Monday, February 23, 2009

My Town Monday

Click on photos to enlarge!

"O Lord, help me not to despise or oppose what I do not understand."
William Penn

"Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more."
Oscar Wilde

"A moment's insight is sometimes worth a lifetime's experience."
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Honolulu Hale (hah-lay, a polynesian "house.")

I love walking around my town of Honolulu. We have cool one-of-a kind restaurants like Helena’s Hawaiian Food on North School Street. Chef Helen Kwock Chock passed on last year, but her family maintains the recipes at her wonderful little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant that was a favorite of gourmand James Beard. He ate there at every opportunity, presenting Helen with a respected “Beard Award,” and inviting the unassuming grandma to New York City to prepare a meal for the world’s great foodies. Nuff said? Eat at Helena’s!

So what’s with the lines of hungry people in front of chain restaurants here in Waikiki? You can eat that stuff back home, or anywhere! Why not try wonderful food with warm service at my favorite Bombay Indian Restaurant (Ala Moana by Hobron Lane)? Besides Helena’s and Bombay, there are so many other little culinary gems in our town, like the singular shrimp tempura at Hifumi in chinatown. After a recent concert, blues man Taj Mahal eschewed fine dining for the comfort food at tiny Liliha Bakery Coffee Shop (Kuakini off Liliha street-open all night). . . When you are here, eat somewhere local and unique, you!

Like Seinfeld’s George, I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect. I had a wonderful opportunity to do just that recently as I strolled along on a downtown architectural walking tour offered by the Honolulu Chapter, American Institute of Architects. Who knew that our city hall, Honolulu Hale, is a sort of Italian castle? Check out the fortified elements in this beloved Douglas Fairbanks of a building the next time you’re there. We walk by historical riches every day here in Honolulu town, though the surpassing beauty of green mountain, eloquent sky & seas oft upstages them. And don’t forget US! Everyone is beautiful here. Just look around at us!

The US Census reports that Hawaii leads in ethnic diversity, with “minorities” around 75% of our human treasure. “Minorities,” what does that even mean when there is no overwhelming “majority?” Whatever you call us- it (mostly) works. . . "Imagine" having a president who grew up in such a place. . .

Were those night marchers a while back in Kaneohe? Even today, distant drumbeats and chanting are sometimes heard in certain districts after midnight. The chiefs of old still inspecting “their” lands. But no, this time it was modern warriors, OUR folks, Kaneohe Marines training in the dark before going into a war zone. Out of respect for the public, cadences were not called so quiet was maintained. Nonetheless, many local residents paid their respects from front yards, and were frankly awed by the Mana surrounding these citizen soldiers. However you may feel about this war, or that police action, we all admire and appreciate those so young who make such a commitment to serve. . .

Sitting by my computer as I write this, a ripe mango tempts me. I picked it up off the grounds of the Mission Houses Museum from trees that real Queens admired long ago. History, beauty, sustenance, aloha, all offer themselves freely under isle skies. You see, in Hawaii living a rich life is less about money than it is in most other places. Sure, our visitors and we can find here all the things that money can buy (in abundance!) but Honolulu’s real treasure is found in our environment, and in each other; it’s about attitude, engagement and down-home enjoyment of all the cultures that make up our unique chop-suey island. . . the sorts of things you discover. . . when you’re walking in Waikiki. Aloha!