What Hawaii Is to Me

(The following is a paper I wrote for my Hawaiian Studies class over 4 years ago, but it is all from the heart and true still.)

Hawaii is home. I was born on Oahu in Honolulu, where I lived for my first 26 years. It did not take long for me to find out what a melting pot of cultures Hawaii is, and struggled to find where I fit in. Being considered “haole” my whole life, I was often picked on and ridiculed by others. I tried to not let this get to me as a youth. I was busy falling in love with Hawaii and all it had to offer in beauty and culture. I noticed that I was living among Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Tongan, Portuguese, Hawaiian and others as well as mixes of each. I found that Hawaiian and Chinese was a very common mix among Hawaiians that I knew growing up. I spent much time at the many beautiful beaches, hiked mountain ridges and swam under waterfalls, enjoying and eventually taking for granted my surroundings.

My father was a professor at the University of Hawaii in the department of Zoology. He embraced the Hawaiian culture after moving to Kaneohe from Texas. He bought and taught himself ukulele and played and sang for me as a child. This inspired me to learn to play and sing Hawaiian music myself. Some of the music was more jazzy than traditional Hawaiian, and I would learn later that it was the foreign influence on Hawaiian popular music that brought forth songs like “The Hukilau Song”, and other songs in English that were not originally sung in Hawaiian.

I was a city boy, and either caught the bus, walked or rode a bike to get where I was going, since having a car in Hawaii was more of a luxury than a necessity for us as a family. I had to know the streets of Honolulu well so I would not get lost. I came to know the streets of Makiki , McCully, Moilili, lower Manoa, Kapiolani, Kaimuki and Waikiki very well, down to how long each traffic light would take to change. I also knew where to get the best cracked seed snacks and plate lunches and shave ice. We never made a trip back from the North Shore without going through Haleiwa to stop at Matsumoto’s for shave ice. As a youth, I figured everyone in the world took their shave ice with azuki beans at the bottom!

I found out through a handful of trips to “the mainland” to visit family in Texas that there were a LOT of things I enjoyed in Hawaii that were not available anywhere else. I remember the frustrated look on the face of the cashier at a McDonald’s in Texas when I kept trying to describe my breakfast order of Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice. Things are different outside of Hawaii. This made Hawaii even more special to me. I miss it when I am not there.

I embrace being a “local”: I learned and spoke pidgin and proper Hawaiian phrases, as well as proper English, I participated in May Day ceremonies, sacrificed my physical health for “ono grinds” and gave and received hundreds of leis in my life there so far. I brag about my heritage to others, even though I do not have any Hawaiian blood literally running through my veins. To me, what matters is being able to say that I have the Aloha Spirit, which is palpable to anyone who tries to see it or feel it. I am proud to be from one of the hubs of the Pacific and the world, “The Gathering Place” of Oahu.

A Beautiful Day in Houston? Really?

Days like today are hard to come by. Houston’s weather is usually either cloudless but insanely hot and humid or thunderstorms all over the place. I have no idea what the actual temp is today, go look it up, but it just felt good walking outside this morning.

Interesting how traffic wasn’t so bad today. Perhaps a lot of people got “sick” today? Sucks for me, as I actually am a bit sick, but have to work (Downtown) nonetheless.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow it could be gray and dreary or hot an humid all over again.

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I’m Truly Speechless – A Portuguese Sausage Comparison Article

When I see dedication to portuguese sausage like this, it makes me smile, knowing that someone else in this lone dreary world gets it…like I think I do. You have got to read this guy’s blog on Honolulu Food! At least look at the pics!

http://tastyisland.wordpress.com/2007/05/13/the-great-portuguese-sausage-shootout/

Josh

PS – I will dream up some wonderful reward for the first person to give me a source for ANY portuguese sausage in the Houston, Texas area! Please?

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NYC Pipe Blast Montage – I Created/Edited This One

Here it is. I finally got permission to post it.It took a few hours to edit and even more to gather the footage, but only seconds to decide what music to use. I think it came out pretty well. Even if the music isn’t your thing (Metallica – One) you may still appreciate it in the context.

Enjoy,

Josh

YouTube Preview Image

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Hawaii Part VI

Today was our last day for this trip. We fell asleep accidentally last night when we had planned to do all of the packing. So we spent this morning doing it all. No worries since our flight is a late night flight so we had all day to play one last time. Trish found a way to stash all of our loot in our bags. She had the foresight to buy a decent suitcase while at the swap meet Saturday. Were it not for that moment of split second decision making, we would not have been able to fit all this stuff into our goodie bags! Yay Trish!

