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  • Monsters, Inc. 2001 For Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on November 8th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Monsters, Inc. I know this ad/poster is a taken from another movie poster...anyone guess which one?

    Monsters, Inc. I know this ad/poster is a taken from another movie poster...anyone guess which one?

    Just one look at this flick and you know that the creatives at Pixar really did an homage to the old-school Disney films when they put together

    Monsters, Inc. 2001

    starring Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly and Mary Gibbs.

    I include this flick in the Mod Monday gig because there’s so much in it that screams of vintage while being made with technology way ahead of its time that the movie itself is a sci-fi wonder come true.

    The opening credits alone will swing you back to Disney’s “first” golden era, with a clarinet-lead jazz instrumental that’s perfectly paired to a snaky monster and a plethora somewhat confusing and mod-looking doors, reminiscent of the Disney musicals of the 1940s and ’50s.

    Then the story opens with a couple of very kool monsters, not particularly scary at all but kind of Muppet-like. They live in an apartment decorated with old-school furniture, one has a jalopy that looks like a ’60s sports car with teeth, they walk down a very 1940s-New York-looking street and report for work in a factory that’s sort of a mix of mid-century modern and minimalist industrial designs.

    Doesn't this look like something from a retro-50s sci fi thriller?

    Doesn't this look like something from a retro-50s sci fi thriller?

    The retro/vintage themes rack up from there. James Coburn’s voiceover sounds a lot like the bad guys in the old Hannah-Barbara cartoons from the ’60s and ’70s (or Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, voiced by Paul Frees). There are retro Disneyland posters on the walls, and a 1960s-style newscaster. There’s even a scene on a tropical beach with a couple of Tiki huts!

    The story? Oh, yeah…sometimes I forget to tell you about the story, don’t I. Ok, it’s about a couple of Monsters who work on the scare floor of the corporation who provides electricity for Monstropolis by collecting the screams of human kids and bottling them. The corporation reminded me a lot of Office Depot’s corporate headquarters where I worked briefly at the time this movie was made. The whole thing they do with “I am Monsters, Inc!”…yeah, Office Depot did that with their employees for a training video. Oy.

    Uh...yeah. Mid-century Retro-rama, baby!

    Uh...yeah. Mid-century Retro-rama, baby!

    Anyway, back to the subject…It’s a great flick and the added retro-isms will have kats and kittens like you digging it even more. For a sneak peak (and the numbero uno reason this flick fits the Mod Movie Monday category), check out the two videos below. The first is the opening credits to Monsters, Inc., the second is a clip from Make Mine Music (1947) featuring the Benny Goodman band and visuals by Disney. You’ll see immediately where the designers for Monsters, Inc. got their inspiration. Even the music is similar…not the same, not copied…but inspired. Great job, Pixar. Keep the faith, baby.

    Here’s the Intro to Monsters, Inc. 2001

    And “After You’ve Gone” from Make Mine Music, 1947

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the Scare Floor at Tiki Lounge Talk. BTW…the bear in this photo look familiar? It should…he’s the original Winnie the Pooh 😉 disney-monsters-inc-putting-boo-to-bed

  • Mod Miami Starts Today in Miami, Florida

    Posted on March 3rd, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    modmiamiMod Miami, “The Swankadelic Weekend Experience for Modern Minds, Where Modernism Meets Mod” starts today (Thursday, March 3) on the historic MiMo (Miami Modern) Boulevard in Miami, Florida.

    As the swingin’ website says, this weekend cocktail soiree is for hipsters, Tikiphiles, lounge lizards, ultra-mods, swanksters and other jetsetters…and if you’re reading this, you probably fall into one of those groups.

    Mike Jones of Mod Miami, Mr. Swank himself.

    Mike Jones of Mod Miami, Mr. Swank himself.

    Headed by Mr. Swank himself, Mike Jones (former owner of the ultra-futuramic Jetsetter Lounge in Lake Worth, FL, sadly part of history itself now) this four-day event promises lots of mid-century Miami style music, fashion, cocktails, parties and entertainment galore.

