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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki The poetry of Don Blanding / Vagabond's House
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The poetry of Don Blanding / Vagabond's House
bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-09-02 09:33 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2012-08-29 10:42, virani wrote:
Thank you sven, and Karen for the article in tiki magazine. i really enjoyed it a lot. I had no idea who he was (yes, it means I'm not a very good studeent !).



Quote:

On 2012-09-01 10:17, forgotten tikiman wrote:
Great article about Blanding in the new issue of Tiki Magazine. I never knew about him but I am glad to know about him now and to be enlightend about his work and poetry in the pre-Tiki era.



I am very glad Kari (here Tangaroa-Ru) got to write an article about Don for Tiki Mag. So what do you folks think about my theory put forth in it that a certain Ernest Beaumont Gantt chose the name for his character and the look of his bar from "Vagabond's House" and its author !?



I also have another theory about Don No 1...

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-09-02 09:41 ]


 
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virani
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2012-09-22 05:29 am   Permalink

What's the theory about the Don 1 ?
Is there anyone that have mp3 copies of the album ? I'd love to hear it (I'd love the vinyl even more !!)


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-09-23 5:56 pm   Permalink

I have it also on CD - but at home, sorry. It is quite cheesy in its datedness, with pipe organ music in the background. Just as much of Blanding's work must have struck folks as cheesy by the 1950s...



My OTHER Blanding theory to some degree concerns that "datedness" in his art work. His illustrative style seems to have been stuck in the turn of the century, and in Art Nouveaux and Art Deco, even by the 1940s. This can partially be explained with "nostalgia", his preference of the olden days as compared to the mid-century (not unlike for some of us now liking the mid-century). Don's depictions of old Hawaii are pure romanticism...



...and romanticism is easily labelled as "old fashioned". The datedness also stems from the fact that he was already a talented artist in the 1920s...



...yet his penchant for this form of elaborate female costume and masquerade continued throughout his career





He often portrays women as a goddess, or queen...





...but never (as a romantic) in an overtly sexual way. It seems he was more popular among women than men...



...particularily older ladies, forming a mutual admiration society. The faces he drew were often androgynous...



...sometimes to the degree of being drag queen-ish





So my theory, based on his art work, is that good old Don was gay. Nothing wrong with that, he just grew popular at a time when that was not something that was openly admitted, as it would have been detrimental to his career.



He was an exceptionally talented artist, stylistically from another time...





...as Pre-Tiki as it can be



But I find my theory that Don The Beachcomber named himself after Don Blanding much more interesting and worthy of discussion here. Anybody care to comment?


 
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virani
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2012-09-24 12:15 am   Permalink

I'm not a specialist on Don Blanding at all, and the impact he could have had on Don the Beachcomber. It's interesting, though, that the only mention on how Ernest got Don's Beachcomber name on his biography by Arnold Bitner is :

"At the suggestion of friends who had often called him Don because of his bootlegging days, Ernest created a handcrafted driftwood sign and hung it out front. The sign read -Don's Beachcomber-."

It's the first time we hear Don the Beachcomber's name on his story.

No mention of Don Blanding there, but did he really explain why the change of name, or Don Blanding might have influence him ? Especially if Blanding was more of a lady's author, and then, not very suited for a Beachcomber's reputation. Then, the explanation with the Bootlegging business doesn't make really sense to me.


 
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virani
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2012-09-24 12:28 am   Permalink

In this great article "I'll be your tiki server" by Charles Perry, from 2001, the author shares your theory about Don the Beachcomber beign influenced by Don Blanding for picking his stage name. Very interesting. Sven, were you interviewed for this article ?

