Browsing articles in "Hawaii"
Feb 2, 2013

Moo Goo Gai Pan & Scorpions at Trader Vic’s

Make me a scorpion, and don’t forget the gardenia!

In the mid-1960s, when I was young and very much in love, my boyfriend and I would board the train in Greenwich and head to New York, disembark at Grand Central and walk the many blocks to the Plaza Hotel.  There, at the home of Eloise, was Trader Vic’s, tucked away, dark and pretty romantic.  Total Polynesia — at least in my mind at the time.  Bamboo and grass, special booths with puffer fish lighting.

We always had the same thing:  moo goo gai pan, white rice, euphrates crackers and a couple of scorpions with gardenia floating in them.  It was heaven.  I lived for those euphrates crackers and the take-you-away-from-here atmosphere at Trader Vic’s.  The meal was around $30 in 1966.  New York’s drinking age was 18, and I had a fake ID card.

My mother was horrified that we did this — at least she claimed to be, because $30 was so much for a single meal in 1966.  An online calculator says 1966′s $30 would be $169.00 today.  For lunch, mind you.  That is pretty expensive for a couple of teenagers who were pretty ignorant about the world around them.   So I guess my mother wasn’t pretending to be horrified.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard Trader Vic’s at the Plaza was closed.  I went to the Waikiki Trader Vic’s up-in-a-tree at the International Marketplace.  It was no Trader Vic’s at the Plaza.  Years later, I asked my brother to make a reservation at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco.

Really?  Completely different menu?  Brightly lit and minimum polynesia?  Dinner with my brother, his kids, my best friend, my wonderful husband, and my brother’s in-laws.  No, it was not Trader Vic’s.  It was something masquerading as Trader Vic’s.  I should remember to listen to Tom Wolfe.

Feb 2, 2013

Ravens, Car Washes, Chicken Soup & Mariposa Restaurant

Readers of this blog know that part of my growing up time was spent in Towson Maryland, where I happily watched the Orioles and the Colts, went to Gino Marchettis for french fries and Alan Ameche’s for fried chicken, and drank chicken soup at the car wash in the winter with my Dad.

As the Baltimore Ravens prepare to take on the San Francisco 49′ers, the Ravens are my home team.  I have family in SFO, I visit there quite often, and usually, they are my home team.  But not this time.  Besides the fact that I learned to love sports in Baltimore, there is Michael Oher (I discovered him before you did, I bet) and Ray Lewis.  I am a sucker for the old guys in their last game.

The car wash thing is connected to football because Dad and I always had a cup of chicken soup (dried soup and hot water, 25 cents from a machine) at the car wash and headed over to Alan Ameche’s or Gino Marchetti’s with our freshly cleaned car.

I have discovered chicken soup here in Hawai`i that takes me back to Baltimore and the car wash and my Dad.    Never mind that it is at the fancy restaurant in Nieman Marcus — Mariposa — it is thick and soothing and just about the same size…although served in a tiny ceramic cup and saucer at the outset of the meal.  A pre-bite.  pre-sip.  It is wonderful.  Mariposa is one place I am willing to drive across the mountain for — to have lunch with a friend, with the secret agenda of tasting that soup — and being back in Baltimore with Daddy.  Weather cold.  Wrapped up warm.  And delicious chicken soup. In a paper cup.  From a vending machine.

Go Ravens!

Jan 27, 2013

Dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi

Through the efforts of Dr. Nancy Pace and many Rotarians from Hawai`i and elsewhere, Aung San Suu Kyi stepped on U.S. soil (here in Hawai`i) for only the second time since she has been released from house arrest.  At the Rotary International Hawai’i Global Peace Forum, Aung spoke about Burma for about 45 minutes.

The country she describes, once the Paris of the Far East, recalls Sarajevo after the Olympics.  A place with abundant natural resources and a culturally diverse population now decimated by war and a dictatorship of a military that was for themselves and not it’s people.

She never once called the country Myanmar, the pre-British rule name of the country which was reinstated after the military coup d’etat in 1962.  Although still contested, many, including the Nobel laureate have returned to calling the country Burma, in part because they refuse to recognize the military’s power in the government.   Aung thinks of Burma as Burma..  Her “Letters From Burma” is a  collection of all things Burmese —  from this amazing woman who was educated in Rangoon, Delhi and at Oxford University.

