The Life

February 2006

02/28/06

Celebrity encounter: Gordon Clapp

Gordon seemed genuinely surprised when I approached him. He was walking back to his golf cart, and didn't hear me: "Mr. Clapp... Mr. Clapp?" Finally, another member of the fivesome tapped his shoulder and pointed at me. I quickly blurted, "Do you mind if I take your picture?" "You want ME?" he said. I nodded, then briefly wondered if perhaps some people mistake this consummate actor for the mousey policeman he portrayed on NYPD Blue: the perpetually-melancholy, often-flummoxed Detective Greg Medavoy. While snapping this photo, I confessed how much I enjoyed the complex character he had created. And he beamed. In fact, we both beamed. It was an excellent moment (click image for full-length photo). [more encounters]

Posted at 03:51 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/28/06

Doggie!

Palm Springs Life has donated $2,049 in proceeds to Guide Dogs of the Desert International for its joint participation in the magazine's recent annual holiday subscription drive, featuring a complimentary copy of the 2006 GDDI calendar. L-R: Joan Braunstein (PSL's circulation director), Kim Laidlaw (GDDI's director of program operations) and Kyle Radke (campaign coordinator, and GM of The Jones Agency), along with "Astro," who is desperately hoping someone will drop the bone.

Posted at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/28/06

RIV-025: The Original Palm Springs

Here's the first of two bonuses in our plaque series - photo of Riverside historical marker #025, located at 100 North Indian Canyon: The warm spring here was the site of Se-Khe (boiling water), important village of the Kawasic Cahuilla Indians. The Spanish called it Agua Caliente (hot water). A stage station of that name operated from 1862 to 1876. As early as 1871 the Indians operated a bath house for tourists and the site is still tribally owned. Because of the surrounding native palm trees, it was later called "Palm Springs." How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/28/06

Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday (today, one last day of gluttony and excess before the fasting period of Lent), 47 days before Easter. This holiday was brought to New Orleans on March 3, 1699 by the French explorer, Iberville. Early celebrations were held on the banks of the Mississippi. Nowadays, krewes (organizations) host parades and balls.During the late 1700's, masked balls and festivals were common in New Orleans, while it was under French rule. However, when the Spanish took over, these customs were banned. New Orleans became part of the U.S. in 1803, but the prohibition against masked balls was not lifted until 1823, when the Creole populace convinced the governor to relent.The first documented parade occurred in 1837.The official colors...

Posted at 08:03 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/06

The Magic Jungle

Yesterday I walked a leopard (of course, it was on a leash). I also kissed the leopard, as well as two tigers, whom I sprayed with a water hose (they love it!). This was all part of my visit to the Magic Jungle Foundation Preserve near Johnson Valley, where Kele Younger provides a loving home (and I do mean loving) to large cats who have been rescued from less than ideal situations. For example, the 15-month-old tigers, sisters Sasha and Mischa, had previously been in a West Virginia zoo that was hit by a hurricane. They are the newest members of Kele’s family, which also includes two golden Asian leopards (brother and sister) and a black leopard. Kele is building not only a home for herself on a vast expanse of high desert land, but also for these cats and others. The pens are large,...

Posted at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/06

Historic Site Preservation Board: missing or hidden plaques

· Photo of site #47 (Ship of the Desert), located at 1995 South Camino Monte:Architects: Erle Webster & Adrian Wilson (a 1936 example of Streamline Moderne)The new house was christened "Ship of the Desert" on the cover of the October 1937 Sunset magazine. It is obvious why. The cover photo shows what appears to be a handsome streamlined vessel, its decks lined with trim pipe railings, its leading edge appearing to plow through an ocean of sagebrush and sand. The master bedroom, windows flung open to the fresh air, looks like a ship's bridge. Perched partway up the mountain like a grounded Noah's Ark, the house must have looked like it was waiting for prehistoric Lake Cahuilla to refill the Coachella Valley basin so that it could set sail.--Alan Hess, in the Feb. 2002 Palm...

Posted at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/06

Celebrity encounter: Tanya Roberts

I attended my first charity golf tournament this past weekend, and it wasn't as boring as I had feared. Luckily, there were celebrities. In fact, I was nearly bonked by a celebrity-sliced golf ball. It made me wonder if the trip to an emergency room would seem more worthwhile when caused by a famous person. As I skimmed through the background material provided by tournament organizers ("X was once an actor, Y used to play baseball, Z is a former Olympic bronze medalist in tiddlywinks"), I began to wonder if someone could really be called a celebrity if it was necessary to explain his or her now-largely-forgotten claim to fame. In every group of five players, one or two were celebrities. The non-celebrities paid boocoo bucks to play golf with the famous people. I began to...

