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Fast Eddie's Last Stand
  • July 18, 2013 : 23:07
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Rothman is smoldering when I go back to his house after visiting the farm. The sun is well into its downward slide, painting the firmament with soft oranges and fiery pinks. His shoulders, as big as hills, slump. He seems exhausted. We stand quietly for a minute, watching the ocean. It’s hard not to think this is essentially about Monsanto interlopers coming in and rewriting the rules of the island. Like the foreign surfers before them and Captain Cook before them. And it’s hard not to see that Rothman doesn’t know exactly what to do.

As if to comfort himself, he recounts a moral victory in his past, over an enemy he could physically best. “See that right there?” he says, pointing to a spot on the beach. I nod. “Years ago there were some little girls playing on the sand, and this big guy came and, you know, showed them his…you know…his thing.” He gestures at his crotch. “So I went over to his house. He was a big guy, and he was in there cleaning his gun, so I got scared. But I knocked on the door and he answered, and then he made a move. I’ve always been a little guy, and so I just go on instinct and—pow—I hit him in the mouth. He knocked out but woke back up when he hit the ground and started moaning. His wife came running to the door, and they called the cops because I broke his jaw. But when the cops came they couldn’t say nothing because the guy would have to say why I cracked him. He was a lieutenant in the Army or some shit. Fucking creep. But that’s the last time he showed himself to any kids.” He lowers his head and rubs his eyes.

“Why don’t you just crack them?” I ask, referring to Monsanto. This is exactly how Rothman drove the surf world into a panicked fear, by knocking enough people out that no surfer ever steps out of line. He turns toward me, and his expression that rarely changes turns into a mask of helpless bewilderment. “I can’t,” he says. “There is no them. I mean, they are everywhere. If I go and slap someone, they just gonna throw me in jail, and I don’t even know who they are. They hide behind their corporation.” He looks back out at the Pacific. The sun is even lower now, and the orange is softer, the pink more fiery. He sighs deeply, carrying the weight of his own legend and facing a new foe that is far baser than any he has faced before. He wants to act, but how? He sighs again and growls, “Let’s go.”

We drive together in silence down his dead-end road, out to the main Kamehameha Highway, then quickly turn into a gorgeous piece of unspoiled North Shore greenery. The land is terraced where we are standing, and I can see half-dug rows almost ready for planting. A large yellow tractor sits idle. The volcanic range rises in the near distance and is crowned with a strange sort of pine that I have seen only in Hawaii. “This is my farm,” he says as we start moving toward the patch of reddish dirt that is his organic farm.

Eddie Rothman the specter has become Eddie Rothman the farmer, just on the opposite side of the range from where Monsanto’s Kunia research farm sits. He tells me he spends long days moving giant rocks by hand, because if he used the tractors they would “fuck up all the water hoses we have.” He tends to taro crops and digs holes for water-purification systems by hand as well. “I’ve seen them do it this way in Samoa. They use their hands and their feet like this.…” He climbs down into an unfinished hole and starts to claw at the earth. He digs his own wells, installs solar panels and feeds his chickens and ducks.

Rothman becomes more animated and less exhausted as we wander around his farm—this plot of land is a Hawaii he can control, where no outsiders threaten the balance he’s struggling to regain. He tells me he worries about Monsanto’s chemical drift but is doing everything in his power to limit his farm’s exposure to the company’s tactics. He says the farmwork is good for his body, and the food, once it really starts growing, will be good too. As we walk, it becomes clear that farming is the way he has chosen to physically go to war against Monsanto, by taking back the land, acre by acre. It’s a tactic shared by other, more experienced farmers in Hawaii, who are lobbying the largest landowners to shift their proportion of GMO leases toward more natural and organic farmland. They want land tainted by pesticide use to be cleaned and repurposed as incubators and education centers for organic farming. They want to be given a fighting chance to sustain their island their way. The chances that a few organic farmers in the middle of the ocean will evict a billion-dollar multinational corporation are slim. But Rothman will have none of that.

Hawaii has been decimated by foreign disease, subjugated by foreign agricultural interests, annexed by foreign nations. It is a series of defeats. Rothman, though, has a victory to his name. Because of Da Hui, and because of him, visiting surfers’ blood still runs cold. He wrestled and punched the North Shore back from the clutches of foreign surf interests, and he is dead set on doing the same for the land. He has played slim odds in the defense of a dream before and won.

He also has the land on his side. The locals talk about the curse of Pele, the legend that anything taken from the Hawaiian Islands will bring bad luck to the taker. By that reckoning, Monsanto is exporting a bête noire as its seeds get planted around the world. Whether because of a curse or the passing of time, the sugarcane and pineapple barons have come and gone. Captain Cook is dead. The interlopers in Hawaii have gotten their due. Eddie Rothman is doing what he can, by protest and by pitchfork, to hurry it along. Before we get into his truck and head back down the hill, he kicks at a volcanic rock and then gives my shoulder a hard pat. It hurts.

