Doing pretty good today. Haven’t found an appendage in my chili and/or custard; taken the witness stand in defense of Michael Jackson; faked my own kidnapping to get out of a wedding; watched my nomination to be Ambassador to the United Nations drag on while former subordinates tell the world what a rotten boss I am; masterminded the largest corporate-pension default in U.S. history; checked myself into a South African mental hospital; or flown a light plane within three miles of the White House. But hey, the week is still young.
THURSDAY, May 12
I had no idea The Carlyle Group was so warm and personable! And here I thought they were just a heartless $25 billion private global equity fund that builds weapons, kisses royal Saudi ass and buys and sells companies solely for profit. But today they sent me a Thank You card! Little ol’ me! Okay, so it was Carlyle’s wholly owned subsidiary Hawaiian Telcom who sent me the card, but does that really matter? And what a card it is: “We’re your new locally based telecommunications company,” wrote Hawaiian Telcom CEO Michael S. Ruley. “We combine responsive, locally based customer service with a full range of telecommunications products and services.” Notice how he kept mentioning that the company is “locally based”? Ain’t that shrewd, considering that all the profits are actually New York-based?
FRIDAY, May 13
According to the Associated Press, rumors that television empress Oprah Winfrey urged her viewers to buy land in Hilo and Puna have spurred a Big Island land rush. In fact, the AP’s reviews of program transcripts show that Winfrey—who owns more than a hundred acres of Hana and Upcountry land—never specifically mentioned the Big Island. Though she did say that buying oceanfront land around here was a good idea because “God’s not making any more land in Hawai’i.” Maybe not God, but those Big Island volcanoes are doing a damn good job on their own… Doesn’t happen too often, but this week I scooped the Washington Post! In the May 12 edition of this column, I briefly touched on a British secret service memo from 2002 that showed pretty conclusively that George W. Bush was going to invade Iraq in defiance of both his public pledges to seek a peaceful solution and the non-existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The Sunday Times of London broke the story weeks ago, but other than a few websites, no American paper had picked it up. Now in fairness, the Los Angeles Times also wrote about the secret memo, but that came out same day as my story, so that’s basically a tie. And it in no way diminishes the fact that I beat the mighty Washington Post. In your face Woodward and Bernstein! Take that Executive Editor Leonard Downie, Jr.!
SATURDAY, May 14
Reporter Harry Eagar of The Maui News reported today that Maui Land and Pineapple Co. Director Richard Cameron, a member of the corporate board since 1984, has resigned. He gave the usual litany of reasons—“personal and family reasons”—but that’s not even close to the most shocking revelation in the story. No, the most amazing, incredible, astonishing thing about ML&P Director Cameron—grandson of company founder and titan J. Walter Cameron—is the third line of Eagar’s story: “Reached at his job at Borders Express in Kihei, Cameron said he did not wish to say more.” I’m sorry, but that can’t be right. The heir to the Cameron Family fortune and member of the corporate board of directors of the most powerful landowner on Maui… has a job? I mean, not to put too fine a point on this, but Cameron actually works for a living? In the service sector? I mean, this is astounding—a bit like saying that I couldn’t get Michael Ovitz on the line because he was too busy slinging burgers at Carl’s Jr. Okay, that’s a bit over the line. Yeah—it’s more likely Ovitz would work at Subway.
SUNDAY, May 15
So… what’s new with you?
MONDAY, May 16
People who want to fly—which, on Maui, includes just about everyone—will now have to give their birthdates at the airline ticket counter, if the all-powerful Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gets its way. So says today’s Pacific Business News. This is, naturally, long overdue—who among us doubts that all 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001 would have been foiled if the check-in clerks had asked those guys when they were born. But what’s done is done. Interestingly, the TSA isn’t asking to change a peculiar quirk passed as part of 2002 Homeland Security Act that makes secret the law allowing TSA screeners to conduct random searches of passengers before boarding. This Kafkaesque abomination—allowing government officials to use security to justify concealing laws and statues from citizens rather than the usual stuff like battle plans, nuclear launch codes and that box-thing on Dubya’s back—is apparently just fine with the TSA. And I know, my name is probably being typed into some nefarious database right now for writing this. And you know what that means… Woohoo, I’m famous!
TUESDAY, May 17
So George W. is in Virginia talking up the virtues of biodiesel and other alternatives to our beloved 87 Octane. Even flew out Maui’s own biodiesel pioneer Robert King for a couple quick grip-n-grin photos. Now all this I find fascinating, and not completely because Bush just seems to have noticed that there are alternatives to oil even though King has been refining diesel fuel from French fries for the last 12 years. No, I’m fascinated by this because Bush actually said that he understands how we’re all concerned about record-high gas prices which seem to have started rising within seconds of him being sworn in back in 2001. “I wish I could just wave a magic wand and lower the price at the pump,” he said, according to the AP. Who needs a magic wand? Why not just cut out all these wars in the Middle East and see if that helps?
Anthony Pignataro has not written for several other publications, including The New York Times. MTW