We checked out of the hotel and drove down Kalakaua Avenue to Eggs n Things, a popular breakfast spot and one of Trish’s favorite places to eat. The waiting list was about 45 minutes long, which was all the time we had on our street parking meter that we had just fed coins into. So we blinked and pouted at the cashier/hostess and she asked if it was OK if we sat at the “bar” they had, which was the shape and look of a very large surfboard. We agreed and were seated in about 5 minutes, bypassing about 20 people who were waiting before us. Sorry guys, our meter is running and we gotta et moving!

I had the biggest, baddest Portuguese sausage omelette on hash browns and some sourdough toast. Trish ordered the famous buttermilk pancakes, and we shared each others’ food. It was some of THE best pancakes and the biggest Portuguese sausage ANYthing I had ever had! Good call Trish! I had never gone there my whole Hawaiian life. It was about time.

We then moseyed (mosied?) over to the ABC store (one of like a zillion on the island) and window shopped. See, we were just about out of money by then and had to keep things simple. We went to 7-11 once more and I took pictures of the display case where the bentos, musubi, sushi and other yummy things are. So pretty dat one! I wish we had such options in Texas.

We then went to Ala Moana again to walk around the top floor since we pooped out after only two floors last time. So old, yeah, us? They really did change things up there. They have restaurants up there and more stores. Ala Moana is metastasizing! Sheesh! I can still remember playing in the sandbox right out in front of the mall, lower level, by the Keeaumoku side of the parking lot. That’s been gone a while, but.

We had to go to Longs one more time, just cuz. They have SO much of everything. We even saw this one local Asian chick putting on lipstick in the mirror in the makeup section, and it wasn’t her makeup and she wasn’t buying the stuff she was using, so….dang that’s just tacky.

I got a couple of trinket gifts for some of the people that I have to go back home and work with just about every day. A little kindness goes a long way there, I believe.

We got all pooped again (tired feet mostly) and left Ala Moana for good. We got a wild hair and decided to go up to Tantalus over Makiki, my old stomping grounds. The road was closed so we had to just stop in front of some rich dude’s house and took photos of Honolulu from the street. Not too shabby of a view I must say.

We then drove up Manoa Valley just cuz and took lots of pictures of the valley and the luch front yards all over the place. On the way down Punahou street I remembered to snap some photos of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where Sarah was born. I know she will be very interested to see these pics. She really wanted to come with us on this trip. We have to bring the whole family next time for sure.

Trish wanted to see the Pali lookout on this trip and we still had many hours to use so we drove on up Pali Highway to the lookout. It was very windy today, perhaps having something to do with hurricane Flossi on its way over, changing air pressure and making wind. It was a blast up there! Lots of people were leaning into the wind and jumping up and landing a few inches downwind. Everyone, young and old, was acting like kids, including us! We took some pics. The view is still quite breathtaking from up there!

We drove down toward Kaneohe and hopped onto H-3 to see the sights on that newer freeway. It was a smooth ride and afforded us some spectacular views of the Ko’olau mountains up close. I videotaped almost the entire stretch of freeway on my phone while driving. Should be up on youtube later tomorrow. The freeway dumps you into Halawa, right by Aloha Stadium, where you can connect to H-2 or H-1, which is what we did.

We had the idea that we should spend some of our last few dollars in Hawaii on Grace’s chicken katsu plate lunches, which we did with no hesitation. We got the food to go and drove down to Magic Island for a pre-sunset picnic. It was SO peaceful there. I really think that’s my favorite spot on the island. Diamond Head is the backdrop to the east, where you can see the Ala Wai boat marina and people surfing out at Kaisers, all of this in front of the famous Waikiki skyline leading to Diamond Head. Just classic Honolulu to me, and I love it and always will. The breeze was perfect and the water was gorgeous!

The only thing left to do after that was to top off the gas on the rental car, turn it in, check in at the airport, grab a diet coke and a seat at one of the airport cafes and sit and blog this day’s activities on my little phone. I am amazed I have been able to keep up on it all with this little phone! It sucked not having internet access at all at our hotel, but it all worked out OK.

So we bid Honolulu a fond Aloha for now. Until we meet again.

Josh

PS – this trip was Super Kawaii! That’s Super Cute in Japanese!
PSS – uh..yeah we are Harajuku lovers, ya!

