Getting paid to do what we love
By Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
Thank goodness it's Friday, and on this particular Friday, we here at The Honolulu Advertiser bid a fond farewell to TGIF, also known as The Great Index to Fun.
This is the final issue of The Advertiser's weekend entertainment and dining section and so, to commemorate the end, we have peered into the past to rediscover the TGIF moments that will forever remind us that we had the best jobs ever in the one of the best cities in the world.
I joined the TGIF team just over two years ago, and though that's nothing compared to the long and successful careers of many of my Advertiser colleagues (entertainment writer extraordinaire Wayne Harada has me beat by about four decades), I feel like it's been a much longer — and supremely rewarding — ride.
Here are a few highlights of my time spent as TGIF entertainment reporter:
Concert of a lifetime: My first assignment with the paper was to cover and review The Police concert in 2008. I was seriously beside myself, because, though I could never say so in my review, I love The Police. Like, love LOVE The Police. Like if I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, it would be The Police.So to not only go to the concert, but to get paid to do it? My editor could have fired me the next morning, and I would have considered my time at the paper a smashing success.
The write stuff: When the phone rang in a hotel room somewhere in Paris, and author and humorist David Sedaris answered,I almost lost my words, which is no way to start an interview with a word-savvy guy like Sedaris. Our 15-minute interview about his 2009 Honolulu appearance became a 90-minute chat fest, during which he delivered the most valuable quote of my 10-year career. While attempting to explain the creative writing process, Sedaris stopped short and said: "Well, you would know. You're a writer." Um, wait. What? Did the master of witty nonfiction just call ME a "writer"? Whoa. Lip service? Probably. The biggest ego boost ever? Definitely.
Hello? Click: Being hung up on by an angry Bill Cosby during an interview last year was such a shock, that I almost didn't call back. Forget this guy, I thought. I'll tell my editor he's not interested in talking, and we'll find someone else to write about. Better yet, I'll tell readers that Dr. Huxtable isn't all smiles and pudding pops. He was joking, of course. And as soon as I got over myself long enough to realize it, I called back and we talked for an hour. Well, he talked and I laughed. And yeah, he's all smiles and pudding pops.
Fine dining: On my first day in the newsroom, I was introduced to Wanda A. Adams, The Advertiser's venerable food writer and dining critic. I had been covering the dining scene for the Honolulu Weekly prior to starting at The Advertiser, and had assumed that my food-writing days were over because The Advertiser had all the food expertise it needed in Ms. Adams. I introduced myself, and having recognized my name, Wanda stood, hugged me and said: "Thank God! Another food critic. Now I'll have someone to help me cover dining."
I of course was elated, and didn't dare hope that I would in fact be given the chance to continue to cover the Honolulu dining scene. I should have known better than to doubt Wanda. I started writing about food almost immediately and haven't stopped since. We here at the TGIF even convinced our bosses to expand the dining section in the TGIF (because dining is in fact entertainment for many of us), and among our readers, it has become the most popular portion of the TGIF. About 90 percent of the reader feedback I receive via phone calls, e-mails, Twitter and letters is related to our food coverage.
Battle of the burgers: I once dared to say that The Counter in Kahala makes the best burgers on the island. That didn't go over very well with Kua'aina and Teddy's Bigger Burger fans, who felt that I was being disloyal to the local eateries by espousing my allegiance for a Mainland burger chain. To make amends, I gathered a few of my most opinionated burger critics to conduct a nonscientific blind tasting of five of the most beloved burgers on the island, and then choose their favorite. The Counter came out on top. But that's not why I like this story (OK, that's partly why I like this story — vindication IS pretty great). I like this story because of you, dear readers. The assignment was a rare opportunity for me to clock some quality interaction time with you. We're so busy covering this bar opening and that big concert, that we sometimes forget that the reason we do what we do is because of you.
Black and white and read all over: The brightest highlight of my career comes in recurring daily doses in the form of phone calls, e-mails and letters from you, our readers. To take a few moments of your valuable time to share with me your take, however critical or laudatory, on my work, is humbling. Today, as I delete months' worth of your old e-mails, as I clear out phone messages you've left me, as I make one last trip to my office mailbox, there's one thing I will always remember about my much-too-brief run at The Honolulu Advertiser: We got to be here because you let us. Thank you for reading.
Follow Kawehi Haug on Twitter @kawehi.