Entries from April 2007

April 30, 2007

BREAKING: Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s Has Closed – UPDATED

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 2:10 am
Beverly Hills Trader Vics
Beverly Hills Trader Vics

Breaking news from Atomikitty: The Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s last day of operation could very well be Tuesday, May 1.

I just finished up my bartending shift at Saints and Sinners, and one of my customers happened to be a bartender over at Trader Vics Beverly Hills. This person (who asked to not be named) told me that the staff has a ‘meeting’ tomorrow @ 10am, but as of now, the last day on the schedule is this Tuesday May 1st!

That certainly doesn’t bode well. It sounds as if the bartender was fairly convinced that this is the end for the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. While it could be quite some time before any construction starts on the new tower at the Beverly Hilton, there’s nothing stopping them from shutting down the restaurant now. Doing so sooner rather than later lets them do it relatively quietly, and makes one of the arguments against this very unpopular development moot.

More updates as more information comes out (particularly after tomorrow’s meeting with staff), but it doesn’t look good — I’d suggest heading there tonight to pay final respects and get your last good Navy Grog.

UPDATE @ 11:55: Brain says in the comments:

Trader Vics is closed. Last night was the end.

If true, this morning’s meeting is likely all about final paychecks. Still waiting to hear confirmation, but it doesn’t look good. Stay tuned…

UPDATE @ 12:05: I just got off the phone with the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. I spoke to a very flustered woman, who clearly didn’t know what she was supposed to say. When I asked if they were open, she said “no.” When I asked if they were closed forever, she became even more uncomfortable, and stammered out that they were closed “for renovations.” When I asked if it was still going to be Trader Vic’s, she hemmed and hawed and said something about the bar moving to the hotel, and that she didn’t know if it was still going to be Trader Vic’s. That sounds to me that after 50+ years, Trader Vic’s Beverly Hills is gone.

UPDATE @ 12:35: Eater LA has heard similar rumblings…

UPDATE @ 1:10: When Eater LA called Trader Vic’s, they got the same spiel, and were told that Trader Vic’s specialty cocktails will possibly be available at Circa 55, which is a newer restaurant near the pool.

If Trader Vic’s veteran bartenders decide to make the move to Circa 55, the drinks should still be pretty good, but if the bartenders decide they’re done with the Hilton, I’d guess the drinks would be iffy. Some of the Trader Vic’s bartenders have been there for a very, very long time, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some of them opted to retire instead.

I would love it if some of the bartenders decided they’d like to semi-retire in the Bay Area and sling Mai Tais at the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s part-time, but I’m not holding my breath.

UPDATE @ 3:45: An eyewitness report from Tom Slick:

I just got back from Trader Vic’s, and I can confirm with authority they are no longer open to the public. I took a few photos, and was immediately sweated by the beverly hills hilton police as to why was I taking pictures. I told them I was an urban archeologist taking pictures of americas mid century architecture.haha, well they were very uneasy, and asked me to leave the property and to take pictures from the sidewalk. I asked if I were doing something wrong, and the suit told me not really, but the (get this!)owner doesn’t want anyone on Trader Vics property other than the people setting up a private party & private party invitees. I can only assume from this point that it is an employee farewell party.
I asked if I could come to dinner tomorrow night instead of tonight…”probably not”…..
The 2 black suits with ear pieces were guarding the entrance to Trader Vic’s. There WAS activity going on inside, and I did see toolkits. Setting up for a private party seemed to be legit, but the suit wasn’t saying who the party was for…I can only guess…

UPDATE @ 5:45: Eater LA has a press release from Trader Vic’s:

From the press release: “The new Trader Vic’s Lounge will be located next to the new Circa 55 restaurant and the Aqua Star pool area. The menu will feature Trader Vic’s signature drinks including the world-famous Mai Tai, invented by Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, the Scorpion Bowl and appetizer plates that are ideal for sharing with friends. … ‘We are pleased that the popularity of Trader Vic’s continues to grow around the globe,’ said Robert Davies, President and CEO of Trader Vic’s. ‘Our loyal patrons and hotel guests can be assured that while the atmosphere may be more casual, our new Beverly Hills offering will continue to reflect the finest of our company’s island-style service and culinary quality.’ ”

By “more casual” he must mean smaller and less, um, tiki. Sure, some of the decor will be moved over, but it’s still basically a renovated lounge filled with Trader Vic’s memorabilia. Nonetheless, the new lounge will reopen on May 3. We’re told GM Chai Rojana will still be running the show, and many of the bartenders will move to the new digs.

