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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » In Search of Frank Bowers...
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In Search of Frank Bowers...
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11192
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-12-06 5:21 pm   Permalink

That is indeed some juicy looking posing there in that back bar painting. Did we not have paintings from some place called MECCA in this thread here?

John-O, after several attempts I finally came away from the Embers with satisfying photographic results. On one visit I talked to a local bar fly who claimed that the dive bar across the street, the STEIN, once had Bowers paintings too -- all done in Bavarian style! One theme that we have not seen by Bowers yet, but I can fully imagine it: Zaftig dirndl-clad St.Pauli-type girls and their yodeling manfolk! Mr. Smiley would have been in heaven!



Would have, because I perused the Stein's interior with X-Ray eyes, and not one shred of the existence of such folly was visible. Either the interior was fully remodeled, or the story was an urban myth. Though as I said, I can vividly picture a Bavarian Bowers scene in my mind's eye, it just fits!

And I am still in denial of the fact that all the Joe Keawe Polynesian Bowers are a loss, SOMEONE must have kept SOMETHING!?


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11192
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-12-08 09:00 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-30 13:16, JOHN-O wrote:
I'm up for the following:
1. Based on CalTiki's comments, I'm willing to be designated driver for a small group of TC'ers who would like to visit both Embers Lounge and the Foc'sle Bar some Saturday afternoon. We can meet at Oceanic Arts. We can also visit Poor Denny's Saloon and maybe the Tamarack Inn to add some variety. You're on your own for the Buccaneer (unless upper-middle class white people intimidate you). Please PM me if you'd be interested in such an excursion.



I must caution you to visit The Embers this month, you will be in for a dissappointment. I dropped in yesterday again and was baffled by this view:



as opposed to this:



I first thought that they were planing to paint the walls, and protecting the art, but Claudia the bartender cheerfully informed me that they do this every Christmas as part of their holiday deco: No DEVILS and PARTYING in HELL for the Yuletide brethren!

Personally I would think this art to be the ideal escape from the X-mas hulabaloo outside, when you're lonely and feel like Scrooge and wanna wish it all to hell....but I guess if you see these paintings all year...

And I was bummed out at finding the art-obstructing Christmas decorations at the Focsle?:



In comparison, that wrapping paper takes the fruit cake. Well I guess I got my photos of these done just in the nick of time!:



What would Vincent Price say to this!



I am neither Christian nor pro-Anti-Christ, but this is dive bar art censorship!



[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-12-08 10:41 ]


 
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2010-12-08 10:17 am   Permalink

Big Bro--that is some vile dive bar censorship!

Msmiley-- thanks for those great VFM hall Bowers shots!

John-O--if by pulp you mean 50's men's magazines, I definitely vibe that look. All it misses is the scantily clad woman being tied up and manhandled by the sinister-looking foreign villain.


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-12-08 10:26 am   Permalink

Thanks for the heads up Bigbro...

Well I guess I'll have to spend my anti-Christmas in the holy city of Las Vegas.

You'll probably find me at at the Hard Hat Lounge (next month) drinking cheap bourbon with the ghost of Frank Bowers. Maybe he'll send me a sign as to where the Joe Keawe and Zamboanga murals are.

I know his spirit is guiding us.

UPDATE -
Here's my post on that visit

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-01-18 12:02 ]


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Tekahottatak
Member

Joined: Dec 23, 2009
Posts: 7
From: Rhode Island
Posted: 2010-12-08 3:12 pm   Permalink

A quick Google search turned up this:

http://www.askart.com/askart/b/frank_howard_bowers/frank_howard_bowers.aspx



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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-04-03 6:28 pm   Permalink

We're going back full circle in this thread to the location of Frank Bowers' most famous Polynesian mural, the pre-Tiki Zamboanga nightclub. Originally opened in the 1930's, the building still stands and is currently an American Legion Post.





Here's the
first and second threads on TC that have documented the Zamboanga thus far.

Although we've previously seen posted pictures of the building's modern exterior, no Tikiphile has set foot inside. Bora Boris's prior attempts ran into roadblocks. Based on my past Frank Bowers expeditions, I took the baton from him as my next Tiki assignment. I was able to dig up some initial contact information, but it didn't prove to be useful.

Last month I met with TikiVato at Embers Lounge (another Bowers site !!) to discuss planning for the upcoming Tiki Bus Crawl in Oct. A few days later, TikiVato saw my posted inability to get inside the building. As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) he said he might be able to help. Well about an hour after I spoke to him on the phone, he called back and said we were in !!

As we learned, the Post's bar is actually open to the general public after 4pm on weekends. On Sat, TikiVato, his older brother David (who posts here as nui 'umi 'umi), Bora Boris, and I paid a visit.

