Monday, May 03, 2021

A Moment of Tiki: Hugman's Oasis

I'm not going to lie, folks, I'm excited about this one! In this episode of A Moment of Tiki, we get a first look at Hugman's Oasis, a brand-spanking new tiki bar on San Antonio's famed River Walk. It opens for business Friday, May 7. I, along with Secrets By Miss Lisa, were some of the fortunate guests invited to their soft opening on April 29. They didn't have a full menu and there were still some kinks to be worked out, so I'm holding off on a more formal review for a month or so to allow them to find their groove. But until then, we have this cool sneak peek!

Way back in November of 2018, the San Antonio Heron ran a short story about developer Chris Hill planning to open a tiki bar in the 1890s Witte Building on the San Antonio River Walk. Then in February 2019, they ran another story about the city approving gas-fired tiki torches for the exterior. Wow! Can you imagine how enthused I was? Two years, six months and a global pandemic later, Hugman's Oasis is the first full-fledged tiki space to open in San Antonio since Polynesian Gardens operated in the shadow of the Tower of the Americas during the 1968 HemisFair World's Fair. And it's the first to offer a full menu of tiki cocktails--back in 1968 it was still illegal to serve mixed drinks in Texas! So come along with me for a tour of the space, some interviews and a whole lot of eye candy in episode 28 of A Moment of Tiki:

Now Playing: Axel Stordahl Jasmine and Jade
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Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Has there ever been a more infectious blues instrumental than "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the MGs? I don't think so. Wow, to think this music was initially recorded on the fly as a B side for a track that itself originated as an informal jam...

Oh, and the story of that original jam recording and how "Green Onions" went from an afterthought in the recording studio to a massive hit in the span of just one week is nothing short of astonishing. Give it a listen:

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Electric Light Orchestra.

Now Playing: Skip Heller Luau-O-Milo
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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Moment of Tiki: Cocktail and Mai Kai

Wow! I've really been lapse in sharing new episodes of A Moment of Tiki here. For that, I apologize. Let's right this listing ship a little with a couple of those backlogged episodes from earlier in the year.

First up is episode 23: Hot Buttered Rum. Having an outdoor tiki bar is great--except when it gets cold. Believe it or not, even though our Central Texas winters are generally mild compared to the Midwest, once that mercury dips down to the bottom half of the thermometer it's no fun sitting outside sipping icy cocktails. What's a tikiphile to do? Simple: Make hot buttered rum! All the effort goes into preparing the hot buttered rum batter ahead of time. Once that's finished, the cocktail's a snap!

Next is Episode 24: Save the Mai Kai! The Mai-Kai, that high holy place of tiki culture, is in trouble. After suffering catastrophic damage to the kitchen in October of 2020, the owners planned to repair, rebuild and reopen. But nothing is ever simple, and complications quickly escalated the price for restoring the Polynesian palace to its fully functioning glory. The situation has grown serious enough that the family has retained a firm to seek outside investors or, gasp, buyers for the property. In this episode of A MOMENT OF TIKI, I go over what is publicly known at this time about the Mai Kai's future, why this place is so special and why it needs to be saved. I also review Tim "Swanky" Glazner's book, Mai Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, which is the best and most lavish history of that place ever published. Trust me, it's a keeper.

I wrap up with a rare bonus episode: Snow Day!? On February 15, we here in Central Texas experienced single-digit temperatures and more than 6" of snow. This was the coldest weather, and the most snowfall, experience by your humble host since 1973 (if you're doing the math, I was 3 years old at the time). Unlike most of Central Texas' rare snowfall events, it didn't immediately melt away the following day. No, temperatures stayed below 20F and the snow stuck, and stuck, and stuck some more. I ventured out to document the aberration, because who would believe stories of a tiki bar buried in the snow otherwise?

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Now Playing: Esquivel Merry X-mas from the Space-Age Bachelor Pad
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Friday, April 23, 2021

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Happy birthday Dolph!

On this date in 1923, Dolph Briscoe, who would go on to become the 41st governor of Texas, was born. He would've been 98 today. Briscoe, a long-time Uvalde rancher, is generally remembered fondly from his terms as governor for being a decent guy. But his administration did earn some dubious distinctions. Briscoe was the last Texas governor to serve a two-year term and the first to serve a four-year term. He undermined two efforts to rewrite Texas' abysmal constitution (which remains a trainwreck to this day). Briscoe once appointed a dead man to the State Health Advisory Commission, and if what I've heard is true, called a press conference in the aftermath to reassure the press and public that he hadn't lost his grip on sanity.

But what most people remember him for--and which doesn't appear in most official biographies--is that he was the governor who ordered the closure of the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange. Ironically, Briscoe had no actual legal authority to order the Chicken Ranch (or any other brothel, for that matter) closed. But he did, hoping nobody would call his bluff. Fayette County Jim Flournoy certainly knew the governor had no authority to do so, but acquiesced to Briscoe and effectively ended a surreal two-week media circus that captured the attention of Texas as well as the rest of the country.

Governor Briscoe died June 27, 2010, after ignoring my interview requests for the better part of a year. Happy birthday, Dolph!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Now Playing: Electric Light Orchestra Secret Messages
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Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Just when you were getting comfortable with my ye-ye kick, along comes a curve ball to shake things up. "Rockaria!" has long been one of my favorite songs by Electric Light Orchestra, second only, perhaps, to their orchestral version of "Roll Over Beethoven." Clearly, these two are cut from the same cloth. So imagine my delight to discover the existence of a 70s-era music video for the song. It's not terribly sophisticated as far as cinematography and direction goes, but it's still pretty loopy, regardless. And I must confess, even separated by all the intervening years, I'm still a bit terrified of Jeff Lynne's hair.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Gillian Hills.

Now Playing: Electric Light Orchestra Eldorado
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Friday, April 16, 2021

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Continuing my exploration of ye-ye pop, here's Gillian Hills with "Zou Bisou Bisou." It is pretty much the definition of an earworm. Those of you who are fans of Mad Men may recognize it as memorably performed by the second Mrs. Draper.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Françoise Hardy.

Now Playing: Tikiyaki Orchestra Stereoexotique
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Friday, April 09, 2021

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Reverting to my ye-ye fixation for a moment, here we have the unparalleled Françoise Hardy with "Comment Te Dire Adieu." It's got a great groove and I love the Herb Alpert-style brass that adds just the right amount of easy listening cool to the song.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Whitehorse.

Now Playing: Jack de Mello Steel Guitar Magic
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