Editor's Page: No. 22


Photo: Adam Jung

The editor’s page usually tells readers about the issue they’re about to read. This month, I’m going to take some space to introduce myself, since HONOLULU Magazine just welcomed me as its new editor, the 22nd to serve in the magazine’s 125-year history.

For an Island journalist, that’s pretty heady stuff. HONOLULU traces its roots back to 1888, when it was created as a monthly publication dedicated to “the business interests of the Hawaiian Islands” with the blessing of King David Kalakaua.

I’m honored to join the staff of this historic magazine and have the opportunity to help tell the stories of our diverse Island community.

I’ve worked in Hawaii journalism for 25 years: 14 years at The Honolulu Advertiser, six years at KHON-TV and five years at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I’ve covered the state Capitol, crime, City Hall, consumer news, tourism and various tales of our city from heart-warming to heart-breaking. The work can be exciting and exhausting, whether we’re running toward hurricanes and crime scenes or highlighting the heroes of our community.

I love our Island home, and am fortunate to have been able to raise my two daughters in my hometown of Kailua. I’m the product of an Army brat dad, and a Big Island-born mom, who grew up in the plantation town of Honokaa. My parents met while attending the University of Hawaii, both planning civilian careers until the December 7 bombing of Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning irrevocably changed everything. My dad’s subsequent Army career took our family through many states and countries before he made good on his promise to bring us home to Hawaii.

As Island residents, we are fortunate to live in our modern version of paradise, where the daily backdrop includes unparalleled natural beauty as well as the stresses and struggles of everyday life. We celebrate the people of our community who share the aloha spirit first nurtured by Native Hawaiians. And we can be proud of our diverse community that draws traditions from so many cultures. We are not the melting pot cliche of old. Our community doesn’t blend together but enjoys the distinct flavors like those at a potluck where ahi poke, chow fun, sushi, kalbi short ribs share the table alongside the shredded kale salad, the Portuguese bean soup and kalua pig. In Hawaii, our differences both define us and bring us together.

I grew up reading HONOLULU and I’m happy to say that I’ve had the privilege of knowing the magazine’s last two editors. A. Kam Napier, who served as editor for the past eight years, hasn’t disappeared entirely; he’ll keep writing for the magazine as his schedule permits. Kam brings his informed voice, love of architecture and 19 years of magazine history. You can find his byline in this issue, as Kam takes a look at Honolulu’s dizzying height limits.

This month’s cover story, the 30th annual Hale Aina Awards, features a big spread on the best places to eat, from hole-in-the-wall to fine dining. Food and dining editor Martha Cheng checks in with the two winningest chefs in the three decades of the awards: Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi. You’ll also learn about the inaugural John Heckathorn memorial award, named in honor of this magazine’s editor from 1993 to 2005. John was a larger-than-life character with a passion for food, writing, and life, who died suddenly a little more than two years ago, a loss still keenly felt by many.

Senior editor David Thompson checks out the latest chapter in the riveting tale of eccentric billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto. Tax troubles in Japan pushed Kawamoto to sell many of his Kahala properties,  leading him to pack up, ship or sell those lions and angels and nude statues once prominently displayed along the avenue. Oh my.

Also in the January issue, the Sour Poi Awards, where each year we offer up dubious honors for the wacky, puzzling and just-plain-wrong news from the previous year. See if we got your favorites.

In 2014, I look forward to exploring the important issues of our community: social issues, politics, news that helps navigate modern life as well as food, fashion and fun. We’ll strive to be relevant. We hope to inform, enlighten and sometimes surprise you.

I’d like to hear from you on what you look for in our pages, what you’d like to see more or less of as we go forward.