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  • Mod Movie Monday: Midnight Cowboy, 1969

    Posted on June 28th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments
    Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy

    Look at the Poster on the left kids, to the bottom left corner. Notice the ‘X’ Rating. Back in the ’60s an X-rating was given to movies the way NC-17 ratings are given today. The X-rating was adopted by the adult film industry as “XXX” and didn’t last long in mainstream films. So don’t let the rating throw you. This is no stag reel. It’s one of the greatest dramas ever put on film. Here’s the first and only X-Rated movie to win an Oscar (three, actually)…

    Midnight Cowboy, 1969

    Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman (along with performances by Brenda Vaccaro, Sylvia Miles and John McGiver).midnight-cowboy-street-scen

    Note from the Tiki Bar: NO SPOILERS HERE. Read on, but be careful if you’ve never seen Midnight Cowboy and search the web for info…since the movie is over 40 years old, there are spoilers everywhere. And believe me, you want to see the movie cold.

    The Movie: This movie is gritty, rough, funny, poignent and fantastic. And because it’s filmed on-location, it’s got lots of great shots of the way things looked and the way people lived back in the late 1960s. From Joe Buck’s solid-state radio that he loves so much to the Cadillacs and old Checker cabs on the streets of New York, it’s like a time capsule waiting to be discovered.

    Midnight Cowboy was adapted from a 1965 book by James Leo Herlihy. The director, John Schlesinger wanted to bring the story to the silver screen with Dustin Hoffman in the role of Ratso Rizzo, a small-time conman living on the streets. Actors like Warren Beatty were considered for the role of Joe Buck, the Texas ‘cowboy’ who moves to New York City to make it rich as a hustler…a male prostitute to rich women. Schlesinger finally chose Jon Voight, a relatively unknown actor for Joe Buck, feeling that by doing so the character would be more believable. A magic combination was born.

    "I'm walkin' here!"

    "I'm walkin' here!"

    There’s no way I can lay down  how powerful this movie is here, especially if you’ve ever been broke with dreams of living in paradise. There are several themes going on in this flick. One is of Joe Buck trying to be something better than a dishwasher, and relying on his looks to get rich. Another is of Ratso Rizzo, looking for someone who will help him get off the streets and down to Miami, where he believes he can live out the rest of his days in luxury (and even overcome his handicap). And of course there’s the bond that forms between the two, so strong that it’s sometimes mistakenly interpreted as a homosexual relationship (spoiler: it’s not a homosexual relationship).

    midnight-cowboy-joe-ratsoThe Cinematography: This movie wasn’t shot, it was crafted. From the camera angles to the background music to the imagery of the cold winter juxtaposed with the bright Miami Beach scene, every frame in this movie has something to say. Plus it’s got one of the craziest, best mod-psychadelic sequences in any movie to come out of the era…the party scene, a la Village 1968, which actually includes cameos by ‘Warhol Superstars’ Viva and Ultra Violet. Drugs, strange imagery, weird music, far-out people and lunch meats make this one of the best scenes in a flick full of great scenes.

    Midnight Cowboy Parodied in Futurama

    Midnight Cowboy Parodied in Futurama

    The Icons: Even if you’ve never caught this movie chances are you’ve seen or heard something that references it. The line “I’m Walkin’ Here!” was first shouted by Ratso Rizzo in this film. The iconic image of the cowboy, out of place and down on his luck has been copied time and again. Hell, he even gets ketchup on his new blue jeans. References to scenes and characters have been made in numerous movies and TV shows including Forrest Gump, Back to the Future II, Futurama, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and Rizzo the Rat from The Muppet Show.

    midnight-cowboy-albumThe Music: “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me” is the song most associated with this movie, with the haunting Midnight Cowboy Theme running a close second. Originally “Everybody’s Talkin'” wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. Harry Nilson had written the song “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” for the movie, and “Everybody’s Talkin'” was used as a stand-in song during editing. It stuck. It’s hard to imagine what this movie would be like without it. The sorrowful end theme was written by John Barry and again, has become iconic. (Note: Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” was considered for use in the film. Just wouldn’t have been the same.)

