Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Jimmy Boegle

Laurence Luckinbill was originally supposed to perform his one-man show Teddy Tonight! at the McCallum Theatre a year ago.

That didn’t happen.

“I broke a bone in my foot—a nothing bone, a tiny bone,” Luckinbill told me over breakfast at The Palms Café in Rancho Mirage on a recent windy morning. “That transmuted into a four-inch tear of the lateralis muscle in my thigh. I would up spending two weeks in the hospital, right when I was supposed to get going.”

As a result, Luckinbill, 80, had to cancel the show, during which he plays Theodore Roosevelt on one of the former president’s most trying days. However, Luckinbill has now recovered—and he gained a greater understanding of himself in the process, he said.

“My own spirit said, ‘You need to take stock. You need to change,’” Luckinbill said.

He’s slated to finally perform Teddy Tonight! at the McCallum on Thursday, March 19.

The one-man show is one of five in his arsenal; these shows mark the latest chapter in a long and fruitful career by the actor and author, who not too long ago made the Palm Springs area his home, along with his wife, Lucie Arnaz (the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz).

Luckinbill has been acting since the 1960s, and has had success in movies, on TV and in the theater world. He may be best known as one of the stars of the groundbreaking 1970 film The Boys in the Band; he also has an Emmy Award win and a Tony Award nomination to his credit.

However, Luckinbill’s career did not make him a household name—and he’s OK with that. He said that whenever an opportunity came along to take his career to the next level, “various things in (his) nature” kept him from doing so. For example, he decided he wanted his children to go to school somewhere besides Los Angeles, so that meant moving away from Hollywood.

“I did what I could have done,” he said about his career.

He got his start doing one-man shows in the mid-1980s, when producer David Susskind challenged Luckinbill to play President Lyndon B. Johnson in a PBS special. He initially refused.

“I hate the son of a bitch,” he said he told Susskind. “He responded, ‘You’re going to change!’”

Luckinbill indeed changed, and came to an “understanding” regarding Johnson, he said. Luckinbill would go on to have a great deal of success with the LBJ show, and later began doing a second show as Clarence Darrow, the famous defense attorney in the Scopes Monkey Trial. He performed both of these shows at the LBJ Presidential Library, and gained the respect of Harry Middleton, the library’s director. When the library decided to do a show on Teddy Roosevelt, Middleton called Luckinbill, and asked: Got anything?

“There were a couple of plays out there. They were really unexciting, basically chronologies,” Luckinbill said.

Luckinbill decided to research Roosevelt himself, and headed to the library; he wound up with 35 books. However, he could not find any inspiration, he said, until he opened the last book, My Brother Theodore Roosevelt, by Roosevelt’s sister, Corinne Roosevelt Robinson.

“I thought it would be nothing but treacle,” Luckinbill said. “I started reading it, and that’s truly what it was.”

Well, that’s mostly what it was: Turns out the book included an anecdote that would become the motivation for and provide the plot of Teddy Tonight!

In July 1918, Roosevelt was slated to give a speech in Saratoga, N.Y. However, before the speech, Roosevelt received word that the plane flown by his son Quentin had been shot down over France, during World War I.

“When he got to the place to speak, he had his speech written out … but he didn’t finish it,” he said. “He put it aside and spoke from his heart about what we owe to veterans, these young boys who go out to die for us.

“I thought: This is the motivation. This is what motivates the man.”

Luckinbill said he now considers Roosevelt to be his “inspiration.” Luckinbill noted that when Roosevelt was in the White House, his children would sometimes interrupt cabinet meetings—and that Roosevelt would actually cut short those meetings so he could play with his kids.

“This is a man to me,” Luckinbill said. “This is the real thing.”

In addition to the shows on Johnson, Darrow and Roosevelt, Luckinbill also does a one-man show as Ernest Hemingway, and is working on refining The Abraham and Larry Show, in which he plays both himself and the biblical figure. He hinted that he’s also thinking about another biblical figure for a possible sixth play in his one-man-show arsenal.

But for now, Luckinbill is focusing on Teddy Roosevelt. He promised his McCallum audience would develop a greater appreciation for the man who was our 26th president.

