Entries from January 2007

January 28, 2007

Where’s the Tiki in France?

Filed under: Continental Europe,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:23 am
Insignia from a French Foreign Legion regiment
Insignia from the French Foreign Legion’s
5ème RMP

A thought crossed my mind today… in the past few years, most of the countries of western Europe have seen a tiki bar or two open: Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland each have at least one, Germany has a half-dozen of them, the UK has a bunch, and Spain of course has more than their fair share. But as far as I can tell, France comes up with a great big goose egg. I once found a family pizza place that had tiki masks in relief in the cement outside the building, but that’s been it so far. Of course, France has its stamp all over Polynesia — Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia in particular, where French is the official language.

Why is this so? Is there Polynesian Pop in France and I’m just missing it? Do rum-based drinks hold little interest in wine-lovin’ France? Are the French just so over the whole Polynesian Pop thing, preferring their tiki a bit more legit?

On a related but different note: on Tiki Central, tikipedia recently posted a picture of a lovely insignia (slightly different from the one pictured here) for the 5ème Regiment Mixte du Pacifique, a division of the French Foreign Legion that was deployed to French Polynesia from 1963 until the unit was disbanded in 2000.

Trader Vic’s Roundup

Filed under: Asia,Chicago,Dallas,Las Vegas,Middle East,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:46 am

Here’s an update on some of the Trader Vic’s openings currently slated, from the Trader Vic’s website:

Shanghai, China – Opened on New Year’s Eve

Dallas – February, 2007 (it’s been pushed back many times, but February 11 is the most recent date)

Las Vegas – in June, 2007

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Bar in Dubai – April, 2007

Chicago – late 2007 (This has been pushed back quite a bit — their initial estimate was that it would be open by now. There have been rumblings of union troubles (I don’t know of which sort) causing some delays.)

Doha, Qatar – late 2007

Amman, Jordan – late 2007

Beijing, China – late 2007

Earlier Trader Vic’s opening reports on Humu Kon Tiki:

Trader Vic’s Kuwait?

Filed under: Middle East,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:00 am
Trader Vic's Kuwait press release, from Kuwait Unplugged
Trader Vic’s Kuwait press release,
from Kuwait Unplugged

Humu Kon Tiki reader Misbas recently made a comment on a post about the Kon Tiki in Kuwait:

The Kon Tiki is a Polynesian-style restaurant in the Trader Vic’s mode, and the food is actually very good, if somewhat pricey. Speaking of Trader Vic’s, a company here has announced plans to open one in Kuwait. Imagine that, A TV’s sans alcohol — the spectre is both comical and depressing at the same time! The other Trader Vic’s locations in the Gulf (Bahrain, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Al-Ain and Oman) do a bang-up business, but all serve the big “A”.

Interesting… a quick search turned up this post on the Kuwait Unplugged blog:

Trader Vic’s is well known around the world as a tourist trap specializing in luridly colored cocktails (the Mai Tai being its most famous), with tacky umbrellas and weirdly shaped glasses. The food is secondary… it’s not bad, but it’s also not the main reason people go there.

Now Trader Vic’s is the latest entry in the never-ending race to import totally unsuitable franchises to Kuwait. What would be the point if they can’t serve their signature cocktails?

And the press release… words fail me!

Kuwait Unplugged has a full-size image of the printed press release above… words fail me as well, but for an entirely different reason. Can someone who can read Arabic help me out?

I’m also not up enough on the restaurant & (non)bar scene in the Middle East, so I don’t feel like I’m in a position to say whether or not this is a good move on Trader Vic’s part, but I have to agree that I don’t get it, especially if the decor is as sparse as the newer Trader Vic’s I’ve seen here stateside. Heck, I’m not even sure if Bongo Bongo Soup is halal.

January 27, 2007

Seattle: Lushy at Hula Hula

Filed under: Events,Music,Seattle,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:21 pm
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.

Lushy, a darling bossa/exotica, loungey-but-dancey band based out of Seattle, is playing a show at Hula Hula on Wednesday, February 7. Lushy sounds so good in nice, intimate spaces, and Hula Hula’s space is probably just about perfect for them. It’s a great opportunity to give Hula Hula a whirl — early reports are that Hula Hula is a neat space, but that the modern/rock music played there is a mismatch — and my guess is that Lushy will give the place the mojo it may be missing.

