June 16, 2008

Carve a Tiki Kit

Filed under: History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:10 pm
Carve a Tiki Kit, from the collection of 1961surf
Carve a Tiki Kit, from the collection of 1961surf

1961surf posted this little oddity on Tiki Central: it’s a kit for carving your own tiki, and appears to be from the ’60s or maybe ’70s.

On the plus side, it’s a tiki carving kit! On the downside… well, the example tikis are damned ugly. Plus side: world’s longest dash (“Easy ——— Fun!”). Down side: the only carving implement in the box is steel wool. It’s not so much carving a tiki, as it is chafing a tiki.

The rather lame contents
The rather lame contents

In addition to the lump o’ steel wool, the kit also came with a block, some linseed oil, and, uh… that’s about it. There’s an instruction sheet, but I don’t know what it says. Maybe it says “Go buy some real tools.” Regardless, it’s a very cool find!

June 11, 2008

Another Woodworker Comes to Tiki, With Lovely Results

Filed under: Art,Atlanta,People,Perfect Tiki Bar,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:36 pm
Tiki bar by Wes Bailey
Tiki bar by Wes Bailey

Tiki bar construction is a bit weird — it’s an effort to intentionally create something that looks a little haphazard, a little goofy, and frankly… a little ugly. Now of course, I find it beautiful — and you probably do, too — but you have to admit, it’s not likely to wind up in the pages of House Beautiful.

I just got a really nice email from a professional woodworker who normally specializes in a much more conventionally refined style, and was asked to create one of these delightful little monsters for the first time:

My name is Wes Bailey, and I am a furniture maker in Atlanta, GA. A few months back, a client came to me and requested that I design and build a Tiki Bar for his basemant renovation. I must confess that, at the time, I was woefully unaware of the well-established sub culture of the Tikiphile. So I did some internet research and came across your terrific site, which helped give me the requisite inspiration to deliver the goods! It turned out great, the customer loved it and hasn’t been sober since, so I view that as a real success.

I have to admit, it makes me warm & squishy. I get lots & lots of really wonderful emails along the lines of this one, and they always make my day… but this one is a favorite because, well, I just really like the bar he built. A lot of credit goes to the owner, who has done a great job decorating the room. But the bar itself is really nice, especially for a right-out-of-the-gate effort. Tikis: check. Not too clean in the design, but still with a sense of balance: check. Organic feel: check. I especially like the detour from the standard thatch roof: wood slats that look like they’ve been through a hell of a storm, and loved it. It floats my outrigger.

Bora Boris Whispers In My Sleeping Ear, Like a Goblin In the Night, Only Less Creepy

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:35 pm
This message has been brought to you by Bora Boris.
This message has been brought to you
by Bora Boris.

My buddy Bora Boris left this picture as a comment on my MySpace page.

Oh dear. That won’t do at all. I mean, a warm Ray’s Mistake is still a Ray’s Mistake, but still… that’s just a crime against fake nature. We’ll have to do something about that.

Mahalo for the friendly nudge, Bora Boris.

February 20, 2008

Critiki Mobile

Filed under: Critiki,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:32 am
Critiki hits the road: Critiki Mobile
Critiki hits the road: Critiki Mobile

It’s not really quite finished — there are some more tweaks I want to make — but I think it’s close enough that I don’t feel right keeping it from the tiki-lovin’ travelin’ souls of the world.

Critiki Mobile: http://mobile.critiki.com

It’s primarily designed for the iPhone, because a) it’s a dead sexy piece of machinery, and b) it’s what I’ve got. My friend Rich helped me out by letting me poke around on his Treo, and it seems to work just dandy, but I haven’t a clue what issues might crop up on other devices.

It’s been a fun challenge as a designer and a UI programmer to create an interface that works in such a small space with limiting size and interaction constraints. I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to come up with. While he didn’t help me directly, I think I was able to channel some of the serious UI mojo of Hanford Lemoore. Anything I got right was likely inspired by my Hanford exposure, anything I got wrong is squarely on my shoulders.