“(The audience) will see Teddy in full oratorical mode, and … the most intimate and hurting side of Roosevelt,” Luckinbill said. “They will see a man fighting to keep his composure and do his public duty as the foundation of his family has been challenged in the most fundamental way by the death of his son.”

Teddy Tonight!, starring Laurence Luckinbill, will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $15 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit

On Valentine’s Day, I did something that, at one time, I never thought I’d be able to do: I married my boyfriend.

When I first started dating the man who is now my husband, some 12-plus years ago, same-sex marriage was not legal anywhere in the United States. My, how times have changed: As of this writing, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states, as well as the District of Columbia—and even the staunchest same-sex-marriage opponents concede it’s probably only a matter of time before it’s legal throughout the United States.

The rate at which same-sex marriage has become accepted and legal has been simply stunning; after all, it has been less than 11 years since it first became legal anywhere in the U.S. (in Massachusetts). And look where we are now.

Unfortunately, legal change on other important social issues has not been so swift. This brings us to a recent Independent story, by Sacramento-based writer Melinda Welsh, on the right-to-die movement. (It's the cover story in our March print edition; you can also read more from Anita Rufus on the local angle here.)

Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act was approved by voters in 1994 (and it went into effect after an injunction was lifted in 1997)—yet today, physician-assisted death is legal only in three states, period. This is despite the fact that 70 percent of Americans say physicians should be able to “end (a critically ill) patient’s life by some painless means” if the patient so desires, according to a 2014 Gallup Poll.

However, the legal tide may be about to change, thanks in part to Brittany Maynard. Last year, the California resident was forced to move to Oregon in order to die with dignity after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She made her situation very public—and got a lot of attention in the process, before passing away on Nov. 1, 2014, at the age of 29.

In the wake of Maynard’s crusade, progressive lawmakers around the country are reintroducing death-with-dignity legislation. Welsh’s story looks at the situation in California. It’s a fantastic piece; you really should check it out, if you haven't already.

As always, I encourage you to let me know your thoughts; my email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Zin American Bistro Finds Itself in the Midst of a Foie Gras Uproar

In early January, U.S. District Judge Court Stephen V. Wilson overturned California’s ban on foie gras—a 2004 voter-approved law that went into effect in 2012.

Almost immediately, Mindy Reed, the owner of downtown Palm Springs’ Zin American Bistro and Alicante restaurants, announced she was returning fatty goose liver to Zin’s menu—and she attracted serious local media attention in the process.

Ever since, Reed and her staff members have been the targets of opposition, protests—and even threats.

“I’ve gotten hate mail,” Reed said. “I’ve been called a murderer. I’ve been sent pictures of me personally being bound and force-fed though a tube. My staff has been harassed.”

Reed said she understands why some individuals may be vegetarian or vegan; in fact, she said she herself was a vegan for decades. However, she said it’s unfair and hypocritical for people to focus on the delicacy that is foie gras.

“People need to remember there are two ways to do everything in life,” she said: the right way, and the wrong way. Reed insisted that she goes out of her way to use as many ingredients as possible that are produced in the right way—local, free-range, humanely raised, etc. That goes for foie gras, too.

“I serve foie gras that’s humanely raised,” she said. “The geese are not caged. There’s no tube. There are no machines. The goose is hand-fed. There are a few farms doing this. Geese will gorge themselves naturally. People who like foie gras appreciate the fact that I buy humanely raised foie gras.”

Reed gets visibly irritated when she discusses her detractors.

“Why aren’t they picketing McDonald’s or other restaurants in town (that don’t seek out meat from humanely raised animals)?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Meanwhile, foie gras remains on the menu at Zin; for example, a Belgian waffle dessert features brûléed pineapple, foie gras and sauternes. At least that’s the case for now: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced in February she was appealing the ruling against the foie gras ban.

Zin American Bistro is located at 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-322-6300, or visit

Plate | Glass’ Goal: To Be a Place to ‘Chill Out’

“Leisure” is the key word at Plate | Glass, which last fall took over the second-story spot at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, that had been home to Crave.

Owners Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel—best known as the men behind the Raymond | Lawrence retail shops—had previously been part-owners of Crave. When they took control of the dessert-and-coffee spot last year, they decided it was time to make some changes.

“We think Plate | Glass fulfills a need by creating a place for people to chill out,” Abel told me recently. “We have a great view. People will linger and hang out.”

