Editor’s Page: Unexpected

From gridlock to an edgy career.
Photo: Adam Jung 

Traffic tie-ups wear away at us. Epic jams like the one caused back in March when both of the state’s ZipMobiles went down at the same time leave us scratching our heads. Yet it’s the day-in, day-out hours spent in “normal” commutes that etch themselves into our daily lives.


This month, our editorial team delved into what’s driving traffic in Honolulu: researching, scoping out potential solutions, talking to experts and road warriors, learning some tips, apps and hacks for coping with Carmageddon in all its forms. We know traffic is an important quality-of-life issue that the multibillion-dollar rail project won’t erase. While our writers immersed themselves in the issue, our art team was on the prowl for the best way to illustrate the problem. You’d think it’d be easy to shoot photos of gridlock in Honolulu. You’re reading this issue in August, while back-to-school prep is in full swing, a month that has had some of Honolulu’s historically worst traffic jams. However, we were creating the issue in early summer, when most schools are on break and folks are on vacation, staying home, not driving.


Turns out locating bad traffic on a summer day is about as foolproof as scheduling a wedding with no rain. Enter our intrepid creative director Kristin Lipman and photographer Aaron Yoshino, who rode through the city during peak commuting hours, looking for congestion. In places where they would usually be cursing bumper-to-bumper traffic, they were confounded by the smooth stream of cars on the road.


Aaron Yoshino Taking Photos for “Carmageddon.”

Here’s Kristin: “We were saying the strangest things. ‘Where the hell is all the traffic? Why is it flowing?’” And their vantage point from the back of a pickup truck made it even more surreal. “We were sitting in the back of the truck rather than looking forward, which is what we’re used to.” They persevered and, as usual, brought back some great photos. But it reminded us that we need often deal with the unexpected.


While good traffic on a day you want bad is unexpected in a vexing way, we’ve got another important story that’s unexpected in a good way. I’m pleased to present an exclusive preview of a new book  from UH Press by veteran investigative reporter James Dooley that’s sure to be provocative:  Sunny Skies, Shady Characters: Cops, Killers and Corruption in the Aloha State.


After decades of probing scandals, corruption and crime, Dooley’s got great stories to tell. Some of these he told publicly in The Honolulu Advertiser or on KITV, but I think you’ll find the back stories of what went on behind the scenes quite fascinating (and unexpectedly funny in places).  As his colleague, I’ve heard some of the stories, but found some quite surprising, and I haven’t even finished the book. Thanks to Jim, and UH Press, for the sneak preview.


To round out our issue, we’ve also got the popular Private School Guide, an annual partnership with the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools to create a resource for Island families making important education decisions. 


And because we’re always on the lookout for the best place to meet friends for a meal, we asked contributing editor Catherine Toth Fox to check out two old haunts in downtown Honolulu that have new owners, new food and a whole new vibe.


Here’s to savoring the last days of summer.


Visit bit.ly/hntraffic for more of the Carmageddon feature.