Entries from July 2006

July 25, 2006

6th Annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl: Day Three

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 7:53 pm

The third day of the Tiki Crawl came on Saturday, when we visited the East Bay. This day was the biggie, with a bus full of about 50 crawlers, and about that many more on their own transportation. Unfortunately, California has been hit by a crazy heat wave, making the temperature about 10 degrees higher than would have been really comfortable — but at least it wasn’t raining! The bus and all the crawl stops had air conditioning that tried its darnedest to keep up with so many happy bodies in one spot, and we handed out tons of water — overall, we all held up pretty darned well, and there were a lot of very happy faces all around.

Here’s the Tiki Central thread for the Saturday events, and here’s the thread where you can see a whole slew of pictures. Here’s my short summary of the long day:

Mingling at Trader Vic's Emeryville
Mingling at Trader Vic’s Emeryville

Trader Vic’s Emeryville
We started off the day at the oldest and nicest of the three Bay Area Trader Vic’s, the Emeryville location. This is not the original location — that would have been the long-gone Oakland location — but it’s chock-full of great tikiness. We had the back room of the restaurant, which includes a very nice patio and outdoor bar. We’ve had that back patio for previous crawls, but it’s always been miserably cold, and the beautiful sunshine was a nice contrast. Here are my pictures from the crawl, and here is the Critiki entry.

Happy crawlers at Forbidden Island
Happy crawlers at Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island
This was the most highly anticipated stop of the crawl, and thus we spent more time here than anywhere else — three whole hours. Forbidden Island proved yet again why it’s the best danged tiki bar out there — despite having more people at this stop than any other, and despite the drinks served here being more complex and crafted more carefully than at any other, drinks got into people’s hands pretty darned fast. It got pretty roasty-toasty inside with so many people, so the outdoor patio was jumping. Stuckie brought another ‘Ohana Hut prototype for us to drink out of, and Bamboo Ben and Crazy Al made a surprise appearance, sending the whole place into a flurry of flashbulbs. Forbidden Island co-owner Martin Cate, who before opening the bar had been the primary organizer of the Crawl, was beaming with joy to see the Crawl come to his own bar — he loves playing host. Here are my crawl pictures from Forbidden Island, and here is its top-rated entry in Critiki.

Limbo at Conga Lounge
Limbo at Conga Lounge

Conga Lounge
Our fantastic bus driver executed the most impressive U-turn right on College Ave. (which resulted in much cheering on the bus) to get us to Conga Lounge, which despite its petite size, handled us pretty darned well. A few folks (us included) took the opportunity to get a bite to eat at Pizza Rustica directly below Conga Lounge (the extra clever ones placed a phone order on the drive over), and the rest of the merry group enjoyed the prepared punches upstairs. Iuka Grogg from the Maikai Gents led the group in a rousing Spanish version of Tiny Bubbles, and then there was a limbo contest, and a perfectly-timed conga line back to the bus. Here are my pictures, and here’s the entry in Critiki.

Crawlers fill the Kona Club
Crawlers fill the Kona Club

Kona Club
The last stop of the night was the newly-opened and Bamboo Ben-designed Kona Club. We all settled into the tables in the back room, where we held the much-anticipated prize drawing — each stop on the crawl from Tuesday through Saturday entered a crawler into a free prize drawing, with many wonderful prizes donated by Tiki Centralites. Rather than doing a money-raising raffle, this year Hanford wanted to pay for the crawl out of his own pocket, and do a free drawing as a thank you for supporting Tiki Central, the Tiki Crawl, and Bay Area tiki. To tell the truth, multiple nights of very little sleep, the heat, and the effort of the crawl had taken its toll on me, and I was pooped! But happily so. Here are my pictures, and here’s Kona Club’s entry in Critiki.

One more crawl post is on its way!

6th Annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl: Day Two

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:29 pm

On Day Two, Friday, we visited tiki locations in San Francisco — in years past, Saturday has been the day for the city, but with the opening of Forbidden Island and Kona Club in the East Bay in the past year, it was clear that switching the days would be the way to go. Sure enough, we were rewarded with unusually pleasant conditions, both in terms of the bar visits and the lovely weather.

