Sour Poi Awards
Celebrating the best of the worst of 2007—from the strange to the stupid to the scandalous.
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Mahalo for Smoking. In a marketing campaign called "Smoking with Aloha," Hawaii Tourism Japan has been handing out portable ashtrays to Japanese tourists. Apparently Japan visitor numbers have been dropping since the restrictive "Smoke-Free Hawaii" laws went into effect in November 2006—the ashtrays are meant to assure tourists that smoking isn't completely illegal here.
But it's organic... In October, organizers of the Ironman Triathlon, long held in Kona, announced the race's new, official coffee: Ironman Organic Coffee. From Guatemala. The Kona Coffee Farmers Association, as well as the Kona Coffee Council (KCC), made their outrage known. "It's like us going to the Tour de France and being served California champagne," said KCC president Donna Woolley.
Helmet hair. On the way to leading his team to a perfect season and a BCS game, UH star quarterback Colt Brennan sported a parade of, um, interesting hairstyles, including dreads and a bleached buzz cut featuring a silhouette of the Hawaiian Island chain. What's next for Hawaii's favorite fashion plate?
The boys are back in town. It was revealed that HPD's District 1 undercover prostitution unit comprises 12 men and only four women. Said Lt.
Fabian Loo of their downtown prostitution stings targeting johns: "In this one particular area, you didn't have to be too feminine looking. They like 'em big and gnarly."
Gov. Wassername. In March, first lady Laura Bush made headlines for correctly pronouncing the Hawaiian name of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument: Papahanaumokuakea. She had more trouble with the governor's name, which she pronounced "Ling-will."
Driven mad. In June, a Honolulu taxi driver repeatedly rammed a customer who refused to leave a $2 tip on his $7 fare. The incident left the hapless customer with minor abrasions, the driver with an attempted murder charge and the cab with $8,000 in damage.
YOU ONLY HURT THE ONES YOU LOVE
Hormel, makers of Spam, celebrated the product's 70th birthday this year with a free T-shirt offer. But Hawaii, the nation's top Spam-eating state by a wide margin, wasn't invited to the party; the fine print on the label proclaimed the offer "void in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and where prohibited." Luckily for local Spam fans, Hormel was quick to backtrack from their diss, calling it a labeling error.
Rising to the occasion. The interisland airline war took a turn for the bizarre in September, when, during a court hearing, Mesa Airlines lawyers blamed the deletion of incriminating documents on one of their own top executives. Chief financial officer Peter Murnane, the story went, had been surfing for porn at work, and was simply trying to cover his tracks when he wiped the hard drive of his computer. A skeptical computer expert called as witness said Murnane had erased a huge amount of data. "It would take a lot of time to accumulate that much adult content." The judge didn't buy the porn angle either, eventually nailing Mesa with an $80 million judgment.
They're azure, I'll have you know! A simple question posed by KSSK radio personality Larry Price turned out to be one of the most memorable moments in the interminable Superferry debacle. Price was interviewing state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser in May when he asked Hooser where he was from. "You got blue eyes?" Price asked, continuing, "When local people hear somebody from the Mainland talk about how honest everything is that means that something's wrong ... that sounds suspicious." Price later apologized for his "insensitive language."
Bus-ted. Simple mistakes cost Honolulu taxpayers big last year. The City and County of Honolulu printed the wrong year on its property tax bills and had to reprint and remail them all—a $50,000 typo. But that looks like peanuts compared with the $35 million the city is going to have to pay the Federal Transit Administration over the next two years, after it moved an FTA-funded bus maintenance yard from Halawa to Pearl City in 2001 without first getting the proper approvals.
TO DO: PAINT HOUSE, MOW LAWN, WASH WINDOWS!
A Maunawili homeowner got a surprise in November when he found a homeless man sleeping in a tent in his backyard. The man had broken in through the kitchen window, and later told police he had thought the house was abandoned.
Some people love Hawaii for the beautiful weather, others for the aloha spirit. State Farm loves Hawaii because it's the state in which drivers are least likely to hit a deer. The insurance company's data shows that Hawaii residents have only a one in 16,624 chance per year of a Bambi bust-up. Compare that with West Virginia, where you've got a one in 57 chance.