Carlino Giampolo


Carlino Giampolo

Carlino Giampolo

Carlino Giampolo was born and raised in Panther Hollow, one of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s first Italian neighborhoods. He was among the neighborhood’s approximately 250 Italians, most of whose ancestors come from the small towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato in Italy’s Abruzzi Region. In 2007, Carlino began to compile the history of his iconic neighborhood on the website In 2015, when the city of Pittsburgh and its partners proposed a plan to build a roadway through Panther Hollow, he began a grassroots movement to protect and preserve the neighborhood from the development. Those continuous efforts are on the website

He graduated from Duquesne University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. In 1977, he journeyed solo around the world, visiting 37 countries in nine months. In 2004, he travelled through all 50 states in 80 days, taking time to dance in each state.

In May 1980, he started his own business and published Paradise News, the first visitor newspaper in Waikiki on Oahu, Hawaii to focus on Hawaiian culture. The newspaper, many of whose articles were written by Hawaii’s most prominent historians, was published until June 2015, making the 35-year newspaper Hawaii’s longest-running visitor publication owned by a sole proprietor. He created Mano the Menehune, the first continuous cartoon in a visitor publication. The newspaper also had a monthly feature called “Living Legends of Hawaii.” Those interviewed for the feature were in his Living Legends of Hawaii calendar that was sold in bookstores and gift shops, and given as Christmas gifts to passengers of a local inter-island airline. In 1983, numerous articles printed in the newspaper were compiled and published in his book, The Land of Aloha. The book was given as a welcoming gift for attendees of Kauai Hilton Hotel’s grand opening. The Navy and Army in Hawaii also purchased the book for their newly arrived soldiers.

Carlino’s respect for Hawaiians and their culture continued in 1988 when he started a grassroots movement that helped to change the course of Hawaiian history in Waikiki. The movement eventually led to a new city law in 2001 declaring that any new construction in Waikiki must be done with a Hawaiian Sense of Place. The actions leading up to the new law are chronicled in his book, Lights Out. A decade after the grassroots movement began, he persuaded Northwest Airlines executives to remove from all of their flights to Hawaii an agricultural inspection video that he believed had a segment that was offensive and insensitive to Hawaiian women. Other airlines followed suit. The State of Hawaii then created a new agricultural inspection video for incoming visitors to Hawaii.

He has written and published several self-help books. His first, The Art of Letting Go, was published in paperback by Bantam Books and distributed throughout the United States and Canada. In 1996, he created the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Teams poster. Over 60,000 posters were printed and distributed as gifts to Fan Appreciation Day game attendees in October that year.

From 2007 to 2015, he travelled from Honolulu to Pittsburgh every other month to help as a caregiver for his parents. During that time, he began another grassroots movement because of what he felt was injustice from University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University administrators toward their host community of Oakland—where Panther Hollow, his home neighborhood, is located. The movement’s ongoing efforts are on the website

His recent volunteer efforts include improving the Diamond Head Lookout, one of the most scenic locations on Oahu, where he was involved in painting the wall surrounding the lookout, the planting of grass, and the refurbishing of the Amelia Earhart stone monument site. This work was made possible by strong support from the City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, and generous donations from The Sherwin-Williams Company, Home Depot, Flags Flying, and private individuals. He also began a beautification project of Panther Hollow’s Joncaire Street, the main street leading into the neighborhood. These volunteer efforts further his commitment to protect and preserve, as well as enhance the beauty of his communities.

In keeping with his beautification efforts, the following letter to the editor was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 15, 2017.

Kahala Beach needs to be replenished

One of the supreme pleasures of living in Hawaii is being able to walk along the beach and enjoy the majestic splendor of our mountains and ocean. It is a soothing balm for the soul and spirit.

Why, then, is Honolulu’s wealthiest neighborhood the location of one of the worst beaches for walking?

The beach fronting the Waialae Country Club, Kahala Beach Apartments, and the westerly end of the The Kahala Hotel & Resort is a dearth of sand and an overabundance of dead coral.

Are the owners of these properties unable to persuade state officials to properly maintain and protect this stretch of beach? Or would the state prefer to keep the beach as is?

Funding beach maintenance should not be an obstacle for the state. If lawmakers are able to find billions of dollars for a rail project that is the antithesis of a beautification project, then they should be able to find funds to beautify our once-magnificent beaches, which would benefit not only property owners but everyone living in Hawaii.