The word that the bartenders and GM are being retained is good, but contradicts what Atomikitty had heard — that the bartenders were worried about their ability to find new jobs. Eater LA is waiting to hear solid confirmation that indeed the highly-skilled bartenders — who should be treated as the treasures they are — have not lost their jobs. It would be shameful if they were given reason to suddenly worry about their livelihood.

This sucks.

April 27, 2007

Great Blog: Talk Story About Hawaiiana

Filed under: Asia,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:33 pm
Talk Story About Hawaiiana
Talk Story About Hawaiiana

I just found a great blog I hadn’t seen before. At least, I think it’s great — it’s in Japanese. It’s called Talk Story About Hawaiiana, and even though I can’t read it, I’m loving looking through the posts. From what I can gather, if you like Humu Kon Tiki, you’ll like Talk Story — especially if you know the language. It looks like an interesting perspective: Here in the U.S., imagery of Japan sometimes gets lumped in with Tiki stuff, under the banner of Exotica (especially in Exotica music). At Talk Story, some American imagery is lumped in with Tiki stuff, probably for similar reasons: it’s Exotic. The blog has some really interesting things posted on it, some collectibles I haven’t seen before. I’ve tried running the site through the Babel Fish translator, and while it doesn’t really make it readable, I can kinda sorta make out that it seems to be very thoughtfully written. I would love to hear from someone who can read the site — any Japanese-reading Humu Kon Tiki readers out there who can share their thoughts?

Bumper Crop of Kahiki Idol’s Casts

Filed under: Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:40 am
Kahiki Idol's Cast, for sale on eBay
Kahiki Idol’s Cast, for sale on eBay

Right now, there are three — three! — Kahiki Idol’s Cast bowls up for sale on eBay. This is generally regarded as one of the more rare mugs, and has been some people’s “holy grail” … there are only four in Ooga-Mooga — three have a straight-lined design like the ones currently available on eBay, and there is also a wavy-lined version. It was created by Hoffman Pottery for the famous Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio. They only very rarely have come up for sale in the past, and have gone for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. According to Ooga-Mooga, one went for $560 a couple of weeks ago; perhaps that is what sparked the current flood. Even though these are very rare, having three up at once means that they’re likely to go for much less money than they have in the past. Good luck and happy bidding to those who have always wanted one of these! (Thanks to Sven Kirsten for the heads-up, via Tiki Central.)

April 25, 2007

John Skewes’ Great Tiki Soap Odyssey

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:23 pm
Bubbletown Tiki Soap-On-a-Rope
Bubbletown Tiki Soap-On-a-Rope

Product designer John Skewes has a wonderful story on his blog. Several years ago (2002, I think?), he designed the product shown here, a tiki soap-on-a-rope. He says it’s probably his favorite among the products he’s designed, because he got to come up with an original design (rather than using licensed characters), and he’s a tiki collector himself.

In his post, he walks through the process of coming up with a unique-but-still-true-to-tiki tiki design, finding inspiration in his own mug collection — and he touches on how plagiarism has always been pandemic in Polynesian Pop. The tiki soap sold pretty well, and as happens with tiki designs, it started to show up in other places…

Tiki lighters
Tiki lighters

…like these tiki lighters. Which explains why when I first started reading his post, I thought “hey, that’s the tiki lighter!” Some scoundrels totally stole the design! John even lines up his original concept sketch with the lighter, and bang howdy, it syncs right up.

