Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weird Weather August

Weird August days in Palm Springs, 2012
If you came to Palm Springs this month, you could have thought you were in Miami (if it wasn't for the mountains).

Most days have been humid, sultry, sticky and most recently smelly (the sad Salton Sea). I can't remember an August being this humid and rainy, and I've lived here 12 years.

Today it rained a lot. Most people think that August rain is rare in the desert. To be sure, it is, but not that rare. August is the wettest of the summer months because of the monsoon moisture pushed up from the Gulf of California, that body of water that separates Baja California from the rest of Mexico. Average rainfall for August is .29 inches.

It rained .21 inches in Palm Springs according to Cathedral City got .71 inches of rain, that folks is a lot of rain for this area.

You can see how much variation that is. The rainfall amounts in a thunderstorm from one place to another can be significant. One mile can make a lot of difference.

We don't sing "Rain, rain go away. Come again some other day." We're glad to have it. The vegetation's beginning to look very perky--stiff, clean leaves, dark bark and even some blossoms.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Palm Springs Neighborhoods--Old Las Palmas

If you want a celebrity lifestyle, the Old Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs is probably the neighborhood for you. Pricy it is, but well worth the charms of living in a Spanish or mid-century pseudo-mansion butt against the 8000-foot peak of Mt. San Jacinto.  You're also within a stone's throw of the downtown shops, bars and cafes and not very far from the Design district. 

If you end up living or visiting there, you'll be walking, driving or riding your bike in some of the same places Elizabeth Taylor and Dinah Shore did decades ago. What could be more glamorous than that?

Aside from being a celebrity haven, Old Las Palmas, was the very first established neighborhood in Palm Springs. What's more? Old Las Palmas housed the first commercial meteorologist in the country--Irving P. Krick, a man who took the weather very seriously and who had been snubbed by the U.S. Weather Bureau as somewhat of a quack. He went on the head the Department of Meteorology at the California Institute of Technology. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photography Class at UCR--Palm Desert

A new photography class is being offered at UCR--Palm Desert beginning Sept. 18, 2012.
Matthew Bamberg, author of ten books about photography, is teaching a photography class at the UCR Palm Desert campus beginning on Sept. 18.

Matthew's experience as a photographer ranges from shooting at local events in Palm Springs to writing articles for Shutterbug and Professional Photographer.

Matthew Bamberg's photography spans themes from nostalgia to landscapes. His hands-on, casual teaching style makes learning the craft of photography lively and entertaining.

Matthew will guide you to use the right side of your brain (the creative end) along instructing in the latest camera setting to help you craft stunning images for your websites, social network pages, fine art photography selling websites and more.

If you have any questions about the class, you can reach him at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Partying Like it's 1963 in Palm Springs
What does Bing Crosby, JFK, a young White House intern, and  amyl nitrate have in common?

Party time at Thunderbird Estates in 1963!

Locals all know that second to Palm Springs in Rat Pack era celebrity gossip is the city of Rancho Mirage. Many also know that the Bing Crosby Estate was put on the market in 2010.

What you might not know is that former JFK intern Mimi Alford revealed earlier this year in her book, "Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath " that she partied at Bing's estate in Rancho Mirage's Thunderbird Estates, being offered what today is known as "poppers."

Now we all know that not only did JFK take amphetamines, have extramarital affairs and partied like it was 1999 with amyl nitrate, we can rest easy to know that Bing (if you're young, Google him) wasn't so wholesome after all.

What a revelation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Phyllis Diller Book Signing--Palm Springs 2005

Phyllis Diller at a 2005 Palm Springs book signing. 
At 90 years old, Phyllis Diller had her her autobiography published. Phyllis Diller's autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse reveals a woman who had overcome a sl

Diller rose from the shadow of red hot mama, Sophie Tucker, one of a few woman to made it to the top, kicking the funny bone of through the 20th century. Diller picked up the bone and lived seemingly forever, taking comedy from the female perspective by making fun of housewifery, herself and her cosmetic surgery. She revealed the name of the doctors in a list that summed up her facelift history.