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read more: News, politics, business, issue july 2013

11 comments

  • Right Foot Forward
    Right Foot Forward
    And if you had any doubt, here's the court record for Fast Eddie's offsider, Kala Alexander ...5PC90-0-000002 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Robbery 2/ Jail /$2000 bond5PC93-0-000020 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Assault 2nd 3rd/ Extortion 1st, 2nd & 3rd/ Jail /$4500 restitution5CC93-0-000346 LINDA DEROHAN ET AL V REBECCA WILLIAMS ET AL [ET AL means 'amongst others'] Looks like an Estate/Inheritance issue [He's non-criminal here]5CC93-0-000346 LINDA DEROHAN ET AL V REBECCA WILLIAMS ET AL /Same5DA96-0-000072 KALA JOHN ALEXANDER VS NICOLE CARTER /Temp restraining order [Don't know what's happening here. Has he been ***** whipped?]5DA96-0-000090 OWEN CARTER VS KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Temp restraining order5FC98-0-000212 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse /Arraignment/ Contempt /$1250 bond5FC92-0-000096 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse / Jail5FC99-0-000078 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Criminal contempt /Bail summons5DA00-1-000082 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA ALEXANDER /Petition for temp restraining order5DA00-1-000106 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /As above (?) maybe to remove it1FC00-1-002883 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA JOHN ALEXANDER /Harrassment /Protection order/ About $3000 bail1FC01-1-001112 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Harrassment /Protection order5FC01-1-000063 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Abuse family /Protection order5PC01-1-000202 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA J. ALEXANDER /Terror threat /Harrassment /Jail5PC01-1-000205 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Terror threat 2nd /Harrassment /$975 fine5PCCO-1-000206 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Terror threat /Harrassment /Jail /$975 fine5PC01-1-000207 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Criminal property damage1FC01-1-003009 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse /$5000 bail1FC01-1-003010 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1FC02-1-001005 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1FC02-1-001426 STATE OF HAWAII V KALA ALEXANDER /Family abuse1RC03-1-001490 STERMAN REALTY ET AL VS KALA ALEXANDER /Summary possession Tenant damages5DV03-1-000145 NICOLE ALEXANDER V KALA ALEXANDER /Divorce, child support etc. [At least theres a happy ending]
  • hectorthecorrector
    hectorthecorrector
    monsanto is terrible and should be erradicatedbut what about quiksilver, billabong, hurley, volcomthey aren't doing any favors either
  • fred
    fred
    You have got to be kidding. quiksilver, billabong, hurley, volcom are paying the bills for Mr Edward Rothman's family and Kala Alexander.
  • aina
    aina
    Great story. If Fast Eddie can turn around then so can the rest of the world.
  • Right Foot Forward
    Right Foot Forward
    Wow, some irony here. Hats off to the author for the faux-dramatic intro cunningly crafted to publicise his upcoming book. Presumably he got paid for the privilege too.But what of the article? Anyone who's followed the court records in Hawaii will be well familiar with the allegations and convictions linking Mr Rothman and his 'Wolfpak' to drug running on the islands. They've controlled the trade for decades -- a cancer that has emaciated the proud Hawaiian islands. Speak to any local about the drug scourge and the impact Fast Eddie has had on it. Goes all the way back to the 80s.Example: http://www.wabaseball.com.au/w...So a guy who's been embedded in the drug trade for decades rallying against the impact of Monsanto's poison on the islands? Ah, the irony is as bitter as the dab of high-grade coke on the tip of a dealer's tongue. Turns out there's a bigger dealer ripping at the fabric of "your" town now Fast Ed.I'm not saying this isn't a massive issue. To the contrary -- and congrats on Playboy for airing it. And the historical context was fantastic. But Eddie Rothman as the poster boy for this camnpaign??? C'mon guys, cheap angle. And it really discredits the great work that people on the islands are doing with this campaign to make a convicted drug dealer and standover man the face of this fight.[... Awesome axe-weilding image notwithstanding. Wowers, what photo editor could resist that metaphor?]
  • noshoreperson
    noshoreperson
    So stupid celebrating violence. What a stupid embarrassing article. Fast Eddie is an old thug.
  • Cindy Trautmeyer
    Cindy Trautmeyer
    The more the GMO corporations suppress the consumer demanded labeling, the more irrational the people will get. They refuse to educate the public about the benefits of GMO technology and base their marketing purely on lobbying politicians. That is more than short sighted as labeling will come sooner or later. But the later it comes, the more resentment will have built up and biotech will be put to history. No, consumers don't read studies but react with fear to the unknown. And there's a wide open playing field for scaremongers and rumors. Once promising biotech is being sacrificed on the altar of corporatism. Sponsored scientists are being pitted against political activists. Lobbied politicians deal with confused voters and refuse to regulate. Academic freedom is being lost at the increasingly GMO sponsored universities and the legal staff at our governmental institutions are exchanging jobs with GMO lawyers. All that doesn't make GMO gourmet food, but causes gag reflexes.
  • Darren McKinney
    Darren McKinney
    The “bad feeling” that foul-mouthed Hawaiian thug Eddie Rothman gets about Monsanto’s state-of-the-art bio-science facilities near his home seems as thoughtful and well-founded as the bad feeling that backward Muslim radicals get about little girls going to school [“Fast Eddie’s Last Stand,” July-August]. The only difference is that the barbarians who throw acid in the faces of schoolgirls in Pakistan are inspired by insecure and increasingly irrelevant imams, whereas the Hawaiian Luddites who use the f-word in every sentence are being manipulated by well-financed personal injury lawyers and the organic food industry in advance of lawsuits now being prepared. After all, there’s no better place than paradise when it comes to cultivating crops of ignorant and impressionable jurors ripe for future harvest.
  • tequilaman
    tequilaman
    Please elaborate on your pointing out that Quicksilver et all, arent doing any favors either......
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I think the author needs to read the Plant Patent Act of 1930. We've been patenting seed since long before there were GMOs.
  • FastViber
    FastViber
    F it then. Le the Hawaiian Nation adopt gambling and of course legalize marijuana. Sad to see the islands go down like this. There truly is and seems to be the end of paradise. BVB - The Last of the Golden Generation. Amen.
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