Entries from December 2006

December 30, 2006

Sven Kirsten’s Tiki Modern Coming in 2007

Filed under: News,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:10 am
Sven Kirsten's Tiki Modern
Sven Kirsten’s Tiki Modern

Sven Kirsten’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2000′s The Book of Tiki is nearly ready to go to press. The title is Tiki Modern and the Wild World of Witco, and Amazon’s site in the UK (but not in the US) is offering pre-sales (hence this snazzy sneak peek at the cover). Amazon is offering it at £16.49 (that’s about $32 US). By the time the book is actually printed later into the new year (Amazon lists March 2007, Sven says summer is more likely), I’m sure it’ll be available domestically, so there’s no need to pre-order from across the pond, unless that floats your boat for some reason. I won’t judge.

Sven’s first book introduced the world of Polynesian Pop to the general populace, and painted a lovely picture of the depth and breadth of its influence. His newest volume expands a bit, and explores the juxtoposition of midcentury modern with midcentury primitive — in particular, the art and furniture of William Westenhaver, whose pieces produced under the name of Witco already command high prices (sure to rise once this new book arrives).

Nod to Trader Woody for the heads-up.

December 29, 2006

Grass Shack: Pre-Kahiki Bamboo Joint

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Research,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:57 pm
Grass Shack matchbook, from the collection of uncle trav
Grass Shack matchbook, from the collection of uncle trav
Grass Shack matchbook
Grass Shack matchbook

This old matchbook from the Grass Shack caught the eye of its owner, uncle trav, one day recently. He found it a year ago, but only just now took notice of the address: 3583 E. Broad St. Columbus, Ohio. That’s the address of the legendary Kahiki Supper Club. He posted his matchbook on Tiki Central, and it turns out that the Grass Shack was owned by Kahiki founders Bill Sapp and Lee Henry, and it burned down in June 1958 or ’59, at Bill Sapp’s birthday party. Here’s the story, as it was related to Kahiki aficionado tikiskip:

The place did burn down, on Bills Birthday!
He told me he went home (party was still going on)
And got a call from sondro Conti, Bar Manager/drink inventer
Who said “Boss we got a fire here”
Bill said “well put it out”
Sondro called back and said “hey boss this things getting pretty big”
Bill “are we going to be open tomorrow?”
Sondro then called back and said.”Boss we no open tomorrow!”

They were going to start on the Kahiki the next day anyway.
Bill told me that they had matches with the raised boobs. I thought he was mistaken but there they are!

Another story from Bill Sapp, via tikiskip:

Mr Sapp did say that when they started the Kahiki
The fire marshal came in and said “you can’t use the thatch” Because it was a fire hazard.
They told him that they used fire proofing material on the thatch.
They then took him to the burned remains of the Grass Shack and showed him that everything but the thatch was burnt to a crisp!
So he let them use it.

A great matchbook, followed up by some great provenance, and some great stories, to boot.

December 27, 2006

Portland’s Thatch Opening Soon

Filed under: Events,News,Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:52 pm
Pander Bros. velvet painting, for Thatch
Pander Bros. velvet painting, for Thatch

Robert Volz has been working on his new tiki bar, Thatch, for a loooong time now, and it looks like the work is finally wrapping up. Robert reports that while Thatch will not be open in time for New Year’s Eve as he’d once hoped, he is now aiming to have a preview party for VIPs and Tiki Centralites on January 5. Those who are interested in attending can send Robert (a.k.a. Robertiki) a personal message on Tiki Central to score an invite. No word yet on the grand opening date for the general public. Robert is pictured above, along with a large black velvet painting for Thatch by Portland artists the Pander Bros.

Happy Holidays, And All That

Filed under: Monterey & Big Sur,My Travels,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:55 pm
Coco Joe's letter opener
Coco Joe’s letter opener

Greetings from not-so-wintry Monolux, where we’ve been trying to squeeze in some long winter’s naps and the occasional sugarplum into our otherwise packed schedule of holiday hecticness and server coddling. Yeah, our beloved server has been under the weather, thanks to the insidious workings of spam fiends. I came thisclose to having to shut down comments on this blog. I really, really didn’t want to have to do that, and so many hours were spent troubleshooting, monitoring, and researching, until I finally taught my server some really kick-ass ninja moves, and bought it some titanium underwear. It was not easy, it was not quick, and dammit, you better make it worth my while by commenting now & again.