Carlino Giampolo

Tribute to an Exceptional Mother


Tribute to an Exceptional Mother
Irma Scenna Giampolo
December 2, 1919 – March 24, 2014

Irma Giampolo

Irma Scenna Giampolo

“In every gesture dignity and love.” I read these words, written about my mother, in her 1938 Taylor Allderdice yearbook. She lived those words every day of her life. That was her grace. That was what came naturally to her. She was a devoted wife, mother, and friend, and although she never studied to become any of those, she instinctively knew how to fulfill each role. My mother also didn’t study to become a teacher, but she was my greatest teacher.

Yearbook text

It is hard to describe the essence of my mother, because how can one truly describe love? Writers and poets have been attempting that paramount task since the beginning of literature, and there are not enough words in our language to adequately describe such a complex concept. You can talk about the functions of love, but love itself is only understood through experience. I have been truly blessed throughout my entire life in experiencing that type of indescribable love, by having the great fortune to be my mother’s son.

My mother had the rare gift of being able to transform others simply by being near them. She had a beautiful welcoming aura, and everyone who met my mother walked away with an elevated sense of self-worth. I know my father, brother, sister, and nephew would echo what I am about to say, that my mother was always present for the defining moments of our lives. She also taught me the tremendous power of gratitude and to always be grateful for what someone does for you. Any small gesture I would offer, from giving her a glass of water to helping her into the car, always was acknowledged with her enchanting and heart-warming smile, and a thank you.

Irma Scenna, yearbook photo

My mother instinctively knew that you love each person differently.  Where her children were concerned, she loved us by putting us first. She made numerous personal sacrifices to make certain that all of our needs were fulfilled, and that we were happy. She didn’t want worldly possessions; she only wanted the best for each one of us.

When I attended grade school, my mother would prepare my little brown lunch bag every day. Though this was a small gesture in and of itself, I was always proud and happy with her labor of love. Whenever there was an emergency or inclement weather, she was at the door waiting to take her children home from school. Our family very seldom ate fast food. Nearly every meal we ate was home cooked, and those who ate her cooking and baking knew that it was exceptional.

The Hilarious Hacketeers

She would have liked for me to be a choirboy, but I just can’t carry a tune. So she encouraged my aspirations to be an altar boy. My mother never compared me to anyone and always accepted me as I am, teaching me simply to do my best. She taught me to respect the nuns and priests and the good people in authority.

When I was 12 years old, my mother gave me one of her most precious gifts of love. Some teenage boys in the neighborhood were arrested for stealing, and my mother took me aside one day and said to me, “Don’t ever steal. If you need something, just ask. If your father and I don’t have it, we will find a way to get it.” For a 12-year-old boy, that was a defining moment. In that moment my mother instilled in me a deep sense of belonging and security, the very first function that love should provide.

It was at this same age that she taught me to house paint, and every year we would paint both the inside and outside of our house. It was an arduous job that she had previously done on her own, without complaint.

In high school, when I was required to wear a tie and sport coat at Central Catholic, my shirts were always starched and pressed. High school was also the time that I experienced my first heartbreak, which came with the end of a relationship. My mother was there to see me through that strange and difficult emotional time.

Alderice Yearbook cover

When I turned 21 and would venture out with my friends, returning home around midnight, she would always be awake. Her excuse was that there was some laundry or ironing that needed doing, that the floor needed a good cleaning, or some other household chore had to be completed. But I knew that the real reason she stayed awake was to make certain that I came home safely.

Another defining moment in my relationship with my mother came when I decided to move to Hawaii. Although my mother would have preferred for me to stay in Pittsburgh, her love for me never allowed her to stand in the way of my freedom and my destiny. It was at that time when she again showed me her extraordinary depth of loving. I was embarking on a journey that would eventually help lead to a change in the course of Hawaiian history. The symbol I used to make that change was street light structures. While others abandoned me for thinking that I was out of touch with reality for focusing on this particular symbol of oppression in Hawaii, my mother was there for me, even though she had little understanding of the meaning behind that symbol. She taught me that love is sufficient unto itself, and that with unconditional and boundless love, one doesn’t need anything else, including understanding.

My mother had a profound sense of wisdom that she would express in ways easy to understand. When she and my father were in their eighties, my father’s eyesight began to fail and my mother developed arthritis that limited the use of her hands. She said to my father something very simple that sums up the beauty of marriage. She said to him, “I’ll be your eyes, you be my hands.” In this one moment, she captured the essence of love, devotion, and partnership.

