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  • In Jersey this weekend? Go to Asbury Park for the Endless Summer Tiki Festival!

    Posted on September 27th, 2012 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    greetings_from_asbury_park-149190809_stdPeople don’t usually think of the Jersey Shore when they think of Tiki. The boards are about surf and sand, T-shirts and bikinis, hot dogs and fries, not so much about Mai Tais and Aloha shirts. But that’s changing this weekend, as the Asbury Park Boardwalk present their Polynesian-Inspired Event, The Endless Summer Tiki Festival!

    Get ready for three days of Poly-pop fun, kicking off on Friday, September 28. There will be plenty of Tiki-inspired events, movies, art, collectibles, and more for festival-goers of all ages.

    Here’s some info on the event from the Tiki Festival’s press release:

    “We couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate Tiki culture than on the Asbury Park Boardwalk,” commented Marilyn Schlossbach, owner of Langosta Lounge. “The boardwalk businesses, music venues, bars and restaurants are excited to program special events and promotions for Tiki fans from all over the country. We look forward to the ‘Endless Summer Tiki Weekend’ becoming an annual event in Asbury Park, joining the likes of the Ohana Luau in Lake George and the Long Beach Tiki Festival.”

    The “Endless Summer Tiki Weekend” will begin on Friday, September 28 with a special launch party and art show at the new Asbury Park Yacht Club on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. Polynesian pinball at the Silverball Museum, a bonfire on the beach, and a live drum circle hula-hoop performance will round out the opening night festivities.asburyboardwalk

    On Saturday, September 29, the Festival’s Rodeo Surf Contest will begin at 7:00 a.m. and include a full day of wave-riding in support of The Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Later that day, animal lovers will be invited to bring their four-legged friends to the Wonder Bar for a Tiki-inspired Yappy Hour and pet-friendly fashion show. The Festival will continue with a Tiki golf tournament at Asbury 18 Mini Golf, Tiki carving, lei-making and hula-hopping lessons at various boardwalk locations.  The classic 1961 film “Blue Hawaii” presented by the Asbury Park Film Initiative will screen on the Third Avenue Beach at 8:00 p.m.  The Jersey Shore Roller Girls will also entertain Tiki crowds with a bout at Convention Hall.

    The third and final day of the “Endless Summer Tiki Weekend” will include another Tiki Yappy Hour at the Wonder Bar, the continuation of the “Endless Summer Tiki Art Show” at the Asbury Park Yacht Club, and a pool party at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. Blue Hawaii Vintage will present a vintage fashion show in the Carousel starting at 2:00 p.m. and Elvis fans can find El King, the Hawaiian Elvis, strolling the boards on Sunday with a special 3:45 performance on the 4th Avenue Green Space.  Attendees will then be invited to bring their beach chairs and towels to Asbury Park’s 3nd Ave. beach for a screening of the original “Endless Summer.”

    wonderbarIn addition to the varied day-time events, live music at legendary Asbury Park music venues, including the Stone Pony and Wonder Bar, will be programmed in conjunction with the Festival. The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel will offer festival-goers with a discounted room rate throughout the weekend; interested parties are instructed to mention the event when securing a reservation. For more info visit the website at

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the event, since I’m about 1400 miles away, but it does sound like fun. Like the “Yappy Hour”…all I can think of is a bunch of dogs getting tanked on Zombies.

    This event reminds me of some of the Tiki-ness that the Wildwood Boardwalk used to have. There was a Poly-themed motel there, years ago, and a snack bar on the boardwalk that was decorated like a Tiki hut. The piers always had rides with Tiki themes too, over the years, and lots of plastic palm trees.

    Anyway, Cheers to the good people of Asbury Park for keeping the Tiki tradition alive, and here’s to hoping you have a fun and prosperous Endless Summer Tiki Weekend!

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the travel center at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge, hidden somewhere in Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972 for Mod Movie Monday, Atlantic City Style

    Posted on January 31st, 2012 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    king-of-marvin-gardens-posterWe now return you to our regularly scheduled programs…

    Mod/Noir Movie Monday is back, after a brief detour due to the New Year, some crazy happenings, and too much booze (or not enough).

    This week we have a somewhat obscure doozy from the early 1970s, a time when movies were in that transitional period between Ocean’s 11 and Jaws, when a film maker could hire Jack Nicholson, Scattman Crothers, Ellen Burstyn and Bruce Dern on a shoestring budget, throw in a bunch of quirkiness, some natural breasts and a TON of location shots of Atlantic City before the casinos invaded…then have that movie become an iconic time capsule of the end of the “old Atlantic City” era, right down to the interior shots of the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, doomed to the wrecking ball seven years later.

    The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972

    The Blenheim, c. 1972. This was the main setting of The King of Marvin Gardens.
    The Blenheim, c. 1972. This was the main setting of The King of Marvin Gardens.

    is about a con man (Dern) who asks his brother (Nicholson) to help him start a resort in Hawaii. There’s not much about that storyline going on that’s worth paying any attention to. What you’re watching this flick  for is atmosphere, images, and lifestyles that are long, long gone and mostly forgotten.

