Kim's investment in burger joint ties him to state


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

As part of the media blitz for the opening of The Counter, the new build-your-own burger restaurant in Kahala Mall, I had breakfast with restaurateur D.K. Kodama and “;Lost”; actor Daniel Dae Kim. It was the breakfast of champions, really — a loco moco with kim chee on the side.

“;I can't tell you how great it is to live in a place where everybody knows what kim chee is,”; said Kim, whose investment in the restaurant, the first of three, is a way of setting down roots in Hawaii, where he wants to stay after “;Lost”; wraps up in another season and a half.

D.K. asked him to invest in The Counter franchise while the two were on the links at Waialae. “;I didn't realize we were doing business,”; says Kim. “;I thought I was there so he could kick my butt on the golf course. Then D.K. says to me, 'How would you like to eat lots of great burgers for free?'”;


Let Me Call You Sweetheart?

“;This is embarrassing,”; said Al Hoffman. “;Everyone thinks I did this for my wife, but she did it for me.”;

The Hoffmans, he of Hawaiian Air, she of Outrigger, throw an annual Valentine's party at their Ossipoff-designed home, attended this year by a clutch of airline execs plus the usual TV producers, ad agency wizards and assorted media types with whom Al plays tennis.

Suddenly a barbershop quartet showed up from the Songs of Aloha Chorus. Their motto: “;Send a Song to Your Honey/We Will Sing It For Not Much Money.”;

The quartet, ages 61 to 85, serenaded Al with “;Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”; All at the request of Mrs. Hoffman, who's given name is Cynthia, but whom everyone calls Sam.

“;We got a note that Sam wanted us to sing to Al,”; said tenor Jonathan Spangler. “;We wondered what we were gonna get when we got here.”;


A book from the wind

“;Writing a novel was the farthest thing from my mind,”; says Bill Riddle, a veteran of the Honolulu TV-video biz. A few years ago, he stumbled across the story of John Rodgers, now almost forgotten. Even in Hawaii. Even though the passenger terminal at Honolulu International is still properly called the John Rodgers Terminal, located on John Rodgers Boulevard.

John Rodgers, taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, became the first commander of the Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor.

Three years before Lindbergh, the Navy had Rodgers fly a wood and canvas seaplane nonstop from San Francisco to Honolulu. He ran out of fuel 470 miles away. With he and his crew written off for dead, Rodgers made a sail from the canvas wing and sailed dead downwind to Kauai.

“;I'd lived here all my adult life and never heard of him,”; says Riddle.

Riddle thought the story should be a movie, sold a treatment to Centropolis (”;Patriot Games,”; “;Independence Day”;). When the option expired, Riddle asked why no movie. Because there was no book and no love interest.

Now there's both. Riddle's novel, “;Dead Downwind,”; is available only in Hawaii and on the Web while he works out a national deal.

Riddle's no Faulkner, but you can't beat the story. And Riddle's right, Hawaii has forgotten a man who was once one of its heroes.


Dogmatic taste

Despite the unending drizzle, the Academy Arts Center was packed last Wednesday evening, for a double art opening. Upstairs, artist Roger Whitlock hosted a one-man show.

Since leaving UH (where he was an English professor, hence the title of his show, “;Tale of Two Cities”;), Whitlock has blossomed into the islands' best known watercolorist. You can see his work on the walls of Chef Mavro, for instance, or in every room of the Mauna Lani Resort.

Among the well-wishers admiring Whitlock's work was a dog — Chibi, a tiny Chihuahua-Beagle mix, wearing a doggie-size baby blue sweatshirt against the chill of the evening.

“;We had to bring her,”; said Val and Craig Fukuda, Chibi's owners and Whitlock's neighbors. “;Roger just loves this dog.”;

But does the dog love art? “;She likes the landscapes,”; said Val. How can you tell? “;She's never, ever calm like this.”;


Hunt and Pecking For Art

While Whitlock's admirers, canine and human, were upstairs, downstairs at the Art Center, the Honolulu Printmakers opened their annual juried show.

Staid attendees were shocked at the racket that three old-school IBM Selectric typewriters could make — especially since the A-V Club of Honolulu (AVCH) had mounted microphones on the typing heads.

AVCH is an artist collective. If you're too young to get the retro reference: High schools used to have Audio-Visual Clubs, the guys (always guys) who set up projectors in classrooms. Before computers, it was the pinnacle of geekdom.

The young AVCH guys wore black ties and short-sleeve white shirts, with pocket protectors. They typed over and over on a 40-foot continuous piece of paper, which wound from typewriter to typewriter on specially constructed racks and rollers.

“;Well, it's a print, isn't it?”; said their “;office manager”; Vince Hazen. “;They only wanted us to do this for an hour early in the show. We decided it needed a little more, so we're back.”;

In addition to their typewriter happening, the AVCH had a print, “;Robot Tea Party,”; which actually won an award in the show.

They'd laid cardboard cutouts of robots in “;Last Supper”; poses on a big piece of canvas. Then they ran over the canvas for three hours with a remote control toy truck — having made truck tires out of melted crayons, so it drew as it rolled.

You have to love artists.



John Heckathorn is editor of Hawaii Magazine and director of integratedmedia for the aio Group.