FOOD FRIDAY: A Porky Pair from From Kau Kau to Cuisine

From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and NowFrom Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now by Arnold Hiura, featuring Derek Kurisu of KTA SuperStores and Jason Takemura of Pagoda Floating Restaurant and Hukilau Honolulu, is a unique culinary guide drawing out the connections between old, plantation-era favorites and new, innovative modern cuisine. While food historian Arnold provides a background to what, why and how we eat in Hawaii, Derek and Jason team up to present 30 pairs of recipes. Each pair matches a “Then” dish from Derek—a classic plantation or traditional local-style favorite—with a “Now” dish from Jason—a reinterpretation of Derek’s version or a new creation drawn from the same ingredients or cooking style.

On this Food Friday, we present a pork-tastic pair: Classic Shoyu Pork from Derek and a modern spin on the manapua from Jason.

From Kau Kau to Cuisine: Shoyu Pork and Pork Belly Bao Bun Sliders

Shoyu Pork by George Yoshida and Derek Kurisu

I remember my family receiving pork from the “buta kau kau man” who would come to neighborhood homes and pick up slop once or twice a week (see page 30). In return, he would periodically bring everybody a piece of pork as a way of saying thanks. That pork was so goodI really looked forward to it! To this day, I love local pork, which is leaner and more flavorful than Mainland pork. This is another recipe I learned from my buddy, George Yoshida. Here on the Big Island, a lot of our plantations grew sugar. But on the other islands, they grew a lot of pineapple. The flavor goes well with pork, so we often use it for cooking with ham or spare ribs. I like to use it for shoyu pork—with the shoyu, it makes a unique flavor and the juice helps tenderize the pork. -DK

  • 5 pounds pork belly (or boneless pork shoulder roast, cut in half)
  • 1 cup shoyu
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 5 slices fresh ginger

In a deep pot, cover pork with water and boil for 1 hour. Discard water and rinse pork. Slice pork into 2-inch pieces and, in the same pot, combine with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and continue to simmer, about 45 minutes, until tender.

Serves 8 to 10.


Braised Pork Belly Bao Bun “Sliders” by Jason Takemura

Growing up in Hawai‘i, everybody loves to eat manapua. They’re sort of like SPAM® musubi—the kind of grab-and-go food perfect for a snack or quick meal. Instead of serving plain manapua in the restaurant, we put this spin on the classic Island favorite. We started with some of the Asian ingredients and flavors that I learned at Chai’s and adapted them to our needs and tastes. The secret is our braised pork, which goes really well with the bao buns. Sliders are really popular these days—no need to cut them in half or anything, they’re all individual servings. -JT

  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • Pork Marinade (recipe follows)
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha (or other hot sauce )
  • ½ cup Kim Chee, chopped (see recipe, page 154)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced won bok
  • ½ cup finely julienned Fuji apple
  • ½ cup julienned green onions (reserve bottoms and stems for marinade)
  • 12 fresh bao buns, steamed and warmed

Pork Marinade

  • 1½ cups shoyu
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger
  • 4 stalks green onion, white part only
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole
  • Pinch crushed red chili flakes

Cut pork belly into a 2-inch by 2-inch by 8-inch block. Combine marinade ingredients and marinate pork overnight (8 to 12 hours), turning the pork over every 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Transfer pork and marinade into an oven-safe pan. Cover pan with foil. Place in the oven and braise for 3 hours. Remove from oven, remove foil and allow to cool, with the braising liquid, before refrigerating until ready to use. Remove cold pork from the liquid and slice crosswise ¼-inch thick. Reserve braising liquid.

In a sauce pan, heat sliced pork belly in the reserved braising liquid. Mix hoisin and sriracha together and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix won bok, apples and chopped kim chee together. Spread 1 teaspoon of hoisin-sriracha sauce in each warm, softened bao bun. Place 2 to 3 slices of pork per bun, topped with the kim chee slaw. Garnish with green onions.

Makes 12 sliders.