Again, here’s the Tiki Central thread for the Friday events, and here’s the thread to check out tons of photos. Here’s my quick recap of Friday:

Sweetpea and Suzanne dancing at Trad'r Sam
Sweetpea and Suzanne dancing
at Trad’r Sam

Trad’r Sam
This longtime San Francisco institution wasn’t always a dive bar — it started life as one of the many elegant bamboo bars that dotted the country in the pre-tiki 1930s. Today, it’s a great place to go people watching, as a broad assortment of folks pass through its doors looking for a drink. We met up there in the late afternoon, before most people were off from work, which meant that we got a rare look at a quiet Trad’r Sam’s, allowing a clear view of the gorgeous rattan & bamboo bar and booth framings, and letting Sweetpea load up the jukebox with only the good stuff. Here are my pictures from the crawl, and the entry in Critiki.

Crawlers take pictures at the Tonga Room
Crawlers take pictures at the Tonga Room

Tonga Room
From there, we made our way to the historic Tonga Room, in the Fairmont hotel. Ah, the Tonga Room. As ever, the service was bizarrely bad — as I mentioned in a post on Tiki Central, they have taken poor service to the level of performance art, and it has become part of the fun of a Tonga Room visit. They do everything they can to make sure you know that they really would rather if nobody came into the restaurant at all. Despite this, it’s completely worth every visit to the Tonga Room, because the decor so so jaw-droppingly well-done, and it’s so fun to see the faces of those who are seeing it for the first time. My pictures from the crawl can be seen here, and here is the entry in Critiki.

Before crawlers arrive at the Bamboo Hut
Before crawlers arrive at the Bamboo Hut

Bamboo Hut
This was the most wonderful surprise of this year’s crawl. In previous years, the Crawl has made its Bamboo Hut stop mid- or late-night on Saturday, and it’s been jam-packed and loud, in full danceclub mode. This year, we visited at 8 p.m. on a Friday, and it turns out this is the perfect time to see it — its an actual bar at that time! And it’s far more lovely than I realized, too — with massive pufferfish, an outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling, and that famous massive tiki by the entrance. Many were saying that it was the best visit they’d ever paid to the Bamboo Hut, and if I’d realized it could be so nice, I’d have visited more often. Here are my pictures from the crawl, and here’s the Critiki entry.

Enjoying a Rum Barrel at Trader Vic's S.F.
Enjoying a Rum Barrel at Trader Vic’s S.F.

Trader Vic’s San Francisco
Our final stop of the evening was the elegant San Francisco Trader Vic’s, where the management had kindly prepared a spread of appetizers for us, and reserved the back room and bar for us. Our ranks really swelled at this stop — everybody was done with work, and after all, this was the best place on the tour that day to get drinks. Thanks to bartender Lars and his crew, we were all well taken care of on that front. My crawl pictures are here, and here’s the entry in Critiki.

Stay tuned for more posts about the crawl!

6th Annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl: Day One

Filed under: Events,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:39 pm

Hanford & I (mostly Hanford) just finished throwing a massive, four-day party — the sixth annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl. This year, 12 different tiki locations were visited by a roaming horde of modern-day savages. It was incredibly fun, both to put together, and to actually do.

Here’s a thread on Tiki Central that focuses on the Thursday events, and here’s a photos thread that has tons of pictures from every night of the crawl, including this one. Here’s a short run-down of day one, Thursday, when we visited locations in Silicon Valley:

Carving on slit drum at Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden
Carving on slit drum at the Papua New
Guinea Sculpture Garden

Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden, Palo Alto
This was the perfect place to kick off the festivities. Most people were seeing this spot for the first time — it’s a cluster of tikis carved by Papua New Guinea artists in 1994 at the invitation of the Cantor Arts Center. It is situated in a shady stand of trees on the northish side of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto. You can see my crawl pictures here, here is its entry in Critiki and I also profiled it earlier in this Humu Kon Tiki post and this thread on Tiki Central.

Hanford chats at Trader Vic's Palo Alto
Hanford chats at Trader Vic’s Palo Alto

Trader Vic’s Palo Alto
Surprisingly, this is a place that very few of the local tikiphiles have visited, at least recently, and many were surprised at how much they liked it. That said, it’s important to have realistic expectations about this Trader Vic’s — it was the first of the new wave of Trader Vic’s to open, and it’s the least like the beloved older Trader Vic’s, with cleaner lines and brighter lighting. What it does have, however, is a great collection of Papua New Guinea art, from the personal collection of the owner of both this Trader Vic’s and the neighborhing Dinah’s hotel. We all gathered on the barside front patio, where the weather was lovely, and we got to take some time to catch up over Mai Tais. What more can you ask for? By coincidence, Trader Vic execs Hans Richter, Sven Koch and Eve Bergeron (that’s Vic’s granddaughter) were there, and Eve showed us around the restaurant. The crawl pictures from this stop are here, here’s the Critiki entry, and here’s a Locating Tiki thread on Tiki Central.

