Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Waimea Valley Concert and More

July 18th, 2014
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Just a quick post to let folks know that Waimea Valley's scheduled concert for Sat., July 19 from 1 - 5 pm is still on, rain or shine! Sounds like the tropical storm heading our way will not begin to affect Oahu until tomorrow night, so conditions should be okay on the North Shore. Also, they put up tent canopies on the lawn to provide shade on sunny days, so if there are pop-up showers you'll stay dry.

My wife and I went to the June concert that opened this year's summer series, and it was just wonderful -- great line-up (Jerry Santos, Brother Noland, Led Kaapana), beautiful setting, warm vibes from the mostly-local audience. Even the performers got chicken skin and commented on how it touched them to perform in the valley. They also took note of how good the sound system was. That's another thing I loved about the concert: they talk story in between songs, tying the music into their personal stories of growing up in Hawaii,  the changes they've seen in the islands, and their relationships with other local musicians. You can't get that from listening to a CD or iPod.

There are still tickets available for the Saturday concert, which will feature ukulele virtuosos Eddie Kamae, Imua Garza, Kalei Gamiao and Brittni Paiva. For details, visit www.WaimeaValley.net. For the price, you cannot beat this deal -- well, you could go to a freebie concert in Waikiki, but I doubt you'll get very good seats or have the same kind of atmosphere you will find in Waimea. It's truly a special experience and worth a trip to the North Shore.

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One reason I haven't been blogging of late is I'm on deadline for a screenwriting project. It's tough to break into Hollywood, but there are reputable contests that have launched careers for aspiring writers and directors. Maybe you've seen the new Spielberg sci-fi series, EXTANT, which stars Halle Berry. That script was discovered through an online contest. Another movie in the works, THE DISCIPLE PROGRAM  starring Mark Wahlberg, was written by a guy who won the same contest as the EXTANT creator. Well, I'm one of 10 finalists chosen from about a thousand entries in the latest round of that very same contest (details here), which has a unique twist...

In most screenwriting contests, you submit original scripts in their entirety. But the Industry Insider competition takes a premise from an A-list screenwriter and entrants submit the first 15 pages based on that writer's idea. In my case, the logline/story idea was provided by Sheldon Turner, who wrote one of the X-Men movies and UP IN THE AIR, starring George Clooney (Sheldon's script adaptation was nominated for an Oscar). After I was selected as a finalist, they paired me with a story/script "coach" in L.A., who I consult with each week to go over new pages. The process and feedback has really helped me grow as a writer, while improving the script I've been working on. The first draft is due next Friday, so I've been working overtime to meet that deadline. The winner will be flown out to Hollywood for meetings with Sheldon Turner and a top management firm that reps many successful screenwriters.

It's an exciting opportunity for me as a writer. However, trying to juggle that challenge with my other job producing Career Changers TV and side video projects, has been a reminder of an old adage: Be careful what you wish for!

Now I just have to deliver the goods.

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For daily viewing times and info about the July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also see segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!

 

Human Trafficking Videoconference June 25

June 20th, 2014
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Learn how you can help fight human trafficking in Hawaii by attending this statewide videoconference, co-sponsored by the 808HALT coalition through the federal Rescue & Restore Campaign at Pacific Gateway Center and the University of Hawaii School of Social Work.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 25, from 11 AM until noon, followed by discussion until 1 PM.

WHY: Hawaii is a hub for human trafficking because of our geographic location. Children, young women, domestic workers and foreign laborers are flown in from all over the world. Ships and fishing boats may also be carrying exploited workers. Men from impoverished countries are promised good paying jobs on Hawaii farms, then abandoned and left to fend for themselves, while separated from their families for years. In short, human trafficking is modern day slavery.

WHERE: (seating is limited so please RSVP as soon as possible!)