    Why this post is so damned long: Cheers to you if you’ve made it this far. Ok, I know I usually promise to keep things short. I got a little carried away with this one because out of all the Mod Movie Mondays, this is probably the most serious, well made and definitely one of the best. It’s got three Oscars to prove it, too…Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Picture…plus 23 other wins and 12 nominations including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. But it’s more than that to me.

    I first saw this movie when I was around ten or so. It was edited for TV, and since they edited down the sex scenes to only the slightest suggestions, most of it seemed like more of dark comedy than a drama. My parents loved this movie (on a different level) and for the remainder of their lives would quote things like “Gimme some soup” and “Dumb cowboy”.

    This scene in Midnight Cowboy was shot in Hollywood, FL in front of the Great Southern Hotel. This is a few blocks from where I work. Bottom images shows the Hotel as it sits today, closed.

    This scene in Midnight Cowboy was shot in Hollywood, FL in front of the Great Southern Hotel. This is a few blocks from where I work. Bottom images shows the Hotel as it sits today, closed.

    When I was a little older I got to see the uncut version, (which confused the hell out of me). What I picked up from it the second time around was the desperateness of the characters to get out of cold, mean city and down to Florida, where everything was bright and sunny and beautiful.  That stuck with me for years, and when I saw the movie again in my twenties, I understood all of it…and the idea of the Sunshine State being the escape from drudgery became a sleeping giant in the back of my mind.  Hell, even the theme song unintentionally refers to Florida: “I’m goin’ where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain, goin’ where the weather suits my clothes”. If anyone ever felt the desperation Enrico did, it was yours truly, kats.welcome-to-florida

    In 2000 I finally “hopped on the bus” and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to start a new life with my wife Colleen. “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me” went through my head as we crossed the border from Georgia into Florida, and the sun actually was shining through the pouring rain. And believe me, the weather suits my clothes.

    Dinner & drinks: Wait ’til the end of the movie. You’ll thank heavens for anything you’ve got in the kitchen.

    -Tiki Chris, AKA ChrisPFlorida reporting from where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain…

  • Ohana In Full Swing, Tiki Kon 2010 Coming Up Fast!

    Posted on June 25th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    tiki-kon-2010Seriously, who wishes they were sipping a Mai Tai right now? I do!

    While the North-East is celebrating Ohana Luau at the Lake this weekend, clear across the other side of the country Portland, Oregon is setting up the Tiki torches for this year’s Tiki Kon 2010: Atomic Tiki!

    The weekend starts off Friday night with the bands Lushy, The Apolo Four plus DJ Drew Groove swanking it up at The Tonic Lounge. On Saturday it’s Thatch Tiki Bar for Exotic Cocktails, then everyone swings over to Tony Starlight’s Supperclub and Lounge where, according to the Tiki Kon site, you can “Enjoy the out of this world exotica music of Sneaky Tiki and the Lava Lounge Orchestra and an evening of entertainment with the commander of our tiki space voyage, Tony Starlight!” I’m hip. tony-starlights

    Sunday kicks off with brunch at The Alibi, Portland’s oldest Tiki Bar and a tour of the best home Tiki Bars in the area. Mix in custom exotic cocktails specially made for the event, exotic art and ticket prices so reasonable you’ll think you’re back in the ’50s and you’ve got the makings of a very swankadelic scene.

    Check out Tiki Kon’s website for the lowdown.

    Wishing all our Tiki Friends a swingin’ weekend at Ohana! We’re with you in spirit…that spirit being rum, of course.

    -Tiki Chris sitting at the Pirate Island Tiki Bar, sulking he’s not at Ohana but happy the palm trees here are real.

  • Futurama Tonight, Luau at the Lake Tomorrow!

    Posted on June 24th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    tv-retro-photoWow, seems like the rum-filled haze from The Hukilau hasn’t quite drifted off yet and already Tikiphiles are gearing up for Ohana Luau at the Lake tomorrow!ohana-2010

    Ohana is the Northeast’s version of the ultimate Tiki bar party. Setup at the oh-so-wonderfully retro Tiki Motor Inn on the banks of Lake George, New York, Ohana is surely going to be a tikitacular gass.

