Posted on May 17th, 2015 No comments
May 17, 2015: Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, author of several novels set in mid-century America, discusses his thoughts and ideas on the MAD MEN series on the eve of its series finale.
They are calling it “The End of an Era”, a fun double entandre that eludes to both the end of the era that Mad Men represents, and the end of one of modern television’s most respected and acclaimed shows. It’s the series finale of a TV program that promised us a glimpse into the events and lives of our favorite era, the era of mid-century pop culture, of cocktails and Tiki bars, Bachelor Pad music and finned cars.
And as we prepare to watch the finale, I have to admit I look back at the past 7 seasons with a bit of disappointment. Not in the quality of the show or its writing, and certainly not in the fine acting. Not even in the enjoyment I’ve had watching it, absorbing it, and appreciating the small details and hidden meanings that made it so great. Just in the fact that it moved way too fast into the 1960s for my taste, and for most of my friends who also tuned in to watch a show about mid-century cocktail culture in the 1950s.
Because when MAD MEN was first promoted, that’s exactly what it promised: A look into the lives of the cocktail culture set, played out during the 1950s, defined by the most notorious drunkards of the time, advertising executives. We got what we expected in season one, from sexy, accommodating secretaries in tight dresses to smarmy, misogynistic, Martini-swilling ad men with thin ties and pocket squares, driving big fancy cars and taking over the world one account at a time while their wives played the part of homemaker with the kids. We got to see incredible, larger than life ad pitches that rarely happen in the real world but fit perfectly into our imagination’s concept how the good old days must have been. And we were treated to all this eye candy with the best background tracks plucked from the Ultra Lounge series of Bachelor Pad and Exotica tunes of the day.
But we were misled (by advertising!). Almost as soon as it started, the 1950s decade ended in MAD MEN, swinging us full-on into 1960 before the paint on Roger’s ’59 Caddy had a chance to dry. But we were OK with that, because, after all, it’s mostly agreed that the golden era of cocktails and mid-century pop ended somewhere around the time of Kennedy’s assassination, the coming of The Beatles, and escalation of the Vietnam war. So we figured “our show” would linger in the early ‘60s, maybe with more glorious flashbacks to the 1950s.
Not so, of course, as this was not “our show”, it was Mathew Weiner’s. And Mr. Weiner happens to be a huge fan of 1960s pop culture. His intent from the start was to base the show at the END of the cocktail era, and show the drastic changes that took place in American culture in the 1960s. AMC may not have made that fact obvious in their advertising, but they sure as hell hooked us in.
Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great story, and one that Mathew Weiner has told incredibly well, from a perspective not seen before. Let’s face it…whenever someone makes a show or movie about the 1960s, it’s always from the point of view of the young, the rebels, the hippies and college kids who wanted to change the world, not from “the man”, the established middle class who fully enjoyed the world they had created after WW2. It’s about time someone told the story of the anti-anti-establishment, the coolest cats and kittens who dug drinking at the Tiki bar and thought hippies were kooks.
And yet, as the series comes to a close, I can’t help but personally ask, “Is That All There Is?” Couldn’t the show have lingered just a little more in the late 1950s/early 60s? Couldn’t there have been fewer time jumps, where the show could have done some more things with what was happening before the major culture-changing events of the 1960s, especially with advertising?
It just seems to me, as a writer, that there were so many juicy things going on that got glossed over or completely ignored. For instance, color television made a huge impact on the industry. Directors and camera operators were suddenly faced with shooting TV spots that looked good in both black and white AND color. Production costs rose. More people needed to be hired to accommodate the changes. Agencies were in upheaval, trying to figure out how to accommodate the new medium while remaining profitable (just like they have with the internet). That alone would have made a good season thread, if not a multi-show plot line.
And what about changes in the auto industry? Sterling-Cooper made every effort to get a car on the roster. But the show never went into how difficult it was to effectively advertise/market automobiles at a time (1959-64) when horsepower, styles and tastes were changing faster than the liquor bottles on Don’s minibar. Back then car styles changed pretty drastically every one or two years. When you consider that today’s models usually stay exactly the same for 5-8 years, you can imagine how difficult it must have been to convince buyers that the car they just bought last year was out of date junk. I really would have liked to see the show back up to around 1958, and get the Edsel account. Imagine how much fun that would have been!
And then of course, there is the whole concept of the Playboy bachelor, the never-married, successful young man who drives an Austin Healey sports car, listens to Martin Denny, reads Esquire and of course Playboy, drinks Macallen Scotch and plays golf on weekends before hitting the nightclubs in search of a tipsy, willing bird. It really surprises me that not a single major character on MAD MEN was single because he wanted to be. What a fun and interesting addition a true cocktail set bachelor would have made to this show!
But that’s just my own personal opinions and ideas, and that’s not the show. That’s not MAD MEN as Mathew Weiner envisioned it. We may have been misled by AMC’s advertising in the beginning, but we soon realized this wasn’t going to be a show about the 1950s. It was about the ’60s, and how that decade changed everything. And guess what?
We still love it.
Adieu, Mad Men, and thank you Mr. Weiner for bringing us one hell of a show.
- Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, reporting from the television viewing room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on February 25th, 2015 No comments
Congrats to Fort Lauderdale’s Mai Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show for being granted National Historic Landmark status! (It’s about time!)
The quintessential Tiki Bar/Lounge/Experience has been one of the world’s most elaborate (and famous) Tiki-themed establishments since 1956. It’s gone through a few changes over the years (The Molokai Lounge was created with the ship interior theme in the 1960s) but still retains much of its original architecture and decor, and all of its original charm.
Tiki themed restaurants & lounges began sprouting up in the mid 1930s, and had their heyday from around the end of WW2 through the late 1960s (see our Tiki Culture page). But as society evolved out of the sophisticated cocktail culture of the American mid-century and into the torn blue jeans & acid rock culture of the late ’60s, Tiki Bars became less fashionable, less of an exotic escape and more as a kitschy joint for “the last generation”. Sales fell, and most of the grand and beautiful Tiki palaces fell too.
The Mai Kai is one of only a handful of the original Tiki-themed restaurants to make it through the Disco era, the Mod ’80s, the bland ’90s and The Great Recession, along with multiple hurricanes and an insane buildup of furniture stores, strip clubs, strip malls and other restaurants along the strip of Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale…a stretch of road that was completely vacant and considered “way out west” when the Mai Kai was built in ’56. It’s a testament to the family who has owned this family-owned business and to the newest proprietors that it has remained not only open, but successful, for nearly 60 years.
And it’s about time that fantastic, fantasy palaces like this are finally being recognized for what they are: A great piece of American history.
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at the Mai Kai
Posted on October 3rd, 2014 1 comment
It’s finally here! The day of days to celebrate your love of Tiki drinks.
This year I’ve heard from people all over the world, including Madrid, Sydney, Germany, England, Canada, South America, and pretty much every state in the Union…all joining in to raise a glass to our favorite past time, drinking rum-soaked concoctions from a Tiki mug.
We’ll be at the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale tonight to celebrate in style. Maybe we’ll see some of you there!
-Tiki Chris reporting from the Tiki Bar on the Lanai where we’re getting things started!
Posted on September 26th, 2014 No comments
Mark your calenders! Get out your best Tiki mug! Friday, October 3rd will mark the third annual International Exotic Cocktail Day!
It’s a day to celebrate the pleasure of enjoying an Exotic Cocktail at your favorite Tiki Bar, on the lanai, by the pool, in your living room or on the front lawn. It’s a day to imbibe in your favorite mixes with friends and family. It’s a day to remember the people who started it all and the people who keep the traditions alive today! Started by Tiki Chris of Tiki Lounge Talk, International Exotic Cocktail Day is really just a great excuse to have a fun time with your friends, while enjoying one of the simple pleasures of life: Tiki Cocktails.
The Official International Exotic Cocktail Tiki Group in Facebook has been growing and growing with hundreds of people, like you, who are ready to spend a few hours drinking great Tiki cocktails with their friends and families. Click here to join!
The Spirit of Tiki
You don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy this day. I mean, if you’ve got a cool Tiki bar near by, then go! If not, you can turn your own home into a Tiki Palace for the night. Click below for a list of Tiki Drink Recipes, and ideas on how to build your own Tiki Bar.
This year Tiki Chris & Wahini Colleen will be celebrating at The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, enjoying the Cutback Surf Band in the lounge. Come by and say hi, I’ll be the guy wearing the Hawaiian shirt
-Tiki Chris reporting from the Rum Storage Room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on August 11th, 2014 1 comment
Been a while since I did a “Mod Movie Monday” post, mainly because I’ve been busy with doing some much-need restoration on my 1953 Chevy Bel Air Custom, writing a new paranormal murder mystery, and launching a new idea…more on that later.
So here we go, kats and kittens, back to our regularly schedule program. This week we feature
from 1965, starring Peter Cushing as The Doctor.
This movie was produced “outside” the original series universe, and as such, die-hard Who fans may find it a little annoying that it doesn’t follow the established theme. But the Doctor is still somewhat of a mad scientist, he still has traveling companions (in this, his two grand daughters and one of their boyfriends), the TARDIS is still a blue police box and bigger on the inside, and they still travel through space and time with special effects that remind you of Lost in Space. And it’s the mid-1960s, so there’s a kind of cold war-era peaceful-people-fighting-against-fascist-overlords kind of vibe.
Here’s the trailer:
Food & Booze: You’ll want something far-out, futuristic and still 1960s to go with this. I’d suggest Saturn Sliders (little burgers with big onion rings around them) and for drinks, Blue Neptune Cocktails in a tall, clear glass (see recipe below).
My Take: If you like Doctor Who, or just dig kookie movies from the mod era, you’ll dig it. From the TARDIS interior (which looks more like a black box theater than a space ship) to the annoying Daleks, it’s a fun treat that will whisk you back to the past before accelerating you to the future.
Blue Neptune Cocktail recipe:
2 oz good vodka
1 splash Blue Curacao (Just enough to make it blue)
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Lemon peel
1 Orange wheel
Mix all ingredients except lemon and orange in a shaker with ice. Strain over a tall clear glass half full of ice and garnish with the twisty lemon peel and orange wheel. You can secure the peel to the wheel with a sword or pick, and add a cherry if you are so inclined.
Tiki Chris P. reporting from the time machine at Tiki Lounge Talk
Oh, I almost forgot…that new idea I’m working on: Yours truly is embarking on a little side biz. Starting now, I’ll be offering my cool & kookie services as a vintage-theme party DJ in the South Florida are. That’s right…I’m putting the thousands of songs I’ve collected over the years to good use. So if you know anyone who wants to have a retro theme party, I’m you man…as long as it’s somewhere between West Palm Beach and Miami, Florida. Check out the new website for the low down. By the way…in that world, I’m known as “Riff”.