Plate | Glass still offers desserts, of course—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Also on offer: Fantastic craft cocktails, breakfast/brunch items, salads, large-sized “melt” sandwiches and appetizer style-plates. I was fortunate enough to attend a recent media lunch there, and the fare was delicious. My favorite: The Sweet Hog melt, with pan-fried ham and blueberry goat cheese. It was amazing.

When Abel said he wants people to “chill out” at Plate | Glass, he meant it: The space even includes a cell-phone charging station and a variety of board games.

Plate | Glass is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Call 760-322-2322, or visit for more information.

In Brief

The space formerly occupied by Café Scandia, which closed recently at 356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon be the home of Rooster and the Pig. We’ll pass along details when we get ’em. … Keep your eye on Bart Lounge, the bar/music venue/art gallery at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, in the second-story space that recently housed Level 2 bar. It’s slated to open sometime in March. Follow and Bart’s Facebook page for updates. … The Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert, a Palm Springs Life joint, will take place Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29. Watch … BB’s at the River is taking over the former Acqua Pazza space at The River, located at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Jack Srebnik, who owns the two local Maracas restaurants, is the brains behind the place. Get info—including hiring details—at ... The Westin Mission Hills, at 71333 Dinah Shore Drive in Rancho Mirage, has launched a series of wine dinners at the Pinzimini Restaurant. The four-course meals with wine pairings are taking place the last Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. through April; the first dinner, in February, cost $85 plus tax and tip. Get more info at

What: The Sour

Where: Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $10

Contact: 760-537-7337;

Why: It’s one of the best cocktails in the valley.

I am convinced that Bar (if you’re unfamiliar, yes, that’s the name of the place in its entirety) remains underrated, even though the bar/restaurant/music venue has, in fact, received a fair amount of acclaim—including nabbing top honors in the Best Cocktail category of our inaugural Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll.

You know what? Our readers are pretty gosh-darned smart. Not only does Bar have one of the valley’s best cocktail menus; Bar has one of the valley’s best cocktails, period, at least as far as my palate is concerned.

Bar’s Sour includes just four ingredients of note: bourbon, lemon, sugar and egg whites. However, when these four ingredients are carefully mixed by a bartender who knows what he or she is doing (and trust me: Bar’s bartenders do indeed know what they are doing), the resulting cocktail is out of this world.

It’s tart. It’s sweet. It’s foamy It’s slightly oaky. And it’s deep.

The folks at Bar will make this drink with whatever bourbon or whiskey you prefer, and sometimes, they’ll even mix things up a bit if left to their own devices. On one recent night, the bartender told me he was making the drink with Elijah Craig 12-year, whereas Bar normally uses Buffalo Trace.

You can pair the Sour with something off of Bar’s menu of tasty food—including my favorite (and a previous Indy Endorsement recipient), the Picnic Eggs: deviled eggs with wasabi and Sriracha. Or you can drink the Sour as a meal unto itself; after all, it includes egg whites, right? (OK, maybe this is not a good idea.)

Either way, you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.

What: The Black Spaghetti and Clams

Where: Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine, 70026 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage

How Much: $25

Contact: 760-770-9508;

Why: It tastes great—and looks amazing.

New Orleans is one of the best food cities I’ve ever visited. We were last there in 2011, and it seemed like every meal we enjoyed (well, make that every meal we had when we escaped from the tourist trap that is Bourbon Street) was simply fantastic.

One of the best meals we had—OK, two of the best meals we had, because we simply had to go back a second time—was at Domenica, a restaurant owned by celebrity chef John Besh. The entrée that was so good it practically forced us to return was the squid ink tagliolini with crab and herbs. Amazing.

Well, the good news is that I’ve found a dish here in the Coachella Valley that reminds me a lot of the squid ink tagliolini: the black spaghetti and clams, at Rancho Mirage’s Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine.

This delicious and beautiful plate of food combines perfectly prepared pasta, briny clams, fruity Calabrian peppers and a healthy portion of garlic into a dish that will make you want to return to Catalan a second time to get more of it. And a third.

There are downsides to this dish: It’s messy as all hell (you have to fish the clams out of the broth), and your breath will be … um, fragrant after you eat it. However, that’s why they make soap, laundry detergent and mouthwash, right?

