Ap 16 ’11 End of BURTday celebration WEEK(S) , thanks to LK… perhaps the funnest time of all, going first to a unique , local , popular spot, Old Port Lobster Shack and then the great 50s play Forever Plaid, both in Redwood city, CA

FOREVER PLAID, is a 1950’s themed musical about a vocal quartet that dies in a car crash at the end of the real rock and roll era, 1964 and on their way to their first-ever professional concert. Through suspended reality, the group resurfaces via Heaven to make that first concert appearancehere in 2011 at the little Redwood Fox Theater, as it were. The group cleverly tells its story through the use of the period songs. Highlight is a sppof/recreation of characters from the old Ed Sullivan Show they used to watch as kids every Sunday night at 8 pm (so did I), replete with plate spinners, Topo Jejo(sp), etc Singing is classic white vocal group harmony , culminating with ‘Love Is A Many Slendored thing.’ Unlike many oldies shows like this, Forever Plaid is great in its story line and clever skits – the Calypso scene is another good one. Perhpas less is more as the vocals stand out fine, in full sound with only a piano and bass accompaniment. The play has been around for years at various venues. Catch it if you can.

By the way, the Little fox Theater is a restored Deco Movie House from the 40s(?), a perfect venue for the show and directly across from the beautifully renovated City Square and Courthouseon Broadway in Redwood City.

OLD PORT LOBSTER SHACK is tucked away in a non-descript strip mall , yet it is very cute once inside, made to resemble a Maine lobster shack, with lobster pots, aluminum siding, etc. for a cafeteria -style dining, the place is expensive, yet, afterall, it’s lobster. It’s unique enough it’s worth a yearly visit or two. 851 Veterans Blv, Redwood City, only minutes from the Fox theater on Broadway.




Redwood City appears to be a great little old-fashioned town with friendly people and not much sign of chains, worth the fairly long drive we took. It’s alwso said to have the best weather in the Bay Area.




BUSTER KEATON ‘7 CHANCES’ Silent Film, Philly Cheesesteak, Top Tiki Bar

SILENT FILM with Live organ accompaniment – who would have known this could be so enjoyable seeing a movie without dialogue. Sorry if I may sounda bit naive but…New experience for me… what a great program. Hand it to Ohlone College in Fremont, CA , no doubt assisted by the Niles film program

‘ 7 Chances’ starring Buster Keaton was the last of their yearly performing arts series. I missed the opening organ performance by Jerry Nagano and lecture by Keaton historian keynote speaker David Keihu but found Ohlone, after a long drive, just in time for the second have move, sans payment ( no longer were they collecting money at the time)

7 Chances is a cute little movie, most of which takes place in one day, showcasing Keaton’s awkward ways and difficulties in coping, but ends happily..

Movie begins with the shy, awkward Keaton trying to propose to his girlfriend in front of her mother’s home, where she lives. It’s spring and Keaton is pictured with her and her little puppy in front garden and white picket fence, perhaps too shy to even enter the house or front gate. Apparently, Keaton can’t get out the words ‘ I love you,’ and nothing comes of the proposal.

Cut to Fall, 3 months later, where we see Keaton and girlfriend once again in similar pose, in front of white fence, only her dog has grown significantly. Same setting , same outcome. No go.

Cut to Winter, now there’s snow on the ground with the dog almost full grown now. Still, Keaton is having difficulty getting his message out. Perhaps it’s time to give up.

Then one day , years later, Keaton’s father passes and he receives a beneficiary note telling him he will receive 7 million dollars if he marries by age 27 – only after Keaton spends much time with his friend, trying to avoid what they thought was a summons server. When the server finally avoids the law and pastes the ltetter on the window in front of them where they are dining, Keaton is thrilled – and barely catches up with the server who has just been captured by the police. Keaton and friend tell the cops to let him go so they can deal with the letter.

Problem is Keaton’s 27th birthday is this same day ! He has literally hours, until midnite to get married. We see Keaton and friend struggle mightily to come up with a name of a woman to marry. There’s really only the long-time girlfriend, so Keaton hires a horseman to deliver the message to the girlfriend. She successfully gets the note and meets Keaton late that night. Keaton bumbles his latest proposal, telling her that he must marry ‘someone’ this day so he can inherit a lot of money. Obviously the girlfriend gets offended by the ‘someone’ comment and starts to leave/

But, finally, only minutes before the midnite deadline, things come together and the two hastily hire a judge and marry! Lucky Seven – seven chances with the same woman and finally -success! All this with majestic live organ accompaniment by Jerry Nagaon in the campus cozy Jackson Theater.

PHILLY EXPRESS – Stopped by my advertiser in Alameda prior to the movie and had a great Philly Dog dinner ! Great dogs and cheesteaks made on genuine Amoroso rolls from Philadelphia! Click above coupon to enclarge and print!

FOBIDDEN ISLAND TIKI BAR, Alameda, CA – While in Alameda had to stop by what many consider the No. 1 tiki bar in the world. Had a ‘sidewinder itch’ replete with backscratcher ($11) before moving on to great Keaton film, as above, making it three nites in a row of Top Tiki Bars.. only San Joses Bamboo Hut must be visited an, perhaps a revisit to the great, not-to-be-forgotten Tonga Room, SF and Trader Vic’s, Emeryville, CA.

