Entries from August 2010

August 31, 2010

Humu Kon Tiki Readers Share Memories of the Waikikian

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:27 am
From the collection of Tim Haack, via Critiki

A July 2006 Humu Kon Tiki post about a postcard I’d found from the Waikikian Hotel has something special happening in the comments section. Every few months (including just a few days ago) someone posts a memory about their own time spent at this historic hotel. They are enchanting to read, and a stirring reminder of the deep impact tropical experiences can have on people:

Judy Hall, August 23rd, 2006:

I cried the day that I heard they were tearing down the Waikikian. To me this was the most interesting hotel in all of Honolulu…..the most historic looking.

The lounge was the best place to hear the locals sing and sip mai-tais.

The world is a sadder place for it’s loss…..all those young lovers looking for a truly romantic place.

I’ll be eternally grateful for this postcard that you published for all of us.

Regards,
Judy

Corey Pruden, October 6th, 2006:

I grew up at the Waikikian. Every year (sometimes two and three times a year) my grandparents, Midge and Richard, would bring my twin sister, Candice, and myself to The WAikikian where we would get our towels at the lagoon from Turkey, eat banana muffins and french toast with coconut syrup at the Tahitian Lanai, and walk down Waikiki to surf or just hang in front of the Rainbow Hilton swimming to the reef or catching crabs near the helicopter pad. I’m taking my kids there next month and will probably cry at all of the changes!!

Nick, November 27th, 2007:

I stayed 10 days at the Waikikian in January 1962, my first visit to Hawaii, which triggered a love affair between me and the islands. I’ve been back 7 times since then, sparked by that memorable stay, but Waikiki has changed. There were fewer hotels then, but now it’s a concrete jungle. My 2nd visit was 32 years later in 1994 when the Waikikian was still around, and although I didn’t stay there I went there for breakfast poolside a couple of times, when they served their famous Eggs Benedict, spicy Portuguese Sausage, and Hash Browns made from scratch. A couple of years later, I saw them pull down that hiotel and I could have wept. Such is progress!

Back in 1962, my self-contained room, literally surrounded by tropical plantlife, was at ground level, and every evening at dusk while enjoying a drink on my lanai, a Hawaiian lady in a muu-muu would come around playing a ukelele and softly singing Hawaiian songs. And every evening I found a scented plumeria blossom on my pillow.

I particularly remember the Piano Bar, and the pianist who, I think, was blind.

Much water under the bridge since then.

The Waikikian was filmed in the movie titled “And the Sea Will Tell,” about a real murder that took place on Palmyra Island.

And what can I say about the Waikikian’s fabulous “sail” roof that covered the entrance lobby where one checked in.

That was the real Hawaii to me. Now, Waikiki seems to be losing its identity, its Hawaiianness. For newcomers, it may seem Hawaiian, but to me, who saw it before Waikiki fell victim to land developers, it will never be the same.

Honolulu Airport back in 1962 comprised several quonset huts where Customs check our baggage on trestle tables. Now, Honolulu International Airport is a large sprawl.

Despite this, I have gone back almost every other year since I retired. I can’t seem to stay away. Call of the islands, I guess.

The Waikikian’s famous lobby, from the collection of Mimi Payne at Arkiva Tropika

Marsha Lever, May 7th, 2009:

I stayed at the Waikikian my honeymoon in 1972. I remember so well the authenticity of the polynesian architecture. There was a little flower shop in the corner of the lobby and a woman sat and strung plumeria leis. I would buy a bunch of gardenias every day, open them in a sink of warm water and put them in my hair every night. What a romantic I am and what a romantic place it was. I am so sorry that it has been torn down. A precious part of Oahu is gone for ever. Too bad.

Mike Nervik, July 4th, 2009:

My dad worked for TWA and took us to the Waikikian during my senior year in high school (1970)..remember a steak and shake joint across the street…the Ala Moana shopping center, riding a rental bicycle up into the preserve and getting lost…remember the Lania rooms and the lagoon…so sad its gone

paula, September 17th, 2009:

