Friday, October 28, 2011


Somebody has to say it—those palm trees on Nimitz are ugly!

by Larry Geller

Interestingly, if APEC visitors take cabs to Waikiki, they won’t really see the spiffy new trees very much at all.

I came home from visiting a Pearl City school yesterday along Nimitz Highway—it’s faster for me to do that then to join the line of parked cars on the H-1 barely creeping into town.

So I was looking forward to seeing the newly installed coconut palms. Heck, anything newly planted has got to be an improvement, right? And it is, kind of, I thought, as I first caught a glimpse of them. After a short while, though, my first impression faded and was replaced by a sinking feeling. Poor trees. So many of them trapped there. So sad.

The trouble is, they are so entirely out of context. The effect is not (IMHO) beautification. The trees, given the light industrial nature of their surroundings, are simply out of place. And yes, I think they’d be happier on a beach somewhere, and I would be happier also to see them there.

I love palm trees. I love how they slowly sway together on the beach.  I used to set up my blanket at Kaimana Beach in the middle of the thicket of palm trees just so I could lie on my back and watch them move against the sky. It’s a universal antidote, calming and inspiring, and so representative of the tropics.

But these poor trees… I sympathize with them.

I think there are at least three varieties, although I don’t know how to identify them. The tallest were so tightly cropped at the top that there should be a law against it. They wouldn’t sway in a gale wind.

The grass around the trees is perfect. But problematical. How so?  The carefully manicured, excessively healthy grass suddenly appears after a long stretch of littered, faded guardrail median. With everything around the grass so badly neglected, it looks too good. Not a cigarette butt on it. No brown, no yellow, just perfect green, a fake oasis in a filthy desert. Or a mirage. I was glad when the repeating cycle of different kinds of trees ended as I neared the pier area.

As APEC visitors leave the airport and descend the ramp to Nimitz, until they get past the Sand Island intersection, the filthy median resembles a long, thin ash tray. To the left and right of the road are warehouses not much different from the godowns that used to line the Singapore River  in the old days—the days before the river was cleaned up for tourists.

And guess what—APEC visitors will mostly take either cabs or limos to Waikiki, in which case they are sitting in the rear seat towards the right side if they are alone.

They won’t see the trees.  Well, they’ll see the lowest ones in a cab. From inside a limo they’ll see none.

They’ll see the warehouses, the auto repair shops, the overhead wires, and so forth, on the right side. But not the trees and not the grass.  Same when they return to the airport. 

So who are we fooling? Unless the state cleans up that litter, it will be the litter that makes an impression (although by my reasoning above, a right-side rear-seated passenger won’t see median-strip litter either).

If the powers that be can spend $200,000 and employ slave (prison) labor to clean out homeless encampments, how about cleaning the litter off of Nimitz too?

I think visitors expect to find palm trees on the beach, or on the lawn near their hotels, not strewn on manicured grass in an otherwise ugly environment. Some hedges, properly watered, would be nice. Put something there which we are to ignore, which is the proper attention due a median strip. If we make the median into the highlight of Nimitz Highway, we appear to be aesthetic dunces.

Yes, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig: “It means that you’re trying to disguise something ugly, but it is still very obviously ugly.”

Poor trees. Poor taxpayers. I imagine we’ll get the bill for all this one day.


Oahu needs and ordinance, enforced, that requires the adequate, professional landscaping, including 'green walls', where appropriate, of all commercial buildings fronting main highways and thoroughfares, and a property tax credit for part of the cost of professional landscape care for private homes' yards fronting same thoroughfares. Singapore does this, and the results are good. Our public street frontages are disgraceful and show a lack of respect for visitors.

Regarding the facelift for APEC, check out the latest with Leslie Wilcox denying that the homeless were cleared off the PBS lot across from the convention center for APEC.
"We really wanted to get this done much earlier and our original target date was months ago," Wilcox said. in the SA.
When the head of you local PBS comes out with such an obvious lie, how much hope can you have in your local PBS station? This really merits a headline.

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