Posted on January 31st, 2010 1 comment
The saying goes, “A picture says a thousand words’. In hipster talk that translates roughly into “A kool frame riffs millennium verbs,” or in some circles “A swingin’ snapshot lays down a kat’s score hipper and with more jazz than some ramblin’ gin-weary monologue spread around like a tome, ya dig?”
Case in point: The picture laid out before you kats is of my bookshelf, to my left as I type at this souped-up typewriter. I was just playing around with the interwebs when I shot my peepers over, and realized that everything on this part of the shelf, with very few exceptions, is 4o years old or older. Some of these gadgets I’ve had for years. Some of them I’ve had almost all my life.
What’s really crazy is everything you see in this photo has a story. Some stories I remember vividly, as if they happened yesterday. Some are a little fuzzy, getting lost in time. But every time I glance over, I get a memory…Memories of places I used to hit that are gone forever. Memories of that far off land of childhood. Memories of things I loved to do. And memories of people I loved who are no longer around.
I’m really digging this pic. I think what I’ll do, just for kicks, is give you kats and kittens a little story – from memory – that goes along with one of the items on the shelf. Every now and then I’ll re-post the photo and give you a new story.
Let’s start with the big red car.
What you see here is a 1933-1936 Cadillac LaSalle Sedan, made of pressed steel by the Wyandotte toy company. It measures around 13″ long, and originally came with solid rubber tires and a matching, teardrop-shaped camper trailer. The design was an idealized, Art Deco version of the real car, and was very modern for its time.
In the 1970’s, my parents were antique dealers. Often my father would get up at five or six AM to hit yard sales and flea markets, looking for some kool stuff to buy and sell. One spring Saturday morning when I was around seven, my dad went out early to the yard sales, and came back while I was still asleep. He woke me up and brought me into the kitchen, where this crazy-looking toy car, big as an elephant, was sitting on the table. It was painted black, and had all kinds of little smiling faces and sayings on it… Mostly Happy New Year, 1939 I think…and little painted balloons and confetti. The paint was in pretty sad shape, and the tires were missing. I immediately fell in love with the big car, and my Dad said if I wanted, he’d repaint it for me and put some wheels on it. Of course, I said, and he got to work.
He stripped the old paint off and painted it the original Fire Engine Red. Then he made some wheels (I think out of radio parts and rubber tubing) and put it all back together. Man, was it beautiful.
I loved that car, and took damned good care of it for the last 33+ years. It’s always had a place of honor on a shelf or table, and now resides where I spend a lot of my time when I’m not out at the Tiki Bar, so I can look at it a lot. My father passed on to the promise land in 2002, which makes little things like this even more special to me. It’s amazing I still remember that day, and how happy we both were over this piece of steel. It makes me happy all over again every time I see it. (a little side note: The palm tree sticking up behind the car…my father made that for me, and the car, when we moved down to Florida in 2000. he seemed to think the car needed a palm tree, now that it was parked in the tropics.)
– Tiki Chris, reporting live from The Tiki Blog
Posted on January 30th, 2010 No comments
The last time Jon Hamm was on SNL they managed to work in a couple of very kool retro skits, including one with a couple of his co-stars from Mad Men. Tonight, Hamm hosts while old-time crooner Michael Bublé swings in as musical guest. I can only conclude that there is a method to this Madmenness; if the writers don’t take advantage of this combo with some swingin’ retro skits, I’ll boycott SNL for ever. (Here is the Mad Men skit from the NBC site. Sorry about the commercial, but that’s how they make their money)…
SNL has actually been doing some pretty groovy retro skits in the last couple of years. Bill Hader’s impression of Vincent Price is priceless, and January Jones’ skit where she played Grace Kelly in Rear Window was a riot. It’s nice to see these kids still know the value of the greats that came before them, long ago in the good old days.
-Zoot Jackson, playin’ it kool at the retro blog, baby!
Posted on January 29th, 2010 No comments
After an extensive remodeling, the Sheraton Yankee Clipper in Fort Lauderdale is open and the Wreck Bar is in full swing! (I haven’t been there yet, but I hear it’s been preserved as original). Well I’ll know for sure tonight, because a bunch of Tiki friends and I will be swinging by tonight to watch the Mermaids swim again!
When Sheraton announced plans to remodel the old Yankee Clipper (and give it the dumb, dull, corporate, generic name “Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel”) everyone thought that would be the end of the historic Wreck Bar. Well, from what I hear someone had enough brains to keep it intact.
The Wreck Bar features windows that look out into the pool, giving patrons a view of the swimmers. Underwater dancing Mermaids have been a popular attraction for years, and our favorite Mermaid, Medusirena, will be headlining the swim tonight.
If you’re in the Fort Lauderdale area come on by and join us for a Mai Tai. Show starts at 6:30!
-Mermaids at the Wreck Bar, Tiki Chris @ Tiki Lounge Talk, the Tiki Blog for hip swingers and Tikiphiles.
Posted on January 28th, 2010 2 comments
Sometimes you just have lay back and enjoy the good life. Yesterday, my buddy Mark (aka Tiki Tender) twittered a recipe for a drink called the Tiki Girl. A nice combo of rum and amaretto, this drink was very, very enjoyable, not sweet and sugary like you might think, but more complex like a real exotic cocktail should be.
So here’s what I did…Last night, with the parrots squwaking in the background and some Martin Denny on the hi-fi, I took his recipe (find it here at tikitender.com) and built it in a vintage glass at my Tiki Bar. (I still have the Christmas lights up on the bar so the whole thing was sort of surreal). The only ingredient I didn’t have was the garnish, but I did have a paper umbrella, so it was A-OK.
It’s the little things in life that can really make you smile. After a long couple of weeks at work, crazy money stuff, and dealing with a haunted Cadillac (long story), it was nice to sit down and relax with a kool Tiki Cocktail. After the second one, I didn’t have a care in the world!
Those who follow me on twitter can attest to the fact that these are pretty strong drinks, as can be seen from my twitter stream last night. Make sure you check out Mark’s site at tikitender.com, he’s got lots of fun stuff and great Tiki drink recipes!
Thanks again to all of you for tuning in to my little Tiki Blog. I really do dig writing about this stuff, and hope my goofy rants from the Tiki Bar give you a laugh, or at least a smile!
-Tiki Chris, AKA Mack, AKA Mr. Loving the Tiki Life!
Posted on January 25th, 2010 4 comments
Today’s flick is soaked in coke, cheap liquor, prostitution and the pursuit of getting out of the ghetto. It’s the modern-day (70s) Funk-tastic equivalent to The Grapes of Wrath. It’s
“Never a dude like this one! He’s got a plan to stick it to The Man!”
Now, let me lay this on you…If nothing else, watch this movie for the car.
This is, without doubt, one of the best movies ever to depict the conditions in the poor areas of NYC and the people who tried to survive there in the ’60s and ’70s. It was made to show how things really were, to ‘keep it real’. Now it’s a fantastic time capsule, giving us a glimpse into the bad side of the old days, the dilapidation of the crumbling city, the poverty, and the crime. Watch this film with the cellphone turned off and the computer in sleep mode, and try to put yourself back in that era of payphones and typewriters, 8-Track tapes and big American cars, when Deep Throat was playing at theaters in Times Square and Nixon was president. It’ll blow your mind.
All that aside, it’s got an incredibly kick-ass soundtrack by Funk master Curtis Mayfield, including the title track “Superfly” and the instrumental “Freddie’s Dead”. The story centers around a drug pusher-pimp who goes by the name of Priest Youngblood, a man who is sick of the crime life, sick of the streets and is looking for a way out. In the mean time, he does all that he can to try to live the good life, from having a color TV in every room, to driving a custom Cadillac convertible.
Ah, the Superfly Cadillac.
Now we come to my favorite part of this post. The car, a 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado custom convertible,
became as much a character in the movie as Priest. It was featured on the poster, and became the icon of this film ever since. The entire opening sequence and titles features the Caddy being driven through the streets of New York City, with the defining “Freddie’s Dead” theme song weaving through the background. This big black Cadillac was a real car, customized by a coachworks in north Jersey that operated under the name Dunham Coach. They specialized in customizing large American luxury cars, i.e. Cadillacs and Lincolns, and had a steady clientele of “underworld” figures through the 1970s. In fact, the car used in the film was owned by an actual pimp at the time who went by the name “KC”. He let them use the car in exchange for a cameo in the film.
I had the good fortune to own one of these Superfly Caddy’s back in the 1990s. It was a 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe with running boards, a Continental kit (spare tire on the trunk), Rolls-Royce Grille and Headlights, and a 1941 Cadillac hood ornament. Mine was blue and silver, not black.
Anyway, back to the flick…This is a gritty film, and as I said really puts you in the era. Maybe not the best writing, or acting. Maybe not the most original storyline. It was low budget, and sometimes it shows. But it’s sho-nuff fun to watch. Now…tune your ears into what I’m laying down on you kats, and dig it for real: This is a hard-edged, realistic depiction of ghetto life in New York City in the early 1970s. There’s violence, nudity, drugs, corruption, racism, sex, more drugs, gambling, and fine Cadillacs. The protagonist is a pimp and a drug pusher, and you’re rooting for him at the end. So I wouldn’t recommend this one for family night.
That said, here’s my riff: Dig this movie with the lights dimmed down low in your pad. Sip Merlot, and dine on a big, thick plank steak the way Priest would. And absolutely get the soundtrack, it’s Super Fly, baby. You dig?
Here’s a video of an interview with Les Dunham, creator of the Superfly Cadillac. Lots of shots of the car.
Superfly at Tiki Lounge Talk, by “Mack”