Purple Room to re-open Oct. 24

The Purple Room in the Club Trinidad Resort re-opens Oct. 24


Is purple the new orange in Palm Springs?

Earlier this week, the Hard Rock Palm Springs was given the go ahead to paint the porte cochere — the pyramid-topped structure where cars pull up to unload passengers and luggage — in front of the building the same lively aubergine hue seen in other parts of the building.

And now the Purple Room at the Club Trinidad Resort is re-opening with a new look and new management now that’s its under the very successful (and very orange) umbrella of the guys behind the restaurant Trio. Tony Marchese will be operating the Purple Room with his Trio partner Mark Van Laanen.

The Purple Room at the Club Trinidad in south Palm Springs is not going to change colors, but it will have a new look when it opens Oct. 24. Club Trinidad Resort was built in 1960 when the Purple Room first opened its doors. The still-popular venue is
considered to be one of Palm Springs’ original Rat Pack hangouts, where Frank Sinatra brought his friends to eat, drink and play. The Purple Room re-opens with its pedigree legacy in mind, featuring swanky updated décor, an enlarged performance stage, and state-of-the-art sound, say operators in  a press release.

“This place has such a colorful history, and our goal is to provide top quality entertainment six nights a week,” Marchese said in a statement.

For foodies, the Purple Room will offer an $18 nightly dinner special from 3–6 p.m., $3 well, $5 call and $8 premium drinks during Happy Hour and half-price small plates.

“We will be featuring an amazing cocktail menu,”  said Marchese.

“Friday and Saturday food will be available until 2 a.m.,” Van Laanen added in a statement. “Our Continental menu will have a mix of everything from deviled eggs and Sloppy Joe sliders to fresh seafood and steaks. We’ll have delicious options for every palate.”

“We promise there will always be an exciting energy in the room, whether we have a DJ or a live act,” said Marchese.

Gary and Joan Gand, of the popular local musical act The Gand Band, will be part of the venue’s music team.

“Teaming up with Tony and Mark is a dream come true,” Gary Gand said in a statement. “Desert hipsters, you’ve been notified.”



Covered California, new state ACA exchange, announces more than 28,000 enrollees in first week

Covered California, the state’s new insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, fielded 43,616 applications in its first week, with 28,699 people determined eligible for insurance, according to numbers the agency announced Tuesday.

The website, which has had some struggles with long wait times and glitches but has undergone periods of maintenance that allowed it to run smoother, received 987,440 unique visits, and the agency also had 59,003 calls. Customer service operators were flooded with calls within the first few days, with wait times exceeding 30 minutes.The average wait time for the first week was 15 minutes.

“We’ve started strong,” Executive Director Peter Lee said in a statement. “The amount of interest and number of applications we’ve received in the first week underscores the demand among Californians for quality, affordable health care.”

The open enrollment period for 2014 Covered California insurance kicked off Oct. 1 and will end March 31.

In Riverside County the agency is offering plans through Anthem, Blue Shield, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and Molina Healthcare. They will all include core ACA-mandated benefits that had previously been ignored in many plans such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs and maternity care, as well as offering coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. Presented in tiers ranging from platinum to bronze, the coverage will use a standardized-benefits system that will set out-of-pocket costs.

Covered California is also offering subsidies for the plans through federal funding for those living between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, $11,490 for an individual. About 2.6 million Californians are eligible for subsidies, including 341,000 in Riverside-San Bernardino county region.

The agency hopes to bring in some of the estimated 5.3 million uninsured Californians through the changes. Prior to the exchange’s open, it had announced that it hoped to enroll between 487,000 and 696,000 subsidy-eligible people by the end of the first enrollment period.

“It’s just the beginning, but these numbers are truly exciting and encouraging,” Lee added.

In the Coachella Valley Desert Healthcare District and the California Endowment have formed a partnership and committed $500,000 and up to $650,000 on ACA insurance education and enrollment, in conjunction with the efforts of local organizations and federally qualified health centers.

