On the ‘Ukulele, Willie K Performs ‘Dream On’ with Steven Tyler

Willie K and Steven Tyler perform Dream On at Willie K’s birthday party on October 17th, 2014, at the Mala Wailea Restaurant on Maui.

Dream On” is a power ballad by Aerosmith from their 1973 debut album, Aerosmith. Written by Steven Tyler, the song became Aerosmith’s first major hit and classic rock radio staple.

The Hawaiian phenomenon Willie K (Willie Kahaialii) is undoubtedly the only artist in the world who can go into an Irish pub in the middle of Maui and play anything from indigenous acoustic Hawaiian music to jazz, reggae, rock, country and even opera—and not only get away with it but leave everyone within earshot slack-jawed in astonishment.

30th Anniversary of The Karate Kid, Pat Morita, and Hawai’i

This Sunday, June 22, is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Karate Kid. The film was a commercial success, and earned Noriyuki “Pat” Morita an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Karate Kid would become an iconic part of American pop culture.

The Karate Kid stars Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita at a charity event in 2004. 

When I saw The Karate Kid, I was thrilled to see Pat Morita in it, because I thought he was a local boy. Many others thought the same because Morita spent a few years in Hawai’i in the early 1980s, and even starred in some First Hawaiian Bank commercials. He was actually born in Isleton, Calif., about 45 minutes south of Sacramento. Growing up during World War II, he was part of the mass roundup and forced incarceration of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants — one of the worst civil rights violations in our nation’s history.

Hawai’i-born Guy Aoki marks the 30th anniversary of The Karate Kid in his Rafu Shimpo column, noting that the scene of Mr. Miyagi lamenting the death of his wife and child in those incarceration camps was almost cut from the movie. Studio executives thought the scene was boring. Aoki wrote that “Morita said he begged the director to keep it in, as it paid tribute to the suffering of his parents in those camps.”

Even after 30 years, and a slick remake, the original Karate Kid remains a solid film, and a tribute to “local boy” Pat Morita. This coming June 28 would have been his 82nd birthday. Morita passed away in 2005.

Here’s a clip of Morita sharing how he got the role of Mr. Miyagi.

Larry Ellison Launches Lana’i Documentary Film Festival

Lana’i Island is being given its own film festival, thanks to Larry Ellison, who owns a majority of the island. Last week, he announced the Lanai Documentary Film Festival (lanaidff.com).

Ellison said that attendees will be able to “watch a film that will speak to your heart and then be affected by a beautiful, natural setting that reminds us to care for people, wildlife, and the environment,” in a press release issued on April 1, 2014.

The announcement stated that the new film fest aspires to “ignite and lead conversations for worldwide change by empowering the individual.”

The announcement doesn’t say how the new film fest will benefit the people of Lana’i Island. Ellison said that the America’s Cup would benefit San Francisco, but it ended up putting the city at least $5.5 million in the hole. That’s not economic development. It’s economic erosion.

Ellison credits himself with efforts “to improve the island’s schools and develop economical green energy, clean water, and commercial agriculture.”

“We intend to cast the net wider than our fellow filmmakers by providing a platform for everyday people courageous enough to pick up a camera and share his or her story,” the news release quotes Los Angeles-based Audrey Cavenecia, the festival president, “because it will take all of us, as a united force, to change the course of history.”

It sounds like they’re borrowing a page from the One Day on Earth playbook.

I sincerely wish this effort all the success as long as it helps the people of Lana’i prosper.

Photo credit: LanaiDFF Facebook page. Mahalo to @JohnBrownHawaii for his tweet of a @HuffPostHawaii story.

Hawai’i was Mickey Rooney’s ‘heaven on earth’


News reports say American film legend Mickey Rooney has died at 93. He was part of a film generation before my time, but he adored Hawai’i – and even wrote about it for The Telegraph newspaper. He wrote:

I’m not as young as I used to be, obviously, and nowadays the purpose of my visit is just to relax, stroll along the beach and watch the sunset – Hawaii is blessed with the most magnificent sunsets. But you know what? I might have been married for 37 years but Hawaii still seems to put a bit of extra romance back into our lives even after all these years. You can’t say that about many places, can you?

Read more

Our Facebook Page has a new name: Hashtag Hawaii


Just a few minutes ago, Facebook changed the name of my page. It used to be called just “Hawaii,” but turns out you can’t name your page after a geographic location unless you’re an official entity. That I am not. I was just born and raised there.

The page has more than 4 million fans so I struggled with a new name. I didn’t want to call it “Hawaii Page.” Sometime soon, we’ll be using Facebook in virtual reality, so there might not be any Pages then.

I decided to call it Hashtag Hawaii. #hawaii represents one way that we connect social content about our interests. I hope to keep doing that with the Hashtag Hawaii page.

To commemorate the name change, I thought I’d share with you an interesting insight into the fans that support the page: where they live, the languages they speak, and their ages and genders. Click on the graphic below to see the top 10 locations and languages, and age and gender demographics.

I’d also love to hear what you think about the new name! Mahalo for your continued support!

Hashtag Hawaii

This Lady REALLY Wants to Go to Hawai’i


CBS San Francisco is reporting today that a woman was arrested Tuesday for trying to get on a flight to Hawai’i without a ticket. It’s the fourth time she’s tried to get on a plane to the Aloha State.

Sheriff’s deputies say Marilyn Jean Hartman was arrested for trespassing at the San Francisco International Airport Tuesday. It was her 4th arrest at the airport in just over a month.
Prosecutors say Hartman tried to board flights to Hawaii on February 15th, 18th and 20th. She had previously made it all the way onto a flight, without a ticket, before an arriving passenger came to claim the seat. Here other previous attempts failed at the screening checkpoint. On Tuesday Hartman was arrested while hanging out in the food court, outside the secure area.

Hartman claims to have cancer and wanted to go someplace warm.

Read the full story.