Lushy's eponymous album
Lushy’s eponymous album

Vocalist Annabella Kirby leads the gang of stylish pop musicians through infectious songs that sound like they could have come off a ’60s European soundtrack. Two of my favorite songs of theirs are “French 75,” a cheeky ode to the francophone life, and “Bella Beretta,” an homage to Annabella’s kick-ass, Vespa ridin’ momma (as seen pictured on the cover of their album). If you can’t make it to hear them in Seattle, I recommend picking up their self-titled album, put out by Dionysus Records.

Lushy at Hula Hula
9:30 pm, no cover
106 1st Ave. N.

January 26, 2007

Selector Lopaka, Sundays at Fu Kun Wu

Filed under: Events,Music,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:45 pm
Selector Lopaka
Selector Lopaka

I while back, I shared a reverie about my days in Seattle, when I could be found reliably once a week at Fu Kun Wu in Ballard, to hear Selector Lopaka spin Exotica tunes. Ahhhhh… those were good days. I’ve tried to convince Selector Lopaka to come move down to San Francisco, so that I can hear him every week once again; while I think I’m making progress, so far he hasn’t actually budged. But someday… someday I will succeed.

That makes it that much more urgent that you discover this Seattle treasure before I steal him away from you. He’s been on hiatus from Fu Kun Wu for a while now, but he’s starting up again, this time on Sunday nights.

Selector Lopaka – 6ish-9ish every Sunday
Fu Kun Wu
(back bar of Thaiku)
5410 Ballard Ave

Thatch vs. The Alibi: Portland Tiki Throwdown

Filed under: Portland,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:30 pm
Welcome to Blog goes to the Alibi
Welcome to Blog goes to the Alibi

Brandon at Welcome to Blog recently went on a one-night mission to take the pulse of Portland tiki, and he found a nice, strong heartbeat, indeed. After a brief lament for the loss of the Jasmine Tree, he pits the Portland grand dame of tiki, The Alibi, against brand-new upstart Thatch in a contest of Decor, Tikis, Drinks, The Crowd, The Background Music, The Bathrooms, and The Staff. Sounds like my kind of night out on the town. He gives thoughtful consideration to each location’s strengths and weaknesses — in particular, it’s great to hear that Thatch is playing Les Baxter. Which Tiki reigns supreme? Well, thankfully, one doesn’t have to win over the other — Portland is just lucky to have two great tiki bars, and hopefully that will be the case for a long time to come.

About That Tiki Aquarium…

Filed under: Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:06 pm
Aloha Tiki Aquarium
Aloha Tiki Aquarium

So, if you’re one of those sorts who wades waist-high in the Internet, you’ve probably seen a Tiki Aquarium making the rounds all over the place during the past few days. You might also be scratching your head, wondering why you aren’t reading about this li’l wonder on Humu Kon Tiki. Lest you think that I’m slow on the uptake: I posted about it already. In 2005.

Boo yah!

New Critiki Feature: Nearest Locations

Filed under: Critiki,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:11 pm
New Critiki feature: Nearest Locations
New Critiki feature: Nearest Locations

I’m very pleased to announce a new Critiki feature I’ve wanted to have for a long time: Nearest Locations. Each location in Critiki now shows a list of the five closest open locations (as the crow flies, so be sure to factor in any lakes & rivers that may impede your Pursuit of Tiki). Aside from being a big help for the many folks who use Critiki for their travel plans, it’s just a fun way to bop around Critiki, checking out locations you might not have been aware of. It only includes locations that are open to the public — no home bars, or places that have gone out of business. Pictured here is an example of the locations listed on the page for the Bali Hai in Lynnfield, Mass.

Another little tweak I’ve made: if you’re logged into Critiki and looking at a location, you’ll see your own critiki of the location right under the location’s average critiki ratings. That means you don’t have to go into the critiki page to see whether you remembered to rate a place, and you can also see at a glance if your rating still holds true to how you feel about a place.

I hope you enjoy these changes, I think they add a lot to Critiki.

