Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Promotional Materials

SEAFOOD Square is a business district in downtown Honolulu whose every component part of its moniker is a misnomer. Although a number of popular local eateries thrived in the area prior to the expansion of its boundaries in the late 90s, only an adjacent Red Lobster, which wasn't even technically part of the square proper, was known for its seafood. The remaining establishments consisted mostly of sushi restaurants (and it is possible that the conflation of sashimi and seafood, which is easy to make, was responsible for this confusion) and bar and grills existing alongside a few other national chains. Fisherman's Wharf lay about a half-minute's drive, with traffic, to the east of the Square, but unlike the Red Lobster it's proximity was never close enough to be mistaken for one of its establishments, even after the expansion. As to the "square" part of the name, the district hadn't been shaped like that since it and its adjoining properties were bought up by the Harada Homes and Offices company. Since the expansion, in fact, the shape of this area resembled more a widened diamond or a flat bicycle tire than anything so symmetrical as a square.
It is unknown why the name stuck years after it outlived its descriptiveness. Harada attempted to rechristen the zone "Oceanside Pavilion", but it never caught on except for postal purposes and colloquially it remained known as "Seafood Square". With Red Lobster long since closed down and replaced with a nightclub, the Square instead housed an unending stream of commercial properties. The businesses in these buildings and structures in the district consisted of everything from tag-team startups to the headquarters of 3 of the largest 4 banks in Hawaii. Those who appreciated the island for its natural amenities and managed to function on it without having some business to attend to in the Square shunned it. It was a blight, a sad testament to the overwhelming reach of urbanization. It was described as the "Haole-est" part of the island of Oahu (indeed, tour groups often stumbled off of cruise ships after 8-day voyages only to find themselves in the middle of the Square, which more often than not resembled the very places from which they were trying to vacation) and all day it seemed to hum with human activity.
Every day at 1:30 pm Calisto Belter sat at one of the round tables on the makai side of Seafood Square and ate something frozen from home or purchased at one of the restaurant chains. Unlike the Square, she had herself chosen the name which suited her. Born Monica Calisto Kea'auhopu Belter in the summer of 1987, her parents had named her for each one of her grandparents. She had to ditch Monica (which she never liked anyway) after the name had first been hijacked by a Courtney Cox character on primetime network TV, then by a presidential scandal which had embarrassed everybody. She never connected with Kea'auhopu, the maternal grandfather she never knew, and the name Belter had always just been a family name which reminded her of boxing. But when as a little girl she discovered that Calisto derived from the myth of a Greek goddess who transforms into a bear, she related. There was always something secretive and less-than-human about her, she thought.

No comments: