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Buena Vista Social Club
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-08-12 11:14 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-12 10:22, lucas vigor wrote:
I agree with DJ on the music part, though. Rockabilly and surf have very little to do with the exotica. I have always said that exotica and lounge was performed by expert studio jazz musicians. Rockabilly, rock, surf, ect...I hate to say it but for the most part they are created by non-professionals. By professional I mean the ability to play jazz or classical, sight read, etc..As good as Dick Dale is, I doubt he does those things except at the most rudimentary level.
But the trend nowadays is to merge genres. Surf blended with exotica, ect..or surf with "tiki" imagery/themes/artwork.




I know, I am not really into blending like that, either. But I am not against mixing.

So you think Terence is simply not aware of anything else other than music, and unaware of the whole background of Tiki culture, that's why he throws it into the same pot with terms like "Tiki music"?

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-08-12 11:17 ]


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2008-08-12 11:26 am   Permalink

I think he is right when it comes to the music part of his statement.

But I think that when it comes to "tiki" culture, literally, you wrote the book.

Though it is true that a tiki is really just a sort of totem pole, I think you pretty much defined "tiki" as the name of a style of art/music/culture and even architecture.

And when a tiki newbie first reads your book, they go "aha!" so THATs what it is all about!!
At least that's what I thought when my sister first bought me the book. I did not know what the scene was called at the time. And I had been listening to Arthur Lyman records (and all the other exotic themed recordings..cuban..latin american, african, middle eastern, asian,) and lusting for fake cantonese food since I was 5!
I grew up here in socal, and always wondered why small motels looked so cool, and remember the tiki, space age and googie buildings all around Disneyland is the early 70s. I just never knew there was an actual word for all of this fun stuff. It is my opinion that you provided us with that word. Which is "tiki".

[ This Message was edited by: lucas vigor 2008-08-12 11:38 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-08-12 12:13 pm   Permalink

Well, thank you. And what makes it "worse", I even insist to spell Tiki with a capital "T" all the time, because it was the mythical demi-god Tiki that gave tiki statues their name, and thus, as an act of respect and ancestor worship, I invoke the mana-increasing name of Tiki even if it might be considered grammatically incorrect.

 
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DJ Terence Gunn
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 250
Posted: 2008-08-12 11:33 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-09 15:40, DJ Terence Gunn wrote:
A tiki is a statue, a totem. It is not a culture, not a musical style, not a decorative style.



Basically you are saying that all my writings are a sham, then? That the fact that I identified and have proven the Tiki to be THE symbol of the mainland Polynesian style of the 50s and 60s (as opposed to mainland Polynesian style in the 30s and 40s), in decor, architecture, graphic design, and other applied arts, does not warrant its examples to be called Tiki style?

And that, the Tiki being its figurehead, the escapist lifestyle lived out in Polynesian restaurants, bars, backyards and parties, which added cocktails, fashion and music to the mix, did not make up its own pop culture, now termed Tiki culture? And that the re-appreciation of that period today, with its creative outpour of art, decor, mixology and music, (which are all represented on this board) shall not be called Tiki culture either?

What is it then?
[/quote]

For your accomplishments and insight and researched heavily knowledge, you are owed a great deal of respect, Sven, more than I can ever give you. But honestly, though I know of you and have read/heard interviews with you, as well have read some posts of yours on tikicentral, I’ve never read any of your published literature. But that’s not to say I don’t indicate you as an expert on this particular subject. If you knew a bit of my history and had a private chat with me (saw my own home bar/lounge, perused my music collection, imbibed in my knowledge of properly made tropical cocktails, and cocktails otherwise, fashion-sense, and general knowledge and appreciation (and love!) of the mid-20th Century), I know you’d find that I understand ‘Tiki Culture’ a great deal better than most, and am not speaking out my backside. (And not all Tiki afficiandos are TC’ers, either. I know a few who are worth their salt.)