For more delicious pairings like this one, pick up a copy of From Kau Kau to Cuisine at our online store or your local bookshop. Go grind!

From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now
by Arnold Hiura, featuring Derek Kurisu and Jason Takemura
Hardcover, 196 pages


Two For Tuesday Deal for July 29, 2014!

TWOFORTUESDAYOn August 9, 1997, U.S. District Judge Samuel P. King and four other steadfast individuals— Gladys Brandt, Judge Walter Heen, Monsignor Charles Kekumano and Randy Roth—signed their names to the landmark “Broken Trust” essay published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper. Nine years later, in 2006, Judge King and Roth published the award-winning book Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, & Political Manipulation at America’s Largest Charitable Trust. To this day, “Broken Trust” remains one of the biggest cases of trust mismanagement and certainly the most scandalous and controversial periods in the history of the Kamehameha Schools.

Just ahead of the anniversary of the publication of the original essay, this month’s Two For Tuesday deal offers a look at the years of crisis from a unique point of view, an oral history document compiled by noted historian Gavan Daws, Wayfinding Through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993-1999. The other half of this month’s pairing is Broken Trust author Judge Sam King’s own memoir, Judge Sam King: A Memoir.

Two For Tuesday Deal: $22 for Wayfinding Through The Storm and Judge Sam King. Together, these books have a retail value of $47.90. That’s a 55% discount on a set of books that provide a remarkable historical record of Hawai‘i.

Bonus Offer: Want more Hawai‘i history? Former governor Ben Cayetano, whose tenure included directing the investigation of the Bishop Estate trustees, offers a riveting look at Hawai‘i yesterday and today in his book, BEN: A Memoir. Add it to your purchase for just $10 (a 50% discount).


Two for Tuesday Deal

Watermark Authors’ Summer Reading List (Part 2)

Part Two of our authors’ summer reading list includes fourteen more titles, picked by five of our authors. These are selections that they’ve got on their own to-read piles or recommend adding to yours. If you missed Part One last week, click here to check out the first eight picks.

Wanda Adams (editor, A Sweet Dash of Aloha and A Splash of Aloha):

WandaAdams_webWanda is a VERY prolific reader and ardent supporter of the annual Friends of the Library book sale! She gave us a lengthy list of suggestions that she’s recently finished reading, now that she’s moving on to working on her FotL haul:

Hawai‘i: A Novel by Mark Panek (Lo‘ihi Press, 2013)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why I recommend it: Mark Panek is my favorite among local authors because of his historical bent.


Adé: A Love Story by Rebeccah Walker (Little A / New Harvest, 2013)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Read it if you’re looking for: A romance with depths.


A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Bantam, 2002 reprint)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why I was interested in reading it: To see how it matches with the TV show. I think it’s just as good, if not better.


The French House by Don Wallace (Sourcebooks, 2014)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why it was on my reading list: Considering it for a possible book review article.


A Shark Going Inland is My Chief by Pat Kirsch (University of California Press)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I enjoyed it: I love science and Pat’s a friend.


Clear Englebert (Feng Shui for Hawaii and Feng Shui for Hawaii Gardens):

Author and feng shui expert Clear EnglebertOn my list (currently reading): Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast by Tom Cox & John Ruter (University Press of Florida, 2013)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why it’s on my list: I’m an avid gardener myself and this book will be of interest to other local gardeners. It’s published by the University Press of Florida, and when they publish a gardening book, Hawaii gardeners should take note. Several times a year I write reviews of tropical horticulture books for the West Hawaii Today newspaper, and this book will be included in my next review. It’s a superior book with many color photographs and the plants that are recommended will do well in Hawaii (somewhere). I recommend prostrate conifers (such as juniper) for many local gardens as graceful and unique groundcovers.