Posted at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/06

HSPB-40: Tie Down on Easemor Circle

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #40, located at 224 North Easmor Circle:The Tie Down or "hardstand" was utilized during World War II when the Palm Springs Army Air Field was used by the Ferrying Division of the Air Transport Command. The principal reason for establishing the base in Palm Springs was to provide a dispersal and deployment location for planes being ferried to the east coast and elsewhere. There were a substantial number of aircraft at any one time on the base. In order to preclude any catastrophe, the tie down or "hardstand" project was instituted. The tie downs were simply a concrete slab approximately 60 feet in diameter with provisions for tie down ropes. There were between 30 to 40 slabs located on the east half of Section 17.This plaque...

Posted at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/24/06

Desert flora: palm reading

Many types of palm trees grow here in the desert, and some folks can't tell the players without a scorecard. So The Desert Quidnunc is providing the following cheat-sheet as a public service, to help you identify a few of the more common varieties [click thumbnail photos to enlarge]: Fan Palm: there are 2,500 species of palm trees worldwide, with 11 native to North America. The largest of these, and the only palm tree native to western North America, is the California Fan Palm. A fan palm's leaves are typically semicircular or paddle shaped. The leaf may or may not be divided into segments, but most leaves do have these divisions. They might even be severely divided, with the space between segments extending deep into the central leaf. Alternatively, they can be nearly complete,...

Posted at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/24/06

Desert fauna: why does the roadrunner cross the road?

A roadrunner has been visiting our back yard recently, so I did some research: Geococcyx californianus, also called the Chaparral Cock, is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest. Ranging in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak, the roadrunner has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail and an oversized bill. It is a ground cuckoo, uniquely suited to the desert environment by a number of physiological and behavioral adaptations: its nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract like most birds, and it reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion. When the roadrunner senses danger or travels downhill, it will fly, revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. But it cannot keep...

Posted at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/24/06

HSPB-36: Owen Coffman Post 519 Palm Springs American Legion

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #36, located at 400 North Belardo Road:This building was erected by the community of Palm Springs through the donated monies and efforts of its citizens as a lasting memorial to all those who served the United States of America in times of conflict. It was dedicated January 3, 1948, by American Legion National Commander James F. O'Neill. It has served as a community multi-use facility since that date.HSPB-36. This plaque is sponsored by the Owen Coffman Post 519.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:02 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/23/06

We work more, accomplish less

According to research conducted for Day-Timers, American workers felt like they completed 2/3 of their work in an average day last year, down from about 3/4 in a 1994 study.Unlike a decade ago, we're now bombarded with emails, computer messages, cell phone calls, voicemails, etc., so the technology that makes us more productive has paradoxically made us feel less productive.Excuse me a sec. My boss has forwarded the latest viral video.Wow. Who would have thought you could wreak that much havoc with just a chimp and a schnauzer?

Posted at 03:41 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/23/06

Whatchawannadothisweekend? (23Feb06)

Tonight: The Annenberg will screen Visions of Utopia (scroll down) at 6pm. Palm Springs has one of the highest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the nation. Interviews with three of the architects, as well as the people who inhabit their buildings, "document an oral history that is part of our cultural fiber." Most of my cultural fiber comes from Van Gogh Bran Flakes®, but this film might lead to new sources, so I'm all ears.Friday: The Frank Sinatra Countrywide Celebrity Invitational runs today and Saturday. Tee-off is at 8:30am. More golf than you can shake a stick at.Saturday morning: From 9am 'til noon, the Pegasus Riding Academy is holding an open house (RSVP required). This has very little connection, but the interactive Pegasus star chart is tons o'...

Posted at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/23/06

HSPB-35: Palm Springs Desert Museum

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #35 (now named Palm Springs Art Museum), located at 101 North Museum Drive:The Palm Springs Desert Museum, founded in 1938, has occupied three distinct locations in downtown Palm Springs. This building, designed by local architect E. Stewart William, AIA, was first opened in 1976. Williams then designed an expansion that was completed in 1996. The architecture acknowledges the quality of desert light, the colors of the landscape and the mood created by its site at the base of Mt. San Jacinto. The building borrows color from the sunburned patina of mountain rock while its simplicity and massiveness relate to the imposing backdrop. The architectural aesthetic enhances the appreciation of the objects and space within the Museum environment.This plaque...

Posted at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/22/06

HSPB-33(6): Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Valley Station

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #33(6), located at 1 Tramway Road:Circa 1963Designed byAlbert Frey, FAIAThis bridge-like structure straddles a gully, allowing water, and the occasional boulder, to pass underneath without damaging the building. The walls of glass offer a view of the mountain. The interior ceiling is of perforated and corrugated aluminum, a trademark of Frey's work.Historic Site Preservation Board #33How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 03:54 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/22/06

Fingers crossed for a geomagnetic storm

According to SpaceWeather.com, the folks in Alaska have recently experienced some great Northern Lights: [gallery] Even though the activity has subsided, Earth remains inside a high-speed solar wind stream, so another good gust could trigger more. See if the auroras are headed our way by keeping an eye on (and clicking) that automatically-updating plot of the auroral oval power flux (courtesy Space Environment Center).

