If you grew up in the Hawaii of the 1940s and ‘50s, you likely will remember something commonly called the slop can, where your family dumped their kitchen discards.

This was an era where most households didn’t yet have garbage disposals in their kitchens.

So “wet” garbage, like soups and kitchen debris, like carrot shavings, cabbage cores, pineapple skins and orange and banana peels, had to be disposed somewhere.

Garbage destined for the slop can.

This also was a time where there were no oversized plastic garbage bags – or composting in the backyard – to conveniently dispose these food remnants.

Enter, the slop cans. Or in local lingo, “buta kau kau,” literally pig food. Gross? Yes, but it was part of everyday life.

Most homes had a slop can outside their kitchen door. The canister was a rectangular-shaped can, likely the kind of container for oils and other liquids, with an open top, where garbage would be disposed. A wooden cover was necessary, to keep flies and bugs and even feral cats and dogs from seeking the remnants of discarded food. And a bucket-type handle was necessary, to lift the can and contents.

 I remember having that duty to bring out the daily veggie and fruit stuff and even chicken and rib bones. I recall, too, that slop had a sickly sour odor, and you made sure you didn’t allow seepage.

This messy load would be picked up once a week, like the rubbish vehicles hauling away other throw-aways.  The slop was destined to rural pig farms in Waimanalo, Kahala (before the luxury homes were erected), and other farming zones. The thought that slop could be food for pork that we’d eventually buy and eat was unimaginable.

As garbage disposals became prevalent and vital, not merely for convenience but for health reasons, the slop can happily became history.

Till today, we don’t toss stuff like fish or steak or pork chop bones into the disposal; we place ‘em in produce bags from food stores and dispose in the gray bins for waste collections once a week.


Just asking:

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day, by surprising your spouse or significant other, with a gift?

The same question might apply to your birthdays.

Sure, a sweet gift is not  unwelcome.

But when you’ve been married for more than five decades, to give or not to give is not an issue.

We’ll go out for dinner on these milestone occasions, but an actual gift is not longer part of our lives.

 Some time ago, my wife and I decided that saving on ungifting meant we’d be able to splurge on vacations and trips. But the pandemic put a lid on our travels – we had a pair of one-night staycations in the past three years,  one in Hilo, one in Waikiki – so we’re aiming for a trip to New York sometime this year.

If and when that happens, it will be a mutual gift we’ll be happy to spend on.

What say you?


So you must know that Zippy’s Hawaii Kai will shut down its dining room with last meals served on Feb. 5. The take-out counter will continue, possibly through the end of this year.

But it’ll be a sad day when the Zippy’s in my East Oahu community closes its doors.

The location, formerly Castagnola’s, is the chain’s only restaurant boasting a spectacular marina view. Daytime, boats and ducks share the watery view, and nights without moons enable the businesses across the way provide twinkling lights.

It’s not magical, but it’s been a precious location for family meals, take-out, and breakfasts with friends and allies. But location isn’t a factor in the closure. There are several issues at stake.The senior discount cards/program, which provided 10 per cent discounts for everything, from table meals to carry-out, party platters and birthday cakes, though not for special orders like Thanksgiving turkeys. It was a popular promotion, but perhaps too popular, eating into the bottom line: profits.

Zippy’s crispy fried chicken

The issues at Hawaii Kai are understandable. The restaurant can’t find workers/servers and two but seldom three servers usually have to seat folks, get and place orders, serve the meals, sometimes do table bussing work, too. And deliver the check, too. Sometimes only two diners are waiting to be seated; 20 minutes later, there may be 10 or 12, and it’s not surprising that a party or two or four walk out because no one pays attention to the back-up.

The exterior is deteriorating, losing its glory day looks; the dining room was tuned up with plexiglas, a sign of the pandemic. But inside story is plain and simple: business is way down, food prices have risen, and marina views no longer are cherished.

What I’ll miss: the fried chicken, with its crispy skin;  the Zip-Min or the wun ton min, with generous extras like the eggs, and char siu, and the Napoleon Bakery’s  Napples. I assume the bakery, next to and part of the dine-out windows, will linger, and limp along without the declining walk-ins at the dining room.

What’s also been great: You can order your coffee and eggs-and-meat combos or pancakes and waffles, made fresh, and patter and chatter will include coffee re-fills. Elsewhere, the eateries still open for three meals a day, don’t appreciate your over-stays because they need the turnaround business.

The glory days at Zippy’s Hawaii, at the Koko Marina Shopping Center

I still patronize the restaurant, particularly after an early movie visit at the Koko Marina film complex. I fear that the theaters could shut down, too, with fewer and fewer turning out to watch a movie on a big screen. A blockbuster helps fills the corridors on opening night, but otherwise, you don’t see folks bustling to their seats. Streaming at home could be a culprit, ‘cuz there’ve been times when my wife and I are the lone souls watching a new movie. But that’s another story for another time.