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/17/food/fo-13069

it says :

In 1934, when he opened his original Don the Beachcomber bar in Hollywood (it started serving Chinese food in 1937), he'd never been to the South Pacific, so he was probably under the spell of Don Blanding, a writer popular in the '20s for his poems about Hawaii. Certainly Beaumont-Gantt didn't name his restaurant Ernest the Beachcomber.
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-09-24 1:17 pm   Permalink

Interesting article by Perry, I did not see his Don comparison before! While the Bitner biography is full of fascinating, unknown history about Don, some of it should be taken with a grain of salt. Don might have wanted to obscure the simple copycat way of choosing his name with a more personal story.

My simple deduction (apparently shared by Perry) is based on the fact that the CONCEPT of "Vagabond's House" is very similar to that of a Beachcomber's hideaway.

Even good ol' Wikipedia says:

"He (Blanding) published his long poem "Vagabond's House" several times. (It was in the first, private, printing of Leaves from a Grass-House in 1923; the commercially published edition of the same book, later that year, included it with the title changed to "Aloha House". In 1928 he restored the original "Vagabond's House" title, making it the title poem of another collection.) Its detailed fantasy begins:
>>When I have a house as I sometime may I'll suit my fancy in every way...<<
...then describes a home filled with the mostly exotic mementos its poet collected in years of wandering the world's seaports or at least might have collected if his travels had not interfered..."

(end of quote from Wikipedia)

Admittedly, the ART of Blanding is unlikely to have been Don's inspiration, it is too clean and accurate, and Beachcomber-like drawings are rare - but they do exist:









Anyway, the poet's art is his words, and that's what Blanding was appreciated for - and Vagabond's House was his most famous poem. Its Bohemian flair obviously struck a chord with the public in its time.


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-10-08 12:44 ]


 
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mike and marie
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Joined: Jun 24, 2008
Posts: 127
Posted: 2012-10-07 12:54 pm   Permalink

Quote:

But I find my theory that Don The Beachcomber named himself after Don Blanding much more interesting and worthy of discussion here. Anybody care to comment?



We've thought about Blanding's influence in the birth of tiki for a while and were glad to read this thread. Sven, we find your theories compelling -- both of them.

There may be more images in addition to the driftwood "Don Blanding" sign that seem to have had a direct influence on Beach, and direct beachcomber imagery -- see 1930's Hula Moons, ferinstance.

In our research we've found at least one occasion of direct collaboration between Blanding and Beach ... or at least members of each other's camp (no pun intended!). In 1935, Bob Miller and perfumer Robert Felton formed The Hula-Lei Company and began manufacturing the first Hawaiian fragrances, bottled in carved wood containers and in tropical packaging that are what might be the first collectible tiki mementos.



Although to the best of our knowledge Blanding was only hired to come up with the names of the fragrances, some of the imagery seems to bear his trademark:





And the packaging, which is very classic tiki, and the tiki carvings, were designed and executed by Edward Malcolm Brownlee, also known as "Mickie" ... the master tiki carver who designed and decorated the original Don the Beachcomber restaurants!





And speaking of Blanding influence in tiki, was anybody else struck by the similarities between logos of Vagabond's House and another (later) tiki legend?




 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-10-07 11:15 pm   Permalink

Thank you M&M, that is great background info about the mingling of some major Polynesian pop players. Note that the only impacts that can count in having influenced Ernest Beaumont Gantt's choice of moniker for his 'cafe' logically have to lie in the period before its inception in 1934. Ernest might not have been aware of Blanding's early 1923 private publication, but after the 1928 Vagabond's House came out, it had 6 years to gain considerable popularity and be hard to miss for a South Seas fan like Gantt.

The Trader Vic's logo actually dates back to a common style of early museum display, when native weapons were presented less in a scientific manner and more as trophies - a concept which was later applied to Tiki bar wall decor and roadside signs. And before that, the 'Shield and crossed weapons' concept was used in European heraldry, and as martial castle wall decor. (In fact, it might have never been used in 'primitive' societies )


 
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Phillip Roberts
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Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1611
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2012-10-07 11:49 pm   Permalink

Aloha,
Virani wrote...

