Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wind Storm

Our adventures traveling on Christmas didn't stop with the gas-starved zombies of Grapevine. After escaping a wild rainstorm driving east on Interstate 10, Palm Springs felt like a perfect oasis, calm and mostly dry, though my partner was thoroughly shaken after driving for ten straight hours in hellish conditions.

I offered to treat him to a fancy Italian Christmas dinner, so we walked four blocks through our downtown neighborhood, and were eating delicious appetizers when a wind storm suddenly arrived and knocked the power out, closing the restaurant. We ran back to the condo, dodging palm fronds, trees, and sections of carports sailing through the air while marveling at the star-studded sky which was blessedly free of ambient light.

Most of the housing in the "historic tennis club" neighborhood consists of single-story homes and small hotels, but a faux Olde Spanish Days monstrosity was built in 2005 over most of a block by the local real estate developers Wessman Gonzales. It's called "St. Baristo," which is not the name of an actual saint. but the Santa Barbara style "signature appointed attached villas" are on Baristo Road, so they must have thought, "why the hell not?"

The multi-story units must be impossible to cool off in the summer and the 38 units don't seem to have attracted many buyers at their approximately $1 million price since the place always looks empty. It will be interesting watching how the development fares during the current economic wind storm.


zoo said...

man, that sounds like a terrible xmas, i hate 5, it's such a dumb highway, thank good for the CA tgv that's coming in 20 years!!lol! greetings from boring texas! happy 2009!!!
xau xau

affinity said...

I am surprised the wind was so bad in the middle of town, especially nestled so close to the mountains. I spent a lot of time from 2nd grade until high school (when I REALLY discovered boys) at the Palm Springs Community Church, which I believe is no longer there, at around Baristo, between Tahquitz and Ramon.

I loved the neighborhood because it felt so protective. We used to sneak up on the mountain and make out and we could see some of the lights.

There was a Robinson's on the corner where we turned to go to church and Palm Canyon, one of the few places in town with an elevator and we would go ride it for the thrill.

So I found St. Baristo kind of sad. Sad for them that even the old meanie real estate developer is failing, and that the Palm Springs I remember has changed so.

Thanks for your wonderful blog and letting me reminisce, and it seems like we might have to meet one day.

sfmike said...

Dear affinity: The Palm Springs Community Church building is still in the same spot across from the St. Baristo development, though it no longer seems to be used as a church. The developers slapped a bunch of St. Baristo signage all over the building, making it look like a faux Catholic church, but all of that has come down over the last year. The cool modernist building that used to be Robinsons is also still at the corner of Baristo and Palm Canyon, though it's now called The Alley and sells Pier One kind of imports. In truth, Palm Springs has probably changed a lot less than most other places in California over the last 30 years, particularly compared to the rest of the Coachella Valley with its rampant development.

Dear Pedro: The Christmas adventure wasn't all that bad. At least we weren't in Texas. See you soon.

Anonymous said...

I guess Baristo is the patron saint of real estate development? Looks like they shoulda sent a few prayers to St. Jude, the granter of impossible wishes.

When I railroaded in Indio and the Imperial Valley, early 1966, there were occasional bad windstorms--one time US 80 between San Diego and El Centro was closed because visibility was zero. Even after the wind died down a little, standing on the roof of a boxcar, giving arm signals to the engineer as we threaded our way among produce packing sheds, was nasty work.

pjwv said...

I think St Baristo would be the patron saint of Starbucks, and therefore by extension of all overdevelopment.

Peace and love in the new year, Patrick

sfmike said...

Dear rootlesscosmo and Patrick: Thanks for getting the dark joke, and of course Saint Starbucks Baristo is the perfect new name for the Saint of Conspicuous Consumption.