Go Away With … Todd Rundgren



By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
March 30, 2010

Rock legend Todd Rundgren has been performing for more than 40 years. Best known for hits such as “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day,” Rundgren is currently on tour. The 61-year-old Pennsylvania-born musician now resides in Hawaii.

“I used to live in Upstate New York where we got incredibly bitter cold for weeks on end,” Rundgren says. “And I remember the winters from growing up in Pennsylvania. I have no desire to relive them.”

Rundgren says that if you ever make it out to Hawaii, give the local delicacies a try, including something with Spam in it.

“That’s a holdover from the days when Hawaii’s principal function was as a military outpost. I still eat Spam. I just made a Spam sandwich last night. It was delicious.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Kauai has always been my favorite destination so I made it my home in the mid-’90s. I travel a lot for work, so it’s nice that my favorite place to travel to and my home is now one and the same. We don’t have a city the size of Honolulu. The biggest city is just a town, but I like that. People will visit us as time permits, but it’s almost like going to another country. Kauai is not the kind of place where people just drop in unexpectedly.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Los Angeles is relatively easy to get to and Chicago is also high on my list, but I really enjoy island hopping and seeing the active volcanoes and such. They’re natural wonders. I’ll go to Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) when I need to get to a big city. It reminds me a little bit of Miami. People are always surprised to find that I’m not really a big fan of Maui. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. For the locals, Maui doesn’t have a huge appeal.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Some clean clothes, music and something good to read.

Q. Where would you like to go away to next?
A. Some place exotic, like Japan, which I love. I had been there (a little while ago) but it was for work and I was so busy I hardly had any time to enjoy the surroundings. Unfortunately, the dollar is so weak that that could be a very expensive trip. I need to find a way to make it part of my work routine — with a little less work! Then someone else can cover the expense. (Laughs.)

Q. What advice do you offer vacationers going some place for the first time?
A. Be aware of your surroundings. You get a lot of people coming to Hawaii from landlocked states who’ve never seen the ocean before. They get all giddy about how beautiful the water is and just jump right in, without realizing how dangerous it can be. I’m actually a poor swimmer myself. I like Kauai and find the ocean to be inspirational and spiritual — cleansing — but I rarely go in it.

Q. How do you try to fit in when you’re a tourist?
A. I try not to be pushy or loud.

Q. Have you ever been guilty of being an “ugly American”?
A. No, but I’ve seen quite a few examples of it.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM


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