On a Thursday night in Kailua, especially if you’re hungry, your feet might inadvertently carry you to the haze of food smells and the din and clatter of saucepans and utensils, vendors and consumers, all enthusiasts discussing what they like to eat. If you’re in Kailua on this night, it’s likely that you will find yourself in the Longs parking lot at the Kailua Farmers’ Market, whether you meant to be there or not.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful, engaging and interesting book this summer than the story behind the collection of copper plate engravings issued forth from Lahainaluna Seminary, a Maui school run by the Sandwich Islands Mission. Illustrations of Island towns and rural landscapes, portraits and objects of natural history and original maps and charts are just a few of the historical records found in this book, reminding us of an age before photography existed.
A cultural specialist, Malcolm Naea Chun, asserts that “aloha” has undergone a post-contact transformation–meaning that what “aloha” meant and what “aloha” means are two very different things. In his book, Aloha: Traditions of Love and Affection, Chun explores cultural revival and identification, moving beyond academic and intellectual arguments, and into the reality of communities and families now part of the political landscape of the Islands.
In his editor’s note, Puakea Nogelmeier sums this book up best: “This monograph represents a range of thinkers and doers from the Hawaiian community–not just academic voices, but also individuals who are actively engaged in practical and scholarly perpetuation of Hawaiian knowledge.” This inaugural volume of The Hawaiinuiakea Monograph is organized through a bundling of essays and abstracts, each interpreting and applying ways in which words are understood and linked to the past. In the essay “Acts of Beauty: Here and Abroad,” author Nahua Patrinos writes, “Reintroducing modern indigenous audiences to their own historical and traditional knowledge is challenging, for the content and form can be long removed from familiarity.” This social and cultural awareness is explored and researched at length in Patrinos’s essay, along with others, and what readers are left with is a collection of ideas, insights and interpretations by native Hawaiian lifelong students, professional researchers, cultural practitioners, musicians and artists, scholars and academics.
In the preface to the 2004 edition of Dreams from My Father, President Barack Obama writes, “I think sometimes that had I known she would not survive her illness, I might have written a different book–less a mediation on the absent parent, more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in my life.” In the biography, A Singular Woman, author and former New York Times reporter, Janny Scott, offers us a richer story of the President’s mother, a “brainy girl from a quintessentially American family, who, at 17, conceived a child with a man from Kenya in an era when nearly half of all states barred interracial marriage.” Dunham’s life is abundantly researched, and highlights from Scott’s book include an exploration of Dunham’s ancestry, family traditions, education, and an archival portrait of an American heritage that is neither exotic nor alien. Scott’s unsentimental reporting of Dunham’s life offers us the story of a independent woman whose family originally rooted themselves in the Flint Hills of Kansas, later emerging through Ann, as social pioneers.
Scholarly in tone and hardly a breezy read, this book nevertheless captured my attention because it explores two questions I’ve pondered about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) in Hawaii. How can so many Pacific Islanders belong joyfully and faithfully to a church that for years discriminated against people of color (barring African Americans from the priesthood, for example).
For local bird watchers and native plant and flower enthusiasts, Hawaii is rich with resources that tell you what species you’re looking at, and what makes that particular species different from all the others. Much less publicized are resources about native Hawaiian seashells, or those marine mollusks found on beaches throughout the Islands.
REVIEW 1: PUNK’D Times change fast–the Punk Era, as manifested in the l980s, already seems part of ancient history–except, of course, for some Hawaii kids, always a bit behind whatever curve is largely vanishing. Defining punk is a difficult matter, and that is among the several strengths of Tyler McMahon’s double-meaning-titled How The Mistakes Were Made, which, in microcosm, details the confusion, pretensions, and self-destructive arrogance of the Punk Rock era.
Interesting trivia fills the pages of Kakaako As We Knew It, an oral history of sorts by Marsha Gibson that may very well be one of the most interesting talk-story sessions you’ll ever hold in your hand. Although an easy read, it paints a different picture of the town we see today, as it, like much of O’ahu, has changed unrecognizably from what it once was to so many people in the 1930s-1957, when the residents of the dusty, camp-filled, tree-lined community they knew as “Kakako” were forced out to make room for the version we see, or choose not to see, today.
Randall Ng, a middle school counselor, isn’t the kind, compassionate man most people expect someone who works with children and teenagers to be. He’s brash, threatening and finds his students’ problems to be amusing.
In April, Haruki Murakami, author most recently of the epic, intriguing novel IQ84, was about to return home to Japan when the Weekly met him in his office at UH Manoa, where he had been artist-in-residence since September. Tanned and fit, wearing an orange polo shirt, cutoffs and sneakers, the novelist extended his hand with an inquiring gaze and trace of a smile.