Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Only in Hawaii

There's a ton of stuff in the news, from police abuses to sectarian violence, to good old government malfeasance.

Screw it, here's a story about what happened when I went to the bookstore.

The bookstore near my home is a survivor, and a treasure to the community. It does a brisk business and is both convenient, and far enough off the tourist' path, to make going there enjoyable. It reminds me of the once plentiful book retailers I used to spend hours in during my college years of the 1990s, before the economics of Amazon bulldozed the retail industry.

I even spent one semester working for a book distribution center that packaged and moved book orders between retailers and distributors while attending college in Alabama, where one could not go to class and spend the day drinking chocolate and playing chess at the bookstore instead.

Now, thanks to Starbucks, I can still get a decent chocolate at my local bookstore, but the comfortable ambiance and the chessboards are long gone. Still, it's a nice place to spend an hour, and run into folks like our former Governor, or my ex-history professor from UH who now chairs a political talk show on PBS.

But sometimes things happen that remind you that still you live Hawaii.

I walked into the men's room. The men's room at the store is well kept and upscale, with a large print by a famous local photographer of a Hula dancer on the wall.

I opened the stall door and found the following:

SAND: the entire five foot by eight foot area, toilet included, was completed covered by a fine layer of beach sand. How it got there is uncertain, swimsuit shakeout? Homeless guy's backpack? Someone's souvenir bag of Waikiki sand (made in China), busted?  In one corner, a well-worn black zori--rubba slippahs or "flip flop" to mainlanders--was tossed aside on the now gritty, white tiled floor. In front of the toilet, next to the wall, lay a copy of the Kama Sutra (1001 positions!), illustrated with clear, color photographs of a young couple who had rather enthusiastically thrown themselves into their work.


Oh well, with the store only a quick half-hour bus ride from the beach and a large street population of mainly young guys drifting around town, sometimes things are bound to occur.

Still lucky you live Hawaii.

The store, despite making great sales, is slated to be removed by the owners of the mall so a discount retail clothing store can move in. That would mean no more bookstores anywhere on our side of the island. The remaining franchise bookstore is located in the middle of the largest shopping mall in Honolulu, down the tourist strip on Nimitz Highway; a huge, high-end retailer maze of fifty buck a meal restaurants and thousand-dollar designer outlets.

The bookstore there is dirtier, louder, overrun with a constant stream of visitors and their families, and the location is in far worse condition.

There's little there that would attract local buyers to the store.

As an aside, their bathrooms look like something out of a fight scene in the eighties movie, "The Warriors."


You won't find an state leaders or local pundits browsing that mass consumer hog trough.

Nor do you see many local folks over the age of 18 there either.

But that's living here in paradise, where established local businesses often go out, but not for lack of business. They go out because landlords have all the say in our land-poor, rents high city center.

Night everyone...

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