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  • The Joys of Driving a Vintage Car Daily

    Posted on January 30th, 2019 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    A real hep cat needs a cool set of wheels. New Toyotas and Kias just don’t make the grade. If you want to arrive in style, you need to be driving a vintage car.

    My Daily Driver, a 1985 Cadillac Seville. Shown here in front of the Versace Mansion in South Beach, Miami, FL.

    Man, I’ll tell ya…there’s really nothing like cruising down the main line in cool, classic car. Since I got my license in 1986, I’ve only driven vintage cars or newer cars with a retro look. ’65 Chrysler Newport, ’63 Imperial, 78 Lincoln Town Car, ’75 Cadillac Eldorado with Superfly custom work, 1956 Buick Century Station Wagon, and a 1974 Eldorado Convertible are just a few of the classy classics that were my daily haulers. So you might say driving a vintage car daily is my thing. I currently drive a pristine 1985 Cadillac Seville, the last year for the slant-back design that was a throw back to mid-century Rolls Royce and Bentley models. Does she turn heads? You know it.

    1956 Buick Century Wagon
    My 1956 Buick Century Wagon, with my 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V in the background, 1997.

    Cruising down the highway in a car with history can be pure pleasure. Sure, new cars have lots of fancy gadgets, but is the cruise control on your Honda called “Auto Pilot”, or does the air conditioning have a chrome lever that says “MAX COOL”? They did on my 1963 Imperial Crown Southampton.

    Let’s face it, when you drive up to the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale in your two-year old BMW SUV, nobody notices, even though you paid as much as a small house for it. Pull up in a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible in Cranberry Firemist with the top down, and everyone stops what they’re doing to see who the movie star is. And no matter where you go, the valet will always park YOUR car up front.

    I used to drive my ’74 Eldorado Convertible down Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood, Florida all the time…My office is a few blocks from vintage down town.

    After all, if you’re going to live in a mid-century house, with mid-century furniture, and dress mid-century style, how can you justify driving a non-mid-century car?

    Of course, driving a 30, 50, 70 year old beauty can have its challenges. Even restored to mint condition, it’s still an old car…basically a used car…and eventually you’re going to have to do some maintenance. Cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s were built much differently than today’s cars, and require a lot more upkeep. Frequent tune ups, engine and brake adjustments, fluid flushes and wheel alignments are some of the things you must expect. If the car’s not restored mechanically, also expect to replace parts like switches, brake cylinders, vacuum hoses and suspension items the more you drive. These parts are decades old, and they do wear out. But isn’t it all worth it, in the end?

    Depending on the geography of your locale, your driving habits and mileage needs, and your mechanical ability, there is probably a vintage car out there that’s right for you. If you can do some work yourself and have the right tools, you can pick pretty much any car or truck you want and go from there. If you’re not mechanically inclined, keep in mind you’ll be spending some big bucks to keep your vintage car on the road. Also remember that getting 18 MPG in the 50s and 60s was a big deal, and those big cars got 10 MPG on a good day, down hill, with the wind at their back. Also racking up 2,000 miles a month on a 60 year-old car is going to give you heartaches. You might want to consider something a little newer that looks older…like my 1985 Cadillac Seville, that has the classic Rolls Royce bustle-back styling, a late-1970s Lincoln Mark V, or even a Fiat Spider.

    My 1953 Chevy Belair StarDust in 1992. Not my daily driver, but a reliable and fun car do drive around town. I still have this car.

     

    Another thing to keep in mind is that cars made up until the late 1950s, with the exception of luxury cars, are generally much less complicated than later models. No computers or complex electronics, simple mechanical systems and made-to-last parts like door handles and window cranks make these cars a lot easier to maintain than vehicles from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The drawbacks are that they aren’t as easy to drive (mostly manual steering and transmissions), the brakes don’t work as well as more modern systems, and six-volt (opposed to modern 12-volt) battery systems can be problematic. If you’re doing more than 5-mile drives, you might want to consider a “resto-mod”, a vintage car that retains its original look but uses a modern engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and electrical system. This can be a great option for someone who wants it all.

