There are hipsters in town for the weekend. There are metal heads and groupies flocking to the high desert and soon more will be here for Coachella. There will be pretend cowgirls and cow-boys here for Stagecoach after that. Movie devotes flock here in January for the International Palm Springs Film Festival and Modernism junkies love traipsing through other people’s mid-century modern homes in February.
Then, of course, there is the standard gathering of snowbirds, weekly tourists escaping winter back home, weekend voyeurs in town to play out their Palm Springs weekend replete with the girls and booze under a warm winter sun.
They’ve all come here during the winter months to forget about their own reality back home. The desert scape and sunlight and warmth can do that to a person. I’d like to think I’m different and don’t fall into any of those categories. In fact, I’m just foolish enough to believe that I can traverse all those worlds and end up in one of my own creation.
I’m getting more involved in Palm Springs life to the point where I’m starting to feel real ‘ownership’ in this place. It’s not than just our growing cache of friends and associates from various organizations. It’s more than our neighbors down the block and across town. It’s more than Sharon’s swim club and my various writing groups. It’s even more than the occasional coffee rendezvous for salon-type mental meanderings or slumming around the rough edges of town. It’s really a solo journey into the heart of what makes this city tick and rumble and roar.
I’m trying to listen to the heartbeat of the city and absorb its organic growth. I want to push past its façade even if it means sliding across its underbelly. I don’t need a ‘ride-along’ to know where not to wander at night. I don’t need the Department of Tourism to help me find my way around town. I’m trying to get a handle on some of the more influential folks in town. It’s these influencers who often times steer the trends and happenings behind the scenes. They are rich fodder for my wild imagination and solid material from which to draw for my cast of characters for ‘Debris; the trilogy.’
It’s not just with the Palm Springs Writers Guild but also city politics (although I’ll admit that is more on a cursory level through a friend of ours.) I want to know and understand who the power brokers are, the wheelers and dealers, the visionaries, the dreamers and the doers.
But it also means getting under the skin of the city. Getting beyond the imagery to help me better understand why things happen here and not elsewhere It’s a matter of getting to the soul of what makes this place work.
It will entail understanding downtown redevelopment to satisfy my real estate cravings. It will mean examining our small town mentality verses new development advances. It will mean frequenting the local haunts for a future Jack Kerouac or Bob Dylan…if one even exists. It will mean understanding the Hollywood game as they’re playing it today if I want to sell my screenplays.
While I may be a snowbird in disguise, I want to emulate the year-round residents in everything I do, think, and act. Forget the tribe of tourists who settle here each winter, I want to straddle this world and my own back home while feeling an integral part of both. I’m not ready to give up the Midwest but this place puts me ‘on the road’ more than anywhere else.