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Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 27, 1959

January 27, 2009 |  2:00 pm


CONFIDENTIAL FILE

Blisters, Bites at Palm Springs


Paul_coatesBlisters, Bites at Palm Springs

Some people go to Palm Springs on the week end to lay around in the sun and relax.

But I don't. I go for professional reasons.

It's one of those never-ending demands of my job. I've got to keep my finger on the pulse of Hollywood, and on week ends, that's where you find the pulse.

Admittedly, while I'm there, nothing happens. The whole transplanted colony just lies flat on its collective back and stares through blobs of soiled cotton directly into the sun.

Nobody talks to anybody else. At least not until twilight.

I've yet to come back to the city with a story worth printing. But that's unimportant. What matters is that every Monday I've got a fresh sunburn.

And a fresh sunburn on a smoggy winter morning in Hollywood is as good as having your name in the social registry. Especially, if you have those weird white circles around your eyeballs.

1959_0127_red_streak No matter how insignificant a bum you really are, you can bluff your way into anybody's cocktail party or private office if you drop the word casually that you went to "The Springs" for the week end, and you have even the slightest hint of a blister on your nose as evidence.

Usually, I go back and forth between the La Paz Hotel and Noel Clarke's Ranch Club.

Then, during the wild round of midweek Bel-Air cocktail parties, I can drop some of the knee-slappers that Duke Mitchell told at the Ranch Club, or I can tell everybody that singer Clessa Williams should get the role of Texas Guinan in the life story of George Raft.

To an outsider, these little comments may not sound too jazzy. But to us, they have meaning. At least, they show that I'm on the inside.

Actually, this week end, I finally got my first hot story out of Palm Springs.

There Was a Hungry Burro

It happened very recently. A Ranch Club guest was visiting with his 4- or 5-year-old youngster. During the afternoon, the kid went out to the stable area and tried to make friends with one of the 17 burros who pull the club's chuck wagon on Sunday morning rides.

1959_0127_wallace The lad fed him a piece of sugar he had swiped from the dining room. And was promptly bitten by the burro.

It wasn't -- from what they tell me -- a very serious bite, but all precautionary antitetanus and rabies shots were taken.

Finally, the father and son returned home. Then, a few days later, the Ranch Club received a voluminous four-page letter damning the club, its employees, its burros and Clarke for allowing such a thing to happen.

The management considered the letter for a couple days, and finally dictated a formal reply which said, in effect:

We are, as you are, deeply sorry that your little boy got bitten by one of our burros.

We must advise you that our chuck wagon is drawn by a team of 17 burros, all of whom look very much alike.

However, sir, be assured that if we find the burro that bit your boy, we will personally kick the hell out of him.

And that's what I mean about Palm Springs. It's not only where Hollywood goes on week ends. It's the last of the Wild West I love so well.  

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