What the Heck?
PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLOW CHANG
Isle belly dancer Willow Chang left last week for an extended teaching tour of Germany and Switzerland.
Willow shimmies her way through Europe
Island chanteuse and belly dancer Willow Chang jetted off last week for Europe, after a stop on the East Coast for Rakassah, the annual Middle Eastern Folk Festival. "You can't imagine what a whole hall full of belly dancers is like," she says. "Sequins, glitter and lots of nutty women."
Then it's off for a weekslong tour of Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich, Zurich, St. Moritz, teaching the Europeans how to shake their hips, both belly dancing and hapa-haole hula. "Can't believe I'm being paid to do this," says Chang, who originally learned to belly dance while in a Polynesian revue in Cairo.
She's curious to see how the Europeans respond to her Island-style hapa mix. "Chinese people can never believe I'm half Chinese," she says. "I wonder how the Germans are going to react when they find out I'm half German."
Colt > Kobe?
"So you were the reason H-1 was backed up," said a friend when I told her I'd caught Tuesday's game between the Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. The game drew enough folks that it bollixed up the University off-ramps. Not as bad as the 2005 UH-Tulsa game, but close.
Hadn't realized that the L.A. Lakers were Hawaii's home team. Maybe it wasn't the Lakers, it was Kobe. Every third person wore a Kobe Bryant shirt. Whenever Bryant stepped to the foul line, flashbulbs popped off in the stands.
Unfortunately for the crowd, Kobe played very little, even when he was on the court; his team fell behind 20-plus points in the early going. Bryant came back to do a little second-half shooting, and sat down again.
The whole game was like the NBA season in miniature, long stretches of desultory play, followed by a few minutes of intense basketball. The Warriors prevailed by a point, to the cheers of a small minority.
There was a group of young men in the stands who were Warrior fans in both senses. They repeatedly held up a sign that read, "Colt > Kobe." It was hard to see the relevance, or perhaps even the truth of that statement, but it's good to see UH students have mastered the use of mathematical symbols.
Days of Wine and Roses
Quietly, in fact so quietly even I didn't know about it, Honolulu's wine guru and man about town, Chuck Furuya, recently remarried. To Cheryle Gomez -- and, yes, you know her, she's the lovely brunette who worked for years at the Kahala and now manages Hiroshi's.
It was a quiet ceremony in their Maunalani Heights backyard, with friends, family and Furuya's kids from a previous marriage in attendance.
Behind the Green Door
Betty Pang's fame as a chef has long outgrown her tiny Chinatown eatery, Green Door. Finally, she's on the move. To the much larger space behind Kahala Mall, near Olive Tree. The space has housed a whole host of failed eateries, most notably Kahala Moon.
"Everyone tells me the location is unlucky," says Pang. "I'm not worried. I will make my own luck."
Don Ho Book Out By Christmas
Superwriter Jerry Hopkins, who penned Tom Moffatt's hit bio, retired to the rice fields of Thailand and in five months turned hundreds of hours of interviews into a biography of Don Ho. The book will be out in time for blockbuster Christmas retail.
Tracked Hopkins down by e-mail to ask him what the experience was like. Replied Jerry: "Two of the items I sold at the yard sale I had before I moved to Thailand were a Don Ho 'Suck Em Up' glass and a rubber Don Ho doll that you filled up with soap liquid, unscrewed its head and blew across its neck to fill the room with bubbles.
"These items became slightly less a joke as I researched the book and Don became a three-dimensional person. I only got to spend a month with him, seeing him perform twice a week, sharing lunches and after-the-show talk in his dressing room, as well as interviewing nearly 50 of his friends and onetime associates.
"I'm well pleased with the result. Don was an amazing dude. Despite the endless bad jokes told in his name -- who could take "Tiny Bubbles" completely seriously? -- he was worthy of all the praise I heard from friends. He was a perfectionist and a control freak, and he got a mixed report card on parenting, and, yes, he partied like the beach boy that he was, but the onetime football captain, jet pilot, and superstar was as generous, and courageous, as he was sometimes tough to be with.
"One of the people I interviewed replaced my 'Suck Em Up' glass. I'm still looking for a Don Ho bubble doll -- which, by the way, Don told me over lunch one day that he wanted designed differently, so that the bubbles 'came out of my ass.' He then gave me the wide smile that was something between that of a frog and a shark, and stuck his fingers back into the poi."
Ben and Jerry
The news of Hopkins' speed made me curious how another celebrity writer was coming along. I gave a call to former Gov. Ben Cayetano, whose political memoirs were originally scheduled for publication before the 2004 election.
"I'm working on the last two chapters," said Cayetano. "Writing isn't as easy as I thought it was. I'll be glad when it's over. Maybe by January."