My parents took me annually to the Waikikiian hotel on vacation for over a decade where my sisters & I learned the “hukilau” hula…words and all from Aunt Tillie & Mary who sang & played the ukulele nightly. They took the time to write words to several songs for us to take home one year. In 1981, we moved to Waikiki, where we lived just next door & went to the restaurant & bar almost daily. I missed Uku, the green parrot who greeted me until someone stole him. I miss my “hukilau ladies.” I miss Marian who played the piano in the evenings. I miss the bartenders…Hannibal, Danny, Larry & Tony. I miss the bold welcome & unconditional acceptance by all when we entered the “TL” (which the locals affectionately named the bar). My last trip to Honolulu was in 1994…before the Waikikian closed. I graduated high school in 1987 & always found a reason & the money to return to the place I called home…until the Waikikian closed. A large piece of my past has gone with the Waikikian. My heart still aches & my tears still fall whenever I think of the wonderful piece of paradise that is no longer. One thing is certain. I have my memories, my pictures & my videos, but I will never stay at a greedy Hilton hotel again.

Poolside at the Tahitian Lanai, from the collection of Mimi Payne at Arkiva Tropika

Kele, April 20th, 2010:

The Waikikian was the best! I only saw it in person one night, a wonderful evening in late July 1994. We ate poolside at the Tahitian Lanai and spent a wonderful few hours singing in the piano bar with the regulars. When the staff told me the story of how there had been plans to close the place up before but they were still holding on & just barely at that, I felt that the Waikikian & Tahitian Lanai had held on & waited for me. It wasn’t til just a couple years ago that I found out the rest of the story.

I search on the internet nearly every day looking for more info/pics/memories. Hearing from Paula’s previous post, gives me hope to carry on, she has ‘memories, pictures & videos.’ I would absolutely love to be fortunate enough to glimpse those & other tokens of what I consider one of the most magical places in the world.

Lisa, August 19th, 2010:

I,too will miss this little piece of paradise. It was unpretentious, lush and lovely. The people there were amazing, and although we did not spend much to stay there, we were treated as though a fortune was spent. We had mimosas ready at check-in and flowers on the pillows at night. Every morning I ate coconut waffles with coconut syrup and Kona coffee outside.

It was my first and only trip to Hawaii. I loved it so much I cried when I left. I wanted to stay there with the local friends we met forever.
When I heard of its plans for demolition, I was and still am, saddened. There never will be another place like it.

Carla, August 23rd, 2010:

My husband and I stayed at the Waikikian on our Honeymoom the day that we were married in September of 1961…almost 50 years ago.

When we arrived, there were orchids all over the bed and around the room. In the lobby, there was a pineapple juice machine for all to enjoy. And the talking parrot in the round cage.

THe Tahitian Lanai resturant was a favorite of many in Honolulu and of ours too. Every evening, they lit the torches around the hotel.

Out beyond, was the wonderful lagoon full of fish.

I cherish the postcard that I have kept as a rememberance.

Wonderful memories and still married to the same man, my highschool sweetheart!

Reading the post, above, brings to mind the hula dancers who met each airplane that arrived. THey danced on a wood platform in fromt of the quonset hut
All that remains now is the Waikikian name on the Hilton. I am happy for that!

Ahhhhh… can’t you just picture it now? Mahalo nui loa to all who have allowed us to live vicariously through them for a moment, by sharing their memories here.

I will echo Kele’s sentiment above: I would love to see more of people’s photographs and memorabilia from the Waikikian! If you have items to share, please please pretty please consider sharing them via Critiki’s pages for the Waikikian and the Tahitian Lanai. Critiki is Humu Kon Tiki’s sister site, a not-for-profit archive of tiki locations. Any images you can add to the archive are always greatly appreciated—not just by me, but by all other lovers of these pieces of Polynesian paradise.

August 30, 2010

New Syrups from Trader Tiki: Ginger and Falernum

Filed under: Drinks,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:32 pm
An assortment of Trader Tiki syrups

Anyone who’s cracked the spine on a Beachbum Berry book has quickly recognized that your typical home bar setup will not be sufficient to tackle most of the drinks… some Special Ingredients are called for. That has meant a lot of hunting, searching, begging, pleading, and ultimately, cooking. It’s not uncommon to peek into the refrigerators of my friends and see a whole half shelf staffed with the cold soldiers of our War Against Lackluster Cocktails: cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and more.

Thankfully, our dear friend Trader Tiki has made things a whole heck of a lot easier. Now all these amazing syrups are available from one source, and reasonably priced to boot. Another nice thing about using his syrups is that you can count on the quality—they’re all free of high fructose corn syrup, and are packed with the bright, vibrant flavor these recipes require. In our house, we also use his syrups for flavoring our morning coffee, and as syrup for our pancakes.