People can apply for the insurance plans at apply.coveredca.com, which includes a built-in application for the ACA expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s welfare program for the low-income, for those living under 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

CIF sports more popular than ever

High school sports in California are the most popular they have ever been, according to a news release from the CIF that was sent out Tuesday.

It’s not a big increase since the last survey in 2012 — just .08 percent — but it does mean high school sports are as popular as ever.

This year’s survey of the 1,527 schools in the CIF found that 748,474 student athletes are competing in California high school athletic programs. No surprise, football is the biggest sport with 102,505 participants followed by boys track and field with 55,221. Soccer, basketball and baseball round out the top five for the boys.

For the girls, the most popular sport is track and field with 44,200 athletes, followed by soccer with 43,282 players. Volleyball, basketball and softball finish out the top five for the girls.

A few sports saw notable increases across both genders. Water polo saw the largest jump, a combined 2.8 percent, followed by cross country with a 1.9-percent increase. Track and field also increased in participation by 1.4 percent.

One sport had a noticeable drop in athletes: Girls basketball saw a dip in participation of 4.9 percent.

Boy Scouts on defensive over endangered plant

Biologist Andrea Edwards inspects a Dudley's lousewort along a trail at the Boy Scouts' Camp Pico Blanco south of Carmel, Calif. The Boy Scouts have cut down old-growth trees at the camp and trampled specimens of the rare plant. Erik Verduzco, Center for Investigative Reporting

Biologist Andrea Edwards inspects a Dudley's lousewort along a trail at the Boy Scouts' Camp Pico Blanco south of Carmel, Calif. The Boy Scouts have cut down old-growth trees at the camp and trampled specimens of the rare plant. Erik Verduzco, Center for Investigative Reporting

The Boy Scouts intolerance toward gays may be the most high-profile controversy involving the organization, but it isn’t the only one.

In California, “the organization also has compiled a poor record on environmental protection,” according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The latest brouhaha in the Golden State centers around Dudley’s lousewort, an endangered flowering plant that grows in Camp Pico Blanco, a Boy Scout camp south of Monterey, Calif.

Kim Kuska, who has been expelled from the Boy Scouts, has a passion for the plant. Now the former biology teacher finds himself banned from the camp because of his efforts to save the plant.

“Kuska says he was kicked out for being a whistle-blower and exposing the Scouts’ environmental transgressions,” according to CIR.

That’s not all. The Boy Scouts also have been accused of clear-cutting forestland across the country, operating a dam that killed steelhead trout and cutting down trees in an old-growth forest without a permit, CIR found in its investigation.

For it’s part, the Boy Scouts acknowledge that “there have been some well-documented concerns,” according to CIR. They told CIR they are creating an environmental management plan for the camp.

Mamie Van Doren gives shout-out to Palm Springs gays, reprises memoir

Actress and author Mamie Van Doren greets her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Submitted photo

Mamie Van Doren, who first made hearts race as a sex symbol in the 1950s, was given the ultimate stamp of approval for her latest project.

On the cover of her recently revised book, “Playing the Field: Sex, Stardom, Love, and Life in Hollywood,” is a compliment from legendary Playboy publisher and barometer for bombshell status Hugh Hefner.

“The cover of your autobiography is gorgeous,” Hef writes about the image of Van Doren wearing a clingy gold gown on a crimson background.

Van Doren added photos and other content for the recent incarnation, after a publisher who considered the original manuscript too risqué white-washed it. While there are plenty of anecdotes to qualify the tome as a kiss-and-tell, she says it has more merit than that.

“I’ve had a very good response to it,” Van Doren adds. “I just wanted to share what it was like in the ’50s and growing up in the ‘30s and ’40s.”

