Condo Party Report

The condo party was a big success. Most of the preparations were done the night before so on Saturday morning we had only to bring the food, florals and accessories. The lawn areas were outfitted with chairs, tables and umbrellas in anticipation of a hot day.

The shade was a welcome relief as the day got hotter.

The shade was a welcome relief as the day got hotter.

We were nearly overwhelmed with potluck dishes of every kind imaginable. From kim chee to halo halo, Chinese chicken salad to baked apples, pancit to shumai, we had something for all tastes.

THis is an unappetizing photo but it shows the things typically fpund on a Hawaiian plate lunch. Purple poi, chicken long rice in the glass,

This is an unappetizing photo but it shows the things typically found on a Hawaiian plate lunch.

Our association provided the main dishes which were kalua pork, kalua turkey, poi, lau lau, lomi lomi salmon and chicken long rice which, as you know, has plenty of chicken but no rice at all.

For our contribution, the Alpha Japanese Female and I made musubi with two types of SPAM – regular and teriyaki.

Home made “shave ice” desserts prepared using a 50 year old hand cranked ice shaver were a special treat.

Solid iron. These are collectors' items and sell for nearly $1,000 each.

Solid iron. These are collectors’ items and sell for nearly $1,000 each.

We offered an array of flavored syrups with which to douse the shave ice including lychee, strawberry, banana and the ubiquitous  blue vanilla.

As one of the crankers, or old cranks if you prefer, I can tell you that it takes a fair amount of arm power to keep the shaver going fast enough to create super fine shave ice.

(Note that it is always shave ice, never shaved ice. Or, shudder, snow cone.)

That's me prepping the shave ice machine.

That’s me prepping the shave ice machine.

About 70-75 people attended the four-hour affair which is a reasonably strong turnout for our size property.

The kids spent their time in the pool wearing off their sugar highs while the adults gathered about the gardens to talk story and eat.

By the end of the party I was stuffed with good eats but choking for a cold beer since we don’t permit the divine nectar at condo functions.

Presented without comment.

Just part of the marketing.

By the way, the marketing campaign, so roundly abused by the blogging community, was judged to have been a success. So there…neener, neener, neener.

The final “elevator ad” was a photoshopped depiction of our resident manager’s head placed on top of a morbidly obese guy in a grass skirt with coconut bra offering a giant drink and saying e komo mai – welcome.

For most, hilarity ensued; however, the resident manager was not amused.

In other news, Maxwell got his mid-summer hair cut from Miss Nanako and has been doing his best to avoid the great outdoors, preferring to spend more time in front of the air conditioners. Here’s the Malt:

"Looking good, Max. " "Feeling good, Tom."

“Looking good, Max. “
“Feeling good, Tom.”

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Marketing the Condo Party

Hawaii is the 50th State and as American as apple pie. Except we don’t really identify much with apple pie. We’re far more likely to identify with haupia pie made from coconuts or taro pie or any of a bunch of other pies that exceed apple in popularity; things like coconut cream, custard and lilikoi pie.

I was reminded today that for some folks newly arrived to the islands this slightly foreign nature of Hawaii can be confusing.

Each year our condo has a summer party for all residents. It’s a very nice affair that we hold around the swimming pool and cabana area with music and games and  a tremendous variety of great food.

As a member of the condo board, one of my jobs is to handle the marketing of the party which includes posting signs in our three elevators reminding residents of the date and time. I try to make these signs interesting and humorous and that can be a challenge because our residents span so many ethnicities.

Let me give you a couple of examples. The first one will be immediately understood by anyone who has lived in the islands for a few years. Here it is:

For local folk this is immediately understandable. They get the joke and can relate.

For local folk this is immediately understandable. They get the joke and can relate.

Explanation: The big Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is well known to Hawaii people even though it has no stores here. When said with a Hawaii pidgin accent, the company name sounds like “I Care” which, of course, generated the blowback of AINOKEA which sounds in pidgin like “I No Care.”

Over time, AINOKEA has become the go to word for any situation where one simply does not give a fig. There are AINOKEA bumper stickers. What do you think of local politics? AINOKEA. You get the drift.

So, of course, his and her license plates would feature AINOKEA and the companion plate MENEDA which is the pidgin version of “Me neither.” Sigh, if you have to explain this stuff it loses its humor.

When folks who know Hawaii saw the sign they thought it was funny. For others, it was cryptic. I could see it in their eyes. The look that says, “there really is something not quite right about you, isn’t there?”

Now here’s the other side of the story. This next sign is readily understood by many folks on the mainland and it gets a giggle. However, for many of our residents it is a huge puzzle. They know there is a joke in there somewhere but darn if they can figure it out. Here ya go:

Local folk don't readily relate to the language word play. They think I've lost my mind.

