Entries in the 'History' Category
July 23, 2011
Filed under: History,Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:36 pm
South Seas Adventure soundtrack
I had a spot of terrific luck today. My weekly trip to the local Goodwill yielded a special treasure: the soundtrack to South Seas Adventure, the sadly lost 1958 three-strip Cinerama film. The soundtrack is a mix of sweeping orchestral stereophonic spectacle and more grounded and familiar sounds of the Pacific (with sweet, silly little sheep-shearing ditty thrown in for good measure).
It’s heartbreaking that the print appears to be lost. The three-strip Cinerama films are fantastically immersive color-saturated extravaganzas, and getting a travel tour of the Pacific islands in that format, from that era, would just send me. I’ve long been curious about the film. Some description can be found in this contemporary New York Times review. Here is the description found in the notes on the LP jacket:
Cinerama takes you on a South Seas Adventure to tropical islands set like sparkling jewels in dreamy cerulean waters. Thrill to the lure of sunbrowned, luscious maidens and a paradise of coconut palms, coral strand and blue lagoons. Enchanted South Pacific archipelagos beckon with all the beauty and color of a painter’s palette. Stepping stones in the vast expanse of far-away seas, they promise romance, adventure, excitement—an irresistible blend of fascinating people and exotic places.
[...puffery about the stereo recording...]
The adventure begins with the blast of a cruise ship whistle as the luxury liner sets sail for Hawaii, our first stop. Like the other passengers, our excitement is at high pitch, and we find ourselves busy learning the hula dance even before the ship reaches the high seas. Young and old, old and reserved sing and sway to the accompaniment of traditionally favorite melodies like “Little Brown Gal,” “Little Grass Shack” and “Hawaiian War Chant.” Fun, music, dancing and superb food make the short trip seem even shorter, and before we know it, we find ourselves approaching famous Diamond Head.
Arriving in Honolulu, we are welcomed with traditional island hospitality. The resplendent glory of Hawaii is apparent as the ship docks, and we are greeted with the strains of “Aloha Oe” and “Song of the Islands” echoing across the water. During our stay, every day is more glorious than the last one. We spend our time swimming, sailing, watching spear fishing and surf riding. Everywhere there are flowers and fruit to remind us of the fertility of Hawaii, in the miles and miles of pineapple fields, the vast areas of sugar cane, the fabulous flower groves and gardens. At night there are native celebrations, festivals, feats, contests of various sorts, or exciting visits to fashionable night clubs, where one hears authentic music and dances. But the churning sound of the seas always returns to fill our ears, remind us that this is the world’s most beautiful water paradise.
Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki
It’s worth noting that the cast list for the film includes “Don the Beachcomber,” played by himself. Sounds like the film had a scene filmed at Waikiki’s Don the Beachcomber!
The next stop on our journey is Papeete, Tahiti, and we sail there in a two-masted schooner, passing the equator and taking part in the traditional “crossing the equator” ceremonies. Half the population of this jewel of French Oceania turns out to meet our ship, and we go ashore to the accompaniment of a band. We are fortunate in reaching Tahiti on July 14th, Bastille Day, when the festive spirit is high. One of the most inspiring points of the day’s celebration is a dancing contest in which scores of grass-skirted Polynesian maidens reach an ecstasy of motion as they ripple to the accompaniment of drums and antive instruments. Another spectacle is a coconut-spearing contest, in which dozens of young men attempt to pierce the husk of a coconut mounted at the top of a tall pole. Tahiti was the magic realm that inspired Paul Gauguin to paint his priceless pictures of natives and landscapes, that was immortalized in Joseph Conrad’s novels and in the Polynesian Idyl, by Pierre Loti.
Our adventure continues, and we head towards the island of Tonga, the crossroads of Polynesia and Melanesia. Seldom visited by tourists, Tonga remains remote and relatively invulnerable to the influence of western civilization. It was one of the islands discovered by mariner and explorer Capt. James Cook, who charted the sea lanes and coasts in the South Pacific during the latter part of the 18th century.
