Tuesday, March 31, 2015         

Lee Cataluna Premium

For articles before August 3, 2011, see the Free Archives »

Luke Takayama is not quite what he'd call a "hard-core bon dancer" but he is definitely in the league of bon dance groupies.

The image of Hawaii meant to touch the hearts of potential tourists is the golden, empty beach at sunset, mai tais by the infinity pool, a hula dancer under a moonlit coconut tree.

At 11 a.m., the Kahala McDonald's is filled with moms with little kids and the little old ladies from Kaimuki. These are folks who get hungry before noon and don't have to wait for a company-sanctioned lunch hour to eat. The construction workers come in later.

A visit to Kauai used to be predictably sedate. Tourists would come to the lush, bucolic island to take pictures at various roadside vantage points — Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Valley, Spouting Horn — all from a safe distance.

John Koko knew how to play to the crowd, even if the crowd was an online audience.

Every election year in Hawaii, somebody resorts to negative campaigning, and every time it happens, the reaction is, "Tsk-tsk, this is not how we do things in the Aloha State! This is a new low.

On Thursday morning, Clarence Ing was putting the finishing touches on a volunteer project that was supposed to take a few months but stretched out to almost nine years.

People on the mainland have a thing about rubber slippers, a general dislike that borders on bias.

Every so often you come across a little story that seems to stand for more than the original incident.

On Kauai, the mongoose has taken on almost a legendary status in local lore.

It's always been tricky getting flowers in May because of the triple whammy of May Day celebrations, Mother's Day and graduation. This year seems to be the worst ever.

First off, a website that starts a petition to wag a scolding finger at a former governor, admonishing him to "be nice," is by its own definition of the term, not very nice.

The facts of her life make for an impressive biography: She grew up on the campus of Kamehameha Schools, the daughter of a beloved scholar of Hawaiian history and granddaughter of a four-star admiral.

It's true that everybody makes mistakes, but messing up the ranking of potential dump sites is right up there with miscounting on election night or calling a mole a tumor.

There were times while working on the film that the director felt she was with him. He'd somehow come upon just the right footage lost among the hundreds of hours of source material or he'd sense her presence in the wind.

Oh, the bad old days when every Saturday morning indulgent plans for sleeping in would be ruined by acrid clouds of smoke billowing from the neighbor's relentless burning of mango leaves.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that mug shot told a singularly succinct story.

When a local politician gets arrested for DUI, doesn't your mind instantly go down the list of all the others in that category, all the other lawmakers who have DUI arrests in their past? Human nature does a head count and an instant compare/contrast of who was drunker, who was dumber, who did more damage.

On weekends, pediatrician Dr. James L. Mertz, father of nine, would go to Kapiolani hospital to visit his newborn patients. His wife, Elizabeth, recalls he "took along any assorted Mertz children who wanted to go with Dad and see the babies!"

First off, Best Buddies is not a service club. Everyone who talks about the program that pairs up high school students who have intellectual or developmental disabilities with peers who do not says that the relationships that form are amazingly, beautifully, mutually beneficial.

American Idol" contestant Deandre Kamele Brackensick, the California teen with deep roots in Hawaiian music, appears in a video on YouTube that has fans rapturous.

He survived cancer, beating the odds and coming back stronger; at 76, he is still one of the busiest entertainers in Hawaii.

If we want our kids to dream big, we have to show them how, right?” says Kay Fukuda. In just a matter of months, a group of Leeward Coast elementary students went from total beginners to obsessed competitors in the complex world of team robotics. When the competitive season ended, the kids didn’t want to stop.

When the cancer came back again, Hawaii-born author Margaret Mitchell Dukore posted a challenge on Facebook: Tell me what I'm not going to miss when I'm gone.

For the past 20 years, no swimmer from Farrington High School has qualified for the state championships. Part of that time, there was no swim team at Farrington. Most of that time, the Farrington pool has been closed.

When funk music great Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band wrote the song "Disrespect" in 1985, as the story goes, it was directed at Prince, who had thrown him out of a concert when he tried to join Mr. Purple Rain onstage.

In this era of reinventing yourself and second careers, it shouldn't be remarkable that the top three contenders for Honolulu mayor aren't particularly mayoral.

The cars parked outside had California plates and Hawaii bumper stickers. Many came wearing sweaters over aloha shirts and carrying ukulele cases. It wasn't a memorial for ukulele master Bill Tapia. He told his closest friends he didn't want anything like that.

