John Heckathorn Reports...
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On the Joys of Editing a Magazine
“Aloha Also Means Goodbye,” Editor’s Page, August 2005
Over the years, I’ve interviewed governors and mayors, talked with university presidents, private detectives, bank CEOs and Hawaiian activists. I’ve landed on an aircraft carrier, driven a Ferrari, choppered into Kahoolawe, flown to Japan. I’ve hung out in the kitchen with a young Roy Yamaguchi, helped a film crew stampede cows for a Magnum P.I. episode, been nominated for a Na Hoku award for our 50 Greatest Hawaii Albums CD.
At a magazine, your interests can be as a broad as the city you cover.
On the Ultimate Noodle
“In Search of the Ultimate Noodle,” Dining, July 2008
The center of Hawaii’s ramen universe is not some boutique noodle house in a major shopping center. Nor is it a narrow counter half-hidden in some back alley.
The center of Hawaii’s ramen universe is on truck-clogged Colburn Street in Kalihi Kai, near the prison.
Your bowl of ramen starts here, as a 10-inch-wide spool of dough. The spool winds through one, two, three, four sets of rollers, pinched thinner and thinner. Finally, it’s sliced into thin strands. The cutting machine makes the strands a little squiggly, so the noodles appear handcut.
Welcome to the Sun Noodle Factory, turning out 11,000 pounds of fresh noodles a day. That means that the noodles in virtually every bowl of ramen in Honolulu—even in noodle shops that may make a few noodles in the front to amuse the customers—leave Sun Noodle in a five-ounce plastic bag.
The restaurant rips open the bag, drops the noodles in the broth for two minutes—and there you go. It’s a cultural icon, it’s the movie Tampopo, it’s the world’s international dish, second perhaps only to French fries.
Heckathorn’s first submission to the magazine was his short story “Hanalei,” which won runner-up in our inaugural 1983 fiction contest, and was published in full in the September 1984 issue. Then a 36-year-old assistant professor of English at UH, it was his first piece of fiction writing in 15 years.
… I think we’re all damned. Consider what is going to happen to you even if you don’t throw yourself out an 18th-story window in your early 20s. If you’re lucky and don’t catch some wasting disease at 30; if the thugs and fools who run the world’s countries don’t shoot you or napalm you or unleash thermonuclear hell in your neighborhood; if your car doesn’t blow a tire and send you spinning into a lane of oncoming traffic; if no one throws you into prison for your political beliefs or into a concentration camp for perhaps no good reason at all; if none of the unimaginably awful things that happen to ordinary, perfectly nice human beings happen to you—what then?
You inevitably get older each day. You watch them bury your parents, your older friends, your contemporaries. Your dreams, being dreams, go mostly unfulfilled. Your children, if you’re fortunate to have them in the first place, turn into people you never expected. You get old, get sick, and die.
And that’s the best that can happen.
So I’d advise you to pause before condemning me as shallow when I say that the point of life is to be happy, to have a good time if at all possible.