Market Research

Both of us are taking a small breather after the publication of Denial of Service. The breather is for at least three reasons. One, we are, for the moment, heartily sick of reading Denial of Service, as much as we like the book (it’s like eating turkey for five straight days after Thanksgiving: no matter how delicious the bird, enough, already!). Two, we are concentrating on marketing activities for DoS (e.g., readings at book stores). Three, one of us has been doing market research for book 3, the working title of which is Murder Mo’ Bettah and which takes place in Hawai’i.

Truth in advertising: “market research” is a slightly grandiose term for what was, in reality, a desperately needed vacation for one of us, who booked 7 days in Hawai’i because she can operate on “autopilot” when there and because she wanted to surf her brains out. (Being a blond, surfing her brains out admittedly did not take all that long.) The other of us gave the vacationer some pointers on “needed market research” for book three in terms of finding background material, getting a feel for local color, and the like, much of which was ignored in the interests of “market research on who makes the best Mai Tai on Waikīkī Beach.” (Whee.) Note: the answer to that question is indubitably the Halekulani for a multiplicity of reasons, including the fact that pineapple juice – which most watering holes on Waikīkī insist on adding to their Mai Tais – has Absolutely No Place in a Mai Tai. (The Halekulani also has a delightful concoction known as a Liliko’i (Passion Fruit) Daiquiri that is not only delicious but counts as a serving of fruit. As everyone knows.)

No matter how familiar someplace seems to you if you go there a lot – and both of us have been to Hawai’i many times – writing about a place is different than visiting it. More to the point, you can go to the same place many times, yet not really see it. The request was for specific “background/color” for the book and this, the vacationer spent time actually looking at what she had experienced so many times.

One of the more colorful aspects of Waikīkī (besides the frequent ‘anuenue – rainbows – as showers move over the Ko’olaus – is the evening “street scene.” Kalākaua Avenue – the closest thing to a “main drag” in Waikīkī and the street that fronts most of the hotels as well as Kuhio Beach before it peters out around Kapi’olani Park – is always active but never more so than at night. For starters, you have a slew of people handing out pamphlets for everything from going to the gun range (an indoor shooting range on Waikīkī) to how to find Jesus. (Hint: He’s not lost: you are!)*

Then, there are the “living statues” (maybe there is a more au courant term for them but we do not know what it is): the folks who dress up in silver (or gold or black) painted clothing with silver (or gold or black) body paint, who don’t move for – a long time. (Donations welcome.) There are also street musicians (e.g., an 11-year-old kid playing Hawaiian music on a trumpet, for something completely different). (Donations welcome.) There are street artists – either caricaturists or those who do chalk drawings on the pavement. (Donations welcome.) There are also street vendors of lei (Hawaiian flower garlands) or practitioners of lau hala (the weaving of fronds of the hala tree into hats, bowls and the like). To set the scene for all these characters, we have the chain of “tourist paraphernalia and kōkua (help) known as ABC Stores. Whatever you forgot to pack or need to enjoy the water, prevent sunburn or recover from sunburn because you picked a wussy SPF, you can find it at an ABC Store, and there is one every 65 feet or so on every street beginning with a ‘K’ in Waikīkī.**

There is more, much more, in the area of background material that we have both catalogued for book 3. One of them may not make it into the book, but it is the reason we continue to love Hawai’i and makes it so special: the air. As soon as you get off the plane, whether it is in Honolulu or Kona or Līhue, you are bathed with air that is the perfect (not too hot, not too cool) temperature, that has moisture (but isn’t disgustingly humid) and is scented with plumeria. The air in Hawai’i is like nowhere else: the fabled trade winds caress you and your ‘uhane (soul) feels refreshed and restored.

*One of us notes that these street scene participants are all welcome upgrades from the slew of Hare Krishnas in years past (whose endless cymbal clanging and near frantic jumping around made one want to rush up and direct them to the nearest men’s room to relieve their obvious distress) and “extremely well dressed ladies of the evening” that used to frequent Waikīkī in the years when we first started going there.

**That’s a joke. In Hawai’i, with the exception of a few “grandfathered” English names, all streets have Hawaiian names and most of those begin with ‘K’ on account of the direct article in Hawaiian begins with a ‘K’. So we have (just in Waikīkī): Kalākaua, Kuhio, Koa, Kapuni, Ka’iulani. Kapahulu, etc.

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