Nearly everything you can do on the regular Critiki site, you can do on Critiki Mobile — you can search for tiki locations, read the descriptions, look at pictures, find other tiki places nearby, and of course you can take a gander at how locations have been rated. Now, you can even add your own critiki ratings while you’re still in the restaurant! Since it is a phone app, naturally dialing phone numbers takes just a touch, and it’s also hooked into the iPhone’s Google Maps app, which is just ridiculously convenient. Ooh de lally. It makes me want to hit the road.

I’ve also cleared a big ol’ backlog of wonderful photo submissions to Critiki over the past few months — easily a couple hundred new photos!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Critiki Mobile — as I mentioned, there are some tweaks I want to make (including some fantastic suggestions from my friend Jory), but I’d like to get feedback from a few users before I embark on some of the final fine-tuning. While the development will continue to be focused on the glorious, ovary-quaking iPhone experience, I’d also like to hear how it works (or more significantly, doesn’t work) on other mobile web-enabled devices.

November 16, 2007

Boston: An Exotic Beantown Sippin’ Safari

Filed under: Drinks,Events,Music,My Travels,New England — Humuhumu @ 9:47 pm
Beantown Sippin' Safari
Beantown Sippin’ Safari

I’ve never been to Boston — and that’s all changing, thanks to Waitiki and Beachbum Berry. That’s the one-two punch that’s got me hopping on the next red-eye to Beantown:

WAITIKI presents An Exotic Beantown Sippin Safari featuring beach Bum Berry! Pho Republique will host this exciting event, a tiki-filled evening which includes four amazing tropical concoctions available (and mixed by the Bum!), dim sum apps ala Pho, and a special photographic slideshow by the Bum about the history of these drinks. Brother Cleve to keep the beat going between sets and other surprises may follow! There will also be tiki raffle prizes given out! View the press release for more info.

For all you tikiphiles: drinks will be sourced from the original recipes of some classic cocktails found in legendary Boston tiki establishments of the past (Trader Vics, Kon Tiki Ports, etc.) Check out Beach Bum’s 2007 Salon mag interview; a hoot!

RSVP today at sippinsafari@waitiki.com as there is limited seating for this free event. Or call (617) 262-0005. Okonkuluku!

More later after my fab trip!

Must Have Music: Waitiki’s Rendezvous in Okonkuluku

Filed under: Music,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:40 pm

Time to wake up from a long summer’s nap… and this is just the sort of thing to get me hummin’ again!

Rendezvous in Okonkuluku, from Waitiki

Rendezvous in Okonkoluku

This gorgeous cover should help to answer your first question — “Is this cutesy moderne Exotica?” Nope. This album is a straight-on visit to classic Exotica. Most of the songs are new compositions, and they fit right in with the classics. Waitiki’s earlier album, Charred Mammal Flesh was a fun party album, and did a great job of showcasing Waitiki’s fun spirit and musical chops — but it didn’t really illustrate just how well these guys know classic Exotica. And they know Exotica.

Perhaps my favorite song on this new album is “L’Ours Chinois,” composed by Professah Humming Flower himself, Randy Wong. It’s just beautiful — I can easily picture this song being picked up for use on a film soundtrack. Another favorite of mine is “Cave of the Tarpon,” composed by The Mayor of Exotica, Tim Mayer. In a nod to Waitiki’s legendary kookiness, there’s the smooth-flavored song “Pineapple Lilt,” a tribute to the Molokai Bar at the Mai-Kai, with velvety vocals.

Listening to this album, I’m reminded about my favorite aspect of Waitiki: they bring this stuff to life. They’re a healthy reminder of where this music came from — lounges in Waikiki, where the intention was to entertain a small group of happy souls, on vacation, falling in love with each other, Mai Tais, and this music.

In a very cool and unusual move, Waitiki is also releasing this album on vinyl. The CD has room for more songs of course, but vinyl purchasers are rewarded with a song not available on the CD, “Akaka Falls.”

I simply cannot get enough of Waitiki — as a matter of fact, I am so in need of a proper Waitiki fix, that I’m on my way to the airport right now to see them…

June 26, 2007

Phil Spector, Tikiphile

Filed under: Los Angeles,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 1:51 pm

Now, there are so many really fantastic, interesting, awesome people who love tiki… but tiki is not immune from attracting the occasional nutjob.