BEST TIKI BARS – Original vs New


Dinner House San Francisco Bay



LUCKY TO RESIDE IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, where we have a little or a lot of everything it seems, including most enjoyable Restaurants, Cocktail Lounges and , more specifically, Tiki Bars or better, Tiki Palaces – both original Polynesian edifaces and newer configurations paying tribute tothe calmer, idyllic, post-war era of the late 40s-50s.

I thought I’d been to the best , particularly Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA but , I have to say, I think I’ve found a new Top Two, one original, Trader Sam’s one  updated , Smuggler’s Cove, both in San Francisco.

I honored my recent birthday by visiting both on successive nights,  April 6 and April 7, 2011, both equally great experiences. Hard to choose one over the other.

Trader Sam’s , in all its 1937 original glory, at 6150 Geary, features  a great, round, bamboo bar and bamboo chairs/ love seats.   One may say the place is ‘worn’ looking, but for me this is the charm. I would not want to see it any other way. I know of no other tiki bar that comes close to being this original. Looking at the old pictures on the wall it would appear that NOTHING has changed in its almost 80 years!

Tiki Road Trip: A Guide to Tiki Culture in North America

Drinks : The guys at Smuggler’s Cove downplayed the drinks but, they’ve got a great selection of rum drinks, large bowl drinks, specialty drinks and ice cream drinks. I had the ‘Yellow Bird,’ which is difficult to find elsewhere – a Caribbean drink with rum, Galliano, pineapple juice. The featured drink is the Banana Split, though they have about as many original and newer ones as Smuggler’s – not just beer as I was told (a little tiki bar competition)

Trader Sam’s circa 1940s The place gets crowded, too. Though its out in the Avenues , the bar tender told me they’re packed by 10 pm and stay open to 1:45 am, just like in the old days., The crowd is a mix of locals, mostly younger  Asians and other ethnic groups.  I doubt that many of them appreciate the historic aspect of this place but I’m sure ome do, as they do get people from all over the world.  One problem for me – which could be easily changed – is the music; a heavy dose of rap music does not fit with the ambience. The bar is currently owned by an older military man, who we thank for keeping it  as he has, sans music.

Smuggler’s Cove, to be detailed below,  is unlike  any tiki bar I’ve seen. I will have to give it a slight edge over Trader Sam’s , though its very close. Smuggler’s makes a science out of their drinks – and they charge for it too, nearly twice the price of Trader’s and they’re smaller.  But I base my ranking on ‘feel’ and wanting to be in a place and , based on these single visits, I found I enjoyed being in Smuggler’s Cover slightly more than Trader Sam’s. The feel was calmer, though with better music Trader’s could probably  reach a tie with Smugglers.  Also met some interesting folks , perhaps a little more erudite, than I found at Traders, not that that matters all that much…

Tiki Drinks


Best Tiki Bars , Original dinner house, original restaurant


WESTLAKE JOE’S , Daly city, CA – I made a first stop at the legendary restaurant and lounge. It’s one of the few big remaining dinner houses and part of the old ‘Joe’s’ chain (but not really sure if this was really a chain, but restaurants are similar from city to city , with only Marin Joe’s , Westlake and perhaps Original Joe’s  in SF still around…

Last time I came here I couldn’t get into the place it was so crowded, despite having over 300  seats and two large dining rooms. There’s a huge lounge featuring  live music – and that is one of the main reasons I went.  The music this night was a three piece band with a flutist sitting in. Playing mostly similar-sounding 60s/70s  pop-jazz I wasn’t overly impressed, though I must give it another chance another night or two. But the setting was wonderful, with it’s big angled ceilings, fireplace and wood walls giving a very warm feeling

.Retro Diner: Comfort Food from the American Roadside

One of the dining rooms is appropriately names the ‘Cascade Room,’ certainly a holdover from the early days, as is most everything. Looks pretty orginal , including a circular drive-up and parking where I’m sure a lot of folks drove up in in their old caddies and lincolns.

Didn’t try the food as I’d already eaten at the dissappointing(?)  Bucca DeBeppos’s chain – I think other locations are better than San Franciscoc. Will have to try the food next time. Judging by the crowd on this Thursday night-including a long waiting list- I’ll bet the foods very good and probably similar to what it was 50 years ago (not sure as to the exact vintage of the place but will report back next time…  But the place is definitely worth coming to just to see a huge  old time dinner house you might remember having gone to as a kid.


Diners: American Retro

MORE Best Tiki Bars and more oldies

Best Tiki Bars

PILLOW TALK (Day,Hudson , 1959) – Best Piano Bar – 1 Nostalgic Night

Best Sellers – Amazon   Gifts



1 Nostalgic Night

Kicking off my ‘Deal A Day’ in the new vernacular, that is …Doing /Experience Something of Note Each Day… and what a way to kick things off seeing one great, fun, nostalgic movie from the 50s , PILLOW TALK with Doris Day and Rock Hudson at the great deco movie palace in Oakland, the Paramount and then checking out my favorite and THE BEST Piano Bar, the Alley with Rod Dibble at the Keyboard Pillow Talk has everything going for it, in this writers opinion… a fun story line, as described below, great visuals form the Fabulous fifties – the 50s ‘Googie’ architecture, the cars, the fashions. Hudson is good and Tony Randall adds a colorful element as Day steals the

show, acting and singing at her best, or one of her best. Some suprisingly off-color material for its time (but nothing compared to today)


Just a fun, fun techincolor blockbuster from 1959 for which the mixed audience gave several ovations . And what a place to see it at… Oakland’s own restored Paramount theater, which shows retro movies once a month along with