06/16/13

Revolution Books Hawaii

Logo When one thinks of book stores in Hawaii, common images would be Hawaiiana, hiking maps, best eats, or tourist attractions. What about books on revolutionary commentary? Probably not. I am proud to say that we have such an establishment in our Aina. Today I interview one of the patrons of Revolution books who has been frequenting the store since the eighties .

What can you tell me about Revolution Books?

The store started in the 1970′s by Bob Avakian, exactly when, I’m not sure. But the first store was located in Kalihi. Since then they’ve moved around and are now located near Pucks Alley. I wouldn’t call it a franchise, however, they are related to other rev books in the states. How many are left, I’m also not sure, but there probably some still in existence in big cities like LA, and NYC. It is run by members of the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party )
The chairman of the party is Bob Avakian, who exiled himself to France? ” Bob is more than that: he’s an innovative and critical thinker who has taken Marxism to a new place; he’s a provocative commentator on everything from basketball to religion, doo-wop music to science and he’s a pit-bull fighter against oppression who’s kept both his solemn sense of purpose and his irrepressible sense of humor.”

What can you find in Revolution Books?

The bookstore carries RCP literature, Mao, Marx and Lenin literature and tons of other things on social issues. They also carry poetry books, do film showings and have discussions on current issues. Lots of stuff you can learn; you can gain a whole new perspective on imperialism and how it affects us all. They have T-shirts, posters and maybe kids’ books from the cultural revolution in China.
The store supports local issues as well, and in the past has been a gathering place for all activist, not just rcp members to meet up and make signs and plan out demonstrations etc…. Lots of info on domestic issues like women’s rights, abortion and immigration. The new perspectives really make you see clearer, like putting on glasses for the first time.

What are some of the example of film screenings?

    (Model Ballet: The White Haired Girl)

The Invisible War

Is there any academic support for bookstores in Hawaii?

Some professors at UH support the bookstore by recommending their students to buy their books there. It is overall a good place to have on our island, if just to get another opinion on issues.

Bookstores like Revolution Books in Hawaii are invaluable sources of unfiltered information.
Stop by and visit or attend one of their book reviews and or film screenings.


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Revolution Books Hawaii Website
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04/17/13

Rise of The Replicants – The Last Days of The Slipper House

The Slipper House
In Ridley Scotts Blade Runner, we are shown a dystopian Los Angeles cityscape marked with floating advertisements, fluorescent neon storefront signs and the remnants of a culture that once stood.

I feel the same way walking into Ala Moana Center. Flashing signs to grab my attention, the rush of vendors trying to hock their wares at me. Is this a true representation of Hawaiian commerce? Or the amalgamation of out of island investors and property managers who have no grasp on long term local interests?

One the original tenants of Ala Moana Center, The Slipper House, is not only a local favorite for over 54 years but has been a destination for visiting tourists.

The Slipper House was founded in 1959 by Kiyoto Uejio.

“His inventory came on consignment through his older brother, Fumio, who imported rubber slippers, fancier straw-covered goza slippers and Japanese dancing slippers from Japan. Uejio didn’t want to sell anything more because he wanted his store to stand out.”

The style has evolved over the years from beach footwear to affordable sandals.

Kiyoto’s son, Glenn Uejio is a musician who earned an undergraduate and masters degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. A clarinetist, he previously performed with the Honolulu Symphony and taught music and band at Oahu high schools. He joined the store in 1978 after becoming weary of a music career.

The Slipper House philosophy’s has always stayed the same throughout the years.

“Glen holds five-minute staff meetings three times a day. In a back-room stairwell, employees post daily notes about what’s on their minds — everything from family stress since Sept. 11 to thoughts on how to display merchandise better. The notes are posted near another wall that has more permanent messages written by the staff explaining why they are proud to be working at The Slipper House.”

“Once a month, Uejio organizes one-hour staff meetings at places such as Haiku Gardens on the Windward side, aboard the Star of Honolulu dinner cruise, or near the ocean’s edge.”

“The business books say the customer comes first,” Uejio said in a 2002 interview. “No. The employees come first.”

The average employee stays nine years, longer than the average worker in retail, where turnover is relatively high. And Uejio said he hasn’t had to advertise for an opening in more than 20 years.

Sadly in last November (2012) General Growth Properties notified the store’s owner, Glenn Uejio, that it was terminating his lease at the end of May.

“Since then, Glenn has been trying to find jobs for his 19 employees. Uejio met with executives of 13 Hawaii companies hoping to find new jobs for his 19 employees and said he’s close to securing new work for all 12 of his full-timers.”

This is a common theme we have been witnessing throughout the years in Hawaii.

Returning to our comparison of Blade Runner, will the artificial consciousness of Ala Moana awaken to find itself devoid of the Aloha spirit? Or will Ala Moana Center remain another replica of every other mall one can find on a tropical island.

Sources
The Star Advertiser
The Honolulu Advertiser
Blade Runner