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Film

Screening of ‘Tim’s Vermeer’

Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all of art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. This is a Penn and Teller Film, produced by Penn Jillette. Q&A to follow with Lisa Soccio, assistant professor/gallery director at College of the Desert. 6 p.m., Thursday, April 16. Free. University of California at Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-202-4007; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/ArtDoc13.html.

Music and More

Aiden James

Don’t miss Aiden James performing his latest single, “Last Reminder,” from his album Trouble With This, which launched at No. 28 on the iTunes Top 100. Dinner at 5:30 p.m., with show at 7 p.m., Friday, April 10. $20 show only. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Best of Sam Harris

Sam Harris’ career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television, to writer, director, producer and now, author. After winning Star Search in its premiere season, Sam and his powerhouse pop, gospel and theater influenced vocals have never looked back. 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11. $60 to $75. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Cabaret 88: Donna Theadore

An American actress and singer who first came to attention as a headliner at many famous nightclubs during the 1960s, Theodore won a Theater World Award and Drama Desk Award, and received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1975 musical Shenandoah. She is best remembered for her appearances with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, making more than 50 guest appearances. 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 8. $88. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Comedy at the Symphony

Piano humorist Wayland Pickard leads an evening of music and comedy in the PBS tradition of Victor Borge, Roger Williams, Peter Nero and Liberace—all rolled into one. His impressions include selections from famous “piano men” such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Scott Joplin, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Schroeder from “Peanuts.” 7 p.m., Saturday, April 11. $25 to $45, with discounts. Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, Rancho Mirage High School, 31001 Rattler Road, Rancho Mirage. 760-360-2222; www.cvsymphony.com.

Opera in the Park

This free annual concert is a celebration of opera music. Bring a picnic lunch and join thousands of Coachella Valley residents and visitors to enjoy an afternoon of incredible music in an informal, tranquil outdoor setting with a professional orchestra and eight young up-and-coming opera singers. Noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 12. Free. Sunrise Park, 401 S. Pavilion Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-6107; palmspringsoperaguild.org.

Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus Presents: Extrabbaganza

The Swedish pop group ABBA topped the music charts from 1975-1982. Their music found new life in movie musicals. The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will perform a long list of ABBA’s hits. 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 26. $25 to $50. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs. 760-219-2077; www.psgmc.com.

Tachevah, A Palm Springs Block Party

A concert for music fans midway between the two 2015 Coachella weekends. The celebration of music and our city takes place outside the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs, and a DJ will keep the party rolling in between band sets. 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday, April 15. Free. Spa Resort Casino, at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Calle Encilia, Palm Springs. Facebook.com/Tachevah.

The USO Variety Show

The USO has been entertaining troops worldwide in times of peace and war for more 70 years. Now, the Bob Hope USO needs you to laugh, enjoy and have some fun remembering the good ol’ times. Join us for a live nostalgic tribute to Bob Hope and his band of Hollywood celebs; enjoy free tours of the museum pre- or post-show time. 2 p.m., Thursday, April 9. $55 to $75. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-778-6262; palmspringsvacationtravel.com.

Zero Gravity: Music Festival After Hours Party

Zero Gravity will feature a mixture of top talent, emerging artists and special guest appearances. This year, the fairgrounds will be transformed into a mega-club party with amazing sound, lighting, lasers, larger-than-life artwork, exceptional VIP services and more. 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 10-18. Must request an invitation at the website; lineup and ticket prices TBA. Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82503 Highway 111, Indio. Rocketboyevents.com.

Special Events

Cathedral City LGBT Days

Not your typical Pride event, this weekend promises to be interactive, festive and OUTrageous! Enjoy area restaurants, music, hot air balloon rides, the costume “charity bed race” LGBT films and more. Various times, prices and locations in Cathedral City. Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5. 760-770-0340; www.discovercathedralcity.com/index.php/event/cathedral-city-lgbt-days.

The Dinah Shore Weekend

Club Skirts presents The Dinah, the largest girl party music festival in the world, rocking Palm Springs since 1991. Various times and locations, Wednesday, April 1, through Sunday, April 5. Prices vary; weekend passes $269. Thedinah.com.

White Party Palm Springs

The largest gay dance party in the world. DJs, live performances, pool parties and more. Various times, prices and locations, Friday, April 24, through Monday, April 27. Jeffreysanker.com.