As if that weren’t enough — John’s soap is one of the examples shown on a website demonstrating the effectiveness of a 3-D scanning tool… which was probably used by the folks who ripped off his design for the lighter.

Tiki design rip-offs, made easy!
Tiki design rip-offs, made easy!

John takes it all in stride, and is quite flattered. (Don’t take that as a sign that it’s okay to take his, or anyone else’s, designs — it’s bad juju!) Be sure to go check out his whole post, it’s always neat to see a tiki lover getting to bring their passion to work.

The Coconut Monkey Project

Filed under: Art,People,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:01 pm
Momma Monkey, by Atomikitty
Momma Monkey, by Atomikitty

Susannah Mosher, a.k.a. Atomikitty, has started a coconut monkey refuge:

Captured and brought to the states as souvenirs of exotic tropical vacations, or with servicemen after their tours of duty in the pacific, these coconut monkeys took up residence in american homes and became an icon of the tiki and cocktail culture of the 50′s and 60′s.

As rumpus rooms and home tiki bars fell out of fashion, so too did the coconut monkey. For decades they have been discarded by their owners, stranded on garage sale and flea market blankets, and forgotten in dusty attics as their coconut husks fray.

Over the past 10 years I have made it my personal mission to seek out these weary travelers and to open my home as a sanctuary for them. Here they are restored to a place of honor among the bamboo, tiki mugs, and exotic rum bottles to be enjoyed and appreciated by all.

Portrait and subject
Portrait and subject

A saintly effort, and worthy of support. How can you help the Coconut Monkey Project? You can buy Atomikitty’s fabulous coconut monkey portraits — each print that is purchased can support up to five coconut monkeys for a year! You can also commision your own coconut monkey portrait, for that special coconut monkey in your life.

Of course, if you know of a coconut monkey in need of a home, you can send it to Atomikitty’s refuge, and rest well in the knowledge that it is leading a better life. If you have any doubts about Atomikitty’s sincerity, and her ability to provide a good tiki environment for these monkeys, know this: aside from being a stellar artist, she is a spiffy tiki bartender, and has served time behind the bar at both the Lucky Tiki and now the Tonga Hut in Los Angeles.

If you’d like to purchase one of Atomikitty’s truly lovely varnished and bamboo-framed coconut monkey prints, they’re available for sale at Yessy.com. If you’d like to keep up with the latest goings-on with the Coconut Monkey Project, check out the official MySpace and blog.

April 24, 2007

Fertility Tiki Strikes in San Diego

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:34 pm
JP St Pierre's Fertility Tiki
JP St Pierre’s Fertility Tiki

JP St Pierre says:

I’ve got a decent tiki collection but there seems to be something special about this one!

It seems his lil’ lady handled his … erm … fertility tiki, and now finds herself in an ‘ohana way. The little surfer is due to arrive in September.

Congratulations, JP — That’s one potent tiki you’ve got there! But which of these two tikis was the culprit? You wouldn’t want him sneaking up on just anyone.

UPDATE: JP reports that the tiki on the left is the one with the serious fertility mojo — and that this is the FOURTH time that a woman has touched it and then gotten pregnant. Whoa nelly!

The results of JP's Fertility Tiki
The results of JP’s Fertility Tiki

TIKI: a Plague Upon This Land!

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:20 pm
Beware TIKI -- a plague upon this land!
Beware TIKI — a plague upon this land!

I ran into Humu Kon Tiki reader Tongodeon this weekend at Forbidden Island’s anniversary party (WHICH WAS FABULOUS), and he was handing out these great little Jack Chick-style tracts, warning of the assault on Christian values by the scourge of Tiki. The booklet has a reprint date of 2002, but I don’t know when it was originally created; it says it’s published by Thaniel Dickson Ministries, Inc., but a Google on that name only matches to a site that keeps track of Jack Chick parodies. Tongodeon bought a mess of them at a table at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco this past weekend.

