QUOTATIONS AND A SAMPLE PROFILE OF ONE OF THE REMARKABLE PEOPLE OF ALOHA WHO MAKE MAUI, MAUI
Leading radio personality THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW PLACES ON EARTH PEOPLE HAVE A REAL PASSION FOR. IF YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE ON MAUI, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PASSION FOR IT.
IT’S LIKE SWITZERLAND HERE. I AM ALWAYS NEUTRAL WHEN A GUEST ASKS FOR ADVICE. Bartender
Former School Teacher TOO MANY MAY REGARD MAUI AS A PLAYGROUND. THIS IS NOT DISNEYLAND .
Visitor I COULD DIE HERE. I WANT MY ASHES TO BE SPREAD HERE. THIS IS WHERE MY SOUL IS.
Trilogy catamaran sailors WE WORKED AT IT 14 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK BECAUSE ALL WE HAD TO BUILD IT WAS SWEAT EQUITY.
Award-winning hula teacher POLISH THIS STEP ALL WEEK. POINT YOUR HANDS WITH PRECISION. AND THEN WHEN I TELL YOU TO FREEZE, FREEZE.
Native Hawaiian SAMOANS IN SCHOOL WERE ALLOWED TO SPEAK SOMOAN. WE WERE PUNISHED FOR SPEAKING HAWAIIAN.
Owner of Old Lahaina Luau WE NEEDED TO PRESENT HAWAIIAN MUSIC IN A RESPECTFUL WAY AND NOT MAKE FUN OF POI.
Willie K, leading musician WOULD YOU LIVE ANYWhERE ELSE? Willie K, leading musician
Community non-profit leader I AM A CLIFF JUMPER
SLACK-KEY MASTER George Kahumoku Jr. A Grammy-Award Winner Lights a Fire
HE COULD HAVE BEEN A SUCCESSFUL ARTIST or a prolific farmer, or a teacher who could use his skills in art to boost the confidence of troubled high school students, or an itinerant player of music, or a big-name entertainer. As a matter of fact, for a while, he was all of these, all at the same time.
Constantly reinventing himself between struggles to make ends meet, after a bout with cancer at age 27, the energetic and genial Kahumoku, now 60, normally gets only 3 hours of sleep each 24 hoursóa good thing, considering his many interests.
Precocious even at four, a keiki who loved to sketch horses on his parentsí farm, George won his first scholarship to attend classes at the Honolulu Academy of Art in 1954. More scholarships followed to Kamehameha Schools and then the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
He skipped RISD for a full scholarship at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland because it was closer to home. The talented artist, trained as a sculptor, ended up after graduation teaching art to kids in the inner city. He turned them off putting graffiti on walls and onto to painting giant murals on downtown buildings with permission of an enlightened landowner.
City officials were so impressed with this son of Hawaii that they made him art commissioner for Californiaís Alameda County, including Berkeley.
Then opportunity knocked twice. Kamehameha Schools wanted him back in Honolulu to teach art. The job fell through, but he got a reprieve with an offer to start and become principal of a new Kamehameha Schools facility on the island of Hawaii near the legendary City of Refuge.
Struggling to make ends meet, he enthusiastically signed on. Ever restless, however, that, too, yielded still another lifestyle. Kahumoku started a farm on Hawaii to raise 1,200 pigs a year. This he found was a quick way to go broke, which he did.
In 1990, George began playing slack-key guitar at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Management insisted George perform with a partner. To keep it in the family, he picked his son, Keoki.
Hands shaking, playing poorly, Keoki barely made it through the first set, supplementing his poor playing with an even worse voice. No worries. ìAt the break,î George wrote, ìI grabbed Keokiís ukulele, used my wire cutters and clipped each of the strings on his instrument.
From a distance, you couldnít see they were not connected.î The two ìplayedî like that for months, musician and pantomime in perfect harmony. (Despite the rough start, Keoki today is a slack-key master and Grammy winner.)
Uncle George (the tag ìuncleî is often attached to locals because so many are related to one another) finally figured out the best way to make a living was to play music at the venues along Kaëanapali.
In 1992, George began playing at the Westin Maui, with one memorable, funny result that had nothing to do with music. While George was living at the hotel, in an ultimate clash of cultures, he and his Hawaiian friends one afternoon decided they had enough of restaurant food.
They would revert to their Hawaiian ways, grab a net, and go fishing at Puëu Kekaëa, known to legions of visiting snorkelers as Black Rock. Bringing along handfuls of peas, like those used by visitors to attract fish, George and friends cast their nets and pulled in a motherlode of uhu (parrot fish), manini (sturgeon), aholehole, uëu, and others.
Figuring they should avoid cleaning their catch at the Westinís spacious pool, they returned to their room, filled up the bathtub with fish for cleaning and flushed the entrails down a single toilet until it clogged up. The fish would have to be dried.
They strung up ropes, lined them with fish, and turned on the air conditioning. Odors of drying fish wafted through the entire flooróthe fishermen didnít realize the AC vents circulated air from one room to another.