UH Manoa – Kuykendall Hall, Room 204 (seating capacity: 20) is the origination site where the presentation will be held. Below are the receiving sites

UH West Oahu – Library Room B-157 (seating capacity: 30)

Kauai Community College – Learning Resource Center, Room 122 (seating capacity: 20)

UH Maui College – Ka’aike Room 105A (seating capacity: 20)

• UHMC Lahaina Education Center – Room 104 (seating capacity: 12)

UH Hilo – Media Services Room (seating capacity: 20)

For further information about the Hawaii Interactive Television System (HITS) site locations, please visit www.hawaii.edu/dl/location/.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: anyone who provides services to victims of sex trafficking or forced labor, i.e., social workers, health providers, people in the travel and transportation industry, immigration attorneys, law enforcement. To learn more, go to www.808HALT.com and click on the YouTube link to see videos, which have been translated into different languages.

WHAT WILL BE COVERED: Experts on human trafficking will provide an overview of the problem, tell you how to recognize signs of trafficking, and what you should do if you think someone could be a victim. Real life cases and examples will be used.

Please call Maya at 851-7010 or email maya@pacificgatewaycenter.org to reserve a seat!

 

Chinatown Tour - Part 4

June 10th, 2014
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Erdman cover

Took awhile to get to this final installment of my Chinatown tour series, but hopefully, you'll see how it all comes together. At the end of the Honolulu Exposed Red Light tour in mid-May, my wife wanted to pick up a copy of Hawaii Business magazine because an old friend of ours, Dave Erdman, was featured on the cover as their Small Business Person of the Year (click here for that article). Isabel worked with him in marketing at Tropical Rent A Car, back when I moved here in 1985.

Dave co-founded the Direct Response Advertising & Marketing Association of Hawaii (DRAMAH for short) and that's how I met Isabel -- my future wife. The guy I replaced at Oahu Bindery & Direct Mail had been talking to Dave about starting this direct marketing association, so I stepped in for him (Paul Hilker, who became a minister). Dave roped Isabel into it as well since she was assisting him at Tropical, which spawned a bunch of successful entrepreneurs before that company bit the dust. He went on to create the PacRim Marketing Group, which focused on the Japanese visitor market initially. Dave is fluent in Japanese, even though he came from the Philadelphia area. Isabel wound up starting her own small publishing company, which put out the very successful Japanese Guide to Hawaii (eventually sold to Duane Kurisu, who owns a number of Hawaii publications and businesses -- including Hawaii Business magazine). Another Tropical alumnus, Jeff Hendrix went into advertising, and formed his own award-winning agency (Hendrix Miyasaki Shin, which merged with Core Group One).

It was a fun gang to hang out with, especially since Tropical RAC had great company outer island trips because they had a lot of "trade" with travel-related partners and sponsors. I was meeting with Dave and Isabel regularly to plan our DRAMAH seminars, which brought in internationally-respected direct marketing experts through Dave's connections -- primarily his dad, the late great Ken Erdman, who was one of the best direct mail copywriters in the business. Ken's books, articles and seminar talks taught me just about everything I know in regards to copywriting. Plus, our post-DRAMAH meetings pau hana sessions at bars and business mixers Downtown, led to me getting romantically involved with Isabel. So I hold Dave largely responsible for my marriage, now going on 29 years.

DRAMAH was an important and influential development in the local advertising and marketing scene. You had the major ad agencies, smaller marketing/graphics outfits, a few independent consultants, all vying for limited advertising dollars. Direct marketing represented a major shift in thinking from mass "branding" type saturation ads (mainly print and TV commercials) to targeted data-based approaches that emphasized tailored ads and pitches. DM people really were the first to use computers and build databases that could identify markets by key demographics -- right down to income, education levels, interests and so on. Needless to say, traditional Mad Men type ad agency people were skeptical... even resistant to much of what was espoused in our DRAMAH seminars. Why, you ask?