Posted at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/22/06

HSPB-33(4): Palm Springs City Hall

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #33(4), located at 3200 East Tahquitz Canyon:Built Circa 1952Designed by Albert Frey, John Porter Clark, Robson Chambers, and E. Stewart WilliamsThis building is made of concrete block. Tubular aluminum bris-soliel offers shade, while allowing a view. In front of the City Council chamber is a large disk, on which is emblazoned "The People are the City." To the west, at the main entrance, is a cutout in the overhang of the same diameter as the disk, yielding a symmetry to the massing.Historic Site Preservation Board #33How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/21/06

HSPB-33(2): Tramway Gas Station

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #33(2), located at 2901 North Palm Canyon:Built in 1965Designed byAlbert Frey and Robson ChambersConceived by developer Culver Nichols as an entry statement to Palm Springs, the roof is a hyperbolic paraboloid of steel I-beams and corrugated metal roofing supported by steel tubular pillars. Albert Frey was consulted in its 1998-1999 adaptive reuse as a sculpture gallery.Historic Site Preservation Board #33How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 03:24 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/21/06

100th birthdays may soon be common

...in rich nations, according to a Stanford University biologist, in a study presented at the annual meeting of The American Association for the Advancement of Science.Ohmigosh. If I live past 95, I'll be praying that somebody shoots me.Hopefully, a jealous husband.

Posted at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/21/06

HSPB-29: Dr. Smith/Dr. Peppers Office

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #29, located at 483 North Palm Canyon:This small Spanish Eclectic structure was the northernmost residence in the village of Palm Springs when it was built in the 1920s. As the city grew, there was an increasing need for community services, especially along "Main Street," and Dr. Smith converted the residence to a medical office in the early 1930s. Dr. Peppers occupied this building from 1940 to 1958. This structure continues to be used as downtown office space, with a change from medical to real estate use in 1972.HSPB-29. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:02 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/06

Local Art Galleries

The news comes that another local art gallery is closing its doors. Michael Hinkle, owner of The Figurative Gallery in Old Town La Quinta, hasn’t gotten the reception he hoped for when he became one of the earlier tenants of Old Town. As of March 1, he is returning to the Internet as his base of operations. It’s more than a personal loss; it’s a cultural loss for the valley as a whole. Palm Springs Life promotes the local art scene. In fact, this year’s edition of Art + Culture showcases local artists. But it takes more than a publication to support the kind of lifestyle and quality of life for which the desert has gained a reputation. Certainly there are wonderful galleries on El Paseo, but there’s also plenty of seriously good artwork elsewhere. For example, there’s...

Posted at 04:50 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/06

HSPB-28: William & ''Mousie'' Powell Residence

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #28, located at 383 Verida Norte:Built c 1935-36Mediterranean/Spanish RevivalHistoric Site Preservation Board #28How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/06

Date trees, beauty queens and ostrich brains

Date trees were imported to the Coachella Valley from Algeria in 1903. The first two Date Festivals were held in 1921 and '22, then the concept fell dormant until the late '30s, when Western/Cowboy themes were in vogue. But WWII put a stop to all California fairs, and the Date Festival wasn't revived until 1947. The postwar festivals were dominated by an Arabian Nights motif, complete with beauty pageants and out-of-control ostrich races, and these traditions have persisted to the present day. This year's pageant winners are (left to right - click photo to enlarge): Jessica Walls (Princess Dunyazade, from PDHS), Ginger Rae McCartney (Queen Scheherazade, from DHSHS) and Rema Kirk-Ruiz (Princess Jasmine, from LQHS). They generously allowed Their chaperone generously allowed me to snap...

Posted at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/06

HSPB-27: El Paseo Building

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #27, located at 800 North Palm Canyon:Built 1926-27, this Spanish Eclectic complex is built around a courtyard in which are displayed many decorative features typical of the architectural style. The frontage along Palm Canyon Dr. has been altered, but much of the original building remains hidden behind the "modern" storefronts. An extension of the original roof once provided a covered walkway along the street. This complex included El Paseo Theatre which served as the City Council Chamber 1944-48.HSPB-27. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/06

It's NOT Presidents' Day?

The first observance of this holiday was to honor George Washington's birthday in 1796, the last full year of his presidency. Washington had actually been born on February 11, 1732 (1731 under the old British calendar system, which began the new year in March rather than January), but the Gregorian adjustment was finally adopted by England (and its American colonies) in 1752, so some people stubbornly celebrated on the 11th, while most waited until the 22nd.By the early 1800s, Washington's Birthday traditions had grown to include Birthnight Balls and a great deal of drinking in taverns.Then we began observing Lincoln's birthday on February 12, 1866, nearly ten months after his assassination (and 57 years after his birth). Although Lincoln's birthday became a legal holiday in several...

