Flags have been waving and freedom's been ringing lately. That's what happens when your nation's birthday coincides with the rest of the planet's World Cup soccer party.
I was part of last Tuesday's crowd for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's free telecast of the game between the U.S. and Belgium. After weeks of trying to follow the bouncing ball on our tiny kitchen TV, it was a trip to see the action on the Castle Theater screen, more usually the venue for Oscar-winning movies.
The supersize screen added a new dimension to watching the sport so rapturously popular everywhere else on the planet. Even though our team lost, it was a happy morning. It felt global as the U.S. embraces what the rest of the world calls "football," as opposed to the techno-gladiatorial version here at home. But it also felt local, sitting in a family-friendly audience packed with young kids and their parents, sharing the heart-stopping drama on the screen.
Spotted in the crowd was Pacific Radio Group director Chuck Bergson. Schaefer International Gallery Director Neida Bangerter was also coaxed into taking a break from the gallery's provocative new exhibit featuring Rose Adare's "Restraint & Revolution," Gabrielle Anderman's "Fear, Letting Go . . ." and May Izumi's "Cloud Formations and Other Phenomena" to watch a few minutes of the game.
And speaking of the MACC, happy birthday to Jason Carbajal, who, along with his very patient staff, has a special talent for turning the thankless headache of running the box office into an art form in itself.
* * *
The freedom celebration came on horseback and in all sorts of automotive chariots Saturday when the 49th annual Paniolo Parade closed the streets of Makawao to celebrate our nation's birthday Upcountry style.
It was impossible to forget this was an election year, judging by all the politicians on parade. Some literally climbed into the saddle; others preferred walking or riding, beauty-pageant style on the backs of convertibles that went real slow to allow for lots of waving. Some candidates had marching drum bands; others had squads of acrobats doing flips in the street; trinkets were dispensed.
Friends and families, like David Ward and Dean Wong with their son, Tino, lined the curbs, getting into cowboy mode before the rodeo took over for the rest of the weekend. You'd never know about recalls or Detroit's recent economic problems, judging from all the gleaming Chevy and Ford muscle cars and trucks parading by. There were jeeps from World War II, John Deere tractors from the early days of Haleakala National Park and the Shriners in their little putt-putts. Music ranged from the marching Isle of Maui bagpipers through the King Kekaulike Band to the Haiku Hillbillys playing on the back of the Seabury Hall flatbed trailer.
Among the milestones marked by marchers - including 55 years of Hawaii statehood or Kula School's 50th anniversary - was the Casanova truck at the end of the parade, loaded with smiling employees around the sign celebrating "25 years of Happy."
The Makawao 4th of July parade is a rare reminder of what happy used to feel like - and what a lot of us wish it still did.
* * *
We said goodbye to Grammy-winning flutist Paul Horn last week. Paul died at home in Vancouver at 84. A veteran jazzman who played with greats including Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, he was also with the Beatles when they went to India to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s. Not only did he become a TM teacher, but music he recorded "Inside the Taj Mahal" and his subsequent "Inside" albums are credited with laying the foundation for New Age music.
Paul and his wife, Ann Mortifee, were frequent visitors to Maui. I had the privilege of collaborating with them on two documentary film projects. The newest one, "The Quietest Place on Earth," set for release in November, is about Haleakala Crater. Along with his always wise observations, Paul's music provides the soundtrack; it will echo from now on in the mountain's stillness.
* * *
The last, and best, words on the subject of freedom come from Kris Kristofferson.
If the longtime Hana resident had done nothing else in his heroic half-century career of songwriting, singing and movie acting than just write, "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose," that would still be more than enough.
It's one of the greatest song lines ever written . . . about anything.
Recently asked where that line came from, Kris answered with a chuckle, "It was one that came direct from the Man Himself. I was glad to take it."
* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-9535.