Well, the core tenet of direct response marketing is called A/B testing. To see what message works best, you create alternate ads and in the old days, mailed out test packages to similar sample groups. For big companies, a small test mailing might be 5,000 out of a mailing list that could have hundreds of thousands of subscribers or product buyers... or donors. Ready, fire, aim. You analyze the results, fine tune, test again, and eventually do a roll-out to the entire list. But for traditional ad agencies that spend the bulk of the client's money on big ad buys in the newspaper or on TV, they really can't afford to produce multiple commercials or print ad campaigns and pass that cost along to the client. Instead, they may rely on smaller focus group testing or just present a couple of options to the client and let them guess which will work best.

Now here's where DM enters the modern age. Remember I mentioned donors lists? The man behind some of those early mailing lists, Richard Viguerie, became a major player in politics -- specifically the Republican Party. They were masters at the targeted message and building databases for fundraising, which gave them a huge edge over Democrats until the Obama campaign brought in people who understood A/B marketing. If you were on the Obama email list, you no doubt received a number of donation requests -- each one maybe slightly different in what the headline or subject line said. That's because with today's powerful database tools, they can do instantaneous testing to see which appeals generate the most response simply by tweaking a few words or images. More and more online advertisers are doing the same. And it all began with direct mail.

Anyhow, we couldn't find a single copy of that Hawaii Business magazine with Dave on the cover in Downtown Honolulu! The only magazine shop on Fort Street Mall that had it in their window was closed for the weekend. Longs didn't have it and it was just mid-month. In Kailua, we couldn't find it in Safeway or Foodland either. We had to drive to Ala Moana and get a copy from the Barnes & Noble bookstore there. When my wife used to publish her Japanese visitor guide, she would often check the street racks in Waikiki to make sure they were being kept in stock by her distribution person -- because that's what the advertisers are paying for.

So the business take-away from this simple walkabout in search of a magazine is that you can have the most sophisticated online computer tools at your disposal for market research and advertising... but if you don't get out of the office and check things with your own eyes and ears, chances are you may miss the real reason your business isn't doing better.

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For daily viewing schedules of the new July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now approaching 350,000 total views for over 200 pieces we've produced. Contact me directly if you're interested in being a sponsor!

Chinatown Tour, Part 3

June 3rd, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new June episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012) and will feature segments on the Hawaiian Mission Houses, Cemetery Pupu Theater, Kakaako Farmers Market/Coffee Festival, and a positive story about human trafficking victims who are rebuilding their lives in Hawaii. For details and daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and present shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

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Before I get to the final installment of my rambling, meandering blog trip through Downtown Honolulu's past via the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour, I wanted to comment on recent comments the past week or two in regards to present day Chinatown. It seems we have reached a tipping point. The local media, including the Star-Advertiser, have stepped up their coverage of the homeless problem. Mayor Kirk Caldwell has publicly gone on the offensive. Residents and tourists are writing letters to the editor, or posting online responses to news articles and op-ed pieces. All of which is a good start for a call to action.

However,  I need to get some things off my chest... things that probably bug some of you out there. First, let's not quibble over political correctness when referring to homeless people. I had a friend tell me he was shopping in Chinatown, and after being accosted by a homeless woman in front of the store, he mentioned to the sales person inside that the "homeless" person was bothering passersby outside. The clerk became indignant and told him, "She's not homeless -- she's houseless. I used to be one of them!" I'm happy this clerk found a job and got off the streets, but do we really need to get into arguments about what to call them? As a recovering alcoholic, I had to admit I was a drunk who needed help before I could get better. In rehab, addicts and alkys don't sugar-coat who we are by putting nicer labels on ourselves. So let's get real about the problem of poop and piss and stink on our streets, and in our public parks.

Secondly, stop bemoaning the "lack of leadership" by the Mayor. One person can only do so much, especially if they get no help from above -- where's the Governor in all this, or the State Legislature? -- or little support from the Honolulu City Council. They cut the Mayor's funding requests on the grounds that they disagree with specific priorities outlined by Caldwell, and worry there's not enough money in the budget to cover it. Really? Have they figured out the cost of NOT taking action? Have they calculated the loss of tax revenue from businesses that are hurting because residents and visitors alike steer clear of Chinatown or Waikiki because of the swelling homeless population?

