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Diamond Head

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Old 04-08-2007, 08:25 AM
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Default Diamond Head

Diamond Head, the most famous landmark in Hawaii, is an extinct volcano at the edge of the ocean shoreline that can be seen from almost any part of Honolulu.

The ancient Hawaiians originally named it Laeahi, which meant "brow of the tuna." British explorers renamed it Diamond Head in the early 1800s after they found what they thought were diamonds embedded in the lava rock. It was actually calcite crystals, a type of volcanic glass worth nothing. Explorers were always looking for precious loot to bring home to their king or queen to offset the expense of long voyages and they must have been disappointed in Hawaii, which has no minable gold, silver or platinum and only phony "diamonds."

Diamond Head is 760 feet tall and 3,520 feet in diameter. The inside of the crater is big enough to hold thousands of people. I know because I went to a Santana concert there one New Year's Eve and the crater floor was a sea of stoned-out people grooving to the music.

The crater has been used as Civil Defense headquarters and during World War II, it was the site of an artillery shore battery that was never fired.

On the south slope of Diamond Head the rich and famous live in luxury homes worth several million dollars each. Jack Lord had a residence there. He was the star of the long-running TV series "Hawaii 5-0" whose hair never moved when he was filmed outdoors in windy conditions (pomade or hair spray?) Doris Duke was another Diamond Head resident. She was called "the richest girl in the world" when she was born heiress to the billion-dollar fortune of tobacco and electric tycoon James Buchanan Duke. She named her opulent Diamond Head home Shangri La (ever notice how rich people often have names for their homes?) In an attempt to take over her money, her butler tried to arrange her murder (the butler did it!), but his scheme went haywire and he ended up in prison.

There is a small public beach below Diamond Head, but the hoi-poloi seldom use it because cops who patrol the area regularly to prevent burglaries of the expensive homes are wont to hassle anyone who looks suspiciously poor and out of place.

Diamond Head is also the title of a bad Charleton Heston film (did he make any other kind?) It portrayed a haole (white) plantation owner with an island girl lover, which was accurate history, and a Hawaiian knife fight to the death, which was not accurate. When Hawaiians killed someone, they used their bare hands like Samoans and other Pacific islanders.

"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
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