Author Archives: Adam Bencze

Molokai’s Earth Day offers something for everyone

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Plant giveaway, face painting, and music keep 12-year old event livelier than ever.

but at the end of the day on the friendly isle, Aloha is always everyone’s favorite talking point.

Pono at Home

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Your guide to fighting the cost of living on Molokai with eco-friendly solutions


Ho’olehua Does a Milan Turn for Ohana Night at MHS

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Ho’olehua Does a Milan Turn for Ohana Night at MHS


The great Earth Day meat giveaway

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

In a shadowy room on the outskirts of Kaunakakai, the plan was hatched: they would serve up fresh meat from the hills of Molokai…but without the help of a state certified kitchen!!!

The Molokai Hunters Association would like to show the public why they’re so fond of Molokai’s hunting grounds. They had planned to throw a free barbeque for the public, passing out samples of venison and pork at The Nature Conservancy’s Earth Day Celebration on April 13. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), however, informed the hunters that if they will be making meat available for public consumption it would have to be prepared in a state-certified kitchen.

Embroiled in mistrustful loggerheads for months now over TNC’s decision to hire off-island hunters to come and thin the island’s undulate (pig, deer, and goat) populations which are accelerating hillside erosion and reef devastation, hunters say that TNC is trying to limit their visibility by dissuading them from interacting with the public.

Don’t sell the bike shop, Vic Pickles

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Bizarre Seattle ska-comedy sensation Nigel Mustafa rolled into Paddlers’ Inn on Friday and Saturday night to promote their disc Rankle Dankle Fish With Hands to half full houses of confused onlookers. The foursome, who finished their tour of Hawaii on Molokai played mostly original material but did play some comedy standards like the fish heads song made popular in the 80’s by Saturday Night Live.

Nigel Mustafa are Neck (guitars), Hung Lo (drums), Fok Chu-Mang (bass), and lead vocalist Vic Pickles, who plays all manner of brass instruments as well as clarinet, guitar, and banjo. The foursome, who bill their unique blend of ska, space-rock, and country music as avant-‘tard, aren’t your average comedy band; unlike many comedy acts who court the Dr Demento audience with jokes simply set to music, Mustafa’s instrumental prowess and style range is quite clear. On some songs, in fact, they even managed to sound Zappa-esque.

The problem is not music ability or even songwriting per se- ignoring the infantile lyrics, there is a certain toe-tapability to the band’s goove- the problem is that the live act relies on audience involvement. Many bands can play to an empty house and sound as good or better than if the place were crowded, but Nigel Mustafa are simply too goofy for that to be a possibility. After all, the only thing more awkward than hearing songs about a mythic “Rasta Ninja” or about parts of the bands’ anatomy is experiencing Vic Pickles doing his musical-equivalent Carrot-top turn of pulling out various big band instruments and belching into the mike in a near-vacuum of audience involvement.

The band is talented, but lacks the comedy niche that other comedy acts- Tenacious D, Mojo Nixon, Weird Al Yankovic- have carved out for themselves. Mustafa’s self-professed avant-‘tard style is perhaps better characterized as Ritalin rock, and it’s subject matter is too unfocused to go beyond satisfying a small group of listeners’ comedy fetish.

Unfortunately, then, the best I can say for Nigel Mustafa is that they could throw a truly entertaining live show for the right audience- a young at heart, highly inebriated audience- and possibly be stalwarts of the college campus scene. Until they either ditch the absurd songs or find an untapped comedy identity, Nigel Mustafa is destined to keep bewildering audiences in local taverns across America.

Molokai Air Shuttle halts service after 40 years in the air

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Regional flyer forced to close because of FAA scheduling ruling


PHOTO CAPTION: Hank Younge in his Honolulu office with his back to the tarmac and one of his fleet of green-tailed planes. The end of an era?

Molokai Activists Support Taro Bill with rally in Honolulu

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

State lawmakers stall GMO Taro moratorium bill


CAPTION: Walter Ritte, answering questions from reporters in front of the State Capitol Building in Honolulu before leading an anti-GMO rally: "The Hawaiians have not given their permission for scientist to modify the genes of their first-born Haloa, the taro."

Humane Society Sweats It Out

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Humane Society Sweats It Out

“Whoa! This one’s a biter- he gets sedated,” says visiting veterinarian Dr Brian Baumgard as he yanks his hand away from the gnashing teeth of a dog with a stick lodged in its upper throat. “I don’t need a dog bite to compound this heat exhaustion.”

