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Sure, it’s a great Asian themed mid-century home, but, it is also over the top! The dimensions are huge. The flag stone walls, the huge open rooms with those amazing ceilings. It is so over the top! I am saving the images here for posterity. The buyer may rip all this crap out and renovate the shit out of this amazing classic at 1228 17th St., West Des Moines, IA 50265.
Pulling up to the house gives you a good clue. The trim, the stones, and garage door.
The Japanese garden style yard with stones for the yard and mini-pagoda. And a turret on top?
Great details that show an attention to detail and to a guiding hand in the build.
Okay, we’re inside and starting to grasp the depth of this house décor. Those doors! The carpet, mirrored wall and of course the rock wall and statue are classic.
Sectional sofa, Phsssh! Ours has like 7 sections! The bar to the left is greta and it looks like matting on the ceiling, and well, it’s freaking curved in those recesses!
And they did a flagstone wall on the other side! And that giant art piece back there is crazy great. This whole room with the vaulted ceiling and exposed beams…
Of course there is a fireplace built into that wall! I’ll have a Dr. Funk please!
I can’t quite tell what the bar top is, but I am sure it is fantastic.
A red sink? Yes.
Not sure about this bedroom, or the red wagon…
And the other living room. I guess this one it the fancy one. And it is fancy!
So, let’s add a mirrored section to the ceiling. And make it curved…
And I want the theme in the kitchen with a red sink there too! And a red microwave.
How did this bathroom get in here?
Yes, and I want a black toilet on a dias… Great sconces.
Nice use of sea grass matting… Okay, we’re done here. Fantastic.
From the early days after we moved Hukilau to the Mai-Kai, I had heard about a black velvet painting of Mireille Thornton. The painting had been vandalized and the description of the damage made it sound horrible.
Mireille was current owner of the Mai-Kai, having taken control when her husband, original owner Robert Thornton, had passed away in 1989. Mireille was a performer in the Mai-Kai Islanders show and in 1963 she became its choreographer. She is still in that role today! I will always be proud that Mireille made me an honorary member of the family.
For years I kept hearing about this painting and that it was removed from the Mai-Kai after someone “defiled” it. It became my mission to restore it to the Mai-Kai.
The black velvets at the Mai-Kai were painted by J. Craig Hille III. Though there may have been Leeteg paintings there at some time, he painted the big iconic pieces that are there today. He became known more widely for his portraits of celebrities.
After nearly a decade of catching small hints about the painting, I finally heard that the damage was actually a moustache drawn on it. Accomplished painter James Owens had recently moved back to Tennessee and getting to know him, I knew he was the man who could fix whatever was wrong with the paining the right way. He had brought many vintage items back to life and his skill as a painter was unparalleled. He agreed to take it on.
I got the measurement of the painting and set out to get it from Fort Lauderdale to Knoxville and back. It is two by four feet and had to be transported without damaging it. I constructed a box with just enough room to add padding. I added a place to put a handle and caster to make it easier to get this beast through the airport. It came just under the weight and length limits for the airline. I had to take it apart and rework it many times to get it under those limits. I mounted the casters with bolts and wing nuts so I could easily take them off and put them back on. It was a sturdy box to carry this precious cargo. But it was damned heavy and big!
Just getting it from the curb to the check-in was tough. When I got to Fort Lauderdale, I discovered that the holes for the bolts had shifted and I could no longer mount the handle or the casters! I was sweating and cursing as I found a way to get it through the airport after my flight was hours late. It just barely went in the back seat of the rental car. That would have been a nightmare had it not fit!
I got my little painting casket to the Mai-Kai and got to see the legendary painting for the first time. It was not nearly as damaged as I imagined. It looked like a smudge on her upper lip. My box worked well and it fit like a glove. I managed to get it back to Knoxville and to James intact.
In the light of day, the first big issue was that it was filthy. Whether it got that way from years hanging in a restaurant or in storage was anyone’s guess. It had been hanging in the Tahiti Room since the 1970s. Mireille was born in Takaroa and it was in Tahiti that she caught the attention of the future Mai-Kai manager who hired her. That room was “hers” and after she and Bob were married in 1971, her portrait graced that room, newly added to the now sprawling eatery.
Jim did a fantastic job cleaning and restoring the piece. It required a bit of paint touch-up where someone’s attempt to clean the moustache took off the paint. Cleaning it was tricky as it was not an oil paint and the paint came off with the dirt if you were not careful.
My next trip to Fort Lauderdale was for Hukilau in a few weeks. In the interim, we would be in Mexico for 10 days. We took the painting to be framed and realized it would happen while we were gone. If anything went wrong, we would not know. And I departed for Hukilau just 3 days after returning from Mexico! No chance to fix it or reschedule! It also hit us how freaking expensive it is to frame a two by four painting! I was thankful the Mai-Kai picked up that tab. We left it in their hands and hoped the wood we picked would be in stock and the glass would arrive in one piece, etc., etc.
It all worked out. But how was I going to get it to Florida now that it was bigger and heavier? It was over the length and weight limits for the airline now, and it was even more fragile. I sent out a call to Hukilau attendees driving down and passing through Knoxville. I got a big break when a local friend was going and had room in the cab of his truck. Transport locked it!
I had hoped to have it hanging in the Mai-Kai that Saturday night at Hukilau, but no one was sure where it had hung before, and when we tried it in the spots we guessed, the new frame made it too big to fit. So we settled for just presenting it and figuring out how to hang it later.