Her spoken English is beautiful, and her voice is deep and rich.  Clearly, having suffered bravely through many years of house arrest and earlier imprisonment, she is a strong woman.  Her spine is stiff, yet she is tiny and delicate, her hair done with an array of  tiny flowers on one side and a saffron colored rose secured on the other.  She was draped in a beautiful saffron dress.

Rotary had asked her to speak on any topic she liked.  She presented her vision of “peace and prosperity” for Burma, seeking the help of Rotarians and others across the world to help address problems of health, water, education, democracy and the law.

One theme of her speech was bribery:  now you must bribe almost anyone to get anything.  The allegedly free healthcare system has devolved into one where the clinic and hospital staffs are state-provided but materials including surgical instruments must be provided by the patients.  Should one want to insure a positive result, it is necessary to bribe everyone from the orderlies to the doctors and nurses.  The wealthy have turned to private hospitals (and private education for their children) leaving the poor to fend for themselves.  Her plea for this part of her vision:  restore Rangoon Hospital and assist the return of a truly free system of health care.

Burma is a sovereign state in S.E. Asia bordered by Thailand, China, India, Laos and Bangladesh.  It has a population of more than 60 million.  It is a country rich in resources, including water, abundant agricultural land, natural gas and gemstones.  

And it is Aung San Suu Kyi’s home.  She is broken Burma’s compelling ambassador to the world community, asking for kindness, compassion and tenderness — and help to rebuild her home and restore it to its position on the world stage.

Peace and prosperity is what we all want, she says, and it is what this damaged world needs to survive.

As for Rotary International, it is already involved in a water project in Burma, and surely will do more after hearing Aung San Suu Kyi speak with such passion about her country.  Rotary gives 50 International Peace Scholarships every year and its motto Service Above Self is one we could all adopt to help create the world that Aung is fighting for.  Thank you, Dr. Pace, and Rotary International for affording me and my family the opportunity of a lifetime to spend an evening with one of the planet’s most precious resources.


Jan 25, 2013

My Life in Guns

My grandfather shot himself dead with a gun.

My aunt shot herself dead with a rifle.

My cousin murdered his brother.

Eight of my half-sister’s aunts and uncles shot themselves dead with a gun.

My brother’s best friend was shot dead with a gun while watching television in his home.

My son and I were trapped in our car and nearly shot by a neighborhood vigilante with a rifle.

My family, you will point out, brings up the mental illness issues associated with gun ownership, but with the exception of my cousin all of the fatal wounds were self-inflicted — because they had guns in their homes.

(Don’t forget, Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face with a gun.  And Wayne LaPierre is probably mentally ill).

Jan 25, 2013

“He isn’t a Liar. He’s Just a Kid”. Manti Te`o’s Dad

Anyone who watched the Katie Couric interview with Manti Te`o got a sense of what it is like to be a child in an extened Samoan family.  Those of us who know Hawai`i, and those lucky enough to know Manti, know that he is the real deal.  At the end of the interview, I am not sure Katie believed him; maybe she has trafficked in the world of liars and narcissists too long to comprehend.

Does he seem 21 or 22 to you?  No, I think he probably doesn’t.  Manti has been expected to act as a leader, with dignity and respect for others since he was a little kid.  Now that he is a big kid, it seems like the world thinks he’s a grown up.  Could your 21 year old go through what he has gone through and still comport himself the way he did on Katie’s show?

Lance Armstrong must have been thanking his lucky stars when the Manti Te`o story came on the scene.  While compelling that anyone could be as naive and trusting as Manti, or as cruel and untrustworthy as Ranaih Tuiasosopo, this story did not rise to the attention it was given.

If Manti seems too good to be true, he isn’t.  You can bet he has learned a lot from this experience:  he may be naive but he is no dummy.  And I suspect no longer naive.  Given the chance, he will continue to surprise us all his life, and to be a model of decency and kindness.  This is something he shares with so many of the talented Samoans who play in the NFL.  Junior Tseu was one of them. Jesse Sapolu another.  Too many to count.

He didn’t need “Lennay Kekua” or “her” phony car accident and death to be a candidate for the Heisman.  Ask anyone at Notre Dame.




Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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