As an added bonus, the setting at Catalan is gorgeous as well. We recommend a seat in the courtyard, where you can enjoy Spanish acoustic guitar Thursday through Saturday nights.

You may not be in New Orleans, but thanks to Catalan, you can sure eat like you are.

When it comes to Modernism Week’s various tours, there’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The good news: This year’s 10th-anniversary edition of Modernism Week features more tours than ever before. Mark Davis, the treasurer of Modernism Week’s board of directors (and Modernism Week’s unofficial tour guru), said that more than 20 neighborhood tours are being offered in 2015. That’s up from nine in 2014.

The bad news: A lot of these tours are already sold out. In other words, if you’re interested in learning more about the unique and groundbreaking architecture of the Coachella Valley, you’d better head to and get your tickets now.

The speedy ticket sales are a testament to the fact that midcentury modern architecture is as popular as it’s ever been (or, well, at least more popular than it’s been since the actual midcentury modern era of the 1950s and ’60s).

“During the sad years, people didn’t appreciate what (midcentury architecture) was,” said Davis, who fell in love with Palm Springs and its architecture when he started coming to the area in 1996. “Now, many of these places are being restored.”

In fact, it’s because of Modernism Week and all of these ticket sales that many structures and landscapes are being restored to their original glory: Modernism Week is a nonprofit which turns the money from these tours over to various neighborhoods.

“Last year, $240,000 went right back to neighborhood groups” from ticket sales, he said. “This year, it should be about $500,000. That’s cold, hard cash going back to the community.”

About which tours is Davis most excited? He mentioned a tour of midcentury modern homes in Indian Wells, of all places, adding that he’s been working on it since last August.

Then, alas, he said the tour had quickly sold out.

“We realized, ‘Hey, people really want to see new things,” he said.

Next, he mentioned a tour that, as of this writing, is not completely sold out: a walking tour of the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood, known as the “Rat Pack playground.”

“It’s such a beautiful neighborhood, and it’s mostly intact,” he said.

Finally, he mentioned another new tour, of the 1947 Trousdale homes of Tahquitz River Estates. As of this writing, tickets ($65) remained for this one-time tour, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21.

“These were the most modern, current homes you could find anywhere,” he said about these 68-year-old Trousdales. (Similar homes can be found in the Trousdale Estates portion of Beverly Hills, FYI.)

Now, if you’re not already a fan of architecture or the modernism movement, you may be asking yourself something to the effect of: Why should I care about a bunch of old, albeit really nice, houses? If that’s the case, Davis said you should consider a neighborhood tour anyway.

“Not everyone cares for (modernism), but I can’t tell you how many people, including personal friends, who have had no interest in midcentury modern architecture whatsoever, go on a tour … and fall completely in love with it,” he said.

Davis, who moved to Palm Springs after 30 years in the travel industry, speaks with a fervent passion for architecture; in part, he credits his upbringing near the architectural haven of Chicago for sparking that interest. He said he hopes locals and visitors alike can find something within Modernism Week to enjoy. Besides the tours, he gave a special shout-out to the 30 or so Modernism Week lectures—which, unlike many tours, don’t tend to sell out.

“It’s exciting to me,” he said about Modernism Week.

Modernism Week takes place Thursday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, Feb. 22. Ticket prices for the tours, lectures and other events vary. For tickets or more information, including a complete and up-to-date schedule, visit

October 1962 was a crazy time in the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis had the world on the verge of nuclear war. Deadly riots after the first black student was admitted to the University of Mississippi had the country on edge.

Cultural change was afoot as well: Rock ’n’ roll was taking the country by storm, and some women, in some places, could gain control over their own bodies thanks to “the pill.” Oh, and kids were starting to wear sneakers to school. Yes, God forbid, sneakers.

This is the world in which the Whitebottom family of Worcester, Mass., finds itself in Duck and Cover, the dramatic comedy currently on the Palm Springs Womans Club stage, compliments of Dezart Performs. The organization’s mission is to present newer works of theater, and this is the West Coast premiere of Michael Kimball’s play. He should be proud of the fun, if flawed, production it is receiving from Dezart Performs and director Judith Chapman.

