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Feb 21, 2014

50 years of suits you can’t swim in

I just received my copy of the SI swimsuit issue, and there are plenty of beautiful women in it.  Most of them are in suits you can’t swim in.  Many of them are in places you can’t swim.

I can appreciate (and do) beautiful women as much as any one,  but there is always something that really annoys me.  This year it is a very short 3 page section called Athletes which features a surfer, a soccer player and a  NBA player.  I am now more irritated because Samsung and my Note 2014 will not allow me to type the initials of the Women’s National Basketball Association:  it only recognizes the NBA.

So while I was going to rant about why we see male athletes in their sports gear and women athletes in bathing suits that would make Victoria Secret proud, I can now rant about how even a tablet does not recognize women equally to men.

I know it is a swimsuit issue, and the soccer, basketball player and surfer are certainly up to the high standard of SI, but I wonder if it would be possible to have even a side bar with a photo of them doing what they really do (okay a surfer does wear a bathing suit but probably does not surf in the ones she posed in) because SI is featuring them as athletes and not models.  It is also annoying that while they acknowledge the gold medal, the great basketball and surfing, SI actually says that (while these women do great athletic feats), they “brought their A game” to  the SI shoot.

There being no games being played, I can only conclude that SI meant to say they brought their ass game to the shoot.

If I sound like a crabby old woman, so be it.  I probably am. Especially as I can no longer bring my A game anywhere.

Feb 20, 2014

What IS “The Same Great O’ahu”?

Pacific Resource Partnership is running commercials about living in the new downtown (Kakaako mainland look alike dwellings) , extolling the new lifestyle and and assuring us (lest we thought differently which we probably do) it will be “the same great O`ahu.”

I am wondering when we reach the tipping point that makes it no longer “the same great O`ahu.”  When 14 new condos arise?  When new housing is fully built out in Kakaako?  When Waikiki has more than 50,000 hotel rooms?  When rail is being built and people realize that it will block their favorite views?

“The Same Great O`ahu” is a handy phrase that is very much open to interpretation.  Given the human propensity to glorify (mourn?) the past, when it stops being the “same great O`ahu” is pegged to some changes that happen after one arrives to live here.  We all resist change, especially where we live, but at some point all of us say out loud :   it is no longer  ”the same great O’ahu”  it was when we arrived.

When I worked with the Honolulu Advertiser, the publisher noted that all the land zoned for development would be developed by 2005. From an “I live here” point of view, that was great news.   He didn’t anticipate how quickly land zoned for ag would be re-zoned for development.

For my son’s father, who grew up here, it stopped being “the same great O’ahu” when Waikiki went from the Royal, the Moana and the  Halekulani to the Sheraton Waikiki and the Hyatt in Waikiki.   (One of my first jobs here was in the advertising department of the Sheraton Waikiki — where we would joke that people should stay at the Sheraton Waikiki because it was the only place in Waikiki where you couldn’t see the Sheraton Waikiki.) For many kama`aina, it stopped being the same great O`ahu when H-3 was built.  Save Sandy Beach and Keep the Country Country are efforts (one successful, one in progress) to make sure it is “the same great O`ahu.”

In 1976 the Waikiki Special Design District was created and rules were tightened in 1992.  Then we capped room count at 32,800.  Today we have 50,000 hotel rooms in Waikiki.  I am told by a friend that at least once a week, a visitor letter decrying that it is not the same great Waikiki any more.  The visitor industry is our lifeblood.   Have we finally pushed the environment so far that it really is no longer the same great Waikiki for our visitors?

Where I live and own a business, in Kailua, there are many people who firmly believe it is not the same great Kailua it was twelve years ago.  Some even call it “Kaikiki.”    Of course I am biased, because I own a business here and I appreciate that the redevelopment of Kailua makes it possible for me to live and work here.  But we are all waiting to see what the new owner will do — will big box retailers (in addition to Target) come here?  Then maybe I, too, will mourn the passing of the same great Kailua.

For me, it stopped being “the same great O`ahu” when the inexorable march to rail began.  I have written extensively about rail, and I firmly believe that it will cause great harm to O`ahu’s tourism base, and maybe even the State’s.  I believe it will be a blight on the island’s beautiful landscape, and that it will add unnecessary development (TODs or Transit Oriented Development) at most of its 19 stations.    The conspiracy theorist in me even believes that the “powers that be” allowed our roads to become the third worst in the country so that rail would seem more appealing.   Part B of the Chris Christie theory of traffic control.

However you look at it, we are perilously close to  ”the same great O’ahu being irredeemable and that will be a heavy price for us all to pay.

Feb 18, 2014

Hecho in Mexico

Those of you who know me and who have read my blog know that Coca Cola is my brand.  It is my brand despite the fact that it is not good for me.  It is my brand, and has been my brand since I was a little kid.

I don’t know how many years ago high fructose corn syrup became the sugar du jour, but it is bad bad bad for you and turns into triglycerides in your liver — triglycerides being a form of cholesterol and bad bad bad for a person like me who has had a heart attack.  Actually bad for anybody.

