Aging baby boomers have been lining up at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center box office to buy tickets for Bob Dylan's April 26 show in the A&B Amphitheater. But Karen Bouris, executive director of the Merwin Conservancy, reminds us that another writer with a unique way with words - Dr. Abraham Verghese - will get here first. He'll be speaking and signing books at a dessert reception beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday in McCoy Theater.
The Addis Ababa-born physician and Stanford med school professor will speak on the relationship between literature and medicine. Verghese's writing includes the best-selling novel "Cutting for Stone," as well as "My Own Country" and "The Tennis Player," works stemming from his response to political unrest in his home country and subsequent work with terminal AIDS patients.
Proceeds will benefit the Merwin Conservancy to preserve the legacy - and the palm forest - of Haiku's two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, W.S. Merwin.
The former poet laureate of the United States, Merwin told me in 2011 that on Maui, "Nobody knows who I am. They just know I'm a guy who plants trees." He's one of the local interview subjects, along with author Jill Engledow, musical artist Keola Beamer, Maui Dharma Center's Lama Gyaltsen and others in our new documentary about Haleakala Crater, "The Quietest Place on Earth." It will screen at 8:15 p.m. May 9, opening night of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua's 2014 Celebration of the Arts.
This year's Celebration will be a micro-film festival, amidst its other presentations and hands-on arts projects. It will screen Richard Roshon's "From the Eyes of a Kayak" at 7 p.m. May 9; Keo Woolford's "The Huaumana" at 3 p.m. May 10; and Kenneth Martinez Burgmaier's documentary on Aunty Nona Beamer, "Malama kou aloha . . . keep your love," at 4 p.m. on Mother's Day, May 11.
Speaking of Bob Dylan, MACC Box Office Manager Jason Carbajal reports that after tickets went on sale to the general public Saturday - drawing a crowd of 50 to 70 before the box office even opened - seats are still available in all four price ranges.
"I'm pleasantly surprised that everyone is still interested in seeing Bob Dylan," says Jason. He expressed amazement at the energy level of the iconic 72-year-old artist whose MACC appearance follows 23 concerts over 30 days in Japan.
The genius poet folk-rocker whose lyrics rewrote the course of American culture for the last half century is also known around the MACC as the guy who introduced reserved seating for outdoor shows. Doing lots of honky-tonk, roadhouse-style rock and blues on his recent recordings, Dylan remains an inspiration for his generation for just being able to remember the lyrics.
We can take heart from a recent NPR report saying that people of a certain age - around Bob's age, give or take a decade - may not be losing our memories after all. It's just that the longer we live, the more memories we've got to sort through.
If you think of memory as a tape recorder that's always turned on, we just keep accumulating more filing cabinets, kitchen drawers and cardboard boxes in the attic to go through, trying to find them. It's related to that sensation of walking into a room in your house, then trying to remember why you came. Glasses? Coffee cup? What was I looking for again?
It's just a matter of time until everything's fitted with an LED blinker and/or beeper to aid addled minds. But technology comes at a price. One reason I resisted getting an iPhone for so long - no matter how cool, sexy and essential Steve Jobs made them - was I didn't want something in my pocket reminding me it was smarter than I am.
When one of my students mentioned texting her grandma, another student replied in disbelief, "Your tutu texts?"
But there are bright spots on the tech horizon. Dropping into the first Supply and Service Expo presented by the Maui Food Technology Center at Hannibal Tavares Center in Pukalani last Wednesday, I saw friends including John and Matt Heid of Maui Mac Firewood; Maui Macaroon goddess Lori Steer; and "Edible Hawaiian Islands" publisher Dania Katz. I got an Aloha Shoyu Magic Grip Jar Opener, I munched on flavored mac nuts and kept circling back to the Uncle Louie Sausage table. I marveled at how fresh Maui Printing Co. makes vintage Hawaiiana look, I caught up with new developments from Maui Culinary Academy, Maui Farmers Union United and lots more.
Maui's a place where technology springs from the earth, as we seek to create a healthy, creative, humane and caring future. Lucky we live here, eh?
* Rick Chatenever, former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and Emmy-nominated scriptwriter. Contact him at email@example.com or 344-9535.