Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Throne

This weekend, I want to talk about the Throne.

No, first I want to talk about this disturbing greeting card my mother sent me from Key West, where she continued to party for several days after I left.

Dogs with bras are wrong, Mom.

Okay, with that out of the way, on to business.  I got the Throne at the amazing Alameda Antiques Fair for $15.  The moment I saw it, I knew it would be one of the centerpieces of my future tiki office/bar.  I could already envision the masterpieces I would write and draw while seated on this rattan marvel:

Clearly, I thought, this was the seat of royalty!

Unfortunately, my cat Tesla agreed with me and, the moment I brought it into the house, claimed ownership of the Throne.

And I do mean instantly.  I wedged the chair through the front door, set it down, and Tesla jumped into it and assumed the library-lion position.  Ever since, the Throne has been her favorite spot.  We’ve tried moving it to different locations, but it does nothing to dampen her enthusiasm.  If we try to put her on other chairs or the couch, she jumps down and returns to the Throne.

There was a period of about a month when Tesla and the Throne had some kind of falling-out.  I think it was caused by Andrew moving the Throne close to our friends at a get-together, in the hope that Tesla would sit on it and socialize with our guests instead of marching past them disdainfully and squatting in a corner to gnaw on her catnip sock.  Tesla didn’t care for this manipulation, and for a while she avoided the Throne, even after we moved it back to its previous position.  But she and the Throne made amends, and it’s her go-to spot again.

Now Andrew is saying we can’t put the throne in my tiki office because it would break Tesla’s cold little feline heart.  I am deeply displeased by this argument, but…well…she’s very comfortable.

Clearly I am a pretender to the Throne.


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Key West

Last weekend, you may have noticed, was not a tiki weekend.  But I have an excuse!  I was in Florida for my mother’s week-long, booze-soaked 60th birthday blowout.  We spent most of the week in Key West, where, in what the locals kept insisting was a freakish atmospheric anomaly never before seen, it rained the entire time.  But everyone in my family got a lot of important drinking done, so my mom had a good birthday after all.

Why, here she is enjoying a tiki-appropriate Bahama Mama!

If she looks a little pale in this photo, it’s because the sun hadn’t touched us in several days.

We also did a little coconut bowling for charity at the restaurant Blue Heaven.  Here’s my cousin Kim qualifying for the coconut bowling finals, in which she won third place and a priceless gift certificate for more booze.

My family believes I need a setup like this outside my as-yet-hypothetical tiki bar/office.  I have to admit, it’s pretty sweet.

However, East Coast tiki can be dangerous.  I’m not opposed to mixing a little Caribbean with my Polynesia, and you can certainly get a lot of good pirates, parrots, and stuff made from coconuts, but if you’re not careful you can drift out of Tiki Land and into Margaritaville.  And Margaritaville is not a place you want to be.

In the end, though, Key West contained far less tiki than I was expecting, especially considering the number of tiki bars and restaurants scattered along the Florida coast and the upper keys.  In fact… brace yourself here… Key West has no tiki bars at all.  Yes, you can get fruity drinks, and there are a few places that laconically advertise themselves as “tiki bars,” but they’re just regular bars.  There are no tiki heads, no hula girls, no bamboo or rattan, no drinks in amusing containers with umbrellas on top.  Not a single tiki bar on the island.

“We’ve talked about this many a day,” the bartender at Pepito’s Cuban Cocktails told us. “Why does this not exist?”

Yes, my mother and I had taken to interviewing the locals about our week-long failure to drink anything out of a coconut.  We were pretty broken up about it.

This, combined with my recent trip to our nation’s shockingly tiki-free capital, has inspired me to implement a new Tiki Weekend policy.  Whenever I travel out of town, I will rate the tiki level of my destination.  The metric will, of course, be my beloved cast-iron bottle-opening bird:

Here’s the scale.







For example, the dismal level of tiki in Washington, D.C. earns it the lowest rating.



Although Key West has parrots and coconuts and things, its failure to develop its tiki potential reflects poorly on the island and its understanding of the tiki spirit.  Low marks all around.


Which is not to say that I didn’t find some tiki souvenirs.  Behold my new barware!

That’s right, I got another bottle opener.  Because my bottle-opening bird has a new job: almighty judge of tiki.

And when I got home to Berkeley, my husband Andrew had a new drink-size bamboo end table waiting for me.  He picked it up on a trip to the glorious and only slightly cat-piss-scented salvage Nirvana Urban Ore.

Now this, cities of the world, is a man who understands what tiki is all about.  It’s good to be home.

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Any time I go to a comic-book convention, I have to restrain myself from buying all the tiki things.  Because there are always tiki things.  At this year’s Alternative Press Expo, however, I knew in advance that I had only one goal.  At last year’s APE, I got this print by animation artist Brittney Lee:

It’s part of a series of illustrations of Hawaiian deities.  This is Laka, goddess of the forest and the hula.  All year, I’ve been itching to set her up with a companion, and here he is!

Kane, the giver of life!  Once Andrew uses his museum-curating powers to frame this print, they’ll be perfect together.

Of course, I’m already thinking about how much I want Maui and Hina, too, but I have a problem.  And that problem is that Brittney Lee is too damn good at art.  Seriously, check out her blog, especially her cut-paper pieces, and be amazed.  Am I excited about the upcoming It’s a Small World tribute book that will feature one of her pieces?  Yes, I am extremely excited.

As I said, the Kane print was going to be my one tiki purchase, but that was before I saw Kim Dwinell’s minicomic preview of her upcoming graphic novel Surfside Girls.

I’d never commissioned tiki art before (although Andrew got Kostas Kiriakakis to draw me a boss hula girl at Comic-Con), but when I saw Kim’s art I realized the time had come.  I asked her for a watercolor illustration of a surfing girl, and here’s what I picked up at the end of the convention:

So very cute.  I can’t wait for Andrew to use his framing powers on this one, too.

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Plates and Mugs and More

First of all, this blog received a comment that made me deliriously happy.  This post on the brochure How You Can Give Hawaiian Parties, my copy of which was first owned by a Mrs. Victor L. Shudlick, received the following comment:

My mom was Mrs. Victor L. Shudlick and she loved liverwurst! Thankfully she never made the pineapple made of liverwurst. She was a dietician and cooking teacher. She lived in Hawaii for several years where she met and married my Dad. It touched my heart to see her name in your blog. Tiki forever!

Thank you so much for writing!  This is just wonderful and amazing.  I admit, when I wrote that post, I thought it would be neat if Mrs. Shudlick or her family somehow found this blog and learned that their Hawaiian party planner was in good hands, but never in a million years did I think it would really happen.  This is the power of tiki.  The power to bring people together across time and space.  Never doubt it!

But what do you do when you have a little too much tiki in your life?  Give it to me, of course.  My friend Karen is getting rid of her tiki collection, and she passed an entire box of stuff on to me.  Check out this haul!

I particularly like this hula girl glass.  She’ll make a more modest companion to my naughty 1940s hula girl.

Thank you so, so much, Karen!

Meanwhile, my husband Andrew got me a special eBay present.  In addition to tiki, I occasionally collect dinnerware by Brock of California, a manufacturer active in the 1950s and 1960s.  The Brock pottery I own is the common California Farmhouse pattern, like so:

I just love those happy roosters.  But it turns out that Brock also produced a Hawaii-themed pattern called Aloha, and Andrew got me a set of three Aloha dinner plates.

Look how beautiful!  Now I can have tiki dinner parties.  Thank you, Andrew!  Thank you, everyone!  Tiki forever!

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