Van Doren with movie star Clark Gable. Submitted photo

A significant part of the story takes place in Palm Springs, where Van Doren was discovered by Howard Hughes as a 16-year-old contestant in a beauty pageant. She returns to the desert city Saturday, May 11, to meet fans and sign copies of her book at Just Fabulous in uptown (See details below). She recently discussed with Desert Outlook her thoughts on being a member of the goddess trilogy, an intriguing same-sex crush, and aging sexily.

How did you end up in Palm Springs at age 16?
My mom and I would go out there and we’d stay in a place called The Montecito. They had bungalows in those days — beautiful place. It had trees and a beautiful pool. There was the Miss Palm Springs contest coming up. I was asked to be in it. I really don’t want to, but my mother insisted. I didn’t dare not to. I was scared, even to be in a bathing suit. I was very shy in those days.
The contest was at the Chi Chi. Desi Arnaz was starring there. After he was through, we went on the stage, one at a time. It was a very big deal. The place was just packed. And I won. I didn’t realize that Mr. (Howard) Hughes happened to be in the audience, and he saw me. He owned RKO at that time. I got a call from RKO that he wanted to work with me. I did five movies with him.

You’re often mentioned as a part of the trilogy, in the company of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Did you know either of them?
I knew both of them quite well. Marilyn and I had the same acting coach for awhile. I did a movie with Jayne Mansfield. Her daughter, Mariska Hargitay, has called me and kind of wanted to know about her mother. That was very touching.
We were friends. Everybody tried to say that we didn’t like each other. That wasn’t the case at all. There was room for everybody in the business.

What’s your philosophy or approach to life?
I’ve become a Buddhist and it’s helped me considerably. Just one day at a time. I don’t look ahead that much. I don’t dwell on anything. I look after my health. I never did smoke. That’s very helpful.

What are the best and worst things about aging as a sex symbol?
There’s a lot of discrimination toward older people. Everybody puts people down after they get a certain age. When I was real young, I would notice that and I would say I would never do that. My mother lived to be in her mid-80s. She was very beautiful up to her last moment.
I try and survive and ignore the people who are that way. I stay away from badness. There’s a lot of that around. People today are not as kind as they used to be. I really miss that.

You’re very forthcoming in your recollections about Hollywood and your lovers. Is there anything in the book you had second thoughts about including?
No … Everything I said, I’m not sorry I said. It’s all true. It’s my life. I’ve been dedicating my life to entertainment, making (people) happy and making them feel good. That’s the journey that was chosen for me, I guess.

What prompted you to paraphrase one of your famous quotes: “It is possible that gentlemen also prefer gentlemen”?
It’s too good to deny. In my mind at that time, God only knows. … I could’ve been a lesbian, I think. I had a chance to enjoy Coco Chanel. I look at myself and say “Why did I turn that down?” She could’ve learned something from me. She adored me.

Van Doren with Palm Springs resident and entertainer Bob Hope. Submitted photo

You’ve been with your husband, Thomas Dixon, for a long time. For everyone looking for a good partner, what advice do you have?
We met in 1974 and we’ve hung out together ever since. It’s been a long time. Thomas came to me at the time I least expected. We were just friends. All of the sudden it blossomed into a relationship and then we got married. It’s hard to, say, look for someone. It’s very difficult to find him when you’re very young. It takes time. It took me until I was in my early 40s until I found the right one. I went through four marriages.

What’s your proudest professional achievement?
I never really stopped to think of it. Writing is the hardest because it’s tedious. It’s very fulfilling because sometimes when I can’t say things, I’ll write it. Acting, if I have the right person to work with, it’s great. I love working with the right people and getting the most out of it. I was lucky to have the experience of working with the best. And I’ve worked with the worst. I’ve had good coaching in my life. I’ve always had a nose for keeping myself out of trouble and meeting the right people. That’s really important in your life. People seem to get tangled up with the wrong *&^@#. You’ve got to be really smart to know who your friends really are. They’re far and few between. You really can’t trust anyone anymore.

