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By In Hawaii, Mixed Martial Arts

Breaking Curses and Records

The first time a Hawaiian fighter fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was at UFC 112 in 2010. Maui native and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove kicked off the main card with a second-round technical knockout loss to Mark Munoz. Three fights later, Frankie Edgar claimed the lightweight title in a controversial unanimous decision win over B.J. Penn, the defending champ from Hawaii. The Aloha State went 0-2 for the night.

Over a decade later, it felt as if history repeated itself in the worst way. At UFC 251 on Fight Island in July, Martin Day extended the Abu Dhabi losing streak to Oahu when he got knocked out by Davey Grant in the third round of the first fight on the card. In the same card’s co-main event, Max Holloway was on the wrong end of a split decision against Alexander Volkonovski. The eerie similarities between Hawaii’s two greatest fighters losing belts they should have won a decade apart did not have much time to gestate, as Calvin Kattar beat Dan Ige four days later. Prior to UFC on ABC 1, Hawaiian fighters were 0-5 all-time in Abu Dhabi. A rational fan would look at those five fights and point to the fact that Penn was the only Hawaiian fighter who was a favorite in his bout, but a true fan would understand that a curse was afoot. Everyone becomes a little superstitious when a pattern holds long enough.

By the time Punahele Soriano stepped into the Octagon at UFC on ABC 1, discussion of whether or not there was ever a curse was moot…

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By In Hawaii, rap

Local Flow

The camera rolls on three people at Punchbowl Coffee shop in Waikīkī. Two large speakers flank a tattooed DJ fiddling with switches on a soundboard to the left of the coffee bar. To the right, Eric de Mendonca—from the popular Japanese reality show Terrace House—pours coffee and bobs his head with casual confidence, like he owns the place, because he does.

Between them is Tassho Pearce. At first glance nothing really sticks out about him. He’s youngish—somewhere between a university super-senior and a new dad—lightly tanned and rocking a neatly trimmed moustache, Hawai‘i’s signature facial hair. He looks like countless dudes you pass on the streets of Honolulu, but when the beat starts, Pearce becomes something else, diving into song and wielding the mike with effortless confidence. “Shall I start like Moses? I’ll part the seas, put Next Coast on the charts for you all to see.”

A smile blooms across his face as he rhymes. The song sounds as fresh as it did when it was first released fifteen years ago. “They all thought we livin’ in shacks/Rippin’ the track so much doctor’s stitchin’ it back/Throw your H’s up in the air, keep’em sky-high/Reppin’ the H-A-W-A-I-I.” That song, “Honolulu,” appeared on Pearce’s 2003 album Rhyme and Punishment, when he rapped under the name Emirc. Since then he’s toured the globe and worked with artists like Kanye West and Kid Cudi. But “Honolulu” is still the pinnacle, a joyous love letter to Hawai‘i that became a genuine classic and the first song from a local MC (“master of ceremonies”) to get regular rotation on hip-hop radio stations, both at home and beyond.

Read more at Hana Hou!

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By In Hawaii

How We All Survived A Semester Of Zoom Classes

If you held a Chromebook close to your ear on Friday afternoon, you would’ve heard the quiet roar of teachers across the state breathing a collective sigh of relief.

It’s a natural phenomenon known to occur annually, but this year it reached an unprecedented volume and duration. A brief exhale reportedly swept through the islands, but abruptly ceased once we all remembered to inhale again.

Winter break will mark the end of one of the strangest and most challenging semesters in recent memory. In a decade of teaching, I can’t recall being this exhausted this regularly, except for maybe my brief stint teaching kindergarten. Just thinking about what it must have been like to teach 5-year-olds these past few months makes me want to nod off into a yearlong hibernation.

Much of this exhaustion was the result of speaking into a computer screen for hours on end every day, but that’s not the only reason. Since the end of July, we’ve all been in a perpetual state of agitated readiness, unsure of what plans will come next and how comfortable we should get with the current ones…

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By In Hawaii

The End Of Distance Learning Is Near. Let’s Not Rush What Comes Next

If all goes according to plan, the remaining few weeks of school before winter break will be the final weeks of distance learning. Of course the next six or so weeks may not go according to plan, and we should be ready to adjust to new realities as they continue to unfurl.

But assuming there is no surge of new cases from now until January, the phasing out of distance learning is a good thing.

The stressors, challenges and distractions that come with distance learning impact all aspects of student life: academics, social and emotional development, psychological well-being. And students aren’t the only ones affected. Families are strained, teachers are exhausted.

These are easily justifiable sacrifices in a pandemic – stress and developmental delays can be addressed much more effectively than death – but they are sacrifices nonetheless. Distance learning is not a serious long-term proposal except in the direst possible futures…

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat

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By In Hawaii

Turning Outrage Into Action To Help End Homelessness

In the days following the Paula Fuga incident, the same question was on everyone’s mind: how could anyone be like that?

Here was a popular and inspirational local singer performing at a fundraiser to help needy people have food for the holidays, getting repeatedly mocked after opening up about her own traumatic experiences with hunger and homelessness. It was gross and shameful and idiotic, and nearly everyone who watched the clip felt the same angry disgust.

But the outrage, justified as it was, seemed to be aimed less at the content of what was said than the context in which it was said. In general, viewing homeless people as objects of derisive entertainment is not an uncommon attitude in Hawaii…

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat

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