Over the weekend, Paul Drewes and I held a funeral for the death of our KHNL careers. It was fun, and thanks to Erika Engle for the write up! I didn't invite her because I wanted coverage, but rather, because I like her. However she ended up running this column (click here).
Paul and Diane
I'd like to be clear that this wasn't a chance to get together and bitch about being laid off, or any elements related to that aspect. We were too busy having fun to want to rehash upsetting situations. Most of us are just trying to move forward without dwelling in negativity. It was a chance to get together and enjoy each other's company, because now that we don't work together anymore, a lot of us won't see each other as frequently.
New chapel attached to Diamond Head side
The glass office, seen from Moanalua Freeway
We ran it like a real funeral, with reception table and casket. We even had a slide show of the "deceased" - all the photos of employees- and a video presentation of bloopers. For the pre-ditigal camera days, I had to look back through photo albums dating back to 1996 and painstakingly, manually scan each photo, so I was judicious about using only one or two photos from each event.
Diane, Tammy Yamanoha, Darren Pai, Julie Ogata, Patty Lee
Paul Nickel, Duncan Armstrong, Gavin Huihui, Susan Armstrong
I tried to represent everyone by having at least one photo per employee (yes, even if I didn't like them, which was only three people in the whole of my time there). It ended up being about 230 photos, from major work events like the 2006 quake, to bon voyage parties, to some of the more scandalous social events the staffers have thrown.
The program started at 6 p.m. at Moanalua Mortuary. Paul and I had a eulogy scheduled for 6:30 but a lot of people were late, so in the tradition of "News Late", as we used to joke about ourselves, we postponed that till 7.
My dad is a classical pianist so I recruited him to play any death-related, somber tunes, like Chopin's Funeral March. He played for an hour, and then was pulled back on stage much later by music aficionados, who held an impromptu live music concert/ karaoke/ dueling pianists. The other piano players were Scott Ishikawa and Attila Seress. My daughter and her cousins were there, so at some point my dad also had to contend with four kiddies around his chair.
We had a casket, and inside we buried relics of our work history: business cards, station logo shirts, tapes, and one witty person wrote "innocence" on a paper and dropped that inside. Surprisingly, when we opened the casket lid and started to puff up the pillow and blanket inside, Inca actually jumped in!
She was sitting at our feet and I don't know what intrigued her, but she easily jumped straight up and inside the casket- about 3 feet. She can jump high. She then curled herself up and started to get cozy, to our astonishment. Before I could snap a photo, Claus took her out.
Also, a little bit to my astonishment, guests actually wanted to get inside a casket and take a photo. I'm the last one to think anyone's too weird or extreme, so it's fine with me, but I for some reason have never been interested in lying in a casket. It's fine if they do- and some did.
In this same vein, I was also amused and surprised some people wanted a tour of the mortuary. Pleased, too, that they weren't shying away from the idea of a party at a funeral home. We got a lot of "eew" reactions (from people who obviously didn't come) because death is still such a taboo subject in the US.
We had a disco ball and dancing, with music supplied by two friends, Christine and Kym. Special thanks to Kym Miller, because he labored over a CD for me to find songs with death-layoff-news references. Then he mailed it from Seattle! I can now say I outsourced the vendors for this funeral!
My best girlfriend Jen came with me at 4 pm to set up, and spent most of the night manning the reception table with Lea. (Now you see why she's so awesome?) She also helped me set up the news-themed Christmas tree, decorating it with video tape garland and news script. Thanks to Maile for giving us the tapes to rip up. We ended up using the tape as a "red carpet", stringing it from outside the door, down the hall, and into the casket.
Master control's nightmare
Inca was such a good dog. She let five small children drag, chase, and lie all over her for four hours. I have never seen Inca so tired before.
It was a lot of fun, and ended somewhere pre-dawn. There was way too much beer and wine left over. I even gave doggie bags of alcohol to the very last guests, and I STILL have left overs. Claus and I were exhausted and left at 1 am, but a small group of friends were still drinking and talking, so we simply left them.
Taires Hiranaka, Paul N, Maile Akita, Scott Ishikawa, Darin Akita, Paul, Gina
Tom Brower, Joe Aikala, Henry Smalls, Tim McRobert, Glenn Wakai, Derrick
The second to last people left at 2 am, and they said they left our friend sleeping on the bench. I'm going to have to check on him later. If you stay in that position too long at that place, you might get mistaken for a customer.