We hope you enjoy our celebration of the Best of Honolulu 2009. There are a lot of similar offerings out there in the publishing world these days, but Honolulu Weekly’s annual Best of Honolulu issue is the genuine article. Back in 1992, we started asking our readers to select their favorite elements of Oahu life, from poi to politics. The issue has taken many forms since then, but it always comes back to the same thing: a celebration of this amazing place and the best things about it, as decided by the idiosyncratic bunch we are fortunate to count as readers. Turnout was far bigger than in years past, thanks largely to our introduction of online voting, but plenty of people sent in paper ballots, too. We want to thank everyone for participating in this year’s issue.
August is usually the sleepiest time of the year in the news business, but we’re on our toes this month. Last week saw the conclusion of the special election to fill the District 5 City Council seat vacated by the death of Duke Bainum. To the surprise of almost no one, Ann Kobayashi won the race handily, returning to the seat she abandoned in her doomed challenge to Mufi Hannemann just last year. The whole exercise, born of misfortune in the first place, felt a little bit deflating. After the explosion of pent-up energy that led to the election of Barack Obama last fall, it seemed possible that Hawaii, too, might finally be ready for fresh ideas, fresh faces or both.
So far, not so good. This is no comment on Ann Kobayashi’s record, but it was hard to shake the image of a washed-up athlete trying to come out of retirement just for old times’ sake. Unfortunately, the rest of the candidates looked almost as depressingly familiar. District 5 voters were asked to choose between the pol who’d represented them for ages, the son of one political legend and the daughter of another. Even a name most voters may not have been familiar with, that of attorney Nathaniel Kinney, represented the next generation of a powerful and well-connected union family, and spent a fortune to finish with 18 percent of the vote. Yes, other people ran, but up against media and political connections like those, none of them stood a chance. Too bad.
And then of course there’s the statehood anniversary (semicentennial?) coming up this weekend. After eight months of revisiting the first 50 years–that’s like six weeks per decade, but who’s counting–we’ve got at least one more blowout weekend of stars-and-stripes-related celebration ahead of us. Still, hasn’t the run-up to August 15 felt a little more muted than expected? And on both sides: Oddly enough, we haven’t heard much about any protests or sovereignty-related activities. That’s a surprise for lots of reasons, including the fact that many pro-independence Hawaiians strongly object to the Akaka Bill, which is making its way through the U.S. Senate–a high-profile outburst right now could well make conservative senators nervous about wading into complicated questions of Hawaiian nationalism.
Aloha Hawaii! Statehood Celebrated 1959/03/16
Finally, we’ve had
Hurricane Tropical Storm Tropical Depression rainy day Felicia bearing down on us all week. It’s a well-worn cliché about these things that they bring people together, but that’s because they really do. On Monday night I was cleaning up outside, trying to prepare for high winds, when my neighbor Dave stopped by. He gave me a hand with a couple of heavy pieces of equipment and furniture, and slowly our hurricane talk gave way to a soliloquy.
“Did you know,” Dave asked, “that a photon takes a million years to make the journey from the center of our sun to the Earth?”
“What is it doing all that time?” he wondered. “We don’t know. We can’t observe the processes that take place inside the sun. We have to resort to theories.”
Dave has a theory, one he laid out as we finished lashing up ladders and hauling deck chairs indoors. It’s a pretty involved idea, and one of the prettiest I’ve heard in a long time, but it boils down to something he said at the end.
“I think matter, everything we see around us, learns how to be alive in the hearts of stars.”
I’ve had several conversations with Dave, and they’ve all been about tree heights, neighborhood gossip and the like. If there hadn’t been a giant storm to get us out of the weeknight routine and into the communal spirit, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have stood there for 20 minutes listening to him wax philosophical on the origins of life.
A reminder that even in this hyper-mediated era, there’s a chance at real community lurking just beneath the surface, always. You just have to reach for it.