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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki E.C. Bali Hai Restaurant Tikis?
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E.C. Bali Hai Restaurant Tikis?
hiltiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 10, 2004
Posts: 3134
From: Reseda, calif.
Posted: 2007-01-08 11:35 pm   Permalink

What got me the most were the hands, specially the one on the shorter guy. It just didn't seem right. I agree with Bosko and Sven.

 
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Bahookahuna
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2007
Posts: 34
From: Eye of Erna-Erna Backyard Bali Hai, CA
Posted: 2007-04-11 4:28 pm   Permalink

Bosko and Sven (side note to the venerable Sven: I'm not worthy!!!), I share your visceral reactions to these tikis (if you will). But why is that? (< philosophical question alert)

What would really be helpful/instructive (not to mention a lot of fun) -- probably to a broad TC audience -- would be a really incisive discussion about the categories of tiki. The topic might even be worth its own thread. From the highest altitude, I think I can identify three broad categories of tiki: traditional tiki and its replicas (historically correct Polynesian art), midcentury Polynesian pop and its replicas (Enchanted Tiki Room and Mai Kai "artifacts," eg), and modern hypercommercialized sacrilege (such as the tikis imaged on the last page). There may be another category or two that I'm not hip to, and there will be many subcategories.

Ideas?

Venerably,
Bahookahuna


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11193
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-12 08:40 am   Permalink

Hmmm. Right of the bat I would say you forgot the fourth category, to be found in Creating Tiki: The Tiki Revival Tikis, inspired by mid-century Polynesian pop, and then to some degree by authentic, ancient Tikis. It ranges all the way from highly stylized creations like Bosko's to the very-close-to-the-old-original carvings of Basement Kahuna, and truly is as noteworthy and commendable as any of the two positive categories (ancient carvings and Poly pop).

But the borders between good and bad style are very subjective and dependent on: Personal taste, a good eye based on experience, and on commitment to the matter at hand. The human need to categorize is inborn, I am prone to it myself, but until I write the Big Book of the Tiki revival to show what I deem worthy of being called Tiki (let's see..that'll take maybe ten years?), I will only occasionally voice critique, as in the case of the Poly-Asian carvings. I tried to reveal the "hypercommercialized sacrilege" style in my Un-Tiki thread, and it turned into mud slinging fest. And though I am bored by the un-differentiated, unconstructive back-patting that is very prevalent nowadays, I respect every Tiki enthusiast's right to personal likes and dislikes, and will only voice dismay in extreme, non-personal cases, where purely commercial motives and blatant ignorance of the style are apparent.

But let us one more time remind ourselves what Tikis originally are inspired by: Ancestor worship!
When a Tiki carving, a painting, or mug bears no trace of the mana of either ancient Tiki styles, OR the work of the mid-century Polynesian pop ancestors, it simply is not Tiki anymore. It's pop, it's art, it's kitsch, or what ever, but Tiki it's not. Respect the ancestors! That's your mana-mantra for today!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-04-12 10:06 ]


 
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Bahookahuna
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2007
Posts: 34
From: Eye of Erna-Erna Backyard Bali Hai, CA
Posted: 2007-04-12 4:51 pm   Permalink

Sven,

Thanks for the response. After hitting "Submit" on my comment last night, three things occurred to me: (1) I'd used "venerably" incorrectly (I'm a professional editor so this one kept me up late); (2) this topic has probably been covered in spades, both in these forums and elsewhere (I'm new to these forums!); and (3) "modern hypercommercialized sacrilege" isn't the best way of wording what I had in mind.

Regarding the word "modern," look at the decor at the new Mister Tiki's Mai Tai Lounge in San Diego. You find a very modern spin on tiki there -- their giant moai sports a neon nose-ring, the pufferfish lights are made of handblown glass and wear sunglasses...the place even includes some great Bosko stuff! So modern isn't what I meant by "modern." Instead what I had in mind is...let me see...soulless, corporate, or -- as you might put it -- forgetful of the ancestors (both the traditional stuff and its midcentury Poly pop interpretations; by the way, in my earlier comment I used the word "replicas" to include in the good categories all the recent Tiki Revival stuff that ISN'T forgetful of the ancestors).

