Posted on July 28th, 2011 1 comment
Prest-o-lite batteries were the cream of the crop back in the 1930’s when this little gem was new. A wall thermometer like this would likely have been given to a gas station or service shop owner as a promo gift, to hang on the wall in the shop or outside by the pumps. It’s built of heavy gauge steel, and the graphics appear to be silk-screened with some heavy-duty pre-war lead-based tough-as-nails paint. It’s about two feet tall, and has a nice three-dimensional art deco look.
Like everything else I write about, it has a story. When I was a kid, living in the suburbs of Atlantic City, there was a very kool old house (built in the early 1920s) across the street from us. It was stucco, had a drive-in basement/garage, hardwood floors and the original 1920s sink and fixtures in the kitchen. Yes, very kool. It also had a couple of acres of nicely-kept land, including a glass and wood green house. As years went by, the owners passed on and the house became a rental. By the time I was in high school it had deteriorated to a heap of crap, and was torn down. Today it is still an empty field. Yay progress.
Anyway, when I was a teenager a family with a son my age moved into the house and we became friends. One day we were exploring what was left of the then dilapidated greenhouse, and found this thermometer nailed to a post inside. I offered the dumbass $3 bucks for it, and he happily took it (and proceeded to spend it on a Slurpy and some video games). That was 1984. It now hangs in our library room, right next to where I’m typing this post.
Note the rather large, circular blemish in the middle of the battery graphic. That is a dent…not a hole, a dent…made by a .38 caliber bullet. Not sure why anyone shot the sign. Maybe I’ll use that for my next murder mystery novel. In any case, the kid kept the slug. I got the sign.
What’s it worth? Who knows. To some collectors it would need to be mint condition to bring top dollar. To others, the authenticity of its used condition makes it worth more. I’ve never seen another one like in the last 25 years. Maybe it’s worth $300 clams. Maybe 50. Maybe more…but it’s not for sale, so it don’t matter much now, do it?
I’ve had this thing for over 25 years. I’m guessing it will make a nice ornament on the lid of my coffin someday.
-Tiki Chris Pinto, bestselling author (soon) of Murder on Tiki Island, reporting from the Library Room (What the hell is a “library room”???)
Posted on July 11th, 2011 1 comment
YES, it is true. The proof is in the photos! There is only ONE 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in the WORLD with my custom-made shark fins, and it’s sitting in my garage. Now, another appears to exist 1000 years in the future.
Imagine my surprise while watching the new episode of Futurama last week, a show I’ve watched and dug since it first aired in 2000, when the “Tron” motorcycle cop/car chase scene so obviously used my own, custom designed hot rod as the car being chased! My jaw dropped, as you might have guessed. Good think I had it on TiVo so I could rewind it and watch over again to make sure I wasn’t nuts.
It’s not just the fins…the overall look of the car is absolutely an early 1950’s GM vehicle, which is common in the show (Futurama was the name of the GM auto shows in the 50s, and also their shows at the World’s Fairs). Specifically it has the same rounded look as the 1954-54 Chevy, and even has a similar grill and side molding. But none of those cars had fins. In fact, all the GM cars of the 50s had fins that mimicked jet planes and rockets, never sharks, like these.
Now, of course the cartoon car is highly stylized…for the cartoon. Plus it’s in “TRON” mode. But the similarities are unmistakable. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world pairing these exact style sharkfins with what is absolutely an early 1950’s stylized Chevy. Sure, there’s is a 2-door, and, well, it’s a hovercar. But…
I’m actually very honored that they used my personal custom design in an episode. That puts my lil’ old 53 Chevy Star Dust right up there with The Warecar (The CAR), Christine, the Original Warecar (the original Batmobile) and the 59 Caddy hovercars that appear often in the show.
If anyone from Hollywood sees this, please tell Mat Groenig thanks, and I’d really like a signed cell or photo of the cast as a thank you.
