Entries from September 2006

September 25, 2006

Yet Another Spanish Tiki Bar: Hawaika

Filed under: Continental Europe,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:49 pm
Smoking drink at Hawaika in Valencia, photo by Abha Malpani
Smoking drink at Hawaika in Valencia,
photo by Abha Malpani

A post on Gridskipper this morning by Abha Malpani has alerted me to a Spanish tiki bar I had not heard of before: Hawaika. For some reason, tiki kept going strong during the ’80s and ’90s, when tiki places were closing left and right here in the states. There are enough tiki bars in Spain that there is a local tiki mug manufacturer; Spanish tiki mugs are often complex and finely painted affairs, and are highly coveted by collectors. Today, Spain sports no fewer than 10 tiki bars, and an entire Polynesian-themed land in the Port Aventura amusement park. This is particularly impressive when you consider that Spain is about the same size as the state of Texas, which has pretty much bupkis in the tiki department (though that will thankfully change soon when Trader Vic’s opens again in Dallas in the coming months).

I’ve added Hawaika to Critiki, but I couldn’t find much information out there about it, which surprises me… does anyone out there know anything about this place?

September 24, 2006

Insert Coin by Heather Watts

Filed under: Art,Shopping,Tiki,Vancouver, B.C. — Humuhumu @ 1:13 am
Insert Coin, by Heather Watts
Insert Coin, by Heather Watts

I’ve highlighted Heather Watts’ art before; she’s a very talented young artist out of Vancouver, B.C. whose talent seems to increase daily. The above piece, Insert Coin, is part of the Tiki Art Now show currently at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle. It’s simply gorgeous, I can’t even imagine what it must look like in person. She is currently pre-selling prints of this and other works on her website. The Insert Coin prints are a 23.5″ x 12.25″ limited edition glicee, and are signed by the artist. The cost is $150; if you place your order by October 1, shipping is half-off. The prints will start shipping on October 15.

Exotic Origami Fortune Teller, by Heather Watts
Exotic Origami Fortune Teller,
by Heather Watts

You don’t need to wait until October 15 to have a bit of Heather’s art at your fingertips… she’s designed a clever (and of course, beautiful) Exotic Origami Fortune Teller that you can print from your own computer. You’re just a few folds away from learning your destiny!

They Just Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

Filed under: Phoenix,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:36 am
Scottsdale Trader Vic's, photo by Jackie Mercandetti for the Phoenix New Times
Scottsdale Trader Vic’s,
photo by Jackie Mercandetti
for the Phoenix New Times

This summer, Trader Vic’s returned to Scottsdale — Scottsdale’s original Vic’s operated from 1962 to 1990, and it was a legendary fixture on the local restaurant scene. However, the Phoenix New Times’ review of the new Scottsdale Trader Vic’s is a very interesting read (emphasis is mine):

I was hoping for a more straightforward experience — either a pan or a rave — but Trader Vic’s left me on a bamboo fence, both in terms of the food and the mood. The place felt slick and shiny and spacious. That’s a mistake. Flickering torches are only sexy in the dark, so I wasn’t keen on the high industrial ceiling and too-bright halogen lights.

The starkly missing sense of mystery at the newer Trader Vic’s locations is a common lamentation among tikiphiles, but it is interesting to now see that sentiment spelled out so plainly in a restaurant review. Trader Vic’s has an immense advantage in their strong brand recognition — time and again when explaining Polynesian Pop to someone, they will perk up and say “oh, you mean like Trader Vic’s!” and go on to relate a story of how much fun they had there years and years ago. That’s a powerful thing for a restaurant to have on its side. The Phoenix New Times reviewer, Michele Laudig, clearly had an expectation, and it wasn’t delivered on — and she can’t be alone. Why on earth would Trader Vic’s want to dilute the meaning of its brand?

Bellevue Trader Vic's, photo by Tracy Anderson
Bellevue Trader Vic’s, photo by Tracy Anderson

Take the new Bellevue Trader Vic’s, pictured above. Does that look like a place that is going to transport you to an exotic land? Does that look like a place where a drink can be a vacation in a glass? I’ve seen dry cleaners with more character.