We first meet the Whitebottom family as the father, Hugh, is quizzing his 12-year-old son, Stevie, on state capitals and proper knot-tying. The mother, Claire, looks on, as the friendly neighborhood milkman, Mr. Rippit, drops by. We soon learn that Hugh served our country during World War II on a submarine, and that Stevie wants to be an electrical engineer when he grows up. The scene is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting—at first.

We soon start to see small cracks in this all-American scene: Hugh chastises Claire for mentioning a financial matter “with strangers,” and makes Stevie feel stupid for dangerously leaving the door unlocked. Yes, Hugh’s a bit domineering—and we sense early on that this is going to become a problem at some point for the Whitebottoms.

The family’s relative peace is thrown into total disarray with the sudden arrival of Bunny, Claire’s brother. He shows up wearing tattered pajamas and holding a trumpet—the one thing he was able to save from the fire that has just destroyed his apartment. Hugh’s not a fan of his musician brother-in-law; he begrudgingly lets Bunny stay, but only until the end of November, and only if he pays $10 per week as rent.

A little later, the family is thrown into further turmoil when Eddie, a—gasp!—black man!—arrives. Turns out he’s a nice guy who is Bunny’s friend and co-worker, but his arrival sends Stevie fearfully scurrying into the bedroom, and leaves Claire wondering whether she’s ever seen a “negro” in person before.

Any play starring Yo Younger and Michael Shaw (Michael, I should disclose, is a good friend of mine) has a lot going for it; after all, they’re two of the best actors working in the valley today. True to form, Younger is amazing; she is, by far, the best thing about this production. She fully inhabits the role of Claire as she transforms from a put-on-a-happy-face housewife into a woman who decides she finally needs to put her foot down to protect her brother, her son and—most importantly—her own self-interests. This is a flawless, fantastic performance; Younger is so good that, at times, you may be tempted to race to the stage to give her a hug as she struggles to reconcile her needs with her reality.

Shaw, on the other hand, falls a bit short in his characterization of Hugh. The lines Hugh is given reminded one of my fellow play-goers of Archie Bunker—Hugh is a domineering bully of a man who declares repeatedly that in HIS house, and with HIS family, HE is the one who makes the rules. While Shaw brings plenty of bluster and frustration to the character, he doesn’t amp up the domination and anger quite enough; it’s hard to believe that Stevie and Claire would be so fully under the thumb of this Hugh. It’s only when Hugh shows off his lovable and noble traits—most notably in a scene near the end of the play when he cries out that all he really wants to do is protect his family from the turmoil of the world that surrounds them—that Shaw truly shines.

Local middle-schooler Stephen Lee is perfectly cast as the awkward, nerdy Stevie, while Scott Smith is good as Bunny; he’s especially good when expressing the adoration he feels for his dear sister, Claire. Hal O’Connell brings a lot of laughs as Mr. Rippit, the milkman who, we learn as the play progresses, is delivering more than dairy products to some of his customers. Robert Ramirez is strong in the first act as Eddie, although he descends a bit too far into stereotypes in the second.

All of the technical aspects of the play, per usual at Dezart Performs, are excellent, with one notable exception: The set. It’s a gorgeous, detailed, technically flawless piece of work, and may well be the best set that could have possibly been designed for the smallish stage at the Womans Club’s Pearl McManus Theater. Problem is, this play feels a bit too big for this stage: A living room, a kitchen and Stevie’s bedroom are all crammed in, and this leads to some awkward blocking by the characters, especially when four or more people are on stage at once.

Kimball’s script has some hilarious lines; I laughed out loud at least a half-dozen times. Still, the book could use some smoothing out. The characters’ transformations at the end seemed unrealistically sudden, and one moment—involving Stevie and Mr. Rippit—came off as downright creepy.

These issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Duck and Cover. It’s a funny and, at times, moving piece of theater that will leave you smiling as the talented actors take their bows. Don’t miss it.

Duck and Cover, a production of Dezart Performs, is performed at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, through Sunday, Feb. 8, at the Pearl McManus Theater at the Palm Springs Womans Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $22 to $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-0179, or visit

As festival season heads into full swing, I can’t help but wonder: How involved is the average Coachella Valley local in these big events?

