Entries from May 2007

May 11, 2007

Fulton Burley, Voice of Tiki Room’s Irish Parrot, Has Passed Away

Filed under: Disney,History,Los Angeles,News,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:00 pm
Michael, photo by Biotron2000
Michael, photo by Biotron2000

Fulton Burley, who was the voice of Michael the Irish Parrot at the Enchanted Tiki Room, passed away this past Monday at the age of 84.

Wait, wait, we forgot to wake up the glee club!

Burley was better known for his many performances as the host and master of ceremonies at the long-running Golden Horshoe Revue. Burley was honored as a “Disney Legend” in 1995. He was married to his wife Terry for an amazing 62 years, until she passed this past January.

Laughing Place has a nice, long tribute, with quotes from his performing partner Wally Boag. [via The Disney Blog]

Adventureland Tiki, 1958

Filed under: Disney,History,Los Angeles,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:57 pm
Tiki in front of Disneyland's Adventureland Bazaar, from Daveland
Tiki in front of Disneyland’s Adventureland Bazaar, from Daveland

Dave over at Daveland just posted this neat photo taken in Disneyland’s Adventureland in June 1958. This is the most traditional tiki I think I’ve ever seen at Disneyland, it’s pretty cool. I believe that when this picture was taken, Eli Hedley would have been running the Adventureland Bazaar which is right behind the tiki, and he may have been responsible for procuring this tiki. That’s just a wild guess, though.

May 9, 2007

Detroit’s Chin Tiki to Make Way for New Arena?

Filed under: Detroit,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:55 am
Chin Tiki, photo by Feelin' Zombified
Chin Tiki, photo by Feelin’ Zombified

It’s been a while since my last update about the Chin Tiki in Detroit. It’s been a very, very long time since Chin Tiki was operational — 1980 — but all the interiors were still there sitting unused in the decades that followed, leading locals to hope that perhaps Chin Tiki’s days were not quite over. But Marvin Chin died last year, and I believe much of the decor was sold or moved to his son’s restaurant, Chin’s in nearby Livonia.

The parking lot surrounding Chin Tiki had been sold years ago to Ilitch Holdings, and in February of this year, they took deed of the restaurant building, too. According to The Detroit News, Ilitch Holdings has been quietly purchasing other properties in this desolate area of Detroit, leading to speculation that there may be plans to build a new hockey arena — Mike Ilitch owns the Detroit Red Wings. Even if a hockey arena isn’t the ultimate outcome, it appears likely that the Chin Tiki building is destined to be razed for a larger development — developers don’t buy up four blocks of contiguous land because they really like the sidewalks.

May 6, 2007

Two-Eared Bandit

Filed under: History,Las Vegas,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:43 pm
Aku Aku slot machine, from the collection of AkuAku
Aku Aku slot machine,
from the collection of AkuAku

This slot machine was posted today on Tiki Central. It came from the Aku Aku restaurant that was part of the recently-demolished Stardust Casino (Aku Aku closed many years earlier, in 1980). It’s a little hard to tell, especially with this paint job, but this slot machine is in the shape of a moai. You pull one of the ears to play, and there’s a stern little mouth above the payout dish — too bad it doesn’t pay through the nose (har, har!).

The poster, appropriately named AkuAku, is looking for more information about this slot machine — especially its original paint job, so that it can be restored. He said this was likely placed within the Aku Aku restaurant, and sat on a stand of some sort. Loose Change Magazine apparently called it “the World’s ugliest slot machine,” and I won’t argue that — it’s definitely not a looker. But beauty isn’t everything, and this sucker is cool — I haven’t been so tickled to see an Aku Aku souvenir since I saw that extra-fancy moist towelette. Mr. Bali Hai is on the hunt tho help AkuAku learn more; hopefully we’ll get to see pictures of this in restored condition someday.

May 5, 2007

Dallas: Texas Tikiphile Gathering

Filed under: Dallas,Events,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:22 pm
Dallas Trader Vic's
Dallas Trader Vic’s
Dallas Trader Vic's
Dallas Trader Vic’s

Well, with all this sad news about Trader Vic’s lately, how about a little celebration of Trader Vic’s at its best? If you’re in the Dallas area, tonight’s your night. Well, any night is your night — you’re lucky enough to have what is possibly the most beautiful Trader Vic’s in the United States right in your town.