Zippy’s management has not provided vital support for more hands on deck, or tending to reports of the air-conditioning going down and other ills of running a restaurant. Zippy’s Hawaii Kai ran out of printed menus in the last weeks of operations, and refills were not provided since the closure was near.

The restaurant had a special-area bar, which shut down years ago, and when business was brisk, it provided overflow space for diners. During the pandemic, that site was supposed to be an employee lounge, but only once did I see a worker actually in that dark and unfriendly room. At one time, Rotarians booked it for monthly luncheon meetings, but no more.

Wait staff has mentioned the restaurant wanted to pare down its lease rent with the shopping center; no one has confirmed or denied.

Since there’s no knowledge if Zippy’s still has to pay for the vacant dining room, in the months ahead, or even if there might be a turnabout and change of plans and a future reopening decision. Perhaps the community needs to rally and sound off, but also put its money where the mouth is … and dine in, like the old days.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, down the street on Kalanianaole Highway, Roy’s Restaurant – which recently marked its 35th anniversary and survived the devastating decline of business during the pandemic – has sorta become my neighborhood restaurant. Yes, it’s many steps above Zippy’s, and costlier to dine there. No,  there’s no breakfast service but I’ll drive to Zippy’s Kahala. But I don’t want Roy Yamaguchi to close his flagship restaurant. …

Oldies and still goodies

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will concertize at 8 p.m. March 18 at the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell. But Valli will be the lone voice in the Broadway musical that depicted the original “Jersey Boys.”

Frankie Valii

The popular foursome in the hit Broadway musical explored the life and times of Valli and his buddies. The act, of course, concocted such hit songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” and “Bye Bye Baby.”

The original Seasons, led by Valli, were Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. Over the years, other singers-musicians provided the music and vocal harmonies to support Valli’s trademark high notes …

The Doobie Brothers are also booked for a show at 7:30 p.m. May 5  at the Waikiki Shell.

This rock-and-soul group has produced such best-sellers as “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to the Street,” “What a Fool Believes,”and  “Long Train Running.”

The Doobies include Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John Hartman . …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Cleaning up some files today, I came across a small collection of notecards I created, to thank the cast of “Les Miserables,” which was a wowser and rouser at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College in October, 2013.

This production likely to be Hawaii’s most astonishing accomplishment in local theater, directed, of course, by the late and legendary Ron Bright. It was Mr. B’s favorite show, part of a bucket-list of shows he wanted to do; “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon,” which he also directed with his impeccable touch, completing his wish list.

The cast of “Les Miserables,” at Paliku Theatre, in October, 2013.

The notecards – in the shape of T-shirts – depict a Cosette-in-Hawaii motif.  The cards were meant to commemorate and thank the cast and crew of this stupendous show; and yes, did enough cards so each performer and techie received one on opening night

See, in many tour stops made by the official touring company of “Les Miz,” the iconic child that is the symbol of this enduring Broadway and London show, takes on the flavor of the city being visited. In Canada, Cosette had a flag with a maple leaf; in France, the French flag gets prime time; in Scotland, she might don a kilt. In Hawaii, it’s a hula skirt. And so on.

I took some liberties, borrowing the Cosette image and adding a local element. For one card, “Lei Miz” was the subtitle, because she was wearing a lei. In another, she is in hula pose, so I labeled it as “Lovely (Hula) Lady,” borrowing a tune from the show. The third card depicts Cosette with a surfboard and donning sunglasses, and an apt title: “Catch the waif.”  This was an official authorized trademarked image the first time the show played here.

Four specimens of the “Les Miz” noted cards gifted to the cast and crew.

I gave the images a splash of color, and each Cosette wears a hibiscus in her hair. Lei color varied, but red and yellow were prevalent, as I recall.

The show – loaded with music that speaks to a generation of theater players – featured a protagonist who delivers one of blockbuster ballads (“Bring Him Home”), neither he nor the song is promoted in the “Les Miz” annals.

So, I thought Jean Valjean’s prisoner number would be a code to his valor and vigor; did a limited number of cards that simply addressed his numbers: 24601

On the back of the T-shirt card, I expressed my appreciation for a job well done. And borrowed that show’s most quoted line: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

This expression of dedication and performance — the core of theatrical life — inspired Mr. B’s family and followers to create the I’m a Bright Kid Foundation to preserve and perpetuate his enduring spirit and inspiration. The journey continues.


Just asking…

Wondering if today’s kids play the string-based game called Cat’s Cradle anymore?

When I was growing up time – back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth – everyone engaged in this simple but complex game, where a long, knotted string – we used to use those slightly thicker cords, in lieu of weaker thread-like strings for crocheting – is placed on both bands, and different motifs are formed.

More girls than boys played this string game.

The task can involve four hands, and even six, at a higher level of complication.

The string can be placed from one hand to another, with fingers taking over, leading up to somewhat tricky configurations.

Online books and video – not a visual tool, back in the day – now demonstrate what and how the cradle can stimulate fun and competition, without actual toys or action figures or iPads.

The string’s the thing.