Local folk don’t readily relate to the language word play. Even my auto-correct has problems with this sign.

Explanation: none needed is there? The “cat, sank” is an obvious play on words for the French words for 4 and 5, “quatre” and “cinq.” Well, maybe not so obvious in Hawaii. In fact, judging by the popular reaction to the sign, we need a Rosetta Stone.

I’ll share some more condo party stories soon. In the meantime here’s a link to the write up about last year’s party.

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Max Goes Urban-Edgy

Kaka'ako - this is ground zero for urban development on the island of Oahu.

Kaka’ako – this is ground zero for urban development on the island of Oahu.

Today, our perambulations took us out of our K Street neighborhood for a visually stimulating walking tour of the wilds of urban Kaka’ako; specifically, the district owned and master planned for development by huge, local land owner Kamehameha Schools.

Kakaʻako was once a thriving Native Hawaiian community with agricultural terraces where Hawaiian royalty once lived.

Hawaiians used the region for fishpond farming, salt making, wetland agriculture and human burials.

Early urban development. Very early. Mid-19th century perhaps.

Early urban development in Kaka’ako. Very early. Mid-19th century perhaps.

Today, the area is ground zero, the bull’s-eye, the epicenter for re-development activities in Honolulu.

Right now it is largely a collection of re-purposed Quonset huts, low-rise concrete buildings and a chunky stew of mismatched structures that put some gritty in our city.

However, within the next few years all that will change as towering new condos will viagra their way into the skyline and an unbelievably expensive elevated train will pass through here on its route between suburban sprawl on the island’s west side and a shopping center so focused on expensive brands that it makes the Kardashians blush.

Graffiti? Street art? How about a little of both.

Graffiti? Street art? How about a little of both.

At one point there were plans to construct a 700-foot residential tower. That doesn’t sound like much to mainland folks but remember our current building codes limit heights in the area to 400 feet.

This mural is around the corner from the State development agency charged with re-development of the area.

This mural is around the corner from the State development agency charged with re-development of the area.

The Kaka’ako re-development vision has been evolving for almost a decade. Central to the master plan is the concept of creating a new neighborhood in which residents can live, work and play with alternative transportation options – bikes, train, walking – that obviate the need for a car.

Urban Hawaii, a concept that seems oxymoronic. Giant shrimp. Resident alien. Sanitary landfill. Butt head. Microsoft Works. I’ll stop now.

The plans are controversial, and as construction goes into overdrive, public discourse has become noisy and sometimes less than civil.

What puzzles me is that so many folks want the new Kaka’ako to mirror the design elements of urban renewal projects found in the big cities on the mainland. They think the new town has to be edgy, avant-garde, a bit hipster and exuding an attitude of urban toughness.

It's urban, it's edgy but is it Hawaii?

It’s urban, it’s edgy but is it Hawaii?

She seems somehow disappointed with how things are turning out.

She seems somehow disappointed with how things are turning out.

Their vision incorporates a lot of street art, explained to me by a fellow curmudgeon as essentially high quality graffiti without pejorative connotations.

The folks who work next door have this strange feeling of being watched.

The folks who work next door have this strange feeling of being watched.

We celebrate painting old buildings and walls in the new Kaka’ako. Each February during Valentine’s Week we host “Pow! Wow! Hawaii” which brings over a hundred international and local “street artists” together to create murals and other forms of art. Banksy gone wild. Spray paint dealers sing Hallelujah.

The result is as you see in the accompanying photos. Do you like it?

Some folks rave about the addition of street art. Some folks rave about the proliferation of self-indulgent graffiti. And since this is Kaka’ako, some rave about extra-terrestrials, the grassy knoll, and the existential threat posed by Hillary’s cankles. But I digress.

I really don't know how to interpret this.

I really don’t know how to interpret this.

As they say, chacun à son goȗt and, yes, it took me awhile to find the “u” wearing a little hat.

To me, the urban copycat approach seems wrong.

I think we should be creating a new vision, one that I call Island Urban that eschews the subway graffiti of the East Coast and the hip-hop memes of LA for a development scheme more reflective of our lifestyle on a small dot of palm tree studded, volcanic land 2,500 miles from our nearest neighbors.

They say designer vodka; I say mai tai.

They say raw and real; I say gentle and hang loose.

I guess I’d just like a little more aloha and a little less cutting edge, but that’s just me.

Max has yet to express an opinion.

Faced with a value judgment, Max elects to nap under my desk.

Faced with a value judgment, Max elects to nap under my desk.


