Entries in the 'History' Category

November 4, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Daytona Beach,History,Las Vegas,Midwest U.S.,New York,Portland,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 3:52 pm

Mimi Payne keeps adding great items from her collection to Arkiva Tropika — she adds cool things too frequently for me to post about it every time, and I can’t not post about the wonderful things she’s sharing, so there’s only one thing for it: a weekly roundup. This is just a small fraction of the items she’s posted this week; if you like these, make sure to check out Arkiva Tropika yourself, and you’ll be over the moon.

1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1954 Waikiki Room menu, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a 1954 drink menu from the Waikiki Room at the Hotel Nicolette in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There was another Waikiki Room across town, in the Hotel Leamington. I love the woodgrain backdrop of the menu, and the tiki is simple, but beautifullly illustrated. Inside, the menu has full-color photos of the drinks, rather than the more commonly seen drawings. Very cool!

1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic's, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s postcard from Portland Trader Vic’s, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This is a lovely postcard view of the Portland Trader Vic’s, which was in the Hotel Benson. I have no idea what that carved thing in the foreground with the white thingy on top could be.

1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from Zombie Village in Oakland, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

Without a doubt, hands down, no contest, this is my favorite bit of Polynesian Pop imagery anywhere. That woman is just gorgeous. I want her tattoed on me. I want to be her. She even makes the menacing dark cloudy figure seem like something you can’t be bothered to be concerned about. Who could possibly be distracted by a 50-foot angry genie when you’ve got that woman mezmerizing you? Oh yeah, there’s a neat building in the back, too. Seriously, aside from the beautiful woman, it’s a nice, simple composition that conveys a mood without having to try too hard. Beautiful. This image can also be seen at the beginning of the Book of Tiki.

Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Fan from Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This fan is an unusual item, although Mimi has a few fans in her collection. It comes from the Aku Aku at the Stardust in Las Vegas. The Aku Aku closed long ago, but the Stardust closed just this past Wednesday. I like the rendering of the Aku Aku moai as an Asian brush painting, and I like the muted colors.

Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Back of a 1964 menu from the Hawaiian Room in New York City, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

And straight from muted colors, we have color overload, with food, no less. Look at this — this is every classic ’60s food cliche in one spread. I’ll just let it speak for itself, since I wouldn’t be heard over its screaming, anyhow.

1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
1950s menu from the WikiWiki Coffee Shop at the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach, from Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

This menu is interesting to me not so much because of the design, but because this is from a place I’ve been to, that’s still operating today. The Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach still has a Polynesian floor show and restaurant, but this menu comes from the small coffee shop just off the hotel’s lobby. Today, the coffee shop is run by the same family that performs the floor show at night; it’s kind of fun to be served your hangover-healing coffee by the same woman who was hulaing for you the night before. Gives it a sort of end-of-Wizard-of-Oz feeling. Another interesting thing about this menu is that while it’s from the coffee shop, and has “Good Morning” printed in the decorative border, the paper insert is a dinner menu, which seems a little odd.

Check out Arkiva Tropika for more — much, much more — stuff just like this!

November 1, 2006

Radio Free Tiki

Filed under: History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:05 pm

GatorRob has taken the time to sift through the NPR archives and create a list of tiki-relevant radio broadcasts. His list includes pieces on the demise of the Kahiki in Columbus, the music of Martin Denny and Esquivel, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki expedition, and the Polynesian Pop and Swing revivals.

October 1, 2006

Scooby Doo: A Tiki Scare Is No Fair

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:19 pm

Scene from “A Tiki Scare is No Fair”, courtesy of Scooby-Doo.com

In my post earlier this summer about a totally groovy, early-’70s Hanna-Barbera-themed party I went to, I mentioned a “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” episode where the gang goes on a Hawaiian vacation; the episode had generated some discussion on Tiki Central. It’s titled “A Tiki Scare is No Fair,” and it aired on October 17, 1970. I haven’t seen the whole episode, but Warner Bros. has posted the last two minutes of the episode on YouTube to promote Scooby-Doo.com. This clip includes a dramatic chase through a thatch-covered hut, a giant robot-monster-Aztec-tiki god thing (which probably makes more sense if you’ve seen the episode), a suspicious witch doctor, and the requisite totally-shocking unmasking. It’s worth watching for Fred & Daphne’s spastic dance alone, but those who have harbored a secret Velma crush will thrill to see her swingin’ her hula hips.

