Get off the lawn you damn kids

I spent last week at the Four Seasons Hualalai. We go there every year, typically in September. The staff at the Four Seasons is incredible. I don't know how, but they always remember our names (we may be on the problem guest list). They are genuinely happy to be working there, and can solve any problem. You know you're being treated well, when people come to your beach chaise to clean your sunglasses.

I've truly become the angry old person/high maintenance guest. We stay in the Palm Grove, which is the quiet zone. It's very zen and peaceful. A couple of days into the trip a few really annoying people sat in the pool drinking and shouting about football and SDSU. The next day, we saw the same dudes playing golf and blasting rock music from their golf cart. Not good form.

A few days later, a group of doctors for a conference acted like the Palm Grove pool was Fort Lauderdale at spring break. Okay, I know this sounds jerky, but after doing everything possible to cancel the noise, I called the front desk and asked for some help. Security showed up and they either lowered their voices or all went back to their rooms to pass out.

Later, I felt bad when I was told they were cancer doctors. They're saving lives and I'm cranky that they are having fun in the pool.

I decided that this was simply the way of the world. Those times of good manners were a thing of the past. I was the problem and needed to accept change and get over it.

But, I was wrong. The next morning two senior managers tracked us down in person and apologised. Boy, did I feel dumb. I was truly amazed. You've heard me say before, follow the three "R"s with clients when something goes wrong: Recognize the problem, express remorse, and resolve it. They did that. If it were me, I'd be scared to talk to me. That old uptight white guy is complaining about the noise. How fun can it be to talk with him?

Ho in Hawaii

I was waiting with my nephew, Chance, outside the Haunted Mansion and asked him about his favorite bands. Of course I didn't expect to know any of the ones he said; he's a teenager. When he asked me, I told him I liked older music like Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney.

I'm sure this felt like talking to someone from ancient Mesopotamia to him, but he's always polite, and said, "I like them too." I didn't reveal the more embarrassingly uncool truth, that I like cheesy Hawaiian music. Sure I appreciate the authentic Hawaiian music, but I have a soft spot for the schlocky stuff.

I buy many of these records at Amoeba Records. They're always in the 99 cent bin, or left outside to be taken away free. Clearly there is low demand for Don Ho's Hawaii-Ho (which is not about prostitutes on Waikiki).

Yes, sometimes they are too bad, even for me. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet album cover reads as either a gay wedding or white party, but it turned out to be gospel music in a Hawaiian style. I don't know what happened to the actual record, but the cover for Hawaiian Polka Tour with Eddie Blazonczyck's Versatones is remarkable. You can't ignore the Jim Jones style portrait on the cover.

On the other end of the spectrum, some of the design is not half bad. Alfred Apaka's Hawaiian Favorites, the Ilikai Hotel'sMusic of Hawaii, and of course, Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaiiare classics. There's some good letterforms too. I assume the message with these is, "primitive, wacky, and carefree." That sounds like my normal weekend.


A good friend of mine, the amazing designer Jim Cross, is a great aficionado of traditional Hawaiian music. Jim has impeccable taste. His taste in classic, authentic Hawaiian music is educated and refined. I, on the other hand, have plebian taste in many things. I’m just as happy at In-n-Out Burger as a 5 star steakhouse. My taste in Hawaiian music is no less low-end.

If you want to experience the truly relaxing Hawaiian sounds, check out Hawaii Calls. This was a program broadcast in front of the banyan tree at the Moana Hotel on Waikiki. On weekends, I tune the Pandora station to this and relax with rum based beverages. If you enjoy chanting, ukulele, drums, and the slack-key guitar (and who doesn’t), you’ll love this Hawaiian music. If you have a problem with the soothing sounds of the islands, buy the records for the covers alone. At least you will be anxious, mean, and angry while enjoying the album art.

Is Fresca and rum trashy?

Esquire Handbook for Hosts chapter divider

My grandmother had many rules about proper behavior, and what made people “good people” or “trash.” Here are a few:

1. Hang your blinds straight, only trash have crooked blinds.

2. A gentleman always removes his hat indoors, or in the presence of a lady, trash insists on rudely wearing their baseball caps inside.

3. A gentleman always wears a belt, or braces (suspenders).

4. A gentleman knows how to mix a good martini.

5. Young ladies do not pierce their ears. Bad girls do.

I try to abide by these rules and many of her others, although the ear-piercing rule is probably out of date. Unfortunately, I think I might fall out of line when it comes to Fresca.

Each year, we take a trip to Kona Village in Hawaii. Typically, we’ll make a run to Safeway to buy rum and mixers. The idea is to mix my own simple Mai Tai cocktails and save some money as opposed to buying them at the bar. At the beginning of the trip, I’ll stick to the plan, mixing pineapple and orange juice, and adding some lime. After a couple of days, this is typically too much trouble, and I switch to simply mixing the rum with Fresca. I know it sounds seriously trailer trash, but trust me, the “rumescas” are very good. You can also mix Fresca with gin (Tanqueray of Bombay, not the cheap brands that make you hungover). I call this the Ginesca. And for those who prefer vodka, it’s a perfect refreshing mixer. I'm calling this a Ruskie-esca.

I’d add recipes here, but there’s no need. Simply fill the highball glass ½ way with the liquor over ice then add the Fresca. Some may say this is too strong, but no, no, no, they’ll get used to it.

Esquire's Handbook for Hosts: substitute any mixer with Fresca

Funny tricks from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts

It's for kids, too.

Fresca can, 1971

Song of the Islands, Na Lei O Hawaii

Recently, someone asked me what my favorite television title sequence was. There are many wonderful examples, The Rockford Files, Wild Wild West, and now Mad Men. But, come on, the winner, hands down is Hawaii Five-O. The theme song alone, composed by Morton Stevens and covered by The Ventures should make it a favorite. The quick cuts, freeze frame action, and high-energy camera work are miraculous. Reza Badiyi, a television director who also created the Mary Tyler Moore montage, created the sequence. For those Waikiki aficionados, Jack Lord is standing on a balcony of the Ilikai Hotel. For anyone out there who thinks the other Hawaiian crime show, Magnum P.I. was better. No, it was lame.

F@#% you F@#% face

Sean at Kona Village with a nice message

Every year right after Labor Day, we spend a week at Kona Village on the big island in Hawaii. It’s not like the Four Seasons, which is next door. There are no televisions, telephones, radios, or internet. This may sound bad, but it’s perfect. You fall into a pattern of rising when the sun comes up, go on hikes, swim, read books, and go to bed when it gets dark. The village is made up of a collection of thatched roof hale (bungalow). This is not a hotel that feels like a high-rise condominium. Ancient black lava beds surround the property, and there is a tradition of using the stark white coral from the beach to make messages. Typically, they are for anniversaries, weddings, and statements of love.

Noreen has a wall in her house that is a large chalkboard and guests like to write notes like, “Great dinner,” or “love the soap.” I like to write one of our favorite sayings from the 1980s cult movie Repo Man, “F@#% you F@#% face”. But she gets mad because children visit, and it is offensive to some guests. So now I just write FUFF. On my last visit to Kona, I decided to extend this tradition and add it to the hearts, and anniversary dates made from the bright white coral on the black lava.

On a side note, if you mention Repo Man, there’s nothing smarter than Miller’s “Plate o shrimp” philosophy. “A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example, show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, "plate," or "shrimp," or "plate o' shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.”

A traditional message with the coral/lava typography
A traditional message with the coral/lava typography
Hale at Kona Village (that's Hawaiian for house for the haole)
Hale at Kona Village
The beach at Kona Village
The beach at Kona Village
Directional signage
Directional signage