IMR: 1999: October: 17 —  Sunday, 10:55 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Busy busy weekend.

Yesterday, we got up bright and early and headed up to Manoa Gardens (not to be confused with the university's Manoa Garden) to help grandma Ozawa move. She wasn't leaving the complex — and I sure wouldn't, it's a beautiful area — just changing to a unit on the ground floor in the same building.

The good news was, she wouldn't have to climb stairs to get to her apartment anymore. The bad news was, the new unit was about two-thirds the size of her old place, calling for some serious space planning.

Dad and uncle Leslie were already there, well into the moving process. Before I jumped into the fray, dad set Jen, Katie and I up in the lobby with some McDonald's Big Breakfasts. Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice — a meal that will always remind me of going to church Sunday mornings in Waipahu when I was a kid.

Properly fed, I joined in the fun of moving bookshelves, chairs, desks, and boxes and boxes of delicate things that all had that unmistakable, comforting grandma smell. Meanwhile, Jen wrangled Katie as she stomped around, making her best effort to get underfoot just when the largest objects were being hauled through.

After all the big stuff was moved, Jen and I switched off, her running box relays and me keeping Katie entertained.

I opened the door, and Katie was quickly scurrying around out in the sun. In the distance, we heard drumming, and Katie was immediately drawn toward it, magically navigating along winding sidewalks and through the patchwork of community gardens.

It turns out that the Malama O Manoa fair was being held right next door at Manoa School. Live music, arts and crafts, food, and all sorts of fun. Katie mingled as best she could, standing only three feet tall, and was drawn most toward the drum group and the puddles of water on the basketball court.

Eventually I managed to pull her away, and we returned to the building to move the last bits over. While Jen got Katie down for an overdue nap, I cleaned and vacuumed grandma's old place. I stole a moment to stand out on the balcony and take in the park, the sky, the towering green Manoa mountains. For a moment I fantasized about being old and retired, done and rested from the craziest parts of life...

Gayle brought over lunch, Huli-Huli Chicken, macaroni salad and sushi. Perfect.

When all was downstairs and in some semblance of order, dad was kind enough to let us off for the rest of the day. And to top it all off, he stopped by a few hours later with a big bookshelf and a couple of lamps, which quickly found their new home in Katie's room.

I was looking forward to a restful, lazy evening. But Jen had other ideas.

[ Garlic Festival ]To make a long story short, Jen, Katie and I were on the road as the sun was going down, en route to Ward Centre for the first ever Garlic Festival.

The idea is a tantalizing one. Dozens of local chefs and restaurants bringing out their best garlic-rich dishes (or their regular dishes with garlic added) at a fair with exhibits and live music, all benefitting the Aloha United Way and Carole Kai Charities, Inc.

Except. Most of the restaurants were running out of food when we got there, a good four hours before the thing was supposed to end. And what food we did get was just okay and criminally overpriced.

I mean, $4.00 in scrips for a tiny plate (I mean four ounces, tops) of "garlic shrimp pasta," sans shrimp and tasting mostly of vinegar? Or $3.50 for a single shrimp tempura California roll with no garlic at all? The garlic-basted baby back ribs weren't bad, but really, Katie could've eaten them all herself and had room left for a baked potato.

Maybe the food at the "better restaurants" was better, but they either had lines stretching for twenty yards or had shut down early. In fact, within half an hour after arriving there, barely a third of the vendors still had anything left to sell. After Jen hunted up and down the length of the place for one last dish we hadn't tried, we ended up with a second serving of the little ribs.

With Jen and I pinching pennies these last couple of months like never before, the outing was the worst way to burn $20 we've seen this year.

And they were still selling people thick stacks of scrips when we left, despite the fact that they could only choose from a whopping two, maybe three remaining vendors. Unconscionable.

So note to myself (or Jen, rather): next year? Pass on the garlic fest.

Besides, I still think charity contributions are best utilized by groups a little less corporate and with less overhead than AUW (and Carole Kai, who must be 120 years old now). I think any "charity" that has access to every channel and corridor in local government and business circles should raise a few eyebrows.

Today was considerably more restful. The three of us slept or lounged around in bed until well past noon. The only thing that actually got us up and out was the fact that the "Save Our Star-Bulletin" rally was about to start.

It was held at Washington Middle School, although when I went there it was Washington Intermediate School. Walking past Mr. Oshiro's math classroom, the "N Building," and those accursed locker rooms brought back a slew of memories of adolescent angst and ostracism, overflowing hormones, and various juvenile transgressions.

[ SOS Signs ]Out on King Street, the signwavers were out, now signwaving veterans after spending the last few afternoons outside the HNA Building. (I took the long way home just to honk at them.) Inside the cafeteria, about 200 people, many of them familiar faces.

From UH alone, I spotted journalism professors Beverly Keever and Tom Brislin, longtime campus advocate Amy Agbayani and feisty Board of Regents member Ah-Quon McElrath. Several journalism students, too, including Niranda Chantavy, who sadly scared the hell out of Katie.

[ SOS Meeting ]Bizarrely, the proceedings opened with a song about the Star-Bulletin, both the melody and lyrics of which my brain has mercifully wiped away. But then several speakers went up, speaking for only a few minutes each, raising many good questions and issues... even though they were preaching to the choir.

Brislin was one of them. He's something else. In espousing the historical role of newspapers and their significance in society, he made it a point to direct an aside at all the television journalists and internet gurus, basically saying, "you guys just don't matter much." I did like one painfully simple statement he made, though, in answering the question, "What's wrong with a one-newspaper town?"

"Gee, I don't know," he said. "What's wrong with a one-party government?"

After a quick lesson on JOAs and anti-trust laws, we got an update on the whole situation. Essentially, the matter is before the courts now, and who knows when the big robes in San Francisco will tackle it. In the mean time, there's just more meetings, petitions, rallies, general education.

I bought buttons and bumper stickers for the whole family.

I still suspect it's a futile fight, and frankly I'm not sure of the underlying agenda of SOS (whose leadership seem of a union bent), but I simply can't not do something. Both for the "big picture" reasons (and their implications for Hawai`i and other newspapers nationwide), but also for all my friends at the Star-Bulletin, and for my minority belief that it simply kicked Advertiser ass.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 16 October 1999 · Last Modified: 18 October 1999