I suggest: My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force, editor & Jane Mount, illustrator (Little, Brown and Company, 2012)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: I borrowed this book to read, and just finished it. It’s a very unique book—every other page is some expert’s favorite dozen (or so) books. The text on the facing page is by the expert (such as Malcolm Gladwell) explaining why those books were chosen. The authors invite people to photograph their own favorite books and say why those books were picked. This book provided much valuable research for a presentation I’m working on, “How to Build and Maintain a Home Library in Hawaii,” as well as inspiring me with many new book suggestions for my personal reading. I highly recommend it to everyone.


Darien Gee (Writing the Hawaii Memoir; contributor, Don’t Look Back):

DarienGee_headshotOn my reading list: Daughters of Fire by Tom Peek (Koa Books, 2012)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why it’s on my list: This has been on my to-be-read pile for a year, and I’m looking forward to finally having the time to read it! Written by fellow Big Island author and writing instructor Tom Peek, Daughters of Fire looks like a gripping summer read.


I suggest: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor (Crown Business, 2010)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: The one key to success that everyone overlooks—your ability to find happiness in what you do—leads to more happiness and success in other areas of your life. Great case studies, information and inspiration. I highly recommend for anyone looking to make changes this summer.


Fran Kirk (The Society of Seven)

I suggest: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (Houghton Mifflin, 2008) and The Happy Isles of Oceania (Putnam Pub Group, 1992) both by Paul Theroux

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: Paul is a GREAT WRITER. Couldn’t get enough of him so I read two in a row.


Dr. Rosalie Tatsuguchi (Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things):

1-Tatsuguchi-web--0017-retouchedOn my list (currently reading): The Complete Book of Five Rings: Miyamoto Musashi, annotated and edited by Kenji Tokitsu (Shambala Publications, 2010)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why it’s on my list: I’m reading this edition because it’s more complete than other editions of Five RingsFive Rings still has so much influence on our cultural thinking and actions—not just Japanese. It has a lot of relevance for my new book, which I’m currently working on, Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb Things.


Also on my reading list: A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warrren (Metropolitan Books, 2014)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why it’s on my list: I want to read this because I admire Elizabeth Warren and want to understand how she thinks and how she matches her actions to her thoughts.


Also on my reading list: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow (Crown, 2012, hardcover; Broadway Books, 2013, softcover)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why it’s on my list: I love Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and wanted to understand how she collects and analyzes data, and puts it all together.


Watermark Authors’ Summer Reading List (Part 1)

We asked our authors what books they’ve got on their summer reading list and what they’d suggest you to add to your list. As you might guess, these writers are also voracious readers and were enthusiastic about sharing—some gave us more than one pick!—so we’ve had to split our list into two parts. Here are eight suggestions from six of our authors. (Check in next week for more suggestions!)

Karen Anderson (The Hawaii Home Book)

KarenAndersonOn my reading list: The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War’s Greatest Battle by Rod Gragg (Regnery Publishing, 2013)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why it’s on my list: I am planning a trip to Gettysburg and want to read up about the battle. This is a recently published book that includes rare, first-hand accounts, letters, speeches and article by the people who lived through the three-day conflict in 1863.


Gov. Benjamin Cayetano (BEN: A Memoir)

BenCayetano_WebI suggest: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro (Knopf Doubleday, 1975)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: I’ve reread this book at least once every other year since I bought it in 1980. Fascinating story about Robert Moses, a powerful public official who virtually built New York.


Frances Kakugawa (Kapoho: Memoir of A Modern Pompeii; Mosaic Moon; the Wordsworth the Poet series):

fhk_webOn my reading list: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2014)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why it’s on my list: I consider Murakami one of the best authors out of Japan. He was a strong contender for the Nobel Prize this year. I found his last book IQ84 a masterpiece so am eagerly waiting for his August release of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.


Marion Lyman-Mersereau (Eddie Wen’ Go; contributor, Don’t Look Back):

marion_hdst-(for-web)On my reading list: Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury (Laurel Leaf, 2005)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why it’s on my list: I’m on a mission to read award-winning YA literature.


I suggest (and am also re-reading!): The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, reissued 2008)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why I recommend it: I love what she’s done with each character’s unique voice in a separate chapter.


