Hawaii, Boston, and being a Haole

The last time we left my brother Jordan he was giving us his final thoughts on the LOST finale.

If you’re new to the blog, Jordan and I ruminated on LOST every week during the last few years of its run. It was one of my favorite features here on the blog. You can also read my final thoughts on the LOST finale, which to this day is the most Retweeted thing I’ve ever written.


I wanted to have Jordan back on the blog to talk about what it was like to live in Hawaii for 6 months, what Boston is like these days, and what Hawaiian people call you if you look like a white tourist, so here’s a quick Q&A we did for you.

Bryan:┬áSo Jordan, we’re 3 months removed from the LOST series finale. Have you thought about it much since it aired? When you think about it do you wish it was still on or are you okay that it’s over?

Jordan: I do think about it from time to time, usually I just look forward to watching the entire series again. Thats when I’ll really start trying to piece things together as well. Now when I think back on LOST I just think about how enjoyable it was and how remarkably the writers crafted that story.

Speaking of LOST, you spent about 6 months living in Hawaii last fall/winter. What are 3 things you could tell us about living in Hawaii that we might not know?

One thing that I was not prepared for was the condition of Honolulu. I had heard that it was like most major US cities but I didn’t really know what that meant apart from expecting to see McDonalds and Starbucks. The reality of the city is that there is a huge homeless population, and a large percentage of the homeless are doing crystal method which is a terribly dangerous drug. Waikiki is kept nice and clean for the tourists, but the rest of Honolulu is dirty, smelly, and overrun with homeless.

Something that I liked about Hawaii was the general laid back attitude everyone has. Sure you might have already heard that about Hawaii, but this is more than just people chilling on the beach. Even the laws are more relaxed to fit the mood. There are no laws about riding in the back of pickup trucks, you can go into almost any store with no shirt and no shoes on, everyone seems to be very content and pleasant.

However, a third thing I learned about Hawaii from living there was that they aren’t always so willing to accept you into their homeland. The islanders will call you “Haole” (howl-ee) if they can tell that you are from the mainland, and they might shout something at you if they see you behaving incorrectly. I never saw it go any further than that, but I have heard many stories about Haole’s ending up in the wrong part of town and paying the price for it. As long as you are respectful, and approach strangers with a smile and a wave, you should be in the clear.

What was the food like in Hawaii? Did you have to adjust your eating habits/preferences to fit in there?

I didn’t have to adjust much to eating there. They have pretty much whatever you’d want to eat, especially in Honolulu. Since the Polynesian Islands and Japan are some of the closest land masses, there are a lot of rice and noodle dishes wherever you go. Most restaurants that you see are Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, there are actually very few places where you can get authentic Hawaiian food.

You’re back living in Boston now, which is where you lived before you moved to Hawaii. How did your perspective on living in Beantown change pre and post-Hawaii?

Well when I was leaving Boston, I wasn’t ready to move on per se. I just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to live in Hawaii, so in the back of my mind I thought that I might move back to Boston when I was ready to leave the island. While I was in Hawaii, one of the things that I missed most about Boston was the sense of community that I had there. I work at a very popular bagel shop and any time I walk around I see a few familiar faces and get to stop and chat with the acquaintances I’ve made and served breakfast or lunch to. That was something I knew coming back that I would enjoy.

Anything specific you can think of about living in Boston that you’d never know if you didn’t live there?

I never realized how small the city was until I lived here and experienced it for myself. Like I said I can’t walk around without seeing people I know. The streets are more confusing than say, New York where they utilized the grid pattern. In turn, the train system is a tad confusing as well, with the green line having four separate lines, not to mention the buses. You should really get some kind of map of the public transportation routes if you were planning on coming to the city and using them right away.

Speaking of, if any of my readers are thinking about making their first trip up to Boston to check out the town, what’s some advice you can give them to make it an enjoyable trip?

If you want to do the touristy bit, and check out the historic landmarks, there is this self-tour down town where you just follow this line of colored bricks on the ground and it takes you through specific areas that have signs with the historical information on them. Sometimes there are guides as well. Depending on the time of year you could catch a Sox game at Fenway or a sporting event at one of the many colleges in the area.

If music is your thing there is a ton of that to check out as well. The House of Blues is right across the street from Fenway, and if you head down Comm. Ave for a minute or two you’ll drive right by the Paradise Rock Club that has been putting on great shows for decades now. If you are really brave you can keep driving down Comm. until you get to Allston and chances are there is a basement close by that is having a house show that’ll rock your socks right off.

There’s the Arboretum for the nature lovers, Newbury street for you shopaholics, I could go on and on. Safe to say that there is something for just about anyone. I’m not saying it is a perfect city by any means, but I do love it. And if you ever get the chance to hop over the Charles River, you should really walk around Cambridge, especially Harvard Square. It’s a beautiful area with a lot of culture and history. It is probably my favorite spot to go just to walk around.

In the last 5 years you’ve lived in MA, PA, and HI. Does the experience of living in a few different states make you want to see what else is out there, or does it make you want to settle down where you are for a while?

That’s a good question. It does make me want to get out there and see more places that I’ve never seen. At the same time, being in a new place always makes me appreciate coming home a lot more as well. So I’d say it is a good balance of those two. Being away from home makes me want to come back for a while to think of a new place to go and visit.

Rumor has it you’re playing bass in a country band these days, which came as a shock to me because 3 years ago you were listening to mostly rap and didn’t know how to play a guitar. Tell us more about that.

Yeah well about two years ago I picked up the guitar because I thought I had too much free time and got tired of playing video games. It has been a very rewarding experience and now I would put playing music in my shortlist of favorite things to do. I only started playing bass a few months ago but after playing guitar for a while it was very easy to pick up and start playing along. One of my good friends writes some great tunes and has a little band together but needed someone to play bass, so he asked me and we’ve been practicing for about a month.

Country music isn’t really my cup of tea, but this particular brand of country is a lot more interesting to me. We’ve got an accoridon and mandolin in the band so it gives some interesting musical textures, and the lyrics are great and thats something I care about in music so yeah, its a lot of fun.

If you’ve got a question for Jordan about Hawaii, Boston, bagels, music, growing up in the same house as my schnoz, or the inner workings of your troubled relationships, leave it in the comments and I’m sure he’ll be happy to make up an answer.

Otherwise, enjoy this pic of Jordan and I from my wedding day back in 1999.

Thanks for playing along Jordan, we’ll have you back on the blog again soon!