What the Heck?
PHOTO BY JOHN HECKATHORN
Planet Hollywood threw a party last Wedsnesday for Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi, in honor of her new book on the mai tai. It included dueling bartenders, and these two dancers from Germaine's Luau, Mehana, left, and Pualei. The two only wanted one name each. "It's like a superstar thing," said Pualei.
Most writers don't get parties like this
Book launch parties can be dull affairs. Not this one. Last Wednesday, Planet Hollywood threw a launch party for Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi's book, "The New-Wave Mai Tai" - complete with dancers from Germaine's Luau and dueling bartenders.
Two Planet Hollywood bartenders, Bill Elek and Maria Sari, had "new-wave" mai tai recipes in the book. The two whipped up samples so guests could vote on which one would become "Mai Tai of the Month."
Sari's mai tai, which tasted like a mango smoothie, won the honor. "I don't like liquor much, so I made it so you can't taste it," Sari says.
That's all right with Tsutsumi, who, despite having written three books on drinks, is nearly a teetotaler. She'd never even had a mai tai until she was well on her way to finishing the book. Then a date got her to try a mai tai at Pinky's in Kailua. "It was pretty good," Tsutsumi says. "I was glad to find that out."
Maui Gold, Platinum and Dark Rum.
House of the Rising Rum
Not all the mai tais at the "New-Wave Mai Tai" launch were fit for teetotalers. Running some rum over from Maui for the event was master distiller Jim Sargent.
Sargent has converted the old Haleakala Dairy into a distillery, making rum out of molasses from the Puunene Sugar Mill, aging it in freshly emptied bourbon barrels shipped over from Jim Beam.
It's the first rum made in Hawaii in 20 years. Planet Hollywood's one of the few places on Oahu that you can find it, though Longs might have a few bottles.
"We're mainly on Maui and the Big Island," says Sargent, "but we'll have more distribution on Oahu as soon as we have product. In fact, I've got to get back to Maui this weekend, make some more rum."
PHOTO COURTESY LISA VILLASENOR
Kimi Chun, left, Christine and Wally Amos, Kim Taylor Reece, surround some of the decorated cat bottles for sale at the Peggy Chun/ALS fundraiser.
Obama Must Have Studied at Punahou
From all reports, the big-bucks Obama fundraiser at the Kahala was a hit, raising $1.3 million and drawing 500 folks, including movie stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson.
The entertainers included Azure McCall and Tennyson Stevens in the high-roller room, and in the merely affluent room, Ho'okena, Raiatea Helm and Willie K, who ended the evening with "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The entertainment was supposed to end with a mass singing of "Hawaii Aloha," but Obama's campaign nixed that, fearful the candidate might not remember the words.
False fear. Obama dropped by the Green Room to thank the entertainers, and sang "Hawaii Aloha" with them. He knew all the words, not just the "Oli e! Oli e!" part.
The Secret to Swimming
Like most of the country, Mary Ray Kahanamoku - the sister-in-law of Duke Kahanamoku - was glued to the TV during the Olympics, particularly interested in Michael Phelps' feat. Make that, feet.
She chuckled out loud when she heard that Phelps' size-14 feet functioned as a kind of natural flippers.
That must be the secret, she decided. In 1911, when Duke originally broke the 100-yard freestyle record in Honolulu Harbor, contemporary newspaper accounts attributed his speed to his size-13 "luau feet."
Hope for rRed Elephant
Congrats to Charles Michael Brotman. The latest album from his guitar trio Kohala is a relaxed listening pleasure. Especially appealing are acoustic covers of songs from C&K, Kalapana and Seawind.
But there's a sad edge. This warm, crystal-clear recording was done live at the rRed Elephant, which recently shut its doors. "Kohala Live" is just one of several fine albums recorded there. There's a major live Mihana Souza album awaiting release.
But then it's over - or is it? Some insiders say there's hope yet that the place will be reborn. Stay tuned.
Truth About Cats, Art
Last Thursday evening, Kim Taylor Reece threw a fundraiser in his Chinatown gallery - for artist Peggy Chun, suffering from ALS, and for the ALS Association.
A couple dozen artists and celebrities decorated cat-shaped wine bottles - in honor of one of Chun's favorite subjects, her cat Boo.
The cat bottles came painted, sprinkled with glitter, draped in jewelry, sprouting palm trees and on and on. They sold for $95 and up.
The first to sell was by Wally "Famous" Amos. Actually, he told me, his bottle was painted by his wife, Christine, who teaches printmaking. "She even signed my name for me," he said.
I was glad Wally disclosed that. It made me feel less guilty when my cat was second to sell. I had to tell the buyer, Michele Henry of Tea at 1024, that I didn't really turn my cat into a version of the Joker - complete with a sign that read, "Why So Serious?"
It was created entirely by my 21-year-old daughter Mallory, for whom in return I bought a cat decorated in rhinestones by jewelry maker Greg Gasper.
None of the artists was more casual than Roland Cazimero, who breezed in late and did his cat right at the party, using a silver Sharpie. "I invested minutes in this," he said.
He drew breasts. "It's a girl cat," Roland said. And inscribed the bottle, "Bozo was hea." Reece should really get a mirror behind the sales shelf to display his cat, noted Roland. "It says, 'Bite Me' on the back."
Peggy Chun was at the event, now virtually immobilized from ALS, but still sharp, communicating by moving her eyes along a "spelling board" held up by her caretakers.
I asked her daughter-in-law Kimi Chun if it was a trial for Peggy to be out and about. "No," said Kimi. "She's a party animal. She's got another event tomorrow night. Her social life is better than mine."