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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » JOHN-O's Las Vegas (& Honolulu pg 8) Thread
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JOHN-O's Las Vegas (& Honolulu pg 8) Thread
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2682
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-11-28 1:16 pm   Permalink

"Honolulu Confidential" Part 7 of 10

Curious to sample the Mai Tai at Jimmy Buffett's place, I walked over to the Beachcomber Hotel adjacent to the International Market Place.

I spotted the 2nd floor restaurant from the street but couldn't figure out where the entrance was. I asked in the downstairs gift shop and they directed me towards the escalator. Vaguely remembering my Tiki history, I asked if this hotel was where the old Don the Beachcomber's used to be (can anyone here confirm this?). The sales lady said it didn't ring a bell, but upstairs was where Don Ho's old showroom used to be.

Don Ho's old space is now occupied by Jimmy Buffett ?? !!

Now to me, Don Ho is one of Poly-Pop’s biggest icons and deserves our Tiki respect. If anything, he validates Tiki’s lounge roots even if he bookends its last golden days. I sometimes get the feeling however, he’s only remembered for “Tiny Bubbles” and his final “Fat Elvis” period. Even on the Tiki Music forum, you’ll find very few threads that cover his career.



It’s always been one of my biggest Tiki regrets that I never saw him perform in Waikiki, even though I had many opportunities. Now it’s too late.

As I stood outside Jimmy B.’s restaurant, I just couldn’t bring myself to step inside. Out of respect for Poly-pop’s other great “Don”, I just turned around and walked away.



As I headed back towards the escalators, this place caught my eye...



Cool !! Could this place have a connection to the Huntington Beach Surfing Museum? Maybe they’ve heard of BigTikiDude (who’s a board member there and is internationally known in the Surf Music community).

As I entered through the door, I was puzzled to see what was essentially a bar with a few display cases of surf boards. The bartender asked “Can I get you a drink?” I responded “Oh sorry, I thought this was a museum.” She said “It is. It’s owned by Jimmy Buffett and those display cases are filled with his collection of vintage surf boards.”

A Jimmy Buffett Surfing Museum ?? !!

Sorry BigTikiDude.

This was really turning out to be a disappointing day !!

To try to salvage things, I decided to continue with my Mai Tai research and check out another Honolulu haven of high-end mixology, the Waikiki Edition Hotel.



This new hotel was originally one of the Ilikai’s towers. Wow, the stark modern design made me feel like I was in a West Hollywood boutique hotel. I wanted to try their “deconstructed” take on the Mai Tai…



It was a subtle and sophisticated drink, topped with an almond-tasting foam. Interesting but frankly I like my cocktails with more punch. Next I had the Japanese Julep which was unique as well.



I also tried one of their bar sandwiches which was a take on a Cuban sandwich. It was good but so small I could have eaten two.

This place was a little too "hip" for my tastes, I felt like I needed to get back to my mid-century comfort zone. I wasn’t too far from the old-school Wailana Cocktail Lounge, so I walked the few blocks there and enjoyed a bourbon on the rocks in their unique octagonal room.





Good enough for 1958. Good enough for 2010.


 
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Luckydesigns
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2163
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2010-11-28 10:21 pm   Permalink

John-O, I stopped off in waikiki years ago after a trip to Maui. I stopped there with reservations to see Don Ho.... When we went to be seated forthe show, the hostess said, "Oh, my, I'm sorry, Mr. Ho is in.......Orange County, Ca right now." What the hell?? I will never forget that... And I never did get to see Don Ho live.... WAH Wah wahhh.....
_________________
Spike
www.facebook.com/thehulagirls
www.thehulagirlsmusic.com



 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2682
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-11-29 09:20 am   Permalink

Spike, I think that would make a great Hula Girls Song. "Where's Don Ho? (He's at the Big Luau in the Sky)"

Don Ho is so beloved in Hawaii. I was talking to a vendor in the International Market Place whose family business has been there since the early 1970's. He said everyone called him "Uncle Don" and he would always reply "How ya doin'? How's da family been?" even if that was the first time he met you.

The IMP guy said whenever he traveled out of the U.S. and mentioned he was from Hawaii, he would always be greeted with "Hawaii ?" "Don Ho !!". That always made him proud that Don Ho was so universally known especially when Don was a Hawaii local from a poor neighorhood who went on to become famous.

So is Don Ho really Tiki ?? I say YES !!


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-11-29 09:26 ]


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2010-11-29 09:44 am   Permalink

If Don Ho ain't tiki, then I don't know WTF is!

By the way, Pat Enos knew Don Ho personally! (but as we know, Smokin' menehunes are not Tiki, so who gives a rat's ass, right?)


 
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Luckydesigns
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2163
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2010-11-29 10:01 am   Permalink

That would make a great song! Thanks, John-O.

 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2682
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-11-29 10:02 am   Permalink

Well the Bigbro validates him (sort of).

Liner notes from "The Sound of Tiki"...

"Don Ho is often mentioned in conjunction with Tiki style, a fact which calls for some differentiation. Although Hawaii and Hawaiian tourism were the inspiration for Tiki culture, it was the American mainland where Tiki was turned into an art form. And though Ho clearly is the master of Hawaiian schmaltz, his career did not take off until the second half of the '60s, after the Tiki trend had peaked. Stylistically Don Ho is to Tiki style what the '70s Elvis is to Rock 'n' Roll: Part of the phenomena, yet a sign of its end being near."


 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1535
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2010-11-29 10:12 am   Permalink

From the magazine "Surfer's Journal" a couple years ago....