Posted at 08:03 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/17/06

Locus Novus

...is an animated website devoted to exploring the frontiers of electronic literature and online art. This brainchild of Faruk Ulay (who recently authored Beneath the Shadow of Perpetual Defeat and Terra Infirma) is truly a "synthesis of text and image/motion/sound."LN's tiny bouncing blocks of color, an homage to Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, "create a vital and pulsing rhythm, an optical vibration that jumps from intersection to intersection..."And when you view the LN collaborations, literary endeavors take on a whole new dimension.

Posted at 03:12 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/17/06

Memewatch: Bumper Cars

It all started with the Christians, who first plastered Fish bumper stickers on the backs of their cars. Then Evolutionists satirized the idea, with Darwin stickers. Muslims, of course, wanted to jump on the bandwagon with their Shark plaques, and that's when all h*ll broke loose. Now we have the Familia Abordo concept (crude drawings of Mom/Dad/Kids/Pets inside minivan rear windows), which evolved into Stick Family Robinson, ending up as Feet Family. Just be vewwy, vewwy careful not to flip Dad's feet in between Mom's.

Posted at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/17/06

HSPB-26: General Telephone Building

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #26, located at 365 North Palm Canyon:This structure was built c. 1934 by the California Water & Telephone Company as a business office and switching center. It was purchased by General Telephone in 1967 and continued as a switching center until 1984. The structure is constructed of poured-in-place concrete highlighted by a Spanish Eclectic facade.HSPB-26. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/16/06

A chat with Kevan Hall

Fashion designer Kevan Hall was in Palm Desert, California this afternoon, to help announce the upcoming Fashion Week El Paseo. Mr. Hall will present his Spring 2006 Runway Collection here next month, and graciously spent a few moments speaking with me:You've said that your fashion creativity emerged early. Was there a decisive event which led you onto this path?Not really a decisive event, but I had really supportive parents who helped me along. When they saw that I had a talent for sketching and drawing, they gave me all sorts of supplies and books and art magazines, so that I could flourish.Your brother Vondie is a noted actor/director/writer. Do you believe there's a gene for success?Maybe there is, but I believe that anybody can achieve something if they are determined, tenacious...

Posted at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/16/06

Whatchawannadothisweekend? (16Feb06)

Tonight: At 7:30pm, pianist Cristiana Pegoraro performs at PSHS in the Community Concert series. [Insert your own Chopsticks quip here.]Friday: Indio's Date Festival opens at 10am, and the ostrich races start soon after. Later, at 6:15pm, there's a musical pageant (3 Wishes, Tale of the Seven Sisters), along with many other events. But I'm addicted to the ostrich racing. It's somehow very satisfying, aesthetically: flimsy chariots, steering with brooms, barely-orchestrated mayhem...Saturday morning: At 10am, catch the PS Modernism show at the Convention Center. Get Bauhaused.Saturday afternoon: Dezart Studio hosts an open forum poetry reading at 5pm. There once was a gal from Nantucket...Saturday evening: The legendary Los Lobos band performs at the Date Fest, starting at 8pm. In the...

Posted at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/16/06

HSPB-23: Community Church of Palm Springs

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #23, located at 284 South Cahuilla Road:The Community Church was dedicated on March 15, 1936, under the leadership of Dr. C.D. Williamson; it replaced the first community church (1906) on a site at the southeast corner of Palm Canyon Dr. & Andreas Rd.The vernacular brick structure, with Gothic Revival Elements (unique in Palm Springs), is L-shaped in plan with a two-story main sanctuary wing and a three-story central steeple. Notable features are the recessed, mullioned casement windows and the arched doorways containing timbered doors.The one- and two-story classroom wings were added in the late 1940s,HSPB-23. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/15/06

Doing the math

I don't know if these figures are up-to-date, but someone recently claimed this valley contains: [a] 350,000 permanent residents (increasing by 50% in the winter), [b] 4,000 realtors, and [c] 120 golf courses. That means there's one golf course to be shared among 2,917 residents, one realtor for every 88 of us, and 33.33 realtors per golf course. I love those statistics, but I'm not sure what they mean.

Posted at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/15/06

HSPB-22A: Plaza Theatre

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #22A, located at 128 South Palm Canyon:The Plaza Theatre opened in December 1936 with a screening of "Camille", a tragic love story starring Robert Taylor and Greta Garbo; actor Ralph Bellamy served as master of ceremonies for this event which attracted about 40 Hollywood celebrities. The Theatre was also home for some of the Jack Benny radio broadcasts in the 1940s, along with those of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The "Village Insanities" revue, a highlight of the Desert Circus of the 1930s and onward, was also staged here.HSPB-22A. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/15/06

Hotel/condos on O'Donnell golf property?