    The lineup touts some of Tiki Lounge Talk’s favorite retro-tastic performers, including…

    Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid

    Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid

    • Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid
    • The Intoxicators!
    • Stolen Idols

    and much more, including several DJs, live acts, a fashion show by Black Cat Bikinis, and The Superions featuring Fred Schneider of the B-52s. Yeah.

    There’s also a walking tour of the MCM area surrounding the event’s headquarters, the New Yorker Boutique Hotel, a recently renovated, original MiMo motel on Biscayne Boulevard. (What the hell is a boutique hotel, you ask? It’s an old motel that’s been transformed into something a little cooler, dig?)

    The Hotel New Yorker

    The New Yorker Boutique Hotel

    “MiMo”, or Miami Modern, is a fairly recent term coined to fit the style of mid-century architecture and design that it so specific to South Florida. (Back in the old days we used to refer to it as Florida Deco, or Miami Deco). The style incorporates much of the mid-century modern styles popular in California and the shore towns of the north east (i.e., Wildwood, NJ) with Art Deco and Spanish influences. Let’s face it, nothing screams Deco or MCM like a pink hotel on the beach with palm trees and a turquoise ’56 T-bird in front, with Exotica music playing in the background and a beautiful chick in a sarong serving Zombies and Cuba Libres. You hip?

    So if you’re in town this weekend, take the wheel of your automobile and swing on down to Mod Miami. I’ll see you kats and kittens there Saturday night.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the beach, across from a row of Art Deco hotels in Miami, Florida

  • Art Deco & Mid-Century Modern Come Together in Downtown Hollywood, Florida

    Posted on February 17th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments

    ramada-frontIt was a beautiful day in downtown Hollywood, Florida where I work. Sun shining, puffy white clouds, not too crazy hot. So I decided to take my trusty Instamatic Camera (not really, it’s a digital camera) and head down to the happinin’ section of Hollywood Boulevard.retrovision

    Hollywood was founded in 1925 by a visionary named Joseph Young who wanted to build his dream city in Florida. It quickly became a thriving city, with beachfront hotels, beautiful homes, and a busy downtown area. This downtown was first built up in the mid to late 20s, with some slowing during the depression and WW2. It found a resurgence in the 50s, as many vacation spots did, and had a building boom through the 60s. This history led to a unique combination of early Art Deco construction, Spanish-Floridian construction, and Mid-Century Modern.

    It’s amazing that these buildings were able to survive through the architectual vacuum of the 70s and 80s, but some managed to hang on with their original look intact. The late 90s saw a re-popularization of the original styles, and luckily the popularization has remained through the present leading to numerous restorations, retro-refitting of more recent dull buildings, and dig this…brand new construction in the Art Deco and Mid-Century style. Seriously. (continued after the slide show)

    I was able to get some very nice shots of the Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern buildings along the boulevard. One of my favorite buildings is the Great Southern Hotel, located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Young’s Circle. I believe Young himself had this hotel built as part of the city plan back in the mid 20’s. It has a sort of Florida-Spanish style combined with that 1920s pre-Deco look you see in a lot of shore towns. What the hell do I mean by that? Basically it means simplicity, symmetry, and terra cotta.

    There are a good number of trendy nightclubs and cafés along the boulevard, and most of them have stuck with the retro look. It’s nice to see people taking these historic styles seriously, and appreciating them for the timeless beauty they portray.


    Funny story about The Great Southern hotel. When we first moved to Florida in 2000, my wife and I took a drive to Hollywood to check it out. At that time it was in a state of change; a lot of stores were vacant, and still looked like they did in the 70s. I noticed the big white hotel on the corner, and thought to myself that it looked really familiar, but couldn’t place it. Mind you this is the first trip I ever took to Hollywood. Anyway, a few years later in 2005, I end up working in a building on Hollywood Boulevard a couple of blocks from downtown. While there I picked up a local paper, which happened to have a story about “The Great Southern Hotel” on the cover. The story was about how the owners wanted to tear it apart to put up a parking garage, how the city didn’t see anything wrong with that, and how the historical society was about ready to commit murder if necessary before letting that happen. The name rung a bell…but I still couldn’t catch it. Then one day it came to me…where I’d seen that name. It was in a movie, which I ran out and bought right away.

