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Sammy Kadotani tops columnist’s Wish List

By Staff | Nov 19, 2009

Perceptive readers will notice this column is no longer called “Beyond the Beach,” partly because it is less about land and more about the remarkable people who live here. It also represents a new beginning. With the blessing of Editor Mark Vieth, the new Voices will begin appearing much more frequently. So many people to hear, all with fascinating stories to tell.

Only three people have ever turned down an interview. There’s Sammy Kadotani, the unofficial Mayor of Lahaina, who claims he has already been written about enough. Constant pestering hasn’t worked. Then there’s the gadfly Hans Michel, omnipresent at community meetings. And finally a very perky waitress at Leilani’s, where the wife and I hang out almost every Saturday afternoon.  

The wish list of prospective victims grows each week, with obvious choices as a base, as well as close encounters of the first kind, where the columnist engages in casual conversation with remarkable people met during daily forays around the community

The sought after include:

1. Sammy Kadotani — Born many decades ago where Kaanapali Beach Resort now stands, he has many tales to tell about plantation days, creation of Kaiser Permanente and his community involvement.

2. Bell Valet Bobbie Bariodan — A classmate of Sammy, he’s worked 41 years at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (KBH),  sometimes observed sweeping the entrance each morning with a broom made of palm branches.

3. Kupuna Charles Kaupu — A chanter, leading cultural practitioner and narrator at Old Lahaina Luau (I’m waiting to learn enough to ask him good questions).

4. Bartender Dale (Simensen) — He’s worked 40-plus years at KBH, and once kept an urn of ashes from one of his deceased favorite customers above the Tiki Bar.

5. Patti Balderas — This cashier at KBH helped open up the Sheraton in 1963.

6. Lori Sablas — Again at KBH! Working with Akoni Akana, she established cultural programs that made, and keep, KBH “the most Hawaiian Hotel.” A staff project began this week to build a Hawaiian canoe.

7. Richard Ho‘opi‘i — This ubiquitous falsetto singer owns a snow cone stand on the North Shore. Often during his performances, he thanks God for his blessings.

8. Joan McKelvey — Worthy of a second column on her South Seas Trading shop and her fight, along with other merchants, to survive in a weak economy.

9. Ke‘eaumoku Kapu — He was march leader of  “Ka‘apuni Ho‘a Kukui o na Moku ‘Aina (Go around and enlighten places in the land) — an epic Hawaiian awareness march around Maui. He provided eloquent talk story during rest stops.

10. Clifford Naeole — There should be a second column on this cultural advisor at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and planner of the fabulous Celebration of the Arts.

11. Charles Maxwell — We need more on this activist who has an incredibly up-to-date website on Hawaiian issues.

12. Friends of Moku‘ula — This nonprofit dilly-dallied for years in the beginning on restoration of the historic site that was home to Maui high chiefs, including King Kamehameha III, from the 16th to 18th centuries.

13. Willie K — It’s time for a second column on his many community involvements, to keep a promise. Too much procrastination…

14. Tamara Paltin — This Hilo-born gal is heavily involved in the Save Honolua Coalition. An ocean rescuer and canoe paddler, she keeps up on issues and writes intelligent letters to newspapers.

15. Laura Blears — She’s one of the world’s first women surfing stars and a hostess at Kimo’s.

16. Dickie Moon — This T S Restaurants entrepreneur is a big supporter of community causes and advocate for protecting Honolua Bay. Helps run a superb operation.

17. Michael Moore — One of the creators of Old Lahaina Luau, he’s an enlightened supporter of Hawaiian culture and  community causes.

18. Bob Cartwright — This former cook is owner of Whalers Realty.

19. Peter Martin — A major landowner and developer in West Maui.

20. Everett Dowling — This “Building in Balance guy” is under fire for wanting to develop Makena. He did not return calls requesting an interview.

21. The Twins: Marcello and Alessio Bugagiar — Born in Florence Italy, these residents of Maui are painters and etchers of Renaissance-style paintings and portraits of beautiful wahines.

22. A wood carver or fisherman.

23. UFO Parasail — This 24-year-old company won a Supreme Court lawsuit permitting it to operate during early whale season, but a new law negated the court action. Amazing story.

24. Gladys Baisa — This County Councilwoman is always willing to visit West Maui for an important community meeting.

25. Alan Arakawa — Bridge player and former mayor.

26. Wayne Nishiki — Farmers’ market merchant and County Council member (enough said).

27. Former plantation workers.

28. A kumu hula on the challenge of teaching young Hawaiians hula.

29. Claire Sanford — I’d like to talk to the niece of Colin Cameron, the progressive executive of the once-great Maui Land & Pineapple Company.

30. Kapana Gecko — The fictional character appearing here who has an opinion on just about everything. Gecko wants to meet the Lonely Dog — the fictional character whose portraits can be found at Lahaina Galleries. The dog lives in a place very reminiscent of Lahaina and will be starring in a major motion picture that creator Ivan Clark, an annual visitor,  has sold to Hollywood.

It should be noted this column is not afraid of controversy or providing honest criticism, considering the many issues we have that are not always discussed fully. With more frequency, there is also room for occasional feedback from readers in the tradition of columnists who ran complaints (and were far more talented than this one).

This ambitious lineup should give the new Voices column a good start. And if you know Sammy, give him a call. The batteries in the digital tape recorder will be fresh and the questions will come thick and fast.