I’ve a strange fascination with statues. I’ve been known to talk to them and always listen to what they have to say. That’s probably more indicative of my mental state than their ability to converse but that said, I’m drawn to them and often find myself wondering what they’d say if they could talk.
There’s a giant-sized statue of Marilyn Monroe in downtown Palm Springs. She stands 26 feet tall and weights 34000 pounds. The child of Johnson and Johnson heir, 80-year-old Seward Johnson, Marilyn’s sculpted pose is one from the movie The seven-year itch.
Marilyn formerly reigned in Chicago but the city has passed her on to Palm Springs where she’s quickly become part of the scenery. And she’s in good company. Another of Hollywood’s famous ladies is also in residence.
Lucille Ball is quite the Palm Springs heroine. The Lucy House, one of the first homes she owned with Desi Arnez, is now open for residents. She is one of my all-time favourites. I even named my first doll (which I still have) after her. I have fond memories of splitting my sides at the ‘I love Lucy’ show which generated what is thought to be the longest laugh in live TV history. She was one funny lady.
Another statue that keeps popping up in Palm Springs is that of Sonny Bono. He’s everywhere. When he first went to Palm Springs, he tried to open a restaurant and was apparently so frustrated by the red tape that he decided to be the change he wanted to see – he ran for Mayor. He served four years (1988 to 1992) but you’d think it a lot more! In 1994, he became a member of Congress and is still the only member ever to have had No. 1 hit. But his political career was cut short when he died in a skiing accident in 1998.
Sonny might have been king in his day, Marilyn queen, and Lucy Matriarch, but for me, the most interesting statue in town is that of Frank M. Bogert who was Mayor from 1958-1966 and again from 1982-1988. Truly a legend in his own lifetime, Bogert once described Einstein ‘the nicest little guy you’d ever want to meet’. He’s one man I’d like to have met.
Palm Springs might be a little gentrified, but it has its share of homelessness, too. It might have an ageing population, but young people are starting to return home – the boomerang babies, victims of the current financial crises. At the airport, as the dolls of downtown line up in their wheelchairs, made up to the nines, bedecked and bejewelled, they gave me pause for thought. These feisty ladies are a different kind and seem determined not to go gently into the good night. They truly are an inspiration. The motto above the town hall says it all: The people are the city.