Have you ever seen Palm Springs’ Plaza Theatre downtown, or been inside? The 1936 theater has been closed since 2014. But a “Save the Plaza Theatre” campaign is close enough to its $16 million goal that construction bids may go out next month for a renovation that will allow the theater to reopen. I got a tour for my Sunday column.
A short backstory: I’d noticed the theater on my two previous visits and followed the campaign online from afar. Before my visit earlier this month, I looked for updates, saw that things had really picked up steam and thought the timing would be better for a column. My thinking was that surely some of my readers, especially in Riverside County, would know the theater. So I emailed the campaign to gauge the interest in coverage by the Press-Enterprise (etc.) and got an affirmative reply within an hour.
This is the first time I’d set up an interview in the Palm Springs as a vacationing journalist, and I have to say it was a success.
I still have one more Palm Springs column to write based on more reporting from my visit. Look for that soon.
In Redlands, a Millard Sheets mosaic with Redlands scenes will remain as a 1980 Home Savings branch becomes a Finney’s Crafthouse. Redlands’ downtown is getting major changes in the coming years, by the way. Also: I am mistaken for a server at a restaurant and an Ontario appliance store must move after 70 years. Read all about it in my Friday column.
Known for its rooftop sign and “In by 10, Out by 4” motto, Frantz Cleaners in Pomona is closing June 7. Kay Richards, who’s owned the legacy business since 1970, is retiring and has sold the property. The business began in 1937 downtown and moved to Garey and Orange Grove in 1952, shortly before the freeway opened. I write about Frantz in my Wednesday column, as well as about Gloria Molina’s quilting at the LA County Fair.
I was going to Palm Springs anyway, for what has become my annual visit, but I made a point of finally attending the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, an annual weekend of noir thrillers, purely to see a newspaper-themed movie. It was great fun. Also, the weather in Palm Springs was just how I like it, and you will find more from Palm Springs in my columns shortly, in a mini-preview of coming attractions. That’s my Sunday column.
Thummer the pig debuted as the Los Angeles County Fair’s mascot in 1948, making this his 75th anniversary. He’s gone through a lot of changes, including his fashion, name and even gender. I root around in this pig’s history for my Friday column.
I was a little surprised, by the way, to Google Thummer on Thursday and find that there is no history of the character online beyond a single paragraph. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. When you cover Pomona, you’re always breaking new ground.
More about the Riverside County years of Disney cartoonist Carl Barks and retired Marx Brother Harpo Marx appear in my Wednesday column. The column is about 3/4 Barks, but I love them both.
Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree is a whimsically named store specializing in science fiction, but with a stock of westerns too. Also, fiction, poetry and more. I visited last month while in the area and interviewed owner Jean-Paul Garnier about science fiction, life in the desert and being a small-businessman during COVID. That story makes up my Sunday column. Finally, the third and final column from my vacation a month ago is done — whew. What can I tell you, local news kept intruding.
The Millard Sheets Art Center at the LA County Fair used to have world-class art exhibits when its namesake was curating shows in the 1930s to 1950s that were seen by hundreds of thousands. After a long decline and as something of an afterthought in fair planning, this year the center is overseen by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA, with a show of photography from its collection. And the arrangement might not be for just one fair only. I write about this year’s show, the center’s past and its possible future in my Friday column.
Inlandia Literary Journeys, the column in our Sunday editions by a rotating series of contributors, marked 10 years with an event Sunday at which some of the contributors read their work and the two co-founders talked about how the column began and the community that’s been forged. Also: Cellar Door Books may be closed a full month as it moves, and two writers who are fans of punk music are asked the most punk thing about their daily lives. Yes, it’s an all-books Wednesday column.
On May 7-8, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Redlands and San Bernardino briefly for speeches while on a rail tour of the nation before staying over in Riverside at the Mission Inn and seeing the sights, and also planting not one but two trees. I write about that in my Sunday column.