Take the Palm Springs International Film Festival, for example. I’ve heard grousing that the festival, which started out as a smaller event designed primarily for locals, has grown into an event that’s more for L.A. and film-industry folks, and less for Coachella Valley residents. (When you consider how hard it is for locals to get tickets to some of the bigger film-fest events and screenings, you may realize that those grousers have a point.)

This brings us to a couple of February’s bigger events—especially Modernism Week. I have a confession to make: I have never attended a Modernism Week event. The same goes for many of my friends.

Why haven’t I ever attended a Modernism Week event? While it’s true that many Modernism Week tours sell out weeks and months in advance, it’s also true that a lot of other events—good events, some of which are low-cost or free—don’t sell out. Therefore, I can’t blame a lack of availability.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when it comes to the behemoth series of events that is Modernism Week (which includes many hundreds of things to do), I didn’t really know where to start. Hence the “Modernism 101” story.

My goal in doing this piece was to answer a lot of the questions I (and, presumably, other locals) have about Modernism Week—and modernism in general, for that matter. Did I succeed? Judge for yourself.

Our great arts coverage coming to this month (and already out in our February print edition): a story on renowned local designer Christopher Kennedy; a piece on the neighborhood tours offered during Modernism Week; and a primer on another cool arts event happening this month: the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.

I promise: I will attend at least one or two Modernism Week events this year. If you’re in the same boat that I am, I hope these stories will help you decide to take part in this year’s Modernism Week, too.

I hope you enjoy all of our coverage. As always, thanks for reading.

From Thursday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, Feb. 22, an estimated 45,000 people will descend on the Coachella Valley for Modernism Week, the annual celebration of the architecture and style of the 1950s and 1960s.

If you’re a fan of modernism, architecture in general, or the styles made popular when baby boomers were coming of age … great! You probably already have your tickets in hand for various Modernism Week events and tours.

But what about those of us—your humble scribe included—who don’t know much about modernism? What should we make of Modernism Week? Why should we care?

These are the very questions I asked Chris Mobley (right), the chairman of the Modernism Week board, during a recent interview. Beyond his Modernism Week duties, Mobley is the owner of Just Modern, the amazingly cool furniture store located at 901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 101.

For more information on Modernism Week, or to buy tickets for Modernism Week events, visit

Here is an edited version of our chat.

Let’s start with a very broad question: Why is modernism important and worthwhile?

Modernism culture is trending right now, because baby boomers are coming of age, where they can afford a second home, and they’re looking to retire in places like Palm Springs. Palm Springs is really defined by its architecture and its culture, its fashion and design, and all of that is tied into … modern architecture. Today, you’re finding more baby boomers feeling nostalgic about coming back to Palm Springs and seeing all the stuff they may remember as a child. Maybe their parents had it, or their grandparents had it. So Modernism Week kind of represents everything that’s happening here in Palm Springs.

Why is Palm Springs such a hub for modernism? How did Palm Springs become such a haven for this style?

Palm Springs probably has the largest number of midcentury homes and commercial buildings, built in the 1950s and 1960s, per capita. A lot of those have been untouched; we avoided what happened to a lot of homes (in other places) in the 1980s—slapping stucco on and trying to make (the homes) look like Spanish modern or something. A lot of the homes are still as they were in the 1950s and 1960s. The same goes with a lot of the commercial buildings here in Palm Springs.

Let’s talk specifically about Modernism Week, and use me as an example: I love art, but I’m a little bit younger than the baby boomer demographic. I’m intrigued by architecture, but when it comes to “modernism,” I really don’t know much about it. What would you recommend for a beginner like me in terms of enjoying Modernism Week?

One thing I would recommend for anybody coming to Modernism Week is the Architectural Bus Tour. It’s a double-decker bus, where you can sit on top of the bus with a docent, and you drive around through all the neighborhoods and through the commercial district, and you learn the history of Palm Springs—where Frank Sinatra lived, where Elvis Presley had his honeymoon—and the development of certain neighborhoods by particular architects. That will give anyone an overview of Palm Springs and the modernism culture here.

I also think that going on one of our neighborhood tours … is a good way to get inside of some of the homes, to see what they look like. People have really put a lot into making sure the homes look like they would have back in the 1950s or 1960s, with the décor and art and furniture.

