Category Archives: Media

You die, but life goes on…

The first telephone call I made on Thursday morning after getting the news of my sister’s death was to her son, Kimo, in California.

He had already been at work for at least a couple of hours, and I had to leave a message. He left work for the day after getting the news and called back a little later.

“She did this to me,” he said with sort of a low chuckle.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s our anniversary,” Kimo said.

I wasn’t sure what he was saying.

He went on.

“October 13. Sabrina and I were married last year on Maui. It was October 13. It’s our first anniversary.”

“Oh, no!”

“Oh, yes!” Kimo replied. “She did it! I think she waited,” laughing now. “She wanted to make sure that I would always remember her every year! And you don’t forget your anniversary.”


Friday noon.

We’re in a barren little meeting room at the Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary. We’re waiting to sign the papers necessary for my sister’s cremation to move forward.

My mother’s parents–my grandparents–along with several friends and other relatives are buried next to each other in a corner of the old cemetery just across from the mortuary office.

Then a surprise.

We hadn’t gotten very far before discovering that I’m not authorized to approve the cremation. Her executor or personal representative must do that. Although I’ve been the trustee since her personal trust was created in July, she appointed her son and an old friend as her “personal representatives.” They live in different parts of California, requiring a long-distance approval process with emailed forms that need to be notarized and returned. Until that’s accomplished, what’s left of Bonnie remains on hold. It’s the first legal/bureaucratic hurdle we have to scramble over. I’m sure it won’t be the last.


The second surprise wasn’t long in coming. As we were filling out paperwork, the mortuary rep mention a change in policy by the Star-Advertiser.

The state’s largest newspaper and only daily newspaper on Oahu no longer lists surviving family members in its free obituaries. Now if you want the obit to include surviving spouse and children/grandchildren, the family has to buy a “family placed obituary.”

I don’t know what this costs, but I’m confident it’s not inexpensive.

I immediately thought of how this dramatically undermines the newspaper’s value as a source of the information found in traditional obituaries. As an investigative reporter, I’ve probably compiled backgrounds on hundreds of politicians, business people, and others that have been involved in matters I’ve dug into. Obituaries are a standard source which, for example, can help you identify an elected officials siblings and cousins, always sources of potential conflicts to keep track of. And what about future family genealogists? Their explorations just got harder as well.

And, for the record: Bonnie Pauahi Stevens is survived by a brother, Ian Lind, and a sister, Jacqueline Chappel, both of Honolulu; son, James P. Lamont of Manteca, California; daughter, Christina Kemp of Seattle, and seven grandchildren.

Trump’s “locker room banter” will sink his campaign

Don’t miss this story in today’s New York Times (“For Many Women, Trump’s ‘Locker Room Talk’ Brings Memories of Abuse“).

It’s the story of what was spawned by a simple tweet on Friday night.

“Women: tweet me your first assaults.”

And the floodgates opened.

A social media movement was born as multitudes of women came forward to share their stories. The result has been a kind of collective, nationwide purge of painful, often long-buried memories.

Facebook pages and Twitter feeds filled with comments and multiplying threads from women who recalled being groped by doctors, by piano teachers, by photography instructors, by perfect strangers. They told stories of being flashed on the bus by masturbators, of having male colleagues rub up against them at the copy machine in their office, of dates and bosses demanding sex.

According to the story, there were 27 million visits or responses in just a few days.

The Times story provides an extraordinary insight into the deep issues of sexual violence and sexual privilege in the U.S. as it looks from women’s point of view. It makes clear why Donald Trump has alienated women of nearly all political stripes, and why shallow apologies don’t cut it. It’s a great lesson in the impact of social media when a nerve is hit.

And, as a bonus, it’s an example of writing that just flows.

Aloha to Bill Kwon

From a Star-Advertiser story yesterday on the life of Bill Kwon, the great local sports writer who died this week: “It’s not often you can say that the best job in the world was your only job.”

What a wonderful thing to be able to say!

I crossed paths with Kwon at both ends of his long career.

The first time was when I was in high school in the mid-1960s at University High School, now a charter school known as the University Laboratory School.

I played on the basketball team, and I can vividly remember how we looked for Kwon’s column, Prep Parade, with its assessments of the players and the teams we would be facing on the court. To get psyched up, some would tape Kwon’s columns on our next opponent in their lockers as motivation for the game ahead.

Prep Parade columnThe basketball season in my senior year ended with the first “Class B” tournament, where tiny schools with fewer than 425 students competed. UHS was one of those, and we not only made it to the tournament, we ended up winning.

That earned a mention at the end of one of Kwon’s columns. He called the level of tournament play “exciting” and noted that our team “had to go some to beat Molokai and Honokaa, the latter paced by the remarkable Domingo Marcelino whose two-game total of 65 points may be a record that will stand for some time.”

