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Monday, September 22, 2003

Tedious Tidbits

Here are some more tidbits about Hawaii.

  • On Maui, everyone drives a uniform 15 mph over the speed limit.

  • Sugar cane is a major crop on Maui, and part of the harvesting process involves burning the cane. I met a man whose wife had respiratory problems, and she was so sensitive to the burning cane that she had to leave polluted old Maui and return to clean, breathable Houston!

  • While we were taking in one of our 475 viewings of Maui from Lanai, Niles noticed that some of the clouds hanging over Maui looked more like smoke. This turned out to be a cane fire that got out of control, burning 1,000 acres and forcing the evacuation of kittens, puppies, and golfers. That was on the 17th, I think. On the 18th we saw a Chinook helicopter delivering water to the burned area (which didn't seem to be burning at the time, though it may have been smoldering still).

  • On the northwestern shore of Maui there is a neat, bright green house with a crudely lettered sign out front reading, "It's Hawaiian Island not Haole Island." "Haole" is the Hawaiian word for Caucasians. (Means, if I recall, "dead", because the first Hawaiians to encounter Europeans found them pale as the dead.) When I first heard of the word it was not seen as derogatory, but I heard somewhere that this is changing. There are rednecks in every culture.

  • According to the letters in the Maui News, they are very big on Wesley Clark in (heavily Democratic) Hawaii, regarding him as kind of a savior.

  • On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be much quality control over the letters in the News, as exemplified by this mid-September specimen (which I cannot get a link for):

    The greed on Maui is a sad thing. It is sad because, like so many pests, it was brought here...It gets passed down from the avaricious class through the puissant politicos all the way to the landlord on his small acreage...The gargoyle of greed is the most hideous in myth and as the true picture of one's soul...

    This goes on for three paragraphs before revealing that the author is beefing about high rental prices. Ladies and gentleman: Maui's very own Mark Morford.

  • A POEM

    A fact so odd
    It makes me tingle:
    Hawaii's governor
    Is Linda Lingle.

    (Even odder: she's a Republican.)

  • The jeep trails on Lanai are studded with pieces of black material roughly the size of your hand, which flutter and flap in the wind. The first time I saw them I thought they were birds or little animals in the road. But they are little bits of black plastic mulch, which is used in planting pineapples. The pineapples have been gone for about a decade, but the plastic bits remain.

  • The owner of one of Lanai's shops told us that whenever he needed anything done locally (e.g., getting the car fixed) he let his wife handle it, because the locals didn't like dealing with a white male. "I have two strikes against me," he said airily, "I'm white, and I'm a man." He did not say this as a complaint, but as a perfectly natural fact. I couldn't help hearing another voice: "Oh, those ol' men down to the shop won't listen to no woman! So I jes' let Billy Bob handle that sort of thing." His (at least part native Hawaiian) wife dismissed this with a fond, "Oh, don't listen to him. He knows that's not true."

    I still can't decide whether to be more appalled at 1) his assumed helplessness, 2) his apparent self loathing, 3) the insult offered to his neighbors and his wife's people (I mean, he is declaring that they're racists, right? And racism == bad, right?), or 4) the bad advertisement he's blithely giving the island. I suppose it's possible to stay cocooned in your ritzy hotel and never interact with the locals, but otherwise you do not like to wonder if they're spitting in your food. "Way to sabotage our livelihood, honey."---that's what his wife should be saying to him.

  • This same fellow told another customer proudly that Lanai City was one of Hawaii's few "planned" communities. He apparently felt this was a Good Thing. I guess it didn't occur to him that it was planned by an eeeeevil corporation.

  • The latest (Aug. 15) edition of the Lanai Times was placed in our hotel room. The main story was about how David H. Murdock, the Chairman and CEO of Castle & Cooke, Inc. (which owns 98% of Lanai), "spontaneously" took the bandstand at the 11th annual Pineapple Festival to harangue the islanders to get busy and make the island profitable. The Times doesn't put it that way, of course. It dutifully reports:

    He said that he...hoped to see more locally produced items for sale on Lana'i and at the next festival...He would like to see more greens from our gardens and more gardens under cultivation. He mentioned that all of us could be artists and produce art that would be known as coming from Lana'i, and that he would like to see more art created on the island.

    "Or I'll sell you all to the glue factory!"

  • Just inside the entrance to the Garden of the Gods there was an arrangement of small white rocks that we almost overlooked. It was on a nearly-horizontal surface at about head level, so it was difficult to see there was actually an arrangement there. But it was deliberately arranged. It spelled out words:


    It wasn't until the next day that we realized who Murdock was.

  • Our 1989 edition of Hidden Hawaii by Ray Riegert is organized by island, with each island described by certain information---Hotels, Restaurants, Sightseeing, Shopping, Nightlife, etc. When it comes to Shopping, Riegert says of Lanai, You're in the wrong place, I'm afraid. We rode the ferry back to Maui with two women who said they'd only been a day on Lanai and had spent the entire time shopping. They each had a couple big shopping bags. I have no idea what they found to buy.

  • I could tell you the story of the cafe which ran out of pizza dough so couldn't make our pizza and Niles came home empty handed thinking it was closing at 8 so we went to another cafe that was supposedly open 'til 9 but they actually closed at 8 and we drove around the park twice until we realized the first one was still open and they made us a darned good Philly cheese sammich and gave us a free empenada that was not bad. But it's a boring story. Instead, I will note that all good Hawaiian cafes offer macaroni salad. Hawaiians love the stuff. To me, the taste of Hawaii is macaroni salad and guava juice. Mmmm mmm.