One thing we’re doing differently this year is we’re having a festival called CAMP—the Community and Meeting Place. This is a 10-day event where you can come into a 25,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space with hospitality suites, purchase tickets that are still available, enjoy a lounge where you can sit with like-minded people—and even charge your phone. We have a theater where, with a CAMP pass, you can go in and see lectures and movies throughout the week. There are happy hours every day in our courtyard from 3 to 6 p.m. We’ll have a café and a Modern Marketplace where you can see the latest in modern design. This is a good place to get a feel for the people who are coming in for Modernism Week, and hang out and have discussions between events.

Let’s talk about a different type of person—someone who doesn’t think he or she really cares at all about modernism. Try to convince that person that modernism and Modernism Week are important.

As an organization and an event, we celebrate far more than midcentury modern architecture. We also celebrate our new architects—those who are testing limits, crossing boundaries and doing buildings and homes that are relevant to Palm Springs. … I would say to people who aren’t into architecture: Come for the parties. We have parties and happy hours almost every night, where there are themes—say, you can dress up as a 1960s TV character. That’s our opening-night event, called “Throwback Thursday.” It’s just a lot of fun.

What, in your mind, makes modernism special?

That’s an interesting question. Modernism is a style that is relevant today. There are a lot of young furniture designers and artists and architects who were influenced by the 1950s and 1960s. A lot of the items I carry in my store, Just Modern, are designed by artists who weren’t alive in the 1950s or 1960s, but are taking inspiration from the midcentury modern period or the Palm Springs lifestyle. So modernism is relevant to, say, a young couple who is living in L.A., maybe in an urban development or a condo.

What about a young person who may not have the money to buy a lot of the furniture and other items inspired by modernism? Why should that person care? Or should they care?

Well, they should. Let me back up a little bit: Modernism Week is full of paid events, but we also have a large number of events that are free to the public. It’s great to come to experience the Palm Springs lifestyle … and learn about our history. … Around 45,000 people (will come in for Modernism Week) … but you don’t have to break the bank to be a part of it. For example, the Hot Purple Energy bike tour is free, where you get on a bike and ride around and get to see a lot of the buildings that you would see on the paid tours. … Palm Springs is a hot destination right now for young people, so there is a lot of exposure (to Palm Springs) for the younger generation. They’re here celebrating at the Coachella (Valley) Music and Arts Festival, or Splash House, or any of these other things—and they’re being exposed to what Palm Springs is all about as far as architecture, fashion and culture.

Let’s talk about midcentury modern architecture specifically. What one or two buildings would you recommend that really show off what the style is all about?

The Kaufmann house in Palm Springs is one of the most celebrated buildings here. It was featured in a famous 1970s photograph by Slim Aarons called “Poolside Gossip,” which is one of the most famous photos taken in Palm Springs. You don’t really need to get inside these homes to see their architecture. Another would be the “House of Tomorrow,” which is where Elvis and Priscilla Presley had their honeymoon. … (As for what’s included on Modernism Week tours), I would recommend the Steel House tour, featuring steel homes which were designed by Donald Wexler in the 1950s. The other (recommended tour) would be the Frank Sinatra “Twin Palms” Estate.

Getting beyond buildings: Tell me about some furniture, some items and some trends that show off what’s really cool about modernism.

What’s trending now are clean lines in furniture design. You can see that at almost all of the stores here in Palm Springs. Walnut was a wood that was used in the midcentury modern period, and today, there’s a huge draw for that handcrafted, really solid, clean piece of furniture made from walnut. (Something else) that you might see in Palm Springs that you wouldn’t see so much in other areas: really bright colors—ceramics or art or accessories that are primarily orange, aqua or chartreuse.

One last question for you: Give me the pitch to someone who is on the fence about Modernism Week, on why they should care, and why they should participate.

First, come out for the excitement and the energy that’s created during Modernism Week by all the people coming into town from all over the world. Second, considering the weather in February, it’s the best time to be (out and about) in Palm Springs, when it’s cold and snowy almost throughout the rest of the country. For a local person participating in Modernism Week, you can go into your neighbor’s house and see how it’s decorated! We have (more than 20) neighborhood organizations all opening up homes. What’s great about the neighborhood tours is the majority of money that’s being made through Modernism Week goes back out to the neighborhoods, the neighborhood organizations and our partner organizations. As a nonprofit, Modernism Week is the event that pulls all of these organizations together to improve the neighborhoods and help with preservation efforts. We also have a scholarship program. The money that people are paying for tickets—it all is going to a good cause.

