Sunday, September 16, 2001

America Attacked

With a red, white and blue ribbon affixed to the studio
door, KRTR-FM afternoon disc jockey Bill Carpenter
cues up a patriotic tune.

Ringing up

From music and books to shorts
and swimsuits, consumers
flock to Old Glory

By Rick Daysog

The wave of nationalism triggered by Tuesday's devastating terrorist attacks is turning up at the local cash registers.

While the tragic events have crippled the nation's financial markets and may set off a national recession, they've also touched off a mini-buying frenzy of patriotic goods and related products.

Sales of American flags, CDs of nationalistic and gospel music and other patriotic memorabilia have gone through the roof. Esoteric goods -- such as books and CDs on human spirituality, security gadgets and intelligence-related nonfiction books -- also has received increased interest.

One local bookstore, Borders Books Music & Cafe at Ward Centre, reports that it sold out of its books on Nostradamus, the 16th century astrologer whose prophecies are have enjoyed a resurgence on Internet due to Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

"People really are here to buy something to show that they are behind their country," said Mary Phillips, owner of Flags Flying, a flags and flag-related novelty store in Ward Warehouse.

Since Wednesday, Phillips said she's been so busy that she hasn't been able to answer her phones, which have been ringing off the hook. She sold her entire inventory of 700 mini and large flags.

It's a similar story at Wal-Mart's Mililani store, which sold all of its American flags on Wednesday. Seni Kaseli, the store's assistant manager, said he was heartened by local residents' display of patriotism in the wake of Tuesday's tragedy.

American flags are even displayed inside KRTR's studio.

Wal-Mart has since teamed up with the USS Missouri Memorial Association to sell flags and Battleship Missouri memorabilia at the Mililani store. The Missouri has been closed since Tuesday due to the terrorist threat.

"We're just trying to do our part," said Kaseli.

At Tower Records' Keeaumoku store, customers have asked about CDs ranging from patriotic themes such as Kate Smith's version of "Gold Bless America" and Lee Greenwood's version of "I'm Proud to be an American," said store manager Matthew Koenig.

Koenig said store employees have also received requests ranging from Band Aid's 1990s pop tune "Save the World" to Robert Shaw Chorale's classically oriented "Songs of Faith and Inspiration."

One customer Wednesday requested a new CD entitled "Live from New York" by a group called Dream Theater, which was released the day of the terrorist attack, Koenig said. The cover of the CD was decorated with a photo of a burning New York City.

For many isle residents, music has served to provide solace from the terrible tragedy. Since Tuesday, local radio stations have been regularly playing various versions of "God Bless America," "Amazing Grace," and even Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."

One local hip-hop station has been playing Whitney Houston's rendition of the national anthem.

Local radio station KRTR has been playing an edited version of Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American" which includes President George W. Bush's address on the terrorist attacks. The station, which received that version of the song from a disc jockey from a sister station in Louisville, said it receives dozens of requests for the song on a daily basis.

"The patriotic spirit is there," said KRTR disc jockey Bill Carpenter. "I think it's great that Hawaii people are rallying around America."

Books on the intelligence community have also been in demand. Diane DeCorte, the bookstore's general manage of Border's Ward Centre outlet, said there's strong interest in books by former agents with CIA and the FBI.

She added that books on Nostradamus, the 16th century astrologer, have been sold out for days.

The increased interest in Nostradamus is largely due to an urban legend making the rounds on the Internet which claims that the seer predicted the New York attack, which in turn set off a third world war.

On the other side of the spectrum, books by the Dalai Lama, who advocates a peaceful and spiritual mode of living, have been in demand, DeCorte said.

Mathew Hernandez, owner of Spy Tech Electronics LLC, a Kakaako retail store specializing in security equipment, said the day after the bombing a customer came to him looking for a bomb detector.

Hernandez said he told the man that he didn't stock such a device but could mail-order one. The man left without looking at the catalog.

Hernandez said that business picked up Tuesday and Wednesday but said he couldn't directly attribute that to the terrorist incident.

Most of those were customers given the day off by their employers and were catching up with their home security needs, he said.

Honolulu resident Dino Pertzoff, who recently purchased a pair of shorts and a swimsuit with flag decorations from Flags Flying, sees a form of therapy in buying patriotic.

"I've been in a daze for a couple of days and I'm coming out of it and saying: Let's give some support," said Pertzoff.

"I'm trying to make a statement."

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