||Read This Thread Or I'll Shoot This Gorilla
Joined: Jun 26, 2009
|Posted: 2013-10-10 11:55 am  Permalink|
Prompted to finally take that long-delayed Nashville tiki trip by Darren Long's excellent Tiki Magazine articles, we set our sights on Middle Tennessee and points north. Though it could be argued that Knoxville (home of the Hapa Haole Hideaway and Swanky's public art tribute to Witco) constitutes Tennessee tiki central, the emergence of George Walls' "Inland Island" shop and the long-standing Omni Hut together firmly establish the state as a bastion of Poly-Pop longevity.
I, for one, believe that tiki melds more comfortably with idyllic rusticity than Mid-Century's cold white plastic. George Walls' carving shop beckons you into his barn darkness with the variety and exacting quality of his execution.
A reticent, courteous host, George was generous enough with his time to sit and talk with us about all things tiki while serving up some black walnuts from the property. The Walls family is steeped in Southern tiki tradition, as chronicled elsewhere, and this becomes obvious in his conversation and art.
A wood-carver's humble, well-worn toolbox.
George mentioned a few ideas for future projects, and tiki collectors will no doubt want to monitor his career for exciting developments. Though not a fan of technology, he can be contacted through his lovely wife Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiger Lily brandishes our Tiki Magazine, inscribed by our taciturn-yet-ebullient host.
George's sister Polly is known amongst Southern tikiphiles as the Raquel Welch of Southeastern Tiki, and she runs the Omni Hut which has been open since 1960. The fact that it's operated as a BYOB Polynesian restaurant for that period of time constitutes nothing less than a miracle.
The Omni Hut's decor contains not only a great selection of George Walls' art, but original South Pacific artifacts and North American relics from every decade of its existence.
The Omni Hut has a jubilant, vivacious vibe that can sometimes be lacking in more cosmopolitan evirons. It's testimony to the huge support it receives from locals, who appreciate the fact that it's resisted change and trendiness. It's a classic, and Polly intends to keep it that way.
We decide on The Tahitian Feast, although we have it on good authority that the steaks are particularly excellent. Oh well, next trip. I have a little Ron Swanson who dwells inside my mouth, and he gagged at the mention of pineapple chunks wrapped in bacon. Fruit and meat should be strictly segregated, not only on the plate, but in separate areas of the kitchen in order to prevent cross-contamination. Surprisingly, this turned out to be my favorite morsel of the spread. The brief time intervals between courses allow for a deeper appreciation of the numerous vintage Orchids of Hawaii lamps.
Endless refills of "Hawaiian Tea" blend aesthetically with the Lemon Hart 151 rum accompaniment, and soon the frivolity is enhanced by the arrival of George and Jill Walls from Smyrna. Saturday nights are a full house at Omni Hut.
It is sad indeed to leave, but the inner Ron Swanson has been satiated, we are travel-weary, and odd spirits besides the rum are beckoning us onward. We will return one day...
Nashville, besides offering the traditional hayseed humor and Nudie glamour one expects, has truly become Music City USA, and is now home to the likes of Adrian Belew, and served as the recording & tour HQ of the last King Crimson incarnation.
Tops on anyone's trip to Nashville should be Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a bar that figures into the most notorious country music legends.
The Ryman Auditorium, known to most hardcore music aficionados as the REAL Grand Ol' Opry, has been from its inception a performance venue for an amazing variety of acts...
"But what, White Devil" I hear the purists moaning, "is the Tiki connection here?" So glad you asked...
Fans of the low-brow (and downright weird) will enjoy browsing the portraiture that embellishes the downtown Ernest Tubb Record Shop. This leg of our journey was inspired by country music martyrs David "Stringbean" Akeman and wife Estelle, and this thread is dedicated to their memory.
Homage a Stringbean.
It doesn't take long after you enter Kentucky that you begin encountering its wildlife.
Anyone with children or grandchildren should consider Cave City, Kentucky as a viable alternative to corporate vacation resorts: vintage Roadside Americana like this is vanishing at a rapid clip. There is also Mammoth Cave nearby, but be warned there are actually no mammoths to be found: just a large network of holes in the ground. If I want to smell bat shit, I can easily audit a Women's Studies course at UGA back home.
It was, no doubt, the heady combination of my 1/8 Cherokee heritage, hillbilly statuary, Lemon Hart 151 rum, and the intoxicating accompaniment of Tiger Lily that hit me like a ton of bricks once in sight of Wigwam Village No. 2.
Electric power soon go off just after our arrival, a result of storm we drive through. Unpack and seek food. Wait for alternating current spirits to return.
Gift shop red skins bored stiff with White Man's TV special about Coon Creek Girls.
While check-in at gift shop, White Devil learn that Wigwam Village No. 2 now owned by Indians from India. Very confusing.
After return from meal, sky has turned dark. Alternating current spirits still angry.
White Devil drink rum and eat Krispy Kremes, in preparation for electricity dance to the gods. Do dance outside while Tiger Lily laugh at White Devil. Soon, incompetent alternating current spirits appeased and power restored. Easier access to rum.
Spirits displeased, and go away once again. White Devil once again do electricity dance of forefathers.
Power return and talking box now talk about Renfro Valley redneck festivals. White Devil wish power to go away again. Soon it does.
But Tiger Lily not like darkness, and force White Devil to dance once again. But by now White Devil drunk, and have hard time with White Man's chain. Chained in darkness with laughing, angry squaw: so has it always been with my people.
Get chain loose and dance, but now decide to visit India Indians, for the spirits have instructed me to demand that fake Indian Village be returned to the White Man who built it. India Indians not like visit from naked White Devil on behalf of fake Indian/White Man spirits, and send away. What this country come to?
Much laughing and yelling from squaws, very confusing. Decide to take neon sign's advice.
[ This Message was edited by: White Devil 2013-10-11 05:11 ]
Joined: Mar 25, 2002
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
|Posted: 2013-10-10 6:55 pm  Permalink|
Wow, what a great VISUAL tour! Thanks for all the work of posting all the images, that's what TC and Tiki is about.
Joined: Feb 24, 2009
|Posted: 2013-10-11 3:22 pm  Permalink|
Thanks for this!
What a great visual tour!
We went to Omni Hut a couple years back on a drive from Nashville to Atlanta and absolutely fell in love with the place. In terms of feeling home-y, it is beyond compare... on a busy Saturday night, Polly sat down with us first-time visitors and told us Yankees all about the history of the place and walked us through the menu. It was a fantastic visit; truly one of the best original era joints still hopping, and one of our favorites in all our coast-to-coast Tiki trips.
Now that I know we'll go right through Cave City & Wigwam Village if we drive from Chicago, I got the itch bad to take a spin down that way again!
Just out of curiosity, what does George charge for his Tikis? Are they for sale? Driving a Tiki back 7 hours to Chicago (well... 5 from the Wigwam Village) sounds like
a helluva better proposition to me than having them shipped from California. And there's great history there!
Joined: Jun 26, 2009
|Posted: 2013-10-12 06:57 am  Permalink|
George bases his prices on the number of hours he puts in them, so figure a six-footer at about $1000. For Yankees it might be slightly more.
I've found carvers' prices to be all over the map, regardless of quality, and I think his prices are well on the reasonable side. If you're traveling from that direction anyhow, it'll definitely beat shipping from California. Nothing against California carvers whatsoever, but I'll have to wait for that road trip in a U-haul before it'll make financial sense for me.
The Wigwam Village & surrounding roadside attractions need every penny they can get, 'cause if they fold, there'll be little left aside from Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and his crew shooting up the countryside.