Visual Arts

99 Bucks Sale

The Palm Springs Artists Council presents this annual major fundraiser for the Education Department. Celebrities as well as Artists Council members and other artists create artwork on 5-by-7 canvases for this popular and intriguing one night event. The purchaser selects works to buy, and only after purchase do they learn the name of the artist. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 11. Free. Riviera Resort and Spa Grand Ballroom, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4850; www.psmuseum.org/artists-council.

Indian Wells Arts Festival

More than 200 award-winning artists featuring hundreds of pieces of one-of-a-kind artwork available for purchase. The Second Annual Objet Trouvé Found Art Festival joins once again, featuring award-winning found artists creating a “festival of festivals.” 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5. $13; children 12 and under free. Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells. 760-346-0042; www.indianwellsartsfestival.com.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

In the words of Peter Allen, “Everything old is new again.”

That lyrical observation was certainly appropriate as the 44th edition of what is now called the ANA Inspiration tournament—you may know it as the Dinah Shore—kicked off on Monday, March 30, with the return of the popular Champions Juniors Challenge, organized by the Southern California Golf Association.

The winner of this one-day amateur 18-hole shootout claims the last spot in the field of the 72-hole LPGA major tournament, which begins this Thursday at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

Thirty-three young women from all over Southern California competed in teams of three, and each team was captained throughout the round by a former LPGA tour pro and champion. This year, two Coachella Valley high school students competed: Malia Ebersberger, of Palm Desert, who attends Xavier College Prep; and Jiyoon Jang, of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert High School.

For Ebersberger, this was her first appearance in this special event.

“It was a 10 for sure! I’m so glad I was able to play in the tournament,” she said.

Her team captain and mentor for the round was Donna Caponi, winner of four LPGA major titles. “I’m so lucky I got her as my captain. She was truly amazing. She’s awesome,” Ebersberger said.

What tips did Caponi share during their time on the course together? “We were checking the wind and the slopes of the greens,” Ebersbeger said, “and she helped me read, like, every putt, because I needed help.”

Overall, how did Ebersberger feel that she played? “I played pretty well,” Ebersberger said. “I just had one bad hole, but other than that, I’m super excited.”

Her father, J.D. Ebersberger, is the director of golf and COO of the Palms Golf Club in La Quinta; he offered some insight into the play of his daughter.

“She played every other sport except golf, and then finally, almost four years ago, she took the game up, and quit all the other sports. She’s really dedicated herself to golf, and I’m real proud of her,” he said.

While Ebersberger finished at 2 over par for the day, seven shots off the pace of winner Haley Moore, of Escondido, Team Caponi took home the overall team trophy.

This was Jiyoon Jang’s second consecutive appearance at the Junior Challenge, and we asked how she felt about her play on this day.

“Terrible. I don’t know why,” Jang said. “I feel like I prepped well for this tournament, and then when I got out there, I just couldn’t control my shots, and then that lowered my confidence, and it’s hard to play well when you don’t have confidence in your own swing.”

What did she pick up this year from her team captain, six-time LPGA major champion Pat Bradley (with whom she was paired last year as well)?

“She’s like literally the most positive, encouraging, motivating person that I’ve ever met,” Jang said. “It was nice to have her encouraging me even when I made a bogey, and I made a lot of those.”

Jang finished at 5 over par for the round.

Does Jang plan on a return next year? She sighed, then brightened quickly and stated, “Yeah, I think so. Yes. Yes. Yeah, there will be.”

See a gallery of photos from the Champions Junior Challenge below.

Published in Snapshot

Promotion is everything when it comes to sports events. Dinah Shore knew that; that’s why, back in 1972, she attached her name, and fame, to a brand-new women’s golf event at the Mission Hills Country Club.

To this day, many still call the LPGA’s first major of the year simply Dinah. Soon, that might be the only name this tournament has.

As of Monday, April 7, what has been known since 2002 as the Kraft Nabisco Championship will cease to exist under that name. The food giant, associated with the tourney since 1982, will not be the title sponsor anymore. Instead, the LPGA will take over the event, and the hunt for a new sponsor will start.

Remember the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the other famed local golf extravaganza? A while after Hope’s passing, Chrysler dropped out, and the event struggled to regain its former glory. Thankfully, Humana and the Clinton Foundation eventually stepped in, in 2012, as sponsors.

I’ve covered the Kraft Nabisco Championship for 15 years now. I’ve watched the great champions like Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb jump into the lake adjacent to the 18th hole after wining the tourney. That victory leap is one of the most notable traditions in the game.

