What the Heck?
German gals aren’t chicken
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano is writing his memoirs. Word is they are as outspoken as Ben himself, but progressing slowly. Political pundit Dan Boylan has been enlisted to speed the process. "I don't know why they thought of me," says Boylan. "It took me 25 years to finish my Jack Burns book."
Endlessly Creative: Chef Roy Yamaguchi now owns 33 restaurants, creates his own line of kitchenware for the Home Shopping Network and designs kitchens for Centex Homes. Add to his achievements a new baby daughter, Hoku. Hoku's mom is Carolyn Hulihee.
Somber Note: His friends and fellow musicians would love to rally around him, but are reluctant to talk about it openly. Peter Moon has spent months in a Maunalani nursing home, recovering slowly from a stroke. We wish him and his family all the best.
Tailgate Follies: Before last weekend's Boise State game, Warren Shon of Southern Wine & Spirits hosted Formaggio owner Wes Zane and partymaster Justin Yoshino, wives and girlfriends, in section 12B of the parking lot. There were lobster tails on the hibachi and Montrachet-Chassagne in the wine glasses. "Does this look like irresponsible alcohol use?" demanded Zane. At $50 a bottle, perhaps.
No lobster, but beer and amazing music at the tailgate organized by Bob and Velma Akinaka. Under the pop-up tent, friends Bob Chok, Walter Watson and George Hiu jammed -- on guitar was slack-key master George Kuo.
Which? Lynne Matusow, chairwoman of the Downtown Neighborhood Board, spotted this sign in Kekaulike Market: Korean chilly. Very hot. $2.99 lb.
Gladys & The Saints: Gladys Knight is still a Vegas showroom headliner. Why would she do her first Hawaii gig at a college in Laie? In 1998 Knight converted to the Church of Latter-Day Saints, forming Saints Unified Voices, a multicultural Mormon choir. BYU-Hawaii is flying in the whole choir, all 100 of them. They and Knight give two free programs next Sunday. Religious music. The paid concert on Saturday is her Vegas revue.
Deutsche Die Hards: For 35 years, the Ala Moana Hotel has hosted Oktoberfest. The five-day event draws 9,000 guests, mainly interested in drinking beer and doing the chicken dance.
Not so for Helga Krueger Cabanilla's "Die Hards." Cabanilla grew up in Berlin. Every year for 35 years, she's put up the Oktoberfest decor and recruited volunteers. She finds her "Die Hards" in the group of German women who meet every Thursday at the Ala Moana Zippy's for lunch.
"Every year at the end of Oktoberfest, they say, 'I'm tired. I'm too old. This is my last Oktoberfest.' Then, before I even ask, the next year they're saying, 'When do we start?'" Cabanilla herself is a Die Hard. She retired last February as a waitress at the Plantation Cafe, but came back out of retirement to festoon the ballroom with the German flags and other items she stores at her home all year. Her volunteer ladies turn out in those Sound of Music outfits called dirndls.
Some end up in wigs and inflatable dresses that make them look like the world's widest Wagnerian opera singers. "It stays inflated because it's got a motor. Feel back there. Whoo, my motor's running," says Edna Coelho, who refuses to divulge her age.
Her younger friend, Sylvia Chernin, says she's not petite even without the costume. She trains under Tommy Kono, trying to make the United States Weightlifting Team. Asked how he likes having a strong wife, husband Thomas, a maintenance man at St. Francis, shrugs. "Someone's got to protect me."
The inflatable dresses are comfortable compared to the red-and-yellow chicken costume worn by volunteer Landa Phelan. Phelan's not even German, she's Mexican. "I have to be the chicken because I'm the shortest."
She works the room, shaking her tail feathers. She complains occasionally about being lost. You could chalk this up to her chicken face mask and perhaps a stein of beer or two. But when she reappears out of costume, she's accompanied by her seeing-eye dog Perline.
She's friends with Cabanilla's son, Art, also visually impaired. "When Helga asks, I always say yes. I get to be silly."
Some of Helga Cabanilla's Die Hards were German war brides. Hilda Dela Cruz and Irmgard Settsu married husbands from the 442. Margaret Funn met her husband William when she worked in a Frankfurt PX after the war.
"The GIs came in to get their goodies. I guess I was one of the goodies," laughs Funn, now 79.
Says Cabanilla, "The Filipinos have their fiestas. The Japanese, their bon dances. This is what we have. We're German."
John Heckathorn's radio show, Heckathorn's Hot Plate, simulcasts weekday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. on SportsRadio1420 and sister station 1080 AM. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org