Sunday, December 27, 2009

December in Hawaii

The Levines are home from another fabulous trip to Maui, “land of sunshine, Kindles, and tattoos”. Now that my wife has received her doctorate I noticed the Samoans treated her with much more respect this year. At various times we were also joined by our son Matt (the Apple Design Engineer of our eye) and daughter Annie (Dorothy Parker without the psychotic episodes). The above picture was taken by Matt.

We arrived just in time for a torrential downpour. Stayed at a condo in the E-coli Village overlooking the ocean and the even more breathtaking Grand Wailea Resort. The GWR has been in the news a lot recently. They are considering a major expansion project and they are in danger of foreclosure. Now how exactly do those two things happen concurrently?

I’m still traumatized. My favorite restaurant on the island, Roy’s in Kihei closed. This is the biggest tragedy to hit this state since either Pearl Harbor or Jasmine Trias being voted off of AMERICAN IDOL.

Speaking of the Day of Infamy, this was overheard at a Wailea shoe store: a customer asked the clerk if they were doing anything special for Pearl Harbor Day? Special? Uh, like what? If you’re a survivor of the invasion you get a free pair of Keds? Half-off all shoes if your foot size is 12 or 7? What can they do? They’re a friggin’ SHOE STORE!

Seriously though, you can’t help but reflect on December 7th, especially if you’re in Hawaii. Still I must smile thinking back to when my kids were little and went on the U.S.S. Arizona tour. My daughter Annie pretty much summed it up. “You look down, you feel sad, you go.” I would only add to that: “You remember”.

I know this is an awkward transition but you MUST try Sansei in Kihei for the greatest sushi this side of our former enemies.

Saw an ambulance roaring through south Maui, lights on, siren blazing – toting a boat. It is not a good idea to get sick during whale watching season.

Nice feature at the E-Coli condos, just as the sun goes down every day at 5:45 PMT (Pacific Mimosa Time) someone blows a conch shell or Pu. It’s another reason why I love Hawaii. You sound horns to convey thanks for the blessings of the land not because some schmuck cut you off on I-95.

Since I am still recovering from minor eye surgery I had to wear these huge sunglasses during the day, making me look like THE FLY. My empathetic kids kept singing the Blue Blockers rap every time I wore them.

Going upcountry? Stop by the charming little town of Paia first. It’s advertised as a throwback “hippie” village. And I must say it took me right back to the 60s when hippies supported their drug habits selling gelato.

Next go to the Haili’imaile General Store for their unbelievable sashimi napoleon. When they ask God to be a guest judge on TOP CHEF this is what they're going to serve Him.

From there, as you head up the beautiful slopes of the Haleakala Crater be sure to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy. Home of award winning cheeses and water sport enthusiast goats. They offer evening chores and milking tours.

There are a lot of gullible tourists in Hawaii (I mean “evening chores” tours??), which explains why Former Governor, Former Candidate, and hopefully soon Former Author, Sarah Palin was on Maui hawking her alibiography. The whales were not happy. They traveled thousands of miles from Alaska just to get away from that magpie.

But Sarah’s stay was short-lived. She fled early when those bad bad paparazzi took pictures of her wearing a McCain-Palin visor with McCain blotted out. People have interpreted that as a disrespectful gesture. She of course can’t understand why and frankly, in this case I must agree. On all Levine & Isaacs scripts I routinely black out David Isaacs’ name. The covers just look better that way!

Our rental car was a Ford Fusion. They have the turning radius of an aircraft carrier. And the radio crashes. That’s what happens when you combine Ford engineering with Microsoft engineering. Their new slogan is Ford – Drive One. Trust me. That’s all you will.

Had some drink in a coconut at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. I’m not sure what was in it – tequila, rum, coconut juice, mango juice, vodka, gin, Tabasco -- but after two sips every word in the English language looked like Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. And then when I got in the car I found it very hard to jam that damn coconut into the cup holder.

The North Shore waves were large enough this year (40-50 feet) that for only the 7th time in 25 years the Eddies were held! This invitation-only surfing competition has had trouble securing a major network to broadcast it live since organizers decide to hold it on a moment’s notice. The goats hardly had time to get down the mountain.

Professional big wave surfers are a breed apart. Even high performance race car drivers and Kamikaze pilots say those guys are fucking CRAZY!

The winner was Greg Long followed by Kelly Slater and goat Phil.

There’s nothing more beautiful than the drive to Hana. Yes, it’s a winding two-lane treacherous road and cars have gone over the cliff but the scenery as you’re plunging into the ocean is startling. Driving to Hana provides that rare opportunity to leave civilization behind… unless you pick a day when East Maui citizens are picketing en masse along the road to protest water usage.

Classiest store title in Maui: “Who Cut the Cheese?” I just feel bad for the coffee shop right next door.

This is the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood. At least according to the commemorative plates. Locals took a break from their secede the union rallies to celebrate being taken over by our great nation.

Attention criminals! Stay out of the Foodland shopping center. Right between the Rainbow Attic and Aroma’s Italian restaurant is the Kehei police department. My guess is all three close at 10.