The presentation was a surprise for Mrs. T. We hid the painting in the office and when the time came during the dinner show, I found her with friends in the Molokai and asked her to come on stage.
I made Mireille cry that night, and was happy to do it!
It is a great honor to have the Mai-Kai trust me to do something like this and I was so happy to do something for Mireille. Her image is always there now as her guiding hand has been there for decades.
They are on sale now at the Swank Pad Productions website and next week in the Mai-Kai gift shop!
This image is from the June 1959 issue of Esquire magazine. It says:
“The fabulous mixologist Mariano Licudine of the famed Mai-Kai Restaurant in Florida creates new ways with rum in his Derby Daiquiri. The secret: one ounce of fresh orange juice, one half ounce of fresh lime juice, one scant teaspoon of sugar, one andone half ounces of Puerto Rican white label rum, one cup of crushed ice; mix in a blender for 10 seconds or shake vigorously. The bee? Oh, he’s just buzzy. But this, designated the oficial drink of the Florida Derby, is the DERBY DAIQUIRI.”
This date seems to have confused people into thinking this was named the official drink of the Derby in 1959. The Derby Daiquiri has been on the Mai-Kai drink menu since the earliest printings. And it has always been pictured served in the special Jockey glass. So, I would assume it has been the drink of the Derby since 1957 at least, which is the copyright date on the oldest menus I have seen.
Here is Mai-Kai owner Bob Thornton holding the drink with the original coaster.
Here is my glass with the coaster.
UPDATE 8/10/2011: After extensive research, though the Derby Daiquiri was on the first Mai-Kai menu, it did not become the official drink of the Gulfstream Derby until probably 1959.
Unfortunately, Cancun is greatly changed.
So many of the things I thought I knew have become wrong.
It used to be true that if you converted your US dollars to pesos, you’d end up your trip with 20%+ more money than if you used US dollars there. Now, it is the opposite. Most things are priced in US dollars and pesos and if you do the math, you’d find you were being screwed using dollars. Now you are screwed using pesos.
It used to be true that the prices in the hotel zone were very high and if you went downtown, you would see a near 50% price cut immediately and could bargain for better. Now the mall in the hotel zone has near the same prices, and maybe better than at the downtown markets.
It used to be that the hotel zone markets like Coral Negro were full of the most aggressive, awful people you ever were around. Being in there makes you sick. Market 28 downtown was a great relief where you could shop in peace and enjoy your time. No more. Now Market 28 is as obnoxious as Coral Negro.
Restaurants downtown are more expensive than the hotel zone.
The bus is now 15 pesos per trip, not 6.5. So a trip anywhere for 2 will cost you a much more noticable 60 pesos. The taxis are looking more okay.
Cancun always had lots of people trying to get your attention. Trying to sell you a tour or to get you to look at their goods. You either ignore them or say “no, gracious” and move on. But now it is at a fever pitch and unavoidable. Even when we sat at a table eating, we had to say no to 4 or 5 people trying to sell us things, along with the people in the restaurant wanting to take your picture and sell it to you.
Yes, it is beautiful. On the beach at our hotel was great. But most of the public places in Cancun are now unbearable.
I took my last trip to Cancun. We discovered Playa del Carmen, and that is where we will go next time. More like the way downtown Cancun used to be.
I can highly recommend the Ambiance Villas hotel and Locanda Paolo restaurant. And Walmart for pastries and fresh fruit.
I don’t often post links to blogs on my blog, but, after this wasn’t posted on any other major blogs, I felt I owed it to all of you to share what may be one of the singularly best posts in all the freaky world. It made me weep.
I have long been a fan of the Secret Fun Spot, but this post alone will make you all bow down in adoration of his mystical powers for fishing out the vintage oddity of our great nation.
Don’t be using the “H” word unless you are from the Hills. I got the pride.
Knox Glass sign on Central. Looks like it could have gas tiki torches.
I’m not sure what this says about me, but a few months ago, this sign was un-retouched and showed it’s 50 plus years of service and I loved it. Now it has been refurbished, and, I’m not so thrilled. Sick?
I’ve had a couple of converible tops replaced by these guys.
Just a great old building and sign.
UPDATE: As luck would have it, I busted the back window out of my convertible top yesterday while unloading wood for bar construction. I called Lonnie’s immediately and the number was disconnected. Drove by to see a closed sign and the place cleaned out…
This place is still open doing business.
Spent this beautifal Fall day photographing some vintage Knox ville, signs and buildings. I’ll be posting them over the next week.
I accidentally came across Yahoo’s personal radio station. I have a Live365 station and I am a VIP listener subscribed there. I have pretty eclectic and obscure taste in music. I find a lot of it on Live365. But now I am considering paying for the Yahoo radio.
It is similar to the Netflix scheme where you rate musical genres and artists and songs, etc. and it builds a playlist based on those choices. And the more you listen and rate, the closer it gets to playing what you like. So, instead of listening to say, Vegas Vic’s Tiki Lounge or The Swank Pad, and getting that great style of music, I can hear it all on one “station.”
This may not be for everyone. But I am the odd person that likes to hear Captain Beefheart mixed with Wanda Jackson and James Brown and Esquivel. If you are too, then listen to my station, or make your own!
The catalogue isn’t as diverse as I would like, but it does have a lot I have not enjoyed in a long time.