This comes at a time when the appreciation of Polynesian Pop is reaching new heights. With articles like the one in American Heritage Magazine last month, the awareness of Tiki is growing much wider, and not just as an ironic goof on the past — it’s a growing understanding that it doesn’t have to be tacky, that it can be tasteful, elegant, and fun in a way that is more about intrigue than camp. People are looking for an immersive experience again — they’re looking for a place that lets them cast away their cares, in favor of some time spent in another world, one that is full of dark corners and details to be discovered. These are things that Trader Vic’s once mastered, and no organization is better poised to take advantage of that. That’s what makes it so painful to see them drop the ball.

Restaurants are a risky business, to be sure, and expensive. But if you’re going to bother to play the game, you’ve got to be willing to take risks that allow you stand out from the pack. I know it can be done, because Forbidden Island did it — in a much smaller space, yes, but also with an infinitesimally smaller budget than Trader Vic’s has at its disposal. Today’s modern Trader Vic’s aren’t delivering the kind of dining experiences that you reminisce about decades later. That’s a terrible shame.

September 23, 2006

Everywhere: Waitiki Live Webcast Performance

Filed under: Events,Ft. Lauderdale & Miami,Music,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:24 pm
Waitiki, performing at the Mai Kai in 2005
Waitiki, performing at the Mai Kai in 2005

One of my favorite bands, Waitiki, will be broadcasting a live performance straight to your computer this coming Wednesday, September 27, at 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific). Waitiki has a lineup of über-talented, classically trained musicians, and they can do Exotica like nobody’s business. They performed a set of Martin Denny songs at the Mai Kai during last year’s Hukilau that was positively transcendent. They will be performing at the offices of Eons.com in Charlestown, MA, and everybody’s invited, thanks to the magic of streaming video. There will also likely be a chat session, hosted by Brother Cleve.

But this will just whet your whistle for the really great news: Waitiki is coming back to the Mai Kai for this year’s Hukilau! Details have not yet been revealed, but the boys report that they just couldn’t stay away after the great time they had last year, so they’re coming down on their own shiny nickel to participate. I can’t wait to get drunk with them again… er, I mean, I can’t wait to hear them again.

For details on the webcast and chat session, keep an eye on Waitiki’s website. Okonkulukú!

September 22, 2006

Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:15 pm
Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake
Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake

At one of my other sites, Humuhumu’s Life in Photos, there are more than 14,000 photographs documenting the past three years of my life. With all the traveling I’ve done to check out tiki places all over the country in the past three years, it is not just a documentation of my life — it’s a documentation of the modern state of tiki. So, you’d think that most of the traffic would be from people wanting to check out tiki places and see pictures from tiki events. And I suppose that a lot of the people who visit Humuhumu’s Life in Pictures fit that profile, but a quick look at the site statistics can be startling: about a fifth of the traffic is to see the same 21 pictures — that’s 20% of the traffic to just .1% of the photos.

My 1959 Baker's Coconut Cut-Up Cakes brochure
My 1959 Baker’s Coconut
Cut-Up Cakes brochure

Those 21 pictures are scans of a small brochure published by Baker’s Coconut in 1959, with instructions to create cakes shaped like animals by cutting up sheet cakes and cake rounds and reassembling them: Cut-Up Cakes. I added them to my galleries a full two years ago, and they still generate a lot of interest: in just the past two weeks, a full 30% of the search-driven visits to Humuhumu’s Life in Photos have been from variations on the search term “cut-up cakes;” the three most popular search terms used in finding the site are “cut up cakes,” “cut-up cakes,” and “animal cakes.”

My grandmother probably ordered away for the brochure back in 1959, and my Mom wound up with it; I grew up with it, and each birthday my brother or I would deliberate over which cake would be this year’s birthday cake. It was a huge part of my childhood, and since posting the brochure, I’ve had scads of messages from others with the same memories, who have been thrilled to rediscover the brochure. I can’t help but wonder if Baker’s Coconut has experienced a spike in sales in the past two years.

My birthday is next Monday, and I decided that this year, I would make not just a Cut-Up Cake, but one of my own design: a hula girl. The cake is made up of pieces from a 9″ round cake. I’m pretty happy with it, for a first pass. Her legs are a little chunky, but I’ve never heard a song that went “lovely hula legs…” anyhow.

Full instructions, including a template, after the jump.


