Thursday, July 21, 2005


Last night went to a Japanese restaurant in Palm Springs just across the valley, there ordering various dishes that were all surprisingly good, though the waitress was Vietnamese and didn't understand our experienced questions about the foody details. The zarusoba we ordered, soba (buckwheat) noodles served on a bamboo net (zaru) in Japan, were served on a plate (felt very strange) thus making it not zarusoba but sarasoba (sara = plate), but why quibble that the plate lets no air in, under and through to drain and dry the wet the noodles and subtly enhance their flavor as you eat? The Japanese perpetrate the same local transformations on foreign food like pizza, and very few there really know any difference; visiting Italians complain in vain. But apart from those details, the food, including the sushi, was surprisingly good; the misoshiru (miso soup) would pass muster in the best traditional inns in Japan. Then we stepped out into 115-degree heat and immediately no Japan whatsoever, but huge parking lots filled with SUVs umbrellaed by tall palm trees backed by very non-Japanese mountains and a clear desert sky.

It's now (at 6pm) 106 degrees outside here in Desert Hot Springs, where dozens of new houses have gone up since I was here last week; this is one of busiest housebuilding areas in the busiest realty state in the US. There are stacks of building materials everywhere, houses in all stages of construction along the gradual valley slopes like a boom town, folks moving out here from LA, San Diego and points farther north and east for the beautiful views and the still low but fast-rising prices. Keech now has the realty bug, plans to take courses in the subject (already has taken a few) before starting his real estate empire. Rumor has it that Oprah recently bought a mountaintop somewhere in these mountains, just over which is Joshua Tree National Park.

Went to the Salton Sea again today so Keech could see it and experience Bombay Beach in person, took some video and fotos, the Sea very different on a misty day like today; it was nevertheless 116 degrees there, and oddly it's been a humid heat because of the mistiness. After a delicous Mexican lunch at a desert roadside greasy spoon straight out of Baghdad Cafe, exited the restaurant into a local Romeo reacting violently to being rejected by his local Juliet, battling it out right there beside the car in the sun-shimmering street. Love is a local thing. In a grocery stop at one of the ritzy Palm Springs malls on the way back, overheard someone say: "Thank God for golf carts." God appears to vary with location.

Time and life permitting, I'll post some photos here when we get back to the Mac in Santa Barbara.

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