I must take a moment to thank the many people who have been contributing their images to Critiki. I’ve been really pleased with the amount of photos coming in — I have new ones about every other day or so. It sure makes a location’s page come alive, and I really appreciate the efforts of those who take the time to share their photos through Critiki. Mahalo!

Latest News on Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 7:28 pm
1950s postcard from Trader Vic's Beverly Hills, from the collection of Mimi Payne
1950s postcard from Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills, from the collection of Mimi Payne

A bunch of news erupted last week (and lots of links to my blog — thanks for that!). Here’s a quick roundup:

Plans have been changed — condos are out, Waldorf is in
When word first broke one year ago here on Humu Kon Tiki that the Trader Vic’s was threatened, the plans called for the corner of Wilshire & Santa Monica (where the Trader Vic’s sits on Hilton property) to be turned into a new tower of condominiums. The LA Times reports the developers have found significant resistance from the community, and have now revised their plan. The condo idea has been tossed, and instead they will build a 120-room Waldorf hotel on the spot. The plans still call for the Trader Vic’s to be demolished. The new plans will likely be voted on in the fall of 2007.

Trader Vic’s is considering a move
When the Trader Vic’s in Chicago tragically closed under similar circumstances in 2005, they immedieately made plans to save as much of the decor as possible, and move into a new Chicago location, partnered with Harry Carey restaurants. In July, my sources at Trader Vic’s told me that this would likely be the case in Bevely Hills, as well, and that appears to have been confirmed last week by John Maatta, who is on the board of directors, per a report from Franklin Avenue. The jury is still out on how well this has worked in Chicago: the new location hasn’t opened, and as far as I know, hasn’t even been announced. It’s better to have a new Vic’s than no Vic’s at all, but make no mistake — the new Vic’s will not have the same character, by a longshot. There’s simply no recreating 50+ years of history. The loss of the original Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s would be a tragedy, period.

How to act to save the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s
I wish I had a single, clear, easy thing you can do, but it’s not quite that easy. There is a growing groundswell of resistance, from many different sides, to the Hilton developments, so you’re in good company. Because there are so many different sorts of folks who want to save the Trader Vic’s (which is a good thing!), the effort looks a bit like a hydra at the moment. Just pick a head, or two, or three, and run with them. The best bet right now would be to get in contact with the LA Conservancy’s Modern Committee. The LA Conservancy has experience with historic sites threatened by new development, and have made some great strides in saving Los Angeles landmarks. The Modern Committee’s discussion about the Trader Vic’s is here. There are, naturally, also folks at Tiki Central who are trying to figure out how best to act, and are starting to dovetail with the Mod Com efforts. You can follow the Tiki Central thread here. And of course, there’s the option of contacting the City of Beverly Hills directly, they’ve created an email address just for comments about this project: HiltonHotelComments@beverlyhills.org. Throw your hat into the various rings, and be ready to be part of the action once the plans of attack come together. Let everyone know you’re there to help.

Fort Lauderdale: Hukilau 2007

Filed under: Events,Ft. Lauderdale & Miami,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:35 pm
Hukilau 2007 website
Hukilau 2007 website

You’ve probably been wondering where I scampered off to this time… well, I’ve been hard at work on the new website for Hukilau 2007! With the launch of the website comes the announcement of this year’s lineup, and yet again, the selection of things to do and see and hear is outstanding. Of course, the main night is once again at tiki mecca, the Mai-Kai. Here’s just a sampling:

  • Robert Drasnin, returning to Hukilau to perform his new album Voodoo II live (his 2005 performance was awe-inspiring)
  • Beachbum Berry, with the premiere of his new book, Sippin’ Safari
  • Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily, celebrated artists with a talk on tiki history, especially where it concerns Disney
  • Clouseaux, jet-set Exotica from Houston
  • Jeff Chenault, with a talk on Exotica music
  • Hula Punk, all the way from Hamburg, Germany
  • High Noon, rockabilly from Ausin

There’s a ton more (including a Tiki Treasures Bazaar, a Tiki Fashion Show, the return of the Wreck Bar Mermaid, and tons more music), but the best way to see it all is to go hit the website. Scratch that — the best way to see it all is to go to Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, June 14-17. Tickets are on sale now!

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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