UNFINISHED DOCUMENTARY, STATE OF GRACE | Mid-1970s
Interviewee: CHARLIE DANGER
Once we put the word out on the street about what we wanted to build at Milakale, it was amazing how quickly it caught on. There were a lot of heads that had been at loose ends, which was causing them heat in some of the small towns around Kaua‘i. Small towns? What am I saying? They were all small towns! Still are, when it comes down to it.
What people don’t really remember is how much Kaua‘i was “Locals Only” back then. People just weren’t used to seeing long-haired white boys and their girlfriends just hanging around. It hadn’t yet become the developed vacation spot that it is today.
Folks hadn’t yet figured out how to make money on their scene, and many just didn’t want to. They weren’t ready to let go of the steady agriculture gig, but those days were quickly going the way of the Leave it to Beaver nuclear family trip.
A native Hawaiian friend of mine named Ikaia Keala—we called him Sticky Icky—used to do under-the-table construction jobs around the island and had somehow pulled the gig to dismantle the buildings on an old piece of Dole property. I think they were going to build a hotel or something there.
Sticky said that we could have the salvage if; one, we helped him take it all apart, and, two, if we got it all the hell out of there. There were some Japanese-backed builders that were champing at the bit to start pouring foundations, and they didn’t want a bunch of processing sheds and field offices in their way.
You should have seen the ragtag caravan of pickups, flatbeds, vans—whatever we could get our hands on—heading up the coast once we finished tearing those places down. We were like an army of ants all carrying pieces of some giant dead bug back to the nest.
We hadn’t had time to improve the way in, and there had been some genuine—and well considered, in my opinion—arguments against it. It would be harder for the county to sweep in and hassle us if we left the road impassible, so it ended being up to me to lift the salvage up and over the forest with the chopper. It was really weird, I felt like I was back in ’Nam again, helping to establish an LZ.
Once a stick, always a stick.