Hello to anyone who may still be out there. I receive many e-mails asking why I stopped posting and it embarrasses me to say that I just became overwhelmed. Doing a blog is hard work as I was to discover. When I had no one looking at me, I could turn out a post when the spirit moved me but when I got readers, when it got to a half-million, there was pressure to post weekly,even daily, and I never wanted to post anything that wasn’t thoroughly researched or well-written. I am a slow writer, but thorough. But what was the capper was the blog resulted in my getting work as an author. I found I could not accommodate two mistresses at once so I chose the one that paid. Over the last few years I have written four books and a feature article in Los Angeles magazine. I miss the blog and I believe I will return to it at some point, but in the meantime I wanted to let you know I was still around and am active. I thought you might want to know of the books I’ve written. Most have been on Palm Springs history. In 2012, I was called to come out to Palm Springs on a temporary basis to write a book on the historic Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. I wound up staying, and as of this writing, have no current plans to return to the daily struggle on the 405! The fourth is on Gordon B. Kaufmann, the great architect of so many So Cal landmarks as well as the Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams. And just in production, Reginald D. Johnson. I will post more of them anon. The book is due out this summer. In the meantime, here are my current opuses. And if anyone wants to read them, I am including info on how to buy them. If you choose to buy any, I would LOVE to get your feedback!
THE COMMITTEE OF TWENTY-FIVE: THE FIRST SIXTY-FIVE YEARS 1948-2013 (2014)
I was commissioned to write a book on an exclusive private club in Palm Springs. When I began, I knew very little of it as most people do, which is as they like it. As it turned out, it had an incredible history of famous politicians, movie stars, aviators, etc. It is the oldest private club in the Palm Springs area and has a who’s who of famous people who were either members or guests. Although my politics run decidedly to the left, as a historian I cannot help but be impressed standing in the same spot Joe McCarthy harangued about communism or where Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, Oliver North, or even Sonny Bono, sipped cocktails, along with Carol Channing, T. Boone Pickens, Walt Disney, General Jimmy Doolittle, Jackie Cochran, Buzz Aldrin, Walter Cronkite, among many, many others. The clubhouse itself is a historic treasure, having originally been the gatehouse of a great old Palm Springs estate for oilman Tom O’Donnell, designed by the unsung but very talented William Charles Tanner, an unaccredited designer who did great work in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, particularly the Dorothy Arzner/Marian Morgan estate in Los Feliz @ 2249 West Mountain Oak Drive (1929).
This book gives you an exclusive peek into one of Palm Springs most venerable and secretive organizations. It is filled with rare, original images and can be purchased directly from the club for $65.00 hardcover, either by e-mail @ email@example.com or by calling Cheryl Wedner @ 760-325-6937. Tell her I sent you!
SENTINELS IN STONE: PALM SPRINGS’ HISTORIC TENNIS CLUB NEIGHBORHOOD AND ITS ICONIC WALLS (2015)
The second book I did was a fabulous little effort about Palm Springs’ historic Tennis Club neighborhood. This area is the most historic spot in all of Palm Springs and includes a history that goes from the Agua Caliente Indians in the 1830s to the most modernistic of modern Palm Springs. It is an area that includes homes, hotels, apartments, commercial structures, and even churches, designed by such masters as Lloyd Wright, Wallace Neff, Rodney Walker, Albert Frey, William Cody, Myron Hunt, E. Stewart Williams, Paul R. Williams, etc. I was originally asked to document the network of historic stone walls that criss-cross the district and their story turned out to be the story of Palm Springs, and what a story it is! How to buy: You can buy this book directly from the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation for $40.00 here. BTW, the PSPF is a great organization that does so much to preserve and protect the amazing architectural history of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
EINSTEIN DREAMT HERE: THE WILLOWS HISTORIC PALM SPRINGS INN (2015)
A decade ago, when I would sneak out to Palm Springs with friends for a weekend, I would always stay at the historic Casa Cody. While there (when not overdoing it on margaritas at Las Casuelas), I would wander the neighborhood and stop by the gates of The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, looking up and dreaming about one day staying there. I had no idea that a few years later it’s owner, the fabulous Tracy Conrad, would seek me out (via the blog) to write a history of this historic spot. It turned out to be even more than I could have ever hoped with a rich and diverse history that began with its original owners, William & Nella Mead of Los Feliz fame, to architect William J. Dodd and then to Samuel Untermyer, one of the great attorney of his day. A history that was filled with some of the most important luminaries of the twentieth century from New York Mayor Jimmy Walker; Lord Beaverbrook; Upton Sinclair; John Galsworthy; Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg; movie stars Billie Burke and Marion Davies; President Woodrow Wilson’s family; and later, a host of notables of such diversity as Arianna Huffington; Jeb Bush; Anna Nicole Smith; Cameron Diaz; Jared Leto; Jessica Simpson; Sydney Pollack; Quentin Tarantino; Robert De Niro; among many, many others. But the most famous of all was Albert Einstein, who came to stay not once, but three times between 1931 and 1933. Dr. Einstein loved The Willows and for that alone, it deserves a special place in history.
The book is filled, not only with a compelling story that involves the whole history of Palm Springs, but also so many rare images, some never before published. It’s a fun read if I do say so myself (OK, I’m a little biased). How to buy: E-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Price is $45.00.
Just wanted to give you an update and in the immortal words of Gen. MacArthur, “I shall return.” When, however, one never knows.