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

    Posted on February 17th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 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.

  • Miles Davis’ Birthday, May 26

    Posted on May 26th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    milesA child was born in Alton, IL on May 26, 1926. No one realized that child would evolve into the cat known as Miles.

    Skip the groove to 20 years later. Miles. Parker. Gillespie. Yeah.

    He was bop. He was Jazz. He could swing or play it straight, hot or cool, but cool was his gig.

    Then there was the horse, the big white horse galloping through his veins. It killed his friend, Bird. He quit cold turkey and never looked back.

    Modern Jazz. Progressive. Funk-Fusion. He did it all.

    Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, Seven Steps To Heaven, Miles Smiles. He swung with the times, but always came back to his true Jazz roots.

    Miles left this planet on September 28, 1991, too soon, too soon. But he left plenty for us to dig.

    Yeah.

    Dig it…

    miles-davis-albums

    Hard bop, Walkin’

    All Blues.

    So What.

    Footprints, 1967…Times were Changin’.

    One of my favorites, Bye Bye Blackbird, 1955 (no video)

    –Zoot Jackson, from the lounge

  • Peter Gunn, The Series 1958-1961 – A New Twist on Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on May 2nd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    Peter Gunn is available on DVD, ya dig?

    Peter Gunn is available on DVD, ya dig?

    (Cue mid-tempo jazz bassline)
    Lay back kats, and knock your swingin’ lobes to the riffs I’m layin’ down before thee; as this week we dance to the tune of a different bongo-ist, take a beat off the beaten path and give Mod Movie Monday a little twist – a foray into the land of the groove tube, the noise box, the all-mighty television. This week I present to you for your hippest approval, that hippest of hip private dicks,

    Peter Gunn

    Starring Lola Albright, Hershel Bernardi, and the inimitable Craig Stevens as the swingin’ gumshoe Gunn.mod-movie-mondays

    There has never been, nor shall there ever be an equally jazzy, kool and quintessentially hip cop show on the airwaves. From the opening, pre-credit crime scene with swingin’ background bass and eerie horns, to the slick late ’50s ragtop that Gunn motorvated around in, to the sultriest if sultry atomic blonde bombshells Edie Hart as the jazz joint’s singer, Peter Gunn just oozes with dark kool.

    Craig Stevens and Lara Albright

    Craig Stevens and Lola Albright

    Imagine a cop show where the PI is a tough, good-looking Rat-Pack-era swinger who’s always in total control, even when he pushes the line between legit and vigilante. Instead of driving a cop sedan, he drives a sleek convertible. He dresses sharp and hangs out at a jazz club with the musicians and has a thing going with the smokin’ girl singer, a swingin’ chick if ever there was one. Throw on top of that the fact that he’s a damned good detective, and his notoriety helps him gain the potatoes he needs to lead his swingin’ lifestyle, and you’ve got the makings of one hell of a TV series – good enough to last 114 episodes.

    Thanks to our pal Blake Edwards, the style of the show holds up 50 years later. A Noir undertone driven by a jazz beat and purposely subtle acting, Peter Gunn is considered one of the best stylistic TV dramas of the time.

    The Jazz, man, it’s all about that swingin’ background jazz, the musical soundtrack that very often came out of the background and coolly slid into the spotlight whenever Gunn entered Mother’s Jazz Club on the waterfront. Several scenes featured the hipster musicians getting in the groove with their sexy singer, Edie, riffing out tunes by Henry Mancini, played in the style of The Modern Jazz Quintet and Dave Brubeck. Peter Gunn is credited as being

    Peter Gunn, 1957

    Peter Gunn Album, 1958

    the first TV show to have a custom designed soundtrack (all others used stock music up until then), and the resulting Peter Gunn album stayed at #1 on the charts for 10 weeks (and is still a best seller today). That unforgettable theme has been used so many times since then that even kids who never heard of the show know that krazy piano intro and those blaring horns. Oh, and by the by…that piano intro…was originally played by another kat you may have heard of, a young pup by the name of John Williams.

    Style aside, the series was ahead of its time in the ’50s, and still holds up as great to watch today. The crimes were never sugar-coated…murder, drugs, all of it right out there lightened only by an occasionally funny hipster character who was so way out there you had to chuckle. In my opinion, the only thing that would have made this show better was if they didn’t have to squeeze it into a half hour. An hour would have done it much more justice.