Christine Thomas (editor, Don’t Look Back):

ChristineThomas_webOn my reading list: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)

Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction

Why it’s on my list: I’ve been trying to find time to finish this Booker Prize-winning novel from last year. It’s a beast of book, more than 800 pages, and immediately transports you to the New Zealand gold rush around the time my husband’s great-great grandfather was there making his way in the world.


Lance Tominaga (The Hawaii Sports Trivia Challenge; A Prophecy Fulfilled)

I suggest: Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s byJeff Pearlman (Gotham, 2014)

LanceTominagaFiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: I’m not a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, but I still regard their “Showtime” teams of the 1980s to be the most entertaining product in the history of basketball. Big stars, bigger egos and the pressure to win – all wrapped neatly in Hollywood glitz – make for compelling storytelling. Author Jeff Pearlman dug deep to uncover a lot of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and he presents the history of this team in a way that is readable and engaging. It is not only the authoritative look at the 1980s Lakers, it is the finest book I’ve read about any NBA franchise – even better than David Halberstam’s The Breaks of the Game.


I also suggest: Any Given Number—Who Wore it Best, from 0 to 99 by Sports Illustrated (Sports Illustrated, 2014)

Fiction or non-fiction: Non-fiction

Why I recommend it: Which athlete is the greatest to ever wear number 24? Is it Kobe Bryant? Willie Mays? Ken Griffey Jr. or Jeff Gordon? Written by the staff at Sports Illustrated, this is a fun read for even the most casual of sports fans. From 0 to 99, the book selects the top athletes associated with each number, and lists the deserving also-rans as well. It’s light reading, to be sure, loaded with photos and graphics. But it’s certain to generate debates within your group of sports-loving friends.

Two For Tuesday Deal for June 24, 2014!

TWOFORTUESDAYSummer is a great time to savor the bounty of the ‘aina, and with summer break in full swing, it’s also a great time to get your kids in the kitchen to learn more about what goes into the food on their plates and how to make it themselves.

So this month’s Two For Tuesday deal features a pair of cookbooks that’ll help you—and your keiki—get into the cooking mood and make the most of fresh, local produce.

Two For Tuesday Deal: $15 for The Hawai‘i Farmers Market Cookbook—Vol. 2 and A Sweet Dash of Aloha. Normally $15.95 each, you’ll save over 50% on this cookbook deal!

Bonus Offer: Make a promise to yourself to do more cooking this summer! For just $10 more, choose between A Splash of Aloha, seafood recipes from the same team that put together A Dash of Aloha, or The Hawai‘i Book of Rice, featuring 101 recipes for Hawai‘i’s favorite starch.



Stories from the Home Front in WWII Hawaii

Seventy years ago today, on June 15, 1944, the 100th Battalion (the “One Puka Puka”), made up of soldiers from Hawai‘i, was assigned to the famed 442nd “Go For Broke” Regimental Combat Team. The stories of their experiences are widely documented.

Their friends and family left at home, back in Hawai‘i, had their own harrowing war experiences, too. Gathered for the first time in Japanese Eyes, American Heart – Vol. 2: Voices from the Home Front in World War II Hawaii are dozens of deeply personal stories that reveal the hardship, sorrow and anguish—as well as the pride, compassion and even laughter—experienced by Japanese Americans living in Hawaii following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


This week, Japanese Eyes, American Heart – Vol. 2 will be available for Amazon Kindle at a special price of just $1.99. (Regular e-book price: $9.99; regular hardcover price: $24.95) This offer expires June 21. Click the Kindle icon below to purchase.

Two For Tuesday Deals


This month, we are happy to announce the launch of a new promotion: On the last Tuesday of each month, we’ll offer a special “Two For Tuesday” deal on a pair of books—one low price for two great books. Get one of each title, or buy two copies of a single title—one for yourself and one to share with a friend.

Enjoy discounts of 50% off or more, but these special prices will only be offered for a limited time: One week beginning on Tuesday, ending the following Monday.

