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May, 2010:

Hawaii Pop

For underexposed mainlanders, Hawaiian music is mellow slack key guitar, or traditional falsetto with lots of guitar and ukulele, or maybe it’s the older hapa-haole songs — Little Grass Shack and Ukulele Lady. All that stuff has its place in the history of Hawaii’s sound, but there’s a new generation. The golden boy of the ukulele gets lots of play and it’s well deserved; Jake Shimabukuro is a remarkable musician and modest and charming in person. But even he’s not the only sound that pours out of the speakers on your rental car.

Henry Kapono is creating new rock and roll in the Hawaiian language. Nesian 9 is making reggae beat backed sweet soul with wow, those are great harmonies. And Anuhea, well, she’s kind of a big deal, it turns out, taking home two Na Hoku (Hawaiian Academy of Recording Arts) awards for her accomplishments in Hawaiian music.

If you want to get a preview of what’s making air time on the islands, here’s a guide to Hawaii’s radio dial, by island. Click through — lots of the stations are wired so you can listen to the live broadcast from wherever you are. It’s not quite the same as listening while  sitting on the H1 in traffic, but you’ll get a sense of  that new Hawaiian sound, sweet voices, reggae beats, political rhymes… it’s all there and it’s all Hawaiian.  Tiny Bubbles need not apply.

Shopping Vintage on Oahu

Here at Holoholo Wale, we’re suckers for vintage Hawaiiana, be it kitschy or classy. And while we prefer to be part of the Aloha Wear and Hawaii Postcard Liberation Front (not a real organization) on the mainland, we still like to go treasure hunting in Hawaii. Oahu has a few great places to do just that — here are three very different picks for vintage finds.

Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Wear: Bailey’s is a fabulous mess full of racks bursting with aloha wear, from new reproductions of vintage patterns to the outrageously expensive and super rare. It’s expensive by mainland standards — a vintage 70s neon colored number can set you back 70 dollars — that’s some cash for a 30 year old shirt. But it’s right outside Waikiki — ambitious visitors can walk — and it’s FUN. The really expensive stuff is hanging up high.  Wondering what a 3500 dollar aloha shirt looks like? This is the place to find out.

Tin Can Mailman: The boxes of Hawaii ephemera — maps, brochures,movie posters, so much more — are a gold mine of questionable clothing choices, snappy ad copy, and the golden age of Hawaii tourism packaged to sell just about everything. There’s more, though, tiki mugs and hula lamps and maybe, if it’s not sold, a spectacularly inlaid guitar. This tiny shop in Chinatown is jam-packed with tropically inspired antique wonders and the guy behind the counter? He knows about all of it. Take a cab or the bus.

Muumuu Heaven: Everything old is new again and it’s damned cute, and in some cases, slinky and sexy. Recycled aloha print and tropical fabrics are used to embellish skirts, sundresses, tops, and when we visited, there was an amazing selection of vintage dresses from the 40s to the 70s. There’s also a very pretty display of housewares, original artwork, jewelry… lots of one of a kind things. In Kailua. You’ll want a rental car to get there.

Book ‘im, Dano

Holoholo Links

Slight Detour by Kellan via Flickr/Creative Commons

Slight Detour by Kellan via Flickr/Creative Commons

  • Making bread the Portagee way involves heat, a stone oven, and lots of hard work. Which is why it tastes so damn sweet and good. —  Hawaiirama
  • People think, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just an old baseball field,’ ” said county spokeswoman and former Friends of Moku’ula program director Mahina Martin. “They have no idea what’s underneath. . . . This is such an exciting time. — Maui News, hat tip to Hawaii Blog
  • A tourist in Hawaii spends an average of $200 a day for a hotel room, meals and entertainment. But there’s another class of visitors given room and board, full health care benefits and more for just $3 a day. It’s not a luxury vacation package — just homeless benefits courtesy of Hawaii’s taxpayers. — NPR
  • They said they’re never at a loss for work, considering how spiritual the Hawaiians have always been.”They believe everything, the rocks, the trees, everything has spirit,” said Galera. “All of that mana, all that power, that belief is still saturated here.” —Hawaii Ghost Hunters Profit From Spooks

Video Postcard from the Big Island

Hawaii’s First Lady of Ranching

Anna Ranch

The big ranch house stands at the top of a green sheet of lawn and it’s surrounded by elegant gardens in full flower. Late in her remarkable life, Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske wanted white and there are white flowers and white cats and even white cattle roaming around the hilly pastures. The house is white with blue and white striped awnings, the barns are white, the fences are white — after the morning rain everything is wet and clean and it’s hard to imagine that this place once had the dust and smell of a working cattle ranch.

SaddleBut the saddles are worn and there’s a shelf full of weathered boots. There are pictures of Anna astride enormous animals, huge stocky horses and even a Brahma bull. She was something of a rodeo queen, with glamorous outfits custom made for her by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. But on work days she was a ranch and cattle woman all the way.

Anna has been called the “First Lady of Ranching” in Hawai’i and was, during her long life, a cowgirl, jockey, pā’ū rider, licensed butcher, community leader, rancher, world traveler and humanitarian. A rare woman in any era but especially so in her lifetime!

In 1943, Anna married Lyman Perry-Fiske who was descended from another part-Hawaiian family from the district of Kohala. Lyman, a keen horseman, encouraged Anna in her innovative ranching practices such as introducing Brahma and Charolais bulls to improve her livestock.– Anna Ranch

BlacksmithAnna died in 1995;, ten years later, the ranch was placed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places. Visitors to Anna Ranch can take a guided tour of  the grand and beautiful home — it’s full of gorgeous Koa furniture and other period objects. There’s a demonstration blacksmith — you can watch sparks fly and hear the music of the hammer — and there’s a patio overlooking a stream where the white cows come down to drink. The ranch is adding a “Heritage Trail” — a short stroll around the grounds with interpretive signs and planning to add Hawaiian saddlery educational workshops.

It’s easy to blow by the ranch — it’s right on the Kawaihae Road as you’re driving inland to Waimea from the Kona Coast. It’s worth a stop — the ranch offers insight into the rich history of the paniolo — Hawaiian cowboys — and introduces visitors to Anna. She’s amazing, you’ll be glad you made the time.


Anna Ranch is at 65-1480 Kawaihae Road in Kamuela. Tours are twice daily, at 10am and 1pm. It’s 10 dollars, free for kids under 12 (though you’ll want to keep the little ones in hands, there’s lots of things that beg to be touched). Parking is no problem and there are restrooms. Stop for a look at the grounds even if you’re not taking the tour, it’s gorgeous there.

My trip to the Big Island of Hawaii was sponsored by the Big Island Visitor’s Bureau.