So how do you sell golf history nowadays? I asked Annika Sörenstam, a three-time winner here at Mission Hills, that very question. The now-retired golf superstar is optimistic about the tourney's future.

“I’m pretty sure that the tournament will stay here,” she said. “First of all, this is a major championship. There’'s so much history here. This, I think, is a really an exciting opportunity for a company to be involved with. It's just a lot of positive energy. I’m very optimistic that the things are going to go well here.”

Sorenstam isn’t the only person who is optimistic about the tourney’s future. Tournament director Gabe Codding is optimistic, too—and his job could be on the line thanks to the uncertainty over the sponsor.

“With this year’s event, we’re celebrating the 30-year legacy of Kraft Nabisco as a sponsor, and I was there for 20 years of it,” he said. “This tournament has emerged as the most historic event on the LPGA tour. So right now, it’s all about finding the right partner who loves the location, who loves the history and who loves to be involved with the first major.”

Codding is confident that a new title sponsor will be found, perhaps within six to eight months.

"We will take a time to find the right sponsor, to make sure that the chosen sponsor stays with the tournament for a long time," he said.

As for his future with the tournament, Codding said that he started working at the event when he was barely 18, and is prepared to exit if needed after serving more than five years as the director.

“The day I know that there’s somebody who can contribute more to the tournament than I can, I'll be ready to step aside. I'll be OK with it!" Codding said.

There are sporadic rumors that the tourney could move to Arizona or even Nevada. However, that’s unlikely to happen.

The tournament’s traditions include a statue of Dinah Shore at the 18th green. How could you move a monument to Dinah—the first lady of golf—and the legacy she created here at Mission Hills to Las Vegas? Let’s hope she will forever stay here, greeting the champions on their way to history. 

Published in Local Issues

As she teed off Thursday morning, April 3, at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Nicole Castrale had a lot to prove.

The 11-year LPGA veteran and onetime Palm Desert High School golfer needed to show that any physical concerns caused by her September 2013 hip-replacement surgery were behind her. She has been swinging the club again for just three months, after all.

By the end of the day, she had proven a lot, turning in a one-under-par 71 that put her five strokes off the lead and in a tie for 14th place.

“I now have a right hip that works, so it’s nice,” said the Palm Desert resident. “I’ve been able to pick up some speed, which is good, so I’m hitting further off the tee.”

To what did she attribute her opening round success? “I just played real solid,” Castrale said. “I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. I didn’t make problems worse, and I just stayed real patient out there.”

Playing just down the road from her home also seems to agree with Nicole. “I’d say it took us 11 minutes to get here this morning. It’s nice to sleep in your own bed,” she said.

Is there added pressure to perform well in front of family and friends? “I always thought this golf course set up well for my game,” she said about the Mission Hills Country Club. “It’s a great course. One of the best we play all year.”

She then admitted that she does tend to force things a bit when playing at home. “My parents are here, and I’ve been here since eighth-grade. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s an easy place to get around. My golf coach is here. I’ve got a great golf course I practice at, Toscana Country Club. It’s just home.”

In fact, family is never far away from Castrale when she’s at work: Her husband, Craig, doubles as her caddie. So how did Craig feel about their first day’s results?

“It’s a great start at any tournament, especially at a major, to get anything under par,” he said. “Long way to go, but definitely nice to have it under our belt and get the afternoon to rest.”

What do the Castrales do in the Coachella Valley when it’s time to kick back and relax?

“Basically, we hang out at our house with our daughter,” said Castrale, laughing. “We’ve gone to The Living Desert, but we’re homebodies.”

Husband/caddie Craig agreed. “I’m just excited to spend as much time as possible with my wife and our daughter and all the family and friends. It’s great.”

Published in Snapshot

After close to a century, Allene Arthur finally came out about her age.

I’d driven Miss Arthur to numerous social events over a period of 15 years. We covered those posh events together—and until recently, I had no clue that she started writing her column before I was born. That’s how good she is at keeping secrets.

Well, now we know her age: About 100 people showed up at Seven Lakes Country Club recently to help her mark her 90th birthday.

This seasoned journalist started writing her lifestyles/scene column in 1959—and has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. Yes, she’s been covering big events for a long time—including the royal wedding of the (20th) century, of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, in 1981.