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I got to get some of this stuff. From acne and psoriasis to windburn and tired arms, the not quite famous Ubalm – made in the USA – solves all problems. It even makes cartoon cows wink at you at least once a day.

You don't need all those fancy, schmancy face creams, body lotions and designer oils. Just grab some Ubalm.

You don’t need all those fancy, schmancy face creams, body lotions and designer oils. Just grab some Ubalm.

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Couch Thief

Max claimed the love seat as his territory.

Max claimed the love seat as his territory.

We added a new love seat in the living room.

It was in the condo for less than 3 minutes before it was claimed.

Since then he refuses to share. Pushy, spoiled little dog.



It's mine, all mine.

It’s mine, all mine.

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Last night Max and I were ambling along Ke’eaumoku Street, trading wisecracks and sass as good buddies often do. We had pretty much agreed that hedgehogs would have a better reputation if they shared the hedge a little more. But I digress.

We noticed a new food emporium had opened. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you,  Itchy Butt Chicken and Joy.

Notice the chicken on the sign is scratching his rear while giving the "shaka" (hang loose) symbol.

Notice the chicken, whose expression is not joyful, is scratching his rear end while giving the “shaka” (hang loose) symbol 

Now, your first thought might be that asking for takeout from a location named Itchy Butt is dancing with the devil, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

But you might be wrong.

Although Itchy Butt is a recent arrival on the K Streets culinary scene,  it has already garnered a 5-star Yelp review.

OK, it is also the only review so there’s a fair chance it was written by the owner or a close relation:

So freakin’ good! Finger-lickin’ ono licious garlic chicken!! Crispy yet tender on the inside. A little sweet, but not like candy, with nice crispy bits of garlic within every bite.

This is what comes out of an Itchy Butt.

This is what comes out of an Itchy Butt. Credit to the brave Yelper who was #1.

That sounds like something the owner of the fledgling Itchy Butt chain of fine, joyful restaurants might author, doesn’t it?

So freakin’ good!

We checked out the restaurant and could not locate any Joy but the two young ladies slinging fried chicken seemed happy in their work so we assumed the Joy was somewhere nearby.

For pooches with itchy butts.

For pooches with itchy butts.

Not to suggest a meme or anything but a couple blocks further down the street we noticed a dog grooming business called The Itchy Pooch Salon.

The opportunities for co-marketing seem obvious.

“Is your Itchy Pooch licking his Itchy Butt? We have a solution for that – chicken and joy.

By then both Max and I felt like our skin was crawling so we turned our toes toward home, anticipating  a good and thorough scratching.

That’s when we saw the most startling sign of the evening:



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A Visit to the Oligarch’s Boat

Friday the 13th seemed as good a day as any to take a short excursion to downtown Honolulu and make a visit to the harbor area.

Join us on our jaunt to one of Max’s favorite hangouts!

Mega Yacht "a" berthed at Aloha Tower.

Mega Yacht “A” berthed at Aloha Tower.

The name of this pretty boat is “A”.

For the past few weeks it has been berthed at Aloha Tower.

A is owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko and his wife, the ever lovely Aleksandra, hence the single letter naming conceit although rumor suggests the odd moniker may have been bestowed so that this yacht will always have primacy in the directory of the world’s most costly personal water craft.

Ego has a lot to do with the ownership of mega yachts, dontcha know. Yes, indeedy.

Aloha Tower and Marketplace where one may find both oligarch's boats and good beer.

Aloha Tower and Marketplace where one may find both oligarch’s boats and good beer.

Andy, as I like to call him without him being aware of my existence, is 42 years old and is reputed to be worth $12 billion give or take a few rubles. He made his stash in banking, chemicals, power generation, commodities and other oligarchical activities such as peasant hunting and serf surfing.

While Andy’s net worth is exponentially higher than the limit on my Capital One card, he is a piker in comparison to Hawaii’s other oligarch, Larry Ellison, who bought the entire island of Lana’i without even cracking his HELOC.

Those wacky kids saved a bundle when painting the ship's name on the ship's butt.

Those wacky kids saved a bundle when painting the ship’s name on the ship’s butt.

Andy’s wife, Aleksandra, is a former Serbian model and pop singer. When those crazy kids (let’s call them A&A) were married in the South of France in 2005, Whitney Houston, Julio Iglesias and Christian Aguilera performed at the event. My invitation was apparently lost in the mail.

The super yacht A was built in 2008. It is 319 feet long (119m) with a 62 foot beam and draws about 17 feet. The engines generate 12,000 horsepower which lets A&A take A on 6,500 mile non-stop journeys at near 20 knots. The hitch is that it costs over a half million simoleans to fill the 200,000 US gallon fuel tanks.

