John Donne said no man is an island, while Simon & Garfunkel said they were. But weren't they all missing the point? Islands might be OK metaphors, sure, but they are much better as actual things. Take, for example, the islands of the Pacific, lovely dots of land in the ocean that you aren't rich enough to visit. Vancouver will be hosting a three-day Hawaiian festival this weekend—with craft workshops, hula competitions and themed runs—but if you're hungry for more island culture, here's where to find it in town.
Real Shave Ice
Every spring, Portland State's Pacific Islanders Club puts on an epic luau celebrating the Polynesian islands of Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga, with a traditional dinner, a dance performance and about a thousand drunken revelers.
Tiki is less Polynesian than Polynesian-obsessed. If you can't actually make it to an island, Hale Pele (2733 NE Broadway, 662-8454, halepele.com) is the next best thing, with an indoor creek, fake thunderstorms, carved tiki gods and bric-a-brac that looks like it was gathered in the wake of a tsunami, not to mention some of the best cocktails in town.
The all-Tongan music group 3RP's name stands for the three R's—rap, reggae and R&B—combined with Polynesian beats into a new genre they call "urban island," which plays the occasional club but sounds more than anything like a beach bonfire.
Tribal Island Tattoos
Portland tattoo artist Billy Vea (593-0266, email@example.com)—two-time winner of his home island's Samoan Tattoo Festival—makes intricate black Maori, Hawaiian, Samoan and Tongan designs.
Somewhere between a Southern meat-and-three and Japanese bento, the plate lunch is Hawaii's fattening answer to basically everything: meat, rice and mac salad. L&L (4328 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 1500, 200-5599, hawaiianbarbecue.com), pretty much the In-N-Out of Hawaii—has no frills, but for some, it's the taste of home. For a delicious kalua pork plate lunch—not to mention a poke of the day and some authentic P.O.G. juice—try Ate-Oh-Ate (2454 E Burnside St., 445-6101, ate-oh-ate.com). For another spin on the Hawaii area code, 808 Grinds (10100 SW Park Way, 713-8008, 808grinds.com) serves up tasty garlic furikake fries, kalbi ribs and its trademark fried chicken. Another option is to create an excuse for a party (King Kamehameha Day?) and get it catered by Noho's Hawaiian Cafe (2525 SE Clinton St., 233-5301; 4627 NE Fremont St., 445-6646; nohos.com).
Every Football Victory in Oregon That Matters
Just about everything good that Oregon does in football owes something to our collegesâ long relationship with the Pacific islands. The Ducksâ two national championship berths? Thank Marcus Mariota, the quarterback of Samoan descent who became the first Oregon player born in Hawaii to win the Heisman Trophy. As for the 59-year âstreakâ by McMinnvilleâs Linfield Collegeâthe longest run of winning seasons in college football historyâknow this: Through many of those years, Linfield had as many as 24 Hawaiian players on its team at once, with six islander recruits in last yearâs class alone.
Thanks to Pacific Islander artist Robin Fifita for her help compiling this list.
GO: 3 Days of Aloha in the Pacific Northwest is July 23-25 in Vancouver, Wash. See hawaiianfestivalpnw.com for times and locations.