Maui Connections

Across the evening sky,

all the birds are leaving

But how can they know

it’s time for them to go?

We were young when we first heard the words, but we sensed in Judy Collins’ version of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” rich emotions and wisdom we hoped we would gain, if we ever grew up.

A half-century later, the song provides the poignant refrain in “The Edge of Paradise,” the documentary about the Taylor Camp hippie treehouse commune that sprang up on Kauai in the ’70s. It screens at 7:30 p.m. April 6 in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

You’ve read about the award-winning film, directed by our friend Bob Stone, many times in this column over the years when it was still titled “Taylor Camp.” Produced by John Wehrheim, who shot the gorgeous black-and-white stills when Taylor Camp was happening, this is the latest incarnation of the film, remastered in HD with new interviews and action footage, new music and a sparkling new look.

The screening will be followed by a celebration of Bob Stone’s life, whose death last November came as such a shock to so many of us.

Rather than repeating my own enthusiastic observations about the film, here’s how John Wehrheim describes it in the publicity materials.

“Director Bob Stone was able to bring the original film ‘Taylor Camp’ to its complete evolution prior to his passing in late 2018, and ‘The Edge of Paradise’ is the reimagined and full-spirited result of those efforts.

“The original film covered the story of a magical place born in 1969, when Howard Taylor, brother of actress Elizabeth Taylor and living on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai, bails out a rag-tag band of young mainlanders jailed for vagrancy and invites them to live on his oceanfront land. Soon, waves of hippies, surfers, and Vietnam vets find their way to this clothing-optional, pot-friendly, treehouse village at the end of the road on Kauai’s North Shore — the ultimate hippie fantasy . . . until eight years later when the locals decide it’s time for them to go.”

Taking an unblinking, matter-of-fact stance on the nudity, drugs and attitudes of the times, one of “Taylor Camp’s” many charms was its juxtaposition of then and now. Considering how thoroughly the treehouse community embodied the counterculture of ’60s and ’70s, the interview footage shot decades later shows how many of the original residents have become contributing members of conventional society, without losing the values or spirit of their younger selves.

The cinematic fable of exuberant freedom and, ultimately, innocence lost, has prompted lots of laughter and tears of recognition from every audience I watched it with.

But this was the rare case where getting the film “in the can” for its 2009 release wasn’t the end of the story. Instead, the filmmakers kept hearing from the campers “sending in a steady stream of new material and ideas.” So, Bob and John went back to work, making everything old new again.

The celebration of Bob’s “impactful life and magical work” has taken on a life of its own. Originally slated to precede the screening, the tribute will now follow it in the Yokouchi Courtyard. DJ Ged will spin ’60s and ’70s music to set the mood as Bob had envisioned for the Maui screening in his last email to the MACC before he was stricken by illness.

John Wehrheim will give a tribute to Bob, and there will be a Q&A session about the film. Some of Bob’s other video work will screen (including at least one segment he produced for the MACC) and then the mic will be open for sharing memories.

When I announced Bob’s death in this column last November, I reflected on the enlightening effect he on me through a handful of projects we collaborated on. Whether providing Tom Vendetti’s voice-over in an early version of “When the Mountain Calls,” or magically turning the opening credit graphics of Tom’s “The Quietest Place on Earth” into a sunrise in his editing room, Bob was half utility infielder, half techno wizard. I didn’t realize how many of you had shared similar experiences, or how many Maui creators he had touched with his own artistry, its brilliance camouflaged by Bob’s quiet humility.

Bob’s longtime collaborator, Austrian filmmaker Daniela Kaleilauhoku, and well-known Maui musical artist Pamela Polland are the most recent friends to contact me directly, sharing their thoughts about Bob and the upcoming tribute.

“It won’t be a funeral,” says MACC Communications Director Barbara Trecker. “It will be a celebration of his work as life.”

For who knows where the time goes?

Who knows where the time goes?

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning columnist and former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist and documentary scriptwriter/producer. Contact him at rickchatenever@gmail.com.

COMMENTS