This column rarely addresses politics or controversy, at least not in a partisan fashion. That's because I'm old school, a broadcast news dinosaur who learned her trade back when the line between news and opinion was clearly defined and each had its time and place on the air. KMVI and KNUI followed the old tradition of airing an editorial opinion right after their AM radio newscasts, written and delivered by the bosses - Nora Cooper at KMVI and Tom Elkins at our rival KNUI.
I'd been out of high school for less than a year when I started working at KMVI, which, along with The Maui News, was then owned by Maui Publishing Co. I was the junior member of a two-person news department. News Director Mike Hurley taught me how to write for radio newscasts, concise and factual. No flowery prose or informed analysis. Just the facts, ma'am. Leave the editorializing to Mother Cooper.
When I began covering local stories, my father urged me to emulate his favorite Maui News reporter of that time, Bob Johnson.
He was the best, Daddy said, "because you can never tell by reading his articles how he feels about the issues. That's a great reporter."
In Honolulu, news directors like Don Rockwell at KITV-4 and Don Robbs at KHVH Newsradio echoed Daddy's sentiments and Hurley's lessons. (Ironic note: After moving on to TV news, Hurley was eventually fired for editorializing. Actually, it was his unfortunate choice of four-letter words in an outtake which mistakenly aired on the 6 o'clock news. Rockwell's the one who fired him and then hired me.)
Now, as a columnist, not a reporter, I'm free to share my mana'o - my thoughts, opinions, ideas - and I do, except for politics. Though I haven't worked in broadcast news for over two decades, I still feel obligated to that seemingly obsolete standard of objectivity. And because of my biennial engagement, reporting election results on Akaku, I've felt justified in keeping my political views private.
Until last week and the frenzy of post-Inauguration punditry that persisted for days. Having heard and read all the passionate discourse on what the president himself called "the most significant event of the week," I just have to toss in my two cents. I like Michelle Obama's bangs.
I admit I'm partisan, being a banger myself. I empathize with the first lady; I know how nerve-wracking it is to see the first lock of hair fall from your forehead as you second-guess your decision. Unlike a little trim, cutting bangs changes your look drastically, and not always for the better. But I was surprised by the number of folks who dissed not only the First Bangs, but bangs in general.
OK, I should also admit that I haven't always been big on bangs. From toddlerhood through junior high, my mother cut my hair. She kept it short, in a pixie cut, with what she called "rat bite" bangs. She was really good at it; my bangs always looked natural, not chopped, although occasionally they rode way too high on my forehead, like those awful haircuts George Clooney and Antonio Banderas sported some years ago.
But I was fine with my little girl bangs, until one day when my friends and I were playing Three Stooges, and they said I had to be Moe because he and I had the same haircut. I guess I should have been grateful that I didn't have Larry's hair or Curly's lack thereof, but that didn't occur to me then.
By 6th or 7th grade, most of my female classmates had medium length to long hair. The few of us who still had short hair were Japanese and we got teased about our "chawan (rice bowl) cuts," so named because they were supposedly made by placing a bowl upside down atop the victim's head and trimming off all the hair that protruded beyond the bowl. Moe had a chawan cut.
As a teenager, I was finally allowed to grow my hair out, and except for a couple of experiments with layering in my 20s, I've kept it long ever since. Once, in my mid-40s, I wanted to try wearing bangs again, but my husband protested. Barry loved my hair unstyled and uncut. He'd sulk whenever I'd trim off an inch or two of split ends.
After Barry's death in 2007, cutting bangs was a significant step in my transition from grieving widow to independent woman. I don't know if Michelle's bangs are as meaningful to her, but she seems to be as happy with hers as I am with mine. And her Barry likes them.
Gee, delving into controversy was much easier than I'd anticipated. Perhaps next week I'll weigh in on mullets.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.