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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 2, 2006

Reason trumped by hype

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

Just when you threw out the sticky bottle of Shpritz Forte that had languished in back of the bathroom cabinet and the cakey cake of Stagelight "midnight blue" eye shadow that was retired to the dusty bottom of your makeup tackle box, it's the Eighties all over again.

Same big talk, big ideas, big names. Same uncritical acceptance almost to the point of idol worship. Same starry-eyed sell-outs. Only this time, the role Chris Hemmeter originated is being played by Donald Trump.

But the fawning, the adoration of excess and the wholesale belief in hyperbole is the same as it ever was, to quote a song from the '80s.

When it was announced this week that Trump was putting his name on a new Outrigger hotel property on the west end of the Waikiki stretch, the news release from the developer contained a ready-for-publication quote from Honolulu's mayor:

"We are delighted to wel-come Mr. Trump and Iron-gate, whose shared vision will only further strengthen the drawing power of Waikiki."

Don't you hate when politicians sound so impressed?

The news release went on and on about Trump's vast Trump-ness: "In addition to being one of the largest developers and property managers in New York, Mr. Trump is currently building residential, hotel and golf projects in Las Vegas, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, the Caribbean, Winchester, N.Y., and Bedminster, N.J. He also continues to be active with numerous literary pursuits, charitable organizations and his worldwide number one hit reality television show, 'The Apprentice.' "

Everyone kind of forgot to mention that Bruddah D has filed for bankruptcy protection twice, most recently less than two years ago, in November 2004, seeking protection from creditors under Chapter 11 for his Trump Hotels and Casinos Inc.

And nobody could bring themselves to admit Donald Trump's name is synonymous not only with wealth, but with excess, pomposity and garishness.

But that would be like saying the emperor isn't wearing a pretty, pretty suit. And that goes against the 1980s aesthetic. One does not question the assertion of wealth. One only stands back with appreciation and awe.

The evidence of the New Eighties is not just Trump in Waikiki. It's the mega-mansion coming up on Kahala beach. It's Hale o Oprah on Maui. The Wall Street Journal had a story last week about a software mogul building his tropical Neverland estate (with remote-control toilets) on the Big Island.

Fine. Y'all want to ooh and squeal over a gaudy Tower d'Trump next to Fort DeRussy, you just go ahead. But when the place is quiet and cold after a couple of hyperbolic years like Hemmeter's monstrosities, don't pretend like nobody warned you. Not if you bought the hype, held up your lighter and screamed for more.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.