Maybe the words "hypercommercialized sacrilege" are all right. The Poly-Asian tikis, for example -- to my own personal tastes -- "feel" commercial. That is, I imagine the commissioner of the pieces, and/or the artists, saying to themselves "Let's make some money" (in part dishonestly, it sounds like, by misrepresenting the statues' origins, both actual and stylistic), rather than the more pure "Let's make some money, but let's also generate some mystery, romance, adventure, nostalgia, and a potent and atmospheric sense of place." Commercial stuff -- I'm thinking, for another instance, of these new surfboard-shaped tikis, though I could be way off the mark by including those (anyone: feel free to correct me) -- would look at home in any equally corporate, soulless, and wannabe setting, like your beachtown neighborhood Friday's, perhaps. Commercial tikis are to noncommercial tikis as Jimmy Buffett is to exotica.

Yet lines get blurred, don't they? I notice that both Robertiki and Queen Kamehameha have purchased these guys, so that fifty years from now, during the next great Tiki Revival, the urban archeaologists of that day will unearth one of these things in some authentically-tiki-backyard-Bali-Hai known to have been erected by one of these respected tikiphiles made immortal on Tiki Central, and -- bam! -- today's Poly-Asian sacrilege will have become a genuine tiki-culture artifact to be prized and emulated by tiki purists wearing antenna space helmets and driving flying Mini Coopers.

[ This Message was edited by: Bahookahuna 2007-04-12 16:53 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Bahookahuna 2007-04-12 16:54 ]


 
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PockyTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 28, 2006
Posts: 556
From: central MA
Posted: 2007-04-12 5:02 pm   Permalink

"Respect the ancestors" Sounds good to me!

 
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Bahookahuna
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2007
Posts: 34
From: Eye of Erna-Erna Backyard Bali Hai, CA
Posted: 2007-04-19 11:49 pm   Permalink

Sven,

If you have the time, would you do me the great favor of glancing at the tikis offered on this site:
http://www.tropicaltikis.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=22, and telling me your impressions of them?

I know they're carved in Indonesia, but the designs look solidly American (modern) in origin. Are they Poly-Asian, or does the designer (if not the actual carver in Indonesia) seem to have had firsthand reference to at least the modern interpretation of Poly Pop?

To your experienced eye, are these good or not so good? I ask mainly because, as you might have guessed by this juncture, I've purchased one, and -- now that it's far too late -- want to know if a better-versed tikiphile would furl his brow, gnash his teeth, or nod in assent at them.

If you'd like to plead the fifth so as not to offend a local purveyor, that will make perfect sense to me and I won't pursue further.

Cheers.


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11193
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-20 10:33 am   Permalink

I am not impartial, and it is obvious that I am heavily in favor of true vintage mid-century Tiki style. My appreciation for Tiki grew out of my encounter with Oceanic Arts, and the subsequent research fueled by it. But nowadays there are so many Tiki manufacturers out there, and even though this whole industry was (often unbeknownest) spurred by my book, the field is so convoluted that I cannot expect everyone to walk the line all the time, especially Tikiphiles that have to rely on mail order "brides" So here's my personal, subjective opinion of this specific product line:

They are not as bad as others, but not as good a some of the eminent carvers here on TC.
I find some of their designs acceptable, though not very creative. And I do not like glossy Tikis in general (there are exceptions) and certainly not painted ones, (especially with a pineapple on the forehead, or a bright red tongue), and those big teeth have become a tiresome cliche.

Again, I see a genericness in the pieces, caused no doubt by the cultural disattachment of the carvers being from Asia. I know this might sound ridiculous considering we are talking about a second hand pop culture to begin with, but to me it makes sense.



[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2007-04-20 10:39 ]


 
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Bahookahuna
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2007
Posts: 34
From: Eye of Erna-Erna Backyard Bali Hai, CA
Posted: 2007-04-23 8:10 pm   Permalink

Sven,

Thanks for the feedback. If it helps with your urban archaeological research for the next book, I can tell you that these (from Culbertson Imports) were indeed carved in Asia, specifically in Indonesia. You might even consider contacting Culbertson to see if they happen to know where TravelingJones's tikis come from. All things are possible. This might all end up in your "What To Avoid" chapter, of course.