I feel terrible for having led so many sheep astray over the years here at Humu Kon Tiki, sending innocents into morally corrupt lives of Martin Denny and Suffering Bastard worship. Perhaps it is not too late, and some of you can be saved. The tract instructs, “Most Importantly: Pass this message on to others !!!”, and because I love you so much, I am sharing this important message with you. You can view the entire tract at Humuhumu’s Life in Photos.

Beware TIKI -- a plague upon this land!

April 20, 2007

Yahoo! Science: Tropical Cocktails Are Good For You!

Filed under: Drinks,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:13 pm
Fruit cocktails, Reuters photo
Fruit cocktails, Reuters photo

I love scientific studies that seem to have only been conducted get a press release out of it. I’ve always called it Yahoo! science, because they consistently crop up in Yahoo’s most popular stories (where I found this one), and because, well, it’s science for yahoos. Attention is seldom paid in the final news article to how good the study actually was, just at what its purported findings are. Ah well. But they’re often fun!

As is the case today, when Yahoo! (actually Reuters) tells us that fruit may actually be even better for you when you mix it with rum. You don’t say? A study by researchers at Kasetsart University in Thailand and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that “treating [fruit such as strawberries and blackberries] with alcohol increased in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity.” It sounds like the study was focusing on berries, rather than our beloved citrus, though. At any rate — it’s yet another reason to put real fruit in your drinks, instead of goofy chemically-flavored rums & vodkas. And let us not say anything about Rose’s Lime “Juice.” Ever.

Alameda: Forbidden Island’s First Anniversary

Filed under: Events,Music,San Francisco,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:17 pm
Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island

The best thing to happen in the world of tiki during the last year is Forbidden Island. It’s shown how tiki should, and can be done. It has set the standard for new tiki bars. Where most new tiki bars out there have struggled to survive (as all bars do — starting a new business is never easy), Forbidden Island has found tremendous success, for one straightforward but often overlooked reason: attention to quality. From the interiors to the drinks to the music to the service, nothing has been overlooked, and it has paid off with national reknown, glowing write-ups and a lot of customer loyalty.

This Sunday, Forbidden Island will have been open for one year. It feels like it’s always been there, and we should be celebrating its fifth, fifteenth, twenty-fifth anniversary, but it’s only been a year. May there be many, many more. Congratulations!

The party this Sunday is going to be a real humdinger — a passel of tikiphiles are coming up from southern California, which is always a treat. There will be live performances by:

  • The Maikai Gents
  • Meshugga Beach Party
  • The Atomic Lounge Show
  • Cari Lee & the Saddle-ites
  • Apocalypso Now

… plus The Jab will be DJing.

Vendors include:

  • Tiki Diablo
  • Jungle Trader
  • Retro Diva
  • Tiki Hunter
Forbidden Island Skull Mug, by Munktiki
Forbidden Island Skull Mug,
by Munktiki

… plus, a brand new Forbidden Island mug, from Munktiki — a special two-tone skull. It goes on sale at 2 p.m., for details on how the mug sale works, check out this thread on Tiki Central.

It’s all happening this Sunday, rain or shine (there will be tents & heaters, if neccessary, and delicious rum makes it all just fine anyhow). There will be a taco truck, too, from Alameda’s beloved La Pinata restaurant. It starts at 2pm. I’ll be helping out serving Mai Tais at the beginning of the day, be sure to come by and say hi!

Forbidden Island One Year Anniversary
2pm ’til close, Sunday April 22
1304 Lincoln Ave
Alameda, CA

April 13, 2007

Pokop Kambang — New Mug from Munktiki

Filed under: Art,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:45 pm
Pokop Kambang, by Munktiki
Pokop Kambang, by Munktiki

I lovelovelove this new mug from Munktiki. It’s called Pokop Kambang; only Munktiki can say for sure, but it looks to me like they were heavily influenced by Papua New Guinea designs, which is probably a big part of why I am so enamored of it. They’re creating 100 of these in the color shown, which go for $50, to be followed by a very limited run of 25 more in a yet-to-be-announced glaze. WANT.

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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