Out of the Ashes: Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club Begins Rebuilding Process

At Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, it was supposed to be a Christmas day to celebrate. The year-old restaurant, located at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, had dinner reservations for 170 people on the books.

However, on the morning of Dec. 25, while a couple of employees began preparing in the kitchen for the busy night, something went terribly wrong: An electrical fire began in the ceiling over the dining room.

Within a couple hours, the restaurant had burned to the ground. Bernie’s owners Rand Howell and Geoff McIntosh, while in shock, scrambled to find new reservations for their customers, and new jobs for their employees.

The only saving grace: The two employees made it out of the building unharmed.

“Initially, it was very devastating,” McIntosh said.

One month later, the feelings of devastation have largely faded, McIntosh said, and the owners are now working on the rebuilding process. There’s also another silver lining in the dark cloud.

“Everybody who wanted a job was able to find one within two to three weeks,” McIntosh said, praising his fellow local restaurateurs who stepped in to help his staffers.

At first, McIntosh and Howell looked into reopening Bernie’s in an existing building at another location. However, those plans fell through.

“We just couldn’t put it together,” he said.

McIntosh and Howell are now planning on rebuilding Bernie’s in the same location, which they own, he said. There’s another, smaller building on their property that they may demolish to build a new Bernie’s that’s bigger and better than ever.

“We had outgrown our space by the second month we were open,” McIntosh laughed.

McIntosh said the current plan is to expand both the lounge and dining areas just a bit. The biggest changes, though, will involve improving the traffic flow by widening aisles and fixing the fact that in the old building, there was only one, hard-to-access door in and out of the kitchen—which led to constant traffic jams.

When can customers expect the new Bernie’s to rise from the ashes? McIntosh said that optimistic estimates say the new building’s doors could open within seven or eight months, but he thinks a year is more realistic.

“All the layers of government approval we’ll need will take two to three months, probably, by themselves,” he said.

McIntosh praised the restaurant’s insurance company, Farmers Insurance, for moving quickly thus far. In fact, the business-interruption insurance is paying key management employees to stay on while the restaurant is rebuilt, McIntosh said.

Keep your fingers crossed for the good people at Bernie’s. Follow the rebuilding progress, and get updates on former Bernie’s employees, at

In Brief

Bontá Restaurant and Bar is now open and serving modern European and Latin fare at 68510 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City, in the spot formerly occupied by Picanha Churrascaria. More info at … Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill opened in January at 1751 N. Sunrise Way, near World Gym in Palm Springs. The restaurant’s website promises “one of a kind, authentic Mexican cuisine” that is “made with the freshest ingredients possible.” Visit that website,, for more info. … King’s Highway, the diner at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, launched all-new, expanded menus in mid-January. The restaurant is following in the footsteps of the Ace Hotel L.A., which recently revamped its restaurant with the help of the folks behind Five Leaves in Brooklyn, N.Y.—meaning Five Leaves influences can be found on the Palm Springs menus, too. Highlights include the avocado toast for breakfast, and the Five Leaves burger (including grilled pineapple, pickled beets and a sunny-side-up egg) for lunch and dinner. … Want to get out of the house to enjoy the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 22? Trio Restaurant, at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is hosting its annual “Hollywood’s Biggest Night” party, to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program. Get tickets, starting at $125, at If you’re closer to Indian Wells, consider the Red Carpet Oscar Party at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive. Tickets are $85, and the event benefits Variety—The Children's Charity of the Desert. Call 760-345-9770 to reserve. … Congrats to Shanghai Reds, the popular back-area bar and restaurant at Palm Springs’ Fisherman’s Market and Grill, located at 235 S. Indian Canyon Drive, for completing an expansion of the patio. There’s now more seating and a better music stage. ... If you haven’t heard already: The Asian-cuisine scene of the Coachella Valley is now worse off due to the apparent closing of Jiao, the Foundation 10-owned restaurant that was located at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.