Dear Shaded Viewers,
A few weeks ago I was having a stressful time in NYC so I decided to cash in some of my frequent flier miles (thanks to all those trips to Rio) and jet out to LA. I met up with my longtime pal Michael Schmidt and we drove out–in Schmidt's attention-grabbing '71 Camaro no less–to Palm Springs for a relaxing stay at the Ace Hotel. The crowd there is the perfect mix of hedonistic fags, straight hipsters, Hollywood celebrities and rock 'n' roll misfits. (I would never stay somewhere that is exclusively gay as I detest gay-separatist resort life).
Our suite at the Ace had an upscale camp-out feel to it, kind of like one of the tents in M*A*S*H but with modern conveniences and thicker walls (and sans Alan Alda's ego). My supremely comfortable bed (above) had a canvas bedspread (screen-printed by the Malibu fashion house Free City) and a cushiony denim-covered headboard. The furniture is from thrift stores or made by local artisans. We had a private patio that looked out over the pool.
The Ace is a re-imagined Howard Johnson's from 1966 that had sat derelict for years by the '00s. Designed by the LA design firm Commune, the Ace retains a bit of that middle-brow '60s motel charm but updated with haute-bohemian quirkiness. (Funny enough, one of Commune's partners, Roman Alonso, was the guy who introduced me to uber-paparazzo Ron Galella back in the early '00s.) I wasn't surprised to learn that Commune designs Juicy Couture's stores, judging from the costume-jewelry'd stuffed animals in their Madison Avenue flagship.
Breakfast by the pool with Michael…me waiting for my ricotta hot cakes. The great thing about the food at the Ace is that almost everything is made from fresh, local ingredients (including their kick-ass margaritas). The Stumptown latte was the best coffee I've ever had. (At this point you're probably all assuming that I'm gushing about the hotel because you think this was a press junket. It wasn't–it was a private holiday. Shocking, I know.)
That night we met up with our pal Howie Pyro for dinner at the Ace's King's Highway Diner (an old Denny's re-imagined along the same lines as the rest of the hotel.) Howie, who now lives in LA, was in town for his weekly DJ gig in the hotel's Amigo Room. Howie is a rock 'n' roll legend (he knew Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen in the '70s) and used to be in a NYC band called D-Generation along with Jesse Malin. Howie and Jesse used to live in the NYC apartment right next to mine back in the early '90s. Howie and I used to have music wars (don't ask me why, I guess we were underemployed and bored) where I would blast Donna Summer at 9am and he would blast the New York Dolls at 1am. Good times.
Of course the best part of dinner was when the restaurant's hostess, Linda Fabulous, unexpectedly broke into a spine-tingling, a capella rendition of "Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley." How could anyone not love this place?
Michael & I
Howie spun 45s of of '50s-'70s rock 'n' roll, rockabilly & r&b for his set. The music was perfect for the mood of the hotel's decor.
Sunset by the pool during happy hour…..
The next day Michael and I took a drive out to Joshua Tree….I was mesmerized by the windmills.
Because of the higher elevation and the perfect sunny weather (the desert is not too hot yet this time of year), I felt like I was on sedatives while I was there. I was bit disappointed that I didn't see any tarantulas, scorpions or rattlesnakes, though.
Back in Palm Springs, Michael & I stopped by the Botanical Gardens. We were amused by this plant that reminded us of meteor-shower-borne man-eating plants in the film "Day of the Triffids."