Entries in the 'My Travels' Category

June 5, 2006

Papua New Guinea Tikis at Stanford University

Filed under: Art,My Travels,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:57 pm
Tiki "Thinker" at Stanford University
Tiki "Thinker" at Stanford University

While making plans to visit the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford University a couple weeks back, I made a startling discovery… the Cantor Arts Center, which manages the Rodin sculptures, also has a second, separate sculpture garden on the other side of campus — and this one is all art from Papua New Guinea.

In 1994, several artists from Papua New Guinea were brought to Stanford to create carvings on-site. The sculptures are all clustered in a wooded area at the corner of Santa Teresa and Lomita. At the center are a cluster of poles carved from trees that are 20-30 feet tall, surrounded by still-untouched trees. There are two large slit drums on the ground, ready to be thumped. To one side, there are some painted poles, and some great tikis. To the south is a large, striking carving with bird wings outstretched, and to the north are a variety of lovely stone carvings.

The Cantor Arts Center museum also has a small collection of Oceanic art, but the real treasure is this somewhat-hidden sculpture garden. Just a short ways down the road from Stanford, right on El Camino Real, is the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s; while this Trader Vic’s pales in comparison to other TVs, it does house an impressive private collection of Papua New Guinea tikis and art, making a visit to both spots in one trip work well.

I’ve been a couple times now, and naturally, I’ve taken a bunch of pictures. You can see them at Humuhumu’s Life in Photos, or in a thread at Tiki Central.

March 29, 2006

Game Developers Conference & Smoke Tiki, San Jose

Filed under: My Travels,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:46 pm
The bar at Smoke Tiki in San Jose
The bar at Smoke Tiki in San Jose

Last week, I spent a bit of time in San Jose, thanks to the 2006 Game Developers Conference. I’m not a game developer myself — I just like to play them — but my boyfriend is a game designer (when he’s not busy doing UI design). His primary claim to fame is as the creator of Rocknor’s Donut Factory, but he also worked on one of the Monkey Island games, which of course makes him incredibly and irresistably sexy. Hanford went to the daytime stuff, and I met up with him in the evenings for the social events. It was a lot of fun seeing the reactions at GDC as people learned who Hanford was… there were a lot of “oh, wow!”s.

As it turns out, there was a bit of tiki crossover happening at GDC. It started for us when Ion Hardie, Director of Product Development at Reflexive, purchased a banner ad on Tiki Central. It turns out that he’s a tikiphile, and Reflexive has created a tiki-themed casual games portal at TikiArcade.com. Ion & Hanford chatted a bit online about their shared love of gaming and tiki, and we met up with Ion at the Minna Mingle event on Wednesday night. We had a great time chatting about gaming (I was even able to keep up with the discussion, mostly, which was nice). The whole Reflexive crew was great. We also spent some time chatting with some folks from Macromedia’s Director team — Hanford knows Director pretty much inside out.

While at the Minna Mingle, we were invited to another evening event the next day, taking place at Smoke Tiki. Smoke Tiki is a new tiki bar in San Jose. Frankly, we hadn’t been very interested in checking it out, as it sounded more grab-bag tropical than Polynesian Pop, which isn’t our thing. We knew we had to go see it eventually, though, so this was a perfect excuse. When we got there, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a bit more Polynesian than we’d anticipated, but it was definitely on the cartoony side. It’s called Smoke Tiki because it’s a smokehouse, and the smoked chicken skewers they were serving were quite delicious. The drink I had, however, was abysmal.


February 11, 2006

My Travels: Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach

Filed under: Los Angeles,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:43 pm
Plaque at the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach
Plaque at the Royal Hawaiian
in Laguna Beach

As part of our trip, we paid a visit to the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach; like Tonga Hut, I’d only been there once a few years ago, and Hanford had not been before. My previous trip had been during the day, which is never the best time to see a tiki bar. This time, it was dark outside, and the restaurant was pretty much deserted — we had the place to ourselves, which allowed us to do a lot of exploring and picture taking.

The place is lovely, far lovelier than I’d remembered. There is a lot of thatch and bamboo and sea grass matting, and many beautiful oil paintings and lamps. What really struck us was the music — it was about as perfect as I’ve ever heard in a tiki place. It was old Hawaiian music, like you can hear on old LPs brought back from Hawaiian vacations in the ’50s and ’60s. The bar was another story — modern pop/hip-hop music was blaring — but we couldn’t hear it from our table in the restaurant. It was so relaxing. It’s truly a shame that it’s going away — if we had a place like this in our neck of the woods, we’d make heavy use of it. You just can’t build history into a place.