Dr Baumgard is one of three animal doctors- the others being Dr Eileen Nauman and veterinary student Leticia Lopez- who were visiting the island as part of the Molokai Humane Society’s monthly veterinary clinic at their makeshift facility in Julie Cohelo’s house. Over 30 pets were brought to see the two vets on a sweltering thursday, who worked tirelessly to spay, neuter, and perform necessary operations and checkups on the rising tide of feral cats and unfixed dogs which have accumulated on Molokai this year.

Molokai Humane Society has a problem, unfortunately; their status is dropping to ‘homeless’ from it’s current toehold on ‘couch surfer’ because they are losing their makeshift facility at the Cohelo residence in September.

“Julie has been very generous for donating her home and time over the years and really, the community has been quite supportive whenever we have asked for anything,” says Humane Society volunteer Don Hill, “which gets me thinking- maybe we should ask for more stuff!”

That the Molokai Humane Society is not loudly demanding ‘more stuff’- a permanent facility and funding for a veterinarian, for example- is really a credit to their ‘can-do attitude’. The weekly clinic operates off of the Humane Society’s regular budget and a sporadic influx of donated money, medicine, syringes and other tools, and volunteer time. Since Dr Nauman began making her weekly visits in November 2005, the Molokai Humane Society has been able to perform over 250 sterilizations (spaying or neutering), which includes an 8 week period when Nauman broke her leg and was unable to visit.

“(A sterilization) costs the pet owner $10, the Humane Society pays about $70 or $80 per pet, so we think it’s a worthwhile service”, says Hill, grateful for a break on a hot day. “These are domestic animals- they are only here because we want them around. We’d like a permanent home (for the Humane Society) but that’s out of my hands.”

A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Fire response time to west Molokai upwards of half an hour.


West-end residents Suzy and Jay Wakefield (center and right) have been on a mission for three years: to get a fully-functioning fire station for West Molokai.

The Wakefields recently discovered that they are paying around $1200 in annual fire insurance, as are all of their fellow tenants at Kaluakoi resort. Kaluakoi condominium resort, as well as neighboring Ke Nani Kai and Paniolo Hale, is in a zone 10- the worst rating a property can get and still be insurable. West Molokai features extremely arid landscape punctuated by scrub-brush and long grass; it is in the rain-shadow of East Molokai, and has been facing an extended, decade-long drought.

While the Wakefields say $1200 is a steep price to pay, their real concern is that their money is going to an off-island insurance company rather than to the salaries of firefighters who could be protecting the whole western half of the island.

“Many of us are temporary residents here, but we pay year-round taxes for the privilege of being able to live here several months of the year,” said one of the Wakefield’s neighbors, who asked not to be named. “Even if we’re not here in July, for example, if there’s a fire that threatens these structures, well, that could be a disaster for the whole west end.”

There are roughly 100 homes on the west end of Molokai- including Maunaloa town- as well as roughly 350 condominium units in the Popahaku-Kaluakoi area. Molokai’s three other fire stations, at Ho`olehua, Kaunakakai, and Kilohana, are all in very close proximity to Molokai’s elementary schools. Maunaloa elementary and it’s 55 students however, do not enjoy such a close proximity to emergency services.

Several west-end residents were instrumental in notifying the fire department when a 50-acre brush fire erupted suddenly on March 1, and residents like Kaluakoi’s Chuck Webb run periodic fire drills in the condominium to keep the residents sharp and alert.

“We have a great community out here that has always been willing to help each other out – we’ve even managed to get a free fire truck from the Anaheim police department – but at some point you have to figure the County should step in and take some leadership on this”, says Tim Wakefield; “they (the mayor’s council) do a great job with Molokai for the most part, but we really think this part of the island has been neglected as far as this service is concerned.”

Dispatch Editor Reveals Letter to Senator Inouye

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

With tensions rising between developers and the Molokai community, Dispatch owner and editor in chief, Todd Yamashita, wrote Senator Daniel Inouye in November 2006 asking the leader to aid in the search for development alternatives.

Senator Inouye replied to the editor’s letter in February largely arguing support for the Molokai Properties Limited (MPL) 200 lot millionaires’ estates at La`au Point in West Molokai. The letter has remained a private issue until recently when Molokai Island Times editor, Brennan Purtzer, reported that copies of the correspondence were “circulating around town.”

The following is a revealing questions-and-answer session with Yamashita regarding the letters as well as his personal views on the La`au Point controversy.