September 21, 2006

Mission Hills: Lucky Tiki Closing This Saturday

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:59 pm
Sign for the Lucky Tiki
Sign for the Lucky Tiki

As I reported back in February, the Lucky Tiki‘s lease is being terminated, and they must move to a new location. The original plan had them closing for (hopefully) one month starting at the end of September, while they moved to a new North Hollywood location. The last I heard was that the move had been delayed, but now it appears that the date has been moved up, to this weekend. Saturday, September 23 will be the last day for the Lucky Tiki… at least, at its Mission Hills location. It also appears that the North Hollywood location is no longer happening, and a new location search is underway. Hopefully the search will be a short one!

Polynesian Restaurant Advertisements

Filed under: Art,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:48 pm
Ad for Chin Tiki, from the collection of Chub
Ad for Chin Tiki, from the collection of Chub

A collection of advertisements for old Polynesian restaurants is forming in a thread on Tiki Central. Many of these ads come from old phone directories. The above 1967 advertisement was posted by thread-starter Chub, and is from the Chin Tiki in Detroit.

September 20, 2006

The Best Tiki Bar Is the One Stumbling Distance from Your Bed

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:59 am
Scottiki's The Moai Lounge
Scottiki’s The Moai Lounge

The Polynesian Pop craze has lived on best perhaps in the basements, dens and rumpus rooms of tikiphiles across the globe; secret personal paradises, open only to a select few, with service completely unparalleled in the professional world. There are so many home tiki bars out there, I wonder if one could create a vast underground network of tunnels to connect them all — now that would be a bar crawl.

Menu from the Humuhumu Room
Menu from the Humuhumu Room

Mr. Bali Hai has spotlighted a few of them on the Eye of the Goof, including Scottiki’s Moai Lounge, pictured above. Mr. Bali Hai of course has his own fabulous home tiki bar, Balis’ Hai’daway. My current home tiki bar is sort of a shambles, but you can see pictures of my first home tiki bar, The Humuhumu Room, in Critiki. The Humuhumu Room is gone now, and I cringe now when I look at it and see all the things I would do differently, but it has a special place in my heart — working on the Humuhumu Room is what spurred my interest in tiki.

There are several home tiki bars in Critiki — and I’d love to add more! If you have a home tiki bar you’d like added to Critiki, let me know.

September 19, 2006

My Travels: Hooptylau 2006

Filed under: Central California,Events,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:44 pm
The Pollardville Chicken Jail
Bill & Michael in the Pollardville Chicken Jail
The gang at On Lock Sam's
The gang at On Lock Sam’s

Yee haw! This past weekend I was at Hooptylau, in California’s Central Valley. I saw the very best tiki there is to see in Stockton, Ripon, Modesto & Turlock. And there is some mighty fine tiki to be seen, indeed.

The first stop was On Lock Sam’s in Stockton, which has been in business since 1898(!), but the building it’s in dates from 1964. It’s undergone a very unfortunate remodel, but bits of charm remain — especially bartender Ray, who goes way back in the local Chinese & Polynesian restaurant scene. On Lock Sam’s is Chinese and not Polynesian, but it is neat.

Pollardville sign
Pollardville sign

The next stop was Pollardville, a roadside attraction that dates from the ’40s, on Highway 99 on the north side of Stockton. Pollardville started as a chicken stand, and grew into a full-on western sort-of ghost town (zombie town?) when they started moving buildings from other areas onto the property, including the Jamestown Jail, and the entire set from the 1958 western film “The Big Country.” In the mid-80s, the restaurant on the property burned down, and in 1987, they found a new building to replace it, which was our real reason for this stop on the tour… Stockton’s The Islander restaurant was moved from its spot in the heart of Stockton, to its final resting place in Pollardville, where it became the Pollardville Chicken Kitchen. The roofline screams “mid-century A-frame Polynesian restaurant!” while the interior screams “in 1987 we let the waitress with the most seniority decorate the place, and we haven’t changed it since!”

Former Stockton Islander building at Pollardville
Former Stockton Islander building at Pollardville


September 18, 2006

Basement Kahuna Bar Available

Filed under: Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:53 pm
Basement Kahuna bar
Basement Kahuna bar

An incredible opportunity: Basement Kahuna created this gorgeous home tiki bar for a residential installation that hasn’t worked out as planned. His loss is your gain… he’s willing to part with it for only $450. The bar is six feet long, and has three carved Rarotongan masks on the front. The only catch is that you’ve got to pick it up at his place, in Georgia. However, he’d be willing to bring it down to Hukilau for pickup there, if a Hukilau attendee winds up buying it. If you want it, shoot an email to Basement Kahuna at hotcoffeestore@bellsouth.net. The bar will go quickly!

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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