Here’s our first Two For Tuesday Deal: $30 for Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Wrestling and Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played. These two books, a perfect gift for Dad this Father’s Day, have a combined retail price of $59.90—you’ll save 50% on the set!

Both books are image-intensive chronicles of Hawai‘i’s sporting heyday. Gentleman Ed Presents… shares the behind-the-scenes stories from Gentleman Ed himself, from his beginnings as a wrestler to running an Island wrestling empire. Honolulu Stadium presents a carefully curated collection of photographs, memorabilia and recollections from the landmark’s historic years hosting everything from high school football, Hawaii Islanders baseball, the Hula bowl, stock car racing, boxing matches, sports heroes and legendary entertainers.

And this month, we’ve got a bonus book offer for you: Add The Hawaii Sports Trivia Challenge to your order for just $5.00!

Two For Tuesday - 5.27.14

FROM THE ARCHIVES: “The Scars Are Real”

The following is an excerpt from the 2012 release, Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling! by Edmund C. Francis with Larry Fleece. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Gentleman Ed Francis’ 50th State Big Time Wrestling, a wild and wacky extravaganza, took Hawai‘i by storm and dominated local sports entertainment. In Gentleman Ed Francis Presents…, Gentleman Ed himself reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of building his Aloha State wrestling empire and the ups-and-downs of managing an enterprise built on big men boasting larger-than-life personalities. With his wrestler-announcer-referee-promoter partner Lord Tally Ho Blears at his side, Francis built a huge fan following for his wrestlers— Hard-Boiled Haggerty, Tosh Togo, Handsome Johnny Barend, Andre the Giant, Freddie Blassie, Nick Bockwinkel, Neff Maiava, The Missing Link, Mad Dog Mayne and scores of others—all captured here in over 100 images chronicling two decades of Island wrestling mania.

In this excerpt from Chapter 10, “The Scars Are Real,” Gentleman Ed addresses that age-old question: “Is wrestling for real?”

Ask any of our great wrestlers who took the ring in Hawaii.

The number one line of questioning we would always get, in Hawaii and around the country, even from our most loyal and avid fans was: Isn’t it all fake? Isn’t it just a big, phony show?

My answer involves looking at some of the things my wrestling colleagues and I went through in the ring on a daily basis. After looking at the real life of a working professional wrestler, you tell me whether you think it’s all a big put-on.

Let’s start with a typical day for a pro wrest-ler. On most days when I was wrestling around the country, my evening’s match might have been 200 to 300 miles away from my home base. I’d pack my bag and hit the road, trying to time it so that I’d arrive at the arena a couple of hours before the show.

CollectorCards_EdAs a “star” when I was the World Junior Heavyweight Champ, I had some big responsibilities. Promoters and wrestlers alike depended on me to draw a large crowd, so that we could all have a good payday. I, of course, needed to leave the arena with the least amount of damage to my reputation and to my body. You get hurt, you’re done.

The promoter had his own agenda. Even if I was destined as the “champ” to win the match, the promoter might want to make sure that his guy wouldn’t be made to look foolish in the process. After all, his guy is the “baby face” and the local big shot in that territory. You have to leave him with his dignity.

In planning our “high spots” for a match with my opponent—often a complete stranger—I’d try to lay down a few very simple ground rules. The primary one: no pile drivers. You can’t trust a guy with your spinal cord, especially when you never know if his ego could suddenly cause him to go rogue on the champ.

With the game plan set and the prelims over, it’s time to enter the ring. Our ring was like concrete with a thin matte cover. The rings we wrestled in had no springs like they do now to absorb the shock of a body slam, and the matte cover was a disgusting patchwork of filth. There was resin, sweat and blood that saturated the cover, left over from the previous week’s boxing matches, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

As a result, many wrestlers contracted an eye disease called trachoma, and some would even lose their eyesight from it. Years on the horribly unsanitary mats for Strangler Ed White and Cowboy Luttrell left them both legally blind. Luttrell ultimately ran the promotion in Florida and, whenever I visited his office, he and Ed White would be playing cards. White had to hold the cards an inch from his nose to be able to see them.