He’s steadily been expanding his line, and the most recent additions are shipping this week: Ginger and Falernum. His syrups are available in a number of stores; here in San Francisco, I’ve been able to buy the syrups at Cask. You can also buy them direct from Trader Tiki via his website, or you can pester your own local store to start stocking them.

August 29, 2010

Hey La, Hey La, My Gecko’s Back

Filed under: Art,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:53 am
My beloved Gecko tiki has returned home!

In 2002, the artist Gecko was so excited about having recently joined the Tiki Central community that he offered to create a limited edition Tangaroa wall panel for anyone at Tiki Central who wanted one. It was offered at a very generous price for such a large panel: only $60. It would become the first of many limited edition artworks from Gecko (back then, a limited edition of 50 items of anything would sell out in weeks, not minutes), and it generated not only a flurry of interest, but also some very good aloha feelings.

I will put your usernames on them to make them special. So when we grow old and gray or gone [through] the Tikigates of heaven our next [Tikiphiles] will be collecting our wall panels and saying “WOW! Do you see that old TC edition wall panel of Kokomo Tikibar&Grill on ebay”!

- Gecko, Sept. 2002, Tiki Central

Gecko had been carving for several years when he joined Tiki Central, and shortly after making these wall panels he was able to focus on art full-time with Gecko’z South Sea Art. In addition to carving, he now creates beautiful tiki mugs and other ceramic pieces.

I loved my Gecko tiki (#18 of 50), and gave it center stage in my home tiki bar at the time, the Humuhumu Room (the source of my name). When I moved away from Seattle in 2003, I was worried about how it would fare in the storage container, and there wasn’t room for it in my Miata. My dear friend Mimi has held onto it for me all this time. Now that I have room for another home tiki bar, it has returned to me, Modesty Tapa and all!

August 28, 2010

Polynesian Fabric Designs by Sophista-tiki

Filed under: Art,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:28 am
Marquesan Delight, by Sophista-tiki

Seattle-based artist Dawn Frasier, a.k.a. Sophista-tiki, has designed some lush Polynesian-inspired fabrics, available for purchase through Spoonflower. There are currently seven designs available, and more designs are under consideration for the future. Her style reminds me of the beautiful watercolor backgrounds created for Lilo & Stitch.

Spoonflower provides the fabrics in a number of different Lose Weight Exercises and sizes, and sample swatches can be had for $5.

August 27, 2010

Ozzie & Harriet’s Fancy Luau with Harry Owens

Filed under: Hawaii,History,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:27 am

Oh dear… I haven’t spent much time watching Ozzie & Harriet, but based on this 1957 clip I’d say they sure earned that reputation for corniness. If ever there was a party that needed its punch spiked, it’s this weirdly stiff affair.

Thank goodness someone thought to invite Harry Owens to the party. Harry Owens was the bandleader at the legendary Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, starting in 1934. He had a big role in developing the hapa haole sound that defined “Hawaiian” music for at least a generation, and he enjoyed introducing tourists from the mainland with aspects of traditional Hawaiian culture. He plays that role in this clip, too, by sprinkling the luau with Hawaiian fun facts. It’s a treat to see him in action, and the outfits are pretty covet-worthy, too.

Mahalo to Murph for the tip!

August 25, 2010

Columbus Dispatch Pays Tribute to the Kahiki

Filed under: History,Midwest U.S.,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:25 pm

Vintage rendering of the Kahiki interior, from the Columbus Dispatch

Can you believe it’s been ten years since the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus closed? Time flies when you’re cursing frozen egg rolls. Time doesn’t seem to have healed this wound… of all the lost and lamented tiki temples, the Kahiki is the most legendary, the most beloved. The Columbus Dispatch misses the Kahiki, too, and they’re paying tribute today. They tracked down a number of former employees and patrons to get their greatest Kahiki memories. There’s a nifty little gallery of ten images, and even a quiz to test your Kahiki knowledge.

It’s a thoughtful, honest and loving look back, but dang if it doesn’t make me cranky. Can you imagine the Mai-Kai-like love they would have in store for them if they were still open today? Oof. Frozen food? Really? That’s the lasting legacy? I want to just enjoy this look back, but it’s hard for me to overlook the still-too-fresh tragedy of it all.