Young Irma Scenna

Some of the greatest treasures of my life were either taught to me or reinforced by my mother in the last few years of her life, when she had a condition that I would simply describe as memory loss. Though that condition may have taken away many of the things that my mother was able to do on a daily basis, it never took away the essence of her person.

In the initial stages of that medical condition, I watched her face the dread of losing her sense of self. She did so with tremendous courage, perseverance, and conviction. She never blamed anyone or lashed out in anger as to why such a tragedy was happening to her. She faced the challenge with her trademarks of dignity and love.

My mother impressed upon me that even with her limited memory, what you remember most about people is the true nature of their being. We would take a walk up Boundary Street and sit on a bench, and I would tell her the names of the people who lived there, from one end of the street to the other. She would pause and make a short comment at each house, usually about how she really liked the person, for my mother always looked for the good in others.

Mother's wedding

June 10, 1942

As my mother lived with her medical condition, she taught me to look to the future and never give up hope. When I would say to her, “Every day in every way you are getting better and better,” she would simply reply, “I hope so.”

In the last few years of her life she also taught me to live in the moment and to do what you can, and not to dwell upon the past or what you cannot do. One of my mother’s skills was to remember the lyrics to numerous songs that she knew. Miraculously, this skill did not disappear as her memory deteriorated. I made a CD of her favorite songs, and she knew all the words to most of those songs. It was a joy to sing those songs over and over again with her.  Those musical experiences with her reinforced in me the knowledge that, in spite of our many modern medical advances, the brain is still a mystery.

Finally, my mother reinforced in me the simple notion that having fun is a fundamental human purpose in life, and it should continue for the entirety of our lives. My mother and I had innumerable precious moments of laughter together in the last few years of her life, from her many witty comments to pretending that we just arrived from the old country in Italy as we would speak to each other in broken English. We would laugh together when I would say to her “budda bing budda bang” to express how my heart felt when she would kiss me on the cheek.

Corfino 1977

Carlino and mother in Corfinio, Italy 1977

Irma and her husband

Carl and Irma, 65th Anniversary, June 10, 2007

My mother had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and often prayed the rosary. She also prayed very intently before a statue of the Virgin Mary, mother-to-Mother, and said that many of her special intentions were answered.

There will be no canonization ceremony for my mother, but in my eyes she stands equal to all of those individuals who have received that saintly honor.

I will close with words that I wish I could say with my mother once again, “I love you, forever and a day.”

Carlino Giampolo

Open Letter to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

This is a reprint of a post from

February 6, 2017

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
University of Pittsburgh

Lack of Dignity

Chancellor Gallagher:

On March 3, 2016, I wrote you a four-page letter that is on the website should you need to refresh your memory. This will be much shorter and to the point.

You betrayed the trust that our community had in you for a new beginning to resolve the myriad of problems caused by the university’s presence. Not only is your administration a continuation of the shameful, self-centered policies of its predecessors, but our community’s problems have greatly escalated under it.

There are two pathways toward change: dignity and tragedy. You are on the pathway of tragedy, and it is only a matter of how much more our community must endure before your administration has a major change of conscience.

The university’s uncontrolled student growth has led to a vast increase in the scourge of drugs, binge drinking, and burglary in our community. Mark A. Nordenberg Hall never should have been built several years ago to house 559 first-year students only. Again, that building illustrates the self-centeredness and lack of dignity by the university toward our community. It must be converted to sophomore and junior housing, and the increase in student population must be controlled.

Pitt Police Department personnel risk their lives every day to protect our community and they have our highest respect. Their numbers must be increased, as well as any necessary resources they need, to fight the escalating and horrific drugs, binge drinking, and burglaries that permeate your campus as well as our community.

In the past, I had suggested that a few individuals be hired by the university to drive through our neighborhood and report illegal drinking activities so that residents don’t have to face the dread and fear of retaliation in reporting these problems (something that you, your administrators, and faculty don’t have to face personally). This had been rejected by the university then, but must be implemented now.

Twenty years ago, I delivered a letter to your predecessor delineating the filthy trash and litter problems in our community caused mainly by students. That same letter could still hold its weight today. Even though my solution has been rejected by both the previous administration and yours, no one at your institution of higher learning has come up with a better solution to end these problems. Those filthy conditions send a signal to others that this is a community that doesn’t care, when in reality it is the university administrators and faculty that have lacked the dignity to put an end to these problems. You have the funding to end the problems—so do it.