     

    -Tiki Chris P, reporting from the garage behind Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Somewhere in Paradise

  • Taco Tuesday…is it really from 1989? Or 1949?

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    biggest taco ADOn a random thought, and today being Tuesday, I decided to Google the origin of “Taco Tuesday”. I assumed I’d find a few dozen guesses on social media and question/answer sites, with things like “Taco Tuesday was invented by my friend Phil one Tuesday night when we were drunk and went to Taco Bell”.

    Surprisingly, I found out that “Taco Tuesday” is actually a registered trademark, owned by the chain Taco John’s. They came up with it in the 80s, supposedly, and trademarked it in 1989.

    But this doesn’t ring true to me. I remember “Taco Tuesday” being “a thing” when I was a kid…in the 70s and 80s, in South Jersey. So I did a little more digging. What did I find? That in 1979, 10 years earlier, a restaurant in bar in Somers Point, NJ (near Atlantic City, and a place I’d been to more than a few times) trademarked “Taco Tuesday”. Yep. Taco John’s didn’t make it up after all.

    But let’s think about this for a minute…if Gregory’s actually trademarked the term in 1979, wouldn’t that probably mean they’d been using it for a while? I mean, they opened in 1946. And you don’t just come up with a promo like that and say, “Hey! This is going to catch on…I’m spending the dough to trademark it right now” the minute you come up with it…especially when I know for a fact they didn’t enforce that trademark too hard in the 80s, as Taco Tuesday was everywhere.Gregory's Bar in Somers Point, NJ

    My thinking is that in the history of Tacos and Tuesdays and bars, it seems unlikely that those two, wonderfully alliterate words would not have been put together until 1979. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that some form of Taco Tuesday was being enjoyed as far back as the 1950s…maybe even earlier.

    Why not? They had tacos in the 30s. They had Tuesdays in the 30s. And they had tequila in the 30s. Pretty much all you need, right?

    Tiki Chris’ Sorta South West Drunken Chicken Taco Recipe

    So here’s what we do at the Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar on Taco Tuesdays. I’m not even going to pretend this is in any way Mexican. Call it more of a South West kind of thing. With Tequila.

    Start with fresh, boneless chicken breast and a very sharp knife. It’s easier to slice if the chicken is partially frozen…just enough to stiffen the meat but not destroy it. On an angle, slice/shave pieces off the breast about ¼” thick. Slice into strips and small chunks.

    Heat oil on high in a big pan. Add garlic powder, cumin, ground pepper and salt to the oil and stir lightly. When the oil is real hot, carefully add the chicken, more of the spices, and stir. Then add about ¼ cup tequila. Turn it down a little. You’re going to have to stand there and keep watching and stirring as necessary, as the tequila cooks down. Don’t let it burn.

    As the chicken is cooking in the tequila, add more garlic powder and cumin. Keep stirring. When it’s cooked down, turn down the heat and add the taco seasoning.

    Note: It’s easiest to use pre-made taco seasoning, or you can make your own. Because I’m too lazy to go into all the detail of what’s in mine, just use your own or get a packet of Old El Paso. Oh, ok fine…I use garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt and ground pepper.

    Add a little water with it, a few teaspoons at first, and stir. Then add some more tequila until it looks like taco meat should look. Let that cook on low for a while…at least 15 minutes…stir it a lot and add more tequila as necessary. You have to let it cook long enough for the tequila to infuse.

    Your final result should be chicken in an almost paste-like base. You don’t want this to be too watery.

    Heat your soft or hard tacos and pile them up with the chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, chives, pico de gallo, sour cream, or whatever floats your boat. Serve with refried beans, cheesy Mexican rice and fried Mexi-Corn. Yum!

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the kitchen at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge, Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Happy New Year from Tiki Lounge Talk!

    Posted on January 3rd, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Happy Tiki New Year!

