Hackneying Hockney

There's no blue in nature like the unnatural blue indigenous to Capri.
There’s no blue in nature like the unnatural blue indigenous to Capri.

My first two years in college I lived in the Mens Residence Center. I chose it because it was close to campus and because it was on a much smaller scale than the high-rise barns most student cattle were herded into. Its limestone neo-gothic architecture made it feel like something out of an MGM movie.

When I registered I didn’t realize it was also the dorm for the IU swim team. At the time Indiana was the ne plus ultra in college swimming, winning six consecutive national championships under Coach Doc Counsilman. My sophomore year Mark Spitz lived on the floor below me.

The swimmers’ nickname for me was Vulch. I had a habit of smelling  pizza on the floor, calmly walking into that person’s room to grab a slice, then leaving without a word to anyone present. Vulch was short for Vulture.

The team was always traveling to exotic locales for meets with UCLA, Miami, or Stanford. Their trips lent them access to the hippest street markets in the country. They came back with the best drugs. When they weren’t sure of the product they’d say “let’s have Vulch try it first.” I did my best to support the team.

You’d think with all this quality exposure I’d be a better swimmer than I am. I’m not very good. And I’m a little embarrassed to have people watch me. But since the other tenants in my apartment complex rarely use it, the pool is like a private cement pond right outside my door. I try to swim every day.

You can tell I’m gaining confidence. The trunks are getting skimpier.

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You The Last Temptation of Me

Visions of San Jacinto

The Fred Flintstone Convention Center, Palm Springs
The Fred Flintstone Convention Center, Palm Springs

In San Francisco if an apartment window has even a sliver of a bridge tower in sight, it’s listed with Golden Gate views. In Palm Springs the real estate gimmick is the mountains.

Here the population is much less dense than in the City (in some respects anyway). There is room to spread out so many properties do, indeed, have mountain views. And they are spectacular. On the days when it’s not too hot to walk, I’m still amazed when I look up to see them. The grandeur of these huge rocks abutting an expanse of dirt is quite dramatic.

The entrance to the convention center was originally built on the east side of the building and was rather lackluster. When the powers that be finally realized the mountains were on the other side they decided to capitalize with a new vestibule.

It reminds me of the Viet Nam War Memorial. From a distance it looks simple and restrained, not that distinctive. When you start down the staircase on the Amado side the low roof gives no hint of what is to follow. As you reach the bottom of the cascading steps, however,  you are confronted with this soaring billow of a coppertone ceiling.

The rock pillars supporting the canopy look somewhat insignificant from the street. On the interior they are an imposing three stories high.  Like the Memorial, as you approach the vortex you are overcome by the enormity of it all.

The payoff comes when you turn and look to the west. The huge space you’re in is nothing compared to the size of the San Jacinto Mountains. Red rock serves as a perfect frame for one stunning view after another.

It’s my favorite spot in Palm Springs. Or at least a close second to Brandinis.

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The Last Temptation of Me