Hawaiian Folk Art & Buffett Hawaii Update

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Hawaii’s earliest hope.

6 p.m. Nov. 29—When my friend Ellen Byrne heard I was going to Hawaii she offered to paint me up a portrait of Princess Kaiulani. The Princess was known as “Hope of Hawaii” in 1893 before she lost her Royal birthright when American interests overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.

Which Bush was in charge back then?

The Princess–Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn—was educated in Britain and a pal of Robert Louis Stevenson. The Baltimore-based Byrne gives the Princess a regal look set in lush green with a whimsical gecko on her left shoulder. (www.ellenbyrne.com)

It gives a touch of tropical class to my Ukranian Village Tiki Bar……

After spending four years in exile in Europe, former Princess Kailuani returned to the islands in an act of solidarity with her aunt, the desposed queen. Princess Kailuani died in 1899, shortly after her country’s annexation to the United States.

Hawaiian legend has it that she died of a broken heart.

This was perfect.

My trip was sort of a “Forgetting Sara Marshall” theme. I wanted to drink Ma-Tais, listen to Arthur Lyman and absorb myself in baseball one more time before moving forward into 2009.

“What I do is troll for ideas and feeling is to go to the art section of e-Bay, type in a search for ‘Outsider Art’ painting and then a separate search for folk art painting,” Byrne explained. “I love paint. I don’t make much money with these pieces (I paid $40) but working with real paint is so much more satisfying than doing digital work.”

Byrne said that working in Hawaiian themes brings back memories of her youth in the Manoa Valley section of Honolulu, not far from where President-elect Obama grew up. “Instead of the ice cream man we would have the sushi man come in his truck,” she said. “He would bring dried squid and dried seaweed. He’d have those little fishing balls.

“It was just wonderful. ”

It was also weirdly wonderful that I spent my time on Oahu at the fine Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber. (www.ohanahotels.com) The friendly hotel came on the recommendation of the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League and it turned out that the Beachcomber was adjacent to the late Don Ho’s Blue Hawaii Show showroom.

In February, that space will become Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber.

I heard some legal issues prevented the 400-seat restaurant from being called Margaritaville. Down the way on Kalakaua Avenue there’s also a Cheeseburger in Paradise that has nothing to do with Buffett’s mainland operation.

The Beachcomber complex is adjacent to the lovingly kitschy International Marketplace, which I adored. Lots of hand carved tikis. It is across the street from Duke’s Waikiki on the beach, which I found incredibly snotty. In all my years of beer drinking, Duke’s marked the first time I was refused service by merely leaning over the bar and asking for a drink. I had to go stand at a waitress station. And it was my first drink of the night. On vacation.

What would the Princess do?

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