J. ARTHUR RATH –

Out at Waikiki,
By the sobbing sea,
Reporting from the park
at Kapiolani….

This public place is a great equalizer: container collectors and depositors share the space.  The latter sit and linger as another day comes to an end, bodies are of all shapes and sizes—and some of the littlest wear nothing at all…like two playful female twins.

“They’re 2½,” said the proud mom,they kept scooting away and she kept chasing them. “It’ll be a few years before we return. They’ll be in bikinis then.”

“Being bare is very European,” said the lady at the other end of our shared bench. She sounded German, “Alles Gute,” I replied.

Tall two-on-a-team older girls played beach volleyball nearby. Troops of vacationing female Japanese surfers, led by blond Jade, a local surf instructor, walked past.  He’s a friend and told me later, “Learning to carry the board is the first lesson.”  (Young
women with adroitly balanced surfboards overhead, appear to be doing the hula– you’ll notice if you watch them walk away.)

A coach and group of young ladies trotted by; their tee-shirts read “La Pietra Athletics.”  I thought to myself: Their T-shirts should read “La Pietra Athletes”—they have such a vigorous look.

Watching the sunset from the edges of what we used to call Kuhio Beach as well as from Kapiolani Park is what I like best.

I said to some awe-struck ladies: “When the sun hits the sea, listen as the water sizzles and watch the steam rise.” They smiled. (One of my attempts at old-time Hawaiian tourist-type ho’omalimali–kid-em-along).

The area is covered by walkers and bikers, wearing “Aloha Patrol” on yellow and black T-shirts.  Although none are Hawaiians, each says “Aloha,” if catching your eyes.  It’s become the language of hospitality.

At any ABC store–and they’re on every corner–you can buy inexpensive  shell lei and libation.  You hear “Aloha’ when you enter and “Mahalo” when you leave.  None are Hawaiians—but tourist may take those two ubiquitous words home with them.

After the sun has “sunk” and the “sizzling ceases,” I notice how the waves roll–in from left to right.  Maybe nature subtly suggests changes may be a-coming—even in leftist Hawaii. But then again looking from the sea produces the opposite effect. Guess that means Hawaii’s orientation is not going to change.  (Unless someone Gets A Round Tuit.)

…Joyful sounds come toward us along Kalakaua Avenue: an eight-piece band, led by a tuba player, is accompanied by trumpets, saxophone, and a bass drum going boom, boom, boom-a-lay.

They are trailed by mothers—visitors it seems– pushing little kids in strollers. The Pied Piper of Waikiki, followed by kids protected properly.

At Kapahulu Avenue, where Kapiolani Park begins, all stores end. Ergo, there is lots of non-commercial space for the public to enjoy (a place to catch their breaths).

…No free movie on the beach’s huge screen tonight, but there is a fireworks display from a hotel to the far right, near the end of the beach.

Ah, the rockets red glare!  Sky rockets bursting in air!  Will this sight be banned because of political pressures?  Why? It might appeal to Chinese visitors, this “celebratory art form” was invented there.  The State Legislature decides the outcome.

…Under a sheltered area by a beach wall I see a middle-age couple hunched over doing something.  They stand up, the man beams and tells me: “I came from behind and beat her!”  He picks up his cribbage board, before the two trot off he confides: “What a wonderful spot to play.”  He might have evoked a nice tourism theme with that summary line.

…Music drifts from a live band at Lulu’s at Waikiki.  It has an angular open-air upstairs that faces the sea.  Musicians are playing old-time Hawaiian music–not hard rock tonight.

Just up Kapahulu gaiety and laughter floats from Hula’s second-floor bar.  Waikiki is such a cheerful place.

…Mild “Street People” are out tonight.  When I’m sitting on a bench they seem eager to tell me their stories, the park is well patrolled, they act shy—not sly.  Last night a 45-year-old fisherman from Alaska said “he’s been coming here winters, had no trouble getting a job on a fishing boat near the Ala Wai. But fishing is diminished and he no longer tries.” Gave him a couple of bucks so “he could call Mom to send him some more money.”  It was inexpensive entertainment, even if baloney.

…On Sunday:  Went to see new art displayed on the Park’s wire fence.  Locals are enjoying the park area—-ono (yum-yum) cooking aroma wafts from hibachis.

…Next to a park bench, a tall man from Iran prayed to Allah—some yoga-like postures and he touched his forehead to the ground.  His wife was wearing a long dress and traditional headband, I saw her blissful face.  Pop hugged and made joyful looks to their baby daughter in a stroller.

Walking by, I ask, “How’s your English?”  “Fine,” he answered. I said, “What you are experiencing here reminds me of a German song: “Oh Mein Papa…to me he was so wonderful.”  We shared a smile, I walked away, after offering just a little Hawaiian  hospitality from along the beach at Waikiki.

…Wafting in the background is the last of The Royal Hawaiian Band’s open-air concert.  A soprano sings the song that Lena Machado always used to culminate the Sunday performances: “Aloha Oe.”

I think that this band is Hawaiian in name only now; Ex-Mayor Mufi fired Bandmaster Mahi—a real Hawaiian–shortly after taking office.  The word “Hawaiian” is becoming a metaphor used for attracting tourists.

Sometimes I think the term “Hawaiian” is like the “Where’s the Beef” hamburger commercial.  “Where are the Hawaiians?”

What the heck, I will write about the vision of my life-long friend Dr. George Kanahele. He wanted to make “Waikiki More Hawaiian,” ergo, give it distinctive tourist appeal.

Unfortunately, his life is over, I believe in the merits of his thinking, you might like to read about them. Keeping them from just sitting in the files would be a way for me to honor his memory.

“Becoming More Hawaiian” might be more visionary than what past tourism authorities gained by watching a PC.

George was very akamai, if you read of some of his ideas they might come true.

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