Check out my car’s website at 53ChevyHotRod.com, and see for yourself how close it is!
You can see the clip the car is featured in at Comedy Central.
-Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk.
Posted on May 8th, 2010 1 comment
Since getting a great response and nice reviews on “Murder Behind the Closet Door,” I’ve decided to go on with another story idea I’ve had. This one takes place in 1956, and features Detective Bill Riggins from MBTCD, back when he was a young detective on the NYC vice squad. It also swings back to 1935, the action taking place on a little private island off the Florida Keys, Tiki Island. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you it will have that Noir feel of the old 50s murder mysteries, and will include some kool era stuff, from the Overseas Railway to the music of time, slinky dames, seedy bars, Tiki torches and Mai Tais. Tiki lovers, you’re going to dig how I weave original early and mid-century Tiki Culture into the plot. Retro lovers, you’ll dig the Mike Hammer-style action, cars, women and grit.
“Murder on Tiki Island” is in the baby stages right now. With any luck, it’ll be ready in about a year. But just for fun I’ll give you kats and kittens updates as it goes, and will even post a few paragraphs now and then to get your opinions!
-Tiki Chris Pinto, aka Mack, from the Tiki Bar
Posted on April 10th, 2010 5 comments
I’m very proud to announce that the krazy book I’ve been working on for ever is finally available! I mean dig it, it’s a real book!
In fact, it’s 600 pages of a real book. With a pretty color cover and all.
For you kats and kittens that dig the retro stuff, you’ll love it. The whole thing takes place in 1979, with flashbacks to 1938 and 1957. And it takes place in one of the swingingest retro meccas on the planet, Wildwood New Jersey – a town that was built up in the 50s, and still retains ( and celebrates) a lot of its mid-century mod architecture, hotels, diners and boardwalk amusement piers.
If you like reading Tiki Lounge Talk, I think you’ll like my Murder Behind The Closet Door. It’s full of fun references to the past, including the cars, music and places that are gone forever but not forgotten.
What? What’s it about? Oh, yeah, I guess I should clue you into that, huh…Ok, it’s a murder mystery wrapped up in a ghost story. It’s about a young chick named Heather who is just starting out in life. She moves into a 70 year-old rooming house near the beach in Wildwood-by-the-Sea, and soon starts experiencing strange occurrences around her bedroom closet. It ain’t long before she realizes the odd happenings are being caused by an entity from another plane. This ghost in her closet is actually trying to communicate with her. She and her friends try to find out why this is happening, and discover a mystery that goes way back to 1938, and includes her mother, best friend’s family, and more people in her life than she thought possible.
Meanwhile, her step-dad-to-be, Detective Bill Riggins begins his own investigation into a 40 year-old murder behind the closet door. Truths hidden for years are uncovered, and the more facts that are found, the more intense the hauntings become, until an unavoidable climax changes these peoples’ lives forever.
From the book’s description: “A dilapidated house with an evil secret in the basement. An auto-wrecking yard with the devious, rusted remains of a murderer’s getaway car. An unsolved bank robbery with hundreds of thousands of dollars never found. A detective trying to solve an age old murder before his ticker runs out. A slow, agonizing death for an unfortunate victim and his soul reaching from beyond…”Murder Behind The Closet Door” keeps you engaged and guessing from the first paragraph. Creepy, riveting, this story reveals another existence, one just beyond our own, where the occult and the paranormal meet reality and everyday people find themselves swept into very extraordinary circumstances.”
Check it out at the link above, or for more details including snippets from some of my favorite passages visit my StarDust Mysteries website at http://stardustmysteries.com.
Comments welcome! I want to hear what you think! C’mon, it’s free to leave a comment. Don’t let the Tiki Bar Conversations be so one-sided! Have a highball, sit back and slide me your rap. I’m all ears.
-Tiki Chris for Tiki Lounge Talk, The Hipster’s Hip Joint for Tiki Culture and Retro Digs