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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Does anyone know about the Kapu-Kai in CA?
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Does anyone know about the Kapu-Kai in CA?
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-05 8:54 pm   Permalink

Aloha Kapu Kai son, this one is for you. I am sorry it took me a while to pull all these materials together, and I hope you will dial in here again and see them. Your family's fate moved me, what a loss, I hope you all eventually recovered.

I am an urban archaeologist and author specializing in Tiki culture, and have been fascinated by the Kapu Kai since the beginning of my research in the early 90s. Luckily I found Oceanic Arts in Whittier, the company who outfitted the Kapu Kai. They told me about the K.K.'s fate. I even dug up Milan Guanko, the carver of the Tiki statues, and talked to him before he passed away.

I must assume that you do not have my "Book of Tiki" (BOT) that I mention above, unfortunately it has been out of print for a while, so I am posting some pictures from it here also. First, a yellow pages ad:



Here are two pages from a flier, I only have them as pdf's, so I photographed them from my laptop screen:




I did get a better shot of the architectural rendering of the front, but this side view is also very interesting:



Here is the better version of the front:



When I came upon it in 1992 it had been a "Country"-themed roller rink before it closed down. Here are two visiting German friends of mine in front of it:


The side entrance:


It was all boarded up then, but two years later me and some friends mounted a successful expedition that pushed into the inner sanctum. Among its members were L.A. Mod-Comers John English, Chris Nichols (now L.A. Magazine editor and author of "The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister") and Jeff Berry, authority on and author of several books about Polynesian cocktail archeology:



There was nothing salvageable left by then...EXCEPT the gorgeous Milan Guanko Tikis that were serving as support posts between the bowling lanes!:



These could not be removed and had survived all the natural and stylistic catastrophes the place had endured over the years. Of course we tried to monitor the site to save them, but one day it was all gone. By sheer coincidence, my friend and Tiki carver Bosko ended up with one and built an A-frame shrine around it. (can someone post a pic, please?)

One of my favorite ephemera from the Kapu Kai was its menu cover:



...which design was used for other objects like matchbooks and glasses:



Here is a shot of the awesome sign:


...and the cool concrete screen that was used around the whole building:



I am assuming that THIS was the "Tahitian Fire":



Here is the main entrance with its amazing Guanko carvings:



..and the bowling alley counter, with some of the Tiki posts in the far background:



What is hard to see in the above photo, (and got covered with tons of mud later!) can be better appreciated in THIS one:



For me as a Tiki archaeologist it is always a thrill to find a so far unseen use of the Tiki image. The Kapu Kai is the only place to my knowledge that used TIKI CARPETING !:



A minor aspect to most, but a find for me.

Kapu Kai Son, I hope you will enjoy these images, and if you dig up any more photos from before your dad's place was hit by disaster, we would love to see them.


 
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tikiyaki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 2710
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
Posted: 2008-01-06 11:23 am   Permalink

Sven

Awesome pics ! Along with the also now defunct Tahitian Lanai in Waikiki, his has to be one of the coolest MCM/TIKI establishments I think I've seen...and a bowling alley too....don't even get me started on Mid Century Bowling culture.....geez...that's like the best combination since chocolate and peanut butter.



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Do you have your TIKIYAKI ORCHESTRA CD YET ?
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[ This Message was edited by: tikiyaki 2008-01-06 11:25 ]


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SpaceAgeCity
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 17, 2002
Posts: 59
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2008-01-06 1:16 pm   Permalink

What an amazing thread! Thanks to both Kapu Kai Son and Sven for sharing their photos and knowledge.

When I first saw photos of the Kapu Kai, I would have guessed it was a Pat DeRosa design. But I notice in one of Sven's images that the architects are "Talley (something) & Associates." Can you read the rest of the name on the original image, Sven?

All these years later, my heart really goes out to your family, Kapu Kai Son. The Kapu Kai was clearly a real beauty. I hope you were all able to bounce back from this and find success somewhere else.

Chris

www.SpaceAgeCity.com
OCHistorical.blogspot.com


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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3818
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2008-01-06 1:39 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-01-06 13:16, SpaceAgeCity wrote:
What an amazing thread! Thanks to both Kapu Kai Son and Sven for sharing their photos and knowledge.




Amazing.


 
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Hiphipahula
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: May 27, 2006
Posts: 2426
From: The Valley! Female, leo,fav color pink.
Posted: 2008-01-06 2:10 pm   Permalink

A moving thread indeed, got me all teary eyed. To Kapu Kai Son, what a legacy, one to be proud of most definitely, hope to hear more from you in the future. Thanks Sven for all the great information as always.
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-06 2:52 pm   Permalink

Thanks guys! I hope the son checks back in. Chris, I think it says Talley-SUEYARA Associates.

