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  • The X Files: Why Lovers of Mid-Century Culture Should Dig This Show

    Posted on January 24th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    xfiles-logoThe short reason: Because science fiction is a huge part of mid-century American pop culture, and The X Files derives its main plot from the “little green men” who started visiting us (according to believers) in 1947.

    The crash-landing of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 really kick-started the Martian-based sci-fi craze of the 1950s. Sure, science fiction movies and novels, etc. had been around for decades at that point (no one can forget Orson Wells’ 1939 broadcast of “War of the Worlds”), but when the public got its first taste of real rocket-aged stories of flying saucers and short, green aliens, the genre took off…and hasn’t really let up since.

    Before Roswell, UFO sightings were few and far between, and were usually written-off as unsophisticated people mistaking modern airplanes or – yes – weather balloons for space ships. The “cigar-shaped metallic object” that was usually reported more-often really was just an aluminum-skinned plane, seen by people who may have never even seen a motorcar or Streamliner train in their lives. Consequently, most sightings weren’t widely reported.

    This shot could have been from 1962, easily.

    This shot could have been from 1962, easily.

    But after that fateful night in Roswell generated so much hype and interest, the media, sci-fi authors and movie execs realized they had a money-making bonanza at their fingertips. Comics, movies, TV shows, books…you name it were all fair game to perpetuate the Martian/UFO phenomenon.

    As the Roswell UFO event began looking more and more like a government cover-up, the media and entertainment industry used it to fuel the fires of government conspiracy theories. Suddenly, our government which had protected us, seen us through WW2 and saved the world, was being viewed as a secretive, manipulative and even lying entity that was completely out of reach of the American people. Add to that the anxiety that came with post-WW2 Cold War-era threats of atomic war, the perceived threat of a communist takeover of the world, and still mysterious circumstances surrounding the JFK assassination…the entertainment industry had the perfect cocktail of public fears to play on. And play they did…with thousands of movies, TV shows, books etc. making billions of bucks along the way.

    Tell me this guy doesn't look like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.

    Tell me this guy doesn’t look like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.

    The X Files takes us back to that era, both in its basic mythology and in actual flashbacks to the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The show does a fantastic job combining the alien abduction theory with a government conspiracy, hiding a truth so horrific that even the greatest movies, books and TV shows of the era wouldn’t dare ponder. And interspersed with the alien mythology are the “Monster of the Week” episodes, giving us a cool, re-imagined view of some of the most interesting concepts to come out of mid-century sci-fi, from human-like creepy creatures to eerie paranormal mysteries. It’s like watching a modern take on the greatest parts from The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and all those ’50s monster movies put together. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself…The truth is out there.

    Sure, the original X Files series was filmed and takes place in the 1990s, complete with large-shoulder padded suits, crappy cars and a curious lack of cell phones and internet, but if you can get past that, watch it for the reasons I shared above. I’m confident you’ll dig it.

    X Files "I want to Believe" poster...wait a minute, that space ship looks very familiar...

    X Files “I want to Believe” poster…wait a minute, that space ship looks very familiar…

    The New X Files short series starts tonight at 10pm. I really hope it starts off with a cool space ship, like the one that landed in our front yard last week.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the media lounge at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Florida

     

  • MAD MEN Series Finale – One Last Comment

    Posted on May 17th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    mad-men-peggy-donMay 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.

    cadillacs

    Car styling as well as advertising styles changed dramatically from the late 1950s to early 1960s. The elegance and grandeur of fins and chrome surrendered to a much more conservative look, and that was reflected in the simpler, plainer ads.

    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!

    playboy bachelorAnd 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

  • Dig it, man…Bop (slang/jive) Dictionary from 1955, for cool kats (hipsters). Gone, man, gone.

    Posted on February 17th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 22 comments

    Beatnik-3Hey kats, let’s take a gone history trip back to the double-nickle brights of the last century.

    (Translation: Let’s take a history lesson from 1955)

    Hep talk, Jive, hipster lingo…It all started with jazz musicians back in the 1920s and 30s. It’s generally accepted that “jive” started as a kind of code, especially to warn your fellow musicians about an impending police raid on the speakeasy you happened to be playing in that night. From there it took off into just a cool way for these kats (musicians) to differentiate themselves from the squares, and from there is took off into any USA culture click that considered themselves gone, out, way out, and in possession of a coolness that the cubes could never dig. Dig?

    Sent to me 20 years ago through a very un-hip but easy-to-use channel, “email”, this is a list of the hippest words with their American translation. I’m not sure, but I believe this dictionary was originally printed in Mad Magazine, c. 1955