Quote:


http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/17/food/fo-13069

it says :

In 1934, when he opened his original Don the Beachcomber bar in Hollywood (it started serving Chinese food in 1937), he'd never been to the South Pacific




That is ABSURD to infer Donn was NOT in the South Pacific before 1934...

Donn's Obituary by Bob Krauss...(SB 6/7/89)

He visited Hawaii in 1929 en route to Tahiti...

Further more... obit 2- "A Man of the Tropics" by Ronn Ronck - (Honolulu Advertiser 6/14/89)

He first visited the South Pacific in 1929 while crewing on a 120 foot yacht. They stopped at Honolulu and Papeete Tahiti before delivering the yacht to it's owner in Sydney."

I have some other earlier articles as well that refer to the 1929 trip as well and will dig then out later...

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Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from
Bess Press Hawaii.

[ This Message was edited by: Phillip Roberts 2012-10-07 23:51 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-10-08 01:58 am   Permalink

Perry's mistake simply illustrates how by 2001 Don The Beachcomber research was largely non-existent. Besides the BOT and Jeff Berry's works, there had been little mention of the man for decades. Jeff was still compiling more data, and neither the Bittner recipe book nor the bio had been published. Also, the level of info and availability of newspaper archives on the web was much smaller compared to today.(I am not apologizing for his mistake, just putting the article in the context of its time)

Thanks for the addition to the dateline, Phil. Placing Beaumont-Gantt in Honululu in 1929 makes it even more likely that he came across the 1928 edition of Vagabond's House. Don Blanding was perhaps the toast of the town then.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-10-08 02:02 ]


 
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Phillip Roberts
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Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1611
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2012-10-10 10:57 pm   Permalink

Aloha,
Quote:

On 2012-10-08 01:58, bigbrotiki wrote:

Thanks for the addition to the dateline, Phil. Placing Beaumont-Gantt in Honululu in 1929 makes it even more likely that he came across the 1928 edition of Vagabond's House. Don Blanding was perhaps the toast of the town then.



I actually think it is most likely that Donn had at least a copy of Blanding onboard this yacht and it was an influence. Blanding was after all, the first poet Laureate of Hawaii, columnist and the father of "Lei Day".

The same way I now think the "Shark God" at the Royal Hawaiian

led to Vic's menehune iconography... Hotel

And many other of my far-fetched hair-brained theories and schemes like the "Goof of Honolulu"

_________________
Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from Bess Press Hawaii.

[ This Message was edited by: Phillip Roberts 2012-10-10 23:03 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-10-10 11:31 pm   Permalink

I like hair-brained theories. They create fertile ground for discussions. For example to me, there is just not enough likeness between the Royal Hawaiian Menehune and the Trader Vic characters to create a direct link. Plus there was ample material about Menehunes published that Vic could have taken his idea from. But there was just one "Don" (and his Vagabonds House) before there was a Don The Beachcomber.

 
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Dustycajun
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Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4431
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-10-11 10:19 am   Permalink

Bigbro,

I think that album cover pretty much seals the deal on your theory.





DC


 
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Jeff Central
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Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1611
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2012-10-11 11:57 am   Permalink

Here's a REAL Royal Hawaiian Menehune!!





Cheers and Mahalo,
Jeff

P.S. It's the guy in the middle!!


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-10-11 2:59 pm   Permalink

We love Ernie !!! DC, thanks, but I don't think the record cover can be used to support my theory, because I estimate it to be from the 50s...

Quote:

On 2012-10-07 23:15, bigbrotiki wrote:
... the only impacts that can count in having influenced Ernest Beaumont Gantt's choice of moniker for his 'cafe' logically have to lie in the period before its inception in 1934. Ernest might not have been aware of Blanding's early 1923 private publication, but after the 1928 Vagabond's House came out, it had 6 years to gain considerable popularity and be hard to miss for a South Seas fan like Gantt....



Anything after 1934 Blanding could have copied from Donn Beach.


 
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