According to a recent article in The Press-Enterprise (registration required), some lucky folks might end up owning condominiums in certain parts of the O'Donnell Golf Club. Wealthy oil magnate Tom O'Donnell deeded the real estate to Palm Springs in 1944, but only if the city agreed to lease the property back to the golf club until the year 2043.Even if most of the club becomes a park, should the city use its power of eminent domain to break the lease?Should 45,000 citizens have unobstructed access to an area that less than 200 club members fully enjoy now?Questions, questions...

Posted at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/14/06

Henry David Thoreau's blog

Well, not quite. But Gregory Perry has excerpted Thoreau's journals on this blog:18-Jan-1856. This is a very mild, melting winter day, but clear and bright, yet I see the blue shadows on the snow at Walden. The snow lies very level there, about ten inches deep, and for the most part bears me as I go across with my hatchet. I think I never saw a more elysian blue than my shadow. I am turned into a tall blue Persian from my cap to my boots, such as no mortal dye can produce, with an amethystine hatchet in my hand. I am in rapture at my own shadow. What if the substance were of as ethereal a nature?

Posted at 03:18 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/14/06

HSPB-21: George B. Roberson House

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #21 (house now named Le Vallauris), located at 385 West Tahquitz Canyon:This structure was built c. 1927 by George B. Roberson, who lived here for 50 years. Along with this mother, Nellie Coffman, and his half-brother, O. Earl Coffman, Roberson managed The Desert Inn which was located across Tahquitz Way on the Desert Fashion Plaza/Desert Museum properties.This Mediterranean/Spanish Revival three-bedroom house is in excellent condition although a new facade has been added. The home is surrounded by a wall constructed of native stone.HSPB-21. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/14/06

1737 years ago today

Valentine's Day probably originated with the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. During Rome's early days, fierce wolves roamed the nearby woods, so Roman citizens called upon one of their gods, Lupercus, to keep the beasts away. A celebration to honor the god was held every February 15th. One Lupercalian custom for young Romans was name-drawing: on the festival's eve, names of eligible girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man drew a slip, and the chosen girl would be his sweetheart for the year. Legend has it that a priest named Valentine was trying to spread the new religion of Christianity in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. The Emperor decreed that his soldiers were NOT to be engaged or married, reasoning that men who were romantically involved...

Posted at 08:07 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/13/06

HSPB-15: Our Lady of Solitude Catholic Church

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #15, located at 151 West Alejo Road:Plans for Our Lady of Solitude church were begun in February 1926 under the direction of Father Philip LaVies, who came weekly to Palm Springs from the Indian mission school in Banning. In 1928, temporary church services began on this site, obtained from the Southern Pacific Railroad with the help of P.T. Stevens. Our Lady of Solitude, a Mission Revival structure, was completed in 1930. The builder was Alvah Hicks, a local contractor, and the architect was Albert Martin, who designed the Los Angeles City Hall and Loyola College. The rectory on Alejo Road was added in 1964, while the parish center, facing Belardo Road, was completed in 1976.HSPB-15. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many...

Posted at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/13/06

Peter Benchley: 8 May 1940 - 11 February 2006

His novel terrorized a generation of swimmers, while the author himself became a shark-conservation advocate. Peter Benchley, grandson of Algonquin Round Table humorist Robert Benchley, died on Saturday at the age of 65. He co-wrote the screenplay for Spielberg's movie, and was very pleased with the way the film turned out.Brody [awestruck, after seeing the shark]: You're gonna need a bigger boat...

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/13/06

HSPB-13: Pacific Building

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #13, located at 798 North Palm Canyon:The Pacific Building was constructed by local builder Charles Chamberlin about 1936. It was originally owned by Dr. Rothman, a pediatrician from Los Angeles, and subsequently sold to Florian G. Boyd, a former Palm Springs mayor. This Mission Revival building with Mediterranean/Spanish elements contains office and retail spaces on the street level with several apartments upstairs. At one time, the Bombay Restaurant was located in the street-level corner store.HSPB-13. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 08:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/10/06

3... 2... 1... Taos, we have a problem

I love those countdown pedestrian walk signals. While standing at the curb, I imagine sitting in the pilot's seat of VSS Enterprise, nervous and not-quite-ready to blast off into the galaxy. But as the mother ship levels off and my cockpit's numerical display descends closer to zero hour, some little old lady shoves me into the street, yelling: "Run, you dimwit! We'll never make it across, if you keep lollygagging." And I think it’s gonna be a long long time Till touch down brings me round again to find I’m not the man they think I am at home Oh no no no, I’m a rocket man --Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Posted at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/10/06

HSPB-12: El Mirador Garage

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #12, located at 1090 North Palm Canyon:El Mirador Garage opened about 1929, one year after the El Mirador Hotel. It served the clientele of the hotel as well as the winter population of Palm Springs. The office and fuel area were located in the one-story section of the building on Palm Canyon Drive. Chauffeur quarters were provided on the second floor of the building along Tachevah Drive.HSPB-12. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/10/06