‘‘I phoned the story in from London, and it appeared on the local daily’s front page the same day as the wedding,” she told me during our one-on-one at her Palm Springs home.

In the media business, things can change in a heartbeat, sometimes tragically, after a story is published. In 1994, Arthur experienced such a moment following an exclusive with DinahShore for a local magazine.

Palm Springs Life printed my feature interview with Dinah in which she spoke in present tense!” she said. “Unfortunately, she died just about as the magazine was to hit the stands. There was no time to change her quotes into past tense.”

As the decades went by, Arthur experienced various changes in technology—which, of course, changed the way she did her job. One of the biggest changes came while she was working at the local daily as a society editor.

“I was 55 when computers came around, so here at the paper, we went to the classes to learn about it,” she recalled. “Soon, the classes split into advanced and slow ones. I ended up in the ‘dumb’ class—as did the publisher and editor-in-chief, who were my generation.

“The younger reporters got into the computers faster, and I bet you the fifth-graders would beat us all to it!”

Arthur’s personal story is that of a strong-minded woman who raised her son (after a divorce) while working as a single female in a tough corporate environment. The long hours, multiple events to cover and many pages to write—all on deadline—may have left a small impact on her health.

“I did have a minor stroke a few years back, but it did not hamper my column-writing in the slightest,” she said. “It was not a downer in that way.”

Here, Arthur paused. She smiled, remembering something. “Well, Kirk Douglas had a stroke, too,” her hazel eyes flashed, “but he was so charming and engaging when I was taking his quote, you couldn’t tell.”

Allene Arthur has written more than 2,500 columns so far—and that’s just locally! Twice, she said, she quit writing her column. “After both of these interruptions, I’m told there was a considerable letter campaign from The Desert Sun readers that my column be restored. Once again, editors asked me to return to my regular column.”

On this rare occasion, Arthur offered an exclusive: She revealed who the hardest celebs were to quote.

“Frank Sinatra was, by far, the worst one!” she said. “I’d been at his Palm Springs home several times, covering events he and Barbara hosted. Sinatra was always cold and distant. He hated journalists! Also, another former local resident, novelist Harold Robbins, was so blunt and rude!”

President Gerald Ford was just the opposite, according to Arthur.

“I was so impressed by Ford!” she said. “He and Betty were at several social events I covered. At one, where he was the guest of honor, we were introduced during the pre-dinner cocktail hour and fell into conversation. He was a gracious gentleman. And I was seated next to the first lady during the dinner.”

How does Allene Arthur keeps going? What keeps her feeling young?

“I love porn flicks!” she joked with a bright smile. “I never run out of material; there’s just not enough space to publish everything I want!”

We talked about the place of columns in American journalism, and Arthur mentioned that her idols were Erma Bombeck and Ogden Nash. That’s when Arthur pointed out an ingredient of the master columnist: “I write for the reader—not the advertiser or the people being written about, but the reader!”

It would take up a whole story just to list all of the awards Arthur received for her “first century” in journalism. Instead, I took a picture of her by her “vanity wall.” They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but there’s always another word to be written—until the final column, that is.

That leads to my last question for Allene Arthur: When’s the time to quit for good?

She answered without hesitation.

“I’ll end it when I run out of something to say, or when publishers decide to eliminate me—whichever comes first!”

Published in Features

Editor’s Note: A representative of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Awards approached the Independent about publishing this Q&A with Mariah Hanson, the founder of one of Palm Springs’ largest annual events: the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, aka “The Dinah” (thedinah.com). The 2014 event takes place April 2-6.

Hanson is the recipient of the 2013 Athena Leadership Award, presented by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. She—along with Carol Channing and Helene Galen—will be honored at the 2013 Athena Luncheon, at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Renaissance Palm Springs, 888 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs, Tickets are $85, or $65 for chamber members. To register or get more information, visit www.pschamber.org.

How does it feel to be recognized and honored by the city of Palm Springs with an Athena Award?

I am beyond honored, humbled and grateful to be receiving this award. To be singled out alongside such other distinguished and esteemed honorees, not to mention (being in) such stellar company of women, is, on a personal level, quite an amazing prestige. Just as importantly for me, as an LGBT American to earn such distinction at the local government level from both the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Palm Springs itself is simply incredible.

Why do you think events like the Athena Awards, which honor women leaders, are important?