Being one of the founders and impresarios of ‘Cocktail Culture’ in the mid-1990s (at least in the NW, where the group of people I ‘hung’ with/attended my public functions had no idea that such a ‘scene’ was happening elsewhere), I’ve had my share of trying frustratingly to articulate to people what is was all about; and Tiki was part of that articulation. Some people understood it, but most did not. Those who didn’t understand it have moved on to other unrelated ‘trends’ or back to a blasé existence. There was no Tiki Central, and most of the tikicentral folks I’ve since met in the mid-2000s were not into the ‘scene’ I helped create then. But before that time, I have always had a fascination with bars and thematic bar styles – Tiki Bars being one of them, be they public or otherwise – and I know a thing or two about the history of architecture and pop culture style, as well as World Culture in general. And pertaining to which…

There is often a fine line between style and culture. Though heavily influenced by the South Pacific, popular Tiki style/décor is not a cultural one, but an architectural one, culminated from different tropical ports round the world. The basis of such décor, its blue print, in its now popular and historical state, initiated with Don(n) The Beachcomber, then Trader Vic’s – basically restaurateurs. (Anyone into Tiki knows this, of course, but I require stating it to further my point.) But a culture cultivated by a chain of restaurants? Hardly. A striking style and atmosphere (later labellised as ‘kitsch’) was created, engraved in balsa, a white mainlanders’ romanticised ‘tropical-escapist’ vision – culminated from certain influences and travel -- of paradise-style for other white mainlanders. (Of course, this is not to say non-whites and non-mainlanders didn’t attend and enjoy the ambience of such places, as quite obviously they did.) But whereas constructed bamboo, palm trees, thatch roofs and grass huts are prevalent in such said environments, and bring to mind such places as Hawaii for many, they are not limited to only the South Seas. Mexico, South America, The Caribbean, the Indonesian islands, Africa, and Asia all have (or had) such natural building elements and constructive styles. And fish floats and fishnets – I won’t go there. Take away the tiki statues and tapa, and the style and architecture could be representative of a number of other primitive styles from other regional cultures.

And tiki torches: they were never called that in earlier times, nor do they have actual tikis on them. And most non-historic/traditional Polynesian ‘Tiki’ mugs created today are not ‘Tiki’ mugs, they’re artful drinking vessels. But it’s easier to say ‘Tiki Mug’, isn’t it? Forget education or respect for culture, let’s bring everything down to a kitsch level the Tiki followers can understand.

To imply something is ‘Tiki’ is to imply the Hawaiian Islands. A tiki is literally a Polynesian totem of a god, spirit, or some such benevolent (or non-benevolent) being. ‘Tiki’ – today, perhaps in the mid-20th Century – is a colloquial term, much like ‘Lounge’, to quickly describe a certain style, without being overly pedantic. It’s easier to say ‘Tiki’ than to say ‘Pseudo-Polynesian’ or ‘Idealised-Polynesian’ or ‘White Man’s Polynesian Fantasy’ – all of which, including Tiki, are going to be offensive to most native Islanders (Hawaiians, Tahitians, Samoans, Tonga(n) s, etc.). To those in ‘the know’ it is blatantly obvious; to those not, it is often misinterpreted, as with ‘Lounge’ and ‘Cocktail Culture’. But all of us started with a fascination and we were taken, but ignorant.

Learning and continuing to learn is what is important – is what honed our outlook and articulation of describing our interest and admiration for all things ‘Tiki’. Frankly, I use the word ‘Tiki’, too, to describe what I mean (and, when writing, spell Tiki with a capital ‘T’ to indicate something other than a statue), to those that I hope are in ‘the know’, or, at least, have a rudimentary understanding of the style, décor, music, drinks, or otherwise.

In regards to the snowballed trend and popularity of Polynesian-styled restaurants and domestically based backyard luaus in the mid-20th Century, I’m well aware of it. One must also take into account the aspects of WWII soldiers and their time over seas, as well as the leisurely aftermath of U.S. jetsetters. I, in no way, deny the existence and recreation of such. But it was not and still is not a culture, as there is no cultural basis for any of it. Sure it's a restaurant and architectural style that culminated other restaurant styles (and, today, backyard sheds, home bars, and coffee houses). And such style was/is enjoyed largely by mainlanders of the U.S. and other non-tropic-region tourists, but that’s not a basis for a culture or cultural style. And unless there's a tiki and/or tapa present, the style isn't Tiki at all. THAT's really my point, when I say Tiki isn't a decorative style, etc.

Tiki is a basis for an evening out in an atmospheric, idealised tropical atmosphere. It’s fun, it’s escapism (where there is little); and then it’s back to the bourgeoisie work life style the proceeding day. It’s a trend, a pseudo-culture for those who have none, or are so disposed and disgusted with their own present-day lack of culture that they require to invent or seek their own (one that is more exotic), without having been instrumental in the creation thereof of said ‘culture’. And, if anything, and above all else, ‘Tiki style' is a relic of melting pot Polynesian-American style of the mid-20th Century that is being kept alive by those too young to have experienced it in its heyday.