On our way out we spoke with some of the waitstaff, and they confirmed that they know nothing about what the new owner intends to do — whether the building will stand or be destroyed in favor of a new building. They did say that escrow has been pushed back several times, and they don’t know exactly when they’ll close. They will definitely be open until at least June 11, which is significantly later than I’d last heard.

If you have any chance at all, be sure to pop into the Royal Hawaiian before it closes forever!

The Great Enchanted Tiki Room Dress Story Gets Awesomer

Filed under: Disney,Los Angeles,My Travels,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 6:20 pm
Disney photo shoot
Disney photo shoot

The saga of this dress just keeps going and going. If you haven’t heard about this dress, get caught up by reading my earlier entry. Go ahead, it’ll only take a moment, and it’s a good story. I’ll wait right here.

Okay, so here’s the latest update — I got a call from Kevin Kidney, telling me about the photo shoot that Disney did for their print catalog. For the mockup version of the catalog, which is created to plan out what photos are needed, they used that picture of me in the purple dress as a placeholder. So, that picture continued to make the rounds, but the story behind the photo didn’t accompany it. As a result, the fellow in charge of designing the photo shoots for the catalog became “obsessed” with that photo — he worked as hard as he could to reproduce the whole look of the photo, the hair, the makeup, the props — it turns out he thought it was a photo from the 1960s!

They did a photo shoot at the Enchanted Tiki Room with a model who looked as much like me as they could find (though her hair turned out to be too long to do that little flip). Once Kevin & Jody saw the pictures, they said “why didn’t you just get our friend for the photo?” Once this fellow learned that I was alive — and not 70 years old — he was crushed that he hadn’t had me for his photo shoot. And he still didn’t even know that the photo with the purple dress was responsible for Disney deciding to produce it! Kevin & Jody got him all caught up on the background of the dress, that photo, and the whole story. It was too late for the print catalog, but it wasn’t too late for the online catalog (and since the dress is likely to sell out before the catalog hits anyone’s doorstep, that’s the biggie, anyhow).

So, I was asked to come down to Disney to model the green dress for them! As payment, I was given the dress to keep. Since they also now needed to take a new matching photo for the men’s shirt, Kevin was asked to step in, and he’ll likely be seen modelling for the online catalog, too. I was told they will be available on the website in late March or early April. The pictures that will appear on the website were taken separately and without props, but for fun the photographer took a few photos of us together with our mugs and vintage leis. We had such a fun time, and of course I was beyond thrilled to do it. And I’ve got a great new dress, to boot! Afterward, we went to Tiki-Ti to celebrate, and you’ve already heard how that went. It was a banner day!

My Travels: Tonga Hut

Filed under: Los Angeles,My Travels,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:52 pm
Tiki at Tonga Hut in North Hollywood
Tiki at Tonga Hut in North Hollywood

Great news from North Hollywood — the Tonga Hut is on the rise! We paid a visit to the Tonga Hut this past Tuesday evening, it was my only visit since my first trip there a few years ago, and it was Hanford’s first time there.

As previously reported, the Tonga Hut was taken over by a new owner, Jeremy, last November; Jeremy was there on Tuesday, and we spent the whole night chatting with him. Jeremy had been going to the Tonga Hut for a few years, and had often daydreamed about what he would do if he owned the place. When he found he had the means to do so, he bought it from the previous owner, who had purchased it from the original family just a year or two before. The difference is already striking — the lighting is more dim, and all the beer posters are gone. This alone has made a world of difference, but Jeremy told us it’s only “an eighth” of what he wants to have happen. Jeremy is brand new to tiki, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to him — he simply saw a cool old bar that should be restored to what it once was, and he told us that if it had been an old Irish pub, that’s what he’d studying. He knew nothing about Polynesian Pop when he bought the place in November, but he’s been a quick and eager student. He’s been poring over resources like Tiki Central and the Book of Tiki, and is eager to do right by the old place — and his ideas are spot-on.

The Tonga Hut is currently supported by a handful of loyal regulars — one has been coming since the place opened in 1958, and the doors to the bar open at 6 a.m. daily. These regulars might find too sudden and drastic a change off-putting, and Jeremy is wisely making his changes slowly and surely. The television sets are turned off, a more interesting mix of music including some oldies are making their way into the jukebox, and the fountains are going to be repaired. Jeremy has a few vintage oil paintings on the walls and is looking to add more vintage art.

