Editor’s Page: It Isn’t Often That a Handwritten Letter Arrives at my Desk

The letters arrive periodically—handwritten and anonymous.
Christi Young

It isn’t often that a written letter arrives at my desk. I receive emails and phone calls, but most often we see HONOLULU readers’ reactions in flashes on our Facebook or Instagram pages, quick comments likely thought out and typed in 30 seconds or less. So, a long-form letter warrants extra attention.


The majority of those I have opened come from a single writer. Each is a single sheet of folder paper stapled to a page torn out of HONOLULU or other magazines. He or she shares thoughts in flowing, rounded penmanship. The sentences are not flattering or effusive about our work. Instead, the letters are largely pointed and critical, correcting missteps, pushing us to raise other topics and questioning city policies related to pieces in past issues. Regarding our October 2018 photo essay, “Then and Now,” where we compared images of Honolulu decades ago to the present, the writer asked why we chose to feature a photo of a place in McCully covered in taro in 1910 that was a ballpark in 2018. “A better ‘compare and contrast’ photograph,” he or she says, “would have been to go onto bridge on McCully Blvd. over the Ala Wai Canal. It would have showed a) how taro fields became the Ala Wai Canal, b) the many high-rises in Waikīkī. Versus your photo makes the area seem verdant still. Also, where are all the homeless people?”


SEE ALSO: Editor’s Page: HONOLULU’s Long History with Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies

Letters to the editor
Photo: david croxford


Recently, another of these return-address-less envelopes slid into my stack of mail. In the upper left corner were the words “re: ‘Small Kine Homes’ article,” Robbie Dingeman’s May piece about people living in small spaces. Inside, an ad about an RV showcase in Salt Lake City illustrates the letter’s note that “the RVs looked so much nicer than the tiny homes you featured … I wonder if it is time to revisit why these are not allowed in Hawai‘i? Surely it would reduce the cost of living and even provide solution to the housing crisis.


“Please examine that in a future issue.”


These messages will never show up on our Feedback page—it is our policy not to run anonymous comments. I encourage this writer to add a name to the thoughts so we can share them. But even without a signature, I appreciate these penned letters that are snail-mailed to our offices on Bishop Street. I appreciate every time a reader cares enough to write back, whether it is with a pen or a keyboard.


One topic that always easily draws cheers and jeers is locally filmed TV shows and movies. Whether we’re questioning wardrobe (“that is the ugliest aloha shirt I’ve ever seen”), the locations (“Ha! That village in ‘Vietnam’ is in front of the Ko‘olau Range”) or egregious mispronunciations of the Hawaiian language or pidgin, we’re passionate about the way our communities and people are presented, or misrepresented. But there is no question that productions have become a very visible and growing part of our economy, which is evident every time a major road is shut down for camera crews. So why did lawmakers decide to cap the amount of tax credits given to the TV and film industry and will it really be bad for this business in our Islands? Contributing editor (and TV/movie extra) James Charisma takes a look. He also weighs in with his list of the best and worst shows ever shot in the Islands. Let the debating over pau hana begin.


Agree? Disagree? Love a movie on our bad list? As always, we want to know what you think. So pick up a stamp or open up your email. And, please, sign your name.

  Christi Young


Got a good story? Reach me at christiy@honolulumagazine.com


Read all of these stories in the October issue of HONOLULU Magazine. Available on newsstands in October, or purchase the issue at shop.honolulumagazine.com. Subscribe to the print and digital editions now.