But don’t get me wrong. I embrace this pseudo-culture/style whole-heartedly. (Events I’ve organised will justify that.) I love it. I love the fantasy, the décor, the ‘music’, the drinks, the food, the wonderful people I meet, the forum boards on tikicentral, etc. But I just don’t devote my life to it.

Ask yourself, ‘Did I invent “Tiki”, or did “Tiki” invent me? As long as people believe this fantasy I’m on a pedestal, an expert. But what am I without this fantasy?’

To say 'Tiki' to describe something saves a great deal of time. But the word and meaning can be just as pedestrian as the pedestrian one attempts to articulate the meaning to.

Perhaps I'm being too literal, too pedantic.

[ This Message was edited by: DJ Terence Gunn 2008-08-13 06:04 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-08-13 11:41 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-08-12 23:33, DJ Terence Gunn wrote:
Perhaps I'm being too literal, too pedantic.



Yes.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-08-13 11:42 am   Permalink

Sorry, Terence, you set yourself up for that one!
As I said above, I really appreciate your extensive replies, and I am happy about serious intellectual discourse on the matter, but the sad thing is that unless you have read both of my books, we can't really talk. Nevertheless, I will try to respond to some of your points:


On 2008-08-12 23:33, DJ Terence Gunn wrote:

>>There is often a fine line between style and culture. <<

But if there is pop culture, why shouldn't there be Tiki pop culture, i.e. Tiki culture? I am all for differentiating, and there are many more specific terms that all come together in Tiki culture: Tiki style, Tiki decor, Tiki architecture, Tiki art (vintage or Tiki revival), and so on...


>>Though heavily influenced by the South Pacific, popular Tiki style/décor is not a cultural one, but an architectural one, culminated from different tropical ports round the world. The basis of such décor, its blue print, in its now popular and historical state, initiated with Don(n) The Beachcomber, then Trader Vic’s – basically restaurateurs. (Anyone into Tiki knows this, of course, but I require stating it to further my point.) But a culture cultivated by a chain of restaurants? Hardly.<<

Not hardly, but definitely! That is the whole POINT of my "work" here and in my books, to show that something as trivial as restaurant decor can reach the realms of art, because it was so creative and unique and pervasive. And to many folks, I have succeeded. The ones that have read my books, that is.


>>Mexico, South America, The Caribbean, the Indonesian islands, Africa, and Asia all have (or had) such natural building elements and constructive styles. And fish floats and fishnets – I won’t go there. Take away the tiki statues and tapa, and the style and architecture could be representative of a number of other primitive styles from other regional cultures.<<

??? But the Tiki statues and graphics WERE there, so what's the point?


>>And tiki torches: they were never called that in earlier times, nor do they have actual tikis on them. And most non-historic/traditional Polynesian ‘Tiki’ mugs created today are not ‘Tiki’ mugs, they’re artful drinking vessels. But it’s easier to say ‘Tiki Mug’, isn’t it? Forget education or respect for culture, let’s bring everything down to a kitsch level the Tiki followers can understand.<<

My books demonstrated that in the mid-century popular terminology, all South Sea depictions of humans/ancestors were thrown together under the name "Tiki". THAT is part of the whole joke of Polynesian pop mythology! And Tiki torches were the only product where the name survived the "abolition" of Tiki culture in the 80s.

This where you really have to see (and read about) the overwhelming evidence in my books. As I said in my recent Tiki Magazine interview, I see myself as a middle brow writer who is raising low brow "kitsch" to high brow art...because in my opinion, it is.


>>Ask yourself, ‘Did I invent “Tiki”, or did “Tiki” invent me? As long as people believe this fantasy I’m on a pedestal, an expert. But what am I without this fantasy?’<<

Did I invent Tiki? Yes and no. No, because it was there...but it's pervasiveness in all walks of life (which makes it a pop culture) was not recognized in its heyday, and it had been utterly forgotten when I came upon it. By pulling all the facets of the Polynesian pop life style together, and identifying the Tiki as its figure head, I defined it as a pop culture genre for the first time, so I sort of invented it, yes. And yes, my books ARE an idealization of it, showing only the best examples, selecting them to make my various points. So there is a certain amount of fantasy creation involved. But the basic evidence still is irrefutable.

And again, your question: "As long as people believe this fantasy I’m on a pedestal, an expert. But what am I without this fantasy?" is a moot point. I wrote my books, they made their impact, and I am the source of that effect. Yes, if you take my Tiki books out of my life, I am not a Tiki author, just like if you take Tikis out of a Tiki Bar, it's not a Tiki bar. Wow.


>>To say 'Tiki' to describe something saves a great deal of time.<<

I agree, and I fight that generalization, and am all for differentiation. But I also accept the fact that Tiki is appreciated by many, yet only fully understood by a few.


