LAHAINA - Ubiquitous senior May Fujiwara at the recent Relay for Life asked the columnist where he got so much energy. Kapano Gecko, the fictional character who lives in Lahaina Public Library, was standing nearby. He wondered, too, and asked for an interview.
Gecko: What do you do in your free time?
Columnist: Write a column for Lahaina News, maintain Joys of Kaanapali and Norm's Voices of Maui websites almost daily, try to take fun, creative photos almost every morning along the Kaanapali Beach path, create and upload to the new Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset website, attend a lot of community meetings, write at the Tiki Bar, strike up conversations with visitors, walk at least 30 minutes a day, cook and watch news programs.
May Fujiwara (left) and Pat Endsley — super volunteers, at the Relay for LIfe event.
Gecko: What does your wife most often say to you?
Columnist: Use a coaster, empty the dishwasher, slow down.
Gecko: What do you most often say to your wife?
Columnist: Empty the dishwasher, use "Most Recent" to find a Microsoft Word file, don't work so hard.
Gecko: What personal traits do you most admire in others?
Columnist: Intelligence, aloha, enthusiasm, sense of humor.
Gecko: When did you start writing humor?
Columnist: In high school for the Trapeze - the same school paper Ernest Hemingway wrote a column for around 1900.
Gecko: What are some funny things that happened to you?
Columnist: Early - Interviewing young civil rights activist Jesse Jackson while he was in bed in his underwear for a prestigious national magazine. Lately - Walking up to the Enterprise Rental Car desk in Oahu and saying, "Here are the keys, but I didn't bring the car." Probably towed, but I really thought I lost it. After an all points bulletin, police found it near Punchbowl Street where I left it. Mike Victorino's wife was in stitches over this story the other day.
Gecko: Is this a sign of aging?
Columnist: Maybe. My brain has been checked out by a wonderful Wailuku clinical neurologist, Dr. Cora S. Tasaki, who said last week she found almost nothing there.
Gecko: Who are your heroes?
Columnist: Thomas Jefferson, Queen Liliuokalani, King Kamehameha the Great, my wife, Malihini Heath, Liz May, columnists Mike Royko and Bob Green (you, Gecko, are patterned after the fictitious supermarket bag boy he wrote about), George Lavenson and Tom Vanderlaan and his lovely wife.
Gecko: You've written nearly 200 columns; which are your favorite columns?
Columnist: Based on personality, a fun interview, interesting content and being proud of the writing: 1) Laura Blears, 2) Blackie Gadarian, 3) Charlie Maxwell, 4) Sammy Kadotani, 5) George Kahumoku, 6) Jim Killett, 7) Bob Cartwright, 8) Bird man Brian Botka, and 9) Gladys Baisa.
Gecko: Why do you love Maui?
Columnist: That's a whole column. It has helped me late in life to reach my full potential as a person and writer. I am having the greatest time of my life. Maui brings out the best in people, and I am a much more outgoing and, hopefully, a more interesting person than I used to be. Then let's not forget beautiful vistas, the remarkable people who live here, pristine beaches, hula, leis, the beach walk, musicians, the MACC, Celebration of the Arts, aloha and perhaps most of all, the beautiful Hawaiian culture.
Gecko: What do you have to say about photography?
Columnist: I started with an Ansco when I was little. On Maui, I have 20,000 digital and print photos going back 35 years. I have never sold a photo. As a magazine editor, I hired and got to work with the best national freelance photographers crop from Life and Black Star and observed their approaches. I love to take photos that show patterns, include bright contrasting colors, show people laughing, and I have posted some 14 photos of people taking sunset photos on the Whalers Village lawn. I hate the concept of "one, two, three - click." Ask people to not pose like sticks, and try to say something funny to get great expressions. It works.
Gecko: What are your biggest flaws?
Columnist: That would take a whole column, too: working too fast, having too many typos in e-mails and writing, interrupting people, not combing my hair, not always shaving, driving too fast on streets (but not on highways), not recognizing people or remembering names of people I know (a big one), failing to see people around me (this comes from attention deficit disorder, I think), etc.
Gecko: What is your biggest beef?
Columnist: Columnists on Maui who write about themselves.
Gecko: And where do you get your energy?
Columnist: Sorry, have to run!
Columnist's Notebook: You will notice there are not many public officials in the favorites list, although I have written seven columns since 2006 on seven people currently running for public office, including Baisa, Baker, Cochran, McKelvey, Nikhilananda, Victorino and White. All of these can be found on the website Norm's Voices of Maui. You can Google it.