Friday, August 26, 2011

Schlock and Awe

I got asked through an email not too long ago if anything was seriously wrong, as I hadn't posted anything here since June 30th. To answer that question: aside from a low-speed wreck I got into that rearranged the passenger side of my old car and had me running to a Palestinian-run car repair place to get the car door temporarily closed while I solicited a bunch of estimates from auto body shops about town, I am fine.

I was simply out of town for a while on a family vacation to points of those points being what is possibly the Cheap-Ass Kitsch Capital of the World in the midst of what is possibly the Spam Capital of the U.S. - Waikiki in Honolulu. Once the playground of Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki is now home to some of the highest of the high-rise hotels and condos in any idyllic location anywhere on the planet, and when its malls aren't catering to the moneyed tourists who are ready to drop loads of dough on Prada accessories, Hermes scarves, or - my personal favorite - overpriced Ferrari-emblemed strollers and apparel, they are full of shops designed to sell you any amount of aloha shirts, cheap sarongs, Elvis-in-Hawaii-ana, kukui nut necklaces, ukuleles (both the higher-end, lovingly crafted instruments and the plastic kind of questionable quality), fake-flower and liquor leis, anything in pidgin, rubber slippers galore, coconut-shell brassieres with accompanying grass skirts, muumuus for any and all sizes of wahines, various snacks, and hula dolls of the islands' current favorite kama'aina, Barack Obama. It all makes French Quarter t-shirt shops look like kiddie lemonade stands making feeble stabs at the sales of such offerings - but then again, Hawaii's been participating in the tourist attraction game for much, much longer than New Orleans has, at least since the early part of the 20th century.

The marketing of the island culture there has achieved its zenith, and there is no greater indication of that than the all-inclusive resort hotels such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village that are little more than cruise ships on land: one could conceivably come to Waikiki and never leave the beachfront confines of such a place what with all their hula and surfing instruction and lei-making classes, as well as their own set of higher-end kitsch shops. I'm not going to say we didn't take advantage of any of that (the swimming pools at some of these hotels have to be experienced to be believed), but we did make more of an effort to get out of the hotels, with the assistance of Dan's Hawaiian-transplant cousins. Even if we didn't have that, I'm sure we would've still taken Oahu's TheBus system everywhere anyhow.

What I didn't expect to get a kick out of, though, was getting to meet Dan's cousin at one point at a site made famous by that bastion of 1980's TV, Magnum, P.I. - the fictional King Kamehameha Club. My son couldn't understand my glee as I grinned through dinner and couldn't wait to tell my dad, a huge fan of that TV series, where we'd just been that night. So here is my final query for you, dear reader, to get $5 off your Rising Tide VI registration.

Remember the rules, now, and pick up some of the Rising Tide schlock while you're dropping some funds for the conference. It's been beautifully designed by Greg Peters - no plastic coconuts or Spam there.

What is the actual site used for the King Kamehameha Club scenes in Magnum, P.I.'s first season?

Get me your answer before 8 AM tomorrow. See you at Tracey's tonight, or at the conference.

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