After an unexpected need to move to a new server, I have been slowly getting all my sites and their parts back working. This blog is still not done. A newer version of Word Press has the feeds at a new address, so, if you subscribed to the feed before, you may have to do it again to get my blathers. I also need to reinstall the style here… Lots of work yet to do.
One thing I wanted to get back first, that was the most daunting wash the Grogalizer. Lots of custom made PHP code with a MySQL background. A few evenings work has gotten one piece after another back working. Tonight I think it is all back working.
Give it a try and let me know if you find any problems. I’ve even seen The Bum himself logging in, so, I am proud of my creation!
Ms Swanky gave me a few nice birthday presents. First, a stainless steel mini fridge to keep all the assorted juices and syrups needed to make great drinks in the bar. Second, a stainless steel bar sink for the bar. We bought a house about a year ago and have been renovating and now we’re coming to some new places. The 3rd edition of the Hapa Haole Hideaway will be very grand, but, it will require a LOT of work and money. Not just a decorating job like times past, but a construction job with contractors and electrical, plumbing and carpentry work. I really miss the Hideaway, and so does she. But we also have work to do on the kitchen and bath, etc. So, those gifts really meant more to me. They show she’s behind this project.
As if I didn’t already know, my male friends are reinforcing it. She’s a keeper.
We still can’t afford to get married, but we’re setting a date anyway. It’ll be in April or May 2009. We’ll settle on an exact date soon. I did Hukilau year after year starting with nothing in the bank. We’ve managed a lot of goals that were difficult and we made them happen. So, we set a date and we’ll make the wedding happen too.
And in August or so, we’ll have the grand reopening party for the the bigger and bestest Hapa Haole Hideaway!
I was talking to an old friend today about Hukilau and the Mai Kai and suggested that if he had the chance, he should visit Trader Vic’s Atlanta. His response surprised me. He told me he had been there, with me! We took a road trip to Atlanta in 1996 which I recall. We had a heckuva good time. I recall stumbling upon the Clairmont Lounge, etc. But he tells me our first stop was Trader Vic’s. I have no memory. First I recall being there was around 2001. Weird.
Bamboo Ben is a true original. An old punk like myself, you just never quite know what to expect from him. He’s made a lot of art in various mediums. But, I think he just made his masterpiece. A real statement about art and being true and commercialism. When the trap snapped on the neck of a rat in his shop recently, an idea was born. This piece, which may be number one in a series, is one fantastic work.
More and the series may continue at Ben’s MySpace page…
A few images from our house:
I came across this site by accident and looked down the list of motels in my area. I realized it was actually a list of vintage motels that are still open. “Reasonable rates” sure. $39 a night or less. Will the room be awful and totally unacceptable, or will it be a blast from the past? I stayed at one not so long ago that had the coin-op vibrating bed with incredible vintage graphics on the box.
So, next time you are planning a road trip down memory lane, or, well, trying to relive a past you may never have had the chance to experience, this site will steer you in the direction of the survivors.
Way too many of you are going to be pleased to know that the Chicago Antique Market boasts a “Retro Tiki” theme this weekend, and that it will showcase one-of-a-kind vintage items from Tiki collectors David and Amy Carter. The Carters have written a book, Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past which, if we weren’t trying so hard to be nicer, we would label as an idiotic exercise in how to waste time and money while making everyone else think you’re gay, if you’re straight; or, if you’re gay, making you look like an effete poseur. But you don’t care what people think, judging by how many of you have already headed for the door. Fine. I wash my hands of you. Yes, Tiki seekers, it’s retro time on Saturday and Sunday, June 30 and July 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 1300 block of West Randolph (312/951-9939). You have to pay $8 to get in, unless you suspect that David and Amy Carter have brought particularly desirable gems of the Tiki oeuvre which you need to get your hands on before the hoi polloi arrives, which means you better bring $20 so you can get in at 8 instead of 9 a.m.
Man. Thanks for outting me! Much good commentary available on Tiki Central as well.
There is one old guy, Ed, who hung out at Opal’s a lot. He cleaned the place during the day and would be around in the evenings regularly. A real nice guy that I didn’t pay much attention to.
Then one night someone came in and handed him a framed picture of James Dean. Ed just lit up. After a while, he was sitting next to me and he told me just why he had this picture.
It wasn’t just a picture of James Dean. Ed had taken that picture. Jimmy was in a barn, cigarette hanging from his lip, leaned over a car. That was about the time Jimmy told Ed he was leaving their small home town to go to New York. Asked Ed if he wanted to go with him. Ed choked out that he wished he’d said yes.
You just never know…
I really hate when bloggers post about not blogging, so, I thought I’d post about why I’m not blogging!
It’s crunch time. I am struggling under a pile of some 2,000 images that I have taken and must process to create the tiki calendar. All my free time is now being consumed by cropping, adjusting, and categorizing images. I need to get everything organized so that we can begin the process of actually making the calendar images and the website, etc.
And I just got in a shipment of large puffer fish and each one of these that gets ordered takes about 2 hours to prepare.
And so, right now I don’t have those lazy weekends in which I scan stuff and share it. Well, actually, I am going to be sharing my work in a few months in the form of the calendar. So, just wait!
This post is very cool and I envy the guy. A great set of coincidences that just make your vintage heart melt.
Read the story. Keep vintage hope alive! Way cool!
New tiki collectors are hosed. I am torn. Do we want to try to educate people, or do we let them learn their lessons the hard way? This example ends in 11 hours:
A) These are Dollar Tree tikis. $3 here
B) They suck
C) They really suck because I bought a set myself and they are all broken in pieces now. If they so much as fall over, they break.