"Since this article, half of the Santa Barbara Surf Museum has moved to a location at the old Don The Beachcomber in Waikiki and is scheduled to open spring 2009, as a self-contained exhibit as part of a new Jimmy Buffett restaurant project."

A beautiful magazine that featured the SBSM with some great photos of their collection.


 
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2010-11-29 10:25 am   Permalink

John-O, great stuff! I can't think of The House Without a Key without thinking of Charlie Chan (the first Chan novel was called that, and was apparently named after the bar where some of it takes place). Essentially the House Without a Key is to Charlie Chan as John's Grill in San Francisco is to Sam Spade.

Sorry to hear Buffett has infiltrated Don Ho's spot at the Beachcomber. I saw Don there in December 1996, and will always remember it. I went to Oahu with my hot rod band Del Noah and the Mt. Ararat Finks to play a surf industry-related gig with the Ziggens (this was when Eric Wilson of Sublime was playing bass with us in Del Noah).

We got into Waikiki on late Friday afternoon, and I was bummed because Arthur Lyman played the New Otani during lunch every Friday, so we missed him by about 3 hours. Miguel of Skunk Records (who set up the show we were playing) had arranged/schmoozed us into the Don show on the guest list. This was at the time Don was trying to promote his daughter Hoku, who was about 15 at the time, into a show biz career (she did indeed become a brief Britney Spears-type pop star about 3 years later), and he knew (or his managers told him) that Skunk was a hot label with Sublime's success, so before the show (at the meet-and-greet in the outdoor entry to the theater, where Don did his photo-ops in his white chair) he had Hoku introduced to Miguel. A little later I saw the protective father in Don come out a little bit, when it seemed to him that Miguel was getting a little too "friendly" with his daughter!

We got our picture taken with Don as a band. I got to sit in Don's chair (I thought we'd have time to change clothes between getting off the plane and going to Don's, otherwise I would have dressed more nicely than a t-shirt)--Vince is next to me, and Eric, Blair and Mudd are at top surrounding Don.


Then--showtime! Don Ho's show operated like clockwork. Don sat in front of his piano with an earpiece, and his director talked to him through it the whole time, telling him what dedications were coming up, what guests, etc. His typical crowd, as you'd expect were retirees, some on 50th anniversaries, having birthdays and other special occasions which were all relayed to Don via his earpiece (names, places, dates, etc.). And it was obvious how tired Don Ho was of being "Don Ho," and doing the same songs and the same greetings and dedications for several shows a night. However, he also realized long before that it was impossible for him to f#@$ up his career: he was DON HO, and no matter what he said or did, any retirees coming to Waikiki HAD to see Don Ho, so he was in that golden place for entertainers where his career was virtually un f#$%-uppable.

He had enjoyed a few cocktails before and during the show, was just ripping on the retirees he was saluting with anniversaries and birthdays (tons of death and can't-get-it-up jokes), in what would almost be mean-spirited ways if he didn't have a smile on his face. When it came time to introduce "Tiny Bubbles," he said "God how I hate this song!" and we all felt his pain. But it was a fun show. Eric, and Jon from the Ziggens, got to go up and jam with Don on bass and percussion for a couple of songs. Don put on a great show, even though it was stage-managed within an inch of its life. Definitely an experience I'll always remember, especially now realizing that not only is Don gone, his former home has been Buffetized.

Caltiki Brent


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2010-11-29 10:50 am   Permalink

Great story!

 
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2010-11-29 11:21 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-27 15:38, JOHN-O wrote:
Here's a mind-boggling bit of Poly-Pop history related to this thread...

102-year old Bill Tapia, "The Duke of Uke", often sits in with the Smokin' Menehunes. (Maybe we'll see him at their upcoming Bahooka show on Dec 4th).

Bill actually played at the opening of Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1927 !!








The most mind-blowing of all of Bill Tapia's life stories and the people he worked with (from Louis Armstrong on down) is the fact that when he was 10 he played a World War I USO show with John Philip Souza himself!

Caltiki Brent


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2010-11-29 11:48 am   Permalink

You should see his wall of pictures in his house....he knew EVERYONE!

 
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A Frame
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 16, 2009
Posts: 257
From: Mr. C's on the Coast Highway
Posted: 2010-11-30 4:57 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-27 19:01, msteeln wrote:
This unassuming waterfront stage has seen most every great Hawaiian music talent of the exceptional post WW2 era, a fact that barely touches on half the history of this iconic spot...

Quote:




Fun stuff to follow JOHN-O. Wanted to add a little life to the House Without a Key stage!





[ This Message was edited by: A frame 2011-08-30 15:20 ]


 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 279
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2010-11-30 7:04 pm   Permalink

Sad 'the Key' no longer continues their decades long tradition of steel guitar every night on their stage.

 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2682
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-11-30 7:11 pm   Permalink

Is that the Hiram Olsen Trio?

According to James Teitelbaum,

"Hiram has been playing locally since 1957, and his trio is the only act in Waikiki (that we know of - and we looked) performing classic hapa haole tunes."

Also here's the recipe for the Halekulani Mai Tai that I found on their web site:

1/3 Ounce Orgeat Syrup
1/3 Ounce Orange Curaçao
1/3 Ounce Rock Candy Syrup
3/4 Ounce Bacardi Gold Rum
1/2 Ounce Bacardi 151 Rum
1 1/4 Ounce Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 Ounce Bacardi Select (float)



As I thought, no pineapple juice in that one !!


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-11-30 19:19 ]


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2010-11-30 7:15 pm   Permalink

"the only act in waikiki playing hapa haole music"


Isn't that f-ing sad??


 
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