Martini Monkey at the San Jose Airport
Martini Monkey at the San Jose Airport

Martini Monkey, San Jose
Our third stop was probably the biggest hit of the day, and perhaps the surprise find of the whole crawl for many — Martini Monkey. Martini Monkey is off most people’s tiki radar, largely because it is located at the San Jose Airport, which conjures up all sort of off-limits thoughts. In reality, it’s very simple to visit (parking is cheap and directly across from its location in Terminal C), and well worth the trip. The place feels more lounge-y than tiki, but the entire back of the bar is one of Mark Ryden’s popular tiki paintings, giving it a definite Polynesian Pop vibe. The number one reason to come to Martini Monkey is simple: the drinks, crafted expertly by bartender Jay. The cocktails here are simply stellar. I could go on and on about Martini Monkey, and I will in another, dedicated post in the near future. For now, the crawl pictures are here, the Critiki entry is here, and here’s a post on Tiki Central about Martini Monkey.

Crawlers at Smoke Tiki
Crawlers at Smoke Tiki

Smoke Tiki, San Jose
Well, every crawl has to have a stinker location, and this was our not-unexpected dud. Smoke Tiki is simply targeting the younguns, and is a thumping nightclub. It might be a better place to visit earlier in the day, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the Sculpture Garden or Trader Vic’s — whaddya gonna do? At any rate, we still had a great time, we just carved out a corner for ourselves on the back patio and chatted with each other ’til the wee hours. Here are my crawl pictures, the Critiki entry, a Tiki Central thread, and an earlier Humu Kon Tiki post detailing our previous Smoke Tiki experience.

Posts detailing the other three days of the crawl are on the way!

My Travels: San Pedro

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:47 pm
The Cove in San Pedro
The Cove in San Pedro

A few weeks ago, Hanford & I went down to San Pedro for a quick weekend visit, to go to a Tiki Central Beach Burn. While there, we made some time to check out some of the local tiki spots.

The Gateway to the Cove
The Gateway to the Cove
Outdoor fireplace at the Cove
Outdoor fireplace at the Cove

At the top of our must-see list was The Cove, a.k.a. the old Hedley homestead, as seen in this earlier Humu Kon Tiki post. This stretch of beach, which is currently Royal Palms/White Point park, is where Eli Hedley raised his family of four daughters, making a living creating decor using the items that floated up onto the beach. They became regular hosts to the Hollywood set, and built it up into quite a little industry, essentially spawning the whole Beachcomber look. The home itself is no longer there, but the stone gate sides are, as are the dance floor and two large outdoor fireplaces. If you’ve been following the stories told by Eli’s daughter Bungy on Tiki Central, then you simply must see this place in person — its truly awe-inspiring to be in such a beautiful place, and imagine living there and having such a rich and otherworldly life.

Samoan Sea apartments
Samoan Sea apartments
Tiki at the Samoan Sea apartments
Tiki at the Samoan Sea apartments

The next stop was one we stumbled across accidentally, although it had been documented on Tiki Central previously by Sabu the Coconut Boy. The Samoan Sea apartments are right where Harbor Dr. meets Hwy 110. It looks great from the front — two nice large tikis (very similar to the spitting drum tikis at Walt Disney World), and a large A-frame entrance, flanked by piers and large nautical chain. The rest of the small complex looks a bit rundown, however.

Also nearby is San Pedro’s Ports of Call, which once upon a time housed the rather tiki Ports O’ Call restaurant. The restaurant remains, but the tiki details are largely gone. Apparently there are a few beachcomber lamps around here and there, but we missed them.

Hakaluki's tiki
Hakaluki’s tiki

The beach burn was great fun, and Hakaluki made this tiki to burn, which was far too beautiful. It went up in flames so quickly that I missed pictures of the actual burn. It was a lovely day at the beach, the weather couldn’t have been better, and we got to meet King Kukulele’s brand new baby girl, and catch up with lots of old friends.

My Travels: 2006 Portland Tiki Crawl

Filed under: Events,My Travels,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:44 pm
Spitting fountain at the Alibi in Portland
Spitting fountain at the Alibi in Portland, photo by Hanford Lemoore

Last month, Hanford and I paid a visit to the fine city of Portland for the 2006 Northwest Tiki Crawl. The weather was beautiful (if a bit hot on the last day), and the company was grand.

The kickoff night was at Mark and Maggie Axton’s lush backyard paradise, the Castaway Cove, which includes a bar enclosed in a large freestanding building, a small “beach” complete with fire pit, and even a creepy voodoo maze through the shrubberies.

