‘Fifteen minutes of fame’ and other remembrances

Kudos once again to the editorial team at The Maui News for the past 25 years editing and printing many of my letters.

One of my early letters, over 20 years ago, was a response to a fellow “haole” who took offense at being called a “haole” by locals in Hawaii. I defended the use of the word, and used it in many positive sentences — something the letter writer said was “impossible” to do.

I have been lucky to have had a few of Andy Warhol’s predicted “15 minutes of fame” in my life. In 1996 I was crowned champion of the Maui County Fair Karaoke Contest. I was also a finalist that year on local television’s “Hawaii Stars.” The grand prize turned out to be my future wife, that lovely and hardworking Hawaiian girl from Waihee, whom I met at the time and we married a few months later. We just celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.

Of course, running for Maui County Council in 2002 was a big deal for me and my wife. Some people still remember my Quixotic quest to protect the rights of tobacco smokers in an age of anti-smoking zealotry. I remember my most controversial and divisive stand that year was on the death penalty and my support of it in the case of “ice” dealers and murderers. It is time to bring back the death penalty in Hawaii, which was abolished in 1957.

Mark Kanae Smith