#ThursdayDoors: Hidden

This semi-hidden door actually leads to St. Augustines, a Catholic church which sits behind a wrought iron fence just off Waikiki’s main drag.  Its history dates back to 1850s when it was just a shack made from palm fronds and driftwood.  You can read more about the history here.

View from the street of St. Augustine’s statue.

The top of the church as visible from the fourth floor of the condo building next door.

As to why the church is behind a locked wrought iron fence, across the street is a beachside park that is home to many homeless people. They oddly co-mingle with tourists from around the world, primarily Japanese, taking selfies in the sunset. Some look as though they’ve spend the night in the piss-filled gutters of San Francisco even though there are public showers and restrooms along the beach. I guess it’s hard to panhandle if you look clean and neat and well-fed.

Just to the right and in front the church is a very common sight in Waikiki, an ABC Store.

It is not an exaggeration to say you can find one of these shops on every block.  You can find one of these shops on every block even though they all sell almost exactly the same stuff, which is basically everything but mostly cheap touristy trinkets.

Window of another trinket-filled store. The Hawaiian flag is similar to the Union Jack because many royals favored the Brits over the US.

You expect to see wonderful things when you travel but for me, the unexpected is what makes a trip special. This time it was a YWCA in the middle of Honolulu’s business and government district.

The Y is across the street from the Iolani Palace. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, however once past the reception area is an atrium with one of the most beautiful swimming pools I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to leap right in with this fellow.

The architect of this building was Julia Morgan, the very same Julia Morgan who designed Hearst Castle. But that wasn’t the best part of the surprise.  Inside of the atrium is the best restaurant we found in Honolulu.  It’s modestly called Cafe Julia.

One of unique things about this place, beside its menu, is the owner’s collection of whimsical liquor bottles. There were thousands but because they were behind glass, it was hard to get a picture of them. Here are a few:

So if you’re ever in Honolulu, check out the Laniakae YWCA and Cafe Julia.  Make sure to save room for the chocolate mousse! Check out other doors and unexpected delights over at Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event.

The People’s Prince

Prince Kuhio, 1871-1922

Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was Hawaii’s last royal prince. Although he never sat on a throne, his birthday, March 26th, is cause for celebration in the islands.

Without Prince Kuhio, Hawaiians would have most likely suffered the same fate as Native Americans, forced assimilation into a culture with little respect for the earth; their traditions and language in jeopardy of disappearing forever. Or worse, watching as cherished rituals were reduced to comic stereotypes.

Kuhio was the nephew of Queen Lili’oukalani.  After she was overthrown, he was briefly arrested for treason and then fled to South Africa where he joined the British Army and fought the Boers. When he finally returned to the islands he did so with a mission: to promote and preserve the Hawaiian culture. Eight times he was elected to the US Congress where he helped secure rights for native Hawaiians.  Rights like, being able to homestead on the lands of your ancestors.

Music is very important to Hawaiians and so for the week leading up to the Prince Kuhio festival, local television stations broadcast events held at schools and cultural centers throughout the islands. Not the kind of music you hear in Tiki bars and shopping centers but traditional songs sung in ancient Hawaiian. 

The parade, which kicked off the final day of celebration, began with the traditional blowing of Pu shells to the north, south, east and west. Then came the members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha (descendants of Hawaiian royalty) either walking on foot or driven in convertibles (all Mustangs for some strange reason).  I noticed that many of them had red hair and fair skin.  Hummm.

A great, great, great grand nephew of King Kamehameha?

Descendants of Kamehameha

Many schools marched in the parade, some singing and some dancing. There were hula dancers, both young and old, drummers, horseback riders and even one dragon.

These kids got to ride on a trolley!

After the parade, people gathered in Kapiolani Park near Diamond Head and listened to more music and song.  We didn’t make it down that far because it was hot as shit and I was planning to leave that night. But here’s a shot of Kapiolani Park from the Queen K hotel which overlooks it.

The park was named after Queen Kapiolani, also a very beloved Hawaiian figure.

The Queen K hospital for women and children founded by Julia Kapi’olani. Looks a little different these days.  Guess who was born here?

When to Visit Honolulu

If Honolulu is on your bucket list, I strongly recommend visiting in mid-March.  Not only is the weather mild (if you don’t mind the occasional rain shower) but that’s when the annual Honolulu Festival is held.

It’s actually a celebration of all the various races and cultures that are Hawaii. The Japanese, Chinese, Indonesians, Tahitians, etc. After days of exhibits and contests held at various venues throughout the city, the festivities end with a parade that goes on literally all day.

Can’t remember where these dudes were from.

And it is exuberant and full of fun.  And loud!

Lot of drummers!

But after dark the world explodes.

Next, a more somber but also unforgettable festival.

#ThursdayDoors: Aloha

I’ve just returned from almost a month in Hawaii.  I didn’t intend to stay that long but my grandson was (as they say) on “Hawaiian time.” Finally on March 21st his chubby little cheeks emerged, followed by an equally chubby little body and thank goodness, he was healthy. So I waited until my grandmotherly advice caused my son-in-law’s face to twitch uncontrollably and then left on the next available red-eye.

