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November 2008 Archives

princess_kaiulani.jpg Hawaii's earliest hope.

6 p.m. Nov. 29---When my friend Ellen Byrne heard I was going to Hawaii she offered to paint me up a portrait of Princess Kaiulani. The Princess was known as "Hope of Hawaii" in 1893 before she lost her Royal birthright when American interests overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.
Which Bush was in charge back then?
The Princess--Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn---was educated in Britain and a pal of Robert Louis Stevenson. The Baltimore-based Byrne gives the Princess a regal look set in lush green with a whimsical gecko on her left shoulder. (www.ellenbyrne.com)
It gives a touch of tropical class to my Ukranian Village Tiki Bar......

Places I've Visited

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12:14 a.m. Nov. 19
This is something to do on a cold night in Chicago......

Aloha Hawaii!

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Hans L'Orange.jpg Play ball! Sunset in Waipau, Oahu

8 a,m, (local) Nov. 14----
HONOLULU, HAWAII---When I have been on a good trip I buy local artwork to bookmark my memories. There was something spiritual about the primitive Ellen Byrne folk art painting I purchased during my recent visit to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md. I thought the faux-Frieda Kahlo in a jungle with a monkey around her arm would be a perfect accent to my home Tiki bar. Byrne made the acrylic painting on a lightweight tray she picked up in a craft store.
The painting turned out to be more than that,
I was also planning my first trip to Hawaii. I would watch Winter League baseball, maybe learn how to surf and see rainbows. A real vacation. During a spare moment last week I did some research on Byrne.
Turns out she grew up in the Manoa Valley section of Honolulu between 1956 and 1961.........

Visionary Art

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image[1].jpg Clowning around with Chicagoan Ted Frankel at his Sideshow gift shop in Baltimore.

5:15 p.m. Nov. 7--

BALTIMORE, Md.----I liked the American Visionary Art Museum (AMVA) from the jump when I bumped into the Arthur Clarke epitaph in the first floor gallery: "He never grew up, but he never stopped growing."
Been there, accused of that.
The quote is part of the dedication of "The Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy" exhibit up through Sept. 6, 2009.
The exhibition incorporates the works of more than 100 visionary artists/scientists/inventors who address the core values of light, color, sound, pattern and number. It reminded me of a good night at the Fillmore West in San Francisco........

So long Captain Tony

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Obit Tarracino.jpg Blue skies forever

Originally published April 25, 2007
Updated Nov. 3, 2008

Capt. Tony Tarracino died Nov. 1 after being hospitalized about a week with a heart and lung condition, according his wife Mary. "He loved Key West and everyone here," she told the AP. "I've heard him called the conscience of Key West." Tony was 92.
Tony was one of my first portals into Key West during my visits in the 1980s. My pal Jimmy Buffett sang about Tony's exploits in "Last Mango in Paris," from the 1985 album of the same name. Here's an edited blog from the last time I saw Tony. He was hanging around the bar even though he had sold it in 1989. I'm glad I wrote it down:

Capt. Tony Tarracino is 90 years old.
A couple nights a week he still holds court behind a large tip jar at Captain Tony's Saloon, the original Sloppy Joe's at 428 Greene St. [During Ernest Hemingway's 1930s Key West years, this was the building he adjourned to after a day of writing.]
The tip jar is always full because Capt. Tony's stories are priceless.
Capt. Tony hitchiked to Key West in 1947 with $12 and a penchant for 7 come 11. A fierce gambler, Capt. Tony was running from the New Jersey mob. When I started visiting Key West regularly in the early 1980s, Capt. Tony gave me gambling tips at the old greyhound race track on Stock Island.

He was a shrimper and captain of a charter boat called "Greyhound." He was a caretaker for Tennesee Williams' monkeys. Capt. Tony participated in the Haitian invasion in the mid-1960s and the Bay of Pigs rescue. Stuart Whitman portrayed Capt. Tony in the 1980 movie "The Cuba Crossing." He ran for Key West mayor five times--one of his failed campaigns was managed by Jimmy Buffett. Capt. Tony finally was elected mayor in 1989. He has called his two-year term "the greatest two years of my life.".............
About a week ago I was on a freelance assignment in Key West, Fla.
I needed to find Capt. Tony, who is arguably the city's most beloved resident.........

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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