>>But the word and meaning can be just as pedestrian as the pedestrian one attempts to articulate the meaning to.<<

To imbue something with meaning is an artful game, and some agree to play that game, others do not. Here is a nice example from Amazon, with the most recent review of Tiki Modern:

"...For the intellectually curious, however, Tiki Modern is more than an extrapolation on the first book's suburban tiki archeology. It is an entirely sober effort to explain how a passing suburban infatuation can be understood as a metaphor for America's conflicted psychological condition at what could now be called the apex of her global cultural influence and power.

The World of Witco- a Westenhaver-sculpted map of the world - as depicted on the inside covers of Tiki Modern is the perfect expression of what Kirsten has tried to achieve with this book. On one level Tiki Modern and Westenhaver's map convey the limitless scope and raw energy of space-age primitivism, but on a deeper level they illuminate America's emergence from an inward-looking, pre-war isolationism to a self-conscious and over-sized sense of itself as a global superpower.

A careful reader will linger over the text in Tiki Modern as well as the well-cataloged art and be inspired not only to appreciate and perhaps collect Witco furniture, scupture and paintings, but to seek out and understand how North American society interpreted itself during a period in which the wealth and idealism of the New World pushed the boundaries of technology, art, fashion, architecture and music into realms both sublime and grotesque.

If one looks carefully, the seeds of America's eventual failure to fulfill its imagined destiny as a unifier of peoples and cultures can be glimpsed in the pages of Tiki Modern and within the wild world of Witco...." ---


My my, I sure do like a little intellectual discourse




 
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Kailuageoff
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1504
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2008-08-13 7:38 pm   Permalink

It seems to me this discussion is hung up on the word "culture". Of course Tiki was never a culture in the sense that a specific geographically distinct ethnic group evolved an elaborate and unique social system, however, in mid-century modern suburban America the traditional definitions of culture such as language, geography, ancestry and religion were dissolved by the collision of multiple immigrant cultures, the emergence of mass media, the availability of affordable global travel and the emergence of what sociologists identified early on as "popular culture". "Tiki culture" as thoroughly explained in Sven's writings is not only an easily identified (and much-beloved) pop subculture, it was one of the first of many less enduring and fully-expressed pop subcultures that have come and gone over the past fifty years.

To claim the term "Tiki Culture" is incorrect, is to miss the entire point of the thousands of posts on this Web site, never mind Sven's books.
KG



 
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DJ Terence Gunn
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 250
Posted: 2008-08-14 03:16 am   Permalink

Being that this post was initially supposed to be about the Buena Vista Social Club, and due to a comment (comments) I stated at the end of my initial post (which I will adhere to) that has deviated the initial thread's question and query (a talent at which I'm very good at, it seems), I realise this is not the thread, nor indeed the forum or website (seems strange, doesn't it? But when all people think the same, no one is thinking), for which to continue such discussion (even though I have A LOT more I would like to say -- especially to Sven's rebuttal to my last rebuttal, which I thoroughly enjoyed).

Anyway, my apologies for prompting said deviation and largely unpopular contradicting view point.


 
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Kawentzmann
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 254
From: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 2008-08-14 04:16 am   Permalink

The thing with Buena Vista Social Club music is, that it is part of the authentic/folk/world music fortress. And Tiki, as in pop-tiki-culture, can’t have anything to do with it. Aside from sharing some rhythms and instruments.

It’s the difference of seeing the world as it is or seeing the world as it could be.


 
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KuKu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2008
Posts: 436
From: Santa Cruz, CA. norcal
Posted: 2008-08-14 10:25 pm   Permalink

I doubt you would see Buena Vista Social Club preforming at a luau but I could be wrong...
_________________
One day, there will be a cure for tiki,
That's the day I'll throw my rum away...



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DJ Terence Gunn
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 250
Posted: 2008-08-15 3:19 pm   Permalink

While many forms of Latin folk music, and indeed Latin countries, have strong similarities, the music on Buena Vista Social Club could easily be Spanish or Mexican folk music to the listener. There isn't a great deal of definitive differentiation. The song 'Buena Vista Social Club' is probably the only song -- it being instrumental and very 'cocktail'/sophisto-nightclub-sounding -- that could fit in fairly snugly alongside the likes of Les Baxter, Martin Denny, and Arthur Lyman. 'El Carretero' is perhaps my favourite of all the songs; something about that ascending/descending stand-up bass rhythm that gets me. The song has a dark, romantic appeal to it.

 
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