This letter will be sent to Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh, who is also carrying on a shameful tradition of lack of dignity toward our community. Instead of competing with him to purchase more land, resulting in greater destruction of our community, you must change your priorities. You must initiate talks with him to work together to resolve your universities’, and our community’s, problems.

The above solutions will entail a dramatic paradigm shift in university policies. The interests and welfare of our community must take precedence over university affairs. This is something that has never been done in the 108-year history of Pitt, and the 115-year history of CMU in Oakland. This future can be achieved, but it will take a love, courage, and commitment to our community that goes far beyond anything that exists today.

Carlino Giampolo

10 Solutions

Pittsburgh City Council
Public Comments

February 2, 2016

This is a reprint of a post from

Last week, after attending a 4 Mile Run Watershed workshop, I had a
brief conversation with an official of the Urban Redevelopment Authority
concerning the Oakland Transit Connector project. As you are all aware,
the project is a city initiative to construct a roadway from the Almono
site in Hazelwood to Carnegie Mellon University and other sites in Oakland. This project would pass through and decimate two neighborhoods, The Run and Panther Hollow.

The URA official mentioned that one reason for this roadway project
is that it currently takes 40 minutes by bus to go from near the Almono
site in Hazelwood to Oakland. This project has once again brought to
the surface a myriad of problems. I would like to share ten solutions
for consideration by Oakland’s three councilmen, the councilman
for The Run, community organizations, and others who either support
or are undecided about this roadway project.

1) Express public buses must be employed from the Almono site in Hazelwood to Oakland. Such buses traveling down Second Avenue onto Brady Street underneath the Birmingham Bridge would be on Forbes Avenue in Oakland in approximately seven minutes at most times of the day–without impacting any adjacent neighborhoods.

2) If needed, an additional roadway could be built adjacent to Brady
Street for the exclusive use of buses.

3) Instead of the Almono site’s future tenants traveling to the
universities in Oakland, the universities and health institutions should
expand at the Almono site to satisfy the tenants’ needs, and
the needs of the people of Hazelwood.

4) The fundamental focus for the development of the Almono site must
be for the enhancement of the quality of life for the people of Hazelwood.

5) There must be a moratorium on any further expansion by universities
and developers in Oakland.

6) There must be honest in-depth Impact Statements on how any future
development plans in Oakland affect its longtime residents.

7) Plans for any future expansion by universities and developers in
Oakland must be presented to the city council for approval.

8) The local media must end their silence and not sit by idly as Oakland
becomes systematically destroyed by its two major universities and developers, both in the residential and business districts.

9) The watershed problems that residents of The Run have suffered for
far too long must be resolved immediately without any quid pro quo requests by supporters of the Oakland Transit Connector.

10) Human dignity must be the highest priority in any decision-making,
for when that belief is fully understood and implemented, problems become easier to resolve.

Additional objectives for the community of Oakland are on Link 69 of the website Additional information for the Oakland Transit Connector project is on the website

Carlino Giampolo

Save Panther Hollow!

The Bruno Mars Autograph

Long before he became an international superstar, long before being tapped to sing at the Super Bowl 2014, Hawaii's Bruno Mars plied the showrooms of Waikiki as a child star Elvis impersonator. Even then, his talents were evident, which caused your host, after viewing the "Baby Elvis" in action in the Esprit Nightclub, to ask for an autograph of the young child star. Alas, Bruno could only scrawl his printed name, too young for a flamboyant, cursive signature, but happy to oblige, otherwise. The "autograph" is now a treasured keepsake for the author.

Long before he became an international superstar, long before being tapped to sing at the Super Bowl 2014, Hawaii’s Bruno Mars plied the showrooms of Waikiki as a child star Elvis impersonator. Even then, his talents were evident, which caused your host, after viewing the “Baby Elvis” in action in the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel’s Esprit lounge, to ask for an autograph. Alas, the four-year-old Bruno could only scrawl his printed name, too young for a flamboyant, cursive signature, but happy to oblige, otherwise. The “autograph” is now a treasured keepsake for your host. [Composite image.]

Sammartino and Carlino.

Bruno Mars was born Peter Gene Hernandez, and at the age of two was nicknamed “Bruno” by his father because of his resemblance to world champion professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Here we have Sammartino with Carlino Giampolo.

Mars and Sammartino

Bruno Mars met his namesake Bruno Sammartino in 2017, from Bruno Mars’ Instagram account.