We are talking about triage. Stop the bleeding now, do what it takes to show some tangible results as quickly as possible. When a hurricane hits or your house is on fire, you don't stop and say, well, given our current financial projections, let's calculate what we can afford to do to put out the fire or house those who were displaced by the flooding. You provide for the people who are impacted, and deal with the bills later. Nobody is telling the City Council to write a blank check. But they need to get off their butts, and do something NOW instead of dickering around with numbers while people are hurting, and our image as a world-famous visitor destination continues to suffer.

Lastly, no one owns the moral high ground on this. There are a lot of well-meaning folks who write letters and post blog comments that lambaste anyone who suggests some of the homeless are just lazy bums, drunks or drug addicts, or insolent rule-breakers who refuse to cooperate with authorities. The truth is many are homeless due to unfortunate circumstances. And many get there by making bad choices. God knows, had it not been for my company's health insurance plan, I might not have gotten into rehab and I could have wound up on the streets myself. I also know there are many people who are barely making ends meet, and are one or two paychecks away (or a single medical emergency) from facing the prospects of losing their home... so if they show little patience for those who put the blame on the high cost of housing in Hawaii, cut them some slack. We're all in that same boat.

It reminds me of a book I have mentioned before called "How To Be Good" by Nick Hornby. It's about decent people who begin to question just how "good" they really are as Christians and liberal-minded progressive types. The husband, who had been a cynical, cranky newspaper columnist, meets a New Age guru of sorts, and has an epiphany: instead of merely talking the talk, why don't they walk the walk and take in the homeless? Instead of being hypocrites, who look the other way and ignore the problem, why not share your house with these poor, down-on-their-luck souls? Maybe that's all they need -- a helping hand and support from caring people like yourself. Of course, his experiment in social engineering doesn't quite pan out as planned because the homeless have a myriad of issues, just as each and every one of us do.

So ask yourself, how far would you go to help the homeless? Online petitions, Facebook/Twitter reposts, letters to the editor, a donation here or there... nothing wrong with any of that. But unless you're literally willing to open your own home to the homeless, I'd say most of us fall far short of being the models of enlightened civility we like to imagine ourselves to be. At least, I know I do.

Chinatown Tour - Part 2

May 27th, 2014
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Before I resume my story about the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour, I wanted to share this comment on Part 1 from reader John Reid:

I hope the folks doing the Chinatown tour can find someone who can tell them about the strip bars next to and across the street from the Hawaii Theatre back in the 1980's (Club Darling which was next door on property that is now the park, and The Harbor Lounge located across the street that is now a French restaurant). Both of these were frequented often by a couple of local motorcycle clubs and have colorful histories. In addition, there was another straight bar down a small alley next to the theatre owned by Bill Mederios called the Alley Cat. They also don't want to leave out the site of the oldest bar in Honolulu, called the Pantheon over on Nuuanu and Bill Lederer's on Hotel Street where HPD has their Chinatown office. Visitors will also be interested in learning that live sex acts were performed in the basement of a building on the short street connecting Bethel Street to the Fort Street Mall called the Theatre of Venus. The then-president of the Devils Breed Motorcycle Club and his wife performed live sex in front of large crowds of Japanese visitors who were brought down in tour buses. This one was shut down by a prude prosecutor of the City and County of Honolulu. I was the owner and operator of Club Darling and the Harbor Lounge during most of the 1980's.

Interesting, huh? The current Honolulu Exposed tour focuses more on older history, but I'm going to pass along this info to the tour owners, Carter and Clinton. When I left off in the last installment, my wife had just returned from her search for a public restroom in Chinatown, and said: "Look who's here!"