As we entered we quickly scanned the space for any remnants of the 1930's murals. I know it was a long shot, but as could be expected for a three-quarters of a century establishment, there was nothing to show that anything like that had existed. There was also no wood paneling or wallpaper to give hope that the murals lay underneath, just enamel paint. We then sat at the circular bar near the entrance.

The bartender, who at first seemed a little surprised to see people walk in who were outside of the neighborhood's African-American demographic, affably took our drink orders. As we nursed our beers, enjoying the excellent selection of vintage blues being played on the sound system, David struck up a conversation with a person nearby. That person happened to be the Post's Sergeant of Arms, Tony M. As it turned out, Tony had a long association with Post and was also a big LA history buff. He prompted shared what he knew about the building.

When the American Legion purchased the building in 1990, he said the walls were for the most part covered in bamboo but there were no murals. Could the murals have been a casualty when the building housed the Japanese nightclub, the Ginza, but probably left the decor intact which could pass for "Oriental" ?



Tony insisted the building used to house the "Bamboo Room" which I initially assumed was his mistaken understanding of what was the Zamboanga. Tony said the Post's historian might have some "before" pictures when they remodeled the place. I left my contact information just in case.

Tony did show us the some of the bamboo that was left in place. It was on the door of an entrance used as a fire exit.



Even though there was no Polynesian decor, other than that one door, the space did still retain the layout of a nightclub. And even with the remodeling, I could still feel the vibe of its pre-WWII history. The space near the entrance which housed the "Jungle Room" is still a bar. While no longer abutted against the wall, there is a circular bar instead. I showed Tony this picture and he confirmed they replaced the bar against the wall with the one now in the center. I wanted to take a picture of that but there were too many people at the bar. (probably wondering who the heck we were )



Here's the current stage located where the original stage (and famous mural) were...





Here's some other photos I took that show how the building's nightclub layout remains…





Compared to the original…



If anything really vibes 1930's, check out the Men's restroom tile work…



Afterward, we spoke with Patricia who is the Post's Vice-Commander and in charge of booking events. The Post is not exclusively used for Veteran's events, and opens itself up for the needs of the community. She said they would certainly welcome renting the place out for a Tiki event. Based on its pre-Tiki (1930's !!) lineage, historical vibe, and layout of the building, I think that might be a very practical and Tiki-appropriate idea. Frank Bowers' ghost is waiting for us.


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11192
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-04-03 10:21 pm   Permalink

Thank you, guys, excellent urban archeology. Even if no amazing discoveries were made, it is good to have closure.
R.I.P., Zamboanga.


 
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Bora Boris
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Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2588
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2011-04-04 08:16 am   Permalink

Excellent follow up John-O!

Thanks


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-04-04 09:51 am   Permalink

Well it wasn't closure for me Bigbro. As least not closure as in "seen it, done it, let's move on". It was more of a discovery.

Yes I will admit to being disappointed in initially not seeing some partial 1930's Polynesian glory. That however was a Poly-Pop Pipe dream (that's my new Tiki buzzword).

As you know, the 1930's were an interesting period for Los Angeles. That's when a whole glamorous nightclub scene existed to service the free-spending Hollywood crowd. Think Coconut Grove, Trocadero, Mocambo, Ciro's, and the original Don's. I have to believe the Zamboanga was part of that scene.

All of those original places are dust but the Zamboanga's building still remains. Not only that but you still have the opportunity to have a drink where the original Jungle Room used to be, sit at table in a spot where Hollywood stars might have, listen to vintage jazz being performed on a stage where music was played 80 years ago, and take a pee in the same urinal that Clark Gable or Howard Hughes might have used (ha, ha). The 1930's ghosts are still there and that surviving bamboo door was just icing on the cake.

Tony invited us for Monday live Jazz nights where people are encouraged to "dress to impress". I'll argue that's a lot closer to a Pre-Tiki historical reenactment than the drunken Tiki Revival beach party that exists today.

Yes, I know that suburban Tikiphiles might be hesitant with the building's urban location and infringing on what they might perceive as a locals' scene. I have learned however in my many urban expeditions, treat the place and people with respect and you'll be treated with respect.

I'll be back.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-04-04 11:18 ]


 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 283
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-04-04 11:09 am   Permalink

Quote:
As you know, the 1930's were an interesting period for Los Angeles. That's when a whole glamorous nightclub scene existed to service the free-spending Hollywood crowd. Think Coconut Grove, Trocadero, Mocambo, Ciro's, and the original Don's. I have to believe the Zamboanga was part of that scene.

Another interesting part, long gone and virtually forgotten, is the once legendary groping groto of the golden era gang The Garden Of Allah
http://laist.com/2009/04/18/laistory_the_garden_of_allah.php

http://www.gardenofallah.com/GOA_original.asp

I like the answer of a faded star as to why he continued visiting the old haunt, "it reminds me of Hollywood".
Indeed, those were unique times.


