Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, September 22, 1999

A short look at
the Lite years

AS the days click off toward the death of this paper, I find myself inadvertently slogging down memory lane. I was a military brat and spent most of my early life being jerked from one of life's venues to another, so I'm not overly sentimental about change. Truth be told, nearly 20 years at the Star-Bulletin has caused me to become fat and happy, particularly fat.

I realized that in April when I took my daughter horseback riding and my horse began to cry as I approached. My daughter took a picture of me on that unhappy beast and I've kept it posted on the bulletin board on my desk as inspiration that it would be better for me, nature in general and large farm animals in particular, to take off some weight. Since then, I've lost nearly 50 pounds by exercising like a lunatic and living on cheap white wine and wild bird seed ($6.95 for the 20-pound "Pretty Boy" brand.) At least, that the way it feels.

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

I wonder what I would have felt like being forced into the job market back in my sumo period. Certainly, causing a horse the size of a small building to cry is not exactly a big self-confidence booster.

So now that I'm a sorta-lean, mean about-to-be unemployed machine I find myself thinking about both the past and future. I made a deal with the big guy upstairs (God, not the publisher) a long time ago that he would handle the big things and I would do what I do best, sweat the small stuff. Since the future is definitely a "big thing" it's out of my hands. (Although, just to maybe give providence a hand, I encourage anyone with the power of employment in the media/communications/entertainment world to give me a jingle. Let's do lunch.)

Working at the Star-Bulletin has been quite a ride. From police reporter to humor columnist and all stops in between, I've gotten to experience absolutely the best and worst of life. I've been to more murder scenes than Quincy. But I've also seen people rise to the highest level of human endeavor, putting their lives on the line to save someone else. I've watched births and autopsies. I've met underworld hitmen and U.S. Supreme Court justices, and found them to be surprisingly honorable in their own ways.

I've covered two-bit burglaries and multimillion-dollar swindles. I spent years pounding various beats. Why beats must be pounded, I've never understood. But I pounded anyway and learned both the agony of da feet and, occasionally, the thrill of victory.

And out of all this I felt an urge to tell more, to explain what was going on between the lines, to try putting things in context, and to develop an entirely new form of journalism: investigative humorism. In other words, I wanted to be able to slack off and pontificate. Convincing editors to let you slack off and pontificate is just as hard as it sounds. But Honolulu Lite began as a once-a-week humor column in 1992, was named top humor column in the country in its circulation by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists the next year and continued to grow for the next eight years into the three-times a week, politically incorrect diatribe it is today. It occurs to me now that that works out to roughly 1,082 columns I've written since 1992. I'm suddenly developing a retroactive brain cramp.

What will happen now? Life, period. I adhere to Oscar Wilde's observation that "Life is too important to take seriously." I'm available to prove that to the highest bidder.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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