Tonga’s firmly Christian nature is the result of the successful zeal of missionaries who came there many years ago. They took the strictly phonetic Tongan language of twelve characters and translated the Bible, psalms and hymns into their native tongue. Their influence is felt deeply in musical education, which is widespread and because of which everyone on the island sings.
We hear a chorus of 400 school girls singing a native tune—”Ma Ulu Ulu,” (“There is a Happy Land Far, Far Away”), a church choir singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and Franz Joseph Haydn’s famous chorale “The Heavens are Telling.” Finally, another choir performs the magnificent “Agnus Dei,” from Handel’s “Messiah,” with native Polynesian words. As the final Amen dies away, the thunder of the surf hurtling through blow holes and over rocks along the island shore engulfs us, reminding us of man’s close affinity to nature.
From Tonga it is only about 250 miles northwest to the Fiji Islands, the most important island crossroads of the Pacific. Here age-old tribal customs prevail to this day, and the man-eating warrior of yesterday still casts a shadow over his successor. The temper of the people can be felt in tribal dances, which natives regard almost as essential to life as food. Everywhere we see brilliant colors—the white skirts of dark-skinned Fijian soldiers, miles of jungle broken by radiant blue tropical streams, brilliant multi-colored native costumes and jewelry. Here we are constantly reminded that Fiji is part of the British Empire, and a red-coated army band does its share to help remind us.
About 500 miles due west of Fiji lie the New Hebrides and Pentecost Island, haven of early sailors and slave traders throughout the South Pacific islands. Here is found one of the most remarkable sights in the world—a jumping tournament by natives who leap to the earth from a tower 100 feet high, their ankles bound with ripe liana vines. They say this contest originated when a jealous native husband chased his wife up a tree. If she jumped to the ground unhurt, the gods held her as innocent, and the husband was supposed to jump after her to prove he was right. Craftily, the woman tied vines to her legs to break the fall. The man jumped without the vines and broke his neck. Thereafter, the men staged a diving performance to prove their superiority.
From the New Hebrides we travel to another world, New Zealand. We leave behind the atolls, lagoons and coral beaches for a rugged terrain. Here, as in Europe, there are fjords, lush valleys, rushing trout streams and ski runs. Here is the Maori tribe, a race of one time fierce warriors and daring sailors who made their way across in open canoes to New Zealand from Tahiti centuries ago. Theirs is a remarkable culture that fought the white man to a draw and as a result has achieved complete equality. This is mirrored partially in the poi dance, performed by the women, and the haka dance, performed by the men, both enacting major events in Maori history.
In New Zealand also are huge volcanic regions which New Zealanders have exploited by building steam generating plants for powering industry. There are installations where you can hear the live steam as it escapes from beneath the crust of the earth, its earth-shaking power harnessed for practical use.
The last leg of our journey is Australia, land of opportunity and last frontier of the West. Here are vast cities and vaster wastelands, rich highland of metal ores, huge stretches of outback where millions of sheep are raised to provide wool for the rest of the world. The sounds of Australia are typical—bleats of the sheep as their wool is shorn and as the sounds of the clippers echo above the din, band music as lifeguards parade on Bondi Beach in Sydney, and the sound of airplane motors a Australians use this most efficient means available of traveling back and forth across the vast land regions.
We visit Sydney’s famous Botanical Gardens on “New Australians Day,” and the air is filled with swirling bagpipes playing the stirring strains of “Scotland the Brave.” Our visit to Australia ends with a picnic in the outback country, and we hear the nostalgic “Waltzing Matilda” and “Auld Lang Syne” as our adventure draws to a close.
Advertisements from a 1964 Deseret News
Don’t miss these nifty old newspaper advertisements for 1964 showings of South Seas Adventure at the Villa Theatre in Salt Lake City—you can see larger views of these ads at the Villa Theatre website.