In the news of Bill Dahle's passing, it was strange to read the dates of when he first came to Kauai and when he retired from radio. It didn't seem possible that there was a beginning or end to his presence on the island.

The houses aren't much to look at. Most are at least 90 years old, held together by peeling paint, rusty nails and the magic that keeps old houses going when there are people inside who love every creaking board. To some eyes, those old homes stand for all that is good about small town life.

Every year since 1984, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has come out with a calendar and every year it's a thing of beauty and scholarship. Just having a state project survive for 29 years is amazing enough, as the calendars have continued through changes in administration, economics, taste and technology.

Every Christmas for the last nine years, the card arrived in the mail. It started in 2002, when veteran Terry Feavel wrote to the newspaper on a mission to repay an old debt.

Some days, the boy would go bounding into the sunlight with the kids he thought of as his brothers. Other days, he would retreat to the attic in his foster home to sob over his mother's pictures and her few remaining dresses. It was just a year, but those days shaped his whole life.

When HPD released the video of Tom Berg's run-in with security officers at the APEC conference, it was like, Oh goody.

Every so often, if you have sharp eyes and good luck, you can find a little bit of Tutu's beloved anthurium set on a tucked-away shelf.

This time of year, when little kids come home from school with hand-print turkeys and construction paper Pilgrim and Indian costumes, calls to mind a gem of a story written by a Hawaii teacher nearly 100 years ago.

For the past year, Donalyn Dela Cruz has been in the most high-profile and possibly most challenging media relations job in the state, serving as press secretary for Neil Abercrombie, a governor struggling with low voter-approval ratings and a brutal economy.

Get caught speeding in a school zone and you face a higher penalty -- a fine of up to $250. A conviction for selling drugs near a school also carries a greater punishment than selling drugs on just any non-school street corner.

Though she had dreamed of this moment from childhood, when the big day came she wore a dress she bought from Ross and told everybody that that's where she got the outfit. While others would brag about what she's accomplished, Karen Kuioka Hironaga is more comfortable making jokes about the clearance rack.

If my mother had a dollar for every time some guy asked, "Hey lady, you selling your car?" she would have enough money to buy that old Chevy several times over and take her friends out to a really nice lunch.

It was September 1944, in the last year of the Second World War. Harayuki Tamamoto, who grew up north of Hilo, was 21 years old and recently inducted into the Army. He spent two weeks at the Helemano Army camp near Wahiawa before being transported by pineapple train car to Honolulu Harbor.

Somewhere along the way, quitting your job to spend more time with your family turned into code for "I got fired" or "I quit in a huff.

I currently live two miles away from a Trader Joe's. I currently live two miles away from a Trader Joe's. That's a six-minute drive, even in sandstorm traffic. As homesick as I am in California, friends think I have nothing to complain about. After all, I can pop over to Trader Joe's any old time I want to and buy ... what?

Daphne Vaina was having a great week. The 23-year-old recent University of Hawaii at Manoa grad had just gotten the news that she had been hired as a part-time teacher at Dole Middle School and was elated she'd be working at her alma mater.

Hawaii is marketed as the most romantic place on earth. Our entire economy is built on tourism. So why are the governor and the first spouse celebrating their anniversary in Paris?

Florence Delos Santos Marton had the largest Barbie Doll collection you could ever imagine — thousands of dolls. But that wasn't the most amazing thing about her.

It was still dark in Hawaii when the news came. We were jolted out of sleep into a new reality. Though the islands are among the farthest corners of America, far from the places attacked, our community changed on Sept. 11, 2001, and in many ways, has never been the same.

You know that one neighbor who always brings the newest, hippest, best pupu to the potluck? Last fall, our hip pupu neighbor busted out hot lava pork rinds and everyone at the party pretty much had their minds blown.

Pinkies aren't free. That's probably one of the main reasons there have been so many snakes turned in (or let go) on Oahu this year.

Kaloa Robinson made a sweet life for himself. After graduating from Damien, he went to Whittier and then got his master's at George Washington University.

The patients will often save their bandages, keeping the papery strips of adhesive like they held some sort of healing power or the kindness of someone who was cheering for their recovery.

Many towns have Facebook groups, online pages where nostalgia runs high as grownups check their murky childhood memories against those of their peers.

On Saturday mornings, Burt Fujii drives a delivery truck from Honolulu to Pearl City, out to Waipio, Mililani and Wahiawa, then to Haleiwa, back around to Ewa, up to Makakilo and around to Nanakuli. It's a route that takes him five hours to complete.

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