Mahalo to Jeff Chenault for the tip!

Ordinary Bars, Extraordinary Tiki Drinks

Filed under: Continental Europe,Drinks,Houston,London,Los Angeles,New York,Perfect Tiki Bar,Portland,Seattle,Tiki,Washington, D.C. — Humuhumu @ 2:23 pm

Bartender Michael Bertrand tends to his fire at Vessel in Seattle,
photo by Rocky Yeh

First, let’s get this out of the way: the outstanding bars on this list are not ordinary by any measure, but one… they are not tiki bars. These establishments are part of a new class of cocktailing, where constructing a beverage is paid the same attention as that given to preparing a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

But they are not tiki bars.

You won’t find them in Critiki, and they may very well be off your radar. They may not even be able to make tiki drinks any time, any day, as the ingredients required are notoriously numerous and fussy. But each location on this list has at least one bartender on staff who shares your passion, and wants to make your Nui Nui dreams come true. Some have regular or periodic tiki nights, some even have dedicated tiki sections of their menu. When it comes to tiki drinks, frankly these places are going to deliver better than most any tiki bar out there. Encourage them, won’t you?

Drink – 348 Congress St., Boston, MA
Drink keeps a number of flavored syrups around just for making tiki drinks–prepared for them with love and care by none other than Randy Wong of Waitiki!

Death & Company – 433 East 6th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Though Brian Miller, a driving force behind Death & Co.’s tiki drinks, has moved on, his imprint lingers. Tiki drinks, and tiki-leaning beverages, can still be found on the menu.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT) – 113 Saint Marks Pl., Manhattan, New York, NY
There are reports that you may be able to snag a high-quality tiki drink at the world’s worst-kept-secret bar.

Flatiron Lounge – 37 W 19th St., Manhattan, New York, NY
Joe Swifka: ask for him by name. He’s gotten to have a bit of a reputation as the go-to bartender for tiki drinks in New York. Tiki drinks make frequent appearances on Flatiron’s rotating menu.

Clover Club – 210 Smith St., Brooklyn, New York, NY
Clover Club has the same owner as Flatiron Lounge, Julie Reiner. Reiner grew up in Hawaii and plans to open a tropical (but not tiki) restaurant in Manhattan later this year. Clover Club is Victorian in style, but if you ask nicely, they may be able to hook you up with the good stuff.

Dram – 177 S 4th St, Brooklyn, New York, NY
Dram’s rotating menu often has tiki items on offer—at this writing, it’s a Jet Pilot.

Dutch Kills – 27-24 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY
Dutch Kills is from the same team that opened New York’s latest tiki savior, Painkiller.

Rum Bar – 2005 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA
Rum Bar is, well, all about rum. Most of the cocktail list is Caribbean-focused, but a few traditional tiki cocktails are also on offer.

Embury – 2216 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
Embury has a Tiki Tuesday event, and they’re game for tackling the complicated drinks.

Farmers & Fishers – 3000 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Zombies, Fog Cutters, Grogs… all part of their regular menu!

Anvil – Houston, TX
Anvil is perhaps most notable for their “100 drinks everyone should try at least once.” Naturally, tiki is part of the prescription, and Jeff Berry’s Grog Log is a heavily-thumbed reference behind their bar.

Vessel – 1312 5th Ave., Seattle, WA
Spur – 113 Blanchard St., Seattle, WA
Tavern Law – 1406 12th Ave., Seattle, WA
My hometown may be lacking in the tiki bar department, but I’m proud to say that when it comes to the drinks, it’s “ya sure, ya betcha.” All three of these establishments have the materials on-hand to whip up traditional tiki drinks, and each has periodic tiki nights. Vessel even serves some drinks out of tiki mugs.

Teardrop Cocktail Lounge – 1015 NW Everett St., Portland, OR
Teardrop hosts periodic Tiki Nights, typically with the involvement of local tikiphiles and cocktail obsessives Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds and Craig “Colonel Tiki” Hermann. The next one is on September 12.

Caña – 714 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Caña is dedicated to all things rum, so of course this means some tiki representation on the menu.

Lewers Lounge – Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki, HI
It’s tragically difficult to find a decent drink in Hawaii. You may have heard good things about the House Without a Key in the Halekulani Hotel, but the better bet is actually the Lewer’s Lounge in the same hotel.

