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Archive for September, 2010


Thursday, September 30, 2010

TAHC’s BOOK CLUB has been reading Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS this month.

And as the month draws to a close, we need to have wrap-up, don’t you think?

I saved the last 40 (or so) pages to read today so that I could stretch the book out all the way to the end of the month.

I think I’ve read the book a total of three times–maybe four. And every time I read it, I forget the specifics. I forget the stories. I forget the individual moments that make the book a complete story. I always forget how it ends.

I used to think that meant that the book didn’t really resonate with me. That for some reason, I didn’t like it.

But I know that isn’t the case.

I love this book.

And I think by “forgetting” the specifics, it allows me to go back and re-experience all of it again. Every time I read it.

I can’t say that the book is full of beauty. There are a lot of horrifying images that Yamanaka paints for the reader. Horrifying things that happen to both animals and people. Cruel actions. Scarring words.

Parts of Lovey’s story sound like my own. For instance: I loved the section where she and her sister, Cal, listened to the radio station on Saturday nights and called in their own song dedications. I loved how Lovey was strong in the face of the cruel remarks made by her classmates. And my heart bled for her when all she could think to say was “Oh yeah?” Oh, Lovey, I’ve been there, too…

I loved that a mayonnaise jar full of pennies represented the kids’ dreams.

I cried for Lovey when she watched her hero, Crystal, fall from grace. And I cried for Crystal, who couldn’t see another day was just around the corner. And that we all learn from our mistakes.

The complex relationship Lovey had with her father. The day they went to collect the feathers…

And Jerry… Oh, Jerry…

So many stories.

I laughed out loud a lot. And I teared up a lot. I’m sure the folks on the subway who could see me reading this thought I was one CRAZY dude!

But beyond the specifics that mad me both laugh and cry (and I’m always amazed when I laugh OR cry while reading a book. But BOTH? Wow!) I think the thing I love most about the book is this:

It paints a very REAL picture of Hawaiʻi.

Beyond the postcard images. Beyond the “Another Day in Paradise” bumper stickers. Yamanaka used words to masterfully paint the world she knew.

Is it everyone’s experience in Hawaiʻi? No way.

Is it a valid portrait of SOME people’s experiences in Hawaiʻi? You bettah believe it!


I’m glad I’ve already started to forget the specifics of the story.

It will make reading it again a treat.

A giant MAHALO to Lois-Ann Yamanaka for writing the story of WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS.

And a giant MAHALO to everyone who has been reading the book this month! Thanks for joining me!


What did YOU think of the book? What did you like? What didn’t you like?

I want to hear from YOU!! And I think the other folks reading the blog would love to hear from YOU, too! That’s right–we want to hear from YOU!

By sharing your comments, we can all benefit. And isn’t that part of the fun of reading a book TOGETHER? The sense of community.

Oh! And one last thing: you can SUBSCRIBE to the comments on this post so that you’ll be notified when people add their comments. You can reply to each other. It’s so cool! It’s a virtual community! You can talk to each other–and forget that I’m here!

So… What did YOU think of the book?


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (9.29.10)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 3 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. ʻIʻiwi Aʻo Hilo ( Kawai Cockett’s recording on the album Beautiful Kauaʻi)

This song is pure and simple. And I love it! It moves along quickly and brilliantly–I can picture hula dancers illustrating the lyrics with their graceful hands and movements. I read that this song was written to be used on the float for Hawaii Island in the Kamehameha Day parade in 195o. I’m sure it wow-ed the crowds.

Kawai Cockett’s voice is outstanding. I listen to him all the time time–it’s kind of like going to a Hawaiian music class. I love his enunciation of the Hawaiian words. And I can’t get enough of his distinctive ʻukulele strumming!

Simple songs like this can change the world. How? It brings a smile to the face. And when you smile, it can be contagious. Try it!

2. Ua Like Nō A Like (Holunape’s recording on the album Āhea? ʻĀnō!)

Holunape is one of those “go to” groups that I turn to when I need an instant “island experience.” Their voices are so nahenahe (smooth and gentle.) I hear them and I’m instantly transported.

This song is a beautiful love song written by Alice Everett. It speaks of true love. Reciprocal love. It’s one of my all-time favorite pieces. And Holunape’s flawless delivery, with the sweet falsetto carrying the melody, is–well–it just may be the DEFINITIVE version of the song.

And it always makes me think of Aunty Nona Beamer when I hear it. I miss her so much.

3. Hawaiian Style (Alfred Aholo Apaka’s recording on the album Hawaii’s Golden Voice)

Are you looking to understand what a crooner really is? Well, THIS is a song that really captures the crooner style. And it features the voice of one of the greatest singers ever, Mr. Alfred Aholo Apaka.

This hapa-haole song, written by E. Billsborrow, has lyrics that paint such a beautiful portrait of Hawaii during this time in history. Give it a listen… you’ll peer through a window in time.

