Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas in Palm Springs

Aloha. It’s travelogue Friday, sharing some of the goofy travelogues I’ve emailed to friends over the years. At the moment I’m in Hawaii composing a new travelogue you’ll receive next week. But here’s where we were last year. Cast of characters: Debby (wife), Matt (22 year old son), Annie (18 year old daughter). You’ll get to know them.

The Levines decided on a mere abbreviated trip this holiday season. A long weekend in Palm Springs. Turns out it was just like Hawaii. All those beautiful sandy beaches…but a much farther walk to the ocean.

We drove down on Christmas Eve. It was my first time on the Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway. Oddly, it was not tree lined.

Passed the new Morongo casino. Matt found it amusing that a casino would have “moron” in its name.

I don’t get the desert. It’s all “Gary Gilmore” country to me. The two big things to do in Palm Springs are play golf or have Sinatra get you laid. So now there’s only one thing.

Easy to tell the locals -- the men wear red polyester pants with white belts and the women dye their hair the color of Huckleberry Hound.

We stayed at a small resort called 7 Springs. We made the reservations on the ORBITZ website. No wonder we got such a good deal. The hotel knew nothing of our reservations. Even with a confirmation number. That number it seems, simply confirms that they have successfully cashed your deposit. Fortunately the hotel had accommodations that would be available in three hours. I asked why so late? The Christmas Party. Housekeeping is shut down until gift exchange. The 7 Springs is a far cry from the 4 Seasons.

And we learned (only upon arrival) that they take pets. And not just little pets either. BIG angry pets. Pets that are not used to being cooped up in hotel rooms. Pets that don’t like the idea of my wife using the pool. Who needs the playful dolphins at the Kahala when you can have surly pit pulls at the 7 Springs?

Matt suggested all guests be issued a tranquilizer gun at check-in.

And as luck would have it we were the only guests that did not bring a pet. You know you’re in trouble when one of the room amenities is a pooper scooper.

Since we had three hours to kill while housekeeping played “Silent Santa” we took a stroll down the main drag, Palm Canyon Blvd. This is the Waikiki of Palm Springs. T-shirt shops, tank shirt shops, wife beater shirt shops. Like Hollywood Blvd they have their “walk of fame” with stars in the sidewalk honoring various Palm Springs celebrities. Stars included Liberace (of course), Sandler & Young, Elke Sommer, Rich Little, Kate Ballard, Victoria Principal, Nancy Sinatra (the only female star who didn’t sleep with Sinatra), “Iron Eyes” Cody, cowboy rope trickster Montie Montana (who once performed at my elementary school), and Cheeta “the Chimp” (no foolin’) listed as star of stage, film, TV. Appropriately, his star was right next to Chevy Chase’s. For those who don’t remember, Cheeta was Tarzan’s sidekick in many films and had a brief affair with Maureen O’Sullivan. One star they featured that does not have a corresponding one on Hollywood Blvd is “Borko B. Djordjevic, M.D.—Plastic Surgeon/Humanitarian”. Annie quipped: “Boy, people must’ve been really ugly to have made him a humanitarian.”

Like Sinatra, Bob Hope, and President Eisenhower Cheeta had a compound out here. Actually he’s still there. At 71, Cheeta is the oldest living chimp in captivity. I bet he looks great in red pants with a white belt and still pines for Maureen O’Sullivan.

There are fifteen Thai restaurants on Palm Canyon Dr. Why??? Considering the mean age of the local population is 106 I can’t imagine there’s that much demand.

On the other hand, the local “Follies” show does make sense. It’s a big review of music from the 30’s and 40’s performed by people who are 57-87. Matt was a little creeped out by their poster that labeled the show “sexy”. Appearing with the Follies until New Years Eve is Buddy Greco. If Bobby Darin had lived I’m sure that would’ve been his gig. We’ll know next year if Kevin Spacey is the headliner. We didn’t go only because it was dark for the Christmas weekend.

