Path of Dignity or Path of Tragedy

Letter to Mayor William Peduto
May 11, 2020
(Written two weeks prior to the tragic death of George Floyd.)

Path of Dignity or Path of Tragedy

There are two fundamental pathways of change: the less traveled Path of Dignity, or the worn-out Path of Tragedy.

You Refused to Support

Since 2007, we have been asking you to join us on the Path of Dignity to make positive changes for our Panther Hollow community and the larger Oakland neighborhood. Continue reading

Protecting and Preserving Our Two Neighborhoods

On July 29, 2018, residents and supporters of Panther Hollow and The Run held a protest rally at the monument site in Panther Hollow, and then proceeded to walk to The Run. The purpose of the protest was to send an unequivocal signal to city, university, and foundation leaders that this proposed roadway, from the old Almono site in Hazelwood (now called Hazelwood Green) to Oakland, is neither wanted nor needed by our two communities. Speeches were given in Panther Hollow and The Run. The following is one of those speeches.

July 29, 2018

By Carlino Giampolo
Panther Hollow

I would like to thank the residents of Panther Hollow and The Run, as well as all of our supporters, for being here today for this historic gathering. We unite as one to urge city administrators, foundation leaders, and university leaders to end the plan to build a roadway through our two neighborhoods. Continue reading

Carlino Giampolo

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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 www.PantherHollow.us. 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 development. Those efforts are on the website www.SavePantherHollow.us.

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 traveled 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 to focus on Hawaiian culture. The newspaper, many of whose articles were written by Hawaii’s most prominent historians, was published for 35 years until June 2015, making it Hawaii’s longest-running visitor publication owned by a sole proprietor.

He created Mano the Menehune, the first regularly appearing cartoon in a visitor publication. The newspaper also had a monthly feature called “Living Legends of Hawaii.” Those interviewed for the feature were included 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 Paradise News were compiled and published in his book, The Land of Aloha.The book was given as a welcome gift to 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 Hawaiian people and 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, on May 10, 1999, to a new city law that outlined objectives for the Waikiki Special District. It contained language that would “promote a sense of Hawaiianness within the district.” It further stated, “The design of buildings and structures in the Waikiki Special District should always reflect 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 of that year.

From 2007 to 2015, he traveled 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 www.OaklandDignity.com.

Boundary Street, Panther Hollow, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Boundary Street, Panther Hollow, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

His most recent volunteer efforts include improving the Diamond Head Lookout, one of the most scenic locations on Oahu. He painted the wall surrounding the lookout, and engaged in planting grass and refurbishing the Amelia Earhart stone monument site.

National flags at Diamond Head Lookout

National flags at Diamond Head Lookout, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In Panther Hollow, he also began a beautification project of Joncaire Street, the main street leading into the neighborhood. These volunteer efforts further his commitment to protect, preserve, and enhance the beauty of his communities.


Letters to the Editor

In keeping with his actions to protect and preserve Panther Hollow, end social injustice, and his beautification efforts, the following are just a few of his letters to the editor that have been published.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser on March 12, 2022

Refuse companies keep Waikiki residents awake

I write this letter after being awakened unnecessarily in the early morning hours by the banging and clanging of dumpsters being emptied into refuse trucks.

The Bible states: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

No individuals of private refuse companies would willingly share their loved ones’ phone numbers in order that they would all receive a wake-up call at 3:15 a.m., 3:31 a.m., 3:56 a.m., 4:12 a.m., or whatever time in the early morning they disturb others with their actions.

Residents are caught in the middle between private refuse companies who don’t respect the dignity of others, and those who could pass laws to protect residents but choose not to do so.

It is time for Honolulu City Council members to strengthen their beliefs, imagination, desire and compassion to pass a law protecting residents by stating: no trash pickup by private refuse companies before 6 a.m.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 3, 2022

Thank you for canceling Mon-Oakland project

Panther Hollow residents extend their deepest gratitude to Mayor Ed Gainey for his decision to abandon the Mon-Oakland Connector project to construct a roadway through Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run to connect Hazelwood Green to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Truth and justice have prevailed.

That important decision signifies a new consciousness at City Hall upholding residents’ dignity. Should Mayor Gainey continue on this Pathway of Dignity, he will be revered as one of Pittsburgh’s great mayors.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all who saw this project’s injustice from the beginning. They helped us move forward when the outlook seemed insurmountable.

