Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield...as in Palm Springs afield.
Our little home away from home.
Last week we were in Palm Springs for my birthday. The stars aligned and our BFF Barbara gave us her house and we got seats on the once-a-week direct flight.
Our pad is called “Casablanca." One NYC acquaintance came by for a drink and insinuated the name was jokey.
A good Oscar is a great accessory.
Then he saw the Best Picture Oscar for Casablanca
on a bookshelf and suddenly was happily hashtagging #casablanca on Instagram.
The bar for holiday discourse was set pretty low (note spelling).
The house is wonderfully laid out, with all the bedrooms opening directly onto the pool courtyard. It’s decorated with things from her parents' houses (Billy Haines and Maison Jansen), from her pre M (Group) days (Jay Spectre and Fanny Brice), until we got in there, added M (Group) stuff, and stirred it all up.
So this month, here are a few of our favorite things out in the desert. Rural Intelligence
likes me to focus locally, but my eye wanders globally. And so many people are visiting Palm Springs these days. This blog is my new advice package.
A piece of unsolicited advice: Don’t ask your “knowledgeable" friend — me — for travel suggestions, then ignore all the ideas and complain later about places I never suggested.
Would you buy a used car from this man?
Do not compound the issue with the (stupid) line, “The concierge at The Parker said blah blahblah…" Listen to a concierge and you get what you deserve. The Parker ain’t the Ritz.
SITES TO SEE and PLACES TO SHOP
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Okay, this idea was a winner. Since we had a Palm Springs neophyte, I thought we’d take the tram up to the top of the mountain. Fun tourist thing — we did it many, many moons ago. It’s so close to the house and so novel, what’s not to love? And the views must be spectacular... 8,500 feet up.
The happy crew, $100 lighter (huh?) in our $27 (huh?) pre-departure photo op.
Eleven minutes doesn’t sound like a long time. This is a treat, right? Fun? Well, on that effing tram, 11 minutes becomes an eternity. A mile-and-a-half up, it sways and swerves towards staggering huge granite walls.
OMG. We are gonna die....
And the interior cab revolves as it rises, adding an extra level of disorientation and terror. By minute five our guest was semi-fetal, clutching a pole with his hat pulled down and his eyes closed. I spent my 11 minutes watching him with barely disguised glee. He has now officially been punished for (almost) all past transgressions.
Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall
Okay, it’s an outlet mall. But it is 20 minutes from our house and it’s a California “premium" outlet mall. Big, clean and easy to navigate. You must follow these simple directions. ALWAYS and ONLY get there by 10:30 a.m. (opens at 9 for holidays and 10 normally) and you will be walking out at noon, against a growing wave of Pacific Rim shoppers. Until noon, you own the place. After noon — horrors...
Yea! A welcome new addition to the outlet lineup. Power walk the circuit.
We are in and out of places fast. Etro, LoroPiana, Tse, Tods, Barney’s (good socks). Drop off those bags in car trunk and continue to St Laurent, Gucci, Brunello Cucinelli, Clarks, J Crew, Bose — on and on.
The Galleria on Palm Canyon
The best shops in a great building. Our friend Jim and his tenants are the smartest things in town. Art, antiques, books, vintage clothes.
Me and my book party window. I was so proud! And they’ve flogged over a 100 copies — my retail heroes.
Here are Hermes and our hostess admiring the STUFF window The Galleria did for a book party. They got the Book Promotion Award.
I love this. LOVE. From Bon Vivant.
We always buy something here. That statement in itself should get you in the door. Last trip, I got a fab little bronze Chihuahua ashtray by John Foster. It was so good my hostess guilted me into giving it to her. A year later she relented and gave it back to me for my birthday. Great prices and Patrick and James are nice guys.
Cardenas Grocery Store
Mexican Coke with real sugar...the best.
A recent discovery: A huge Mexican grocery store. I hate food shopping and I love this place. Such nice staff — when I asked for bunuelos the lovely lady ‘splained how it would be very easy to make my own. She was so pretty and sweet I didn’t even laugh.
We now do all our grocery shopping here. There is so much to see (A tortilla factory! The pinata department! The Mexican Village façade in produce!) that I stay out of Hermes’ hair.
I become one of those “unattended children" running around. Or I just stand there watching the show, dumbfounded, which is what I got “looks" for last time. El Jefe says he keeps waiting to hear his name over the PA system, calling him to Lost and Found.
Fine and not so fine. But fun
El Mirasol Norte at the Los Arboles Hotel
El Mirasol South , aka El Queerasol — very Palm Springs.
Palm Springs shows up. They say. We never see anyone. Pretty lame food (sorry! but it is) but it scratches our Mexican food itch. Go to the Norte. Eat outside. (Once our friend Carl was Suzanne Summers’ houseguest. They showed up at El Mirasol South with Merv Griffin, Neil Sedaka, Dianna Ross and Cher. He said that was one stunned restaurant.)
Ace Hotel Coffee Shop
We like this place. Good food, good menu (not too long) and there always seems to be a table. The motel is very snappy — fun, sophisticated design.
Sherman’s Deli and Bakery
We resisted the Ace (trendy and young) then embraced it (trendy and young).
Last Saturday, as we were leaving for the airport and passed Sherman’s, Hermes said, “My only regret this trip was not having German chocolate cake." As regrets go....
That cake is sick. And not good sick. Just sick. Sweet and huge. We always share a slice. It’s one of his only bad habits.
We’ve seen this gentleman at Sherman’s. Festive or frightening? A fine line.
Before that cake we share the enormous chopped salad. We aren’t the sharing food type, “Are you kidding? It’s mine. Order your own dessert." But you’re nuts not to share at Sherman’s.
So, some ideas. Pick a place with a good pool and you won’t really want to do much anyway. We have a good time in the Coachella Valley and return East with complete desert burnout, probably with lower blood pressure, but definitely a bit dumber. Works for me.