    Hope you have lots of fun stuff planned for 2017. Here’s a look back to New Year’s from 1957-58 with Guy Lombardo!

  • Visit the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, get a Great Deal on Dinner!

    Posted on July 25th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    It’s not often you come across a huge discount for some place as great as the Mai Kai Polynesian Restaurant and Tiki Lovers’ Dream. Right now, they are offering a LivingSocial deal: $25 gets you $50 towards dinner. Since most of their dinners are in the $25 range, it’s like getting a buy-one-get-0ne-free entree!

    No doubt they are offering this because summer is the “slow season” here in sunny South Florida. Which means you’ll probably be able to enjoy your dinner in quiet semi-privacy in one of the themed dining rooms (the offer isn’t available with the show).

    Dinners

    If you haven’t been there before, for under $20 I would suggest the beef or chicken teriyaki, the lobster bisque, the Hawaiian rice (ask them to add some pineapple to it), or any of the meats prepared in the Chinese ovens (the steaks are very pricey, but worth the unique taste). Actually we’ve eaten there dozens of times and have never had a bad meal, so anything on the menu is sure to wow. Note that everything except the prix fix menu is ala carte, so plan your bucks accordingly (I’m not sure the offer is available with the fixed-price menu). Also note that they change and update their menu often!

    Tiki Cocktails

    Of course drinks are not included in the offer, and you’re going to want drinks. There are always half price drink specials. Tiki cocktails start in the $10 range and average around $13-15 for a strong drink (like a Mai Tai or Jet Pilot). Considering you’re getting the absolute best cocktails made from the original 50+ year old recipes, that ain’t bad, kids.

    Attire

    The Mai Kai has loosened their attire requirements over the years. When we first went in 2001, they wouldn’t even let you in if you had on shorts and a T-shirt. You couldn’t wear a hat, even in the lounge. Men were expected to wear a jacket.

    The last time we were there, there were people in the lounge wearing the same thing you’d wear to go to McDonald’s. It’s a crying shame that people don’t appreciate the special-ness of getting dressed up to go to a fancy joint like the Mai Kai, but that’s our society today. However, if you’re hep to dressing to the nines, you won’t look out of place there. A common theme of course is to wear Hawaiian shirts; some of us old time hipsters swing an Aloha shirt with white linen pants and a casual sport coat like they did in the 1940s and ’50s. I’ve seen the ladies wear anything from Hawaiian print dresses to evening wear, and of course vintage outfits. It all goes, and it all goes great!

    The Mai Kai offer is good for 120 days after purchase, and has some fine print…the basics are the usual stuff:

    • Limit 5 per customer, additional as gifts
    • Limit 1 per table per visit
    • Reservations required and subject to availability
    • Valid only in non-show dining rooms
    • Valid only for dine-in
    • Not valid on Saturdays
    • Excludes happy hour, early bird menu, BOGO, and in combination with any other discounts or promotions

    To get the offer go to LivingSocial here. Remember, these offers only run for a limited time, so you’ll want to buy yours quickly…I’m posting this on Monday, July 25th, 2016, so if you’re a time traveler reading this in the future, you’ll know when to set your machine to.

    Cheers, and see you at the Mai Kai, kids!

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at Tiki Lounge Talk

     

  • The Maltese Falcon – Back In Theatres This February!

    Posted on February 9th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    maltese-falcon-poster75 years ago, John Huston unleashed onto an unsuspecting public a film that would become one of, if not the most iconic gumshoe detective mystery movies of all time, The Maltese Falcon.
    You can’t utter the words “Film Noir” without The Maltese Falcon coming to mind. From Bogart’s portrayal of ‎Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, to the multiple twists and turns, to the bitter ending, this slice of the dark side of peoples’ lives has become the standard by which all other films of its kind are measured.

    And now it’s back on the Silver Screen, in glorious black and white, for its 75th anniversary. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

    Click here for showtimes, locations and tickets through Fathom Events.

    Click here for the Tiki Lounge Talk’s take on The Maltese Falcon for Noir Movie Monday.

     

    Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk