Entries from November 2005

November 29, 2005

Where’d Humu Go?

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:49 pm

I’m moving! Once I’m settled in the new digs, the Humu Kon Tiki will sail again.

On a related note, yesterday while I was packing up my old place in Los Angeles, an ice cream truck went by. On a Monday. At the end of November. God, I’m going to miss L.A.

November 21, 2005

Tiki Mug Patents

Filed under: History,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 4:21 pm
Trader Vic's Skull Mug
Trader Vic’s Skull Mug

Pappythesailor did a little poking around the U.S. Patent Office website, and found a series of patents filed by Victor Bergeron (a.k.a. Trader Vic) and other tiki golden-age entrepreneurs. Above is the early skull mug, manufactured for Vic by Tepco — the filing is from 1939! The patent filing also includes a diagram of the interior structure of the mug, revealing how the vacant space behind the face is constructed to allow for the eerie hollow eyes. Pappythesailor also found patents for the Mai Kai decanter, the Suffering Bastard decanter, and the legendary and lovely Trader Vic’s stemmed tiki cocktail glass. The artist’s renderings of the pieces are great. Fantastic work, pappythesailor!

November 15, 2005

Rest In Peace, Rusty Key

Filed under: Music,News,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:08 am
Rusty Key
Rusty Key

Sad news tonight — Rusty Key has passed away unexpectedly.

Many know Rusty as the frequent cohort of pablus, and as a master ukulele player with the Crazed Mugs. Rusty was far, far too young — 55 years old. He suffered a heart attack, at home. A remembrance from pablus:

His rich harmonies, his easy laugh, his delight to learn, his exasperating habit of being the very last to leave the Lagoon Lounge, his goofy New Years’ Resolutions, his never-ending line of unique friends, his fresh hand grown produce that he would bring to us (including bananas), his willingness to play and obvious enjoyment of our circle’s company, his genuine nature and loving view of humanity.

He was a true friend and a good man who cared deeply for people.

I didn’t get to know Rusty Key as well as I should have, but my encounters with him left me feeling warm and fortunate to have crossed paths with him. My favorite memory is of his kindness and patience in teaching me how to play “Wait For Me” — I still have the song sheet where he wrote down which chords to play when. He made me feel like he was every bit as excited about my learning ukulele as I was. I’m so very sad that I won’t be able to play it with him when I’m in Florida in January.

Rusty: I’ll meet you in Waikiki, under the banyan tree….

November 10, 2005

New Ooga-Mooga Feature: Tags

Filed under: News,Ooga-Mooga,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:51 am
Tags on Ooga-Mooga
Tags on Ooga-Mooga

Another new feature for Ooga-Mooga — now collections can be grouped by using tags! This feature is available for Trader accounts only, so if you’ve been on the fence about getting a subscription (or upgrading your subscription), this is one more way that Trader accounts rock.

To group your mugs, simply go into the “Edit” page for each mug, and type your tags, separated by commas. There is no set list of tags — the beauty of this is that you can group your mugs the way you want to. You might want to have a group for all of your skull mugs, or for your mugs from a favorite location, or for the mugs you’ve got in storage. Anything goes.

Take a look at my collection to see how it works. So far, I’ve got a few groups — vintage mugs, mugs that I received as gifts, mugs that are souvenirs from places I’ve visited, my favorite mugs, and mugs I’ve actually imbibed from myself.

For those familiar with tags from other sites, like Technorati — these tags won’t be picked up by tag search services, but they will be soon.

November 7, 2005

Selector Lopaka Tuesday Nights in Seattle

Filed under: Music,People,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:24 pm
Selector Lopaka
Selector Lopaka

When I lived in Seattle, I often could be found on Tuesday nights enjoying the musical soundscapes of Selector Lopaka at Fu Kun Wu in Old Ballard. Fu Kun Wu is the bar for the restaurant Thaiku; Fu Kun Wu is themed as an old Chinese apothocary, and is very well done. The environment is a perfect match for Selector Lopaka’s music, which starts early in the evening with great Exotica, Hawaiian and lounge classics, and gradually and seamlessly shifts later into more modern beats with a light sprinkling of great reggae (I love it, and I’m not a reggae fan). On top of all that, the drinks at Fu Kun Wu are unusual and delightful — my favorite was always the Radiant Flower, a light, crisp, gin-based concoction. Food from Thaiku is available in the bar until 9:30. For the winter season, Selector Lopaka is shifting up his DJ set to be a bit earlier — from 6 p.m. until 9ish.

November 3, 2005

Tiki Research Adventure: TAI Tahiti

Filed under: History,Research,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:28 pm
TAI Tahiti mug, from the collection of Virani
TAI Tahiti mug, from the collection of Virani

Every so often, I have a reason to do a bit of research (okay, so it’s mostly just Googling), and the results can be very satisfying. Today the inspiration came in the form of the small mug to the left. I had actually seen it the day before, when one was put up for trade by an Ooga-Mooga member. It was an interesting little mug, but I didn’t recognize it. Of course, it was a nice surprise to see today that Virani, completely independently, posted this mug up on an existing thread on Tiki Central, looking for more information. It can also be found on page 54 of Tiki Quest, where it had escaped my notice. Virani’s mug says “Jean-Pierre le Tahiti” on the bottom, while the mug up for trade on Ooga-Mooga by Kohalacharms has the letters “TAI” printed clear enough to read on the side. There’s a faint trace of the “TAI” on Virani’s mug, and he’d naturally not been able to tell what it said. Armed with this info, I went on a search for what this TAI from Tahiti was. My search turned up a lot of websites in Japanese and French, but not a lot in English. I found a beautiful old promotional poster from TAI Tahiti airlines, and an ashtray for sale on eBay in France. I was able to surmise that the mug was likely a promotional item from TAI Tahiti the airline. Armed with this new info, Virani was able to learn that TAI Tahiti began service in 1948, continuing at TAI until 1963, when they became UTA — they later joined Air France in 1990. TAI Tahiti made its first one-stop trip from France all the way to Tahiti in June, 1963.