September 28, 2006

Arkiva Tropika: Vintage Ephemera Mother Lode

Filed under: Art,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:41 pm
Mimi Payne's Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s Arkiva Tropika

I’m very excited about my lastest website project — Mimi Payne hired me to create a website to showcase her extensive and beautiful collection of vintage ephemera and collectibles, mostly from Polynesian and other Exotic restaurants and hotels. The result launched today, and it is called Arkiva Tropika.

Mimi’s collection is massive — not even she quite knows exactly what she has at this point, which was one reason she wanted it catalogued. Another is that it makes a great resource for her to sit and look through her collection, without having to take the sometimes-delicate items in and out of their proper storage. Paper ephemera is notoriously difficult to display; I think this is a great solution. Tags allow her to find all of her hotel postcards from California quickly, or even all of her hotel postcards except those that are from California. But the best part, I think, is that she’s also chosen to share her collection with the world, with relatively large, high-quality images. She has just a small bit of her collection in Arkiva Tropika right now (but there are already more than 175 images of nearly 100 items); she’ll continue to add items on a very regular basis.

The phrase “eye candy” seems woefully insufficient — to me, looking through her collection is like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’m incredibly proud and honored that Mimi asked me to create Arkiva Tropika for her, and I look forward to much time spent in a dreamlike-state, looking over her collection.

Detail of 1955 brochure from Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail of 1955 brochure from Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika

Last Remnants of Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki Sent to Dumpster

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Las Vegas,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:29 pm
Last remnants of Don the Beachcomber at Waikiki's International Marketplace
Last remnants of Don the Beachcomber
at Waikiki’s International Market Place,
photo from Fil Slash

A tragic and shocking development in Waikiki: these two moai posts, which are the last reminders of Don the Beachcomber’s glorious presence at the International Market Place in Waikiki, have reportedly been sent to the dump.

These moai used to stand sentry at the Dagger Lounge and Bora Bora Bar part of Don the Beachcomber. The original Don the Beachcomber location in Hollywood kicked off the entire Polynesian Pop trend; he led the charge once again after he moved to Hawaii, and created the International Market Place with his Don the Beachcomber restaurant as the centerpiece. The International Market Place also held a Trader Vic’s, and became a major tourist hub in Waikiki.

This space is being renovated to accomodate a new Quicksilver store, and local tikiphiles have been keeping a close eye on the renovations. Despite assurances that there were no plans to remove the structural moai posts, they are now missing. Remarkably, the construction crew reportedly tossed them in to a dumpster that was taken to the dump.

It’s a terrible shame that a lovely piece of the International Market Place’s history has been treated so shabbily, and that the location of these tikis is now complately unknown. It seems hard to believe that anyone would actually throw them away; perhaps they went home with a member of the construction crew. There have been rumblings about Don the Beachcomber re-opening in Las Vegas; I’m not sure how that’s coming along, but surely that would have been a better home for these historic tikis than the dump.

UPDATE: Holden Westland, owner of Tiki Farm, passes along this news via Tiki Central:

I am happy to let you all know that I received a phone call with the whereabouts of these 2 special Moai and they are safe and will soon be revitalized in a place very befitting of their dignity not too far from their original location.

Verrrrry mysterious… but it sure sounds a lot better than the dump.

September 26, 2006

Picasso’s Collection of African & Oceanic Art

Filed under: Art,History,People,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:12 am
Picasso with his Marquesan tiki
Picasso with his Marquesan tiki

At the end of October, Prestel Publishing is releasing a detailed book by Peter Stepan about Picasso’s love affair with African and Oceanic art. Here he is on the cover of the book, with a Marquesan tiki he was particularly fond of (can’t blame him!). The tikis and other items from his collection now reside in museums and also in the private collections of his family members, and many of them have been photographed and described in detail for this book. The list price for the book will be $85, but Amazon is offering pre-orders for $53.55. Tip of the hat to Aaron’s Akua for the heads-up. You can learn more about Picasso’s Marquesan tiki on this thread at Tiki Central.