Panther Hollow – a community rich in history and heritage

Panther Hollow story

It is one of the most unique neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh but you may not even know it exists. OnQ’s Tonia Caruso takes us to Panther Hollow — a community rich in history and heritage.

The Panther Hollow story was nominated for a Natas Mid-Atlantic Region Emmy in the category of Historic/Cultural feature or segment.

Carlino Giampolo was born and raised in the Panther Hollow neighborhood which is part of the South Oakland neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Click the image which will take you to From there you can click the WQED 2009 Video link.

– June 9, 2008

Can Pitt get SOUL (i.e., South Oakland Urban Litter)?

December 11, 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article

By Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Carlino Giampolo has a name for the families of Panther Hollow. He calls them Oakland’s “pre-university settlers,” and he’s not at all happy with the way they’re treated by the gigantic neighbor above.

That would be the University of Pittsburgh, whose leaders remain unconvinced by Mr. Giampolo’s arguments that it should fund a full-time litter patrol to keep the streets of South Oakland clean.

I walked and drove its streets with him Friday morning. A Pitt official had sent me a list of the streets that Pitt and CMU fraternities and sororities purportedly police once each month to keep them free from litter. “Keep it Clean” it’s called.

Litter was up and down the lower part of Bouquet Street, and garbage cans were still on the sidewalk three days beyond the Tuesday pickup. Empty beer cans and cartons punctuated the sidewalk and front-yard bushes. Pointing to an empty can in front of one home, Mr. Giampolo, 65, who knew the elderly woman who lived there, took this wild guess: “That’s not her beer can, not her litter. She’s on oxygen.”

An overturned trash can sat in the middle of Atwood Street, a full trash bag lay on the porch roof of a house at Bates and Meyran, smashed glass tumbled from a ripped garbage bag laying in Meyran. A general acne of plastic, aluminum, cardboard and paper lay across the face of the neighborhood.

Mr. Giampolo now lives most of the year in Honolulu, but he comes back regularly to visit his parents, and he’s relentless in his attempts to get Pitt to put some money where its students’ trash is. He figures that for what would amount to $4 from every student’s tuition, it could launch South Oakland Urban Litter (SOUL) and hire 10 local youth to work four hours each weekday keeping the streets and sidewalks clean.

A couple of Decembers ago, trying to embarrass Pitt into action, Mr. Giampolo had a friend build a replica of the Cathedral of Learning, 3 feet wide and 9 feet high, to which he then nailed and glued pizza boxes, beer bottles and other bits of ugliness he’d picked up from a single block of Atwood Street one weekday afternoon.

He put that “Cathedral of Litter” into the back of a rented pickup truck and parked it outside its taller cousin, ultimately attracting four campus police cars that arrived with lights flashing. Mr. Giampolo got a ticket for illegal parking, but he didn’t go back home until he drove his exhibit to the City-County Building, too.

Vice Chancellor G. Reynolds Clark said university officials appreciate Mr. Giampolo’s perspective but doesn’t believe daily litter pickup on city streets is the university’s responsibility. The city agrees that much of the problem is “a landlord issue,” Mr. Clark said, and he doesn’t see any support for Mr. Giampolo from Oakland-based organizations.

So what keeps this lone crusader going?

“It began at the kitchen table of my cousin,” he said. She lives down the street from his parents. Four years ago when she was 76, she told him students had thrown beer cans in her yard and, after her son complained, they keyed his car and slashed the tires.

“That was a defining moment for me,” Mr. Giampolo said.

He grew up among people who kept immaculate homes. His grandmother would pick tiny weeds from between the cobblestones. He says when Pitt was building the Cathedral of Learning in the 1920s, many of the immigrant families of Oakland contributed to its funding.

Now he likens that to inviting a guest into your home, and seeing the guest “attempt to become a master.” There’s no getting around the fact that students now dominate the neighborhood, but that’s why Pitt needs to play a greater role in maintaining it.

He has drawn up a list of nine issues for Pitt. High on his list are never-ending expansion, binge drinking, trash, litter and illegal dumping. I admire his resolve, but I expect that list to make no more impression on Pitt than any of what’s blowing around on Bouquet Street.

Brian O’Neill: or 412-263-1947.
First published on December 11, 2011 at 12:00 am
Read more:

University of Pittsburgh Greed, Litter & Trash

UPITT Greed, LItter, Trash

University of Pittsburgh Greed, Litter & Trash
A YouTube Documentary

March 31, 2012

Please share the seven-minute documentary with your Social Media Network.