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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2011-04-06 09:57 am   Permalink

John-O, thank you...some stellar personal research by you, TikiVato, David and Bora Boris!

On the subject of old clubs in that area, Dominic Priore and Brian Chidester did some similar research a couple of years ago visiting various original south LA bars and nighclubs that had a 40s/50s/60s music pedigree (such as saxman Earl Bostic's Flying Fox, which still exists, and the well-preserved psycheledic soul shack Maverick's Flat on Crenshaw). Unfortunately, the photos in their blog page seem to have disappeared:
http://dumbangelmag.blogspot.com/2007/07/south-central-los-angeles-r-venues-of.html

However, one of the clubs they mention is the Oasis Club on 3801 S. Western Avenue at 38th Street (northeast of the Zamboanga), which wasn't polynesian, but had a desert oasis theme to it. Besides jazz (Louis Armstrong played there) and R&B, it was a place where Latin groups like Xavier Cugat and Perez Prado performed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11412072@N06/2791406528/

http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics05/00002067.jpg

However, the building is still there: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=3801+S.+Western+Avenue+at+38th+Street&cp=37&qe=MzgwMSBTLiBXZXN0ZXJuIEF2ZW51ZSBhdCAzOHRoIFN0cmVldA&qesig=LmX4Ipy-cVlOHWDyMfbEWg&pkc=AFgZ2tloklP39ngguyy-UJ8C4JiKejLBIhe8TkCjdrgC8POA5ztvBPUyQJDT1yFtu-vTQNabbMHtpbOPoMbq2u9UgPBlznAKRQ&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

I think the palm tree theme was a popular one, taken from the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador, because the Club Alabam (most famous of the LA Central Avenue clubs) had a fake palm tree as well: http://www.westadams-normandie.com/lapl/Nightlife-restaurants.php

Anyway, I know these aren't "Tiki" or "pre-Tiki" but their "desert oasis" exotica cousin so I thought I'd mention them.

It's great that you are tracking the trail of Frank Bowers, John-O, even when the murals are no longer.

Caltiki


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-04-06 10:02 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-04-05 22:29, bigbrotiki wrote:
Foreword to Tiki Road Trip, written 2003




Jackie Robinson American Legion Post 252 = "Paradise Lost" !! The 1930's ghosts are still there. I can feel them.

I'm going back for Monday Jazz night sometime after my Nautical Crawl. Anyone else in? Just PM me. There's no cover, secure parking, and 2 pieces of chicken plus red beans & rice for $4 !!


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-04-06 10:31 am   Permalink

Thanks CalTiki, I am going to check out those places for sure.

I hope I survive my next Tiki urban expedition that Boris pointed me towards. It looks a little dicey. I may have to take TikiVato as backup.


 
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TikiVato
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 03, 2009
Posts: 400
From: Whittier, CA
Posted: 2011-04-06 11:34 pm   Permalink

John-O
Let me know when and where you want to go.

David and I also plan on going to the American Legion on a Monday night. Let me know when and I will call Tony so he can join us.


 
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melcolbert
Member

Joined: Jun 04, 2011
Posts: 3
From: Sierra Madre, CA
Posted: 2011-06-04 08:36 am   Permalink

Hi I was researching Frank Bowers and came across this discussion. I grew up under a Frank Bowers painting signed by Frank and dated '61 - it was hung over our mantle in Sierra Madre, where Frank and Vicki lived in the early sixties. My father was a carpenter, and the story is that Frank gave him the painting as payment for work my dad did for him. Vicki and Frank lived (and painted) in a store-front in downtown Sierra Madre. I recall mom talking about the fact that both Vicki and Frank had a fondness for the drink, and lived pretty poorly -- no stove or refrigerator, just a toilet and sink! I inherited the painting from my mother and it includes many of the Chinese figures shown in similar paintings here, although the female figure is fully clothed (no doubt because he knew our family consisted of five children). How can I post a picture of the painting here? I don't see any "attachment" button. I am also writing because I spent a lot of time at the VFW post (Veterans of Foreign Wars) bar in Sierra Madre (I was a kid, so they served me Shirley Temples). It was called "The Vets" by locals. I recall there were murals by Frank both upstairs in the bar, and downstairs in the meeting hall (where I had my wedding reception 25 years ago!) Then, the post sold the building, so I have no idea where the murals went (they may have been painted on the walls,perhaps still standing?) I moved away years ago, and most of dad's contemporaries have died, so I have no idea how to track this down.-Melody
p.s. My dad BUILT the bar at the Buccaneer when he helped in its remodel many years ago.


 
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