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Maui Connections

Bob Stone had lots of friends and admirers of his work. They paid their respects to the late Maui filmmaker Saturday at a screening of his documentary “The Edge of Paradise,” about Kauai’s renowned Taylor Camp hippie treehouse community of the ’60s and ’70s, in a packed tribute at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Although I’m still off-island and couldn’t attend the farewell to the artist I enjoyed collaborating with on several projects, island film writer/director Brian Kohne shared his impressions of the touching evening. He attended with film reviewer Barry Wurst, his colleague in the new Creative Media program at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

“Prior to the screening, the Yokouchi Pavilion was abuzz with warmth and joy,” writes Brian. “DJ Ged provided a timeless music bed as hundreds of islanders shared stories of Bob, excited to experience the new edit of ‘Taylor Camp’ on the big screen where it surely belongs.

“Emme Tomimbang, who in recent years also lost her husband, Judge John Burns, spoke of Bob prior to the Castle Theater screening and noted how positive and upbeat the celebration was.”

Bob had worked on many of Emme’s “Island Moments” television segments. She is currently producing a Willie K profile, in which he discusses his own ongoing battle with cancer. Willie wanted everybody in the audience to know that he will remember Bob most for his kindness, Emme reported, and also honored Bob’s family in attendance.

Producer John Wehrheim and his wife of 40 years, former Kauai mayor JoAnn Yukimura, sold copies of his exquisite pictorial book about Taylor Camp in the courtyard. The movie springs largely from remarkable photographs he’d taken in the camp beginning in 1972.

Onstage, John recalled that Emmy-winning Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti had introduced him to Bob years ago. He shared his trove of photos with them, setting the Taylor Camp movie project in motion.

The film they created comprises archival footage, and a wealth of insightful, with often humorous interviews of Taylor Camp alumni. John is continuing his work to get the picture seen.

Among those in the audience, were Maui County Council Chairwoman Kelly King, Bill Pie, Brooks Maguire, Nick Nikhilananda, Larry Feinberg, Paul Mancini, Jack and Denny Grace (soon to leave the island for New Mexico, with a celebration honoring them at the Historic Iao Theater slated for mid-June), Joel Agnew, Cynthia Conrad, Jerry Labb, Chivo Ching-Johnson and Ricardo Alvarez, a longtime Maui resident who lived in Taylor Camp and appears several times in the film.

Radio host and just-announced Na Hoku Hanohano finalist Cindy Paulos gave a tribute to her good friend; and MACC Communications Director Barbara Trecker shared how Bob’s goal with the project came to fruition in the packed MACC pavilion/event, where folks experienced the film, and reconnected with one another and a time gone by through the art.

Bud the Bird Man shared stories of working for 27 years with his best friend, Bob: “He was a master of the recording arts; the very best video editor in the state of Hawaii,” Bud said, before performing a moving song he’d composed for Bob, revealing his rarely seen, exceptional talent on the Hawaiian steel/slide guitar.

“The stunning imagery and photographs come to life in a way they hadn’t before, and the soundtrack (curated by Vendetti) is perfect, transforming the audience back in time through iconic musical classics plus work from island artists such as Keola Beamer,” says Brian of the film.

“The movie was great in the first incarnation, but now it’s perfect . . . a masterpiece!” adds Conrad.

The evening also included a message from Bob’s longtime partner and collaborator, Austrian filmmaker Daniela Kaleilauhoku; a compilation of Bob’s commercial work; and a slideshow of “perhaps the most prolific videographer in our island’s history, offering a glimpse at the man behind the camera,” concludes Brian.

*****

I hear Kaunoa’s Spreckelsville senior citizens got a real treat on Thursday with a cooking class taught by popular restaurateur and chef Sheldon Simeon. He charmed the class with stories of working in restaurants such as Aloha Mixed Plate, Star Noodle, Old Lahaina Lu’au and Migrant. On national TV, he competed in Bravo’s “Top Chef: Seattle” and “Top Chef: Charleston,” making it to the finals, and winning Fan Favorite both times. He now owns two restaurants: Tin Roof and Lineage, with family-style dishes typical of a local home or a Hawaiian luau.

With self-deprecating humor and skill, he taught the class how to make Cold Ginger Chicken and Chow Fun in his famous, non-fussy way, winning everyone over with warmth, kindheartedness and a “broke da mouth” lunch following the lesson.

* 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.