THE REAL STUFF: A sparkling throng of dignitaries from all walks of life, friends, family and hundreds of admirers jammed the Hilton Haw’n Coral Ballroom last week to honor a true-blue American hero — Capt. Jerry Coffee. For those who don’t know the true story of this fellow MidWeek columnist, Jerry survived a horror none of us will ever experience — seven years as a prisoner of war after being shot down in his Navy fighter plane over North Vietnam. Who can imagine the isolation, degradation and physical torture he had to endure those terrible years? That he did, and emerged victorious to become one of America’s premier public speakers, and recognized last week by the Navy League with the 2006 American Patriot Award. His book Beyond Survival tells his inspiring story … An Asian tour is being worked out for legendary singing star Tony Bennett. Hopefully, it’ll include a Hawaii stopover concert. The 79-year-young troubadour is still going strong, with a recent sold-out H’wood Bowl concert. For those who don’t know, Tony is also a very accomplished painter. Recently Bennett was notified that he’ll receive Kennedy Center honors this year … Where are they now: Old time TV news watchers may remember B.J. Sams, who was a TV news director and anchor in Honolulu back in the early ’80s. He’s successfully still doing it at KTHV in Little Rock, Ark. … Eddie-torial: The debate over the H’wood box office slump continues. And it seems everybody has a reason why. Here’s some of them that are certainly no secret: High ticket prices, having to sit thru lots of advertising before the movie begins, talkative people and cell phones, noisy popcorn munchers, etc. Movie-going offers many annoying factors (with their films) these days … The changing scene: Walk down historic Lewers Street in Waikiki now and see huge vacant spaces where old hotels once stood. The demolition is going quite smoothly for the new face-lift coming soon to that special location … Here’s the story behind the story of that very impressive and beautiful mural, titled Shangri-La, hanging in the Lau Yee Chai chopstickery. It was created in 1946 by one Bik Kai Ho, a stranded artist in Hawaii at the time trying to earn enough money so he could return to China. In those days, art canvas was in short supply in Honolulu. He eventually was able to salvage some from warships here and sewed them together. On this canvas he created a beautiful original 41-foot-wide by 12-foot-high painting that covers almost the entire back wall of Lau Yee Chai … You don’t hear much these days about Iraq war hero Gen. Tommy Franks since he checked out of the Army and into civilian life. However, it’s been reported he kept a detailed written journal while in the service. Publishers would pay a bundle for that. But guessing is it’ll remain private … Honolulu sights: The dog training on view at Thomas Square Park. Canines are very well-mannered and respectful of the grounds. Fun to watch ’em go thru their bowsie-wowsie paces with dedicated handlers … Just a reminder: The annual Pearl Harbor Mardi Gras Follies early Feb. (under Jack Cione’s direction) is coming up. It’ll also be Jack’s last … Another reminder: The zoo area is still one of the best parking deals in town. A quarter gets you an hour of parking, plus some fun seeing our animals enjoy life … Small world item: Another screen star who loves to get away to his beautiful Maui home when time permits is Clint Eastwood. And so does ex-wife Maggie — who owns her own nice home on the Big Isle … Didja know: That the liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma? True … That the owner of Marlboro cigarettes died of cancer … That a pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes … And some lions mate over 50 times a day … In my next life, guess what I’d like to be...
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