What’s your fondest memory of your time in Palm Springs?
I got my star on your Walk of Stars there. It’s right next to Marilyn Monroe’s. It’s between Marilyn’s and Marlene Dietrich’s.
I always think of my mom when I’m there. It’s very nostalgic. I think about the Racquet Club and Howard Hughes. Palm Springs really hasn’t changed. It’s the same trees, the same everything. The people have changed. Luckily, a lot of gays are living there and they’ve made it look nice. It was deteriorating for awhile there.

What’s next for you?
I just finished a TV pilot. It’s called “Sawdust.” It’s about the circus and what it was like in the 1930s. … I’m the owner of a circus. The leading man would be Bob Mitchum’s son, Chris Mitchum.


WHAT: Mamie Van Doren book signing

WHEN: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 11

WHERE: Just Fabulous, 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

INFO: www.bjustfabulous.com


Farm for sale

Farm, the new French-inspired bistro in downtown Palm Springs, is for sale.

Yes, it just opened.

So why is Farm — the uber-cute and decidedly demur little French bistro in downtown Palm Springs — already for sale? BizBuySell, which is listing the restaurant at $395,000, simply listed “other business interest” as the reason for selling.

But lets hope the place stays open as a charming little find that’s sort of off the beaten path in the historic La Plaza shopping area off of Palm Canyon Drive. Farm serves up simple delicious stuff like French pressed coffee, omelets, croque-monsieurs and salads in rustic charm.

Yes, wondering down the little path past the Enchanted Garden Wedding Chapel, to a garden wall that I can’t recall having an actual sign displayed starts to feel a little like Provence, which is part of what makes this place such a cool find. In only a couple of months it has already racked beaucoup comments on TripAdvisor and Yelp, nearly all of them fawning.

“Overall, this restaurant is a ‘must do’ when looking for a high quality place for breakfast/lunch in downtown Palm Springs,” wrote one reviewer going by the name mmmfoodie. “It is planned to be open for dinner sometime in the near future and I hope I am one of the first patrons.”


Health care, health costs biggest retirement fears

Health problems and its costs are now the biggest retirement-related fears for Americans, according to a new retirement study by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave.

The results were gathered from a national survey of more than 6,300 people age 45 and older with questions on finances, medical care, home and community and more.

Serious health problems were named the biggest worry by 72 percent of respondents, followed by not being a burden on the family, running out of money to live comfortably, being lonely, not having a purpose, and having nothing to leave behind to family in their will.

The survey also found that 57 percent of retirees had retired earlier than they had expected. The primary reason for early retirement was not because of financial comfort, but instead, health problems.

Health care costs were ranked as the top financial worry, even more so among those with a higher income. Of those who make more than $250,000, 52 percent named health care expenses. Though it was still the biggest retirement concern for those who made less than that, 37 percent of them listed it as their top concern.

Only one in nine pre-retirees were “completely confident” in their ability to fund their retirement health care.

Retirees and pre-retirees over the age of 45 are worried about the future of government programs like Medicare, as well as the declining number of large companies offering health benefits to retirees, according to the Merrill Lynch report outlining the study.

Respondents put the most weight on health care advice, with 75 percent saying that, aside from “core financial advice,” it would be most valuable.

About 60 percent of the Coachella Valley’s residents fall into this age bracket of 45, with the largest group aged 65 or older, the 2010 Health Assessment Resource Center survey showed.

Do you worry about health problems or health care expenses after retirement? What are your thoughts on the survey results? Email me at Victoria.pelham@thedesertsun.com.

Teachers protest outside Desert Sands negotiations

While negotiators met inside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday, a small group of teachers gathered outside to protest a stalemate between the union and the district.

More than 200 teachers and supporters, each holding protest signs, lined the road outside the district office, said Mona Davidson, president of the Desert Sands Teachers Association. The union encouraged teachers to show their support outside the office after the school day was over, Davidson explained.

Teachers protest outside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday. Photos provided by Desert Sands Teachers Association.