Time to cook: gather dried keawe wood stacked outside the Villa Restaurant. Find some rocks around the waterfall. Group the rocks into a small roasting pit on the fourth-floor lanai, and lay a wire shelf from the mini-bar across the rocks. Fire it up the barbecue a huge kala fish on the open fire. Then walk down the beach for a break.
The sirens of fire engines are not often heard along Kaëanapali Parkway, but they were that day. Yellow-coated firemen strung up a long ladder to the room to put out the tiny flames amid the rocks, blasting a big hole in the sliding-glass door with the powerful stream of the firehose. Another day in paradise.
Such mischief has been a way of life for a man whose infectious laugh is duplicated only by his wife, Nancy, the sister of his first music publisher.
By the nineties, George was playing 15 to 20 gigs on Maui a week and traveling to the mainland, playing at performing arts centers as far away as Carnegie Hall in New York. Then, with a flash of insight, George adopted a new approach that sent him on the path to winning Grammys.
Why not duplicate on Maui the successful concerts George appeared in on the mainland? He could stage his own weekly concert series and charge admission.
Paul Konwiser, a retired computer whiz with NASA and a big fan, put together the first show. Clifford Naeëole, the able cultural practitioner at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, offered an auditorium.
The Masters of Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar Concert Series was born. Years later, George and as many as 20 guest artists a year are still going strong, recently completing well over 300 performances at the Ritz and a new venue, Napili Kai Beach Resort.
Dancing Cat Records came calling a few years ago. Impresario George Winston regarded Georgeís ìmelodies and his voice as a gentle Hawaiian breeze.î That breeze, plus the slack-key music of a dozen others the last few years, has brought five Grammys and a recent nomination for a possible fourth based on weekly appearances by George and a dozen or more artists, including Uncle Richard Hoëopiëi and up-and-coming Peter de Aquino.
In 2016, George celebrated the 13th year of his slack-key show and told another story. At a very early age in Oahu, he was waxing cars and making $3.00 a day. He had written a song and played it for come construction workers. They gave him $27.50. He never waxed a car again.
PASSION FOR MAUI
“People’s love affair with Maui, once ignited, is never-ending and there is never a divorce.
– THE AUTHOR
FROM CALIFORNIA to the New York islands, from the continent of Europe, from Montreal to Mexico, from Australia to Aruba, from Japan and now China 2.5 million people land on a mid pacific island further from land than most any other. Some keep the dour expressions of back home. Many however, show that Maui glow. The Glow expresses enchantment with the place.
The enchantment lures visitors. It also lures the rich and famous who live here, own homes, or visit here: Oprah*, Beatle George Harrison*, Michele Obama, the Beach Boys, Marlon Brando*. Mick Fleetwood*, Sara Palin, Julia Roberts, Rock Hudson*, Michael Jordan, Elton John, Bill Maher, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Carol Burnet, and many more.
An insurance broker from the Virgin Islands awhile back exits Kahului airport, notices the aroma of fragrant plumeria, feels the trade wind breezes and knows she has to live one the island of Maui. Six months later she is in a new home. The experience is not uncommon.
A love of Maui brings visitors back again and again and often evokes comments that one day they would like to live here. Some eventually do.
For some, love grows into a passion. . There are other Hawaiian Islands. For none is there the kind of passion you can find for Maui.
Travel magazines have named Maui the world sbest island. Maui No Ka Oi (Maui is the best). Hawaiians said that centuries ago. It is still true.
A journalist and his bride come on honeymoon. Over a few years they vacation on the Caribbean island where the sunsets in the wrong place. Not America and is no aloha for tourists. So
So the husband, this author, says: “Why are we trying to find a place as nice as Maui ?Let’s go there every year.” And we do.
Years later, a daughter marries and a new son-in-law wonders: “What is all this fascination with Maui? Why is there a giant Aloha Airlines poster in the family room and why are there so many other posters and photos of the same place?
Then he comes with new wife on his first trip to Maui. And then he knows. He gets it. A year later he is talking about his next trip and what he will do. Go to Mama Fish House, Maui premier restaurant situated on a lovely cove white capped waves crashing ashore from a deep blue ocean, brilliant blue sky overhead, white fluffy clouds, a surging wind that propels colorful sails
along the coast.
People’s love affair with Maui, once ignited, is never-ending and there is never a divorce.
An ultimate frequent visitor from Washington State expresses it best on these pages. She tells she her companion: I want my ashes spread here. If I die here don’t sent me back. I am home.
One day it is likely she will get here wish, as will the author and his bride now of 46 years. (We tell newly married that a honeymoon on Maui is a great start. Just look at us.
For the author, there will be a celebration of life attended by remarkable people of aloha and pictures, laughing on St Patrick’s day at the Lahaina Yacht Club, walking through a rain forest, coasting on a bike down Haleakala crater, on a picnic in a grassy field on the way to Hana, introducing a grandson to the Pacific Ocean, enjoying a luau with relatives,
attending a community festival and much more.
Loved ones will board a flower-decked canoe. A conch shell will blow. And the ashes will waif through the tropical breeze and fall into the sea.