    There it was, in one of the last scenes of Midnight Cowboy from 1967. Joe Buck and Ratzo Rizzo are headed down to Miami on a bus. The bus stops for a break, and Joe Buck ditches his cowboy outfit and boots for a Hawaiian shirt. As he shoves the boots into a trash can, you can clearly see a giant white building with the name “Great Southern Hotel” in giant letters in the background. That was it; a scene in a movie I had seen when I was about 13 had stuck in my head for years…and as fate would have it, I wind up working down the street from the place. But here’s what’s even more interesting: One of the themes of the movie is that the characters want to get out of the city, out of the cold, away from the freaks up north and down to sunny Florida where the palm trees sway and you can pick the oranges right off the trees. Well, my father and I used to joke around about it all the time, that we had the same dream. Finally, in 2000, he, my wife and I made it down here. “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me” from the movie was going through my head as we crossed the Georgia border into Florida. The sun actually was shining through the pouring rain as we drove down I-95 into Fort Lauderdale. My father, who was very sick at the time, made it down right behind us, but unlike Ratzo lived a few years to enjoy it. Whenever I see the Great Southern I think of him, and how we both got our dream to come true.

    (This is a repost from last year, but it was such a popular one I thought I’d give it another view)
    -Tiki Chris Pinto, for the Tiki Blog

  • Mike Hammer…They Don’t Build Tough Guy Detectives Like This Anymore

    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 22 comments

    juryI am sitting at the Tiki Bar on the lanai, sipping a Jack and Ginger and enjoying the cool South Florida evening breeze. This is my favorite time of year, when it’s warm and sunny by day and crisp at night. It’s evenings like this when I remember the old days, before I moved to Florida; how it’s icy cold and dark and gray and morbid in the North East, how everything is dead up there and everything is green and lush and full of life here. It’s evenings like this when I like to crack open a Mike Hammer novel, and remember the past.

    When I read Mike Hammer, it takes me back to that other time, that other place. That dark, rough time in the city, when the nights were full of alluring dames and cheap booze and the weight of my .45 kept dragging me down, reminding me that there were big, tough wiseguys that needed a lesson in respect, beat into them the right way, with a crowbar. That other time, long ago; that dark, evil time in the rain-soaked, soot-streaked city.

    Phillip Marlow was tough. Sam Spade knew his way around a .38. Even Sonny Crocket could pull a trigger on an Uzi without blinking an eye. But in the tough guy department, none of them came close to Mike Hammer.

    I’m not talking about the watered-down-for-TV Mike Hammer, played by Darrin McGavin in the ’50s and Stacey Keach in the ’80s. I’m talking about the real Mike Hammer, the borderline-psychopath detective dreamed up by Mickey Spillane in the late 1940’s through the ’50s, the .45 automatic-toting ex-army special forces operative who learned how to track and maim and kill in the jungles of World War II, the big tough street mug with a fist of ice cold steel and a soft spot in his heart for the dames. That Mike Hammer.

    If you’ve read Spillane, you know what I’m getting at. If you haven’t, you should, on the double. Just the fact that you’ve read this far clues me in that you’re gonna like it something big.

    Of all the great (and not so great but nevertheless popular) detective stories that came out of the last 80 or so years, from Marlow to Veronica Mars, from Ellery Queen to Tony Rome, from James Bond to Batman, only one really stands out as something darker, something almost horrifying…the original down and dirty streetwise gumshoe, the hardcore dime-store private eye who did things his own way and got away with it, his way. Many copied his style down the line, but they never hit on the real difference, the one thing that made Hammer stand a couple of blocks away from all the rest.