Paparazzi – Laurinská 133/1, Bratislava, Slovakia
Paparazzi’s Stanislav Vadrna knows his way around a tiki drink… he’s even hosted a tiki drink seminar at his bar.

Cotton’s Rhum Shack – 55 Chalk Farm Rd, London, UK
Cotton’s Rhum Shack in Camden has a very long rum list, and a smattering of tiki cocktails to match. There is a sister location, Rhum Jungle in Islington, that may be worth trying, too.

The Merchant Hotel Bar – 16 Skipper Street, Belfast, Ireland
Crowned as the Best Bar In the World, the Merchant Hotel Bar’s menu is more of a book. The menu is exhaustively thorough, and tiki drinks do not get short shrift. On the contrary: Bar Manager Sean Muldoon takes tiki drinks so very seriously that he has the last remaining bottle of the true original Mai Tai rum: vintage 17 year Wray & Nephew. This is the only place in the world you can have a truly old-style Mai Tai—though it’ll cost you about $1,000.

Mahalo nui loa to the following for their assistance in compiling this list: Peter Andrijeski, Alice Berry, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Dan Budiac, Robert A. Burr, Nicole Desmond, Boris Hamilton, Liz Lang, Kiki Lenoue, Georgette Moger, Ben Wagner, Doug Winship

August 23, 2010

Dig This Nutty Rattan Egg Chair

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:06 am

It’s not really a classic egg shape, is it? It’s a bit grander in scope, perhaps it’s more of a Banana Chair. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. This was a gift from a dear friend, comics genius Ted Naifeh. Ted’s parents bought the chair in the ’70s; he grew up sitting in it, and it came with him when he moved out of the house. Though it’s been a big part of his life, and he’s grown up to be a bit of a tikiphile himself, he just didn’t have a place for it anymore. He wanted it to have a good home, and it is my great fortune that he thought of me. It now holds court in my home tiki bar (under construction, please pardon the temporary white walls), along with its matching end table. I told Ted he gets dibs on it, so if you’re ever at my house and a handsome chap asks you to please get out of his chair, make way for the man.

August 21, 2010

Trader Vic’s Emeryville Is Hiring

Filed under: News,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 10:05 am
Chinese Ovens at Trader Vic's in Emeryville
Chinese Ovens at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, photo by Coco Joe, via Critiki

Know your way around a Chinese Oven? Want to be part of the tiki action in the most traditional way possible? This could be your lucky day: Trader Vic’s is hiring for a whole mess o’ positions at the flagship location in Emeryville, which is due to reopen on September 23 after a remodel. When it comes to restaurant positions, you name it, they’re hiring for it: bartenders, servers, dishwashers, prep cooks, all the way up to an event manager, a floor supervisor, the lead hostess and even the restaurant manager.

The full details for these positions are helpfully listed on the Facebook page for Trader Vic’s Emeryville. There aren’t any instructions for applying, and since the restaurant is still closed you can’t drop in—perhaps try emailing tvemeryville@tradervics.com. UPDATE: Trader Vic’s tells me that the best place to send your resumes is hr@tradervics.com.

Pomaika’i!

August 20, 2010

How to Survive Missing Tiki Oasis

Filed under: Events,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:57 pm
Oasis Video FeedView of the grounds right now, courtesy of the
Tiki Central Live Feed of Tiki Oasis

As promised, here’s my follow up to my earlier post lamenting my missing out on Tiki Oasis this year. I’m afraid I didn’t hear about much going on out there, which makes sense because EVERYONE IS IN SAN DIEGO. But these ideas may help you out:

Watch Tiki Central’s Live Video Feed from Tiki Oasis
Hanford Lemoore and Tiki Central present this live video feed of Tiki Oasis. Hanford says, “Sometimes it will be balcony shots, sometimes it will be of the main stage, and sometimes the infamous roaming party cam.” I heard some sound checks from the main stage happening a few minutes ago, and the sound quality is actually pretty good… we may be able to hear some great performances.

Hang out with Elvis at the Mai-Kai
If you live within driving distance of the Mai-Kai, you don’t need me to tell you where to drown your No Oasis sorrows. But tonight’s a special treat: a special Elvis tribute during happy hour in the Molokai Bar (that’s now!).

Support your Local Tiki Bar
You have to keep the home tiki torches burning! It would be terrible if all those tiki bars went out of business with all their regulars out of town. Think of the hero you’ll be when everyone returns!


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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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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