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California's Gold

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Anybody here watch a local (CA) program called California's Gold? It's a great program hosted by Huell Howser on Public Access TV which does stories on California businesses, residents, etc.

Anyways, I thought it might be interesting to see him do a story on Tiki in California. He could cover all kinds of stuff - Oceanic Arts, Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs, Trader Vic's Restaurants, etc... I went to their webpage and suggested a show on Oceanic Arts, their influence on Polynesian Pop, artist carver Leroy Schmaltz, etc but received a canned "Thanks for your reply" message in response to my email.

I was wondering if maybe some of us could email their webpage to try and generate some type of interest to this topic to the show. Maybe if they get a good number of responses from us we'll luckily get a feature of Oceanic Arts on the show.

What do you all think? Here's the URL:



but what if martha stewart watches that episode and kmart starts selling tiki gods and mugs or an old navy executive is inspired and we start seing ads for "aloha pants." i'll have to impale myself on a fishing spear.


Brilliant idea! The host of California's Gold is so manic that I can't help but adore him. I think if I ever met him in person I would just stand back in awe and wonder as he talked with his trademark enthusiasm about "California's hidden gold found in our own cities!"

He could consider going to the Tonga Room and show all of the old photos of its transformation and interview older folks who remember it in it's prime. He could track down old sites in San Francisco and Oakland. Maybe he could go to MrSmilies house and look at his collection, I heard that it's FANTASTIC!

Good idea. I think I'll write Huell as soon as I get a chance.

[ Edited by: Fonduie on 2002-04-06 14:05 ]

Kahukini- Don't just impale yourself yet, but I've got news for you: Old Navy frequently has some tiki related items. I just bought yet another pair of tiki boxer shorts last week. (More information than you probably needed to know).


There's more. Abercrombie & Fitch (which often has a number of graphic t-shirts with tropical motifs) is now selling a few tiki t-shirts. Here's one...

Like Stingray, I also own a couple of Old Navy tiki boxers.
Personally, I don't mind the sometime and current resurgence of tiki culture into the mainstream. Everything comes back at one point or another (witness Swing Dance, longboards, Izods), and of course, tiki was once very mainstream. My grandparents once bought their tiki decor at Sears!! Just MHO.


I understand Huell has been planning some tiki programming. He has been in touch with Sven. On the weekend of the Tiki Fete at the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs last year, he showed up to check it out. Many had gone home already because it was Sunday afternoon, but Sven, Otto, Crazy Al, CC Rider and other heavy hitters of tiki were still there. I wish he would just get on with it. Maybe Casey and Charlie of Caliente will alert him in advance of this summer's Fete (June 21, word is).

You're right, it is tailor made for him!


On 2002-04-04 11:39, kahukini wrote:
but what if martha stewart watches that episode and kmart starts selling tiki gods and mugs or an old navy executive is inspired and we start seing ads for "aloha pants." i'll have to impale myself on a fishing spear.

Does the mainstream visibility of a deconstuctionalist pop subculture cause it to be diminished? I would think quite the reverse rather. Tiki was the crap pop of it's day - that is part of the charm. I see it only as current vs. nostalgic pop culture.

C'mon Martha! Let's get those Tiki Mugs in every Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrell!!



Of course tiki was once insanely popular and we are all familiar with its history as the joyful american bastardization of exotic polynesian cultures.. but it's not mainstream now... i've welcomed too many wide-eyed townfolks into the HeadHunter to know that - and part of my joy on nights when my tiki bar is open is regaling the guests with tales of an exotic culture that once thrived in basements across america, playing them music they've never heard, serving them drinks they never knew existed... It makes me feel so "special" and I know it's appreciated, especially when last week I found a funky 50's chair made out of a giant barrel at my doorstep with a thank you note, or last night when a returning guest gave me a tiki god their grandmother had owned... So, in a selfish way I like being the only basement tiki bar in the neighborhood - a genuine enchanted isle amid a sea of sameness.... so impale me!


Wait a second, I withdraw my protest to this instance of Tiki on TV... I just saw the show's website and they are apparently a favorite in California schools...
I am just imagining myself as a kid sitting in social studies class watching a state culture video featuring scantily clad women and high alcohol content fruity drinks... hey if I had only known about the joy of rum when I was 14 who knows where I'd be now... oh yeah, I know: IN A VAN, DOWN BY THE RIVER!

I know that Huell showed up at the Tiki Fete last year in Palm Springs but, I believe his visit was not intended for the event specifically. Huell has a home in Palm Springs, that is why he does so many episodes there and why he has a special link to Palm Springs attractions on his webpage.

I think we should try and promote the awareness of tiki if not for the purpose of preserving it. I know that its kind of cool to have this interest in something that's not mainstream but honestly, I don't think Sven would have written his book if he didn't have an interest in educating the common person on what Tiki is and why it needs to be preserved.


.... so impale me!

Hey don't let the bastards get you down - even if it goes mainstream (Swing, late 90's), it will die and again you can have the lone basement Tiki bar (with the knowledge of having weathered the storm). So don't impale yourself just yet -- there are a shortage of perfect Tiki shirts in the world, it'd be a shame to lose yours.



Hey, that's a good thing. Without a little popular push, all those great lounge and swing CD's would not exist. A lot of things became more readily available.

If tiki culture became to latest trend, we would see reissues of a lot of artists on CD that don't exist, all the bamboo and other decor we now spend many hours searching for would be in Walmart, etc. It would make our lives better. And we could sell our extra prized stuff for higher prices, only to buy it back in a year for less as the fad fades. And the fad would get more long term converts.

You'd just have to weather the storm and be able to stand being "out of style" for a while when the fad goes away. Of course, you were tiki when tiki wasn't cool, but then you are tiki when tiki is no longer cool. Whatever.

Popularization just means more for me to choose from. I like the selection of tropical shirts that are available at Target. I don't buy them all up, but I can choose the ones I like, often on clearance.


Huell knew of the Tiki Fete and his appearance at the Tropics was not a coincidence. As I said, he has been in touch with Sven and the guys at Caliente with the intent to do a tiki show or two.


How strange, too, that KCET Studios where Huell produces his shows is on Sunset Blvd. RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the Tiki-Ti! I asked Mike once if any of the KCET personalities ever came into the bar and he said that a few did once in a while. Huell has got to know about Tiki-Ti. That would be a great starting place for him to do a Tiki show.

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