November 2, 2005

Huell Howser Oceanic Arts Episode Airing Soon

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:23 pm

As previously reported on Humu Kon Tiki, Huell Howser has an upcoming show featuring a trip to Oceanic Arts in Whittier, California (just outside Los Angeles). The episode is from his Visiting… with Huell Howser series, and is titled “Tiki,” episode #1310. The show will air on his home station, KCET Los Angeles, at 6 p.m. on November 10. Check your local listings to learn where it will air on your local PBS station.

Artists’ Renderings of Tiki Locales

Filed under: Art,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:54 pm
Artists' rendering of the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from the collection of Sabu the Coconut Boy
Artists’ rendering of the Aku Aku in Las Vegas,
from the collection of Sabu the Coconut Boy

Much of the appeal in Polynesian Pop is the creation of an idealized, unreal version of Polynesia. So, what could be more appealing than idealized, unreal portrayals of these idealized, unreal locations? Some of my favorite pieces of tiki ephemera are items with artists’ renderings of Polynesian restaurants and tiki bars. The above piece comes from the collection of Sabu the Coconut Boy, and is a rendering of the Aku Aku, which used to be in the Stardust casino in Las Vegas. There’s a great thread on Tiki Central where a whole mess of fantastic renderings have been posted.

November 1, 2005

Ahhhh… Waitiki!

Filed under: Events,Ft. Lauderdale & Miami,Mexico,Music,New England,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:30 pm
Mr. Ho of Waitiki
Mr. Ho of Waitiki

In my recap of Hukilau, I made mention of one of my best finds — the Boston-based Exotica group, Waitiki. Waitiki is four guys: Tim Mayer, “The Mayor of Exotica;” Brian O’Neill “Mr. Ho;” Abe Lagrimas, Jr., “Space Kadet;” and Randy Wong, “Professah Humming Flower.” Randy and Abe met as youngsters in Hawaii; both made their way to Boston, where they met up with Brian and Tim — all four are graduates of prestigious music schools there. Randy’s parents knew Arthur Lyman, and he had a strong impact on Randy.

The Waitiki boys are very, very silly. A very nutty and bright sort of silly that struck a serious chord with me. They are a lot of fun — a LOT of fun — to spend time with. This wacky tone carries over into their original songs, which touch on such topics as watermelon sacrifice and the intersection of adorable furry animals and proper grammar. However, their set at the Mai Kai was a tribute to Martin Denny, with an all-classic Exotica set. Listening to Waitiki play at the Mai Kai, I was struck by two things.

First, any Exotica composed after the ’60s just doesn’t sound the same to me, even those pieces by the greats such as Martin Denny and Robert Drasnin. They aren’t bad works, they just don’t evoke that same feel of the exotic and the mysterious. Randy Wong’s original composition, Sweet Pikake Serenade, was the first time I had heard a modern composition that sounded ready to take its place alongside those great classic songs. Halfway through hearing it, I had forgotten that it was a new piece. Stunning, beautiful, and moving.

Second, their entire set was Exotica as I’d never experienced it before. These songs are ones I’ve heard, and loved, dozens and dozens of times over. Over years of hearing them, I’d created a scene in my head of middle-aged, somewhat-serious men playing these songs quietly and intently. The Waitiki boys have every bit the intent and serious focus while they’re playing, but they play with so much life, so much vibrancy, and so much energy. They made Exotica fun. They brought Exotica completely to life for me in a new way. They made me look at Exotica music in a whole new way. Fabulous.

Okay, so here’s the latest in Waitiki Appreciation: They have a new album out, “Charred Mammal Flesh.” Their expanded 20-piece configuration, called Waitiki Orchestrotica, which was created for the purpose of playing faithful recreations of Esquivel songs, will be playing at an Esquivel tribute concert in Mexico City on April 1, 2006. A few tracks from a September performance of the Orchestrotica is available for download on the Waitiki website. Uh, what else… oh yes, they’ve also been wanting to get a show together in NYC somewhere, hopefully at Otto’s Shrunken Head (where another favorite of mine, Fisherman Vibraphonic Trio, plays on Mondays). And also, the guys are on the lookout for radio stations around the country that would be a fit for their music (KEXP in Seattle leaps to mind, and Senor Amor’s Molotov Cocktail Hour on L.A.’s KXLU).

Waitiki is now on your radar — take advantage of their existence! Get to see them if you can, and get their album & all that stuff. Okonkuluku!

Vintage Tahitian Book Covers

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:27 pm
Vintage Tahitian Book Cover, from the collection of Virani
Vintage Tahitian Book Cover, from the collection of Virani

Virani has posted a series of fantastic book covers. Virani, who lives in France, has been able to amass an impressive collection of vintage books about Tahiti and French Polynesia from the 1950s and ’60s. Many of the book covers feature full-color images of lovely vahines, often playing guitar, but this image above is the one that caught my eye. Great stuff.


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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