Day two included a visit to the Alibi, pictured above. The Alibi is the shining star of Portland tiki; the bar has a very long history, having started as the Chat n’ Nibble when the road it was on was the main dirt road for horse carts to get to town. It went thorugh a series of evolutions through the years, until becoming tiki in the post-WWII era, and undergoing a remodel and expansion in the ’70s. The natural build-up of dust, cigarette smoke and general grime slowly took its toll, and this past year, the same team of folks who throw the annual crawl started spending every Sunday there volunteering to clean the joint up. The results are outstanding — lamps shine brightly (but not too brightly!), the mural is looking lovely, and there are so many more little details to be seen now. There is more cleanup to be done, but it’s already looking worlds better. The famous neon Alibi sign has also had a refresh, and is looking better than ever. The drinks… well, the drinks still need a lot of work (One gentleman’s Mai Tai came with olives in it! And I thought it couldn’t get worse than the dreaded pineapple juice and grenadine.), but it’s all a big step in the right direction, and gives me great hope.

The next stop was the Jasmine Tree, a Chinese restaurant that years ago inherited tiki artifacts from the Portland Kon-Tiki when it closed. As earlier reported, the building the Jasmine Tree is to be demolished to make student housing for nearby PSU, but they are promising to re-open in a new location. Here’s the thing, though — the food & drinks are absolutely abysmal at the Jasmine Tree, and the space they’re in isn’t too terribly special (though the bar does have a few neat old-school details). The only thing the Jasmine Tree has going for it, in my book, are the cool tiki items that are currently displayed rather haphazardly. I heard the Jasmine Tree say they’re relocating, but I haven’t heard anything about what they plan to do with all their tiki stuff, if it will be re-installed, if they’ll go more tiki (don’t hold your breath), or if they’ll sell some of the tiki stuff off. Ordinarily, I’d blanch at the idea of tiki stuff getting sold off, but if it wound up at another public place, it wouldn’t be much of a change from the current state of affairs. Anyway, it was another typical night at the Jasmine Tree.

The evening events took place at our hotel, the Jupiter, where there was a vendor room (Hanford scored a ton of great vintage aloha shirts), and some bands played. At the afterparty, we made some drinks out of stuff we were able to pull together, and I managed somehow to make something out of Voodoo Rum, lemon juice, sweet & sour and orgeat that tasted just like the brine from a sweet pickle jar. So, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the drinks at the Alibi & the Jasmine Tree. Hanford & I finally made it to bed at about 4 a.m.

The next day was a scorcher, with the temperature bumping up against 100 degrees, which is unheard of for Portland in June. It was the day of the home tiki bar crawl, and the stops we made it to (before having to bop off to the airport) were lovely home tiki bar setups. A highlight of the day was a sneak peek of a brand new tiki bar opening soon in Portland, called Thatch. Thatch is being opened by the same chap who owns nearby Pour, a sleek wine bar. Thatch will include a small bridge crossing over a water feature at the entrance, a raised hut area at the back, and a sunken bar area. The booths are original Armet & Davis Denny’s booths, and the place is going to be all decked out in bamboo. A lot of imagination was needed to see how it would be when we paid our visit, but it sounds very promising, and there was a lot of excitement. Thatch is due to open in mid-August.

Mahalo to the Portland Tiki Crawl group for such a fantastic weekend, and for doing to much wonderful work on the Alibi!

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

- Website Design and Programming

- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s massive Polynesian Pop collection

Barefoot Bloggin’
A surfin’, ukein’, freewheelin’ monkey boy

Beachbum Berry
Author of Grog Log and Intoxica!, and one of my dearest drinkin’ buddies

Blog from the user interface designer extraordinaire

Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

Dumb Angel
A look at the 1960s Los Angeles mod, pop, surf, and music scene

Eye of the Goof
Pop culture with a tiki tinge

Forbidden Island
My Wednesday hangout, the Bay Area’s best tiki bar

Humuhumu’s Life in Photos
Pictures of my adventures

I build websites

Junkyard Clubhouse
Random interesting things from Humuhumu & Hanford Lemoore

Kevin Kidney
Kevin loves tiki, I love Kevin, you will too

Tiki links galore

Mai Tai Online
Montreal-based tiki ‘zine

Tiki Mug Collection Organizer

The Jab
Follow the way of the jab

Tiki Bar TV
Public Access meets Modern Drunkard

Tiki Central
Community forums

Tiki Magazine
Periodical publication covering the wide world of Tiki

Tiki Talk
Hot Lava’s Tiki Blog