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FRANCES ALLEN – Desert Roundup – 09/28/12

It was the party of the year, and the 2012/2013 social calendar hasn’t even begun. But leave it to hostess Helene Galen to get a jump on the season and on any competition as the Desert’s new social arbiter as she celebrated the birthday of her partner, the debonair Jamie Kabler, co-founder of the Hollywood Cookie Diet.

Guests were led to a red carpet by tuxedoed valet parkers, there to be greeted by Helene and her co-hostess, a bubbling Charo.

Once inside, as if levitated on magnets, guests made their way to the signature feature of a Galen party: a huge tub of caviar and chilled champagne. From our vantage post near the toast points we observed members of the Desert “A-List” pass by in impressive numbers, including Kevin Parker of David Webb, jeweler to the stars as well as the Desert; Angie and Harvey Gerber; infomercial creators Gregg and Stacey Renker; Arturo Montes, a Desert top chef; Bart Ketover, MD; Betty and Alex Hagen, owners of the Empire Polo Grounds, venue for the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals; socialite Renee Kumitz; Harold Matzner; head executive of the Palm Springs Art Museum; Steve and Carol Nash; Madeline Redstone; Marilyn and a very spry Monty Hall; and, the forever beautiful (and Beverly High graduate) Rhonda Fleming with hubby Darol Carlson.

And multiple best wishes to the birthday boy who, after celebrating one special day, was off to Connecticut and the Annenberg estate for the wedding of his daughter, who also just happens to be the granddaughter of Lee Annenberg.


Picture this: It’s a formal dinner party in Beverly Hills. The good silver is set, the crystal sparkling and the kids are eating in the kitchen with their nanny. Among the guests is the hostess’ uncle who is visiting from out-of-town. He’s not close to the family – in fact he lives about 200 miles to the southeast – but since in the area, he was invited to dinner.

Everything went fine during cocktails hour, but as the guests made their way into the dining room, noses began to twitch as a malodorous odor spread throughout the room.

This scenario, while fictitious, is analogous to what did happen about two weeks ago as a result of what has become known as the “Big Stink,” when putrid odors from the Desert’s Salton Sea, propelled by a strong southerly wind, blanketed Southern California, prompting 911-calls in Los Angeles County and discomforting residents as far away as the Simi Valley.

While not a sea, with a surface area of 381-square miles, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, with an average depth of 31 feet. But the Salton Sea has a big problem, and it’s not flatulence, it’s salt.

Because the sea has no outlet, water is lost only through evaporation, leaving behind dissolved salts and gradually raising salinity of this ‘fresh water lake’ to where it is now about 25 per cent higher than ocean water.

Several plans have been tendered over the years to re-mediate the Salton Sea and keep it from chocking to death on sale. The difficulty with these plans is that they were too expensive when proposed years ago, and less affordable now, with governmental agencies looking for ways to increase revenues, not spend them.

Why does this impact you? For years experts have warned that not only such smells but toxic dust will become the norm if nothing is done to save the now-dying Salton Sea. So beware of the next powerful wind; no matter where you live in Southern California the odoriferous smells of the Salton Sea may crash your dinner party.


If it were only as simple as a name change; that’s what the promoters of the newly renamed Interfusion Music Summit and Cathedral City hope for this year’s reprise of last year’s Independent Music Summit. However, regardless of its success, the music artists who reside in Cathedral City get a good deal.

The summit is not so much a music festival as it is a four-day chance for behind-the-scenes workers such as engineers, DJ’s and arrangers as well as artists to network and learn. Here they will not get to see performances by big-name bands or recording artists, but they will have the opportunity interacting with other artists on the rise as well as attending their live performances.

The Cathedral City gave the promoters of the Summit $20,000 to help underwrite the event with one of the stipulations being that its residents with proof of residency can attend all events for free; for others, an all-access, four-day pass costs $149, per person.

The Oct. 4-7 event will be held at various places in Cathedral City with live performances at DiGS Night Club and at the Quality Inn, which is the host hotel.