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Hawaii Part V – Graduation Day


Today was a perfect day! I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Hawaii at Manoa!!! I finally did it! The commencement was brief and painless and the feeling was almost overwhelming. To my right was a bored japanese/maybe portuguese guy playing with his new iPhone the whole time, and to my left was a tall skinny Filipino dude who was smiling the whole time. He took a moment to congratulate me right before we walked from our seats to get our names read.

I was a bit nervous, I’ll admit. But when I heard my name, pronounced correctly even…I was just floating! I pumped my arms into the air as I walked over to shake the dean’s hand and receive my diploma (a holder for one anyway), have my photo taken and was even on video for a bit. I was able to shake hands and give a hug to Tom Bingham, my old band director and music academic advisor. He is one of the good ones, and yes, happens to be haole. coincidence?? hmmm. Anyway it was really good to see him and to have him see me finish that degree!

Trish was in the audience videotaping and taking stills of me during the whole thing. Corey Nakayama was there too. It was good to have him there. He videotaped the whole thing and handed me the dv tape after. Nice yeah?

Also in the crowd to see me graduate were Todd and Hazel Anzai, who came to see me aftrwards and we took pictures and talked for a long time out in the sun at the UH baseball stadium where peeps met the graduates after the ceremony. They invited us out to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, and we had an absolute blast talking about all kinds of stuff. I am overwhelmed by their generosity and friendship. It is so great to have great friends that are fun to hang out with, even if they live 3000 miles away!

After a wonderful lunch at CPK, as it has been referred to, and after having the carribean jerk chicken pizza (oh my yes…yum!), we said our goodbyes to Todd and Hazel and went strolling through Kahala Mall, which we had not done yet on this trip.

The place changed a bit, but it’s such a small mall anyway so it wouldn’t take much to make it look different…and we stopped into Sanrio, a little japanese “Hello Kitty” store for lack of a better term, and got a few cool items for the kids, and found some of my favorite gum there too. It’s this fruity flavored gum that comes in a wrapper that has a temporary tatoo on the inside of the wrapper (called Fusen gum). I use to mess with those when I was a kid. Funny how now I don’t let my kids mess with temporary tatoos huh? Hypocrite, but hey, it comes with title of parent, I have learned.

While at that mall, we popped into a GameStop to see if they had the Nintendo Wii console in stock. They said they were out but they knew who would most likely have them in stock. I thanked the guy for the info and left. After going back to the hotel to change, we then went to “Toys N Joys” to see about getting a Wii. They had them in stock!!! We got a Wii!


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Hawaii Part IV

Saturday in Hawaii…started out with Trish sneaking out of the hotel to do some grocery shopping. I was sleeping in anyway thanks to the late night I just had playing guitar hero II with Corey. Trish came back with biscuits from a bakery nearby. They were huge and yummy! Hit the spot.

We were slow to move but we did manage to get up and out over to the swap meet they seem to have every Saturday at Aloha Stadium parking lot. We got there a little late since they close up shop at about 2 or 3 but we did miss the heavy rain that was there earlier, so that was good.

We kinda went nuts on buying all kinds of stuff. I can’t remember all of it right now but that’s ok. It was very hot and muggy while we were there but we still had lots of fun.

When we came back to town, wondering what and where to eat, I couldn’t think of anything that I really wanted besides mexican food. So we went to Compadres for nachos and to relax. It was very nice.

We sat rihgt at the window where you can see Ala Moana park and the people that walk through or around it. We also got the fish tacos, and I gotta tell you…those were really really good! Yeah, it seemed kinda lame at the time to go have mexican food in Hawaii rather than plate lunches but I guess I was in a plate lunch overload or something so the chips and salsa really hit the spot!

After a little walking around at Ward center, we drove around Magic Island and Ala Moana park. It’s so cool to see these people that used to be me and my family, getting out of the water and having picnics and playing in the sand or grass.

We then drove down to Kapiolani Park by the aquarium, parked and walked over to The Wall to see the sunset and to watch the sand volleyball players. Trish used to be one of those girls, wearing just a bikini, diving all over the sand to get the ball back over the net, getting sand all over! She ran into an old friend and we chatted a while. I took a bunch of pictures of the volleyball action and the ensuing sunset.

We were beat after all of that so we went back to the hotel and chilled and crashed for the night. So old and boring yeah? heh heh.

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