What the Heck?
Politicians' card-playing endorses pot
Bridge over Troubled Waters:
Legendary Maui restaurateur Bob Longhi, one of Hawaii's most outspoken curmudgeons, claims he's growing marijuana in his bedroom. "It's legal," he says. "I have a prescription." If it weren't legal, he notes, some major Maui politicians wouldn't come to his house for Sunday bridge games. "Of course," he adds, "they're just there to play cards."
Unmoved: Is ad agency Milici Valenti Ng Pack moving out of the office tower owned by major client First Hawaiian Bank? Everyone supposedly in the know said so. "Those rumors weren't entirely unfounded," admits MVNP president Nick Ng Pack. "Our lease was about up, we got offers for cheaper space." But tallying up the costs of a move, the agency decided to stick with the premium location, despite the premium rent. "In fact," says Ng Pack, "we're probably going to add another floor of offices here."
Royal Birthday: You know that squat Royal Barracks building next to Iolani Palace? I assumed its interior was as solid as its forbidding stone façade. Then I stopped by for a celebration of Kalakaua's birthday. The historic barracks is actually a small building wrapped around a cool and breezy courtyard, perfect for a crowded party.
"I always thought it was solid inside too," said attorney John Knorek, in line for champagne. "The Hawaiians knew what they were doing when they built this."
Among the folks packing the courtyard were Quentin and Elizabeth Kawananakoa, Hawaiian Home Lands' Micah Kane and wife Joelle, Miss Hawaii USA Radasha Hoohuli and Kitty Kamaka, whose family contributed a koa ukulele to the silent auction.
Much of the evening's excitement was generated by a $25-a-pop raffle sponsored by Tiffany & Co. At evening's end, Tiffany's John Geppert presented 13 lucky number holders with goodies in blue boxes, ranging from a $100 heads-or-tails silver coin to a 16-diamond platinum ring worth $5,800.
"What am I going to do with this?" complained the woman who won the coin. Replied her friend, "See if the winner will flip you for the ring."
Sisi Takaki, who won the ring, seemed inclined to keep it. As buddies like Kimi Takazawa gathered around to admire the sparkle, she said, "Ooh, I feel like Miss Universe."
The event raised $10,000 to help restore the palace wine cellar. King David Kalakaua would be pleased. He wasn't called the Merrie Monarch for nothing.
Giving Thanks: When he found out wife Marilyn would have to spend the holiday in Kaiser Moanalua, TV-radio-print personality Howard Dicus needed two last-minute Thanksgiving dinners to go. Many prominent restaurants refused to help him. Some wouldn't even return his calls. "Perhaps my mistake was not identifying myself as an authentic third-tier celebrity," he muses. Finally, L'Uraku said it would be happy to pack up a four-course gourmet feast. "We gave thanks for not having to eat hospital food," says Dicus, "but we're more thankful Marilyn's coming home soon."
Aloha Ball: A pleasure watching UH trounce Michigan State in basketball. But the crowd began booing the minute MSU took the court, booed even injured MSU players. "Hawaii shouldn't be like this," said a women sitting near me in Section EE. "Oh, what do you expect?" said another woman a few seats over. "It's a basketball game."
Eat, Talk, Eat, Talk: No event seems to combine high-end food and drink with the feel of just-old-friends party better than Honolulu Magazine's Hale 'Aina Awards. Thrown as a fundraiser for culinary education, the Kahala Mandarin event drew American Express' Tom Mullen and wife Marty, Oahu Visitors Bureau's Les Enderton and Sherrie Strausfogel, and Retail Merchants of Hawaii's Carol Pregill, who, fashionably thin, shunned the desserts, including the entire table of Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes.
Most of the guests were the island's best chefs and restaurateurs. A few cooked for their peers. "Knowing they're all here puts you on your toes," said Alan Wong, dishing up shrimp in Peruvian chili peppers. Kahala Mandarin's Wayne Hirabayashi risked doing comfort foods like grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches. "Whoa, that's no ordinary sandwich," said sommelier Chuck Furuya. "Goes great with syrah."
Most chefs got the night off. "It's so amazing to be able to enjoy yourself," said Chai Chaowasaree. "It's a fundraiser, I keep thinking I ought to be cooking."
Savas Mojarrad, owner of Olive Tree Café, bought $100 tickets for his entire staff and shut down his restaurant for the evening. "I told them they better enjoy themselves, this event was costing me $1,350 an hour."
The awards were emceed by KGMB's Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula. "When we weren't on stage, it was just eat, talk, eat, talk," Hagi said. "It felt just like a party at our house. Except, fortunately, we didn't have to clean up at the end."
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