New traffic light fixtures welcome

The following article appeared in The Waikiki News, December 2000. Reprinted with permission.

By James Winpenny

New light poles and traffic lights have been installed on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. Carlino Giampolo sees a special significance in that project.

Since 1988, when the last renovation of Kalakaua Avenue occurred – a project he believed took place as if Hawaiian culture did not exist – he had been writing for the removal of the light poles and traffic lights there. “Belief precedes experience and those light structures were a symbol of an indifferent attitude and oppressive consciousness toward Hawaiian culture,” Giampolo says.

However, his knowledge of Hawaii was very limited when he first arrived in the islands. Back in 1973, Giampolo heard the pilot say over the public-address system, “We will be arriving on Oahu”” and he thought he was on the wrong plane. He was after all headed for Honolulu.

Seven years later, after touring 37 countries, he returned to Honolulu for good, wiser of the world, but still naive in the ways of the Islands. He started a publication business in Waikiki, even though he knew very little about the travel industry, even less about Hawaii, and very little, about publishing. His visitor publication, Paradise News, begun in 1980, carried only articles of Hawaiian history and culture.

In 1988, the City and County began erecting modern, big, orange, right-angular traffic-light poles on Kalakaua Avenue. Giampolo was appalled when he saw them. “Those structures didn’t belong on Kalakaua Avenue, the street that is the Hawaiians’ showcase for the presentation of their culture and heritage to people from around the world.”

He wrote a call-to-action message entitled “Lights Out” and another message, “Hawaiians Unite,” which contained these words: “The renaissance of Waikiki must be a Hawaiian Renaissance.” Both messages were published in the daily newspapers on June 22, 1988.

He viewed the structures as an affront to the Hawaiian people, and fully expected an outcry from the Hawaiian community. There was none. He decided to be an adventurer and use the written word as the means to change the consciousness.

There was little response to the messages from the media, the Hawaiian community or the general public. Giampolo continued to voice his concerns. Fifteen more “Lights Out” newspaper messages followed over the years. The messages led to a 10,000-word journal on the issue. Giampolo raised thousands of dollars from his own savings and the magnanimity of his friends to pay for his effort. He personally distributed the journal throughout the State Capitol, into the offices of every representative and senator, the governor and the lieutenant governor. He dropped it off at the offices of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, business leaders and Hawaiian organizations. Hundreds of attendees to a Hawaii Tourism Congress received copies.

No response from anybody.

“I wondered why the silence,” Giampolo says today. “I decided the government officials would prefer to stay quiet and hope the issue would simply go away; or if the issue didn’t go away, they would take no responsibility and blame someone else.”

He believes the traffic lights were corrupt on a spiritual level; that they – however subtly – undermined the attitudes toward Hawaiian culture visitors may have brought with them to Waikiki. He sees the 1988 renovation of Waikiki as a significant part of Hawaiian history; one he thinks should be a part of the curricula at Kamehameha Schools so that the next generation can be better prepared to ensure a future for their culture.

He also believes the shame of that project like so many other events throughout Hawaiian history, had been passed on to the next generation. He would like to see politicians participate in the healing process and to “end the shame by coming forth and having the courage to publicly express their genuine remorse for supporting a project that took place as if Hawaiian culture did not exist.” He would like to see politicians “take responsibility for their involvement or silence.”

One of Giampolo’s newspaper messages said this: “The degrading and humiliating light structures on Kalakaua Avenue will be uprooted and removed, and with them a negative consciousness toward the Hawaiian people that never again will gain a foothold in this land.”

Now, twelve years later, the light structures on Kalakaua Avenue are replaced by lampposts that are reminiscent of a bygone era, and there are numerous other improvements that are reflective of Waikiki’s rich history and charm.

Giampolo sees the new fixtures as the beginning of a Hawaiian renaissance in Waikiki. He believes the change represents a change in consciousness toward Hawaiian culture in Waikiki, which was his intent in writing those thousands of words. “Today we are in the midst of a transformation in Waikiki spurred by a new system of beliefs and attitudes, thoughts and feelings, choices and decisions that are most respectful of Hawaiian culture. There is a new light dawning in Waikiki that is illuminating a new future for Hawaiian heritage.”

Now he would like to see a re-emergence of the Hawaiian language in Waikiki. “It used to be the only language spoken,” he says. “If business owners can create menus and storefront signs in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, then they can do the same in Hawaiian. For language is indicative not only of the origins of a culture but also of a culture’s strength.”