When asked about tropical cocktails, he eagerly showed us his notebook from behind the bar, which is peppered with recipes he’s working on, including the classic Trader Vic’s Mai Tai recipe, which he felt was important to have on the menu. See what I’m talking about? Things are looking very, very good. He’s also made sure that the original Tonga Punch recipe is on their menu; Jeremy received the original piece of paper, yellowed and spattered, that the Tonga Hut’s Tonga Punch recipe was written on. When I learned that Jeremy hadn’t heard yet of Jeff Berry’s wonderful drink books, I immediately told them I’d be sending them to him as my gift.

Not only is the Tonga Hut very deserving of support during this exciting renaissance, it’s also a damned great place to hang out. I wish there was an old place like this in my neighborhood. The classic bones of this place are tiki all the way, and it’s much easier to see and appreciate now that the lighting is getting more appropriate, and the walls aren’t blighted by Budweiser. I’ve made some big changes to my Critiki rating of the Tonga Hut. Patience and imagination are still required — the regulars are to be respected for keeping this gem alive for so long, and Jeremy is doing right by them by not ripping the rug out from under them — but it’s not difficult at all to see where things are headed.

My Travels: Back to Los Angeles

Filed under: Los Angeles,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:59 pm
Humuhumu gets a tag at Tiki-Ti!
Humuhumu gets a tag at Tiki-Ti!

Just got back from a few days in Los Angeles… it was my first trip back since moving away at the end of last November, and it simply could not have been better. The weather was amazing — bright blue skies, temperatures in the 80s — and I had some once-in-a-lifetime-type experiences.

Pictured at left is one of them: after years as a regular at Tiki-Ti, I was awarded with a tag. These tags paper the walls and ceiling at Tiki-Ti, and are highly coveted. They’re distributed at the whims of Tiki-Ti’s owners Mike and Mike Buhen (and before he passed away, Ray Buhen). While one could probably get one pretty easily if one asked nicely, it’s generally regarded as something earned after years of service to Tiki-Ti, and best relished when given freely by Mike. I have friends who have been going to Tiki-Ti weekly for years who do not have tags, and I have friends who only got their tags after going for more than a decade. It’s the sort of thing that generates lots of popping eyeballs, dropped jaws, and breath-taken soft “whoa”s when one is handed out. And this past Wednesday, I got one. No word on when it’ll go up on the wall — it typically takes a few months — but I’m looking forward to seeing it there.

That was just one of our many adventures over the past few days, and more posts are coming. Some highlights: a visit to the Tonga Hut, which has gotten a new lease on life; a visit to the lovely Royal Hawaiian, which is not long for this world; and a modelling session for the online Disney catalog. Sorry pablus, I didn’t scrutinize the Ray’s Mistake drink-making — once again, I was too focused on “WANT!” I think it’s a Jedi mind trick.

January 7, 2006

My Tiki New Year’s Eve

Filed under: Events,My Travels,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 11:48 pm
New Year's Eve at Trader Vic's
New Year’s Eve at Trader Vic’s

For New Year’s Eve this year, Hanford and I joined our friends for a special event at our usual Monday haunt, the Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. Trader Vic’s was serving a prix fixe seven-course meal that night, including caviar, oysters, and of course Bongo Bongo soup. In addition to the fine meal, there was of course even finer drinks, plus the Spirit of Polynesia dance troupe and musicians were there performing for us. It was an elegant evening full of sock monkeys, shower-ready salt shakers, sneaky forks, and many toasts. Naturally, I have pictures of it all.

October 14, 2005

My Travels: Hukilau

Filed under: Events,Ft. Lauderdale & Miami,Music,My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:46 pm

Just got back from a fantastic time at Tiki Kiliki’s Hukilau in Ft. Lauderdale. In what is becoming a Hukilau tradition, I lost my camera on Thursday, before the festivities had even begun. Hanford was able to take a few photos with his camera, hopefully we’ll be able to get those uploaded soon. Sadly, I became rather sick during my trip, with either a nasty cold or a mild flu, I’m not sure which. I’m sure it didn’t help at all that I refused to let the rare opportunity to consume delicious Mai Kai cocktails slip me by.