    We here at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar won’t be joining the fab crowd at Ohana this year (we blew the budget on drinks at the Mai Kai) but wish all of our pals a wonderfully swingin’ time up there. Since it’s being held in the summer (as opposed to the fall, lac-du-saint-sacrementwhich on Lake George might as well be January) all the groovy summertime fun-stuff will be in full swing. If you kids have any time to explore Lake George Village, do it. Visit Fort William Henry (The gift shop is straight out of 1956), play the mini golf course, take in the old-style wax museum, rent a boat and tear up the lake, and if you have time go on a steamboat cruise. You won’t be disappointed, I kid you not.

    For us shmoes who can’t catch a bird upstate, we’ll be swingin’ tonight with the premier of the NEW Futurama series (see previous post). Ok, it’s not as kool as Ohana but we’ve been looking forward to its return for seven years, so, yeah.

    Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from Tiki Lounge Talk, the Tiki Bar Blounge (get it – blog + lounge) for retro lovers and tiki fanatics.

  • Retro Lovers: Futurama is Back, Baby!

    Posted on June 23rd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments


    Finally after almost seven years off the air as a series, FUTURAMA is back on Comedy Central.

    futurama-returnsIf you dig Futurama you probably already know that the new series will premier with a one-hour special on Thursday, June 24 at 10:00 p.m. From the Official Futurama Site: “After a devastating spaceship crash, the Professor attempts to resuscitate the crew with his birth machine. Later, Leela and Zapp Brannigan find themselves stranded on an Eden-like planet.”

    For you retro kats & kitties who aren’t hip to this fantabulous show, knock your peepers to this: Futurama (The name taken from the General Motors exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair) is a krazy mix of mid-20th century sci-fi, current-day tech and the world of tomorrow, tomorrow being the year 3000 (or so). The plot is simple: Fry, a bumbling but sort of lovable (most of the time) pizza delivery boy (man) accidentally (sort of) gets cryogenically frozen on New Year’s Eve as the world is about to turn the date to 2000. After 1000 years he’s thawed, welcomed by a goofy scientist who yells “Welcome to the world of tomorrow!” (sound familiar?) He meets a sexy cyclops, a partying robot and eventually his great great (etc.) grand nephew Professor Farnsworth, (who is a mad scientist six or seven times Fry’s age), who just happens to own an inter-planetary delivery company. There’s a lot more, but you’ll have to watch the show for that.futurama-charlies-angles

    What’s really groovy is that Mat Groening’s (Yes, The Simpsons guy) idea of the far-out future is far-out indeed, filled with 1950s-style sci-fi monsters, aliens, spaceships, and educational films. The hovercars all have fins and chrome, most of the sound effects are made with a Theremin or are lifted from Star Trek TOS, and the TV sets look like floor-model Zeniths that would have been in your grandmother’s pad.

    amy-wongs-futurama-hovercaSo check it out. It’s as clever as The Simpsons with the added value of that retro flair.

    AIRS: Thursday, June 24, 10pm on Comedy Central

    -Tiki Chris reporting from in front of the 65″ RetroVision,  with an Atomic Cocktail in hand.

  • The Vampire Lovers, 1970: Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on June 21st, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    vampire-lovers-2It may not be Halloween, but that’s no reason not to crank up the air, curl up under the sheets and take in one of the most fun-to-watch freak-a-rama movies from the early 1970s…

    Hammer Films Presents

    The Vampire Lovers, 1970

    Starring the voluptuous Igrid Pitt, George Cole, Roger Morton, Kate O’Mara and Peter Cushing.

    For those of you who are not hip to the Hammer horror films, these are the kats who gave us the great Dracula films of the 50s-70s starring Christopher Lee as the the Count and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. They’re also responsible for One Million Years B.C. with Raquel Welch, and other great titles like The Brides of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Read the rest of this entry »