Just as the other hoots of show business came to Palm Springs, so did Diller, defining the desert as a Shangri La, a place to kick back atop a Palm Springs hilltop with her friend Bob Hope.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller Reflects on Bob Hope

Phyllis Diller visited Bob Hope in his Palm Springs home for a week in 2000.
RIP--In honor of one of the greatest comedians of all time.

What did Phyllis Diller do when she came to Palm Springs?

Here's what inquiring minds want to know. Phyllis Diller today at 95.

The following is from

"Bob is a gentleman, schalor, genius, same spiritual beliefs as mine, absolute end when it comes to comedy.  He's my guru.  Again, mental equivalent."  Her feline, Mister Cat, brushes against her leg.

"I just spent a week with Bob in that 37,000-square-foot Palm Springs mountaintop home."

"It's like a postcard, the mountains, the clouds, the valley, and the airport.  You're even above the airplanes!  Shangri-La!  When you come down out of there you think, 'Oh, my face is going to fall!'"

Palm Springs Neighbohoods--Indian Canyons

Not many people realize that Palm Springs has a number of neighborhoods, each with a character of its own.

The video above gives you a tour of the Indian Canyons, my favorite neighborhood, but only because thats the route I take on my daily ten-mile bike ride.

There are lots of mid-century homes, you know the ones--made of steel, butterfly and/or cantilevered roofs, indoor-outdoor access, desert landscaping and so on.

What's great about this neighborhood is that it ends at the Indian Canyons, one of the most beautiful places in the Coachella Valley.

To be sure, the Indians own the land and they charge you to get in; however, the price is well worth it.

The area contains a cool oasis and hilltop views of Palm Springs. There are also hiking trails.

Indian Canyons is a good place to bring a picnic on a nice day. Sheltered picnic areas in the canyons offer an escape from the daytime heat.

Come on and take the tour by watching the video above.

Video courtesy of Dave Stukas Real Estate

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's that Smell?

In 1999 7.6 million fish (out of about 200 million in the sea) died in the annual summer kill-off. Every year at this time, you notice a funny smell all over the Coachella Valley. It's the monsoon season now, a time when southeasterly winds can carry the smell of millions of dead Tilapia, the most common fish in the sea, all over the entire valley, including Palm Springs.

The kill occurs during the summer when temperatures soar, causing the algae in the sea to die, which uses up the oxygen in the water, leaving the fish, shall we say, "breathless."  This year hasn't been so bad. The worst of the foul odors occurred about two weeks ago and has since abated.

At 200 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea is very salty because there is little inflow and outflow of water. Talipia is a kind of fish that can tolerate high-salinity water, most other kinds of fish can't.

All of this doesn't mean that the sea is unimportant. Contrary to what many believe the sea hosts a variety of wildlife including 400 species of birds. During the cooler times of the year, you can see hundreds of huge white pelicans milling around the shoreline. It's an incredible site. It is also an important wetland, one of the few left in the inland section of Southern California. Geese and other migratory birds find a home near the sea on their journeys south for the winter and north for the summer.

During the 1950s, the shoreline around the Salton Sea was a hot spot for travelers. During these glory days, the Salton Sea attracted snowbirds from all over the country. They stayed at swank motels and traveled in huge campers, making the sea a temporary home away from home.

Not far from the Salton Sea is another must-see destination--Slab City. This community is one-of-a-kind, a place where people can settle on the land for no cost. Stake it out and it's yours. If you want an end-of-the-world sensation, this is the place to go. Part of the movie Into the Wild was filmed there.

Wait...there's one gotta-go place--Salvation Mountain. It's right next to Slab City, a place to climb around a small artificial mountain that has been hand-painted by a guy who's been living there for years. The theme of the painted text and images is probably just what you expected for a place called Salvation Mountain. It's the Bible, making this the center Southern California Bible Belt.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Desert Holly

Desert Holly Condo Complex, Palm Springs

It was the summer 1999. I had to get a place fast in Palm Springs. I lived in the Bay Area and the constant dreary weather had got me down, not to mention the hustle and bustle of the big cities I had lived in...Miami, San Francisco and San Diego.