September 21, 2006

Polynesian Restaurant Advertisements

Filed under: Art,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:48 pm
Ad for Chin Tiki, from the collection of Chub
Ad for Chin Tiki, from the collection of Chub

A collection of advertisements for old Polynesian restaurants is forming in a thread on Tiki Central. Many of these ads come from old phone directories. The above 1967 advertisement was posted by thread-starter Chub, and is from the Chin Tiki in Detroit.

September 18, 2006

Opportunity to Comment on Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s Demolition

Filed under: History,Los Angeles,News,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:58 pm
Entrance to Beverly Hills Trader Vic's
Entrance to Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s

The city of Beverly Hills has released a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the proposed re-development of the Beverly Hilton hotel, which currently houses the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s. As previously reported here, here, and here, the current plans call for the demolition of the tower holding Trader Vic’s, to make room for luxury condominiums. A public scoping meeting is scheduled for tonight:

Monday, Sept 18th, 2006
6:30 to 8:30pm
Public Library Auditorium, Second Floor
444 North Rexford Drive
Beverly Hills, CA

The outline of the plan will be given at tonight’s meeting, and the public will have an opportunity to comment. If you can’t get to the meeting tonight, fear not: the city is also requesting written comments. The comments should be sent ASAP, as the EIR begins on October 11. Here’s the address:

City of Beverly Hills
Department of Community Development
455 North Rexford Drive, Room G-40
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Attn: Donna Jerex, Senior Planner

Emailed comments can be sent to HiltonHotelComments@beverlyhills.org

September 15, 2006

Massive Moai: Las Vegas

Filed under: History,Las Vegas,Massive Moai,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:37 am
Eli Hedley-carved Moai at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, photo by aquarj
Eli Hedley-carved Moai at
Sunset Park in Las Vegas,
photo by aquarj

This great big moai is perhaps the most famous of all of them — after the originals on Rapa Nui, of course. This moai was carved by Eli Hedley for the Aku Aku restaurant, at the Stardust casino. There were two of them, and they stood guard at the front of the casino, looking over all the tourists passing by along the strip. The moai were such a strong visual that even in a city defined by its strong visuals, they were a standout, and became icons for not just the Stardust, but for Vegas itself. It is depicted on the moist towelette from the Aku Aku I posted on Monday.

After the Aku Aku closed, one of the moai made its way to Sunset Park in Las Vegas, which is off the strip, near the airport. There is a pond at the park, and this moai sits on an island in the middle of the pond.

September 11, 2006

Nothing Says “Fancy” Like a Moist Towelette

Filed under: History,Las Vegas,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:48 pm
Aku Aku moist towelette, from the collection of Tiki Ranch
Aku Aku moist towelette, from the collection of Tikiranch

This is one of the more divine mementos from a Polynesian restaurant I have ever come across. There are so many little things in life that bring me joy well out of proportion of their small role in the universe: Bottle Caps, cocktail umbrellas, capers… but perhaps this is best exemplified by the moist towelette. I still get silly-happy when I get them, and even more excited when I get to use them. I love that fake-lemony-alcohol scent (so much so, in fact, that I have an embarassing predilection for Mike’s Hard Lemonade on those rare occasions I’m not up for hard liquor — please don’t tell anyone).

This one comes from the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, which was once at the Stardust. It’s the first time I’ve seen a custom moist towelette from a tiki place, and it’s especially great since it also has not just any tiki on it — it has a drawing of one of Aku Aku’s massive moai, which were carved by Eli Hedley; one of them resides today at Sunset Park in Las Vegas. I really love the drawing of the waiter, offering the individual “Just for You” towel. So fancy!

I found this at the blog of Tikiranch — there are actually scant tiki things on the blog, but he does post many highly covetable flea market finds (check out the Hacienda Barmobile postcard!).


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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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