That being said, I'm not sure the designs themselves are from Indonesia -- I think it's imaginable that a couple of Southern California guys, influenced by the same "new tiki idiom" that's all over the place and that you partly defined in your post, came up with the designs and then commissioned some Indonesian carvers to produce the goods. TravelingJones's tikis strike me as probably having been designed in Asia, while Culbertson's seem strongly influenced by the new directions in American tiki.

Look at some of the stuff coming out of Florida; PalmTreeCharlie, for example (http://www.tikis4u.com/). There, you have the same giant teeth, the pineapples on the foreheads, what Bosko called "crazy scariness" and ascribed to current American tiki interpretation, and a feature of the "new tiki idiom" you didn't mention but that I think belongs to the same genre -- what I call "the baboon look," of which my new tiki, by the way, is itself guilty. But PalmTreeCharlie is from Florida, and his tiki touchstones are, presumably, DisneyWorld's Enchanted Tiki Room, the Mai Kai, and other undefiled mid-century Poly Pop sites. So all those characteristics are, I would think, American in origin. Conversely, the pot bellies, wrong proportions, and too-humanlike trunks and limbs of TravelingJones' tikis are -- I would guess, as you guys did -- Asian. As someone else mentioned, you can see a probable influence from Buddhist statuary.

Oh, my tiki is also guilty of the giant tongue, which had to -- I think -- have sneaked into the idiom via exposure to images of Maori carvings. The Maori being from New Zealand, that feature is not completely un-South Pacific, though it may be un-mid-century Poly Pop (I'm not sure).

Lastly, my tiki is guilty of having been glossy. Really, really glossy. But you'll be relieved to know, when imagining all those glossy tikis gleaming away in backyards all over America, that the gloss almost completely weathers off with the first good rain.

You mentioned cutting your tiki teeth (if I may paraphrase) on Oceanic Arts. I cut my own starting in 1970 hunting for the Hidden Tiki in the shadow of the Goof at the Bali Hai, listening to the birds sing words and the flowers croon at Disneyland, sneeking guilty peeks at Les Baxter's "Soul of the Drums" album cover in various tiki living rooms around San Diego, overhearing "Le Sacre du Sauvage" on LP (played by the LP's original buyer), and with my siblings begging my parents to pull into the Hanalei Hotel parking lot so we could glimpse the lava rock waterfalls. And in the end, the goofiness, humor, and even painted features of our new tiki from Culbertson seemed to fit seamlessly into my own tiki story. Goofiness, humor, and paint, could all, after all, also describe any tiki from the Bali Hai or from that most iconic of all mid-century Poly Pop sites, Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room. Our new tiki even gets along well with the two PNG-style masks and pufferfish light from Oceanic Arts, and with the moai carved by Leroy Schmaltz's own two hands.

Come to think of it, even TravelingJones' tikis don't look half bad in Queen Kamehameha's spot-on backyard (which includes one of the finest backyard tiki bars I've ever seen; Bosko, are those a couple of yours on the wall?):
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=20143&forum=18&hilite=queen%20kamehameha%20backyard and http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=21678&forum=1

...so who knows?

_________________
Bahookahuna

Look not into the eyes of the idol...



[ This Message was edited by: Bahookahuna 2007-04-23 20:15 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11193
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-24 07:21 am   Permalink

EYE know! ...what I like, and I put it in my book, and enough people liked it to get this Tiki thing on a roll. What can I say, I know that this is all fun and games, I am certainly not out to spoil any-body's fun. I am more into the art, others more into the drinking and partying, one would be boring without the other.
I choose to expound on my views here because I care, for obvious reasons, but what more can I say about this...

There is good tongue and there is bad tongue ( ), there is good teeth and there is bad teeth, and there is so-so bad and there is extremely bad, everyone has to decide for themselves. I cannot give absolution for what I don't like, but I still hope I am able to function as the benevolent big brother to the guidance seekers here.


 
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Bahookahuna
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2007
Posts: 34
From: Eye of Erna-Erna Backyard Bali Hai, CA
Posted: 2007-04-24 10:16 am   Permalink

Sven,

You're doing a great job!! Indeed, your book is at the top of my Christmas wish list. What an excellent resource you are, I'm sure to everyone here.

Thanks for the great banter.

Despite my newer-style backyard tiki (settled on also in part because it resonated with our 10- and 3-year-old), I'm also more into the traditional roots of tiki -- I appreciate more what inspired the first Poly Pop generation than how they, in turn, have inspired us -- so I still track with you.

Best,
Bahookahuna
_________________
Bahookahuna

Look not into the eyes of the idol...



 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5057
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2007-04-24 10:29 am   Permalink

A lot of these have the source for their style in Wayne Coombs at Mai Tiki. His style has been copied by a lot of Florida carvers. The teeth, the pineapple on the forehead, that's Wayne's. It may not be to your taste, but, it has spawned a lot of copies, and in the not so distant past, his carvings were the only ones out there. He shipped tikis everywhere and covered Florida. He was selling. He spawned a lot of imitators. When I see those on that site, and PalmTreeCharlie, I see Wayne Coombs. He would say rip off and he is pretty pissed off about it.
_________________

Announcing Swank Pad and Crazy Al's Molokai Maiden!


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11193
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-24 11:22 am   Permalink

I really like Wayne, he is a great guy, and he has always stated that he was making the style that people were buying most. And there is a simple reason why I did not mention him. or the talented Benzart in the BOT. I aimed at describing the HEYDAY of Tiki, which was from the late 50s to the late 60s, and both of these guys are 70s carvers. And I can see that in their style, it just did not fit into the BOT.
This is NOT a critique of their work, just my way of being precise about the aesthetic period characterized in my book.


 
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hiltiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 10, 2004
Posts: 3134
From: Reseda, calif.
Posted: 2007-04-24 5:03 pm   Permalink

I have to say the only reason I bought the Book of Tiki 5 years ago of all places in a nei ghborhood swap meet is because of it's true charaterization of mid-century tiki style. I have tried to stay close to this understanding whenever I have purchased anything related to tiki. I think knowledge and education can only help us make wiser decisions in collecting.

 
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Queen Kamehameha
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 21, 2003
Posts: 1410
From: So Cal
Posted: 2007-05-07 2:10 pm   Permalink

I just saw the rest of this thread and from my point of view, I think both Sven and Bahookahuna, both have valid points and are right in manyways

Sven, I have all your books and agree on your take on Tiki And pop. Your books set the stage and bar for the rest of us to build our tiki worlds on. But I also agree in the personal part. I have seen may yards, bars that I wouldn't have, but all in all it does keep the tiki movement alive and they are having fun with it. Maybe good, maybe bad, but not everyone can afford all the offical, realistic OC items or witco items. In my Yard, I have Lamps By Ona, Kahaka, and many all original lamps from closed restaurants, I have statues from closed restaurants I have many by BK and a few news ones I like as well. I wish I could have done all OC, but on some level, even Bob and Leroy have some of their interputation in their carvings. This one that started the thread, I actually bought because I liked it, it has size and presence, it looked old as well. I did know it was new when I bought it. And it fit great in the spot I bought it for.

I think the great thing about Tiki is the way everyone makes it their own, from decor to drinks. And I think Sven you are a huge part of that even if you can't control where it goes or how it goes, the good thing is we all carry it forward and keep it going. Maybe im wrong, but that is just my opinion.


Amy
PS- Thanks Bahookahuna, glad you like my yard and bar, I worked hard on it and am very proud of it. Thanks to all the artists that I have items from, including BambooBen.




 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11193
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-05-07 3:37 pm   Permalink

....MUST....CONTROL....TIKI...CULTURE....!!!! ARRRGH!

You are so right, I must make piece with ....reality.
But just to make clear, I don't get mad at the people that buy these, but at the DEALERS that offer these under FALSE PRETENSES. These lying, pretending, "I-am-not-sure-but-I-FEEL-that-this-piece-of-firewood-is-WITCO!", S.o.B.s really get my goat.

And I am also pointing out why stylistically the Asian carvings seem off to me, personally. But again, I do not blame the carvers, or even question their abilities. It is understandable that they don't get the Tiki thing. Who really does...(sniff, whimper,)


 
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