I turn and see two guys I know -- local inventor, marketing maven, serial entrepreneur Mark Bell, who I've featured on my show three times (including his adaptation of the Scooter Cooler, which has had thousands of views on the CCTV YouTube Channel); and Kenny Kaminaka (also goes by Kurt or KK) who turned his house into the ArtZone, where aerial performances, plays and other works of art/entertainment have been staged. We did a segment on him way back in 2010, and KK is planning on building ArtZone 2 now. (Note: those are two older clips that were posted before YouTube allowed high def uploads, so they're kind of blurry.) Mark and Kenny were there with Alan Arato, who has been working with local concert producer/promoter Tom Moffatt for a long time and is a well-known entertainment producer in his own right.

The reason Mark bought the tour Groupons was those three are starting their own unique tour experience called Saving Paradise (here's their Facebook link) which, from what I understand, will be an interactive experience combining actors who portray characters, fun facts about Hawaii, food and drink. In effect, they were checking out the competition. But by the end of our tour, we were all talking about working together on one thing or another. That's what I love about living here. Being on a small island, where everybody knows each other or knows somebody who knows the person you don't know, there's a lot of collaboration. As I told Clinton and Carter, to succeed in Hawaii, you need to form partnerships with like-minded people.

Getting back to the homeless situation in Chinatown, I think we need that same kind of cooperation between private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. For the past three years, through the federally-funded Rescue & Restore program, I've been involved with the 808HALT.com coalition to address human trafficking in Hawaii. I've seen what can be accomplished when stakeholders from the private and public sectors, along with NGOs (non-government organizations) are brought together to share ideas, as well as resources. Homelessness is a social problem, but it's also an economic issue that needs to be tackled head on. It takes creativity too, and thinking outside the box -- or traditional public restroom model, for that matter.

For instance, in Europe I saw pay-for toilets with attendants who made sure the facilities were clean. Their presence also deterred vandalism. Why not build restrooms, staff them with unemployed homeless people who have been living in those areas, charge small fees for use of the facilities and put that money toward housing for the attendants, who are homeless? I've seen prototypes for housing trafficking victims that converts shipping containers into decent living quarters -- could that be part of the solution? I think it's going to take a variety of approaches, and some of those will fail. But we have to do something besides complain about it.

As for the tour itself, even though I've lived here since 1985, there were a lot of stories about Downtown Honolulu I had never heard before. Just walking along, looking up at the building facades while listening to Carter's entertaining talk, I noticed details I've missed all these years while hustling around to meetings (or bars back in my drinking days). Despite the lack of restrooms and the homeless problem, it's still worth taking the trip -- if nothing else, to remind ourselves what it's like seeing Chinatown through the eyes of visitors, who drive our economy for better or worse. What I saw was great potential amid the dirty faces and littered streets. There are new restaurants, shops, businesses springing up even as older ones shut down or move out after giving up the battle against crime and constant hassling by drug dealers/addicts/mentally-ill people. Ironically, things like tours and documentaries that recall Chinatown's darker side, could rally residents to save and preserve the best parts of the past while moving forward.

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Oh, one more coincidence: my wife and I were watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel last month, and who do we see walking into the Vegas shop with an item to sell -- Mark Bell! He offered them a test piece from Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, the mammoth wooden airplane that barely got off the ground before it was grounded for good. Asking price: $10,000. As it happens, Mark's dad worked for the famously reclusive tycoon, which is how he obtained the unusual wooden structural sample (click here for the Pawn Stars link or check out Oceanic Time Warner's entertainment on demand channel for that episode). In the end though, they only offered $200 so Mark took a walk. Still, it was cool to see him on one of the weird shows I regularly watch.

But wait, there's more! In Part 3, I'll tell you about what happened right after the tour and how the guy on this month's Hawaii Business magazine cover -- Small Business Person of the Year, Dave Erdman -- was responsible for introducing me to my wife, Isabel.

For daily viewing times and more info about my Career Changers TV show, which airs daily on OC16, please visit our website and click on the YouTube link to check out segments from past episodes.