Desert flora: tamarisk (saltcedar)

The next time you're cruising eastbound on Interstate 10 toward the Agua Caliente Casino, take a look at the feathery green foliage which lines both sides of the freeway between Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road. Aren't those fluffy trees cute?Think again, Scallion Breath. Each of those tamarisk plants has a deep tap-root that may extend downwards 100 feet or more, with lateral roots that sometimes reach out 150 feet. They suck up hundreds of gallons of water, draining vital resources from other desert plants. During daytime heat, the tamarisk secretes salt, a process which wastes even more water. Then, during the night, the salt absorbs water from the air.Tamarisks increase the frequency, intensity and effect of fires and floods. They can survive prolonged submersion, as well as lengthy...

Posted at 08:02 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/06

HSPB-11: Site of First Community Church

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #11, located at 196 North Palm Canyon:This is the site of the first community church in Palm Springs. Welwood Murray donated the land in 1906 and the little church stood as a landmark in the Village until 1934.The existing Carnell Building, designed by Harold Williams, was completed in 1936. Julia Carnell, owner of National Cash Register, financed both this building and the development of La Plaza.HSPB-11. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

Posted at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/06

Whatchawannadothisweekend? (9Feb06)

Tonight: At 7:30pm, catch Kimberly Akimbo under the Playhouse tent in Old Town La Quinta. It's based on the experiences of a girl who is aging at five times the normal rate. I think we can all relate. Friday: At the McCallum, Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance kicks off at 8pm ("kicks off" - heh). Saturday morning: The Tour de Palm Springs for bicyclists starts at 7am. Be there or be square. Less-tiring alternative ("tiring" - heh): Tour the Art of Palm Desert at 10am. Saturday afternoon: No matter which tour you take, have a look at Art Under the Umbrellas in LQ, from 10am to 4pm. This is a completely different experience than art that is not under the umbrellas, I'm told. Saturday evening: At 5:30pm, Parkinson's Resource Organization presents the Badgley...

Posted at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/06

Wine

As I wrote in an article in last November's Palm Springs Life, the addition of wine stores and tasting venues have added a new dimension to the good life in the Coachella Valley. The trend continues. Just yesterday, walking downtown a couple blocks from the PSL building, I discovered Wild for the Vine, a new store offering wine accessories, including a fun selection of glasses, wine bottle holders, vacuum pumps, and shelves. In fact, it was the shelves in the window that first caught my eye. The wavy upright posts were doing a hula, which made me wonder if you drank enough they would appear to stop moving. Scott and Debby Morgan, who previously took their business on the road, selling at trade shows, own the store at 390 N. Palm Canyon Drive. They have applied for a liquor license so...

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02/09/06

HSPB-10: Oasis Hotel

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #10, located at 121 South Palm Canyon:The Oasis Hotel, constructed 1923-25, contained approximately 20 units and included the Tower Building, the only three-story hotel building in Palm Springs for many years.The 40-foot tower, with its pyramidal roof, provided access to the upper-story rooms and a roof-top terrace. The topmost room was called "Loretta Young's Room", because it was her favorite in Palm Springs.The Moderne/Art Deco-style hotel was designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, and constructed of solid concrete using a technique which was quite advanced for that time.The McCallum Adobe, once located on this site, has been moved to the Village Green.HSPB-10. This plaque sponsored by Nathan W. & Bernadette K....

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02/08/06

The Big Easy

New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina, but this year's Mardi Gras will go on as scheduled. The city needs visitors more than ever. Carnival season in the Southern Hemisphere is coming from a slightly different mindset: the Brazilian government plans to distribute 25 million free condoms... You come down here in a four piece suit Pork pie hat and the alligator boots Keep jerking rabbits outta your hat Now can ya pull a disappearing act --"Go Back To Your Woods" by Robbie Robertson & Bruce Hornsby, from Storyville

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02/08/06

HSPB-9: Lykken's Department Store

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #9, located at 180 North Palm Canyon: Desert Pioneer, Carl Lykken, built the first general store in the Village in 1914. For many years it contained the only telephone and the post office. The store was remodeled with the existing overhang and arches when sidewalks were installed in the early 1930s. Carl Lykken helped to establish the first Police Protection District and served on its board until the City incorporated in 1938. HSPB-9. This plaque sponsored by the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, Cape Ann Chapter, California. How many historic sites have you visited?

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02/08/06

Save the date! Fashion Week El Paseo

March 20-26. The finale fashion show features designer Kevan Hall (recently profiled in Newsweek), who will present his Spring 2006 Runway Collection.Felicity Huffman, Charlize Theron, Debra Messing, Maria Shriver, Celine Dion, Renee Zellweger and Sharon Stone have all worn Mr. Hall's designs.But I haven't.Yet.