While that was a major PITA, it was really the only bit of stress this season in the Lemoore household, and considering that so many folks brace themselves this time of year for hassles & grief, we really have it pretty easy. We had a wonderful time celebrating and spending time with our family. My brother gave me the very cool letter opener pictured here; it belonged to our grandmother Doris, who probably picked it up in Hawaii in either ’77 or ’80. The detail on it is nice & crisp, and the blade is wickedly sharp (Grandma must have had someone sharpen it for her). I’m very happy to have it.

Last weekend we got together with Tiki Central folks at the brand-new Hula’s in Santa Cruz, which was fun. It’s been a while since we’ve had an organized get-together here in the Bay Area; so many of us meet up every Wednesday at Forbidden Island that we forget to do anything more formal, but it’s nice to step out and explore a bit. The food in particular was a hit; we’ll likely be getting together there again in the not-too-distant future.

Today, right this instant, I’m supposed to be zipping down I-5 at Hanford’s side, talking about whatever crazy project we would have cooked up (we’re always cooking up crazy projects during that six hour drive, that’s how Ooga-Mooga was born), on our way to a spectacular evening of delicious drunkeness at Tiki-Ti. It was a beautiful plan. Instead, I’m bundled up in bed, fighting off a cold. Bah. It’s not a particularly nasty cold, but I don’t want it to turn into one, so I’m laying low. Tiki-Ti will have to wait a bit. On the plus side, Hanford is taking really wonderful care of me (but then, he does that when I’m not sick).

Now we’re looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve at Forbidden Island. Providing that my bed rest plan works, it should be a great night.

Hope your holidays have been swell!

December 11, 2006

New Hula’s Location in Santa Cruz

Filed under: Denver,Monterey & Big Sur,News,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:16 pm
Hula's Island Grill & Tiki Bar in Santa Cruz, photo by Citibeach
Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Bar in Santa Cruz, photo by Citibeach

I’m absolutely tickled to see pictures of the new location of Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Bar in Santa Cruz on this thread on Tiki Central. My visit last year to the original location, which is still pulling in the local crowds in Monterey, was a revelation. The space was a triple threat of great decor, great drinks, and even more shockingly: great food. Having grown up in the epicure’s heaven that is Seattle, my standards for food are pretty darned high, and Hula’s is the only Tiki-themed joint that has had food I considered truly wonderful.

In my trip report from last August, I passed along the news from Hula’s co-owner Chris that they were hoping to open a second location in a new city, with a stronger focus on creating an elegant tiki environment (the original location started out more generic/surf-themed). I crossed my fingers back then that they would choose a city near mine, and I got my wish — their new location is in Santa Cruz, and the drive there is the same distance as my drive to Forbidden Island, in the opposite direction.

The owners have recruited some assistance from all corners in developing the space’s decor, including help from Bosko, Oceanic Arts, ‘Onatiki, Polynesiac and Tiki Tony. They’ve consulted with Forbidden Island’s Martin Cate in developing the bar. The pictures look extraordinarily inviting, and I envision a visit in my very near future. While I’m there, I’ll get the latest scoop on the related location in the works for Denver — the latest report on Tiki Central is that it’s to be called “The Hut” and work is starting next month on a location on South Broadway.

December 8, 2006

The Return of Sam’s Seafood?

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:06 pm
Sam's Seafood, on PCH in Orange County
Sam’s Seafood, on PCH in Orange County

Sam’s Seafood, an Orange County tiki institution, closed rather suddenly this past summer, when the owners sold the land to developers aiming to erect retail space and condominiums on the site. It appeared even then that any development would likely be delayed for a few years, and there were questions about what would happen to the restaurant in the interim. The bar has been open sporadically and briefly now and then over the past few months, likely in an effort to keep the liquor license active in the case that the restaurant may reopen.

Now comes word that indeed, the restaurant is reopening. Much is still not known — if the situation is still as it stands last June, it may simply be a way to make money off the site until the redevelopment can begin a few years down the road. When Sam’s closed, there were many rumors of the decor being scatted to the four winds, not to mention the tattered pieces that landed in the dumpster. Sam’s is a large space, and was in need of much repair; while it would be wonderful to see it restored, the cost to do so would not be small, and may not be worth it if the ultimate plan is still to only have the restaurant operating for a few years.

Regardless, Sam’s is coming back, which has many locals very, very happy. The timetables I’ve heard range from “soon” to “in a couple weeks.” It will be interesting to see what kind of shape Sam’s is now in, and what the future now holds. One thing we can be sure of — the food and drinks of the new restaurant’s management can only be an improvement.

For the latest updates, stay tuned to this thread on Tiki Central.

