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Editor's Desk // Column
Don Chapman

New Extreme Sport; Thud; Duke Pics

Memo to ESPN’s X Games producers. Subject: Possible new Hawaii-based event

During my daily commute from home in Kaneohe to work at Waterfront Plaza, I have lately been honing my skills at an amazing new sport that just shouts out X Games – extreme pothole slalom driving.

The ever-changing pothole slalom course that the downhill, town-bound Pali Highway has become is a true test of a driver’s hand-eye coordination and focus. And unlike, for example, skiing slalom courses, this one is done with dozens of other cars around you. So it’s not just potholes that can damage your car (and you).

Sure, the epithets I’ve been known to mutter in mid-slalom, especially while thinking of local government officials, include “Criminal (bleepin’) malfeasance!”

But that said, extreme pothole slalom driving ought to make for awesome TV. And it’s in Hawaii!

* Welcome to the biggest MidWeek ever – 116 pages. Big kudos to our advertising staff for bringing in so many ads – which pay for everything from paper and ink to salaries and rent. And thanks too to our readers, who every week support the advertisers that allow us to bring you Hawaii’s best-read paper for free.

With 116 pages, and all of the inserts, this April 4 issue has an excellent “thud factor” – a highly technical journalism term referring to the sound the paper makes when you drop it flat on a table.

* I’m pleased in this issue to present two pages of Duke Kahanamoku photos to go with Bob Hogue’s column. Most were never previously published.

The photos were willed by the late Joe Brennan, one of the great characters to ever call these Islands home, to my old pal Jim Gaddis (father of former UH basketball player Courtney Gaddis, who is now running for Miss Hawaii, but that’s getting off the tracks). Duke had given the pics to Joe, his biographer.

Jim introduced me to Joe way back when I was writing a daily column for the Advertiser, and I count our friendship as one of the blessings of my life, and his compliments about my writing among the most meaningful.

He was old-school all the way, a former bantamweight prize-fighter and devoted waterman who swam every day at Sans Souci almost until the day he died at 96 in 2000.

And he had a way of saying things. Of his wife Blondie, who died in 1996 after 67 years of marriage: “She makes my toes buzz.” Of doctors: “Never been to a ‘croaker’ in my life.” And on death: “I don’t mind croaking. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Over the years he wrote 31 novels, 20 with Hawaii themes, and more than 500 short stories for pulp magazines, mostly in the 1930s and ’40s. Pulps usually cost 5 to 15 cents and paid the author “peanuts.”

His biggest sellers include Duke of Hawaii (1968) and Paniolo (1978), which Edgy Lee leaned on for her later documentary.

Joe was forever tickled that Parker Ranch of Hawaii (1974) topped national best-seller lists ahead of James Michener’s Centennial - because Richard Smart “settled on” Joe after Michener declined the story.

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