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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

A mixed plate of neighbors

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

How much do neighbors matter? How much does appearance count? If you have the most perfect house on the street, the one with the golf-course grass, the hotel-style planter of laua'e ferns and the no leaves/no paint splatters/no oil spots driveway, how much do you worry about the bus'-up house next door, the one with the 4-foot-high buffalo grass, the Chevy up on blocks, the rotten plastic kiddie pool and the river of used motor oil flowing from the garage to the storm drain? Does it rub off? Is your Eden somehow tainted by association?

I think about such things whenever I drive on Kapi'olani Boulevard, which is just about every day. The stretch of Kapi'olani between Pi'ikoi and Kalakaua is full of neighbors that so sharply contrast each other that it seems like a Hollywood set designer might have dreamed it up for some sort of broad comedy.

I love the way 24-Hour Fitness is sandwiched between Papa John's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts, not to mention Tai Pan restaurant right next door. It's not only a major act of willpower to get to the gym — it's a journey of courage to get past all the calories on the way out.

Across the street from the health club is the oddly named Virus nightclub.

Further 'ewa down the way, the dance students of Hawaii State Ballet practice in a studio just above Club Wild Tiger, which advertises its employment of "exotic dancers" in the window. From the street, you can see the tops of the ballet dancers' heads in the windows upstairs as they stand at the barre. Luckily, you can't see the other dancers at the other bar.

And now that campaign season is upon us, Kapi'olani is sporting the most curious next-door neighbors of all.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Case has just opened his campaign headquarters next door to the campaign headquarters for Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dalton Tanonaka. I wonder if they exchange casseroles? Every Thursday, Tanonaka's place hosts a coffee-hour/karaoke party affectionately dubbed "Club Tano-

aka," which I suppose helps them blend with the other businesses in the area with names that start with "Club."

And speaking of, in case you haven't noticed, guess who moved in next door to perhaps the most infamous strip joint in town, Club Rock-Za?

Mazie Hirono.

No, really. Hirono's campaign headquarters practically shares a wall with Rock-Za. (There's the tiniest sliver of separation between the buildings, so they're not actually TOUCHING.)

It's prime real estate right there across from the convention center in the very busy intersection of Kapi'olani and Kalakaua. The rationale behind renting that space for a campaign office is obvious. Plus, the red-and-blue neon lights outside the nightclub match perfectly with Hirono's red-and-blue campaign signs.

Does it matter? Probably not. But it's still funny.

Reach Lee Cataluna at 535-8172.