Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ROAD TRIP SKETCHBOOK: THOMAS VAN STEIN





I’ve always found it a tonic to take a trip right after New Year’s when every one else is coming down from a holiday high and coping with credit card hangover.  

That said, it wasn’t the most opportune time to travel, a day chock-a-block with threshold guardians trying to hold us back:  torrential rain, mudslides, accidents everywhere, and the traffic that goes along with such things—to the tune of David Gilmour’s new CD Rattle the Lock.  









So although we planned a beeline for Phoenix, by the time we almost should have been there we are only as far as Palm Springs and decide to press no further.  

Another potential threshold guardian rears when we discover that the Palm Springs International Film Festival is in full swing but this turns into a big bluff when we easily find availability at the Hyatt in the heart of things.

Welcoming this unexpected deviation, we dump our bags and roll to the Palm Springs Art Museum.  

It is small but alive with creativity and inventiveness, offering stimulation and inspiration.



Van Stein posts a photo on Facebook of a sculpture of a life-size naked female—and gets booted, suspended, after a so-called “friend” reports it as obscene (later remedied when Van Stein is able to cite otherwise).



Aside from the art museum, the only “art” on display at local galleries is modern schlock.

“Any decent art galleries around here?” Van Stein asks of the Hyatt concierge, hoping to sell his wares.

“Most of them have closed,” she replies.

“For the day?”

“No, permanently.”

This being Palm Springs, we decide to do it Sinatra style...


That means Melvyn’s, a veritable institution representing old Palm Springs, which Frank put on the map when he moved here in 1948 because a) he liked the desert heat and b) his movie studio contract stipulated he could reside no further than ninety miles from LA.


Frank would have drunk Jack Daniels, two fingers’ worth, two rocks and, according to Matt the maître ‘d, liked to roam around, sometimes take a booth, other occasions stand at the bar.