 
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SpaceAgeCity
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 17, 2002
Posts: 59
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2008-01-06 6:47 pm   Permalink

Thanks, Sven. That's a new one on me. Next time you're in O.C., let me know -- We'll have lunch someplace better than the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop.

CJ


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-06 8:52 pm   Permalink

Will do. Chris, what is the latest status on Hobby City and the Doll Museum, do you know?

 
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Dancingcat
Member

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 4
From: Salome
Posted: 2008-01-08 10:51 am   Permalink

Aloha all,

I'm Colin's mom. The reason we didn't have any photos of the place is like, when you're in the middle of the ocean, who knows you're surrounded by water....

I stayed home caring for my two sons, while my husband drove 50 miles from La Crescenta to Cucamonga to work. We visited occasionally but never took photos until after the disaster.

I remember him saying the City of Upland diverted the natural flow of the river into a right-angle bend, allowing homes and this bowling alley to be built in the dry riverbed. It had been dry for over 30 years! Who would dream that the flash floods of 1968 would send boulders crashing down on Kapu Kai, smashing the 6" thick koa doors and tearing up all the heavy bowling seats? I never went back to see the damage but was told the water was over 5' and left 3' of mud in the lanes.

My ex and his partners tried to sue the City of Upland to no avail and we ended up losing everything and moved back to Honolulu a year later.

With the help of family and friends, we put our lives back and my boys are now successful in their careers. We morn the loss but are grateful that none that we knew were injured in the flashflood of '68....but it changed our lives forever....

P.S. I've enclosed my photo because I think it's neat to see who you're talking to.






 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3533
From: HELL
Posted: 2008-01-08 11:01 am   Permalink

awesome photos and a sad tale of the kapu kai....now known as the ka-put kai.

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-08 11:34 am   Permalink

Oh good. I am glad that you and your son got to see the images, and thank you for your additional info and the lovely picture. As I said, my first book that has some of these images in it is out of print, but my new one, called "Tiki Modern", has the color postcard that started this thread, and a color photo of it "after" on page 267, if any of you are interested.
Glad you are all doing well, Best Wishes, Sven Kirsten


 
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Dancingcat
Member

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 4
From: Salome
Posted: 2008-01-08 12:04 pm   Permalink

Aloha Sevin,

So what's the name of your book and where can we find it?


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-08 2:50 pm   Permalink

It is called TIKI MODERN
author: Sven A. Kirsten
publisher: Taschen

...the easiest, cheapest, everywhere available source is Amazon.com


 
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Psycho Tiki D
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 13, 2006
Posts: 1810
From: The river Styx, can you pay the toll?
Posted: 2008-01-08 3:15 pm   Permalink

What a great thread, informative, educational, well narrated and illustrated. Bonus points for the former relatives of the owners participating.

Interesting to see the demise of a once thriving and tikified establishment fall to the powers of nature instead of a decline in popularity. Recently we had the same reaction from our neighbors to the east in Fernley, Nevada who thought the same thing; flood insurance in the high desert?? An entire town devastated by a flood in the high desert last Friday.

What a great place the Kapu Kai was. I can't wait until they event a reliable time machine.

Psycho Tiki D (I know I am and time travel can't be too far off)!


 
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kapu_kai_son
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 15, 2007
Posts: 24
Posted: 2008-01-12 2:37 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-01-05 20:54, bigbrotiki wrote:
Aloha Kapu Kai son, this one is for you. I am sorry it took me a while to pull all these materials together, and I hope you will dial in here again and see them. Your family's fate moved me, what a loss, I hope you all eventually recovered.



Does anyone really "dial in" anymore? Seriously, thank you so much for posting these photos. May I have your permission to use them (with due credit of course) on my website? I may in the future devote a page to the story of the Kapu Kai and these would certainly help tell the story. Heck, I may even put together a mini documentary to tell the tale.

My brother and I are starting the process of digitizing these old family photos. We each have a photo album and are working through the pic as we have time. Not to belabor the point, I turned a new page and found a few more pics.

This is the only one I've found before the floodm and it shows a dinner party in the dining room:



And then a few more of the office:



And the kitchen


Thanks to all and still working on recreating that old salad dressing recipe.....I can't find the written recipe, so we're going to try it from memory.

[ This Message was edited by: kapu_kai_son 2008-01-12 14:41 ]


 
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