November 22, 2010
Filed under: History,Massive Moai,Midwest U.S.,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:39 am
Before the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio was demolished in 2000, the Tsao family saved much of the decor, with the intention of reopening some day. (We all know how that went… pour one out for the Kahiki.) The massive flame-spouting moai created by Phil Keintz that flanked the entrance were salvaged, along with the iconic interior fireplace. In 2006, the family decided they no longer wanted them. One of the front moai is in the hands of Kahiki collector tikiskip, and the other and the fireplace have been with another Kahiki fan. They’re a little bit worse for the wear (which is understandable, how does one store a two-story-tall fireplace?). But they still exist! And now, they could be yours.
The owner of the moai and fireplace cannot store them any longer, and is offering them for sale on eBay. They are made of concrete, and very heavy: the fireplace is nearly 23 feet tall, and the moai is about 16 feet tall! While these are unusually meaningful artifacts of Polynesian Pop history, their large size means few people have the ability to handle them, so the purchase price could wind up being surprisingly affordable. Know anyone who’s planning to build a humongous tiki bar?
October 20, 2010
Filed under: History,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:32 pm
It’s been a hard month. Tiki-Kate was sick for a long time, but she was so darned tough that we couldn’t help but be optimistic that she was going to eventually be okay. When we got word that her cancer was incurable, we’d hoped to still have some time with her, maybe even some great time once the chemo had left her system a bit. Sadly, it was not to be; Kate passed in only a few days.
She had enough time to do a bit of planning, and she let her wishes be known: she wanted lots of aloha wear at her memorial service, and she wanted a luau. Her family and friends gathered at her sister’s house, and we had a wonderful time sharing our joys and our sorrows and our memories.
Before Kate passed, I told her my plan to create a website for her, to be a tribute to all the wonderful things she had done for tiki. A great big celebration, a great big going away present. She got to hear about it, but she didn’t get to see it. I’m utterly crushed about that.
This has been pretty difficult. It’s hard to code when you want to cry. But it helped a lot, too… I spent a lot of time luxuriating in the wonderful Kateness still left in the world.
Here it is… a celebration of Tiki-Kate, called Viva Kate!*
A celebration of Katherine “Tiki-Kate” Simmons
Kate was particular about getting facts right, and boy did I love that about her. Personally, I would love for her to become a larger-than-life figure, a Paul Bunyan of tiki (and I’ve already seen some of that happening)… but on Viva Kate, I want the facts. It makes it feel more like it’s her site that way. I’ve had some assistance already with some corrections, but I’d love it if anyone out there could help me if they see anything that isn’t quite right, or if there’s anything that’s been left out that should really be included.
Time will trundle on, and new people will encounter the information that only exists because Tiki-Kate put it out there. I hope Viva Kate will help them understand where it came from; that this wonderful woman—who didn’t even know them—wanted to share a bit of beauty with them.
Mahalo, Tiki-Kate! I miss you too, too much.
* I originally wanted to call the site “Tiki-Kate, Fuck Yeah!” But that didn’t seem quite right… she said “fudge” a lot, but I don’t know that I ever heard her swear quite that readily. So maybe “Tiki-Kate, Fudge Yeah!” is the sort of unofficial alternate name.
August 31, 2010
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.
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 27, 2010
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
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!
October 4, 2008
Filed under: Events,History,News,Perfect Tiki Bar,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:24 am
We’ve done this time & again… an initial rush at the news that a major publication has written up an article about this nutty tiki craze thing… followed by an immediate let-down that the article was sloppily researched, full of inaccuracies, misses the point, and doesn’t really understand that this isn’t just a tacky, ironic thing to us, that there’s real quality and history here.
But over the past year or two (going back perhaps not-so-coincidentally to about the time that Forbidden Island opened) these articles have been improving, both in the quality of their research, and in the authors’ ability to find a bit of true appreciation; they’ve been coming closer & closer to seeing what we see.
