Proverbial, and entirely verbal, shots were being fired. The radios ablazed. The Trumpreich was lit-er-uh-lee lighting California and its media elites on fire. But with its fantastically active first daysi would the Great Again leave streaks of burnt coal or blown glass vases in its wake ? And what was the “G” in MAGA really about when it was about anything at all ?
I spent the last week in Palm Springs CA to find out.
Just two hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a desert oasis cum gay retiree destination townii with a permanent population of 45`000 that doubles once temporaries, including no small number of Canadians, are accounted for. The cacti are varied, plentiful, and as sharp as the new Fuhrer’s horns.
No sooner did we arrive, however, than the Gods gave the glimmer of Great the lashing of a lifetime. Storm sewers overflowed, sidewalks flooded, smart cars needed periscopes to see out of, and every smartphone in the area was awoken with EMERGENCY ALERTS.iii And yet, despite the appreciable angst of residents at the unfurling Again, little evasive action was taken.
This 1964 Amphicar, for example, sat on consignment at McCormick’siv on Indian Canyon Drive the entire week with no sale. If God was really going to punish you for voting in Herr Hitler, who, lest we forget you wanted all along, the least you could do is pick up this practical mid-century modern ark in Aww Shucks Aquamarine for you and your life partner of 25 years. Look at it as insurance.
Speaking of insurance, the car-centric city saw it fit to paint LANE BIKEv markers on a fairly impressive number of major roadways. Not that I saw more than two cyclists in a week use the dozens of miles of dedicated paths, but perhaps 15C is too temperate for the locals to brave the frigid January roads. All I know is that anything over -10C is dandy by me.
In other dandies, there was the new Kia Sportage and 5-bedroom MCM house we rented by the airport. The former was capacious, if predictably cursedvi ; the latter was also capacious, if predictably cold.vii To exactly no one’s surprise, MCM as a style, especially in its residential applications, was intended to be disposable and ephemeral, a flashbulb of the Great zeitgeist, not heritage architecture. Quite the opposite in fact, and it was this all-out rejection of the staid formality and traditionalism that ushered in thin-windowed, thin-walled, flat-roofed shacks that still change hands for $millions. And for as long as septuagenarian billionaires maintain their misty affection for the Great, the market holds.
In the interim, a finer poolside for playing cribbage one can scarcely find. Even if those Copags fucking reeked.
Other fine finds in the area, and smelling of a different sort of oil, included the Palm Springs Air Museum. Little trainers like this were taking off and landing throughout the afternoon. It was a happening little spot, which made sense given the typically cloudless and largely windless skies. Did you know that Palm Springs real estate developers used to advertise that their properties were “windless” in the same way that one would advertise “only 18 minutes from downtown” today ?
Although the untrained eye would swear these two planes were centuries apart in their dates of manufacture, a mere decade separates them. The bomber on the left successfully carried out missions throughout WWII while the fighter on the right – a Convair F-102 Delta Dagger – entered service in 1956, barely a decade after the war. Not that the latter ever accomplished much more than security theatre, failing to ever score a single air-to-air kill in two decades of service across 1k units produced. But by golly did it look the part! And that’s Great!
Also Great was the B-17 bomber, the largest airplane in the museum’s collection.
And speaking of bombs, I dropped a 79 on Desert Willow (from the whites) with rented clubs on a course I’d never seen.viii My longest drive of the day was only 290 yards on account of the altitude being far closer to sea level than the 2`000 feet above I’m spoiled with back home.ix For a reformed hackerx who has only played 50x in the last decade, I’ll take it. It was important research. Golf is a huge part of the industry in the area and a highly extractive one at that. Green fees retailed for a hefty USD$180 + $65 for club rentals at this particular track and it was by no means the top shelf offering. The PGA Tour was wrapping up the CareerBuilderxi Challenge at PGA WEST, which charges $45k just for a membership,xii just as we were arriving in town.
Speaking of loftiness, the local gondolaxiii scaling the nearby peaks of the Chino Canyon topped out at 2`543 metres according to my trusty timepiece. There were several inches of fresh snow up there, exactly what I was escaping back home, but there weren’t any views of wind farms rotating ever so slowly in the gentle winter breeze where I’m from. So there was that.
I started to wonder how fresh water was transported up there. Given the needs of the restaurant, lounge, and washrooms, it could be (and in fact was) ferried up via cable car, but how powerful of an engine would be needed to pipe water from sea level to 2`500 metres above, straight up ? My bar napkin yielded (π * 5² * 2500 * 100 / 1000 * 9.81 * 2500 / 600) / 1000 = 803 kW as a bare minimum to move a millilitre from bottom-to-top through a ten centimetre diametre pipe in ten minutes, which works out to be 1600 kW on the
safe engineer’s side, or about the same as one of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engines collecting dust in the Air Museum, and that’s all before even accounting for frictional loses of the pipe.
