During our last visit to the capitol of Living 50s history, Bob was looking well – in fact he hadn’t aged a bit, holding fort in front of this great burger palace. The building, which appears all original, is looking good too. Still appreciate mostly men in their 60s and 70s see to call this place home for morning berkfast, when we fell lby.
Burbank is a hot bead for living history, with the oldl movie studios nearby. Note the Johnny Carson Park and streets named after the greats like Bob Hope Blvd… The Safarii Inn where we stayed has a nice sign with surfboard(?) in front, though I am told the place has been remodeled since its heydeys…. Sure beats staying at the Marriot and a lot cheaper , too.
Probably our favorite of the many Tiki Palaces in Southern California is Bahooka, perhaps the only Tiki restaurant in the area. Originally built
in the late 60s its maintained a loyal following, according the current and only second owner. The place looks like Trader Vics meets Robinson Crueso. As one walks in a darkened room you only see the lights of hundreds of fish tanks lining the dining room wallssafdasdwalls.wall
walls. Artifacts of you-name-it cover the ceiling and walls. One can spend hours there for sure. The food is very good, too, tiki fare of ribs and sweet potatoes is the specialty! The movie industy has discovered this place, too, now, so be aware of crowds. Not far down Rosemead Blvd, I think it is, you will find three sets of that are very much worth stopping by. Another must-see would be the Tiki Ti bar in Hollywood. This small but authentic palace also has a loyal following so no guarantees you’ll get a seat. Another Tiki aparmentsnifty fifties spot along the way was this old drive-in movie, er, sign. Only thing left is this incredible sign for the Starlight, one of the many departed drive-in theaters in CA -and, who knows if even the sign is still there two years later.
begin_the_beguine_tony_martin It’s sure good to see someone like Tony Martin still singing – and singing well into his late 90s. After all, probably the closest in age still on the circuit is Tony Bennett, and he’s a baby still in his mid-80s. Martin was raised right in my hometown of Oakland, and attended St Mary’s College despite being Jewish. After taking on a non-ethnic -sounding name, Tony Martin, Hollywood beckoned him. Martin became one of the top singers and actors of his day. During the night we saw him at the Razz Room in San Francisco last year, Martin dropped many of those names of people he worked with during the 40s and 50s and beyond, like Sinatra and Crosby, though his long-time conductor had to frequently help with the actual names. But that’s ok, Martin sang well – and sang his familiar songs like ‘Begin the Beguine and ‘There’s No Tomorrow (same tune as Elvis Presley’s ‘It’s Now or Never,’ but recorded long before Presley, as he noted. After Martin’s long-time movie-star wife Cyd Charisse (above right, with Martin in younger days) passed a few years ago, Martin called up his agent and said he needed to get busy and renewed his career, to the fortune of old and new fans, like us. If you want to hear the last of a breed of powerful balladeers from the big band era, try to see Martin if you can, or at least listen to his music , like this one:
Here is the front page of a music magazine published almost 20 year ago, deriding the Rock Hall of Fame for overlooking key talents (clockwise, from top right GENE PITNEY, NEIL SEDAKA, DEL SHANNON, CONNIE FRANCIS, THE SHIRELLES and BRENDA LEE. Since that time, Pitney , Shannon, the Shirelles and Brenda Lee have finally been inducted, but , amazingly, Neil Sedaka – who had two separate careers, in the 60s and 70s – and Connie Francis , who is the second if not best -selling female singer of all time– are still left out of the Hall, along with many notable names like Neil Diamond, Chubby Checker Paul Anka, Jan and Dean, Nary Wells, The Ventures, Lesllie Gore and most of the attached list (at left) and others you could probably think of… It’s always been an issue as to ‘What is rock and roll? ‘, but if they’re now letting in rap artists and heavy metal,blues and country artists its high time they considered the pop-meisters. Afterall, pop was the rock and roll in the 50s and 60s as was much of country music. Many no longer take the Hall seriously once learning that it is run by the head of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, a publication that has never really recognized any music prior to 1968, it’s inception, with rare exception. Early RS publications , for example , idsmissed Roy Oribson as a lightweight who hid behind dark clothes and glasses – that is, until Orbison returned to fame in the 80s, playing with some of Rolling Stone’s faves like Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan. Unlike some of the sports hall of fames, which put some actual ‘science’ to the test in selected members, the Hall is largely a popularity contest of music writers and publishers, largely of younger age. Prior to being inducted into the hall, the late great Gene Pitney once suggested they not keep nominating him every year but give his slot to a younger artist more likely to get in. Same for Del Shannon, who some say was very depressed after being overlooked many times. Since then, the Hall has become a joke, except to those who may have been inducted or prefer newer music to older.
It’s been about a year or more since we lost radio news legend Paul Harvey. We were always amazed how Harvey kept going on , despite some derision of his politics. But, Harvey, it seemed, got along with everyone and was youthful for his years. He would pass off people he didn’t care for with a joke or a light-hearted jab, not mean-spirited like some today. Not surprisingly, nobody was able to take Harvey’s place, it appears. Mike Huckabee and the Huckabee Report does a good job, and is one of the few programs today that gives time to some of the older celebs, like his recent interview with Sedaka (see above). I , like many used to pass Harvey off as an ‘old coot’ until I saw him on aLarry King interview and, much like with Ronald Reagan, I was impressed with his low-key, self-effacing and humorous style. It wasn’t long after his beloved ‘Angel’ (pictured above in their native Chicago) passed that so did Harvey, age 90. Maybe not so surprisingly I guess. Now, whenever I hear the commercials for pharmaceuticals, such as High Health Occular Nutrition , I think of Harvey.