Contrary to the stereotypical stigma, women are strong and empowered leaders. Yet we are only recognized as such when we adopt a more-masculine persona in business. I personally believe when we, as women, feel confident enough to also bring our feminine attributes into business—such as kindness and compassion, and absolutely own these qualities—we conduct kinder and more-empowering business for all. So yes, awards such as the Athena Awards are extremely important. Overall, it encourages women to take charge, to lead and to blaze forward, in a way that leaves a wake of empowerment and inclusiveness for other women—and men as well!

You’re celebrating 24 years producing the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs. What role has the city played in the overall success of the event?

Palm Springs has been an amazing partner throughout the 24 years I have been conducting business here. It’s a smart city, run by smart people, who “get it.”

As the saying goes: A rising tide lifts all boats, and Palm Springs appears to understand and fearlessly take that approach in its vision of the future. It is one of the many reasons it has once again reinvented itself and is now enjoying another exceptional renaissance. I honestly could not have found a better place to produce The Dinah than Palm Springs; and I am beyond grateful of the support and love the city and the community has given my event, my customers and me for almost a quarter-century now. It’s an amazing LGBT-supportive city, and this recognition shows just how truly hip and inclusive Palm Springs is. I look forward to The Dinah being here for another 24 years!

What was the most difficult obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a woman in the course of these 24 years producing the Dinah?

Some men I have worked with over the years don’t take women as seriously as they should, but that’s an endemic problem between the sexes and not one that I have ever felt inhibited by. Personally, when faced with sexism, rather than fight it, I’m more inclined to simply take another approach. What’s important is achieving your goals. If you do that, you’ve successfully fought sexism. Many roads lead to Rome, and as long as you get there, all is well.

On a personal level, what does the Dinah represent for you? And what got you hooked to want to produce it for 24 years?

The Dinah is a celebration of living out loud, of being heard, of being seen. When you break it down, at a fundamental level, isn’t that what we all want? For five days, I have the esteemed opportunity to make that possible for a lot of women who may not enjoy that kind of freedom when they return home. It’s incredibly rewarding, and I like to think it is life-changing for them.

What is it about The Dinah that is a life-changing experience for women?

Imagine living in a more-remote part of the country where being out may not be considered socially acceptable. Fast-forward to arriving at The Dinah, where thousands of women are living out loud, without the fear of being judged or bullied. Not only that, but they’re also embraced by an entire city that sends an unspoken message of: You’re worth it! That’s life-changing. Imagine being an older lesbian who has had to keep her love for her partner “in the closet” for her entire lifetime and then attends The Dinah—or perhaps just one of our many events. She then gets a glimpse into this public celebration of our lives. She surely must think: All that work and efforts to attain our rights was worth it. Look at this joy!

What do you think mainstream perception of the event is? And is it important that mainstream people know about it?

I think mainstream society looks at this event like they do any other event that celebrates a specific culture. The LGBT community definitely has a culture, and we feel it is important to celebrate it through our pride events and events such as The Dinah. I think it is very important that mainstream society knows about our lives. The more society as a whole recognizes the fact that our lives are really not all that different than that of society at large, the sooner the LGBT issues of equality will be resolved favorably. It’s about putting a human face to our LGBT community to break stereotypes.

Do you think it is still important for the LGBT community to have events like the Dinah?

Events such as The Dinah offer a space in time to celebrate out loud. There is still a majority of gay women who live in hiding having to pretend to be someone else ... simply because their environment forces them to.

It’s hard for those of us who have the freedom to walk the streets holding hands and kissing our partner to fathom the fact that our lifestyle is not the same for a majority of others, but rather is the exception. We take for granted the fact that our reality is still a dream many wish would come true. The Dinah offers gay women from all over the world the opportunity to escape for five days from the rest of their 360-day life … and provides them the freedom to be who they are.

I believe it provides a glimpse of what life would be if everyone were accepting of each other, no matter what the size of their body, the color of their skin, and/or the tax bracket they belong to. Simply put, it is a testimony of how perfect the world would be if we could all be free to feel free!

What is your favorite job-related story?

I have so many. I liked it when the city made me deputy mayor for the day, and Tim Ellis asked me if I would sign off on his parking ticket. That was a no, apparently. Katy Perry was a career highlight to date. Meeting lesbians from small towns whose eyes are so big at the sights they see … always makes me smile.

Can you share a little-known fact about yourself?