Of all the times we’ve been to Hawaii, believe it or not, we’ve never been to an authentic Marriott Hotel Luau. Until now.

First we adhered to ancient Hawaiian tradition by having tropical drinks on the Astroturf surface and checking out all the merchants selling cheap jewelry and wooden tikis. Then we wandered down to the oceanfront to watch the sunset while people took our pictures and told us where we could buy them.

The kalua pig with an apple in its mouth was removed from the spit, I guess (I was at the bar having the first of many pina coladas) and it was royal feast time. The macaroni salad was to die from. Had poi for the first time. Poi is Hawaiian for “Wallpaper Paste”.

Meanwhile, a Hawaiian combo played Island favorites like (I kid you not) “The Brady Bunch Theme” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On”.

The big show began, filled with dancers in elaborate costumes. Instead of junk jewelry they should have been selling those coconut bras the hula dancers were wearing. Those were stylin’! The hula girls were gorgeous and the hula guys were buff and beautiful and when they’re not doing luaus they’re probably letting girls lick Reddi Whip off their chests at bachelorette parties.

The theme of the show was the story of Hawaii, circa the 11th Century. I was thrown a little in one scene when one of the hula girls had a cellphone. Now the songs were authentic Polynesian tunes and chants as evidenced by Matt’s Shazam app on his iPhone being unable to recognize any of them.

The dances, pageantry, and legend continued and I can honestly say that anyone who had two or more drinks was saying, “What the fuck??” After three drinks Annie said to her daddy, “You’re cut off!”

The finale was truly spectacular though. Fire dancers. One in particular was amazing – twirling two flaming batons. You always wonder – how do majorettes ever make money? Well, the key is talent and a lighter.

The show ended to much applause and the traditional chants of “Aloha” and “Don’t forget to get your luau photos!”

Okay, now we’ve done that. Next trip maybe the Virgin Sacrifice at the Sheraton.

Sightseers beware: before you drive the length of Maui to see a bona fide blow hole, regular gas is $3.73 a gallon.

The only day you can’t go deer hunting on Maui is Christmas. How humane of them.

The closer we got to Christmas, the more tourists arrived… including President Obama. Hawaii is his birthplace, unless you’re one of those who believe the proof is insufficient and he was really born on Pluto. (Those people can be spotted on the beach reading “Going Rogue”.) The President is staying in the posh Kailua Beach home he rented last year. He wanted to vacation at the Kahala Hotel and Resort but Jeffrey Katzenberg already booked the Presidential suite and has dibs on the best table at the lanai restaurant and the beach. The President didn’t want to be on the waiting list for cosabellas so he opted for a private mansion instead.

By Christmas Eve the place was overrun by tourists. When there are more snorkelers than fish it’s time to leave. But like the whales, Obamas, and Eddies we will return. “Hau'oli Makahiki Hou”, which either means "Happy New Year" or “Thank you flight attendant Shirley for saying you read my blog everyday and then giving me free ear buds so I could watch POST GRAD!”


gottacook said...

I loved Maui during my few days there, part of a long Thanksgiving weekend in 1982 with my then-g.f. who 10 years later introduced me to my wife-to-be. We did the Hana Road in a rented, already-antiquated-when-new Toyota Tercel - great fun, all the way to the fabulous Hana Maui hotel. This is one reason (OK, one of the few) that I'm envious of Californians; it's really costly to fly a family of 4 to Hawaii from the east coast.

Blaze said...

Thirteen months ago, my wedding on the Kapalua Cliffs in northwest Maui, and the ensuing two weeks on the island, were one of my top three holiday trips. I suspect the key element is to go on a cusp between "off" and "popular" seasons. The businesses and facilities were all open, but the crowds of presidents, fugitive governors and snarky tv writers were at a minimum.

(Actually, I suspect some of Ken's zingers and snide remarks are an attempt to dissuade people from crowding his island paradise even further)

Unknown said...

Ken we looooove Paia. Its one of the best little towns on the island. The best store for the wife and daughter is Alice In Hulaland. They also have some nice Shave Ice on the main drag there. Love that place. Oh... and Happy New Year

Matt Patton said...

Beautiful photo your son took--for some reason, I found myself thinking of the opening scene of DEATH WISH . . .

tb said...

I'm sure it's an old joke, but I still cracked up at "the macaroni salad was to die from"

Unknown said...

Great Post - it's great how you manage to do the "same 'ol" post every year and yet again fill it up with so many anecdotes and funny bits about your trip and Hawaii as a whole I simply can't miss it - just like the same 'ol same 'ol post you do about the Rose Bowl every years. Love them.

By the way Post Grad was so horrible I hardly made it past the first fifteen minutes. Am I the only one who thinks that the "guy role" in that move should've been played by a twentysomething James Van der Beek?

I mean I love FNL but I think this wasn't the role Zach Gilford should've been cast in. Man I miss Gilmore Girls. Can't wait to find out how Lauren Graham will do on "Parenthood"