The boat is immediately recognizable from its unique and sleek design – it leaves virtually no wake at 25 knots. As the wiki notes, the ship’s lines have evoked comparisons with submarines and stealth warships, while commentators have referred to it as the “most loved and loathed ship on the sea”.

Photo from

“Darling, be a dear and get the runabout out of the garage.”

Although this is considered a relatively small mega yacht, this floating example of excessive consumption is currently valued at about $360 million which places it about #4 on the list of most expensive yachts.

For all that cheddar you get a boat that has Baccarat crystal tables, wall coverings crafted from white sting rays and crocodile leather furniture. You also get 3 tender craft, a helicopter, 3 swimming pools and a partridge in a pear tree. Just kidding about the bird.

Being an oligarch is not all fun and games so A is also a high security retreat with thick, bomb-proof glass in the windows, armored walls, over 40 cameras, motion sensors, biometric fingerprint/keypad entry for restricted areas, a weapons system and an escape pod in case of emergencies.

The "Musashi", Larry Ellison's ship at Aloha Tower. The tiny figures on the dock are Wifey and Max.

The “Musashi”, Larry Ellison’s ship at Aloha Tower. The tiny figures on the dock are Wifey, #2 Daughter and Max.

We get a number of mega yachts visiting Hawaii including Ellison’s gorgeous $125 million yacht “Musashi,” and Google founder Larry Page’s $95 million “Senses.”

This may sound like big bucks and high times to you and me but keep in mind that there is a whole other level of spendy: the world’s most expensive yacht “Azzam” will set your Visa back $627 million.

Anyway, in a crass attempt to elevate our social status, Max and I decided to pay a visit to the yacht.We didn’t expect to be welcomed aboard and in that we were not disappointed.

Usually the crews of these ships are amiable and smile at gawkers but the A was clearly off limits and a bit foreboding. Maybe a touch of paraskevidekatriaphobia with a soupçon of selenophobia? In any event, the folks around A were immune even to the charms of a small white dog. But all was not lost.

There were lots of other boats were in the harbor today for our viewing pleasure.

Matson Ship

Matson is our major shipping line and our lifeline between Hawaii and the Mainland.

We watched a Matson container ship off-loading its cargo, a familiar sight because close to 80% of the products in our state come from overseas.

That explains in large part why prices are so high in Hawaii!


The “Atlantis” provides lunch and dinner cruises along the South shore of Oahu.

We saw a sleek and stylish sightseeing boat called “Atlantis” that works a bit like a hydrofoil, rising up on four struts.

We have fond memories of this boat. Twelve years ago, when our son married, the Alpha Japanese Female and I held a dinner on this boat for the members of the wedding party.

We cruised off shore between Diamond Head and Aloha Tour munching lobster, swilling champagne, dancing like alcohol-fueled oldsters and generally devastating my wallet. Great party!


This tourist submarine dives off Waikiki – it’s quite interesting!

We even spotted a tourist submarine back from a dive off Waikiki. While this sub actually dives to the ocean floor, it does not have an engine room and consequently must be towed to its dive sites.

We’ve taken this tour in years past and it’s quite interesting as the dives take place on wrecks where there is an abundance of sea life.

Fancy boats aside, Aloha Tower is home to the Gordon Biersch restaurant and bar which is a dog-friendly venue where Max likes to pull up a chair and throw down some burger. The folks there are attentive to doggies and will produce a bowl of water without being asked. They also dispense scratches and fawn over the pup.

Max with his Schwarzenbier waiting patiently for a burger.

Max with his Schwarzenbier waiting patiently for a burger.

Hawaii has few dog-friendly restaurants so places like Gordon Biersch are treasured by the pet set.

GB’s clientele is generally tolerant of canines so there is little of the hairy eyeball (locally known as “stink eye”) that one gets when squiring a dog at other eating and drinking establishments.

Max is always on best behavior at Gordon Biersch and, yes, we feed him tidbits from time to time.

He is especially partial to grilled chicken and the classic bacon cheeseburger. I am especially fond of the Schwartzenbier. And the Pilsner. The Hefeweizen’s not all bad, either. And the Sommerbrau.

A tasty chicken morsel, but he has been told to "wait". The temptation is strng.

A tasty chicken morsel, but he has been told to “wait”. The temptation is strong.

All in all, it was a delightful afternoon spent with Wifey (AJF) and Max at the harbor, quaffing micro brews, eating burgers, soaking up the Hawaii sun and enjoying the trade winds.

Even the oligarchs can’t beat that.

PS: for those still stumbling over the surplus of alphabet from a couple of paragraphs ago, paraskevidekatriaphobia and selenophobia refer to fear of Friday the 13th and fear of a full moon, respectively.

Long wordd fear

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