I used to dress up as a cowboy when I was 5 and stand out in the middle of our neighborhood street and demand a quarter from cars driving by. Oh my God. I just realized something: I haven’t changed.

What can you tell us about The Dinah 2014?

The Dinah 2014 is going to be off the hook! I have a major act lined up that I am really excited about! We’re expecting another blockbuster this year.

Published in Community Voices

Driving through the Coachella Valley can be a memorable experience, and not just because of the spectacular sights.

Many celebrities and politicians who have made their homes here have streets named after them. Seeing their names in lights again is like taking a trip down memory lane.

Have you ever been a stranger in the night on Wonder Palms Road? That street is now known as Frank Sinatra Drive. Have you ever lost hope while driving down Rio del Sol? That street is now called Bob Hope Drive. If you've ever encountered any singing cowboys on Bogie Road, you've probably been hiking on Gene Autry Trail.

All of this started when former movie star, Charles Farrell, became mayor of Palm Springs. Farrell, who founded the famous Racquet Club, had Farrell Drive named after him.

Even Let's Make a Deal host Monty Hall has his own street on the former Van Fleet Avenue. Tourists are encouraged to guess which house he lives in. They're asked, "Does Monty live behind door No. 1, door No. 2, or door No. 3?"

Having a street named after a famous person always sounds more interesting than using numbered streets. For instance, 34th Avenue is now Dinah Shore Drive, and 36th Avenue is now Gerald Ford Drive. Even band leader Fred Waring had 44th Avenue named after him. I wonder what Waring was wearing during the dedication ceremony.

The East Valley is home to streets named after the presidents. Motorists can find themselves driving down Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison or Monroe Streets. I'm still waiting for them to name a street after the Mathis Brothers in West Indio.

It's easy to tell who these streets were named after just by looking at the name. But there are other streets whose origins are more elusive. Take Palm Canyon Drive, for example. For the answer to that mystery, I consulted Riverside County Planning Commissioner Edward "Boom Boom" Finklestein.

I caught Ed in the parking lot as he was leaving his office one afternoon. "Can you tell me how Palm Canyon Drive got its name?" I asked him.

"Gotta go," he said hurriedly. "It's my Bingo night." As I started walking away, he yelled back, "Check with Bunny LaRumba! She knows everything!"

Ed handed me Bunny's card and gave a thrusting motion, confirming how he got the nickname "Boom Boom."

The address on the card indicated that Bunny lived in the East Valley farming community of Thermal. I hopped on Interstate 10, which led me to Highway 86. Can't they name freeways after people, too?

I entered a run-down trailer park and spotted the address. I knocked on the door, and Bunny came out to greet me.

"Boom Boom sent me here," I explained.

"It must be his bingo night," she surmised.

Bunny invited me in and proceeded to tell me her life story. As it turned out, she was named Miss Thermal in 1952. It was time to get down to business. "How did Palm Canyon Drive get its name?" I asked.

"It was named after a Kenyan with large palms," she replied. "They used to call it Palm Kenyan Drive."

Bunny continued. "When President Obama was growing up in Indonesia, he lived on Frank Sumatra Drive."

I listened with intrigue. "Obama's parents came to the Coachella Valley for a vacation and met Juan E. Levin, a local recluse. They later named Highway 111 after him."

By now, I was on the edge of my seat. "Juan E. Levin wanted the stretch of Highway 111 that went through Palm Springs to have a different name. The Kenyan had large palms, and the rest is history."

"I thought Obama was born in Hawaii," I told her.

"You'll have to check with Donald Trump about that whole birth-certificate thing," she said.

As I'm sure you've realized by now, my encounters with Edward "Boom Boom" Finklestein and Bunny LaRumba were entirely fictitious. But this proves how rumors are spread. These rumors give birth to folklore that's passed down from generation to generation.

It was a windy day in the Coachella Valley, and I decided to take a walk through one of our many canyons. As I hiked up the trail, a palm frond fell off a nearby tree and landed on my head. Suddenly, it all made sense. With all the palm trees and all the canyons in the area, it was no wonder they named the street Palm Canyon Drive.

I was thrilled with my discovery and started skipping with delight when I suddenly bumped into a tall man. It was President Obama!

"Don't tell anyone I'm here," he told me. "I was in town and decided to take a stroll." Then he reached out to shake my hand.

"What large palms you have," I said to the Kenyan in the canyon.

I wonder how Pennsylvania Avenue got its name.

Published in Humor