    Splash Screen before and after commericals, Petet Gunn

    Splash Screen before and after commericals, Peter Gunn

    And what beat-era libations and repast doth thou deal out during said performance? ’50s hipsters were all about trying new things…which of course, are now old things. Maybe some cucumber sandwiches, with sour cream/dill dipping sauce. Maybe some mini spinach quiches wrapped in bacon. Pretzel rods with mustard. Finger sandwiches of smoked oysters or salmon spread. Kooky stuff like that. Serve Port, or Sambucca, or Galliano over the rocks. Or if you can get your hands on it, Absinth. Top it off with fresh pineapple, mango and coconut over vanilla ice cream for dessert. And don’t forget to smoke a pack of Camels before the show ends, dig?

  • Jazz Appreciation Month – This Kat’s Two Cents…

    Posted on April 30th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    jazz-legs-saxAs Jazz Appreciation Month (suitably monikered “J.A.M”) comes down to the last few bars, I thought I throw in a few riffs of my own.

    My take on Jazz Appreciation: Most people who don’t like jazz have two main complaints: There are no words, and a lot of it sounds all the same. Well kids, jazz does have words, as vocalists the likes of Ella Fitzgerald to Mel Torme to Billie Holiday to Dean Martin can attest to.

    That's me, playing Tenor Sax

    That's me, playing Tenor Sax

    As for the sounds…Here’s the deal, in my humble opinion… you can’t really appreciate jazz until you see and  hear it live, see the musicians play,watch them pour their soul into a solo, see the sweat drip off them as they strain to push that perfect blue note out of a horn. There’s a dynamic in watching jazz live that you just don’t get from an album. Remember, this music was invented when recording was a novelty. These guys played live, and that was their life. Once you see jazz kats jam in person, then you can get hip to the recordings, because instead of hearing a bunch of notes getting thrown around, you catch the real drift the players are laying down. That’s Jazz Appreciation. Can you dig it? yeahhhh.

    Now, a little bit about jazz and me, for any of you kats and kittens who might be in the mood for a little story. I added this recording of me playing Take the A-Train on the Tenor Sax just for fun. I’m a little rusty but hey, after 2 drinks I sound great!

    The first jazz song I ever remember hearing was a sort of modified version of All Blues (Miles Davis). It was on Sesame Street, a goofy cartoon skit with a jazzy triangle and a square. (see it here on YouTube). Even at that early age, something clicked.

    Doing a funny clarinet skit in a high school talent show

    Doing a funny clarinet skit in a high school talent show

    My old man was into Progressive Jazz (Modern Jazz, Traditional Jazz) and turned me onto some kool players like Miles Davis and Sonny Stitt. At around the same time, my Grandfather introduced me to the music of the Big Bands – Miller, Dorsey, Goodman, Shaw. He gave me my first Big Band record, Star Dust by Artie Shaw. That tune has followed me all my life.

    When I was around 11, I decided I wanted to play an instrument. I didn’t know much about jazz other than what I was hearing on the Muppet Show, when kats like Dizzy Gillespie would star. First I wanted to play the trombone. Then I heard a Harry James record (I’ve Heard That Song Before) and decided the trumpet was for me. I sold my small coin collection and bought a King Cleavland (still have it).  I didn’t want to take lessons – wanted to figure it out myself. I couldn’t get much sound out of it, but tried like hell anyway. Then one day my old man came home with a clarinet. It was missing some keys in the low register, and the reed was held on with electrical tape.

    Playing Sax in "Who Shot The Piano Player?!", a StarDust Productions murder mystery dinner show

    Playing Sax in "Who Shot The Piano Player?!", a StarDust Productions murder mystery dinner show

    Turned out to be a very old horn, a turn-of-the-century job. Bought a ligature and a new reed, and started getting some sound out of it. Not long after I picked up a cheap student clarinet in good shape, and started playing along with records, matching the sounds. Still couldn’t play a melody, but I was at least getting sound out of all the holes. Then, on a warm summer day in 1982, while walking around a flea market with my grandmother I came across a vintage licorice stick in great condition for 15 bucks. I convinced grandmom to lay out the dough for it, and that was the start of something big. I swear, that horn is magic. Magic in the real sense – for after fiddling around with it for just a few days, I sat down on my bed and made an attempt to play a song…first few notes…sounded wrong…changed the fingering…and just like that, I was playing Moonglow, in a way that would have made Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman proud.