D) They are not from the Mai Kai.
E) They are plastic
Right now there are 7 bids and they are up to $20. Man. I have actual vinatge items that would probably not get this kind of action!
UPDATE: The $1 each tikis went for $35! This vintage Mai Kai rum barrel only fetched $40. WTF!
I participate in this for one real reason: to promote Dixson’s Barbeque. There are a lot of people perpetrating BBQ on American, Tennessee, and Knoxville, but there is none as fine as Dixson’s. A real Knoxville original that goes back at least 60 years to Brother Jack’s.
1. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.
Dixson’s Barbeque is a little place off Magnolia behind the Dixie Tavern near the KAT bus center. Worlds collide! They are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. An old tradition as they start cooking on Thursday and the first fruits are ready that afternoon. When they run out, it’s all over. They serve the greatest thing Knoxville ever created food-wise, the pigburger. A must. Generally you wanna get it to go as there is really no room to eat there. It’s good to call ahead too as you may find they are out of what you want. It’s the last of true Knoxville barbeque that goes back 60 years to Tip Jackson’s Dad. The cakes are great and their beans rock. The rib sandwich is the real deal if you want ribs. In true Knoxville barbeque tradition, it is several whole ribs with white bread. A sandwich in name only.
1201 Magnolia Avenue – Behind the Dixie Tavern
865-525-9305 – Call ahead to make sure they hold some pigburgers for you. With onions!
Down the road a little is Mary’s Hot Tamales which is another Knoxville tradition. At the same time I started loving Brother Jack’s pigburgers, I met Mr. Green and had his hot tamales from his cart down off Western Avenue. Mary’s keeps the faith.
1931 E. Magnolia Ave.
King Tut’s is an experience. Their Greek and Egyptian food is awesome, Mo is a memorable host and it’s got all kinds of crazy charm. Go with a group for sure so you can ham it up with Mo all night. Truly authentic flavors like their Arabic coffee will impress. A real treat. Brown bagging booze is expected.
Harby’s Pizza off Broadway is a hidden treasure. Pizza? Yes, pizza! Get one of his cheese pizzas and you’ll know. It’s the best and damn cheap too! I have his number memorized, that’s how much I love it. Dining in there is a gas too. Friendly folks make you feel like family and odd eye candy scattered on the walls.
3718 Walker Blvd
A couple of great meat and three type diners must be mentioned. Long’s Drugstore on Kingston Pike in Bearden and Sam’s Restaurant on Broadway across from K-mart. A great old fashioned feel, staple foods and lively people watching. Just good stuff, especially for breakfast. Why pay twice as much for processed foods under a warmer when you can go here and meet your neighbors and eat fresh made?
I cheated and listed 6, but two are take-out only.
2. Tag 5 Others
Folks I know explore and should have good choices:
3. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.
Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Todd (Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
miss kendra (los angeles, california, u.s.a)
Jiggs Casey (Berkeley, CA, USA! USA! USA!)
Tits McGee (New England, USA)
Joe (NE Tennessee, USA)
10K Monkeys (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
Big Stupid Tommy (Athens, Tennessee, USA)
Newscoma (Weakley County, Tennessee, USA)
Russ McBee (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Atomictumor Mrs Eaves (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA)
Oh Really? LissaKay (Oak Ridge, TN, USA)
Mark Steel blogitude.com (Knoxville, TN, USA)
Swanky The Swank Pad (Knoxville, TN, USA)
Here are a couple of other pictures of my parents I came upon lately.
First this picture of my Dad, who appears to have a cast on his arm, in front of the convertible he drove when he met my Mom. I think my oldest sister said she used to sleep in the top boot on trips when she was little.
And this image of Mom and Dad, that is indeed color, but I could not get Photoshop to make it look any better than this. Early days of color. I know my Mom’s lipstick was bright bright red. But, you can’t tell here.
My stats are through the roof for the last couple of days thanks to a post on Metafilter. Good to have you. But, I don’t want to pay $5 to register, just to answer the negative comments there. So, I’ll do it here!
For the record, my site may not predate Lileks‘, but it came about at the same time and before I knew of his. It is not a copy. We both started on AOL, and have similar interests. I discovered his site searching for more images by Art Frahm, and have been in contact ever since. My site started in the mid-90s.
Secondly, unlike Lileks’, I have not gone back and reformatted my pages. They are largely just as they were when they were created. I don’t have the large amounts of free time he has, and I would not spend it making my site look all pretty if I did. I am more interested in adding content.
Thirdly, I am not a professional writer, and I would not compare my snarky commenting to his. He is much better at it. I just say the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not like I am writing books for publishing or anything! Plus, again, that was all written 10 years ago, for the most part.
Fourth, It’s my site, I can be as snarky as I wanna be. That’s the title of my new rap CD too. “Snarky As I Wanna Be.”
When you pick up my book for $20, then you can be critical as all get out. Don’t be too hard on the free stuff. I bruise. Well, not easily, but, still.
Yeah, yeah, it’s the internet. Everybody has a voice and they are just commenting and all that stuff. I just think people don’t have the right context for what they are looking at is all. If I did all this stuff this year, it would look very differently and maybe the writing would be better, or not…
Thanks and enjoy.