Speaking of frictional losses, outside a posh furniture store on Palm Canyon Driver, this Chevy Lumina (aka Duster) at the back of the row was every bit as aerodynamically slippery as the Citroen SM, Bentley S1, Mercedes R107, and Mercedes E-Wagon it shared the lot with. Schwing!
On the other side of the artistic spectrum was the permanent collection at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Seen hereabove was a 2015 piece by Azerbaijani Faig Ahmed entitled Osho. The piece fittingly took elements of the past and melted them through the fourth wall. It was genre savvy in the best possible way.
But that microwaved Persian rug was nothing compared to the “Fuck you I’ll tell you what art is you plebe” piece of plywood and carpet by Gedi Sibony. Ahem. Do you wanna know what it cost ?
More than this hunk of metal. This Diebold safe, now an eclectic accoutrement of another bank building cum art gallery, was from a time before Diebold was famous for fixing elections. Great!
Less well maintained relics included this Neo-Spanish Colonial mall behind the Ben & Jerry’s on Palm Canyon Drive. Used only as an ill-lit bathroom for the glitzier streetfront properties, the harsh reality of real estate investments in the expansive desert was embodied in this largely abandoned shopping centre. Although free from broken windows and graffiti, the mall was filled with musty air and covered in a layer of grime at least a decade old. It wasn’t alone either. The major byways were lined with once Great motels, restaurants, and shops. The dry desert climate was slow to reclaim the buildings entirely, but the hot sun showed no mercy in bleaching their stucco walls into so many rainbows of tired pastels.
Not all the roadside motels were so forlorn, however, as this well kept spot demonstrates. Note that the licks of paint gifted to the aging buildings were similarly extended to this old Lincoln Continental Mark III, a car worth less than $10`000 today but still very much the area’s underpriced option. There was even a cute little giraffe sculpture out front.
Almost as Great as the real things.
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- Compare and contrast Trump’s flurry of executive orders with the year-long honeymoon of carbon conpherences and equality galas enjoyed by the reigning Chief at the northern border. [↩]
- i.e. the ironic opposite of the virile middle class family unit espoused by Herr Trump and his less-than-sybaritic supporters. [↩]
- If you have a dumbphone, you probably listen to the radio as well. And if not, well, there’s always looking out your window or calling a friend. Not like you could really miss the action even if you wanted to. [↩]
- Speaking of ol’ McCormick’s, this one’s for Ben :
- Because cyclists are retarded and read from bottom-to-top obviously, as if they were approaching from 8″ off the ground at 8 mph and could scarcely make out one word at a time as they snailed their way across the pristine Californian tarmac. Not that California is uniquely to blame, I’ve seen this upsidedownism elsewhere. Not that it’s ever made sense anywhere. [↩]
- That n0000ze!!!
- Triple-glazing is alien technology for residential owners in Palm Springs and indistinguishable from magic. [↩]
- While new courses are played all the time by better players, teeing up with someone’s else’s sticks in the bag is like giving Bobby Flay someone else’s knives before sending him out onto the Iron Chef stage. [↩]
- 310 – 320 would be a good poke for me at 2`000 feet. One day I’ll play in Denver or Bogota and put make 350 look easy. But until then. [↩]
- Golfers, like programmers, call themselves “hackers” for the simple reason that the gross and overwhelming majority of both camps are so unfit for purpose that they do more to destroy their respective environments than Freddy Krueger ever did to his victims’ faces. Somehow, this is pitched as accessibility rather than violence, but I really can’t see the difference. [↩]
- CareerBuilder == scammy website that took bad money and is now flushing its mounds of paper down the drain in a pallid attempt to cover the shameful stink. You don’t even need to look it up. It won’t be around in 5 years anyways so best worry yourself about something that will. [↩]
- $45k is ~what MPEx charges at current market rates, but there are hundreds and hundreds of courses around the world in that price bracket, and only one MPEx last I checked. But if you’re more concerned with spending your last 10 or 20 years in the sun with friends than testing your luck on start-ups, it’s hard to argue against the private golf club membership. [↩]
- Back when the Great had no concept of Again, words were every bit as abused by Americans as they are at present. This gondola is bizarrely named a Tramway. Like a friggin’ funicular. The park calls it an “Aerial” Tramway, sure, but it’s still seen to be a variant of a railed surface-bound vehicle. At least some things never change eh.
Do you see any tracks under there ? Me neither. [↩]