Kapono Gecko, the fictional character who lives in Lahaina Public Library and is excited about the coming renovation project spearheaded by the Rotary Club of Lahaina, has not been heard from for some time.
Kapono last week asked to do a year-end review of what has appeared in this space. The Gecko was not to be denied.
In 2012, this column begins its sixth year (110 "Voices of Maui" and "Beyond the Beach" profiles; close to 80,000 words and counting).
“Hostess with The Mostest” Laura Blears — joined by TS Restaurants Maui Regional Manager Ron LaClergue — topped this columnist’s one-man poll as the favorite interview of 2011.
The mission remains the same: to capture the lives of the best, the brightest and the most interesting of those who enrich - or have enriched - Lahaina and Maui.
The challenge is that there are so many profiles yet to be written.
The lifeblood of the column is the meaty quotation. Here is a look back at the best of 2010.
Favorite quote of the year: "I could live here without a doubt. My heart is here. I want my ashes to be spread here. This is where my soul is," said a visitor in the May 5 issue.
"Enforcing Mainland values on Maui and its residents and visitors and ignoring the aloha spirit - one of the reasons people come here - is counterproductive to maintaining this place as one of the world's favorite tourist destinations," said Kapono Gecko, Jan. 5.
"He is gifted - the best; the most fabulous in the world. He should be known worldwide," said a fan of Willie K, March 24.
"When you go on the (surf) board, you forget about everything. To be a surfer requires desire, a love of swimming and the ocean, and balance and agility. If you want to do it, you can do it. It is such a good feeling to be able to dance on the water," said Laura Blears, June 2.
"Everything starts from here with flat feet. Use your extended arm to bring yourself around. You need to control your body from the tips of your toes. That is the name of the game in hula," said Kumu Hula Keali'i Reichel, July 14.
"I like to capture the initial scene that has light or color I like. A good many people say my work makes them feel happy. That's good. There is enough negativity in the world," said artist Jim Kingwell, newly located in the former home of the Old Lahaina Book Emporium, on July 28.
"This is one of the few places people have a passion for. If you're going to live on Maui, you have to have a passion for it, too," said KPOA Radio disc jockey Alaka'i Paleka on Aug. 4.
"They certainly didn't go up there with their caterpillar truck. The stone got up there on somebody's back," said Jim Luckey, describing how Hawaiians carried stone up to Lahainaluna High School in the 1830s to build the structure that housed one of the first missionary printing presses in the islands, Sept. 1.
"Charles had this magical way with words coupled with emotion. He would speak and could drive a crowd to tears (including himself)," said cultural practitioner Clifford Nae'ole, describing the late cultural icon Charles Ka'upu, Oct. 20.
"It was just a matter of growing up in the islands. The history of the culture captivated me," said Paulo Faleafine, executive director of the Hawaiian Guard, on why he formed the ceremonial group patterned after the guard of the monarchs, Nov. 3.
"Dennis always had a smile on his face. He sent me postcards on his trips, but he drove up my costs with all those olives," said Hula Grill General Manager Orrin Cross, commenting on the late Dennis Winnie's habit of ordering olives with his beer, Nov. 24
"We have cultural practitioners, Hawaiians working for our company, that teach the rest of us. The more that I have learned, the more I understood what they had to offer us and the world. As a company, we have adapted many of the Hawaiian values," said Trilogy CEO Jim Coon, reflecting on his business, Dec. 15.
Columnist's favorite interview: Laura Blears, surfer and Kimo's "Hostess with the Mostest," showing her clippings from Playboy magazine and continuing to provide quotable quotes even after two columns were written.
Most commented upon column: Dennis "Three-Olive" Winnie, the bittersweet tale of a beloved veteran denied his wish of burial in Makawao Veteran's Cemetery.
On to 2012...
Columnists Notebook: The book "Voices of Maui: Natives and Newcomers" is now on sale at the beach front activity center at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.