Next on the agenda for the night: time to give the fans some excitement. The title of “champ” didn’t mean I was the good guy. On the contrary, most of the time I was the heel—the villain.

I enter the ring, strut around and maybe give a defiant finger to the crowd. My posturing triggers 5,000, maybe even 10,000 angry fans to start screaming: “Kill the bastard!” “Tear his head off!“ “Put a hurt on him!” And, of course, many other things not remotely fit for print.

The bell rings and the match is underway. It’s a one-fall, 60-minute time limit.

For maybe the first 25 or 30 minutes, my opponent is getting the best of me. The fans are happy, screaming their approval. But then the tide turns. I get a headlock on my opponent and start punching him in the head. He might secretly produce a razor blade that he’s had hidden in his wrist band, or even in his mouth, and he privately uses it on his forehead. Now blood is running down his face. The fans are going wild.

I turn away from the referee, reach into my trunks and pull out my brass knuckles. I hit my bloodied opponent again, then put the brass knuckles back inside my trunks. The fans see what I’ve done and their yelling builds to a crescendo of boos.

As the match draws to a conclusion, the promoter has assembled the evening’s other wrestlers outside the locker room. They know the drill, all too well. They have to be ready to run down to protect me when the match is over.

Meanwhile, in the ring, for the final punctuation point to the match, I pick up my opponent, slam him to the mat and cover him. One, two, three! I jump up and raise my hand in victory.

The fans, who just spent the past hour going hoarse rooting for the other guy, all go crazy with anger. On more nights than I can count, some fans would jump up on the ring apron, trying to get at me. I would end up having to punch some of them off the apron just to protect myself.

That’s when the other wrestlers run to ringside to help protect me. Together we fight our way back to the locker room, shoving, pushing, swinging and punching through the sea of angry fans who have closed around us.

Blood sport: Injuries—sometimes serious—are a way of life for professional wrestlers. Photos courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

Blood sport: Injuries—sometimes serious—are a way of life for professional wrestlers. Photos courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

At a match in Toronto, I was running to get to the relative safety of the locker room, but the crowd was right on top of me. I knew they’d be able to trap me before I’d made it to safety, so I had to do something drastic. I whipped around and hit the first face in the crowd, the one closest to me.

The fan dropped like a sack of rice.

When he went down, it distracted the crowd just long enough for me to slip into the locker room. But the fans weren’t going to give up and go away that easily. They started pounding on the locker room door, trying to break it down to get at me.

Now I was mad.

I swung open the door and pulled one of the fans inside. We swung at each other, and I hit him so hard I broke his jaw. How do I know? The next week, the same guy was right back at the matches … with his jaw wired shut.

It was all in a night’s work for a working wrestler.

I had an endless succession of back injuries and bulging discs, attended to by chiropractors in every city in the U.S. Those back problems ultimately resulted in two major surgeries.

Many nights when I was wrestling I’d lie on a wood bench in the locker room to try to get a little relief from the searing pain in my back. Then I’d hear them call my name for the main event that night. I’d take a deep breath and struggle to pull myself off the bench and into a standing position. I’d gingerly pull on my jacket, or whatever I was wearing that night into the ring, and I’d slowly head out the locker room door into the arena.

But every night that I crossed the threshold of that door and into the arena, something strange would happen. The people were all on their feet, screaming for the match to begin, screaming my name. I could see all their faces.

It was at that moment, when my face met the fans, that I straightened up, walked into the ring and the pain disappeared. I went the distance in the match, gave the fans their money’s worth, then went back to the locker room and into the shower, and the pain came flooding back, coursing through my spine.

Call it “fan adrenalin,” call it mind tricks, call it a crazy way to make a living—but, somehow, some way, the sheer will to perform for me and all the wrestlers led us to conquer the pain at least temporarily, long enough for us to survive our minutes in the ring.

Believe it or not, with all the pain I experienced, I’m one of the lucky ones. The physical toll that the sport of wrestling took on all the competitors was relentless.

