkness. Last night’s electricus interruptus was extremely sporadic. My street went dark, the next block north did not. About a quarter mile up the street the video store was dark, but the main village of Yoña was brightly lit. Pago Bay, the site of Tuesday’s fatal car crash, was as dark as Dick Cheney’s soul. Yet it was business as usual in Chalan Pago and Hagåtña.

The darkness and quiet turned my mind onto a nihilistic path. I found myself thinking about the end of the world, the decline and fall of civilization. I think most people would confess to a morbid fascination with this subject. A giant asteroid striking the planet, an atomic war, some virulent plague, maybe an alien invasion, catastrophic climate change, or even zombies walking the earth, you name it. We all have a secret affinity for annihilation. Fifty years under the very real threat of nuclear holocaust has primed our collective psyche to expect annihilation.

Fire and Ice

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
–Robert Frost, Harpers’ Magazine, December 1920

Too bad the world will end in neither fire nor ice. The end will not come in some fiery apocalypse. Even if civilizations collapse, life goes on, a smaller, leaner shadow of its former glory. The terrible events of 9/11 did not cause our civilization to collapse, however much al Qaeda would like to imagine that the destruction of two skyscrapers portends the downfall of Western Civilization.

A Roman in 476 A.D. didn’t realize that the world of classical antiquity had just fallen into the Dark Ages; things just got worse and worse and ordinary people struggled and survived. Historians drew that line in the sand, marking the close of one era and the dawn of another. So Romulus Agustulus was deposed by a Gothic king, Odovacar still took the title of emperor and things continued along much as they had before. To the people alive at that time summer faded into autumn, the days got shorter and snow fell, and in the spring of 477 A.D. people continued sowing their fields, firing their pots, weaving their clothes and knowing they were still Roman citizens.

I expressed these ideas before. David will perhaps remember sitting out on my balcony after Typhoon Pongsona in December 2002. I was in a dark mood that day, and under the dark skies we sat while I tried to tell him how the world will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. What we experienced on Guam in December 2002 was just a taste of what the world will experience. After the typhoon the power and water were out, usual conditions for a major typhoon. The real crippler after Pongsona was the fuel shortage brought on by a massive fire at the port. The island was without gasoline for almost two weeks and life ground to a standstill.

In my glowering, frustrated state, I told David how I am certain the collapse of our civilization will resemble the deterioration of conditions on Guam. The power will go out more often, usually for days at a time. It will become impossible for most people to drive their cars, with only emergency vehicles and the very wealthy in cars. The rest of us will ride around on the bus, walk, or ride bicycles. Local foods will become important again, as people realize the idiocy of shipping strawberries from Chile to New York. And we will accept these things, and some will label them improvements. And we will slowly withdraw from what we once were. When the power goes out people won’t riot in the streets, they will just go to bed earlier.

This is all leading me back to an essay I read recently. Slow Crash discusses these very ideas, and suggests that Western Civilization has already peaked. It is an intriguing thesis, which touches on many of the same ideas I mention above. Taking it a step further, the essay concludes with some possible scenarios that will develop during this long, slow collapse, from mass starvation to virulent disease. It is an interesting read, and will provide something to think about next time the lights go out.