What the Heck?
Flying 'Sideways' to the islands
Today's anniversary party for Vino, the wine bar, is themed after the movie "Sideways." Partner Chuck Furuya is such a fanatic for authenticity that he's flown in Frank Ostini, owner of the Hitching Post Restaurant in Buellton, Calif., where much of the movie was filmed.
For the party, Ostini will grill up his famous barbecue ribs. "You think I'm a fanatic," said Furuya. "Ostini sent 100 pounds of charcoal by FedEx."
Take It to the Limit: The Eagles were all the buzz this week, even though their $250 top ticket originally raised some eyebrows. "The $250 tickets proved easiest to sell. We still had a sprinkling of cheaper seats left," said promoter Jacky Jedlicki.
The high price, he says, was set by the band and the small size of the venue. The Blaisdell Arena holds only 6,000. "For the Eagles, that's a club date." Even smaller is the Maui venue, where the band plays Tuesday. Tickets remain.
Of Two Minds: When the new Kapiolani club Jazz Minds Arts & Café opened in late October, well-regarded jazz singer Keahi Conjugation signed on as entertainment director. That didn't last long. Conjugation has left the club, citing artistic and business differences.
If you want to catch Conjugation, you'll find her some nights at an even newer jazz club, Deep Blue at the Hyatt Waikiki, where singer Azure McCall directs the entertainment.
Jazz Minds Arts & Café seems to have withstood Conjugation's defection. Last Tuesday, veteran island comedian Andy Bumatai was huddled at the bar with owner Young Hae Yi. Under discussion: a possible Bumatai show.
Welcome to the Decadent West: At a "holiday happening" thrown by the Aveda Salon & Spa in Ala Moana Center, the air was filled with scents of lavender, rosemary, rose. To a room filled with mainly young women, country singer and "Entertaining In Paradise" hostess Dita Holifield explained how to throw a spa party.
Splits of champagne were iced down in the salon sinks, but most guests drank water and herb tea. They relaxed instead with massages, foot rubs, aroma therapy, manicures, hair styling.
Among the pampered guests were three young journalists from the China Daily, in Hawaii to study journalism on Parvin Fellowships. Former Star-Bulletin reporter and UH faculty member Suzanne Tswei served as their mentor/chaperone.
"The Chinese girls were kind of plain Jane and reserved when they came in," said one spa employee. Not by the end of the evening. "Hi, I'm Sunny," said Xie "Sunny" Chuanjiao, her hair now arranged atop her head like exotic plumage.
"Not too much?" asked Si Tingting of the results of her new manicure. She was assured the beige-pink polish seemed tasteful.
The Chinese reporters snapped dozens of pictures of their new look. "Shame to go sleep after all this," said Si. Someone suggested to instructor Tswei that now the girls looked so glam, she should take them clubbing. "No," she said firmly. "That's not part of the instruction."
Are You Experienced?: After a long dry spell, downtown has a new wine store, Simply Grape, scheduled to open this month in the Davies-Pacific Center. Behind the venture are Nick Keeler, a VP at Pacific LightNet, and his bride, Lael Dandan Keeler, who until recently worked for the same company, in human resources. "People asked us if we had any experience in the wine business," says Nick. "We said, sure, consumption."
Goodbye Eileen: Last summer, Eileen Mortenson, who I'd known for decades, called. Ironically, she was worried about some professional changes I was going through.
Toward the end of the call, I mentioned I'd heard she'd been sick, hoped she was getting better. No, she said, her cancer had spread, the chemo and the radiation had made her so feel so wretched she'd discontinued them, opting for quality of life rather than length. "I'm not going to get better," she said.
It was not a plea for sympathy, it was just an unflinching statement of fact. And it was true. She died last weekend.
After her death, I talked with her longtime friend, Paul Brown of Paul Brown Salons. "What's funny is that before she got sick, Eileen was constantly complaining," he said. "If anything didn't go quite her way, she acted like she was going to have a nervous breakdown."
After her illness, that all changed. "She never once complained. She was brave, amazingly, shockingly so," said Brown.
In her final year, Mortenson went to dinner with friends, saw her family, went body surfing, helped those around her over their grief.
"I never known anybody else who acted like that," Brown said. "Eileen taught me it's possible to die gracefully."
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 email@example.com