My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Mushing the facts

>> 10,000 feet

On that first trip to the Big Island to repatriate three lava rocks sent to his Star-Bulletin office, Cruz MacKenzie had planned to just drop the box of rocks off at park headquarters and then head over to the golf course. But the kahuna who worked with the park service said he needed to come with her, and there was something about her eyes, and he followed her to the rim of Halemaumau Crater and listened in awe and reverence as she chanted in Hawaiian and asked Pele's blessing on Cruz, for being the vehicle of their return, and to remove the curse from the Houston family. As cold bolts of chickenskin ran up his spine, he prayed in passioned silence that Pele was real and that he of all men might know her.

Cruz had since heard legends that portrayed Pele as a jealous, demanding and sometimes violent lover, but he repeated that original prayer now as the jet sped past Oahu's Koko Crater, which the old Hawaiians believed was an imprint of the most feminine parts of Pele's sister, Kapo. Which is why the old Hawaiians called the extinct crater Kohe-lepelepe. That was one of the first place names the Christian missionaries changed when they arrived in 1820. Kohe-lepelepe was impressive, and inviting, but Cruz's passion was for Pele alone.

Still no sign of Mauna Loa as the jet left Oahu and continued climbing over the Kaiwi Channel.

Cruz was -- he knew it -- a walking contradiction. The rational literalist in him had a very unidentical twin, a romantic optimist. The internal combustion inherent in this natural duality made him a little quirky, and the only work that ever really suited him was writing a newspaper column.

Like old Joe Friday, Cruz liked the facts. Just the facts, bub, straight facts, double-checked. When he had to name his occupation on a form or questionnaire, he always wrote "journalist." But the fact is, a columnist is not technically the same as a pure journalist. Being a columnist means that, like a detective, Cruz had license to play with the facts, interpret them, mush them around in his hands or, as the case may be, swirl them around a glass of Zinfandel, and then mush them around in his head, and see what comes out. Recombination, as they say in genetics.

>> Off the Big Island

To christen the newly named yacht, he popped the cork of a bottle of Guenoc champagne he'd found in the well-stocked refrigerator and splashed a little bubbly on the bow. The rest, he sipped decadently straight from the bottle and admired his handiwork as the wet paint dried in the sun. The new name would buy him a little time because this was no longer Pet Shop.

But didn't he need a new name too?

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --