The End For Tower Records

It was Tower Records’ last hurrah in Honolulu. All CDs were advertised at 99¢ each but when customers got to the checkout line, they were 50¢ each. Very slim pickins, but at this price I bought 8 CDs to the tune of about $4.16. Not the huge blowout sale that I had expected 2 months ago when Tower announced their bankruptcy, but hey…. not a bad deal today for CDs that normally cost more than $16.99 each. It was a slow burn to oblivion for this once mighty chain store. Today all of Tower Records’ locations in Hawai — Honolulu Keeaumoku, Kahala Mall and Pearl Kai are closed for good, victim of changing times, big boxes and digital downloads. It was a good run and old timers will definitely miss it. Aloha.

Click here for more photos.

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Hawaii’s Gifts 4, 5, 6 & 7

So these are all late and I am just going to briefly mention them since the deadline already passed.

Gift #4: Hawaii Five-0 and Other TV movie productions: Surely many other cities have had film and TV productions based there. Hawaii has long had a presence on the industry map and is known for the TV series Hawaii Five-0, Magnum P.I. and most recently LOST. There have been others. We have some TV fans who make it a hobby to keep up with filming of current productions such as LOST. Fans of Hawaii Five-0 will finally get to see their favorite TV show released to DVD this coming February. Hooray!

Many other TV productions, commercials and news programs are shot in Hawaii.

Hawaii has long been a good location for movie production and several major pictures have been shot entirely or in part at various locations throughout Hawaii. Among the well known titles are Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Tears in the Sun, 50 First Dates, Mighty Joe Young and Blue Crush. There are many others going all the way back to the early 1900s. Hoorary for Hollywood in Hawaii!
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Hawaii Gift #3: Hula!

What can I say about the Hula? The Hula is known around the world as the official dance style from Hawaii. In recent years Hula has seen an explosion of popularity to the point where hula competitions are held in Hawaii and all over the world. Hula Halau come to Hawaii to compete in the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival that is held in Hilo during the months of March or April. It is the biggest and most well known hula event in the world.

There are two type of hula, namely the hula kahiko which has its roots in ancient Hawaii and the modern hula ‘auana which you will see at many tourist attractions and parties. Both are practiced vigorously by the many hula halau (groups) the world over as both are represented in the Merrie Monarch festival.

Probably the most fun aspect of hula is the non-competitive spontaneous hulas that you may be lucky to see at local parties and festive luaus. Find a group of Hawaii people having a party and it is very likely someone will do a hula.

Additional References:

Merrie Monarch Festival

Wikipedia: Hula
Hawaiian Hula Archives
Hula Preservation Society

Photos by macpro taken May 2004.

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This is where I first played Pac-Man


Originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

My family used to come to Hawaii a lot when I was younger. As such my general sense of the geography of the place tends to be fairly limited. We stayed on Maui that’s what I knew and all I knew about our location. The hotel next to the suites we would stay in had an arcade, and the arcade had Pac-Man which was always one of the more exciting things about coming here.

Now I know we stayed in Wailea, and that’s where we’re staying now. Everything around here seems to evoke some memories, more so than a place like Vancouver where I’ve spent more time. Maybe it’s because every place in Vancouver I have countless memories, and here I have one or two. The airport seems unchanged in twenty-some years. The shopping centre a few miles from where we’re staying once made up of a corner store, an ice cream place and tourist traps is now a corner store, an ice cream place and very high end tourist traps such as the Gap, Banana Republic and Tiffany’s. The airport seemed more inviting, familiar.

I haven’t been able to find the Pac-Man machine yet. The hotel is undergoing major renovations so they may have moved it, but when I do I’ll have a quarter saved.

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Hawaii’s Gift #2: U.S. Senator Barack Obama

senobama.jpgU.S. Senator Barack Obama (D – Illinois) was born and raised in Hawaii for a few years of his childhood before moving to Indonesia after his parents divorced. Over the years, he worked his way through school and college and graduated from Harvard with a law degree in 1991. From there he entered politics, served in the Illinois State Legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He is now in the middle of his Senate term and is frequently mentioned and speculated as a potential candidate for the U.S. Presidency in the 2008 election.

Hawaii residents and Democrat politicians have been watching Senator Obama with keen interest over the past year anticipating whether or not he will indeed enter the race for President. If he does, the Hawaii media will have a field day with this as they do with any Hawaii resident or ex-resident who rises to the world and national stage. We love our local sons and daughters.

That said, Senator Obama will indeed be a “gift to the world” who started in Hawaii and may probably have a chance to make a bigger impact on the world and national stage should he become President.

Additional references:

U.S. Senator Obama official website
Wikipedia: U.S. Senator Barack Obama

Hawaii Gift #1: Steel Guitar

OK… so I am very late and we’ll see if I can cram 7 Christmas items all in by today.

First up… the Hawaiian Steel Guitar, which has been adopted in various shapes and form the world over. I think it was invented here and spread all over the world to enhance many genres of music. There is a Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association, and they have a ton of info on their website.

From their history page:

“When mainlanders first saw it, they didn’t know what to call it, so they reported that it was held on the lap and played with a steel bar. That’s how it got stuck with lapsteel which is still much used. But if you want to go first class, you’ll call it a steel guitar. It was originally a 6-string wooden guitar built to be a Spanish guitar, but converted to a steel guitar by inserting a metal converter nut (adapter nut) (extension nut) over the nut at the headstock to raise the strings about a half inch off the fretboard. It was originally tuned A Major low bass (1-6) E.C#.A.E.A.E, which has three strings tuned the same as the Spanish guitar.”

All I know is that the Hawaiian Steel Guitar produces a beautiful sound that enhances our local music. Of course anyone into country and western music or contemporary country and even some rock music, knows that steel guitars have long been in use. Hence Hawaii’s contribution to the music world.

Select this link for a steel guitar sound sample (MP3).

Reference links:

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association
Table Steel Guitar @ Wikipedia
Pineapple Pete’s Steel Guitar Samples
Pineapple Pete’s Steel Guitar Site
Photo credit: Frank Baum, website

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And now an outsiders view of Hawaii


Originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

One of the great things about Metroblogging sites is the ability to read about a city, or in this case a state, by the people who live there. If you want to find out about life in Vancouver you head over to Metroblogging Vancouver [mbv] where I’m a blogger. Twenty-four hours ago I slipped on a patch of ice while walking home and landed on my back. My Christmas shopping ended up spread across the sidewalk and my cell phone went skidding into a snow bank.

It was time to get out of Canada and head somewhere warm. So now I’m in Hawaii, Maui to be exact, and I’ll be here for a bit, and blogging too. So for the next while in addition to the usual insiders guide to the islands you’ll be getting the annoying Canadian tourist’s view too, thankfully at no extra charge.

Vancouver and Hawaii share a lot of things. We both had Captain George Vancouver claiming things for Britain [wp]. We both slapped the union jack into our state/province flags. And for years Vancouverites, and other Canadians, have been coming to Hawaii and acting like tools. Our Premier Gordon Campbell got arrested for drunk driving while in Maui in 2003 (picture at the top of this post). We’re sorry about that. He’s a tool.

Over the next week or so I’ll be doing some blogging, depending on my internet access. Hopefully I’m not too out of the loop, and you enjoy some of it. Thanks for having me Hawaii, it’s certainly much better than laying on ice wondering if I’d ever be able to stand again.

Hawaii Kai’s Christmas Parade

The annual Hawaii Kai Christmas Parade sponsored by the Hawaii Kai Lions Club featured a bevy of bands, beauty queens, community marchers, decorated vehicles and politicans. The parade was held under “sunnily hot” and clear skies as it meandered down Lunalilo Home Road toward the Koko Marina Shopping Center. I managed to capture some of the moments with the photos posted here and to my BuzzNet site. Enjoy!

Select these thumbnails to see more than 22 photos at my BuzzNet site.

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I Flew “Go!”

I flew on Go!, Hawaii’s new discount air carrier for the first time yesterday on a flight from Hilo back to Honolulu. Go! caused quite a commotion in the interisland airline industry when it entered the market this past June offering discount airfares at $39 one-way between any island. This undercut the previous low by the incumbent airlines, Aloha, Hawaiian and Island Air by $40, which of course they had to match.

Since then the ongoing fare war has brought fares to all time lows of $19 and $29 in recent weeks and months, all triggered by Go! The airline is owned and operated by Mesa Airlines and have been accused by the incumbent carriers of using predatory pricing to drive one of them out of the market.

While the airlines squabble in the interisland market over pricing, the consumer and interisland traveller is the winner. Many people who have shunned interisland travel due to high prices since 9-11-2001 have slowly come back to do more travelling this year than in recent memory. I for one have made more trips to visit family on the Big Island of Hawaii since the fare war began.

Yesterday was my first flight on Go! The flight was pleasant like any other interisland jet trip. The service was good, though you had to buy your drink instead of getting a complimentary juice like they do on Hawaiian and Aloha. Despite that, my flight was smooth and my checked-in bag was not lost and was reunited with me shortly after we deplaned in Honolulu.

Anyone considering flying interisland should take advantage of the current discount prices and at least give Go! a try.

More photos:

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Moderate Earthquake Hits Hawaii Today


The Big Island was hit by another moderate to strong earthquake today. Initial reports show that the trembler, located near the same place as the one on October 15 registered at 5.0 on the Richter Scale.

I am spending most of this Thanksgiving week on the Big Island of Hawaii, staying at my folks place in Honokaa. We definitely felt the earthquake this morning. It was a long rolling one which to me felt like a magnitude 4 shake. The house shook for about 35 seconds. The noise an earthquake makes is quite eerie as the house creeks and vibrates.

I was on the phone this morning talking to my friend in Hilo for about 40 minutes when the quake hit. I told him we’re having an earthquake. For about 25 seconds I kept on asking whether or not he was feeling it. Negative was his reply until the quake was nearly over here. Then he reported the shaking over the phone.

I guess it is the norm for a rolling quake that is centered on the other side of the island to “slowly” make its presence known on the other side of the island. If the quake was centered in the usual Volcano area, he would certainly have felt it first before we did 40 miles north of Hilo in Honokaa.

So far no major damage is reported, but some landslides may have occurred along the Hamakua Coast according to sketchy transmissions that I am getting on an emergency scanner that we have here.

In 1975 on Thanksgiving weekend, Hawaii was hit by an earthquake of 7.2 centered south of the Volcano area on the Big Island. Last month we were hit by a 6.7 earthquake that was felt statewide (see earlier posts).

Additional Links:

Graphic above taken from USGS website on recent earthquakes in Hawaii.

Earthquake – 5 Weeks Later


Finally made it to the Big Island this week for a short Thanksgiving visit with my family. Flew into Hilo on Tuesday, drove up the Hamakua Coast to Honokaa.

After talking to my mom, it was learned that people on the Hilo side did not get the severe impact of the October 15 earthquake that others on the West side of the island did.

Driving over, I did not notice much damage along Highway 19 except for the collapsed portion of a small bridge outside of Kukuiau and Pauuilo. That bridge is now only passable one lane at a time. The state has set up a temporary traffic light to regulate vehicles. Hopefully a permanent fix is coming soon.
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Femme Fatal

femme fatalFrom a recent photo shoot in Chinatown Honolulu, HI

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Metro Blogging Shirts….Be cool too.

Get yours here!

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Honolulu Underground!

Forget the Monorail, forget the Superferry, Honolulu’s got a new Underground!
courtesy of LOST.

On Street Parking in Jeopardy

One of the most precious commodities in Honolulu and any other city is the availability of on-street parking. On-street parking in residential neighborhoods and business areas benefit all. Small businesses depend on the availability of on-street parking as part of their business plans, especially those located in buildings with no on-site parking.

A new City Charter amendment mandating that the City Transportation Department adopt a sweeping “pedestrian and bicycle friendly” stance into all planning is a bad idea. Most people like pedestrian and bicycle friendly neighborhoods and that is fine. However this should mandate should not be made as part of our city charter. Instead planning for pedestrian and bicycle access should be made on a case-by-case basis as it is now.

City Charter Amendment #8 should be defeated. Vote “no”.

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