I gave up drinking the high fructose corn syrup coke and then I found — in Foodland and Safeway — coke that is made in Mexico.  It comes in 16 oz bottles and says “Hecho en Mexico” on the side of the carton.  And it is made with sugar.  Real sugar.  So I now treat myself to a coke now and then –with sugar in it.  Bad for you but not high fructose corn syrup.

I have no idea why Coca Cola Hawai`i started bringing in Coke hecho en Mexico, but I am giddy to drink the Coke of my youth, thanks to them and Safeway and Foodland.  If you want to try the real real thing, necesito get some at Foodland or Safeway.

Feb 18, 2014

Robbery Redeemed

Well, only partially, but redeemed nonetheless.  No, the police didn’t catch anybody, but (somewhat miraculously) my purse was returned along with the key fob for my Prius, so I don’t have to spend $900 getting the car re-keyed.

My purse was found by Mallory Self, USN, now stationed in Sicily.  She “found it in a river in Kailua”.  Or at least that was the explanation her Mom Brenda Hancock gave to me when I spoke to her.  Evidently, Mallory found the person quite a while ago and tried to contact me on Facebook unsuccessfully.  She was getting deployed so she left my purse by the screen door where Brenda discovered it while she was visiting here last week.  Brenda, being a Mom, knew that I would really want the muddy purse back, with my checkbook, key fob and house keys still in it, so she and her daughter Laura drove to my house (address on the checks) and brought me my purse!

Since the robbery was in September, I imagine Mallory found it shortly after the robbery although I don’t know.  We have a canal behind our house, so that may have been where she found it. At any rate, it took Toyota five months, or long enough to have my purse retrieved, to get the right tools in to re-key the Prius.  Now I don’t need them.  Robbery partially redeemed.

Unredeemed is the fact that State Farm honored only part of our claim (seems they didn’t believe my son has really expensive sunglasses ) and then cancelled my homeowner’s insurance.  Since we have been with them for 22 years and they have all of our policies, I feel like I got robbed a second time.  But Brenda’s persistence in finding me far outweighs everything else.  Faith in people restored.

Feb 10, 2014

Aloha Kenny Brown: Hawai`i’s Buckminster Fuller

Last night I saw a news piece on the passing of Kenneth Francis Brown.  Today I can find nothing online about one of the most important people in Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian history.  Like Buckminster Fuller, to whom I have compared him, Kenny Brown (for this is what everyone called him) was an architect and an early believer in the critical importance of caring for and sustaining the planet.

Here are just a few of the things Kenny Brown did in his long and productive lifetime:  Special Assistant to Governor John Burns, State Legislator, Chairman of the Queen’s Health Systems, Head of East West Center. He was instrumental in the role of saving many of Hawai`i’s important buildings, including Iolani Palace.  He was one of the original founders, along with Myron “Pinky” Thompson, artist Herb Kane and waterman Tommy Holmes, of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Quoting from an article by Mindy Pennebacker in the now defunct Honolulu Weekly:  ”Because it was in his nature and, some say, his kuleana as a descendant of alii to pursue the common good, Kenny Brown’s voyage of self-discovery grew into a series of cooperative enterprise that, for more than 40 years, have worked to protect Hawai`i’s natural and cultural resources and to restore community health.”

In a landmark speech on the “Malama Ethic” given in 1973 in Planning for Hawai`i’s Future, Brown outlined the ways in which we must “Malama” Hawai`i if she is to survive.  And it wasn’t just a feel good talk story:  ”Because he knows so many ways to destroy his natural environment,” Brown said, ” Man must now become its custodian and caretaker for his own sake.”  Kenny Brown was nothing if not practical in his presentation of “Malama Hawai`i.”  For instance, while acknowledging the importance of tourism to Hawai`i, Brown acknowledged the importance of Hawai’i-the-place to tourism.  Brown believed (again from his Malama speech) “The land, then, can be said to contribute to the life of the spirit.  At the very least, most of us will concede that we wouldn’t want to live in a Hawai`i without her natural beauty.  At the most, we can say that its beauty is an integral part of the life of the spirit, which makes up a very important part of our total life.”

His vision for Hawai`i outlined a five point code of conduct for communities that urged the integration of social justice, environmental protection, health and wellness, business and education.  His was an early and not hollow vision of sustainability.  As the moratorium on building in Waikiki was just being lifted, Brown asked the critical question ” How many dwellings and other support facilities can we build in the spirit of malama, where they do not take productive land, and where they do not do violence to our landscape and natural systems.”

I met Kenny Brown when Brook and I were working for The Queen’s Health Systems.  Thinking that we were just coming to interview the Chairman of the Queen’s Health System, I was blown away at the man I met and the short time I spent listening to him outline his hopes and dreams for Queen’s and for Hawai`i.

I apologize to those close to and more familiar with Kenny Brown for any shortcomings of this attempt to write about a man I knew very little, but very much admired.

As we move to build steel-on-steel rail , continue to rezone ag land for development, and announce the building of 14 new condominiums in Kaka’ako I know we are at a critical time in the life of this land.  Is it too late for us to follow Kenny Brown’s lead and “Malama Hawai`i?”

(You can read Kenny Brown’s speech on Malama Hawai`i — I found it here: )


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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