In Hawaii many of the hotels, government buildings, and even hospitals have open air reception areas and atriums. They have no front doors.  Evidently the craze currently circling the planet thanks to Norm Frampton and the #ThursdayDoors peep-and-tellers hasn’t yet reached the Hawaiian Islands!

Above is the entry to the Hawaiian state capitol.  If you walk through these columns the legislative chambers are to the right and the government offices to the left.  If you look up through the sky light in the atrium, this is what you’ll see:

In front of the capitol is a statue of Father Damien, the patron saint of the Hawaiian Islands.

Religion has played a controversial role in paradise.  Before the missionaries arrived, the islands were ruled by warrior kings who often had several wives (some of them sisters) and maintained order via ancient superstitions and myths. The missionaries brought changes that benefitted the poor but they also brought sickness and doors.

Behind the state capitol is Iolani Palace.This palace was built around 1882 under the direction of King Kalakaua who felt he needed digs worthy of his lofty position.  At that time, many of Hawaiian’s royals were anxious to be accepted by their European counterparts thus Kalakaua’s palace could easily be at home in London or Paris.  Except for the banyan and palm trees on the front lawn, of course.

Ironically Iolani Palace would serve as a prison for the last member of the royal family to have any political power, Queen Lili’oukalani. She was no match for power hungry American businessmen who had the implicit support of the US government.

The doors to Iolani Palace were almost impossible to photograph from the bottom of the staircase on a hot day, but they seem like sad doors to me.

Happily we were also in Honolulu during the festival of Prince Kuhio, the last royal member of Congress and the founder of many civic organizations dedicated to preserving Hawaiian Culture.

More pictures to come. Aloha!

Hombre Infame, Infeliz…Tu Eres La Causa De Mis Angustias

I’m in Hawaii for a few weeks with limited internet access Please enjoy this reblog from Duke Miller on the TinHatsblog

tin hats

Our door was green and the cats hung out just inside the garden trying to kill movement.   The woman bent over to pet one and the Calico scratched her.  Specks of blood hit the rocks.  The cat was Einstein and the  victim was Trudy.  Einstein was the first out of the box looking for food and water.  Six sisters and brothers got scattered around town, but that’s the way of cats: here and there, putting up self-identity struggles with humans who don’t share the same vision.

Across town a second woman, a Mexican woman, was hiding from a house deal with Trudy.  The Mexican had sold too cheaply or so said a few jealous relatives who kept their nails long and red.  That might have passed, but then the real sadness set in when the old woman on the corner, who peeled oranges with one of those hand-cranked blade…

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The Beatles’ Slept Here (or not)

Last week I wrote about the legendary Mapes Hotel in downtown Reno Nevada. Well, if you cross the Truckee River and walk down a block you’ll run into another landmark hotel, the Riverside.

The Riverside. Today, low cost artist lofts and studios.

The Riverside. Today it contains low cost artist lofts and studios.

As you can see, it’s a good, solid structure, almost boring in design. However, at one time it was more notorious than the Mapes.  Not because it was a rocking, rioting fun place to stay but for a different, almost more scandalous, reason.

The current structure was built in 1927 reportedly on the spot where the city of Reno was founded in 1861.  During its heyday (1930 to approximately 1950) its select clientele stayed in two or three bedroom suites on the upper floors which were equipped with kitchenettes and had been designed specifically for them.  Generally they were women traveling alone or with children and servants in tow.  Many books and movies set during that time contain references to the Riverside including the “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand and the movie “The Women.”th-4

Another clue to the hotel’s notoriety (if you haven’t guessed yet), the old courthouse is virtually right next door. 

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Lobby of the Riverside from Historic Reno

After the women no longer needed to trek to Reno for its special services, the hotel went into a tailspin and by the time I knew of its existence it was a moldy though dignified and staid sort of place where one’s grandparents might stay.  Finally it closed in 1987.  But, unlike the Mapes, preservationists prevailed and the building now serves a community of artists and has an organic coffeeshop in the lobby. What an interesting life that old gal has had!

As to why the Riverside has a place in my heart, well, according to a popular urban myth the Beatles once stayed in one of those multi-room suites on the sixth floor. Only, I know it never happened. It was just the mind fart of a couple of silly girls that somehow got out of control, resulting in an assault on the sixth floor of the Riverside.  Unfortunately the word got out at school and for years after I was the butt of many jokes.

I left Reno shortly after high school and only returned for short visits with my family thus I rarely saw any of my old classmates. So when I found out at my 10 year reunion that the kids who’d made fun of me now firmly believed (and supposedly had evidence) that in October 1965 the Beatles hid out in the Riverside Hotel, I felt like I was on an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  Even when I told them it was hokum, they stuck by their stories. I, the instigator, was irrelevant.  The story had a life of its own and was now entrenched in the minds of people who wanted to believe. (I fictionalized the whole thing a few years back on Wattpad.)

So if you haven’t guessed the Riverside’s claim to fame, here’s one last clue: For many years the phrase “I’m going to Reno” meant only one thing and it generally wasn’t something any man wanted to hear.