Issue 7: Taboo

Published July 2011

In this issue, we delve into stories that hold sacred meaning to Hawai‘i, broaching subject matter that may be considered forbidden.

Derived from the Tongan word tabu or tapu and the Hawaiian kapu, “taboo” is deeply rooted in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. On one hand, it refers to the idea of something being forbidden because it is sacred, to be held in high respect and esteem; on the other, it refers to something being forbidden because it is abhorrent, looked down upon by all members of society. There is such an idea as universal taboo, acts which are so vile you would think everyone to be opposed (i.e. murder, incest, cannibalism, rape), but culture – and human nature – dictates differently.

We are not endorsing or condoning any of the ideas put forth in this issue, but simply presenting topics that are weaved into our cultural heritage. Regardless of whether or not you agree with these practices, these are the experiences that have and will continue to infuse our everyday, some new (as in the case of graffiti’s resurgence as a tool for social change), some old (as in cock fighting’s plantation era history) and some really old (as in ancestral and genealogical kapu dating back to the days of Kamehameha).

The cover for this issue bears no images, and it was deliberately done so, because for most, taboo is relative. We will not find common ground with 100 percent of the people, 100 percent of the time. We will disagree. One person’s act of beautification may be another’s desecration; a lifestyle choice made by one may completely disagree with that of another. Still we must find ways to respect and care for one another. Because that is the only certainly, and one that’s truly Hawaiian. Enjoy. Lisa Yamada Publisher/Editor



Pakalolo Purveyors

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Growing and selling marijuana is lucrative business, but is it worth the risk? Jade Eckardt takes an inside look at Hawai‘i’s illegal cannibis market, and how it has been affected by the legalization of medical marijuana and the ever-changing drug market. A series of locked doors lead to a room cluttered with small, cloned marijuana plants. A 60[...]

Chicken Fight

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The macabre, bloody fun of country gambling *Name has been changed to protect identity. Of all the creatures we have domesticated, we disport with chickens the most cruelly. Last year an odd resolution in the State House of Representatives that would have honored cockfights as a “cultural activity,” brought out the most entertaining testimony of t[...]

Homegrown Contemporary: Artist Keith Tallett

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Portrait by Aaron Yoshino Art image by Sally Lundburg The Honolulu Academy of Arts is tranquil at eleven o’clock in the morning when I meet artist Keith Tallett. He is tall, sports a shaved head, and his attire – a black graphic T-shirt, colorful surf shorts and Reef slippers – throws me off for a second. We trade pleasantries and jet towards the gal[...]

Perpetual Reflections: Upcoming Exhibition at GOHA

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A Gallery of Hawai‘i Artists group show examining the theme of "identity" opens this Friday, September 16. Images by John Hook. Kirsten Rae Simonsen, one of the eight exhibiting artists at GOHA's upcoming group show Perpetual Reflections. Despite the jarringly skimpy state of Hawai‘i’s economy, where art is booming but funds aren’t necessarily, there are a[...]

Puttin' in Work

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Aloha wear takes its place in the global fashion market. [sidebar] In Hawai‘i, aloha shirts and slippers are as commonplace as spam musubi and shakas. Outside of the islands, the “Hawaiian shirt” and “flip flops” are more synonymous with pop culture references to Magnum P.I., casual Fridays at the office, and thongs you wear in the shower at hotels. The a[...]

Water Writes Hawaii Video Recap

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Water Writes: Hawaii from Banzai Media, LLC on Vimeo. Here's a beautifully shot video on Estria Foundation's Water Writes project in Honolulu, with a full explanation by Estria Miyashiro breaking down the mural. View our interview with Earthjustice's Kapua Sproat and Isaac Moriwake about water rights issues in Hawai‘i HERE. Then check out the full [...]

Pacifica Incognito

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Living in Hawai‘i, we think of ourselves as being well-connected to our Pacific Rim neighbors. At least half of us have family roots in Pacific islands or Asia yet...
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