What the Heck?
A Bhutanese Buddhist monk attempted to get out of the dressing room tent while wearing the ceremonial black hat last weekend at Thomas Square during the opening of the Academy of Arts exhibition of Bhutanese art.
The good guys wear black hats at Academy
Ringed round a roped-off area in Thomas Square last Saturday were several hundred Academy of Arts members, waiting for the Black Hat Dance.
The Academy was opening its show of rare Bhutanese art, of which religious dance is a major component. Hence the dance troupe, in from Bhutan, doing never-before-seen-in-the-West Buddhist dances. The Black Hat Dance had just been introduced, but nothing was happening.
From a white tent behind me, I heard a gabble of Bhutanese. I peeked through a loose flap. The dancers were going through a giant aluminum trunk, trying to figure out whose 2-foot-tall black hat was whose.
Security tapped me on the shoulder. "These are monks, sir," he said. "You need to keep a sacred distance."
Eventually the monks appeared one by one. They had to bow their heads to get out of the tent wearing the feathered and mirrored hats. The dance was stylized, repetitive, aimed at creating a meditative state, more for the dancers than the audience.
In the crowd, I spotted a friend. "This is wonderful," he said. "We'll never see this again in our lives, but I'm kind of bored."
Inside the exhibition, I ran into ex-University of Hawaii prof Michael Malloy, who wrote the major college textbook "Experiencing the World's Religions." In the course of experiencing the world's religions, Malloy had been to Bhutan.
"We're wrong to look at them like Western-style performances," he said. In Bhutan, the dances go on all day, and people in the audience talk, eat and drink, even gamble in the background. Sort of a religious ceremony with Vegas night on the side.
Also encountered Lloyd Kandell of the band Don Tiki, who suggested perhaps the beautiful Don Tiki dancers might spice things up. Sure, but you'd probably still have to maintain a sacred distance.
Everyone Wants to Be a Star
To get into HIFF's annual "official" Oscar party last Sunday at the Halekulani, you had to walk down some 60 feet of red carpet. This is new over the past couple years, the brainstorm of Kimi Matar, who organizes the event. "People love it," she says.
Most people did, though when Marlene Booth got to the end of the carpet, only to have camera flashes go off in her face, she said, "Oh, just like the finish of the Great Aloha Run."
The eight photogs were hoping for celebrities, who were in short supply this year, though one member of the "Lost" cast, in some recent legal difficulties, slipped in the back way.
The real purpose of the runway seemed to be showing off expensive clothes. Fashion reporters lined the carpet, saying things like, "Well, that dress looks better when you know it's Dior."
As one woman paraded down the carpet, Marie Smith of Escada whispered the price of her blue and white gown. "You mean $8,000 just walked by?" I asked. "No," she said, "That doesn't include the shoes and the bag."
Winning Big With Carrots
Last week I noted that Gail Ann Chew of the Hawaii Restaurant Association had flown chefs Fred DeAngelo and Chai Chaowasaree to Las Vegas to compete against two of Vegas' top chefs in an Iron Chef-style competition.
To everyone's surprise, except Chew's, they won.
The Vegas crowd - even emcee Robin Leach, who lives in Vegas - was rooting for hometown chefs. "Leach kept saying we'd never finish because we were cooking on Hawaiian time," says DeAngelo.
Even worse, the competition's "mystery ingredient" turned out to be carrots. "Chai and I just looked at each other," said DeAngelo. "What can you do with carrots?"
Four courses, it turned out, including a dessert with a carrot-berry puree and a ginger-carrot-macadamia-nut cookie. Must have been better than it sounds. The Hawaii duo won by a narrow margin because their food tasted better.
Goodbye on Short Notice
Was amazed the Ron Jacobs at Whodaguyhawaii.com managed a spontaneous two-hour Genoa Keawe documentary immediately upon hearing the sad news of her passing last week. Jacobs talked on air with Marlene Sai, Cyril Pahinui, Jackie (Honolulu Skylark) Rossetti, Dennis Kamakahi, even Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
Turns out Jacobs had experience doing these things on short notice. Back in 1956, a then-18-year-old Jacobs was working a night shift at KGU when former Honolulu Mayor John Wilson died.
Jacobs even tracked down Wilson's Stanford roommate, former President Herbert Hoover, and pulled together a audio documentary. It was narrated by another radio then-teenager, Tom Moffatt, and aired by the legendary J. Akuhead Pupule, who, being Aku, credited neither of the kids who did the work.
Poates Steaks Out Downtown
Ran into Morton's manager John Poates Tuesday at one of his great little parties, this one revolving around vodka and caviar.
You might have missed that soiree, but Poates still has a plate lunch for you - Friday, in front of First Hawaiian Bank, downtown.
From 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Poates and his Morton's crew will be grilling filet mignon, served with rice and mac salad. It'll be $10 per plate, with $5 going to the American Red Cross.
If you need dessert, there also will be a bake sale by "Lawyers for Red Cross" - and please, no jokes about torte reform.
Doing The Madison Hop
Over a martini at the Morton's party, I ran into man-about-town Bob Madison, who's probably best known as the original manager of "downtown," helping launch that restaurant in the Hawaii State Art Museum.
From there, he went to Fujioka's, where his wine knowledge came in handy. He's since left Fujioka's to manage the caf and gift shop at the Contemporary Museum.
You're a Renaissance man, I told him. "Is that the same as a job hopper?" he asked.