It has finally sunk in: El Paseo is to the Desert what Rodeo Drive is to Beverly Hills, and more of the Southland’s up-scale establishments have gotten the message and are running with it … straight to a spot on El Paseo in Palm Desert.

Mastro’s, the high-end steak and seafood restaurant that is one of Canon Drive’s favorite eateries, has had a lease on El Paseo restaurant space since 2007, but didn’t want to build it out until now, citing the poor economy as the reason.

Mastro’s has felt a sea-change, and the restaurant, with 150 new jobs, is now set for opening Nov. 2.

Also coming to El Paseo is a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant that is in its final construction stage.

Of course, a meal at one of these fine restaurants means you have to look your best. No problem; for that last minute hair and facial fix internationally-known Just Blow Drys (sic) and Wink Lash & Beauty Bar are putting out the welcome mat on El Paseo as well.


You may not have noticed, but the Coachella Valley is rapidly becoming the festival capital of the world. There is the granddaddy of then all, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and its several smaller, more genre-focused spawn; the separate art festivals in Indio, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta; the date, tamale and chili festivals in Indio; and various other smaller events, none of them having to do with golf. If this isn’t enough, there are reports the city of Indio is considering hosting 3 new festivals next year for Cinco de Mayo, 4th of July and a Latino music and arts.

So it should come as no surprise that Palm Springs is having a festival to celebrate the month of October.

Generally known as Oktoberfest, the event began in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildurghausen. The celebrations lasted about a week, (or until the beer kegs went dry), and concluded with a horse race.

The festival and the dates on which it is held have changed over the years, but one tradition has stayed true: the last weekend of Oktoberfest always fell on a date in October.

In keeping with tradition, Palm Springs’ Oktoberfest has been announced from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 13, and will feature a European-style festival showcasing more than 40 food, wine and beer tasting booths. There will also be live entertainment on two stages with music ranging from polka to jazz to contemporary rock. The only Oktoberfest of its type in the Inland Empire, vendors and entertainers will wear Lederhosen and traditional Bavarian costumes to complete the festive atmosphere.

The festival will be held in the center of Palm Springs, at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way in the park adjacent to the spectacular 26-foot tall “Forever Marilyn” sculpture.

Like most any event in the Desert, proceeds go to local non-profits, in this case CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Les Dames d’Escoffier (a provider of scholarships for female chefs) and the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.

This is a ticketed event and more information is available at 760-320-5272.


If you think the Flying Doctors is just an Australian TV series, you’re lucky. For many financially strapped individuals and families in California and Central and South America, the Flying Doctors, or Los Médicos Voladores (LMV), as they prefer to be called, are a primary source of healthcare.

The Flying Doctors is a 100 percent volunteer-based, non-religious, nonprofit organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of geographically diverse people through education and the provision of no-cost, high-quality medical, dental and optometric clinics.

Serving Mexico, Central and South America as well as the migrant labor populations of southeastern California, LMV has offered more than 250 short-term medical, dental, optometry and other healthcare clinics, treating over 7,000 patients per year.

Business has been good–and for the Flying Doctors, that’s bad. Twice a year, for the past 17 years, the Flying Doctors hascome to the Coachella Valley, the organization’s largest stop in the U.S., to attend to the needs of persons, primarily farm laborers and their families, from the seldom-heard-about Coachella Valley towns of Thermal, Mecca and Oasis. Here, according to a local Healthcare Initiative Report, there is only 1 doctor for every 9,000 residents when the ideal ratio is 1 per 2,000.

Last spring, about 1,500 people were treated by LMV in a single day, and a similar amount is expected at the Flying Doctors’ clinic to be held in Thermal next month.

As a result of the demand, LMV has opened a local chapter in the Desert, and whether you are a pilot, a doctor, a nurse, dentist or other healthcare provider or in need of assistance, Los Médicos Voladores can provide you with more information at 760-392-0094.

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