Monday, October 17, 2011

Waikiki Beachnik by H. Allen Smith

Waikiki Beachnik by H. Allen Smith 1960
waikiki beachnikThis a book I have been seeing around for years.  Have seen it on Tiki Central in the paperback thread, have seen it for sale in Hawaii for more money then I want to spend and finally have seen it in Seattle. On my birthday trip this year we met up with some friends in Seattle and where in search of coffee. For some reason we had a hard time finding coffee but it was finally obtained by the University where we also found a bookstore. And at this bookstore I finally got my copy of Waikiki Beachnik for the amount I wanted to spend: $4.38 with tax.

I didn't realized until today that I own another book by the author, Two-Thirds of a Coconut Tree from 1963 about Tahiti. For some reason I was confusing the author with another humorist from the same time period, Jack Douglas. They both seemed like older, curmudgeon type fellows with long suffering wives who like Polynesia so you can understand my confusion. I read Douglas' book: Adventures of Huckleberry Hashimoto 1965 a while back and still need to put it on on the Bibliotiki.

I actually liked WB better then the Hashimoto book and did chuckle out loud a few times. The book's format is set up as daily diary entries from November 23 to February 21. He lives on the east coast and it starts off with him getting ready to leave and everyone he knows tells him to look up "so and so" when he gets there. They have a stop in San Francisco on the way, which I enjoyed since I live here. He does make a mention that good Mexican food is to be had at the Fairmont Hotel in the Papagayo Room. Thanks to the internet I learn that this was a pretty famous place that all the celebs ate at.

Then off on the Matson line for Oahu. They lived in Hawaii from the beginning of December till the end of February. My god that must of been nice. For the majority of the time they lived at the Royal Hawaiian and then did a short trip to the Big Island. He spends a lot of time at the Moana Surfrider drinking and listening to Hawaii Calls.

One thing that I liked about Mr. Smith was that he loves Hawaiian music so he mentions a lot of what was going on in the scene then, though he is not a fan of Arthur Lyman. He is a bigger fan of Alfred Apaka. Here is what he says about Lyman:
The Arthur Lyman he mentioned is a young man with a weird combo playing a style of stuff that seems to have originated here in Hawaii and that features the sounds made by a guinea hen in agony, the squawk of a sick chicken, and the shriek of a peacock in childbirth. I'm told that this sick chicken type of music is catching on back home. My native land is overrun by pupule akuheads...
Ouch, I will never be able to listen to Lyman the same way again.

He does a lot of name dropping like Donn Beach and his steak restaurant on Oahu. I couldn't figure out what place this was unless they just ment the Don The Beachcomer restaurant. He also spent Christmas with Duke Kahanamoku, who he doesn't really paint that flattering a picture.

I always get excited when something I am reading references something else I've read. Smith meets the husband of Johnny Frisbie, the daughter of Robert Dean Frisbie, which I also need to include both his and her books in the Bibliotiki.

The book ends in sort of an abrupt way. The author is about to embark on a spur of the moment trip to Tahiti on a small boat but it doesn't work out and he is full of regret until later when a woman, Ann Brisbin who did go on the trip sent him her travelog from it and what a hell it was. Now her book, I would like to read.

The book does have some sweet little illustrations every now and then, but not too much.

detail from book

I wound up enjoying this book more then I thought I would and look forward to reading his Tahiti book in the future.