Today, finally, comes the zenith of Polynesian Pop journalism. You can tell right from the title, “Tiki Doesn’t Have to Be Tacky,” that this article isn’t going to be the same old quickie, filler, throwaway article that confuses or even damages the public perception of Tiki.
The impetus for the article is the upcoming annual San Francisco Tiki Crawl, but the article touches on much more than that — aside from giving mention to several Bay Area tiki hotspots, it also explores the very essence of Polynesian Pop. It points out the difference between good tiki and bad tiki (yes! yes! oh, thank you, yes!). The author, Eric Felten, even mentions something I’ve long held to be true — that while yesterday’s PolyPop escapism was about eschewing formality, today’s escapism is more about eschewing informality.
So, thank you Eric Felten, thank you Wall Street Journal, and thank you to anyone and everyone who helped him write this beauty. You’ve done us all a great service, and I’d like to buy you a drink.
July 6, 2008
Filed under: Events,History,Los Angeles,Music,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:37 am
It’s time once again for tiki movies at the Egyptian! This has been an annual event for the past few years, and I’m always sad to miss it (this year I’ll be in Portland). But here’s why you shouldn’t miss it:
After the success of our Tiki events the past three summers, we’re back again with more exotic ephemera: more fun feature films, diverting oddball shorts, vendors, food, music and more! We’ll be showing old-school island adventure pics FAIR WIND TO JAVA, ALOMA OF THE SOUTH SEAS and HER JUNGLE LOVE (all in gorgeously saturated color) will screen along with artist Kevin Kidney’s collection of rare, island-themed TV surprises. Join us in the Egyptian’s Courtyard for a Royal Southern California-style Luau with exotic musical entertainment from King Kukelele and his Friki Tikis and the Polynesian Paradise Dancers. There will also be Tiki vendors and other special surprises in the courtyard on Saturday from 1:00 PM until we shut it down.
This year it’s happening over two nights, July 25-26, 2008. It all starts Saturday at 1pm at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets will be sold at the door, but if you want to guarantee you’ll get to enjoy the luau dinner, it’s best to get tickets in advance.
June 30, 2008
Filed under: History,San Diego,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:52 pm
Hawaiian Punch Village at SeaWorld, from the collection of matterhorn1959
Hawaiian Punch Village was an area tucked into the back of SeaWorld in San Diego — SeaWorld used to have lots of Polynesian theming, but it’s sadly gone now. (One of SeaWorld’s creators, George Millay, also owned The Reef, a Polynesian restaurant in Long Beach.)
Matterhorn1959 has posted several tropical pictures from SeaWorld on his Stuff from the Park blog, including this picture of an unusually snazzy fellow at the Hawaiian Punch Village entrance. Even his pants look punchy. Aside from his spectacular pants (if you need another moment to revel in his polyester pant fantasia, go ahead, I’ll be right here…)… aside from that, it’s a great shot of the shields & poles that decorated the entrance.
Here’s another picture, with Hawaiian Punch Village visible in the background:
Hawaiian Punch Village at SeaWorld, from the collection of matterhorn1959
June 25, 2008
Filed under: Art,History,People,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:47 pm
Hawaiian Eye Mug by Kevin Kidney
Kevin Kidney is the A#1 lover of all things Hawaiian Eye, the 1959-63 Warner Bros. TV show… he’s also, in my opinion, the A#1 Polynesian Pop artist. No one does Polynesian Pop in true keeping with the midcentury style of the art form like Kevin does.
So this is a natural: a tiki mug, sculpted by Kevin (he paints! he draws! he sculpts! he’s unstoppable!), based on the Hawaiian Eye tiki. Kevin says this is a project in the works, with a squishy estimate of it becoming real in early 2009. It’ll have a bisque finish, and a lid with a straw hole.
Sing it with me now… HAWAIIAN EEEEEEEYE – AH!