Astounding Honolulu

Weird, strange and intriguing things you didn't know about our Islands.


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Photo: Courtesy of Gerry Lopez



Goofy-footed grommet grows up.

Gerry Lopez, champion surfer, king of the Banzai Pipeline and one of the pioneers of tow-in surfing, caught his first wave at the age of 10 at a Waikiki surf spot known as “Little Queens.” He told me he didn’t think the wave was even a foot high. Who was the first person to actually surf the Banzai Pipeline? Phil Edwards in 1961 on a homemade surfboard he called “Baby.”





Rich Man/Poor Charley:

The richest person in Hawaii, a man for whom I hope to one day become an adopted son, is eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. He’s worth about $5.3 billion, give or take several million. Omidyar, who graduated from Punahou School, and his wife have given away more than $900 million to various charities and nonprofit ventures. But even with his bucks, Omidyar is a piker compared to Honolulu’s previous richest person, Barbara Cox Anthony. An heir to the Cox media dynasty, she was worth $12.6 billion when she died in 2007 at the age of 84.


Photo: Istock

Matteo’s Italian Restaurant in Waikiki

was opened by Matty Jordon, Frank Sinatra’s touring chef, after Sinatra stopped touring. It originally was named “Cheese Cannoli In Paradise.” Just kidding.

Weird fact: Matteo’s original owner and chef Matty Jordan went way back with Frank Sinatra. He was, in fact, delivered by Sinatra’s mother, a midwife in Hoboken.




Haunted House For Sale: Three Bedrooms, Two Baths, One Poltergeist.

If you have a ghost in your house and are trying to sell it (the house, not the ghost) you have to disclose the presence of the ghost as a “material fact” to all potential buyers.


Mount Tantalus

is the high peak above Honolulu that is home to some of the island’s wealthiest people. Even the name reeks of Greek mythical superiority. Or does it? It turns out the peak was named by some thirsty, hiking college students after what they thought was a “Greek god who was always parched.” They were partly right. Tantalus was actually only a demi-god, son of Zeus and a scoundrel.  Tantalus killed his own son, cooked him up in a stew and fed him to the gods of Olympus. The gods were not amused. They sent Tantalus to the fires of Hades, where he was forced to stand for all eternity in a lake whose water came just to his chin. Every time he tried to take a sip of water, it would recede. That should make the well-heeled residents of Mt. Tantalus a bit more humble.


Photo: Elyse Butler


Honolulu's Most Tattooed Person

is probably tattoo artist Micheal (Mike B.) Brown who has tattoos in places that some people don’t even have places. He got his first tattoo at age 17, his name on his arm. Since then, he has added dragons, peacocks, girlfriends, skulls, senoritas, samurais and Sanskrit all over his body. Does he have any place left to tattoo, I asked him. “A spot on my lower leg,” he said. “That’s about it. And I didn’t tattoo my genitals.” A little too much info there, Mike.



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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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