“I realize that some may have deemed it foolish to equate light structures with the demise of Hawaiian culture, but to create major changes you must have a willingness to be wrong in the pursuit of what is right, go beyond logic and reason without abandoning it, look for the meaning within symbols, dream, be patient, and also seek the highest truth and be not afraid to tell it.”

Giampolo sees a doorway that the Hawaiian people can go through to create a new awareness – and a new future – for themselves in Waikiki. Were his “Lights Out” messages the catalyst for a new beginning? “I would like to think that I played a role as a spark for that rebirth.”

Returning Hawaiian Values To Waikiki

The following article appeared in Midweek, Hawaii’s Favorite Newspaper. September 13, 2000.

The next time you hear somebody say one person can’t make a difference, mention Carlino Giampolo.

In fact, give Carlino much of the credit for all of the changes that are transforming Waikiki into a more Hawaiian place – and a more enjoyable place for locals and visitors alike.

It started back in June of 1988 when then-Mayor Frank Fasi put up those big, ugly, brown traffic light standards on Kalakaua Avenue – big enough to block out the sun and views of Diamond Head.

At the same time, Carlino came across a line in a metaphysics book – “belief precedes experience.” When I saw those brown poles, it was like those words flashed on them,” says Carlino, a native of Pittsburgh who moved to Hawaii in 1980 and lives in Waikiki.

“I thought, ‘I came to Hawaii for the beauty, why should I allow a few government officials to ruin that?’ So I started writing letters to the city.”

None, he says, was answered. With the exception of one daily columnist, the Honolulu media declined to get involved, figuring the standards were a done deal.

So, he started paying for ads to tell his side of the story. In all he and a few friends would spend $15,000 on 17 ads over the years.

“It was an investment in the Hawaii I believed in,” he says. “And it went beyond just a question of ‘beauty.’ It was a question of values. To me, the renaissance of Waikiki had to be a Hawaiian renaissance.”

Through it all, he took the high road. Instead of creating a disturbance on the streets of Waikiki or at City Hall, he says, “I chose to argue elegantly with words. I continued to speak my truth. I could have cut them down with a hacksaw, but that would not have changed the future or values.

“That project was the beginning of the decline of Waikiki. It wasn’t the Gulf War or the economic downturn in Japan. The poles created negative feelings in people. It’s because there was no regard for Hawaiian culture. It was if Hawaiian culture did not exist in Waikiki.”

As for the new changes in Waikiki, Carlino says, “It is very gratifying to see my dream become a reality after 12 years. This is a significant historical change. We’re seeing a changing of consciousness toward Hawaiian culture in Waikiki. The result is we’re creating a greater Hawaiian ambiance in Waikiki. Again, it isn’t just about beauty. It is about values. And it’s obvious Hawaiian values are coming back to Waikiki and we’ll never go back to the other way.”

Carlino, who publishes the visitor publication Paradise News and is the author of The Art of Letting Go, is easy to recognize around town. He drives a gold Chrysler LeBaron convertible and the top is always down: “I’ve never driven with the top up – October will make 11 years, so I think we have the record. Of course it helps that I live and work in Waikiki.”

Carlino also took on the state over an agricultural inspection film shown on Hawaii-bound planes. “It showed a Hawaiian woman giving a silk flower lei to an agricultural inspector for approval. And I thought, no Hawaiian woman would do that.”

He started writing letters. That portion of the film was taken out.

“Again, it shows that one person can make a difference,” he says. “You have to be patient, you have to be willing to look like a fool, but mostly you have to speak your own truth, your own values.”

Former President Bill Clinton on Beliefs Without Borders

Letter from President Bill Clinton

Carlino Giampolo with author Maya Soetoro-Ng

Carlino Giampolo and Maya Soetero-Ng

Carlino Giampolo with author Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Barack Obama, at her book signing.

Maya Soetero-Ng's book

Hawaii man dances across America


Carlino Giampolo traveled to each of the 50 U.S. states, making time to dance in each one. Here, he taps into the Stage Door restaurant, across from Penn Station in New York City. Photo courtesy Carlino Giampolo

The following article appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Reprinted with permission.

Hawaii man dances across America

By Jim Winpenny Special to the Star-Bulletin

For Phileas Fogg, an 80-day trip began and ended in London in 1872. He was daunted by storms, an Indian attack and other perils.

For Carlino Giampolo, an 80-day trip began and ended in Honolulu in 2004. He remained undaunted – and danced – all the way.