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02/07/06

TV commercial orgy: the Super Bowl for non-football fans

This is the time of year when advertisers roll out the big guns, lavishing tons of money and creativity on the commercials that run during The Big Game. I used to tape the broadcast and watch it later, so I could avoid the football parts by fast-forwarding to the ads.But now USA Today has assembled all the good stuff, including the spot which they declared as the winner.Gawd, I love the Internet.

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02/07/06

HSPB-8: Street Marker

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #8, located at the northwest corner of Palm Canyon and Chino Drive:This is one of the original street markers used following the incorporation of the City of Palm Springs in 1938. Dr. J.J. Kocher and Philip Boyd, then secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, had renamed the streets in 1930 at which time Main Avenue became Palm Canyon Boulevard. Constructed of native stone and mortared with cement, this marker is the last one of its kind remaining in Palm Springs.HSPB-8. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

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02/07/06

Tour de Palm Springs

Ride your bicycle for charity (8, 25, 55 or 100 miles) this Saturday, February 11! Last year, 6,395 cyclists pedaled a total of 366,131 miles, and $115,000 was donated to 67 different entities.During the 2005 event, riders consumed 18,000 bottles of water, 2,000 gallons of Gatorade, 10,300 oranges, 11,000 bananas, 11,000 Fig Newtons, 750 pounds of Chex mix, 600 pounds of M&M peanuts, 11,300 energy bars, 140 pounds of turkey, 140 pounds of ham, 190 pounds of cheese, 75 jars of peanut butter and 8,500 slices of bread.Mm. There's nothing like a gooey peanut butter & cheese sammich.Fat bottomed girlsThey'll be riding todaySo look out for those beauties oh yeah--from Bicycle Race, by Freddie Mercury (Queen)

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02/06/06

HSPB-7: Frances S. Stevens School

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #7, located at 538 North Palm Canyon:Prescott T. Stevens, developer of the El Mirador Hotel, donated this site and the funds to build the Frances S. Stevens School, in memory of his wife and her interest in education. The first two rooms were completed in 1927. Katherine Finchy, who arrived in Palm Springs in 1922, became this school's first administrator. Palm Springs' first bond issue provided additional classrooms, a library, indoor plumbing, a cafeteria, an apartment for the principal, and a large auditorium which served as the city's first theater. The City of Palm Springs later purchased the facility as a cultural arts center; then Vice President Gerald Ford dedicated the center, known as Everybody's Village, in 1974.HSPB-7. This plaque...

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02/06/06

Guess who turns 89 on Saturday?

Palm Springs resident Sidney Sheldon has written 200 television scripts, 25 major motion pictures, 6 Broadway plays, and 18 novels (which have sold over 300,000,000 copies). In November, he published a memoir: The Other Side of Me. Whew. And I have trouble just writing a blog posting. Also born on February 11: 1969 Jennifer Aniston 1962 Sheryl Crow 1953 Jeb Bush 1941 Sergio Mendes 1938 Manuel Noriega 1936 Burt Reynolds 1934 Tina Louise 1926 Leslie Nielsen 1921 Eva Gabor 1909 Joseph L. Mankiewicz 1847 Thomas Alva Edison 1535 Pope Gregory XIV 1465 Elizabeth of York

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02/06/06

HSPB-5: McCallum Adobe

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #5, located at 221 South Palm Canyon:The McCallum Adobe, the oldest remaining building in Palm Springs, was built in 1885 for John and Emily McCallum, the area's first white settlers. Originally constructed on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Way, and later a part of the Oasis Hotel, the McCallum Adobe was moved to this site during the early 1950s. Pearl McCallum McManus donated this land to the City with the condition that the McCallum Adobe be preserved on it. The building now serves as the museum and headquarters of the Palm Springs Historical Society.The names and symbols carved into some of the adobe blocks are believed to be those of the workmen who formed the blocks.HPSB-5. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert...

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02/03/06

Flaggots in Heaven

I recently went to Heaven (a dance club in downtown Palm Springs) and spoke with several members of The Flaggots, a group that practices the beautifully sublime artforms of fanning and flagging. The quotes below are from Eric, a 40-year-old from Palm Springs, and Jazz (first two photos - click any thumbnail to enlarge). When asked about his age, Jazz replied simply, "I was on the dance floor the first time they played It's Raining Men."What initially attracted you to these activities?Jazz: I've been dancing in one form or another since I was very young. I first saw fan dancing in Key West around 1985. I had recently finished a five-year stint as a dancer in dinner theater musical comedies, and the movements attracted me both visually as an observer and intellectually as a...