About 25 Texas-area tikiphiles are gathering at the Dallas Trader Vic’s tonight for drinks and dinner. They’re meeting in the bar at 5pm, and planning on dinner at 7pm. It’s a friendly bunch, and if you’ve been wanting to meet other tikiphiles in your area, this is a perfect opportunity. They’ve got a roll call going at Tiki Central to get a rough head-count, but don’t let that hold you back — there’s always room at the bar if the dinner table is full.

The Dallas Trader Vic’s is at the Hotel Palomar, at 5300 E. Mockingbird Lane.

May 2, 2007

Trader Vic’s Becomes Trader Meh

Filed under: Los Angeles,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 5:04 pm
Entry at the Beverly Hills Trader Vic's
Entry at the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s

This week’s closure of the Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills has caused widespread sadness — Trader Vic’s closure may have been quiet, but the reaction has not been. The reaction has ranged from sadness to anger, which I suppose is to be expected. But what was not expected was the classless way the closure happened — under cover of night, with an utter lack of pomp. Trader Vic’s deserved a full state funeral and a raging wake; instead, it was buried in a cardboard box under an unmarked grave. I’ve heard more than one person use the phrase “chicken-shit,” and that about sums it up for me, too.

(Speaking of “chicken-shit” — the “relocation” in the hotel is complete horse shit. Trader Vic’s knows it, the Beverly Hilton knows it, and anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows it. This will not be the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. Period.)

What has happened to Trader Vic’s? They were once the masters of bridging the exotic with the elegant, now they are neither. They give no appearance of caring … and they conveniently don’t realize that if they’re going to drop everything else about Trader Vic’s, they’re going to have to drop their prices, too.

The new Trader Vic’s have all been disappointments: Palo Alto, San Francisco, Bellevue, Scottsdale, Destin… only Dallas is up to the previous Trader Vic’s standard, and that’s only because it had the good fortune of being hermetically sealed for 20 years. I haven’t heard from anyone who likes this new, bland Trader Vic’s better than the Trader Vic’s that made Trader Vic’s famous. There’s lots of apologizing on their behalf, lots of “well, at least I can get a good Mai Tai there” and “well, at least they’ve got some good tikis.” At least, at least, at least, ad nauseum. Yes, there’s a lot of “least” going on with Trader Vic’s these days.

Some of the apologizing comes in the form of remarks about how expensive it must be to decorate in the old style. I’m sorry — did bamboo suddenly become an expensive material? Is tapa cloth more expensive than the wallpapers they’re using? Would it kill them to choose a space with a ceiling that doesn’t feel like you’re in a conference center foyer? A location with a little intimacy? I don’t think their lighting budget is Home Depot-scale, and I know of several sources of really fantastic birdcage lamps, float lights and other more appropriate pieces that would easily fall within their budget. Forbidden Island was decorated with a budget that was undoubtedly only a fraction of the per-square-foot decorating cost of a new Trader Vic’s.

No, the Trader Vic’s are plain because they want them to be. I will never be able to wrap my head around that. When the new Trader Vic’s locations open, they spur a round of articles in the local press that invariably spend a lot of time enthusiastically describing the Trader Vic’s of old… with Trader Vic’s, their history is everything! Why on earth are they casting it aside? They certainly can’t keep up on the merits of their outdated and unspecial menu. Without the immersive environment and the drinks, Trader Vic’s is nothing to write home about.

The recent closure of the Chicago and Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s locations are seen as a massive loss by apparently everyone but the Trader Vic’s organization, which tries to spin it with pathetic-reading press releases about relocating, and no apparent thought to the loss of something they have actively demonstrated they are unable or unwilling to recreate. PR-shaped statements about respecting what the “loyal customers” love about Trader Vic’s ring quite hollow. They seem to think that the public will swallow anything with the Trader Vic’s name on it. They’ve completely lost touch with what makes them interesting and unique.

My enthusiasm for supporting Trader Vic’s is swiftly dwindling.

The Beverly Hills closure is the loss of a major jewel in the Trader Vic’s crown, which more and more is looking like it is made of tinfoil.


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

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