Posted on February 17th, 2010 3 comments
It was a beautiful day in downtown Hollywood, Florida where I work. Sun shining, puffy white clouds, not too crazy hot. So I decided to take my trusty Instamatic Camera (not really, it’s a digital camera) and head down to the happinin’ section of Hollywood Boulevard.
Hollywood was founded in 1925 by a visionary named Joseph Young who wanted to build his dream city in Florida. It quickly became a thriving city, with beachfront hotels, beautiful homes, and a busy downtown area. This downtown was first built up in the mid to late 20s, with some slowing during the depression and WW2. It found a resurgence in the 50s, as many vacation spots did, and had a building boom through the 60s. This history led to a unique combination of early Art Deco construction, Spanish-Floridian construction, and Mid-Century Modern.
It’s amazing that these buildings were able to survive through the architectual vacuum of the 70s and 80s, but some managed to hang on with their original look intact. The late 90s saw a re-popularization of the original styles, and luckily the popularization has remained through the present leading to numerous restorations, retro-refitting of more recent dull buildings, and dig this…brand new construction in the Art Deco and Mid-Century style. Seriously. (continued after the slide show)
I was able to get some very nice shots of the Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern buildings along the boulevard. One of my favorite buildings is the Great Southern Hotel, located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Young’s Circle. I believe Young himself had this hotel built as part of the city plan back in the mid 20’s. It has a sort of Florida-Spanish style combined with that 1920s pre-Deco look you see in a lot of shore towns. What the hell do I mean by that? Basically it means simplicity, symmetry, and terra cotta.
There are a good number of trendy nightclubs and cafés along the boulevard, and most of them have stuck with the retro look. It’s nice to see people taking these historic styles seriously, and appreciating them for the timeless beauty they portray.
Funny story about The Great Southern hotel. When we first moved to Florida in 2000, my wife and I took a drive to Hollywood to check it out. At that time it was in a state of change; a lot of stores were vacant, and still looked like they did in the 70s. I noticed the big white hotel on the corner, and thought to myself that it looked really familiar, but couldn’t place it. Mind you this is the first trip I ever took to Hollywood. Anyway, a few years later in 2005, I end up working in a building on Hollywood Boulevard a couple of blocks from downtown. While there I picked up a local paper, which happened to have a story about “The Great Southern Hotel” on the cover. The story was about how the owners wanted to tear it apart to put up a parking garage, how the city didn’t see anything wrong with that, and how the historical society was about ready to commit murder if necessary before letting that happen. The name rung a bell…but I still couldn’t catch it. Then one day it came to me…where I’d seen that name. It was in a movie, which I ran out and bought right away.
There it was, in one of the last scenes of Midnight Cowboy from 1967. Joe Buck and Ratzo Rizzo are headed down to Miami on a bus. The bus stops for a break, and Joe Buck ditches his cowboy outfit and boots for a Hawaiian shirt. As he shoves the boots into a trash can, you can clearly see a giant white building with the name “Great Southern Hotel” in giant letters in the background. That was it; a scene in a movie I had seen when I was about 13 had stuck in my head for years…and as fate would have it, I wind up working down the street from the place. But here’s what’s even more interesting: One of the themes of the movie is that the characters want to get out of the city, out of the cold, away from the freaks up north and down to sunny Florida where the palm trees sway and you can pick the oranges right off the trees. Well, my father and I used to joke around about it all the time, that we had the same dream. Finally, in 2000, he, my wife and I made it down here. “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me” from the movie was going through my head as we crossed the Georgia border into Florida. The sun actually was shining through the pouring rain as we drove down I-95 into Fort Lauderdale. My father, who was very sick at the time, made it down right behind us, but unlike Ratzo lived a few years to enjoy it. Whenever I see the Great Southern I think of him, and how we both got our dream to come true.
(This is a repost from last year, but it was such a popular one I thought I’d give it another view)
-Tiki Chris Pinto, for the Tiki Blog
Posted on February 15th, 2010 3 comments
And as far as Mod goes…vibrant colors, a singing whale, and jazz combo let by a dancing clarinet through a surreal dream…done up years before LSD was invented.
The “Movie” features music by Nelson Eddie, Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters and more, and tells musical tale from Peter and the Wolf to an Operatic Whale named Willie.
But there are two main reasons I dig this flick…and they’re both by Benny Goodman. “All the Cats Join In” is as hep as it gets, swinging the long version of Goodman’s tune with crazy bobby-soxers cartooning it around the house, malt shop and streets. It’s very clever, with the characters and backdrops being drawn as the action progresses. The music is hot and swings perfectly with the comedy of the animation.