The event blew away all expectations, which already were quite high. The entire crowd became perfectly still, and all faces seemed to be totally transfixed in reverence, during Robert Drasnin’s historic performance. James Teitelbaum is responsible for making that part of the event come together: first, he had to get Robert Drasnin interested, and then, he had to track down professional musicians who could rise to the formidable task of performing a long set of complicated and exotic orchestrations. Amazingly, this 18-piece orchestra met and performed together for the first time when they rehearsed on Thursday, the day before the Friday performance. The live performance by this talented group sounded just like the recording of Voodoo we all know and love. The troupe contained a few notables: Formikaniki (a.k.a Miss Formica Dinette, or Alice Berry) provided primal, yet ethereal, vocals; four members of the Boston Exotica group Waitiki performed, and Robert Drasnin’s own grandson contributed his percussion talents. Another mainstay of Exotica was on hand for Hukilau, Yma Sumac. Meeting Ms. Sumac was an unexpected highlight for me, I found her to be quite charming, still glamorous, and it was pure delight to meet her. I didn’t get to see Charles Phoenix’s slide show, as I was helping out at the registration desk, but I heard it was a big hit, and Tiki Kiliki has stated that she’d like to see Phoenix become a permanent addition to future Hukilaus.

With every visit I make to the Mai Kai, I find somehow that my sense of familiarity does not grow, rather my sense of awe does. Very impressive. I cannot imagine every growing tired of visiting the Mai Kai, and I envy those who are able to make more regular trips there. Our night at the Mai Kai was wrapped up by a performance by the Boston Exotica group, Waitiki. I’d heard of the group quite some time ago, but this was my first time seeing them perform in person. I was quite simply blown away. I have so much to say about Waitiki that I’m going to have to do it in another blog post, which will come shortly. For now, I’ll simply say that Waitiki made me fall in love with Exotica all over again, and in a whole new way. You’re going to get tired of hearing me talk about how much I love them.

The Mai Kai has been very happy with Tiki Kiliki’s Hukilau and monthly Tiki Torch Night events, and they are very excited to work with Tiki Kiliki for next year’s Hukilau, which will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Mai Kai. Naturally, plans are already well underway for next year’s event, which is scheduled for October 5, 6, 7 & 8, 2006, and will feature the return of popular Italian band I Belli di Waikiki. There’s already a thunderous buzz from people eager to see what Kiliki will pull together for the Mai Kai’s 50th, and people from all over the country are already marking their calendars — Sven Kirsten says that he will absolutely not miss this one, and Otto von Stroheim & his wife Baby Doe are also planning on making it — naturally, Hanford & I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

October 4, 2005

My Travels: San Francisco Bay Area

Filed under: My Travels,San Francisco,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 12:19 pm
Otto von Stroheim and Humuhumu - photo by Laura Gilmore
Otto von Stroheim and Humuhumu,
photo by Laura Gilmore

For the past month, I’ve been spending time in the San Francisco Bay Area — the South Bay, to be specific. It’s not been a thorough tiki scouring — I’ve more or less done that here before — but I have made a few tiki pitstops while here.

The Tiki Art Two art show and the preceding APE Extravaganza took me into the city. The APE show was a blast as always, though I learned that I do not have a future as a hula hoop champion. Before APE took the stage, we were treated to a series of short bits of film from Domenic Priore and Brian Chidester. These film clips touched on everything from Eden Ahbez & Nat King Cole, old surf music clips, old Los Angeles tiki architecture, even footage of turn of the century tourists in Hawaii. It was the highlight of the night.

The next day we met up with folks at the San Francisco Trader Vic’s before heading over to the Shooting Gallery for the main event. While at Trader Vic’s, we learned the previously mentioned news that Martiki is bartending there now. He introduced us all to an excellent, classic drink that isn’t on the menu, the Hinky Dink’s Fizzy. Our group found it very difficult to leave Vic’s for the gallery. By the time we got to the art show, it was packed. This picture of Tiki Art Two curator Otto von Stroheim & me was taken by Laura Gilmore. We snagged some swell stackable tiki mugs from the Munktiki vending machine, made the rounds to say our hellos and see the artwork, then headed to Original Joe’s to get some much-needed food. Original Joe’s is a great old classic steakhouse. Afterward, we headed right back to Trader Vic’s. I have a feeling we’ll be spending more time there.

September 21, 2005

New Home for Humuhumu’s Photos

Filed under: My Travels,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:57 pm
Kon Tiki in Tucson
Kon Tiki in Tucson

Whew! Sorry I went AWOL there for a bit, I’ve just spent the past few days getting my 10,000+ photos moved to a new location. For those who haven’t seen my photo galleries before, there’s a fairly overwhelming amount of tiki. I’ve travelled all over the place looking for tiki (well, not all over, so far I’ve stuck to the United States), and my trusty rusty camera has been with me the whole way. Take a moment to check it out. Registered users are able to leave comments on photos — and please do!

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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