Bar Town


Linny Morris

I just watched the 1988 film Bright Lights, Big City, based on the novel by Jay McInerney. In the movie, Michael J. Fox (did I mention it was an '80s film?) plays a junior fact checker at a major magazine in New York. This is what attracted me to the film, which I'd never seen before. There aren't many movies about people who work at magazines, so I was curious.

Apparently, this business has changed since 1988.

For one thing, no one at the magazine in Bright Lights, Big City has a computer on their desk. They somehow fact check without e-mail, without Google, without Wikipedia, without the World Wide Web. For another thing, they drink. A lot.

Fox's character opens the film with the narration, "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning and, though the details are fuzzy, you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar." He then spends the week pubcrawling with a friend (played by pre-24 Kiefer Sutherland-again, an '80s movie!), drinking prodigiously and doing more cocaine than any junior fact checker could possibly afford. In one scene, he's nearly undone by what looks like a 10-martini lunch with an elderly writer on staff, who blurrily recalls, with great nostalgia, working with "the greats, Hemingway, Fitzgerald," back when, you know, people really knew how to cut loose.


The magazine folks I know in 2007 seem to hit the gym more often than the bars. But like you, we do love to get out once in a while, and when we do, we like a place with character. Hence, our round-up of "Best Bars." Here you'll find Honolulu's top places to hide out, places to see and be seen, places to try a new vintage or the hottest new small-batch rum and more.

If there's one change I've observed in Honolulu bars over the years, it's that the experience is less about outright intoxication and more about aesthetics. The wines and liquors have become gourmet items. Stunning interior design has become routine. But at heart, bars are still about possibilities, the chance to reconnect with old friends, the serendipity of making new friends with someone who will become a business partner, or a romantic partner, or at least a one-hour sparring partner over the highly charged topic of which film constitutes Michael J. Fox's best work. (I still say Back to the Future.)

Hopefully, the feature will help you get out and about, and try new things.

At heart, bars are still about possibilities, the chance to reconnect with old friends, the serendipity of making new friends with someone who will become a business partner, or a romantic partner.

Speaking of bars, a toast is in order for the newest member of HONOLULU Magazine's editorial team, assistant editor Jenny de Jesús. You may have already noticed her byline; she joined us during the production cycle of our November Holiday Annual and immediately started writing articles. Jenny was born and raised in Montclair, N.J., but while going to school in California, she made friends with some folks from Maui and spent a summer with them there. "I didn't want to leave," she says.

She moved to the Islands and finished her English degree at the University of Hawai'i this spring. Jenny wasn't exactly a stranger when we hired her; she came highly recommended from our sister publication, Hawaii Home+Remodeling, where she had been interning and doing a great job.

Here's to Jenny, welcome! And here's to you. Cheers!

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Honolulu Magazine November 2017
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