The great wrestler Fred Blassie wrestled through the pain with serious kidney problems. When the pain got to be too much, Blassie finally went to the hospital, where doctors told him they wanted to remove one of his kidneys. Blassie called me looking for some advice, so I headed down to the hospital to be with him.

When I walked into his hospital room, Blassie was in such pain that he was up out of bed, jumping and writhing around the room, screaming in agony. I called for the doctors to give him some kind of injection or painkiller to give the poor guy a little relief from the pain.

Left to right: Freddie Blassie, Hard-Boiled Haggerty and Ripper Collins use Civc Auditorium folding chairs as weapons in a tag team match that strays outside the ring. Photo Courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

Left to right: Freddie Blassie, Hard-Boiled Haggerty and Ripper Collins use Civc Auditorium folding chairs as weapons in a tag team match that strays outside the ring. Photo Courtesy George Beppu. All rights reserved.

They took Blassie into surgery and removed one of his kidneys. It was a safe bet that his troubles were either brought on, or at least made worse, by years and years of brutal abuse to his internal organs inside the ropes.

The Samoan wrestler Peter Maivia—superstar Neff Maiava’s cousin—was similarly afflicted with kidney problems. Doctors also went in and removed one of Peter’s kidneys. Even though the medical care at that time could not definitively tell if the wrestlers’ kidney problems were a direct result of being punched and kicked in the ring, with both Blassie and Maiava I felt a huge sense of responsibility for their situations, and I footed all the medical bills for their surgeries and recoveries.

So … pro wrestling’s all fake?

Ask Maivia. Ask Blassie. Ask their doctors.

Or ask Sonny Myers.

Myers was a wrestling friend of mine, a tough shooter originally from Missouri. One night at our match in Waco, Texas, things got way out of control. Sonny was trying to get out of the ring and away from the crazed mob when two guys grabbed him and held him. Another fan pulled out a long, curved linoleum knife and sliced Sonny across his belly, right through his wrestling trunks.

Sonny’s intestines spilled out into his hands.

It was an absolute miracle that the knife wound didn’t cut into Sonny’s intestines. We rushed him to the ER—still holding his intestines—and the doctor was able to sew him up. Sonny was back in the ring wrestling within a few months. (In fact, Sonny had a long career in wrestling, and went on to train a host of young wrestlers, among them Hulk Hogan.)

Fake? Ask a couple of wrestlers named Yukon Eric and Killer Kowalski.

In the waning moments of a big match between the two of them, I was watching as Killer slammed Eric near the corner of the ring. Then Killer climbed up on the top ropes for the big finale. He leapt off the ropes, with the intent of appearing to land on Eric’s throat.

But Killer missed his mark. Kowalski’s knee accidentally swiped the side of Eric’s head with such immense force that it popped Eric’s ear clean off. I watched, awestruck, as the ref grabbed the ear and put it in his pocket.

Eric was rushed to the hospital, but the ear could not be reattached.

(One sad footnote: Yukon Eric’s life ended tragically. Some years later, Eric returned home from a wrestling road trip to find that his wife had left him, and had taken all the furniture. He was despondent. Yukon Eric drove to his church, parked his car, put a gun to his head and shot himself dead.)

So. Pro wrestling. All a big, phony show? Just silly, light entertainment? No consequences? All a big fake?

You tell me.

If this excerpt has got your blood up and you’re looking for more hard-hitting inside stories, head to our online store to purchase your own copy of Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling!

SNEAK PEEK: Excerpts from Brother Noland’s The Hawaiian Survival Handbook in HAWAI‘I Magazine

The Hawaiian Survival Guide Excerpts in HAWAII MagazineHAWAI‘I Magazine has the exclusive scoop on a selection of excerpts from our upcoming release The Hawaiian Survival Handbook by celebrated musician and outdoorsman Brother Noland, with illustrations by Andrew J. Catanzariti.