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!


Return to Hula (Part 1)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last week, I wrote about my introduction to hula studies. (Click HERE to read more about that.)

I thought I was going to be a hula student for life. In fact, I was sure of it. There was nothing anyone could tell me that would make me think differently.

And then…

Life got kind of crazy. I missed a class here and there.

I wasn’t the hula “diehard” I’d professed to be. As my 30s continued, it occurred to me that I probably wasn’t going to be a hula dancer. I loved it. But there were a lot of folks who LOVED it. Know what I mean?

Hula was their reason for existing!

And for me–well–it was something I really enjoyed. But it didn’t feel like my “ultimate destination.”

My music studies started taking over my time.

Once I started studying with Pops on Molokai he laid out my responsibilities for me. I was to concentrate on music and storytelling. I quickly saw that if I was going to really dedicate myself to my studies with him, I would need to make choices. I needed to decide how I was going to divide my time between my studies. (Note: Pops never told me NOT to dance hula. He’s a kumu hula, himself! But he didn’t emphasize hula studies with me. More on that later…)

And then I added Hawaiian language studies.

And then I added storytelling and writing.

And to make matters even more complicated, my leg seemed to be better.

Funny how that is, right? We realize the value of something when we’re in crisis. It can easily become one’s entire focal point–hula was ABSOLUTELY my focus when I first started to dance. It was helping me to heal. It was realigning my body. I wasn’t as sore anymore.

And once my body reached a plateau, it was easy to “forget” about hula. It wasn’t necessary to keep it as my focal point. When I was growing up, we had an expression: “I put that on the back burner.”

Over the years, I’ve stayed really connected to the hula community.

You could even say I’ve been “embedded within” the hula community! I’ve had opportunities to play for hula dancers all over the country. (Note: Every time has been an amazing opportunity and I’m so thankful for each and every one of ‘em!) Occasionally, I’d even dance–sharing hulas that I’d been taught by different kumu hula. But I wasn’t a committed student. I was a “hula poser”–I knew what I knew, but I wasn’t growing. I was stagnate.

This spring, I was asked to dance with a hālau hula (formal hula school) when they danced on Hawaiʻi Island (aka the Big Island) at a sacred hula site, the Pa Hula, at Volcano. I studied a few different hulas with the hālau and prepared to dance with them. And it was AWESOME to share hula with the audience–especially as such a special place. But it still didn’t feel 100% right. To be honest, I felt a little guilty about dancing. I had given it up. I told myself, “Dude, you’re a musician now. You don’t have time for hula anymore!”

At least that’s what I thought…

And then I started noticing hip pain, again. Nothing major. But occasionally, I’d get a sharp pain in the hip that I’d broken.

And then I started having back pain, again. Muscle spasms that would leave me temporarily “frozen.” It was scary. It was familiar. A pattern I had seen before.

I examined my shoes–the wear pattern on the heels was different. That meant that I was walking in an “unusual” way. I compared those shoes with the shoes I’d worn when I was first recovering. I saw similarities. My body was in trouble–AGAIN!

It was time to go back to hula.


My mind was screaming: BUT YOU SAID YOU WEREN’T A HULA DANCER!

And my body was screaming: YOU NEED TO GET BACK INTO A CLASS! IMMEDIATELY! (And then it tapped its foot, impatiently, waiting to see how I’d respond.)

To be continued…


Aloha kākou! Hey gang!

Can you believe that September is almost over? How did that happen?

Last month, we launched TAHC’s BOOK CLUB and for the first selection, we’ve been reading Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s book, WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS.


It’s been a really fun month of reading! A lot of you have been reading it along with me and commenting on the blog. I’m so happy about that! I’ll be doing a post this Thursday, September 30th, as kind of a “wrap up.” Final comments, etc. I hope you’ll comment on that blog and share your final thoughts, too!


That means we need to have a NEW selection for the month of October. Right?

And that selection is… (Drum roll, please….): FIERCE HEART: THE STORY OF MAKAHA AND THE SOUL OF HAWAIIAN SURFING by Stuart Holmes Coleman!

I’m really looking forward to reading this.

I LOVED his last book, EDDIE WOULD GO. I mean, it will always be one of my favorites. He’s got a great writing style. A great “writers voice.”


I think it’s really cool that he’s NOT Hawaiian and he’s able to write such beautiful (and thoroughly researched!) books.

In EDDIE WOULD GO, Stuart “went deep”–much deeper than someone with just a passing interest in Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian culture would go. He captured an essence of Hawaiʻi that one could only do if one was given access to REAL Hawaiʻi–like “below the surface” of Hawaiian mainstream culture. Know what I mean? Beyond the postcard images.

