I think that we are on the same page. I am from the Java world, and in most of cases, Perl's level of abstraction is well below the level I can accept. Abstraction is not a problem to me in general, but a flag is raised when you see the performance of some HOP-like programs. Doesn't matter how important one think performance is, or what the definition of performance is, when it becomes too slow and not practical any more, that's where you start to worry.
I completely agree that Perl is not tuned for certain things.
A side note, I believe that for Perl to survive the war of languages, the real winning point is "application areas". For example, Perl was once considered the language for CGI, and that's when Perl had its most glorious time. This position is no longer there for Perl, and I see Perl's hope in the future as to re-establish its position in certain application areas, not anything else. When people pick languages, I don't think they will pick Perl because of HOP.
Did Java reach its position today because of the nice OO idea, yes but not mainly. The main reason was that it was perceived as the networking language for application areas like "internet" and "intranet" (Perception), and the strong killing will of Microsoft's rivals (Politics and Money) ;-)