Spring came early this year. A year ago on April 1st we were in the mountains at Coon Tiki and nothing was in bloom and it was a little cool. This April 1st, everything was in bloom and it was in the 80s and 90s.
It was hot for weeks. Everything started blooming from the Azaleas to the Dogwoods.
Tulips bloomed beside Iris and that never happens.
Wisteria, everything was blooming. It was just Spring flowers like crazy!
And then it snowed last night and hit about 30. Will be in the upper 20’s the next few nights and every bloom on every tree and bush will be dead. Thanks Mother Nature!
This soda shop is not a place made to look like an old soda shop. It is an old soda shop, vintage 1934. I have been here before, but never got pictures of the awesome interior until this trip.
A wurlitzer juke box has a box at every booth. And they work. The music is a weird mix from about 1978. Disco Duck and country you never heard of.
These doors have seen a lot of use!
In case you have not noticed it in the comments, I wanted to just say that my life has been consumed by the new house for the last month. And it will continue for probably another month. We are getting closer to the point where we can begin to move in. The thought of moving after all the work we have done is just, oy.
I am doing a few other things as I can and have several ideas in the works. Once I emerge from this house thing, I hope to accomplish a lot of other things…
So, to keep up with my trials and tribulations, read the comments on this thread.
I have a fascination with Cuba. There was a time when it was the vacation hot spot. And that time is one I love. So, in 1959, Cuba sort of stopped in time. It went from a beautiful hot spot to a defunct place. The old buildings deteriorated, but hold some magic. The old cars keep roving the streets in new incarnations. The great music keeps trickling out. I would love to visit Cuba before it someday becomes open again and it loses that weird glory.
And so while wandering the Internet and thinking about such things, I trained my Google Maps on Cuba and expected to see nothing. “Forbidden” But I was surprised to see detailed satellite images. I wandered down some coast and saved these links to interesting areas. Take a look and if you feel the urge, post links to your own discoveries in Cuba.
Circular Tunnel entrance Zoom out a bit to see the exit on the other side of the inlet.
I must say that I can’t imagine doing this without all the work Ms Swanky did to make it happen. Her being a realtor allowed her to know what she was doing in all the confusing-ness, and make it understandable. I can’t imagine doing it without an agent by your side.
I don’t know why I never bought a house before. I have had a lot more money in the bank and a lot better credit rating and more monthly income. I guess it’s just a further settling down. And having a fiance to make it all a lot easier. “Just sign here and give us a few grand.”
I suppose it’s pretty lame to some to reach my 40s always having rented. It’s stupid really. But, I just have not thought it out and planned it out before.
It is a major change though. I have lived in many houses and apartments that were varying degrees of nice and or interesting places. And, as a renter, I have never painted a wall. I just put my stuff in the space and hang some things on the walls. Why go to the expense? Now I will be willing and free to do all those great decorating things. Refinishing the floors. Painting. New counter tops. Anything I want. I’ve never lacked taste or style, but I have lacked the desire to translate my spaces to any great degree.
I will hold back to a few degrees. I don’t know if this is the house to own for decades. I won’t be doing installations that transform the very room into new spaces. I have grand ideas, but plan to do just a very nice renovation of a 70 year old house. But I am free to do as I will.
And, the biggest, baddest in-home tiki bar yet will be included. I want to have it ready for guests for the luau near the end of July, but there is a possibility that HGTV will be coming in to help and so, I may hold off a bit…
Just think, in 30 years it’ll all be mine!
Ms Swanky and I went out for an absolutely fantastic evening of entertainment last night. Costumed comedy, and just great live performance. It was at Club XYZ and the show was their drag show with RAZ and Angel Collins taking the lead roles. It was so campy and fun. It just had me looking at the drag show completely differently. Maybe it was the smaller stage that made it more intimate and allowed more interaction with the crowd. It certainly had to do withour entertainers. It was really a great show and I am ready to go back. You just don’t see that kind of entertainment anymore and I mean that in a good way.
If you are a denizen of the Knoxville dives, you know Opal’s Lounge. If you go by before 7PM these days, you can still hang out with Opal herself. She is a legend in Knoxville bars. She has been like a grandmother to me. One that smokes, drinks and cusses.
I have made it a point to go visit Miss Opal monthly if not weekly since she stopped working the late nights there. It’s always good to see her.
Word has come to me via Mark that she has sold the place. By what I hear, it must be to someone she knows and who will likely keep it much as it is. I am going to get over there soon and find out details. We simply must have a celebration of Miss Opal. Once I know more about the future plans, I will send out word as to when we shall congregate around our community leader.
Here is what they said of the place in 2002 when she got the “Best Real Dive in Knoxville” award:
Best Real Dive
Hey, Toddy’s is OK. It might be deserving of the “neighborhood bar” honor, but it ain’t much of a dive as dives go. The dive of dives is the runner-up, almost straight across Kingston Pike. It shares a gravel driveway with the condemned Biltmore Motor Court, a lodging place that was seedy in its heyday along the Dixie Lee Highway. Opal’s Lounge used to be much worse, 20 years ago in its poke-salad days as Dirty Gert’s, back when the carpet squished with stale beer and the devil knows what else underfoot, but it’s still a dive to be reckoned with. Consider the near-subterranean location, with its door and its parking at the rear (for those timid Baptist tipplers among us). Think of the steel girders overhead, every 30 inches, that hold up the low, gray concrete ceiling, bomb-shelter style. Look at the portraits of John Wayne and Willie Nelson on the side wall above the pool tables, and cast a long glance at the nubile, decidedly nude muchacha painted exquisitely on velvet, con sombrero, above the backbar. Check out the jewel of a juke box. Wonder how come Bubba ain’t shot it yet. Ignore the electronic dart board, there for the dartistes who can’t count. Thanks to Ms. Opal Sparks, prop., Opal’s is still the dive it always was, despite the fact that the pool hall-then-massage parlor upstairs is now an oriental rug shop, and the men’s room is actually clean and doesn’t smell any worse than the Swisher-brand air freshener on the wall. At least the mirror is cracked in two places. And, even though the bar now carries such pee-willy beverages as Guinness stout and Pete’s Wicked Ale, Opal’s is unquestionably a Bud-BudLight-MillerLite kind of joint.
