By Tony Mostrom from LA Weekly

LAPL Photo Collection/Herald-Examiner Collection

LAPL Photo Collection/Herald-Examiner Collection

The desert is a good litmus test of personality types, isn’t it? A certain kind of person loves the desert emphatically; another kind “hates” it emphatically. One finds it “empty” while the other takes to the bleached, tan-colored expansiveness of it all as inspiring, a place that encourages free-associative thinking and calm reflection…(you thought I would say something else, but I’ve always been a drug-free person, you see). Not to mention it’s the perfect place to listen to drone music (I recommend anything by either the Hafler Trio or Soviet France; maybe Terry Riley). Basically, the verdict is in: artists and other interesting people love the desert, so deal with it.

Some of my earliest memories are those of the desert areas in and around Palm Springs. My grandmother (Mona Eastley, 1902-2000) lived most of her life in Encino, but when I was a kid, she owned a second house down there, not far from Palm Canyon Drive. My brother and I loved the family trips to that house. My old aunt Nellie lived, throughout the 1960s, in nearby Yucca Valley, at the northern edge of Joshua Tree; thus one of my earliest memories is of waking up in a sleeping bag on the living room floor of her Yuck Valley bungalow, watching the blinding sun rise. That and, on the same trip (I think), taking a burro ride with my mother in Mexicali.

My grandmother’s Spanish-style house in Palm Springs (which her mother always pronounced as “Bum Sprinn”) had a big, delicious swimming pool, so for my brother and me, a weekend there was a case of oh-boy-and-hot-damn! The walls of the house were lined with oil paintings by my uncle, the artist Charles Mureau, very Mexican-flavored they were, with a touch of ‘60s kitsch about them, in retrospect …

LAPL Photo Collection/ Herald-Examiner Collection

LAPL Photo Collection/ Herald-Examiner Collection

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