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Half-Mind Interview: Hazukashii

007-hazI’ve known Ed “Hazukashii” Howell since the early 1990s. I remember someone telling me his hash name meant “bashful” in Japanese, but the word I’d use is “modest,” by which I mean he doesn’t brag on himself, even though he does a lot for hashing and hashers.

Hazukashii, “Haz” for short, ran with same hash kennels in Honolulu I belonged to in the 1990s, and I’ve hashed with him several times since at interhashes and other away events. He gets around.

After leaving Honolulu for Las Vegas in 1995, I started the first on-line international hash kennel directory, the Half-Mind Catalog. Gradually the HMC expanded to include upcoming events, a haberdashery, and articles on hashing. Sometime in the early 2000s it started to become too much for me. I was at the point of quitting and shutting the HMC down, but Hazukashii (and Likk’mm, and a few others) stepped in to help out and keep it going. I was never so proud, or so grateful. Today, the HMC is in the capable hands of Ra and better than ever, and Haz runs GoToTheHash.net, another essential online resource for Hash House Harriers everywhere.

Hazukashii is a real Yank, originally from New York. He’s been hashing since 1984, a total of 32 years. Today he’s back in Hawaii, hashing with Honolulu Hawaii H3 and Aloha H3 (of which he was a co-founder). Over the years, on different continents, he’s held every mismanagement position there is. After helping to get Aloha H3 off the ground in 1991, he went on to found or co-found several other kennels:

  • Virginia Beach Full Moon H3 in Virginia, USA (22 Jun 1994) – still active
  • Seoul Southside H3 in Seoul, South Korea (4 Dec 1999) – still active
  • Appalachian H3, a traveling hash on East Coast USA (Nov 2000) – in hibernation
  • Sumo H3 in Tokyo, Japan (6 Jan 2002) – still active
  • DST H3 in Stuttgart, Germany (7 Apr 2009) – still active

Hazukashii_2This is Hazukashii doing his last down-down with the Okinawa H3 before departing for Honolulu in 1985.

When I asked Haz to describe how he came up in the hash and what his preferences are today, he told me this:

“I originally come from the mixed hash tradition, but have since joined and hashed with several men-only kennels. I started out as a live-hare hasher and still prefer it, but I have set dead-hare trails for special occasions. I mostly did A-to-B trails but today I support A-to-A trails, mainly so hashers have easy access to their cars, dry clothes, and stuff. I always liked singing in the circle, but I’m getting a bit tired of circles on a weekly basis.”

Damned if Haz and I don’t share the same hashing background and opinions. Of course we both call Okinawa H3 mother, so it’s no wonder.

Here are Hazukashii’s responses to my interview questions:

When & where was your first hash?

Okinawa (Japan) H3 in October 1984.

How did you find the hash, or did the hash find you?

It actually found me. When I arrived on Okinawa, my coworkers mentioned this running club they did every weekend. It was my first time in a new country as an adult, and it took 3 weeks for me to get settled enough to check it out. From the very first one, I knew I was hooked. Did not miss a trail for the next year.

How did you get your hash name?

I tended to run alone, often shortcutting. So on my sixth run, it was explained to me that the two final options they voted on were Lone Wolf and Hazukashii. At the time I ran with the Okinawa H3, it was common for foreigners to get Japanese names, and Japanese to get English names. I definitely got the better name.

Where have you hashed?

A few places … 5 continents, 64 countries, and about 280 different hash clubs. Have hashed in every country in Western Europe except Scotland, so need to get up there and visit my friend “The Penguin.”

Are there places you haven’t hashed but would like to?

Have hashed in Panama, but have never been to South America, so looking forward to exploring there. Have only hit a few locations in Africa, so still lots of options there as well.

Any favorite haring techniques?

I try to keep it simple. Just the basic trail marks, but I do use lots of checks where appropriate. I have discovered over the years that on an average hash, only a handful of front runners ever actually do any checking. So more checks not only slows down the pack, but gives more people an opportunity to go search for trail.

If you could pick the location of a future interhash, where would it be, and why?

To be blunt, I don’t care any more. I attended seven in a row from 1998-2010, but don’t care to go to such big events now. Smaller events of a thousand or less is preferable. I really enjoy the regional hashes, have done 2 Pan Asias, 3 Eurohashes, 2 InterAmericas, 3 Indochina Mekongs, and an InterScandi.

What do you most love about hashing?  What keeps you coming back?

Hands down … the trail. Especially setting the trail, I love to hare. I once had a disagreement during the preparation for a regional event which I volunteered to be the trail master in Europe, and the chairperson was more concerned with beer stops than trail. My response was something along the lines of, if all you are concerned about is beer checks, anyone can put the trails together. But if you want awesome trails that hashers really enjoy, it takes some work. The terrain is my canvas and I am Pablo Pehasho. Beyond the trail, everything else is gravy, whether it happens or not, but without the trail it is just a frat party. I love a great shiggy trail with water crossings, dirt paths, and rolling green hills. I also enjoy a good city run, with lots of back alleys, parking garages, and occasional staircases. I have been known to sing songs, drink beer, and socialize, but when I go to the hash … I want trail above all else. I have had the great fortune to have run nearly 2700 hash trails, and hared nearly 500 of them.

Have your attitudes toward hashing or hashers changed over the years?

This will likely rub some people the wrong way, but in some parts of the world there is way too much emphasis on drinking, the circle, and depraved behavior. Although some people encourage the attention, I believe we chase away some good people because of a few bad apples. Some places the circles have become a hazing experience, way over the top in dousing with flour, eggs, etc. I also believe that naming is out of control in some hashes, why do the names have to be the most disgusting imaginable? I have personally seen numerous occasions that good hashers never came back after their naming.

Are there certain things you think all hashers should believe in?

Not really. Just the basic understanding that hashing is primarily a fitness event, not a drinking event. I am not encouraging the hash to become a marathon training club, as I love to drink beer AFTER the hash, but it is not a requirement. There is a growing trend of having too many beer checks on trail, the trails seem to be getting shorter and shorter, and flat … pub crawls are not really a hash.

What do you think you’ve contributed to hashing?

Nothing really. I have hosted GoToTheHash.net for nearly 20 years (and spent 5 years with you at Halfmind.com), send out regular hash event information, host several websites, but to look at the number of hashers on Facebook that have no knowledge of the basics of hashing is amazing. I have a page on Facebook as well, but it does not attract much attention as I only publish history and current events.

What’s in your hashing future?

I have always been interested in the history of the HHH, and in recent years started to do more research and write about it. I’ve published a few articles on the origins of the hashit, namings, the circle, etc. so as time permits I will continue to research and bring more of that information out. You can check it out here.

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Booger’s Half-Mind Interviews