Trust us. The votes Opal’s got came from the most discriminating of dive denizens. There wasn’t another real dive among the top 10. When the prominent throwback sign, lettered: “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone” is taken into full account, one has to wonder who the hell that could ever be.
She also makes her own damn pickled eggs thank you very much!
Spread the word and get by there before 7PM and pay your respects to the lady.
UPDATE: Even at the time of this post, Opal’s was history. She sold it for a small amount really and we wish we had known. We would have bought it and kept it true to its roots and a shrine to Miss Opal. George Jones would always remain on the jukebox, with Patsy, the Killer, and Elvis.
As it turned out, I was there her last night. I was there with Mark on a Friday and Miss Opal was particularly nice and loving. She literally interupted our conversation several times to give me a hug and tell us she loved us. It seemed strange, and now I know why.
I asked around Metropulse to see if they would do a story on her. She is not fond of reporters. I offered to help and even to write it if needed. Opal would talk to me I am sure. I have not heard anything in a long time. I guess it isn’t happening.
Even Peyton Manning used to go to Opal’s to get away. He loved the place. That’s the way it used to be. A big star like Peyton could enjoy a night there without being hassled.
I spent a gazzilion nights at Opals over the years and saw it dead and crowded as hell. Never saw a fight ever. That says quite a lot for a dive like that. Met the best friend of a certain James Dean and heard the story of the day James took off to the big city and asked his friend to come with him. He didn’t. Met the psychiatrist for Sinatra’s drummer’s son. Sounds like a distant connection, but he told me about meeting Frank and him knowing just who he was and thanked him and offered to help in any way if it was needed. Let me know a little more about the man.
There was a certain magic to Opal’s. And it is now completely gone.
I know Vic and I know he has good taste in weird music. Weird and good music. I finally got around to listening to this post he made last month. It’s intrigued me. My. God. This is the shit! Scary and weird and brilliant, in a scary ass way. It’s the perfect follow up to the Jesco White “Dancin’ Outlaw” video. Not much I can add to this except that you must listen to “Green Girl” which I bet was written while looking at a Tretchikoff painting, and “Don’t Trust”, oh, and “Carolina Drive-In” nearly gave me aheart attack laughing…
Kiki in NYC reports on seeing this film and Mr. Waters himself recently. Sounds like a fun way to spend an evening. She says the video is to be released through Netflix soon.
Okay, so, maybe we’re off topic, whatever that might be, but this just has to be shared.
When I heard the “stay tuned” announcement for this on NPR, I thought they said the dog was addicted to “toe sucking.” That sounded very odd. When I heard the story, it just killed me. Very funny stuff. Don’t bother reading the story, just click on the listen link at the top.
It’s scary movie time, and for me, there is none scarier than the original 1963 movie “The Haunting.” I saw it the first time decades ago, and it is still frightening today.
I had the rare opportunity to see this film in the theater a couple of decades ago as part of a lecture by Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are perhaps the foremost experts in the paranormal there are. I had been intrigued by the paranormal and knew a bit, but these two taught me a whole lot from their first hand experience. The slide show and lecture was chilling. I have read some of their books and they just scare the crap out of you. It’s one thing to hear ookie stories, but to meet these very serious, down to earth people and know they are not exagerating, it just gets to you. You see it in their eyes. They wish these things were not true. They have no interest in celebrity. They are hard at work for the Good.
So I learned a lot about hauntings and in particular, the fact that much of what occurs is indeed in your mind. That’s not to say there is no spirit involved, just that, you may see a window shatter, and that window is really fine. The spirits have more ability to mess with your mind than real things.
This movie keeps very faithfully to the facts of the paranormal. It is not over the top with the jumping out at you and the ooky stuff. It just paces it out, in a “natural” sort of way. The odd lesbian theme adds something strange to it all as well. These are the sorts of things you can well imagine happening to you, tonight.
Rent it if you can. Forget the new version.
For extra creepy time fun, check out the Warrens website: Warrens.net I want to go their Most Haunted Places tour one day…
When commenting on the questioning of Clay Aiken’s sexuality, Rubin Studdard said:
“Clay is a very strong guy. He always comes out on top.”
So now we know, Clay’s a top.
A couple of days ago I was listening to the radio in my car on 90.3 FM. I meant to hit the seek button and just see what was out there to listen to, but I hit the tune button instead and it skipped up to 90.7. It was a somewhat staticy Hawaiian tune playing, so I let it finish. Then there was another one. I figured, at that end of the dial, it was probably a special show on a college station. I tried to tune it in better. I went up and down the dial and that was it. 90.7 was as good as it got, which wasn’t good. It faded in and out as I drove. The announcer came on and he started telling the community calendar events. They were all Hawaiian. I don’t mean things grand that a national show might mention. I mean local stuff like the Wailuku Rotary Club meeting. I got home and came in the house and turned on the stereo to listen some more with a bigger antenna. I could not get the station at all.