Why would Giampolo, publisher of the visitor tabloid Paradise News, want to dance his way across America? Hard to say. Why would he drive the same gold Chrysler convertible around Oahu for 15 years without ever putting the top up? Why would he write and publish a self-help book on surviving broken relationships when he holds no doctorate or degree in psychology? Why would he write and publish an instruction book on golf when he’d been swinging clubs for only a couple of years? Why would he launch a campaign against unsightly, modernistic traffic-light fixtures in Waikiki as an affront to the Hawaiian people when he is a Pittsburgh native of Italian heritage?

This dancing-across-America thing: A tie in with the new “Around the World in 80 Days” Jackie Chan movie, perhaps?

“No,” he says, “I didn’t even know they’d be making the movie when I began in January.”

Then why?

A lady friend, who would be my traveling companion for a trip we hadn’t planned yet, said, ‘I have never been to Florida, and I would like to visit there.’ So I took that thought and expanded it 50 times. I decided to do them all.”

But Giampolo didn’t want to visit 50 states without purpose, so he imposed two stipulations for this journey. The first was to stay at least one night in each state; the other was to dance in each state, in 50 different restaurants.

The first leg of the trip began on January 22 with a return to Honolulu on Feb.4. Leg 2: Feb. 11 to March 23. Leg 3: April 13 to May 8. Let’s see. If we subtract the in-between days from the time elapsed from the first day to last, that’s – well 80 days.

Total miles traveled: 55,700. That’s equivalent to two trips around the world at the equator. Carlino danced in 30 states with his companion, but she then had to return to her native country because of visa requirements. He handled the remaining 20 states alone. That brought about a change in the dance routine. “When I had a partner, we did a short swing dance. When I was alone, I did a little tap routine.”

He had learned from past travels to always do the most important thing first. When entering a new city, his first question to residents was, “What is your best or most unique restaurant?” Then, almost as an afterthought, “What are your most interesting places to visit?”

Cities he selected were determined by what he thought would be fun and interesting to see, and by what cities were served by Amtrak. Most of his travel was with Amtrak’s North America Rail Pass Plan, which allows unlimited travel for 30 days. He took Greyhound buses when it was more convenient or when it could take him to states without Amtrak service. In many cases he rented a car.

Along the way, he learned a lot about this nation. He was surprised to learn that it took three days by ferry to reach Alaska from Seattle. He chose a three-hour flight to Anchorage, which took more time than it takes to fly over half the mainland.

No restaurant in any city refused his request to dance there. In every case the restaurant manager or a waiter took a photo of the actual dancing.

The bad weather always was either just ahead of him or just behind him. His only encounter with snow was in Nebraska.

In Missoula, Mont., he was checking out of his hotel when the front desk clerk noticed from his credit card that he was from Hawaii. She asked, “Do you know Mr. Goodburger?” He replied, “No, I never met him.”

She said, “I mean the restaurant.”

The he understood. His friend, entrepreneur, Wes Zane, was in Missoula at the time to set up the franchising of his Mr. Goodburger restaurant to a resident in Missoula.

He found Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota to be awe-inspiring, especially when seen in the early morning sunlight. The monument to four of our presidents took 14 years to complete. Nearby was the mountain carving of Crazy Horse, which – when finished – will be the largest mountain carving in the world, at 563 by 641 feet. All four 60-foot heads on Mount Rushmore would fit inside the carving of Crazy Horse’s head, with room to spare.

New Jersey, he learned, has the most cherry blossom trees of any state – even more than Washington, D.C., whose Cherry Blossom Festival is world famous.

In Portland Ore., he went to the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo Festival outside of Mexico.

He discovered the country’s only capital city with no McDonald’s, no Burger King and no Starbuck’s: Montpelier, Vt. People there, he says, are very proud of that distinction.

When he arrived in Gillette, Wyo., he was walking from the train station to his hotel when he had to walk (dance?) around horse dung. A sign on the door of the hotel where he stayed reads, “Please remove your dirty boots before entering.” He then thought of a title for a book MidWeek editor Don Chapman might write: “You Know Your Not in Honolulu When…”

Will Giampolo write and publish a book about his tripping across the country?

He says he will, but only to thank all the people and companies that helped to make the trip successful and enjoyable. He has presented a large cake to the local AAA office for their help in booking hotels for him and for mapping out car routes for 13 states.

Now back in Honolulu, Giampolo quietly contemplates his next venture. He says he has no idea what that might be.