In Hawaii a big problem is always trying to find a restaurant open on Christmas Eve. No such worries in Palm Springs. I guess because they get JEWS here, but we had no problem getting into the LG Steakhouse on Palm Canyon, conveniently located near the “Crazy Shirt” emporium. On Christmas night we hit the “Great Wall” Chinese restaurant and saw the same Jews we saw the night before at the LG Steakhouse and earlier that day at Sherman’s Deli.

Surprisingly, Sherman’s is quite good. It has to be judging by the autographed celebrity pictures proudly displayed. Kay Ballard, Keely Smith, and Sandler & Young. I guess Cheeta was less enamored with his meal.

We put our “Do Not Bark” sign out and went to sleep. The beds were quite comfy. It was a relief that 7 Springs did not refer to the mattress.

Going through the local paper I noticed there were more ads for dermatologists than “after Christmas sales”.

I’m sure if we were at a larger resort we could’ve seen Santa ride in on a moped.

Or gotten maid service. No maid service at the 7 Springs on Christmas. And their complimentary “continental” breakfast consisted of packaged vending machine pastries and kibble.

There is a Trump 29 casino nearby. Who knew Donald Trump was an Indian?

Jacuzzi capacity at the 7 Springs: 8 people, 6 pets.

I wonder if Sinatra ever got Cheeta laid.

The Art Museum featured selections from the William Holden collection. Probably whiskey bottles from around the world.

The first two days were clear and cold (but a “dry” cold).

On Sunday Debby and Annie invaded the outlets at Cabazon (a stunt they wouldn’t even subject contestants to on “Fear Factor”). Matt and I checked out the Spa Casino. It made me long for the now defunct Debbie Reynolds hotel and casino in Laughlin, Nevada. (I always imagined Debbie getting an urgent page, “Come quick, Ms. Reynolds, the toilet in 604 is overflowing”.) A Palm Springs casino means 90% slot machines, maybe fifteen gaming tables, no craps, no sportsbook, video roulette, and aisles wide enough for walkers. But no pets!

In a pathetic attempt to recreate Hawaii we went to dinner at Roy’s in Rancho Mirage. Rancho Mirage is much classier than Palm Springs. As you drive there on Highway 111 the car dealerships get more upscale.

All foibles aside, it was great for the family to get together as one even for a few days. (Damn these kids for having their own lives!) Next year Hawaii or the Debbie Reynolds hotel in Laughlin, it really doesn’t matter.

Ken Levine


Anonymous said...

My wife and I stayed at the 7 Springs for our honeymoon. Not our real honeymoon, just the day after we got married when we had to escape the relatives. Had we known about the pooper scooper, we would've brought the cat.

I just read how a judge granted a restraining order against David Letterman. Some whackjob claims he speaks to her with code words during his broadcast.

Other celebrity offenders included Kelsey Grammer. I see you wrote on Fraiser. Could you share the code messages you incorporated in your scripts that made this lady spiral further into insanity?

Thanks for a fun blog.

By Ken Levine said...

Everytime we wrote "Eddie" it meant she was to send us a check. We did quite well thanks to her.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing post. As someone who has worked on the other side of the desk in hotels, your vacation stories have made me laugh. Did the pooper-scooper come in a sanitised package with the "7 Springs" logo printed on it? I wonder how many people take them home as souvenirs...

Just for your stats, I was referred here through John August, and Craig Mazin, and will definately be back.


Melbourne, Australia

rogercarroll said...

Ken and family .Watch out for all the old folks who are driving while visiting from Beverly Hills .
roger carroll

Anonymous said...

yeah! that's my springs and i do love it so. . .see if you can track down the palm springs truffle works for the best chocolates in the world. . .or try the "two bunch palms" spa in desert hot springs . . .but you're right it's not hawaii

rogercarroll said...

Ken, we have a home in Berrego Springs. Very much like Palm Springs 1940 but no kosher style deli's.

Anonymous said...

I missed a part of life by not being a parent. Sometimes I'm not even apparent.

I'm curious about one thing. Why do Matt and Annie have ages while you and Debby do not? Are you proud that you managed to go 22 years without killing Matt -- but ashamed to remember Sonny Bono?

One has to also ponder how the "getting laid" population has dwindled since Old Blue Eyes entered the great boardroom in the sky!

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