Yesterday as I was coming home from work, I remembered the radio station again and tuned it to 90.7. There it was again. I heard the noon news update. Then I heard the station announcement at last. It was 91.5 FM Mana’o Radio in Maui. Mana’o Radio.
I know that AM radio bounces off the atmosphere at night and can travel all over. I didn’t know FM did that. But, my best guess is that we here in North Knoxville Tennessee are at just the right angle for Mana Radio in Maui to deflect off the ionosphere and come down just slightly off the original frequency. Mana’o from heaven.
Maybe I have been receiving this signal in my fillings for years and that’s why I built the Hapa Haole Hideaway…
UPDATE: I just had to call them (had to because there is no email address on the site.) and indeed I got the DJ, JJ, that I am listening to. I told him my story. What he told me makes this even more remarkable. He says their signal only goes about 25 miles there in Maui!
I am very sick of adults who tell kids that education is useless. Art class? I use skills I learned in art class on a weekly basis. Because art is much more than just drawing or painting. Every sign or ad or television program is just crammed full of art. It’s everywhere! Now, you can do it badly of course, and if you don’t care how things look, you may find it useless. But if you want the sign you make for your business or yard sale to attract customers, you will likley need to draw (pun!) from your high school art education and lay out the elements correctly, balanced and level. That’s just art! Used in normal life!
The one I hear more than any other is the uselessness of Algebra in life. Please! I probably use this basic math skill daily and so do you. Of course, if you never bothered to learn math, you may not use it, but don’t handicap the next generation! Example:
A case of 12 6 ounce cans of cat food costs $3.96 for the Friskies and $8.16 for 24 cans of the Purina. Which is a better value?
Solve for X. 12X= 3.96
Solve for Y. 24Y = 8.16
Whoa. Algebra just let me save a penny a can on cat food! It’s every day life. Yes this is a simple example, but it is still Algebra. Basic math. Stop glorifying stupidity and anti-education. Stop making excuses for kids to be ignorant.
I read a number of the comments on this site and got a good laugh. This particular one just has everything. It’s a real classic. I have stated my disdain for the Intelligent Design idea a long time ago. I believe it was discussed and tossed out a few hundred years ago. This is the current farce created to mock the current ridiculous notion called Intelligent Design. It has allowed a lot of uber Christians to show their lack of intelligence. Every religion has them. And they don’t represent the religion. But they do make for some damned funny reading.
I was wandering around the Internet and came across this local Augusta message board with a post about the closing of Hale Tiki.
After the middle of the second page it gets more into what needs to be done to develop their downtown. The talk about Hale Tiki was interesting though. It helps shed light on why the place didn’t work well there.
Here are a few quotes:
“Yeah! What ever…..good rid! People been saying drinks were a complete rip off! ”
A nice sentiment. Good rid? Typical rock throwing by neanderthals.
Keeping your house clean is a lot of work. Day to day you put dirty clothes in the hamper and dishes in the dish washer and wipe up messes on the counters. You straighten the house continually. But, really cleaning the house, often does not happen. When was the last time you swept/vacuumed the whole house and mopped the floors? When did you dust last? Scrub the tile? What about those stove eyes? Been a while? It’s just not what you feel like doing and so it gets put off again and again. Well, I have the solution. Throw a party. There is nothing like knowing dozens of friends and maybe even near strangers will be coming to your home for an evening to make you get down on your hands and knees and scrub. My god, how did the kitchen window get so dirty! My lord, look behind the refridgerator! So, in our household, we plan regular soirees to force us to do the cleaning we generally avoid. The bathroom shines, the shelves in the fridge are clear again and the trashcan is minty clean. I highly recommend it! And for extra added bonus forced work, throw a party in the yard, so, you then have to get the yard in shape and you still have to clean the house too because they have to go through it to get to the bathroom.
Mickey Spillane passed away Monday. I don’t know how I began reading his novels, but once I started, I could not stop. I’ve never read a book that kept me turning pages like his. And his writing created a world and genre that exist very vividly in my mind. Tough is defined in those books. If you have not read one of them, I highly recommend them. You have doubtless seen many old detective movies. These books put you in his head and introduce you to a New York sleaze and filth you always thought must exist. Doubtless these books fueled many an artist. I will never forget lines like “I pulled my heap to the curb.” The dames he discribes and I imagine are only closely realized in Vargas paintings. A classic. A series of classics.
“I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone, I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel … and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again and he stopped bubbling.”
“There wasn’t any kitten-softness about her now. She was big and she was lovely, with the kind of curves that made you want to turn around and have another look. The lush fullness of her lips had tightened into the faintest kind of snarl and her eyes were the carnivorous eyes you could expect to see in the jungle watching you from behind a clump of bushes.”
How far into summer are we? Three weeks? Two? I recall the first day of summer was not too long ago. I am planning my luau at the end of the month and figured I might get another one in maybe in September. These days it hardly gets cold in October really.
I bought tons of tropical plants on sale in the last couple of weeks. I got a few things like table clothes and napkins at the stores.