Teachers protest outside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday. Photos provided by Desert Sands Teachers Association.

Teachers protest outside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday. Photos provided by Desert Sands Teachers Association.

Teachers protest outside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday. Photos provided by Desert Sands Teachers Association.

Here is what each protest sign said:

Respect teachers

Students first

Settle now!

Despite the signs, the district that the negotiation stalemate has nothing to do with a lack of respect.

During a previous interview, Sherry Johnstone, assistant superintendent for personnel, said the district is struggling through some of “the most difficult economic times any of us have ever seen.” Education funding has dropped year after year, she said.

“DSTA has called into question DSUSD’s ‘priorities,” Johnston wrote in an e-mail. “To be clear, students are first always, with their safety and education at the very top of the list.  DSUSD teachers are the best in the world!  We hold them in high regard.  We respect them, their professionalism and dedication to our children and families.”

The protest came on the same day that The Desert Sun published a front-page story about how the prolonged negotiations are impacting at least one local high school. In response to the stalemate, a majority of the teachers at Palm Desert High School have agreed to work to contract, which means to only perform the duties they are contractually obligated to do, and to boycott the school’s graduation. Teachers normally help supervise students during graduation.

The union negotiations have reached a stalemate due to a dispute over how much money the district will pay each teacher in response to the passage of Proposition 30, which California voters passed last year to stabilize education funding. Since the passage of the proposition, the district has offered to increase compensation by about $600 for each the 1,200 teachers in the union. The union wants that figure to increase to $1,000 per teacher.


The Battle for Sept. 14 for Timothy Bradley, Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez

After Floyd Mayweather’s clinical victory over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on Saturday night, the focus now turns to when Mayweather’s next fight will be. Mayweather said he intends to fight on Sept. 14. With the close turn-around time, that’s a stretch for Mayweather, who fights infrequently. Also making it unlikely he’ll fight on Sept. 14 is a hand injury. Mayweather got X-rays, but there’s no word on the extent of the injury.

Already scheduled for Sept. 14 is Cathedral City’s Timothy Bradley defending his WBO welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez, who is trying to become the first boxer from Mexico to win world titles in five different weight classes. It will be a good pay-per-view fight. But promoter Bob Arum saidin online reports that  if Mayweather really does fight on Sept. 14, he would move Bradley-Marquez.

But after Saturday’s fight, should Bradley-Marquez move off that date? Mayweather earned a lopsided victory, and there’s not many boxers in the Golden Boy stables who figure to give Mayweather a challenge. There’s only one that people want to see and that’s Mayweather-Alvarez. Unlikely Mayweather would take on the big fighter. After that, there’s not many boxers who can make a Mayweather fight more intriguing than Bradley-Marquez. Amir Khan, who is fresh off his narrow victory over Coachella’s Julio Diaz, could a good fight to market, but it seems like a waste of the Mexican Independence Day weekend.

Things should shake out in the coming days to see where Floyd goes, and if Bradley-Marquez will stay on Sept. 14 or go.

WestJet flights authorized to have fewer attendants

WestJet, the Canadian airline, has been granted an exemption by Canadian air officials to fly with fewer attendants.


WestJet flights may be a little less crowded. Though the extra room will probably be because of fewer crew members, not passengers.

WestJet today confirmed it has received an exemption from Transport Canada to the requirement for one flight attendant for every 40 passengers on board. The exemption, which is effective immediately, allows for one flight attendant for every 50 seats on board the aircraft.

“One flight attendant for every 50 seats is the accepted international practice and has been in place for decades around the world, said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO, in a statement. “This exemption will place us on a level regulatory playing field with U.S. and international carriers who fly in and out of Canada every day under these rules. Safety is a core value at WestJet and we commend the government for recognizing that there is a consistent level of safety operating under this ratio.”

WestJet is the popular — and profitable — Canadian airline flying daily flights into and out of Palm Springs International Airport to cities like Calgary and Vancouver.