That now-yellowed newspaper clipping turned up in one of my old files several years ago.

At the end of the column, Kwon reported that I had already been accepted at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

I puzzled about that at the time. How in the world did he get that little bit of obscure information?

Years later, I learned the likely source. For several years, my father’s and his girlfriend (for lack of a better word) had an informal partnership. My dad’s small company provided all the kitchen equipment and supplies for the little cafeteria up on the third floor of the old news building, which housed both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and its rival, the Honolulu Advertiser. His friend, Ann, ran the operation day-to-day. And I’m guessing that was the connection that brought my college plans to Kwon’s attention, although I don’t know for sure if the timing is right, and he could always have heard that from our coach. So I’ll never know the real answer there.

When I joined the staff of the old Star-Bulletin in 1993, nearly 30 years after that mention in Kwon’s column, I had the chance to see him in action as a professional. I didn’t hang around the sports section, so I couldn’t say we became friends, but we were both part of that amazing newsroom.

And I can vividly recall one of the last S-B holiday parties when Kwon, who was half my size, easily drank me under the table as he worked his way through the fine array of single-malt scotches on the wall by the bar at Murphy’s Bar & Grill. Kwon appeared unfazed as he downed those shots, while I had to quickly declare defeat and stagger off into the night.

Honolulu Star-BulletinThen in March 2001, we found ourselves among the small group of soon-to-be-former Star-Bulletin employees who would not be making the move to the “new”, Canadian-owned newspaper’s brand new newsroom several blocks away.

Aloha, Bill Kwon. Thanks for those memories.

When the payments never stop….

Sometimes the strangest things happen.

While trying to get a handle on my sister’s finances, I found that her credit union has been faithfully sending a monthly automatic payment for her cable bill (I’ll leave the company unnamed, although we all know who it is). The most recent payment was just made in September.

The problem is that her service with Honolulu’s cable provider was discontinued either in December 2013 or in April 2014 (according to the company, which has provided two different answers so far). For more than two years, those monthly payments have apparently just gone into the ether, as the cable company says they have no record of receiving them.

I made several telephone calls and a personal visit to their customer service, confirmed that the service had been cut off long ago, but came up blank about where the money has gone for these past couple of years. And when I asked, they failed to provide any information on how to push the case up the chain of command so that it could be resolved.

I fumed for about ten minutes, then decided to shift the burden from my end to theirs. If information on where to go to resolve billing disputes isn’t readily available on the company website, or provided by customer service, it doesn’t seem like breaking the code should be my problem. Instead of trying more frustrating telephone calls, I put all this information into a complaint which was then filed with the Cable Television Division of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs (with copy via registered mail to the cable provider). Those went out late last week.

Last night I received a phone call from a supervisor for the provider, requesting copies of my sister’s bank statements showing the monthly payments, which will be forwarded to their accounting department.

It’s quite a lot of money (possibly more than $4,000) to have just gone walkabout.

And to boost the frustration another notch, I contacted her credit union to stop them from making the next monthly payment. The credit union says the provider is supposed to control the payment and order it stopped. If we do it from the client’s end, there’s a $25 fee, as if the payment error was our fault. If it’s not resolved by the time this month’s payment is due, I’ll order a stop and ask the cable provider to reimburse that expense as well.

Isn’t it interesting how sharing this tale of frustration has already made me feel better?

Another televised Honolulu mayoral debate unlikely

It appears there won’t be another debate between Honolulu mayoral candidates Kirk Caldwell and Charles Djou prior to next month’s general election, according to a story a few days ago in the Star-Advertiser.

S-A writer Gordon Pang reported:

Officials with Hawaii News Now and KITV, which both held forums featuring Caldwell, Djou and former Mayor Peter Carlisle before the Aug. 13 primary, said they have no plans to hold another forum before the general election. A representative for KHON said the station had not made a decision on a mayoral forum, and staff from both the Caldwell and Djou camps said they had not been contacted by the station.

PBS Hawai‘i had scheduled a debate on “Insights on PBS Hawai‘i” on Oct. 27, but Djou either declined or withdrew from the appearance this week, spurring a fiery disagreement between the two campaigns and the station.

Pang notes that Honolulu’s controversial rail project dropped out of the election limelight after Djou changed his position, now agreeing with Caldwell that this phase of the project needs to be completed to Ala Moana Center.

In a recent Hawaii Public Radio discussion of media coverage of the election, veteran reporter Denby Fawcett called this election “boring.”

And it sounds like the television stations agree.

So if they’re not throwing extra resources into covering the Honolulu mayor’s race, what will they be used for?

Pang quotes KITV news editor Mike Farrah:

“Quite frankly, it’s a matter of an allocation of resources,” Darrah said. “We’re throwing a lot at the Pearl Harbor anniversary and the Honolulu Marathon.”

It’s all a matter of priorities, I suppose.