Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, December 20, 1999

Blast into 2000
may be the last one

THE bombs started going off in Kaneohe about a week ago. Big bombs. The kind that make you jump out of your skin. If they are the harbingers of things to come, this New Year's Eve is going to be a doozy. People with breathing problems already are making plans to hunker down in air-conditioned movie theaters or spend the evening of Dec. 31 on scuba tanks in a bathtub full of water.

I can't blame them. I'm pretty sure this jump into the new millennium is going to be the loudest, smokiest and most destructive new year ever to hit the islands. The proof so far are the bombs. I don't know what these things are that go off now every night, sometimes 10 to 15 a night. I suspect they are merely practice bombs. Small versions of what da boys are planning for prime-time New Year's. But I'll tell you this. I've been through many new years in Kaneohe. I've heard the explosives and seen the aerials. But never have they started so early. And never have they been so loud.

I can only guess that these are homemade explosives, probably pipe bombs or something made by emptying firecracker powder into large containers. I'm sure someone's going to lose an eye or a couple of fingers during this beta-testing phase. Because, judging from the sound, these things are huge.

You can almost feel the percussion from these monsters when they go off. More annoyingly, they go off out of the blue so you are never ready for them. On New Year's, your brain gets used to a lot of noise. But a week before Christmas, while you are putting ornaments on the tree while humming "Deck the Halls," your brain isn't ready for a 30-megaton blast. It's fairly nerve-wracking.

MY dog Boomer is a poi dog who can go through the entire noisy chaos of New Year's without lifting an eyebrow. Unlike those high-bred dogs who have to be sedated so that they don't freak out during the fireworks, Boomer has the steely nerves of one of those police bomb dogs. Or maybe it's just lack of imagination. In any case, loud noises have never bothered him. Until now.

One of those miniature thermonuclear devices went off the other night and Boomer, meditating intently on a ball of dog hair behind the couch, suddenly launched himself straight into the air, did about three complete circles, landed and set the 20-yard doggie dash record to the bedroom, where he remained lodged under the bed until we dragged him out.

What this means is that this will be the last New Year's in Hawaii in which fireworks will be legal. They would have been outlawed last year but everyone knew that you couldn't keep people from blowing off fireworks at the beginning of the year 2000. This year will be so loud and destructive that there will be no way the Legislature or the City Council will not be able to ban fireworks.

And let's face it, as much as many of us love to shoot off fireworks every year, Honolulu's getting a little too crowded for such irresponsible behavior. I mean, shooting FIRE into the sky! Setting off EXPLOSIVES on city streets and in your neighbors' yards! Firing (illegal) ROCKETS over your neighborhood! (Not me; I've just heard that some people do it.)

This is crazy behavior. They don't even allow this kind of thing in Beirut anymore. My suggestion to people this New Year's Eve is to stay home, keep a water hose handy and pick up a pair of really good ear plugs. Having a few scuba tanks on hand won't hurt either.

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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