Maui Connections

Of all the things I’m missing by being away from Maui so long, Sunday’s “Big Game” at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center is at the top of the list.

Not the game itself. I mean, what game? This wasn’t a case of the commercials being better than the game — they just provided relief from the monotony. At least it didn’t raise my blood pressure.

The high point of the afternoon for me was watching a dog’s face — a Dalmatian with floppy ears and loose lips — blowin’ in the wind, as a young Bobby Dylan sang along. The blast from the past was much appreciated, until I realized it was an ad for Budweiser. Apparently the company now uses wind power — a little bit of wind power would be my guess — in the brewing process. The implication being that drinking a Bud is not only good for the environment, but is finally the fulfillment of all our youthful idealism a half-century later.

“How many years will it take for too many minds to die . . .?”

I don’t think righteous indignation was the intended reaction for the cynical marketing minds behind the ad. But then again, just hearing that voice singing that song provided a happy moment for a handful of us old enough to note the similarity between the happy dog’s face and Bob Dylan’s face on his first album cover.

I used to look forward to the Super Bowl for the annual sociological snapshot provided by the game, the ads and the rest of the pageantry of this unofficial holiday in celebration of American testosterone. Now, not so much.

Luckily, the MACC has picked up the slack, throwing what may be the best Super Bowl party on the planet, even if they can’t mention it by name. MACC President and CEO Art Vento said this year’s event, the sixth annual, drew between 800 and 900 fans, making it the biggest so far.

Art and his bartenders were not only wearing referee shirts and whistles for the occasion, but added black face stripes (some call it Tom Brady mascara). Food and Beverage Managers Luana Argel and Lisa Haole were handing out M&Ms, color-coordinated for Patriots and Rams fans.

Also wearing ref’s stripes was Willie K, who performed “The National Anthem” before the game, did an hourlong concert after, and even did his own unscheduled halftime show. Tony Takatani and Betty Leis, two of the key sponsors of this always free event, also suited up for the unique party that offers outdoor viewing in Yokouchi Courtyard on an awesome video wall, and Castle Theater viewing on the biggest screen in the state.

“It just keeps getting better,” said Art. “It’s uber cool.”

The outdoor screen saw double duty over the weekend, as part of the Art=MIXX event the night before. It drew some 2,000 mostly millennials for its mix of digital art and eco awareness in conjunction with the current show in Schaefer International Gallery.

“It was a real free weekend at the MACC, “ adds Art.

* * *

I’ve long known I don’t get the concept when it comes to retirement, but my pal and filmmaking collaborator Dr. Tom Vendetti has me beat, hands down. Since retiring last summer from his job as the psychologist running Mental Health Kokua on Maui, Tom has been to film festivals in Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, where his film, “The Tibetan Illusion Destroyer,” picked up several awards for himself and music director Keola Beamer.

Tom was just interviewed by Leslie Wilcox for an upcoming “Long Story Short” that will air on PBS Hawaii later this year.

And his newest film work will be part of a 3 p.m. concert March 3 when Ebb & Flow Arts returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center for its 10th biennial presentation there. Tom’s film-in-progress includes extended portions of an interview with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, along with footage of his recent trek to Tibet’s holy mountain, Mt. Kailash, with a group including Maui Dharma Center’s Lama Gyaltsen and several more Mauians.

Founded and directed by composer/pianist Robert Pollock, Ebb & Flow Arts is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Besides Pollock the ensemble includes violinist Ignace Jang, concert master of Hawai’i Symphony, and cellist Sung Chan Chang, the orchestra’s associate principal cellist. The concert will also feature contemporary Korean music and short films by Dr. Gary Greenberg and Peter Swanzy.

Besides the Korean works, the program will include works by Maurice Ravel and Henry Cowell. There will be a 2 p.m. preconcert discussion.

Maybe Tom will take some time off afterwards from his “retirement.” I wouldn’t bet on it.

* 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