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02/03/06

HSPB-3: Welwood Murray Memorial Library

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #3, located at 100 South Palm Canyon:In 1938 George Welwood Murray donated this land to provide for a library as a memorial to his father, Welwood Murray, pioneer hotel operator. Cornelia White donated an additional strip of property on the eastern end of the site. The existing structure, designed by John Porter Clark and constructed by Charles Chamberlin, opened as the first permanent home of the Palm Springs Public Library in February 1941. With the completion of the Library Center at Sunrise Plaza in October 1975, the Welwood Murray Memorial Library became the downtown branch.HPSB-3. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

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02/03/06

The Movie Colony

Bounded by Tamarisk Road on the north, Alejo on the south, Indian Canyon on the west and Avenida Caballeros on the east, the "Movie Colony" in central Palm Springs is steeped in history and glamour from the days when Hollywood stars flocked to the Village to build weekend hideaway retreats. This area offers great views of the San Jacinto Mountains and is chock-full of luxury gated and walled homes, Spanish villas and mid-century modern estates, all within a short walking distance of downtown. Many houses have guest casitas or private visitor quarters, and most are on tree-lined streets with mature landscaping, including palm trees, fruit trees and exotic flowers.

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02/02/06

HSPB-2: Welwood Murray Cemetery

Latest in a series - photo of plaque #2, located at 499 West Chino Drive:The Welwood Murray Cemetery was the first community cemetery for white settlers in the Palm Springs area. When Welwood Erskine Murray, the son of pioneer hotel operator Welwood Murray, died in 1894, he was buried on this small parcel of land. During the next decade, the Murrays allowed other burials and Welwood Murray himself was interred in this cemetery in 1914. Following his death, this site became a part of the newly-formed Palm Springs Cemetery District.HSPB-2. This plaque sponsored by the McCallum Desert Foundation.How many historic sites have you visited?

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02/02/06

Whatchawannadothisweekend? (2Feb06)

Tonight: At 5:30pm, the Playwrights' Circle offers a free staged reading of "The Importance of Being," a one-act drama by Vicki Righettini. This play is about the long friendship between an actress in "The Importance of Being Ernest" and her dresser. The reading will take place at the PS Art Museum, adjacent to their lobby. And Vicki will be the woman standing off to the side, looking nervous. Friday: Bruce Vilanch plays the Annenberg at 8pm. He's written material for the Oscars, the Tonys, the Emmys, and such stars as Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and David Letterman. I'll bet you're saying, "Comedy writers are a dime a dozen." But how many have been the subject of a documentary (Get Bruce!), eh? (That's my .8333333333333¢ worth.)...

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02/02/06

Groundhog Day

[According to legend, if a groundhog (woodchuck) sees his shadow when he comes out of his burrow today, we're in for six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn't see it, there will be an early spring. This celebratory ritual falls on the same day as the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc.]Q: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if he's not scared by a movie star's shadow?A: 700 pounds.

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02/01/06

For sale: 80-acre oasis. Price: 2 mules and a buckboard wagon.

In the late 1890s, "Alkali" Al Thornburg, a horse trader from East L.A., spent his Army tour of duty carrying messages on horseback between Tubac, Arizona and Los Angeles. By following old stagecoach roadways and Indian trails, he accidentally stumbled across Thousand Palms Oasis. Alkali rested his horse under the Oasis palm trees on several occasions. After leaving military service, he discovered the Desert Land Act of 1900, which made it possible for him to own this patch of real estate if he lived on it for at least three months annually, during three successive years. But he wasn't overly enthusiastic about making the desert his permanent home, and he always rushed back to East L.A. at the end of each three-month period.Wuss.So Alkali swapped the Oasis for Louis Wilhelm's...

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02/01/06

HSPB-1: El Mirador Hotel

The Historic Site Preservation Board of Palm Springs is responsible for those handsome brown-and-gold metal informative plaques you often see while strolling through the village. Here's a photo of plaque #1 (or click that right-margin thumbnail photo), located at 1150 North Indian Canyon: Opening in 1928, El Mirador was one of the most fashionable resorts of its day, catering to movie stars and captains of industry. When the U.S. entered WWII in 1941, the hotel was purchased by the federal government and converted into Torney General Hospital, treating wounded soldiers. After the war, the hotel reopened, but the easterly portion of the property became a community hospital. The hotel closed permanently in 1973 and Desert Hospital was built where the hotel once stood. The main hotel...

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02/01/06

A conversation with the Cahuilla Maiden

Palm Springs and the surrounding area was once the exclusive domain of the Agua Caliente ("AH-gwa cahl-e-EN-tay," Spanish for "hot water") Band of Cahuilla ("kaw-WE-ah") Indians. They established legal right to this land in the 1870s, but its exact zoning wasn't settled until the 1940s, when the development of hotels and leisure complexes was well under way. Every other square mile of Palm Springs forms part of their reservation, and the remaining sections fan across the desert and mountains in a checkerboard pattern. Of the reservation's 31,500 acres, 6,700 lie within the Palm Springs city limits. Lease income has made the Agua Caliente tribe the second richest in America (next to the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut), worth more than $2 billion. This...

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