    Playing a party in Atlantic City with Tony Deluca, 1990

    Playing a party in Atlantic City with Tony Deluca, 1990

    Soon after I got an alto sax, then a tenor, and taught myself how to play them just like the old-time kats did back in the 20s. I never learned to read music too well, just enough to get by in the college big band but not enough to hurt me none. I play from the heart, I play what I feel. I can play solo or with a group of kats and the better they are, the better I am. I played professionally during the 90s, and after swinging down to the Sunshine State in 2000 decided to play only for myself. I still dig the standards, bossas, latin jazz and bop. Never really got into fusion, but can appreciate what the kats were doing at the time. In the early 90’s someone turned me on to Dexter Gordon, and that got me into post-bop Modern Jazz more than ever.

    Today I continue to listen, learn and play. I’m still discovering players and songs from the 70+ years of great jazz, from Louis Armstrong to Louis Prima, from Duke Ellington to Charlie Parker. I’ve been blessed to have seen a few of the greats in person; I’ve been lucky to have watched some of the legacy bands like Miller’s and Count Basie’s carry on the tradition. I saw Duke Ellington’s son, then his grandson lead the Ellington band. I sat in Atlantic City lounges and got to experience Sam Butera and the Wildest  from five feet away. And once, for just a few minutes, I got to meet and talk with Wyinton Marsalis. Man, I am one lucky son of a gun.

    Sax on the bar, too much (or not enough) Bourbon

    Sax on the bar, too much (or not enough) Bourbon

    -Zoot Jackson keeping it kool at the Tiki Bar.
    Tiki Lounge Talk, the Retro Blog for Swingin’ Hipsters who dig the Tiki Culture Beat.

    Check out the Jazz Appreciation Month Website here.

  • Ocean’s 11, 1960: Mod Movie Mondays at the Tiki Bar Blog

    Posted on December 28th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 5 comments

    mod-movie-mondays

    What better way to ring in the New Year than with the greatest New Year’s Eve movie to ever hit the silver screen,
    Ocean’s 11, the first (and quintessential) Rat-Pack flick.

    The characters in this movie define cocktail-era cool better than anyone…and they should, as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop practically invented the essence of mid-century coolness, and pretty much play themselves in this liquor-soaked tale.oceans-eleven

    Enter Danny Ocean, the cocky, live-for-the-moment cat who gets a crazy idea in his head to get his old army buddies together to knock-over five Vegas Strip casinos for fun and profit. Using his charm, he talks his (otherwise mostly straight-up) pals into embarking on this rather ballsy scheme. They make the plan over billards and drinks, and make ready to pull it off on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. I won’t give any more away, in case you ain’t seen it for yourself as of yet.

    Here’s some Trivia (More here at IMDB):

    This flick combines the best the cocktail era has to offer: On-location shots of Vegas, plus cool cars, lots of booze, broads, and songs by Martin and Davis. (But funny enough, not Sinatra)

    ratpack1The Rat Pack shot the film in Vegas while working on-stage at the Sands. They scheduled the shoots around the stage shows, and often worked into the wee small hours filming.

    It is rumored that when Peter Lawford brought the idea to Sinatra, Ole Blue Eyes said, “Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!”

    Shirley McClaine ad-libbed her entire cameo. Her payment was a new car.

    Vegas ‘law’ at the time mandated African Americans could not stay in the major hotels. When they tried to make Sammy Davis Jr. stay at a “colored only” motel, Frank stepped in and strong-armed the casino into letting him stay there. This pretty much led to the end of segregation in Vegas Hotels.ratpack-sands

    Dean Martin’s movie version of “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” , featuring Red Norvo on vibes, was much different (but just as cool) as the swingin’ big band version released on vinyl.

    PS: For those of you who are thinking of the remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt…Hey, I think Clooney is just great…but he ain’t no Sinatra. See the original.