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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, October 31, 2009

DeLima ditty has 'serious message'

By Wayne Harada
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Frank DeLima

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Comedian Frank DeLima, whose Friday school visitations have been pre-empted by "furlough Fridays," has written parody lyrics to the tune of "Day-O," lamenting school closures caused by the state budget shortfall.

"Furlough Day," with the refrain "Friday come and we gotta stay home," could become the unofficial anthem of the disruption to the school year.It's been aired on KSSK radio and can be downloaded, for a donation, from www.frankdelima.com. DeLima said he recorded the song on Thursday and e-mailed it yesterday.

"It's a way of making light of a serious situation as a way to help people deal with the issue of furloughs," DeLima said. "Instead of less time in our schools, students need more time in school."

Yesterday was the second of 17 furlough Fridays kicked off last week as a way to bridge a burgeoning budget gap.

"I have been wanting to do a song about the furlough days for a while but could not come up with a tune that everyoneknew but was not obvious. Just last Friday, the first furlough day, I finally got inspired," DeLima said of the traditional Jamaican folk song made popular by singer Harry Belafonte's 1956 recording.

David Kauahikaua, a recording industry wizard, who also is member of DeLima's Na Kolohe group, tweaked and recorded the novelty tune, complete with singing chorus.

Since 1985, DeLima has been visiting schools taking a message of staying in school, the importance of family and humor with his Frank DeLima Student Enrichment Program, a nonprofit organization. While the message each year remains the same, this year DeLima is focusing his 20-minute speeches on studying hard, getting the job at hand done well and following the rules.

It usually takes DeLima two years to go to every elementary and middle school throughout the state. Many of his visits, however, have had to be canceled because of the furlough days. On Monday, according to DeLima's Web site, he'll be at Hahaione Elementary School.

"It's a positive mechanism to bring about awareness," said Dineh Davis, a University of Hawaii communications professor. "He (DeLima) spends a lot of time getting kids to stay in school so he's qualified to take the chance to bring awareness. The song has a child-like quality, that if anything, puts him in the child's viewpoint. And they're the most voiceless in the whole community."

DeLima continues to be the vox populi with this parody, which he penned with lyricist Patrick Downes. In the past, they created novelties to popular songs that reflected the consciousness of the citizenry. Remember the Rainbow Warriors' tune for the 2008 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and that "bad day" earthquake that darkened the state a couple of years ago?

"He has a light heart, but a strong conviction," Davis said. "There's clearly a serious message in there."

By itself, the song may not bring about much change, but it can raise awareness, said Nevzat Soguk, a UHprofessor of political science.

"It has the potential to create a snowball effect," Soguk said. "We will see what happens in the days to come. DeLima's song is a humorous way of restating the perils already effecting the community and the perils ahead."