Drove around Palm Springs and found this place, a desert retro oasis. Loved it. At the time there was a Vons across the street in a big mall filled with stores. Grant it, it wasn't a pretty mall, but they had a food court with a McDonalds and a good restaurant--Carla's--a place where the chef was renegade from Billy Reed's and who made the same exact food as you could get there at nearly half the price.

When I drove up to Desert Holly, it was vacant with only the name of a realtor and a phone number posted on the sliding glass door.

The rest was history for $50,000, I got a two bedroom, one bath condo that looked like it came out of an advertisement of a 1955, $.25 Look magazine. Everything was original--the dishwasher, stove, lighting fixtures, carpet. The kitchen was divided from the living room by a long bar with a space-ship pattern formica top. Outside was a garden and kidney-shaped swimming pool. "Heaven on earth," I thought.

Today, I miss the place, though the Palm Springs Mall across the street is now nearly empty--the Vons long-gone and the food court shut down years ago.

Now I'm in Dumuth Park, the section of Palm Springs that took an enormous hit when the real estate market dove south. Bad as Florida was.

paris black and white art

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marilyn for Sale

Marilyn prints for sale, all sizes, framed/unframed/canvas and so on. 

Get her in all her glory--Marilyn Monroe on your wall in your home.

Image taken with a Canon 5D with Tamron 70-200 mm zoom lens at 100 ISO f/8 1/250 seconds.

Marilyn Monroe came to Palm Springs in June, and she's the most popular new attraction since the misters were back in the 1980s. Just like back then, people are swarming around her, shooting images of her from fontal shots to shots of her underwear (yes her skirt is up and you can get some shade underneath it).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Art Runs in the Wexler Family

Presenting Donald Wexler... Donald Wexler is one of the greatest architects the Palm Springs has ever known. In his mid-80s, Wexler still lives in Palm Springs, as does his son, Glen a photographer who creates risque photo compositions.

The father and son are both gifted with an eye for design and creativity. Seeing Donald talk about his architecture, flowing shapes of rocks and steel, he came to know quickly that wood wasn't for the desert.

Glen Wexler, on the other hand, photographed the Secret Life of Cows in 2007, a must for cow-lovers. His sometimes surreal work is shocking in its presentation, refocusing the eye is necessary when looking into his world of photography.

Donald, originally from South Dakota, finds the desert an a perfect setting for steel, which is what the video above is about. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Unbearable Weather--Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful sunset in Cathedral City, temperature 108 degrees F

This is bad. Really bad. It's so hot here you can't stand outside more than a few minutes.

It's not going away, either. Forecasts call for the same for more than a week forward.

High today: 113-118 degrees F
Low tonight: 92-94 degrees F

Billowing cumulus clouds against the mountain and some much-needed cleaner air have made it a beautiful day, despite the heat. But the humidity--upwards to 40 percent--has made the outside world something to be looked at from out a window.

The inside of homes are darkened by black-out shades designed to reflect the heat away from its surface. Barely a soul goes outside after 8 a.m. or before 7 p.m.

There is something special about this time of year, though. The sunsets each of these mid-August nights shimmer, pushing light wide beams of light skyward.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More Marilyn

The huge statue of Marilyn downtown is still attracting tourists. They're out in 115-degree weather shooting away.

The best time to take her picture is definitely in the morning because the sun is shining on her face, not to mention, towering into the sky. Photos of her at that time of day have her looking as if she's sunning herself.

This image was taken with a Tamron 70-200 mm lens at f/8 and a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec.
Oh...yes, I did have a circular polarizing filter on the camera, deepening the blue in the sky above.

Supplementing the blue sky are a few white cumulus clouds, which are common in the monsoon season during August.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5, 1962

Today it has been 50 years since Marilyn Monroe took her last breath. Palm Springs is abuzz with activity to remember the blonde who has captivated the world for eternity.

This town has now claimed Marilyn as one of their own since the 26-foot statue of her with her skirt up went up in June.

The statue is a play on the skirt-up scene from Seven Year Itch, which was screened outside last night where a big part of the crowd sat under her skirt. When the scene was shown the crowd went crazy.

The statue is supposed to be here only one year, but rumor has it that the city is trying to make it a permanent part of the city's downtown. 

Recently out is a book of images about the icon, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis by David Willis.