On a previous post, I noted that years ago I lobbied for creation of a “driveby beat” at The State — to have a reporter dedicated to answering people’s understandable curiosity about things they drove by and wondered about in the Midlands. It would have been a wonderful way to root the paper and readers solidly in the community, aside from telling people something they actually wanted, and occasionally perhaps even needed, to know.
Also, it would satisfy my own curiosity about a lot of things, which to my mind was, to a great extent, what reporters were for. There was always that.
Anyway, it never happened — although I saw that today, The State actually did have a story about what was going on at the State Fairgrounds, which I had driven by and wondered about just yesterday.
Anyway, when I brought it up, Burl Burlingame noted that he actually used to have such a beat, which was his idea (it must have been subliminal planted in both our brains at Radford High School) at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Here and here and here are some links.
And here’s an excerpt from his “Wat Dat” (I don’t think I’ll have to translate that pidgin for you) feature:
Somebody whose name we can’t read – but who does draw a nice map – was curious about a brown statue or chimney standing at the end of row of trees just north of the Mililani exit.
It is a statue, and it’s of a tree trunk, rising more than 30 feet above a circular grassy platform, which is in turn surrounded by a large gravel walkway, which is atop a tall wall – kind of a rounded ziggurat – which is accessed by a grand tile stairway, which is approached by carefully tended Japanese gardens, which are guarded by carefully repaired antique marble Chinese lions, which are flanked by enormous granite slabs, which cap hobbit-like stools and benches that seem to be made out of logs but are really cast cement, which are parked beneath a series of carefully tended trees, which have the names of local politicians inscribed upon signs at the foot of each.
This is one of the WatDatiest of WatDats to come along in some time!
The site is the local mission of the Honbushin Honbu, a Shinto religious sect with nearly a million followers, mostly in Japan. There is also a mission in China…
The “sculpture” is a koa log that seems to be protected by a coat of brown paint. It’s called “GENTEN,” which, translated from Japanese, means roughly “starting point” or “origin.”
The sculpture represents nature and the unity of hearts, religions and countries that work toward peace. Honbushin missionaries regularly gather around the genten and pray…
Of course, in Hawaii, the stuff you drive by and wonder about has a tendency to be slightly more exotic than what we have around here…