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Nephew

6pm on a Saturday

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Death Valley: What’s Grandma Doing at the Dunes?

“Looks like there’s a lot you don’t know about her” is Uncle Rico’s reply to Napoleon Dynamite’s query upon finding out his grandmother had broken her coccyx whilst four-wheeling at the dunes.¬†IMG_8969

For those of you whose only interaction with sand dunes is watching movies like Lawrence of Arabia I can now testify that what I always thought were actors trying to look heat exhausted and parched, isn’t acting at all. It is simply humans trying to walk up small mountains of sand that do everything in their power to imitate the experience of walking up the down escalator. What looks like heat exhaustion and thirst experienced by those lost for days in the Sahara is just as easily thigh burning frustration that ramps up to miserable in less than two minutes.IMG_8972

Miserable is too strong of a word, I was being dramatic. Really the dunes are beautiful (not being dramatic) and my biggest regrets are that 1. we shared the experience with hoards of other tourists, and 2. We didn’t bring a snowboard or some other device with which we could slide down the dunes, rewarding ourselves with fun for the effort it takes to scale a sand dune.IMG_9023

While crowds can be a nuisance when looking for desolation, they can also provide entertainment in the middle of what would otherwise be solitude (boredom). We saw numerous photo shoots in progress, mostly of girls in formal dresses and guys in tuxedos, and we saw this guy. This guy and his eagle were brought in as a prop for one of said formal gown wearing women photo sessions… because a sparkly dress in the middle of Death Valley really needs an eagle to make it interesting.IMG_8990 (5)

I do have to admit the eagle was pretty cool. Owning an eagle is akin to owning a tiger, just a little bit more American.IMG_9014 (7)

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Death Valley: moonscape ala crater

IMG_8939 (2)There were some more adventurous than us who followed the trail down into the bottom of the bowl. Looking at them work their way down the trail it looked not so much adventurous than strenuous.  Teddy and his principles to live by would have been so disappointed with us. We were perfectly comfortable with that.IMG_8949

It looked like the sort of fools errand that is easy in the beginning but then bites you hard with regret in the end. We chose to enjoy the vista without eventually resenting it.

In such a place and time one’s choice in company really matters. We were well matched. We both appreciated our surroundings, content to talk or not, to walk or not, and preferring being here deciding whether or not to do less, than being at home on the couching having decided to do nothing.IMG_8957

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Mid Mod: Palm Springs and unmet expectations

I love design and style. I love the clean lines and angles of mid century modernism, but I now have a greater appreciation of how hard mid mod is to pull off without looking like an outdated gas station.IMG_6739

I think maybe it is because this particular aesthetic only works if the clean lines are accentuating other stuff that is equally cool. You have to go all in. Otherwise those clean lines just look like half baked, half finished, cheap construction.

I learned all of this while growing up in 1980’s suburbia but I realized it in Palm Springs.

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So the above is the Edris house built in 1954. I like it. Well done Mr. Architect. I drove past it but did not go inside as someone lives there and they don’t know how awesome I am and consequentially did not invite me into their living room. A loss on both our parts.IMG_6704

I have no idea who owns this house, when it was built, or anything other than that the triangular roof stretching down to the ground, coupled with the straight horizontal wings works for me. It also makes me dislike the standard mailbox standing at the curb. Come on mailbox, your address is THAT and all you got is this? Disappointing.IMG_6686

Now this place is nice but maybe not all that remarkable till you realize it was built in 1936. Back then people drove big giant Buicks, wore fedoras sans-irony, and George Jetson hadn’t been born yet. Still, someone I’ve never met lives there now so we kept on driving.

And right about here, about the time we just drive past another place that is probably cool, I realized mid century modern isn’t all that hot when the later half of said century was spent recreating the mid part with no attention to style but solely because of speed and cost. That stuff is everywhere. There is a word for it I won’t use, but I will say it is done half-way and that ruins everything.

That is how I felt about Palm Springs when I didn’t get to go inside anything.IMG_6682

For instance Elvis used to live in this house. Him and Priscilla spent their honeymoon here. But they don’t live here now and since those days the 1970’s happened and consequentially this place feels kind of “meh”.IMG_6679

This place looks great. The orange chairs are a perfect place to sit while wearing white linen pants and a fitted pink button down. But maybe not a great place to have a sink full of dirty dishes or an overstuffed sofa.

I didn’t get to sit in the chairs and my own apartment has a sink filled with dishes and driving around in the heat I didn’t really feel anything. I was never immersed and this style doesn’t work if you only skim the surface.IMG_6703

Not sure I’ll head back out there without a real good reason… like maybe a dinner party with a dress code. at the end of the day, the below was the most interesting thing in town. Sadly, everyone there thought kava was a word for coffee.

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