It has already been widely reported that before (allegedly) killing Lana Clarkson, famed record producer and coiffure aficionado Phil Spector paid a visit to Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills, where he downed some Navy Grogs. He was apparently a bit of a regular there. When he made his way to Dan Tana’s later in the evening, he tried to order a Navy Grog there, too (I wish I could have seen the confused look on the bartenders’ faces).

But now comes this tiki-flavored contribution from The Smoking Gun, a postcard sent by Phil Spector last year to a friend:

Postcard sent by Phil Spector (via The Smoking Gun)
Postcard sent by Phil Spector (via The Smoking Gun)
from the collection of Cool Manchu
from the collection of Cool Manchu

This is a promotional still photo from a 1960s film (I always forget which one) — it’s a great photo, and accordingly it really makes the rounds. The Polynesian restaurant backdrop has been matted out here, but you can still see that they’re sipping out of a Kneeling Hula Girl bowl, like those once used at Trader Vic’s. The back of the postcard is on the crude side, so I won’t post it here, but you can check it out on The Smoking Gun if you wish.

Yes, tiki speaks to everyone, even the sociopathic and the mousse-addicted.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike — Beachbum Berry also just made a Phil Spector post, but his is more useful than mine… he expounds on the glorious Navy Grog, and even tells you how you can make your own. Play safe though, kids — guns & rum don’t mix.

New Bartender at Tiki-Ti?

Filed under: Drinks,Los Angeles,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:14 pm
New Bartender at Tiki-Ti (Dramatization)
New Bartender at Tiki-Ti (dramatization)

A dramatic shift, and one that can’t help but make you do a spit-take… word on the street is that Tiki-Ti is training a new bartender.

I only have a few details, sent my way by a little bird who got to see the new bartender in action last Wednesday. He said the new bartender is named Mark, he isn’t a Buhen but rather the son of a longtime Tiki-Ti patron (he is a Buhen after all, see below for an update), and the Ray’s Mistake he made was good.

Tiki-Ti has been a family-run outfit: original owner Ray Buhen was the sole bartender for many years, until his son Mike started helping out; Mike’s son Mike came on the scene with the passing of Ray a few years ago. There are several reasons Tiki-Ti has been family-run:

  1. Ray came from a world where your recipes were your currency, your strongest asset, and you sure as heck didn’t teach them to others who could then take them to the competition. Even today, the descendants of some of the original Don the Beachcomber’s bartenders have been so trained by their fathers on this point that they were still wary of showing any recipe notes to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry when he was writing his book on tiki cocktail hisotory, Sippin’ Safari. It’s likely that Ray Buhen felt that only his own family could be trusted with his recipes, and the sentiment has lived on.
  2. The drink list at Tiki-Ti is extensive — mind-bogglingly so. And complicated. Even if they were comfortable letting another person in on the family secrets, getting them up to speed would be a daunting task, to be sure, and your average bartender frankly isn’t up to the task.
  3. Smoking in bars is illegal in California — not to protect patrons, but to protect employees. Since Tiki-Ti is owner-operated, and thus has no employees, smoking is allowed. Mike & Mike are both smokers.

These three reasons are neat & all, but do they really counteract the plusses of having another bartender in the mix? What happens when Mike or Mike get sick? What happens if Mike or Mike would like, for once in their lives, to get to do something on a Friday or Saturday night? What happens if Mike or Mike decide that even though they really love Tiki-Ti, they want to follow their own dreams? They would certainly be entitled. And when push comes to shove, Mike & Mike just can’t run the bar alone forever and ever. There has to be a plan for either succession, or for closing Tiki-Ti. You can probably guess which of those two scenarios I’d rather see. So, while the news that they have a new bartender is a little shocking, it’s not entirely surprising, and it’s actually totally welcome.

What does it mean? Heck, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Mike & Mike. It’s not likely that they’re going to give up smoking, so I suspect that they’ve made this new bartender part-owner. They’ve probably been training him for quite a while behind the scenes, and they’ll probably start him out just focusing on part of the drink menu initially. Those are just guesses on my part, though.

So, swing by Tiki-Ti and give a warm welcome to Mark!

UPDATE: I just chatted with Tiki-Ti regular Miles Thompson and got more info: Mark is a Buhen, he’s Mike’s son and Mike’s brother. That makes oh-so-much-more-sense, and is wonderful news.

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.

Suggest an Item
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