As a non-Hawaiian who is also immersed in Hawaiian culture, I give him HUGE props. He must be doing something right in order to go that “deep.” I really respect that. I can’t wait to start digging in to the world of Hawaiian surfing with this new book!


He was such a nice guy when I met him this summer! (Click here to read more about that.)

Dontcha love supporting COOL PEOPLE who really care? I do!


Autumn is the PERFECT time to read a book about Mākaha and surfing.

Especially when you live in a city that will be growing chillier every day! Bring on the sand and sun!

This book has been sitting on nightstand, begging to be read. And the time is NOW! I kēia manawa!!


Are you guys and gals with me?

It’s a current book. It was released in paperback in June. If you can’t find it at your local bookstore, ordering it online or finding it the library shouldn’t be a problem.

Here are some links to make ordering easier: (Note: only the hardcover edition is listed online) (Canadian)

I’m so excited! Can you t ell??



Friday, September 24, 2010

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

What is the name of the novel, written byAlan Brennert, about a girl named Rachel Kalama who was exiled to Kalaupapa after being diagnosed with leprosy?

  • Please post your answer as a reply to this message.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm EST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: Wow! You guys sure know your books! The answer is MOLOKA’I!

And these week’s winner (chosen randomly thanks to is… (Drum roll, please…) JANNET!!

Mahalo to all of you for playing this week. And I hope you’ll be playing along NEXT week, too!

Have a great weekend, gang.

A hui hou…



Hawaiian Music at the Gym? (Part 2)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last month I posted about searching for the ULTIMATE PLAYLIST to listen to while I run on the treadmill at the gym.

I can’t stand the “cardio-pumping” mixes that have been produced specifically for the treadmill. They just weren’t what I was looking for.


I’ve been listening to tons of Hawaiian music while running and I’ve been LOVING it!

At first, I tried making my own mixes of tunes. And they were ok–but they weren’t great. It was like I was still stuck on trying to hit the ULTIMATE mix that would keep me going. What was the problem?

Finally, I asked myself “What are you looking for?”

I want to listen to a mix that might play on a Hawaiian radio station.

The songs don’t all have to be my favorites. They don’t even have to all be familiar! (Sometimes it’s even BETTER if I don’t know the song–it helps me learn it!)

So I built a playlist on iTunes using the “Genius” feature. I don’t know ANYTHING about computers or technology. But this was cool. I picked Gabby Pahinui’s song MOONLIGHT LADY and the computer picked 99 other songs from my collection that went with it.

The Verdict?

I listened to the mix today while I ran. I set the timer on the treadmill for the maximum amount of time (6o minutes at this gym) and pressed PLAY on the iPod.

One hour later, I was finished with a killer workout. And I was smiling from ear to ear. The mix was fantastic! It was like being able to stream Hawaiian 105 KINE on my iPod! (Maybe someday we’ll be able to do that. Until then, this is a good substitute!)

So I’m publishing it here for you with links to the albums!!

Here are the 16 songs that played over the course of the hour and the cool-down:

1. Moonlight Lady (Gabby Pahinui’s recording on the album, The Panini Collection)

2 Hanakeoki (Eddie Kamae & the Sons of Hawaiʻi’s recording on the album, Eddie Kamae: Sons of Hawaiʻi)

3. Sun Lite, Moon Lite (Country Comfort’s recording on the album, We Are The Children)

4. Kuʻu Home O Kahaluʻu (Olomana’s recording on the album, Like A Seabird in the Wind)

5. Kāwika (The Sunday Manoa’s recording on the album, Guava Jam)

6. Waika (The Brothers Cazimero’s recording on the album, The Best of the Brothers Cazimero)

7. Wai Paheʻe (Eddie Kamae & the Sons of Hawaiʻi’s recording on the album, Eddie Kamae: Sons of Hawaiʻi)

8. All Hawaiʻi Stand Together (Dennis Pavao’s recording on the album, All Hawaiʻi Stand Together)

9. Pua Maeʻole (Raiatea Helm’s recording ont he album, Sweet and Lovely)

10. Kona Daze (Kalapana’s recording on the album, Best of Kalapana Vol. 2 )

11. Lei Nani (Gabby Pahinui’s recording ont he album, The Panini Collection)

12. Seabreeze (Keola and Kapono Beamer’s recording on the album, Honolulu City Lights)

13. Hale Aliʻi O Waimaka (Amy Hanaialiʻi Gilliom & Willie K.’s recording on the album, Hawaiian Tradition)

14. Good Morning (Willie K.’s recording on the album, The Uncle In Me)

15. Kananaka (ʻAleʻa’s recording on the album, Take Me Home)

16. Jealous Guy (The Pahinui Brothers’ recording on the album, The Panini Collection)

So I think I’ll have some fun with this “Genius” playlist for a while. I’ve got 83 more songs to go before it repeats! Cool!

What do YOU listen to when you exercise?