    You see, Mike Hammer was a murderer.

    Sure, he had a private dick’s ticket, a little card stamped by the State of New York that gave him the legal right to carry a heater and arrest bad guys. But to Hammer, it was nothing more than a ‘get out of jail free’ card. A convenience when it came to court time. A slip of paper that gave him the right clean up his beloved city, to wipe up the back alleys and dimly-lit tap rooms with the faces of the city’s scum, and then to go a step further…because he’d been around the block few times, and he knew the score…arresting the bad guys didn’t do nuts. They’d get off; sure as hell they’d get sent up for a short stretch and be back on the streets mugging and robbing and beating up dames and little guys for spending cash and kicks. Jail wasn’t enough for this filth. They needed to be punished.

    The small-time hoods got off easy with a beating they’d remember for life. A couple of cracked ribs, a broken jaw and brain damage usually did the trick with Horse-pushers and lowlife pimps, two-bit gamblers and croocked politicians. But for the killers…well, that was another story. An eye for an eye. If they lived as killers they needed to die as killers, by an equally evil and screwed-up killer. Mike was the self-appointed jailer, judge, jury…and executioner. And he always found a way to make his story stick, make it legit…one way or another, he would kill, he would need to kill; he would justify it as ridding the world of evil and he’d get away clean.

    Don’t believe me? Think I’ve gone off the deep end? Set your peepers on this little bit of insight, taken from the first few pages of One Lonely Night, the fourth book in the Mike Hammer series. Published in 1951, the story gives an inner view of Hammer’s mind, the way he thinks, and what he thinks about the world he’s been forced into. To me, these few paragraphs sum up his character, the whole series, and the darker side of life in “the good old days”. It’s what made me really appreciate Mike Hammer when I first read I, The Jury at age 12. It makes me appreciate all the Hammer novels for what they are: The real diary of a madman.onelonelynight

    (talking about a judge who wanted to throw the book at him, but could not) “…I was a licensed investigator who knocked off somebody who needed knocking off bad and he couldn’t get to me. So I was a murderer by definition and all the law could do was shake its finger at definitions.”…”maybe he thought I should have stayed there and called the cops when the bastard had a rod in his hand and it was pointing at my gut…” “He had to take me back five years to a time he knew of only second hand and tell me how it took a war to show me the power of the gun and the obscene pleasure that was brutality and force, the spicy sweetness of murder sanctified by law. That was me.” “…There in the muck and slime of the jungle, there in the stink that hung over the beaches rising from the bodies of the dead, there in the half-light of too many dusks and dawns laced together with the crisscrossed patterns of bullets, I had gotten a taste of death and found it palatable to the extent I could never again eat the fruits of a normal civilization.”…”I was a killer. I was a murderer, legalized. I had no reason for living. Yeah, he said that!”*

    Mix that insanity in a shaker with a Colt .45 Combat Commander and an insatiable appetite for serving justice. Throw in a couple of ice cubes and a busty brunette secretary named Velda. Pour it in a tall chilled glass, frosty with the blood of a hundred hoodlums and garnish it with a peel of the city at night, and you’ve got a Mike Hammer Manhattan.

    There are 13 books in the Mike Hammer series, plus the TV scripts and screen plays. But with the passing of Spillane a few years ago flew any chance of ever hearing Mike’s voice say anything new again. Others may try, some may come close. But no one can dole out the imagery or lay down the style that Mickey gave to his fantastically flawed unsung hero, Mike Hammer.

    (Read the books, start from the beginning with I, The Jury and follow Mike all the way through to Black Alley. If you dig reading about real mid-century American culture through the eyes of an author who was writing these books at the time, as the present, you’ll absolutely enjoy Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.)

    -Original Content by Christopher Pinto for Tiki Lounge Talk.
    *Passages from “One Lonely Night” written by Mickey Spillane, ©1951, 1979, used for informational/educational purposes only.