December 2, 2006

Ft. Lauderdale: Mai-Kai 50th Anniversary Dinner

Filed under: Events,Ft. Lauderdale & Miami,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:57 pm
Ad for the Mai-Kai's opening day in 1956, from the Mai-Kai Archives
Ad for the Mai-Kai’s opening day in 1956,
from the Mai-Kai Archives

About a thousand tikiphiles gathered to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Mai-Kai this past October, as part of the annual Hukilau event. However, the real, actual date of the 50th Anniversary is coming up on December 28th, and a special, more intimate celebration is planned. Tiki Kiliki is organizing a group reservation for Tiki Centralites for the prime seats of the house — right in front of the stage. Every evening at the Mai-Kai is a really special experience, and about the only way it can be improved upon is by sharing the experience with other people who share your love of tiki and of the Mai-Kai. If you’re interested in joining the group, chime in on this thread on Tiki Central.

Those of us who are inconveniently located across the country may have to miss out on the dinner, but Tiki Kiliki has something special for us, too: every day between now and December 28, she’s sharing an image from the Mai-Kai archives, or from the archives of the family of Mariano Licudine (the Mai-Kai’s original genius mixologist). The image here comes from the Mai-Kai archives, and is an advertisement for the Mai-Kai’s opening day, on December 28, 1956.

Happy Anniversary, Mai-Kai!

Yet Another Glowing Review for Forbidden Island

Filed under: San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:25 pm
Forbidden Island in Alameda
Forbidden Island in Alameda

Since opening in April, Forbidden Island has racked up plenty of fantastic reviews. (It’s currently ranked #3 of all tiki places on Critiki, behind only the great Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, and legendary tiki outfitters Oceanic Arts in Whittier.) The latest review comes from the Contra Costa Times, and it’s notable because the reviewer openly states a distaste for tiki bars, and went in expecting to hate it, but loved Forbidden Island, right from the get-go. It’s a great demonstration of the importance of quality and thoroughness of effort in creating a tiki bar.

Forbidden Island is a hit not because it’s a tiki bar, but because it’s a well executed tiki bar. It chaps my hide when statements are made that tiki bars are only viable if compromises are made — like bringing in modern music, and cutting corners with the drinks to make them quickly and cheaply. Scores of people make the trek to Forbidden Island night after night because of the quality of the tiki theme. The esoteric nature of tiki is irrelevant — everybody can appreciate quality.

Alameda is arguably a terrible place to open a tiki bar: it’s a sleepy bedroom community, tucked away on an island in the middle of an area where there are thousands upon thousands of other bars and restaurants to compete against, and there are nearly a dozen other tiki bars already in the area. But Forbidden Island has succeeded nonetheless, because the owners know what they’re doing, and they’ve taken the time to address every aspect, from minor details to major drivers, of creating a great tiki bar.

Anyway, it’s a great review, especially if you, like the reviewer, are skeptical about tiki bars. Check it out.

North Hollywood: Tiki Wonderland at Tonga Hut

Filed under: Art,Events,Los Angeles,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:17 pm
Tiki Wonderland at Tonga Hut
Tiki Wonderland at Tonga Hut

After the huge success of last month’s shindig at the Tonga Hut, they’ll be throwing another soiree, on Saturday, December 16, from 7 p.m. to midnight. It’s a mug release party and a one-night-only art show. Two mugs will be debuted there: Tiki Farm’s new Marqo Pollo mug by Señor Calamar (a.k.a. Squid), and Tiki Diablo’s new Dia de los Marquesos mug. There will be art on display by Bosko, Atomikitty, Crazy Al, Derek Yaniger and more. I suspect there will be a return of Grog’s stupefying art rocks, as he’s organizing the event — be sure to get yours. There will be some drink specials, and better yet — they’re making sure to have an extra bartender on hand, dedicated to making tropical drinks all night long (apparently, there was a tragic tropical drink shortage at last month’s event). Tonga Hut is at 12808 Victory Blvd. in North Hollywood. It’s already looking like there’s going to be a great turnout of fun tiki-lovin’ people.

Tiki Meets Giger

Filed under: Art,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:51 pm
Scott & Thayer's Bamboo Crazyness
Scott & Thayer’s Bamboo Crazyness

My friends Scott & Thayer recently picked up this remarkable piece of furniture from an Asian decor warehouse that is going out of business. It’s a sort of chaise longue, made of bamboo that is twisted around into something grotesque. It looks to me like a chair H. R. Giger might create if he was asked to do decor for a tiki bar. Bamboo doesn’t bend well after it has been harvested, so most furniture is made from the similar looking, but bendable, rattan. This bamboo likely bent as it grew, and the most gnarled bits are likely bamboo roots. Thayer says the invoice called the chair “BAMBOO CRAZYNESS,” which sounds about right.

Suggest an Item
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