But I went to get more stuff I had seen at Party City last weekend, only to find the summer stuff shelves looked like communist Russia. I went to Big Lots to grab one of those awful tiki buckets to put a drink mix in, and, where did everything go? Where are the racks of tacky tiki crap? I went to Hobby Lobby and was eyeing the plastic foliage and wandering the aisles, hoping to get a “notion’ when I saw the culprit. Fall. Yes, the fall decor of scarecrows and autumn leaves now occupied three large aisles! I had freaking missed the two weeks of summer! Fall is on us! I’ve barely finished off the hot dogs and chilli from the 4th of July!
Know what’s worse? Freakin’ Christmas crap is out too!
In this fubar world where the current fashions on the rack at Walmart look like what was on the rack (and I hated) in the 1970’s and I hear that 1980’s fashion is on the rise, I begin to wonder when current fashion will be the fashion and what that will mean. Baggy skater pants? But they are still wearing that! And we start Fall and Winter fashions and decor two weeks into summer. What’s current is from the recent past and catching up and what is in the stores is for the future, months away. Good god, what is wrong with this world? They can’t think of things to sell us fast enough!
This is a picture of the sign at the Sands on the day Dean Martin opened for the first time on the main stage. I had a little fun with it and added myself. I love that Martin Denny is in the second room that night. Classic crooner and the king of exotica on the same bill. Awesome! I make note of this for one simple reason. The Sands is destined for the wrecking ball. This home of the Rat Pack and of course the Aku Aku restaurant, which Bamboo Ben’s grandfather helped create, is being torn down so that it can be made ginormous. Go visit while you can.
Target has a line of outdoor and garden stuff this year called “Mai Tiki.” I’m sure Wayne Coombs is furious! Thay sell a couple of styles of 3 foot plastic tikis for your yard.
It seems the people who design the new items are not looking to Polynesian cultures for their inspiration as much as they are looking at old tiki mugs and vintage bastardized Polynesian Pop culture.
There is plenty of room to complain about true Polynesian culture being usurped by Americanized Polynesian culture. But I am glad to see vintage Poly Pop being promoted and 1950’s and 1960’s Hawaiian icons coming back in style, rather than the very bland American culture that washed away the traces of uniqueness that used to define Hawaii. At least bastardized Polyneisan culture has some roots in the original.
Now if they will just get the Coco Palms back open as it was when Elvis was filming there…
One of the great tiki temples of the era was the Kahiki in Columbus Ohio. I keep an eye out for ephemera from the place on Ebay all the time. The Moai mug is very common, but the clothing sold by bad spellers just drives me crazy!
I had a similar SNL moment when Fear played on October 31st, 1981. This was monumental. They played at John Belushi’s insistance. The audience was brought in to thrash and that too was allowed only because Belushi insisted. They destroyed the set. Ving said some things you can’t say on television. It was beautiful. Because of that performance, punk was banned on the show for a decade. I recall Lee Ving saying “I’ll give you a dollar to be my friend” to the audience and spitting on people. It was crazy and exactly how I felt. I had been in the sub-culture for a while and listening to U2, B-52s, BauHaus, etc., and when I saw Fear, I knew this was my music. My voice.
Ah, to be a punk in the Reagan era…
Not to be confused with Tiki Gardens, the theme park in Florida. It’s a natural extension of the tiki lounge in your home, to add tiki gardens in your yard. If you live in Florida or south Georgia or the Carolinas, etc., this may be fairly easy. If you live north, it gets tougher, but it’s all the more rewarding. I also say it’s in the true spirit of tiki to create a tropical oasis far from the tropics.
I suggest starting your search at Hardy Tropicals. They specialize in a variety of plants that can thrive way up into Canada! I have bought a lot from them this year and I am very happy with the plants and the info they send with them.
This year Home Depot and Lowes have both brought in a much greater variety of tropicals including carrying hardy Gardenias past the Spring, which I have not seen before. With these sources I now have six types of palms in the yard, and 3 types of banana trees. Some will have to winter in the basement, but many are hardy and I plan to get more hardy stuff in the future.
The extra cool thing is that these big stores are getting in a lot of tropicals and then marking them down. I got this banana tree for $23. They only got it in the store a week ago and now it is 1/2 price. It’s huge!
I got a digital camera a few years ago. Before that I had a nice 35mm camera and took a few pictures when the mood hit me. But since the digital came along, pictures now piled up on the computer. Thousands of pictures.
I made a nice screen saver of all the pictures of the dogcats. Occasionally converted them to web site use.
But the pile…
I decided the time had come to actually have pictures in my hands that I could share at with friends at work, at parties, in the car and around town. Trade with firends and collect all 12!
What I discovered was that the folks at Walgreens had made it darned easy to upload all the pictures I wanted, share with friends and click on a few and tell them to be magically transferred to paper at the Walgreens of my choosing in a jiffy.
Screw Flickr and and all those other sites. Can they print any picture I want down the street in a few minutes? No. Well, maybe. I have not checked recently.
But this works great, even if you are on vacation. Upload from the laptop and figure out the closest Walgreens.
I still hate the bastards for destroying the Kahiki however.
Death Star room staff greet visiting celebrities.
Ms Swanky and I were sleeping peacefully. As peacefully as possible when one of us is an incorrigable blanket thief. And then it happened. In the dark of the night the creatures came into the bedroom. Perhaps following me back from a short trip to the bathroom. As we were snor… snoozing, the dark creatures got into our bed and bit into our flesh! They are drinking our blood! Help!
So, I gotta get some Advantage for the dogcats and spray the house with chemicals today.