    ABE’S CABE – a five dollar bill

    BIG GEORGE – a quarter

    BLAZE – to go

    BLOOD – wine

    BREAD – money

    BRIGHT – day

    BROWN ABE – a penny

    CHEATERS – eye glasses

    CHLOROPHYLL GEORGE – a dollar

    COOL – nice

    CRAZY – odd

    CRIB – house

    CUBE – 3-D square

    CUT – make fun of

    CUT OUT – leave

    DIG, TO DIG – to understand

    DUCE – a two dollar bill

    ENDS – money

    FLICKS – movies

    FLIP – react enthusiastically

    GONE – wonderful

    GREASE – eat

    HENCHMEN – friends

    HOLLYWOOD EYES – cute girls

    HUB CAP – important fellow

    JAMS – bop records

    JELLY TOT – young hub cap

    KAT – latest version of hipster
    Juke-Box-Tiki-Lounge-Talk
    KICK – thrill

    LATER – I’ll see you

    LAY DEAD – wait

    MAN – opening word when addressing a kat

    MAN, MY – friend, comrade

    MAN, THE – Stan Kenton

    NOD – sleep

    NOWHERE – condition of a cube

    OUT, THE OUTEST – best

    PLAYER – popular fellow

    QUIT, QUIT IT – leave

    RANCH – house

    RANK – stupid

    SCARF – eat

    SCROUNGY – bad

    SIDES – bop records

    SILVER JEFF – a nickel

    SILVER WING – a half dollar

    SLAMMER – door

    SONNET – radio commercial

    SPLASH – rain

    SPLIT – to go

    SQUAT – sit

    SQUARE – one who is nowhere

    STOMPERS – shoes

    STONED – ecstatic

    STROLLER – car

    STRUGGLE – dance

    THIN ONE – dime

    TICKS – minutes

    TUNES – bop records

    TURKEY – square

    WASTED – broke

    WHEELS – car

    WILD – nice

    YARD, A YARD – a hundred dollars

    Dig it how some of these terms are still cool today, like ‘dig’ and ‘cool’, along with ‘scarf’, ‘player’, ‘crib’ and ‘jams’. I also particularly dig that “The Man” is Stan Kenton (see previous post). Well, it’s a bop dictionary, after all.

    Compare to the 1958 “COOL” Magazine Hipster Dictionary, one that was more for the masses, not so much for Bop jazzers. Some common ground, of course, but a lot more words for ordinary things. Bop musicians didn’t need so many words. They said very little, saving their strength to play all those notes in their complicated Bop charts. Wild, man, wild.

    -Guest Post by Zoot Jackson, Gobble Pipe blower and swingin’ kat extraordinaire.

  • Happy Halloween from Tiki Lounge Talk

    Posted on October 30th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    halloween at tiki lounge talk

    Halloween a go go

    The crispness of fall is in the air…the trees are turning gold and red…and you can’t pass a pumpkin patch without getting a chill. Yes, Halloween is here! And even though there are no gold and red trees here in South Florida, and the temperature today is in the 80s, it’s still the spookiest time of year.

    It’s amazing how different things are during the holidays in the tropics. There are no trucks selling dried cornstalks and bailed hay road-side. Very few people even decorate outside for Halloween, usually because it’s too hot (or been raining too much, as we come to the tail end of the rainy season). On Halloween night, kids trick or treat wearing shorts and generally “light” costumes – no coat necessary.

    And since South Florida is party central, 95% of the ladies dress in skimpy, sexy costumes…the one night of the year they can “get away with it”. The other nights, they just blame it on the booze. Halloween night they blame it on the Boooooos. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

    Of course I, being of unsound mind, go bananas with Halloween decorating. This year we turned the house into “Maniac Mansion”, and had our annual Halloween party in a retro-Maniac theme (I was disappointed no one came dressed as Ed Gein, the 1950’s serial killer). Still it was a blast, with tons of vintage-style decor, including two Black-Light rooms reminiscent of the early 70s. Along with Spider Cider, Texas Chain Saw Chili, and Rob Zombie Wieners, we served such perfect exotic cocktails as Zombies, Banana Banshees and Dead 77’s (French 77’s with a few drops of red food coloring), served in old-school angry Tiki mugs.

    After Halloween winds down, it will be full steam ahead into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve! Cheers!

     

     

    DSCN1826DSCN1825DSCN1824    DSCN1827chris-and-colleen

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the graveyard at Tiki Lounge Talk.
    Looking for a fast, fun read for the Halloween season? Check out my book, “How to Kill Vampires because they are unnatural jerks” available for instant download at Amazon.com!

  • Like Vampires? Check out this new Site with Vampire Killing Kits by CRYSTOBAL

    Posted on August 30th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Screen shot 2013-08-09 at 4.16.01 PMYes, Vampire Killing Kits!

    If you dig cool stuff from the past, then you probably dig Dracula movies, BW vampire flicks and other assorted old Horror stuff. Something that has always been a favorite vintage “oddity” of mine has been the turn of the century Vampire Killing Kit.

    I first saw one in the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in St. Augustine, FL about 30 years ago. I thought it was crazy fantabulous, and always wanted one for myself.

    What is a Vampire Killing Kit?

    A box or satchel filled with the tools necessary to kill a vampire. They were originally made (according to Ripley’s) in the late 19th Century, for American tourists traveling to Transylvania (after the book “DRACULA” became an international hit). They usually contained a pistol, vials of holy water and garlic oil, a crucifix, and of course a wooden stake. Some were a little more elaborate with dental tools for removing the vampire’s fangs, a dagger, and something called “secret serum” which was supposed to heal vampire bites.

    This new site showcases the new, vintage-style Vampire Killing Kits created by CRYSTOBAL, self-proclaimed vampire hunter and Gothic artist. CRYSTOBAL and I go back a long way…in fact, I have a few of his kits that he’s made over the years as part of my collection of pop culture junk!

    CRYSTOBAL has been making these kits for years, and has created his own style – “modern primitive” – for his kits. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals have attempted to copy his style and take credit for resurrecting the vampire killing kit craze. But dig, he is the real deal.

    Click here to visit Vampire Killing Kits by CRYSTOBAL.

    how to kill vampires book

    Check out the site. It’s filled with photos of his work, and information on the history of the kits. Our book, “How to Kill Vampires because they are unnatural jerks” is also available through the site. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…I wrote another book, with CRYSTOBAL as the source, called “How to Kill Vampires because they are unnatural jerks”. It’s pretty cool, a little funny and very artistic. Check it out!

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the Halloween shop down the street from Tiki Lounge Talk