Here’s what they had to say:

Ooh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world, indeed, especially in Hawai‘i’s forests and offshore waters. Sure, hikers trekking our hundreds of miles of mountain and valley trails rarely need to worry about wild things leaping out in full attach mode. (Lions and tigers and bears? Not us!) And we’ve nary a poisonous species of flora or tick in our forests that’ll have you violently itching, scratching or curling up in pain. (Lyme disease is so mainland U.S.). Still, from sharks, eels and the occasional wild boar to rip tides, flash floods and leptospirosis, Hawai‘i does have its share of critters and conditions to beware of in our great outdoors. In the following exclusive excerpts from The Hawaiian Survival Handbook—an upcoming Hawai‘i-centric outdoor guide from HAWAI‘I Magazine sister company, Watermark Publishing—Native Hawaiian writer, outdoorsman, steward of Hawaiian culture and Nā Hokū Hanohano award-winning musician Brother Noland (nee Noland Conjugacion) shares survival techniques and skills handy for outdoor adventures in the Islands. Keep these near and be careful out there!

HAWAII Magazine May/June 2014 issueTo see the excerpts, which range from “How to Avoid and Survive a Shark Attack” and “How to Deal with Eels” to “How to Read the Island Weather” and “How to Make Use of Native Plants,” pick up a copy of the current (May/June 2014) issue on newsstands or download it for tablet today!

Want to know more about The Hawaiian Survival Handbook? Read more and—pre-order it—at our online store. The hardcover handbook will be released in mid-summer, priced at $16.95.


SPAM® Musubi…Can?

spammusubiIn honor of the Waikiki SPAM® Jam taking place this weekend, we’re sharing this fun how-to and recipe for SPAM® musubi a la Derek Kurisu from the award-winning cookbook From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now. You’ll find this same step-by-step guide and recipe in the book, along with 59 more ono-licious local dishes.

What sets this version of SPAM® musubi apart is that Derek makes it in an empty SPAM® can. “This is important,” he says, “because I want everyone to know that no matter where you are in the world, if you have a can of SPAM®, you can make musubi. You don’t need a special press. Save the can! Clean it out and make it one of the implements in your kitchen along with your knives and things.” It certainly is an easy way to make musubi when you’re camping or traveling away from home and hungry for a taste of Hawai‘i.

DK_SPAM8This is a winner. You can try substituting different kinds of luncheon meat, but somehow Hawai‘i folks can always tell the true SPAM® from everything else. Although the ingredients are basically the same, SPAM® fries up nice and crispy with just the right texture and taste. But you can substitute foods like tonkatsu or teriyaki meat as the musubi filling, instead of SPAM®. The combination of teri beef and kim chee is a winner. There’s no limit, really. Just use your imagination. -DK

1 can SPAM® (save the can)
Furikake (seasoned seaweed flakes), optional
4 nori (seaweed) sheets, halved
Cooked Calrose (medium-grain) rice

Cut the SPAM® block into 8 slices (the slices should fit perfectly back into the can). Fry SPAM® until brown and crisp on the outside. (Avoid overcooking, as this results in rubbery SPAM®.) In the SPAM® can, add a ½-inch thick layer of rice. Pack rice down with a spoon. Sprinkle furikake (about ½ teaspoon) over the rice. Layer a slice of SPAM® over the furikake, topped by another layer of rice. The SPAM® and rice layers should not reach higher than halfway up the can. Pack down firmly with a spoon. Invert the can over a half-sheet of nori (it should fit exactly); the stack of SPAM®, rice and furikake should slide right out. Tightly wrap the musubi with the nori. Wet the blade of a knife and slice into 3 pieces. (See below for step-by-step photo instructions.)

Makes 8 whole musubi or 24 pieces.

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Stop by our booth at this weekend’s Hawaii Book & Music Festival before you head to the SPAM® Jam on Saturday evening. Pick up a copy of From Kau Kau to Cuisine and whet your appetite for all the spamalicous food you can eat! We’ll even have special Kau Kau gift packs that include a Cane Haul Road “Kau Kau” dish towel—so you can take care of Mom’s Mother’s Day gift, too!


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