The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)] [more inside]
"The bohemian aspect, in terms of style and decor, was clearly part of the beachcomber look—the guy in tattered clothes who built his shack from found objects and natural materials like bamboo and driftwood. It became this escapist thing for urbanites to go to these places and feel bohemian for a while. If you look at 1930s photos of restaurants like Trader Vic’s in Oakland or Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles, these places were full of jetsam and flotsam that didn’t exist in the normal, mid-century home at the time." Tiki Hangover: Unearthing the False Idols of America's South Seas Fantasy (Hunter Oatman-Stanford, Collector's Weekly)
... imagine for a moment that you didn’t have to rely on maps to navigate the unknown—that your memory, instincts, and knowledge of the environment sufficed. This is the art of Polynesian wayfinding. An article by Lily Bui, a researcher at MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, summarizing how Polynesians managed to reliably navigate between more than a thousand islands in 10 million square miles of water, an area slightly larger than the size of Canada, with limited instruments and great memories for details. [more inside]
"No GPS or weather reports—just a sailboat, the wild open ocean, and the constellations. Think you could find your way across the South Pacific? James Campbell rides along with a master navigator in the Caroline Islands, where they’ve been sailing this way for thousands of years." [more inside]
"Thanks to extra fuel left on their plane and a pair of binoculars from a passenger, the crew of [an] Air Canada jetliner was credited Monday with assisting in the rescue of an Australian yacht adrift in the South Pacific." [more inside]
Tomorrow after 37 previews and 1000 performances, Broadway will bid farewell to the critically-lauded, award-winning, first-ever revival of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific. [more inside]
The Rapanui (of Easter Island), the Mayans, and the Norse colonists of Greenland all share one similarity: each culture was brought down by preventable, human-cause environmental catastrophe. Sure, Michael Crichton says it's all bunk, but Jared Diamond (the author of the infinitely discussable, Pulitzer prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel) recently came out with a new book that suggests that maybe we ought to be worried after all. Hear him discuss it on NPR's morning edition.