We are most grateful to the Four Mile Run residents, who stood in solidarity, and organizations like Pittsburghers for Public Transit. Their fearless actions were vital to this triumph.

We are also grateful to those who opposed us. They only strengthened our resolve.

The means to an end is more important than the end itself. When individuals are confident in their abilities to succeed, they proceed with harm to none. Words were the primary means to this end; thousands of words have been used since we first heard of this project in 2015.

The next step is for Oakland organizations, the mayor and his administrators to unite in demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the universities for their severe impact on their host community.

The monies will be used to realize the shared vision for a new beginning for Oakland’s community.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser on December 10, 2021

Money wasted on rail could help homeless

Imagine the islands where every homeless person would be provided with a place to live, and state-of-the-art hospitals would provide them with mental and physical health care. Imagine the islands where all decrepit streets would be repaired and paved with the highest quality asphalt.

These visions could be reality if taxes collected were used for those purposes instead of the boondoggle Honolulu rail transit project.

Stop this eyesore project at Middle Street. Instead, create a first-class bus system to take passengers on a 15-minute ride to Ala Moana Center, and from there, an eight-minute ride to Waikiki. This action requires politicians to believe that respect for human dignity must be their highest priority.

With this belief, all future taxes would be diverted from the rail project and used to implement the above visions, and other needs that elevate the quality of life for all the people of Hawaii.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 27, 2021

Expand tax credit to help kupuna, too

If the main purpose of the child tax credit payments is to reduce poverty and close the income gap between the proverbial haves and have-nots, to which some politicians have alluded, then the program needs to be changed (“Tax credit could lift Hawaii families out of poverty,” Star-Advertiser, July 16).

The 2021 poverty line is $26,500 with a family of four. Why, then, under this program, do couples earning up to $150,000 a year receive a full credit of $300 per child, up to $3,600 a year? Also, why does a single parent earning up to $112,500 receive that same amount per child?

On the other hand, many kupuna in our society need the same kind of assistance that the child tax credit provides. This program could be renamed and expanded for our kupuna without changing the payment amount.

The income cutoff to receive full credit would be restructured to $50,000, not $150,000. The program would expand so that each kupuna whose income is less than $50,000 also would receive $300 per month, up to $3,600 a year.

Such changes would surely bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth in our society.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser on January 15, 2021

See beyond the labels to understand one another

Our country has a polarization problem. One root cause is that people adhere to the practice of labeling someone, and then love or hate that label.

The founder of Proud Boys Hawaii, a far-right extremist group, ran for the state House District 22 seat in 2020, and received nearly 30% of the vote. Did those in Waikiki and Ala Moana who voted for him do so because they believed in his extremist views, or simply because he was labeled a Republican?

There are two pathways toward change: the Path of Dignity or the Path of Tragedy. If we are to create a new world in which the dignity of each person is continuously respected, then the practice of labeling one another must be replaced with understanding one other. That concept requires a comprehensive gathering of information, interpretation, discernment, assessment, inference, appreciation, and valuation.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 3, 2020

Expansions are a detriment to communities

The Nov. 30 editorial “Invest in Innovation” was most regrettable. It fully supported the Mon-Oakland Mobility Project, which will build a roadway from Hazelwood Green, through Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow, to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. That roadway will destroy Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow, one of Pittsburgh’s first Italian neighborhoods.

The elite hypocrites who wrote this editorial, like the university administrators, city leaders and Hazelwood Green leaders who support this project, neither live in these neighborhoods nor want to. However, they support the cancerous, uncontrolled expansion of these universities, to the detriment of our communities.

It is incongruent that the city wants to be the innovation capital of the world, while destroying two beloved neighborhoods to complete this project. Our communities will continue to fight to protect and preserve our heritage and culture.


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.

Tribute to an Exceptional Mother

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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.

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.

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
carlinog@hotmail.com

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.
http://triblive.com/aande/music/12652105-74/bruno-mars-meets-source-of-nickname-bruno-sammartino

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.”

Hawaii man dances across America

art

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.

Panther Hollow – a community rich in history and heritage

Panther Hollow, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

wqed.org

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 www.PantherHollow.us. From there you can click the WQED 2009 Video link.

– June 9, 2008