    Most of the movie takes place in and around the Blenheim part of the historic Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel. Like most things historic in Atlantic City, someone (probably) got paid off to allow it to be imploded so a POS glass and steel casino could be built in its place (but that’s a rant for another post). Anyway, you’ll get a lot of eye-candy of old Atlantic City, including the boardwalk auctions, shots of the piers, the interior of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Convention Hall, interiors and exteriors of some of the great hotels, and even a few cool old cars. Overall, the skyline of Atlantic City in 1972 didn’t look too much different than it did in the 1920s or 1950s…so it’s a fun glimpse into the past.

    Atlantic City Skyline, 1972

    Atlantic City Skyline, 1972

    What? Is the movie any good? Well, that depends on your tastes, of course. If you like movies from this era at all, you’ll probably dig it a lot. Don’t look for a lot of action, suspense, or deep storyline…this move is about characters, and some intense acting  (the acting is very good). It’s basically a slice of life kind of thing, and the characters make it interesting to watch (remember, in this kind of movie the buildings, the boardwalk, the beach are as much characters as the people). It’s sometimes depressing, sometimes funny. You guys who read my posts know I don’t get all “in depth and analytical” about flicks, so if you want a “deep” convo about how groundbreaking or historically important the film is, check out this blog.

    I used to shop for trinkets at Irene's Gifts...THIS Irene's Gifts. In the late 1980s, they still had a lot of new-old stock souvenirs from the 60s & 70s.

    I used to shop for trinkets at Irene's Gifts...THIS Irene's Gifts. In the late 1980s, they still had a lot of new-old stock souvenirs from the 60s & 70s.

    Food and Booze: There’s a great scene where they’re eating in Captain Starn’s Seafood Restaurant, which was one of the world famous restaurants right on the boards in the Atlantic City Inlet. They’re entertaining potential investors….so I’d say a nice whole Maine lobster with black butter and Filet Mignon tips, rare would be appropriate. And might I suggest pairing with a 1972 vintage Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauvignon Blanc…or, for that real old Atlantic City flavor, fried flounder and a Michelob!


    Atlantic City

    My Take: Although I was born in Philly, my family moved to and operated the Star Dust Motel on the Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City from 1969 to 1973. Like everything kool and old, it was torn down in ’73 and is now an empty lot. I grew up 10 miles west of Atlantic City, but my family hardly ever went there…it was in pretty sad shape in the 1970s, and known more for gang violence and other crimes than as a fun tourist destination. We went to the boardwalk once when I was very young…I have vague memories of looking up at the Marlborough-Blenheim, seeing the rides (but not going on them) on Steel Pier, and driving by The Knife and Fork Inn. We went again when Resorts opened as the first Casino in the old Haddon Hall Hotel (one of the few survivors) in 1978, and I have a few memories of that.

    A scene from The King of Marvin Gardens, on the Boardwalk with the world famous Traymore Hotel in the background (imploded 1974).

    A scene from The King of Marvin Gardens, on the Boardwalk with the world famous Traymore Hotel in the background (imploded 1972).

    I was only four years old when The Traymore was imploded, but remember hearing about it, remember my parents saying how sad it was. In 1988, I stood on the boardwalk and watch a crane take apart the last bits of the burned-out, crumbling Steel Pier. A few months my buddy Steve and I sneaked into the back of the house at Resorts, went up to the ballroom and watched the Steeplechase Pier burn to the ground (it was directly across the boardwalk…we could feel the heat inside Resorts).

    Ocean One Mall, as it looked when I was Tourism Director in 1989.

    Ocean One Mall, as it looked when I was Tourism Director in 1989.

    That same year I got a job working as “the balloon guy” for a display company that had 400 semi-permanent Mylar balloons decorating Resorts for its 10-year anniversary. Two years later I was working as a costumed character (kind of like Mr. Peanut) for The Shops one Ocean One, a mall built on the pilings of the original Million Dollar Pier, and eventually became Tourism & Marketing Director. I learned a lot about Atlantic City history while there, not realizing I was living it, and making it, every day. The owners went out of business in 1990, and it eventually closed in the early 00’s, was bought by Caesars, and turned into a high-end Vegas-like shopping mall connected to the casino.

    So much of old Atlantic City is gone now…all the hotels, except for The Dennis, that were in The King of Marvin Gardens are gone now, replaced by new casinos. Captain Starn’s in long gone. Marven Gardens (they spelled it wrong in the movie) is still there, in Margate, but is never shown in the movie. All of the piers are either gone, or have been completely rebuilt as modern structures except Central Pier, which still retains its original facade, although badly stuccoed and gaudily painted. The city is an insane mix of mega-modern casinos and decaying 100-year-old buildings, and will eventually become fully modern…so enjoy The King of Marvin Gardens, one of the only remaining glimpses of this great City’s past.

    Here’s a short clip from the beginning of the movie…

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the Warner Theater, on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City c. 1972 (metaphysically, of course).