“After You’ve Gone” features the Benny Goodman Quartet, with Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole, and Sid Wiess. This has a special place in my heart…The first time I saw this cartoon was when it was played during a 1985 PBS salute to Goodman…which happened to be his last televised performance before his death. I video taped the show and watched the cartoon over and over, not just for the incredible and surrealistic animation (who wouldn’t love a clarinet dancing around in the clouds with disembodied fingers dancing like legs on a piano keyboard), but for the absolutely unbelievable facility of Goodman’s playing on this number. I asked everyone I knew, young and old, and in 1985 no one could remember where this toon came from. 16 years later, the internet finally gave up the secrets. Here it is, “After You’ve Gone” by Benny Goodman from “Make Mine Music”
and “All the Cats Join In”…a caracature
Posted on February 14th, 2010 1 comment
To The Tiki Lovers, Pirates, Retro Hipsters and Swingers…
Have a Happy & Fun Valentine’s Day!
Here’s a very romantic recipe for a Chocolate Martini…1 1/2 shots Godiva chocolate liqueur
1 1/2 shots creme de cacao
1/2 shot vodka
2 1/2 shots half-and-halfShake it all up in a shaker with ice, pour into a chilled cocktail glass. You can get fancy by drizzling some chocolate syrup in the glass and shaved chocolate on top of the Martini. If you have patients, garnish with a piece of chocolate that you carefully carve out to fit on the rim of the glass.
And here’s a few old-fashioned Valentine’s to remind you of the good old days…
Posted on February 12th, 2010 5 comments
Tom & Jerry
1 oz. Dark Rum
1 oz. Brandy
1 tsp. Sugar
6 oz. Hot water milk, or coffee
Seperate egg in two bowls. Add Rum & Brandy to the yolk and beat together until frothy. In th other bowl beat the egg white until it peaks then add sugar and bet until stiff. Fold into the liqour mixture. Pour into a coffee mug and top with the water, milk or coffee. (Ready made batter can be store bought – for this simply add alcohol and water, milk or coffee.)
Very Merry Cocoa
1 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. Creme de Menthe (white or green, your choice, I like green)
1 oz Bailey’s, or a hazelnut creme is also tasty.
Mix the liquors together in a glass or shaker first. Make cocoa as you normally would (leaving out some of the water/milk), then dump the liquor mix in on top, and stir. It’s cocoa with a pretty strong kick, but the mini-marshmallows can make you feel like a kid again (just don’t let the kids confuse the drinks!).
Posted on February 8th, 2010 3 comments
There are few movies that can compare in the combination of craziness, zaniness, modness and madness as this one. Between the comedy of Dick Van Dyke, the beauty of Sally Anne Howes and the original story by Ian Flemming (of James Bond fame) it’s no surprise this flick has remained a favorite for over 40 years.
But let’s not try to fool anyone…the real star of this movie was, of course, the car. A true-bred race car, born to win until a fatal accident retired him to a peaceful life slowly withering away in a field, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be rediscovered, and reborn – by Caractacus Potts, a somewhat oddball inventor who seemed to be able to make mechanical wonders out of bits of junk. The ultimate in recycling and restoration came when he brought Chitty back to life, using spare parts from toasters, boilers, and even a boat. And what an amazing cat Caractacus was – a mechanic, machinist, welder, brass-wright, boat-wright, carpenter and inventor all in one!
Depending on where you look, you’ll find that there were anywhere from four to six full-size models of this car built for the movie, with at least one being fully-operational. There’s been a lot of conjecture over the years as to what happened to them all…lost, hiding in barns has always been a favorite of mine. But they all seem to be accounted for…apparently one lives somewhere down here in Florida, so I may even get to see it in person one day.
For someone who has had a hand in restoring (or at least fixing up) old cars since I was a kid, this movie really hits home. More than the fact that it’s a kool little car that can fly, more than the fact that it’s magical. There’s another story here, one that most people don’t care much about…it’s a story about taking something that was once magnificent, and that has since fallen from grace; about taking that wondrous piece of machinery and bringing it back to life, giving it a new chance to delight and be adored. I’ve had the good fortune to do that with a couple of cars, some vintage toys, and even an antique clarinet. I’m doing it now with my 1953 Chevy Belair, although not nearly as quickly (or with as much talent) as Caractacus Potts.
Since this is really a kid’s movie, I’d have to go with some sweet snacks and drinks to go along with it. For drinks, I’m thinking along the lines of chocolate milk…maybe a Nutty Irishman, or Chocolate Martini. For snacks, break out the hard candies, chocolates and cakes. Some good old-fashioned Hershey’s chocolate bars and Brach’s hard candies should do the trick. Oh, and don’t for get the Maloxx.
-Tiki Chris Pinto, Live from The Tiki Blog