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Michael Thompkins
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by Michael 3/23/2009 2:39:00 PM

I received this sad email earlier this week:

Palm Springs Iconic Former Mayor Frank Bogert, The Cowboy Mayor of Palm Springs, Dies  (Contact: Amy Blaisdell Director of Communications City of Palm Springs (760) 323-8250 March 23, 2009)

Frank Bogert, Palm Springs’ iconic former cowboy mayor, passed away at his home Sunday night surrounded by his family. He was 99. Bogert, a noted cowboy famous for his rodeo ensemble, was Mayor of the City of Palm Springs from April, 1958 to January, 1966 – when the Mayor was an appointed member of the City Council by the City Council. In 1982, Bogert became the City’s first directly elected Mayor after residents voted a year earlier to directly elect their Mayor. He served until 1988.

“Frank Bogert was a remarkable and truly iconic Mayor who gave his life to Palm Springs,” said Mayor Steve Pougnet. “He worked tirelessly and unselfishly to support any local philanthropies, to cheerlead countless community events and to promote the town he loved and helped create. His public service, quick wit and candid rhetoric will be greatly missed by everyone in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. He was a one-of-a-kind… and a true pioneer whose name was synonymous with Palm Springs. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

I immediately was lost in reflection on one early afternoon in late June, when this writer had the privilege to interview Frank at his home in Palm Springs. It was a completely unassuming home for an equally egalitarian man. I spent a totally enjoyable hour with Frank discussing our writing careers, his mastered and mine fledgling. His opening remarks to me were that he had read Gun Play and, so far, he had only found one mistake. In Gun Play, I had written that the fountain at the airport had a concrete circular parapet. He corrected me that it was made of canterra stone. 

In our time together that day, the most significant impression I had of this man was his regard for all the citizens of Palm Springs that he had served, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, and the residents of elegant desert castles and the homeless desert hermits. I looked forward to another visit. Soon.  Today, March 23, 2009: Would that I could...visit again.

I want to share that day in June with you when Claudia Whitsitt (one of my writing students) and I interviewed Frank at his home. The tape is unedited in Windows Media format as I hadn't quite got around to how I would best use it ; honoring Frank now seems appropriate. Technical notes include the fact that his living room was full of light, sound from neighborhood construction and, most of all, Frank's 99 year-old spirit.   

Download the interview. 


 Born Jan. 1, 1910, Bogert arrived in Palm Springs in the 1920s  More...

Gun Play Ads hit the radio waves in Palm Springs

by Michael 3/18/2009 8:00:00 PM

Listen to it here first!!!

Hear it in the coming weeks by tuning into Newstalk 920 KPSI-AM and Progressive Talk 1340 KPTR-AM in Palm Springs.


Amtrak Explosive Detection K9 Retires

by Michael 3/16/2009 9:24:00 AM
I opened my email over the weekend to find this note from a friend who handles an Explosive Detection K9 for Amtrak in the Los Angeles Metro area: 

"Mike, just thought you would like to know that they are retiring Benny. He will be living with me and my family.

Let me know when your next book is done, I can't wait for it.


Dr. Phil & Benny

Amtrak Police Department"


Officer Phillip Clark and K9 Benny

Amtrak Police Department



K9 Benny on the "Job" and on an Amtrak train

From these pictures, which Dr. Phil (to his friends) included, we can see that Benny truly enjoyed his job; he had a good role model in his handler. I know for a fact that Officer Clark loves his job and that he will miss Benny at work.  The good news is that Benny and Dr. Phil will still be partners in Benny's retirement and promotion to family dog.

Shrinking Writing: More from Shelly Frome

by Michael 3/16/2009 9:00:00 AM
Turning Personal Experience into the Hollywood Crime Novel 

by Shelly Frome


            It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what prompted me to write an antic, edgy novel about L.A..  I could start with Oscar Levant’s vintage remark:  “If you keep peeling away the tinsel, you can finally get to the real tinsel.”  In my case, I found myself stripping away  the illusions I encountered wondering if there was some way to get to something that actually mattered.

As for the illusions.   Once, when visiting an executive I knew at Paramount, she became antsy about moving her pricey sports car.  It seems the vast parking lot doubled as a pond and waterway; a situation she accepted as routine under the near-drought conditions and blazing sun.  At the same time, the mother of my nephew’s best friend was busy a few miles south stalking the sidewalks of Melrose.  This too was routine, trying to waylay Jay Leno and talk him into putting her on his show as a brazen housewife.  Either that or, if worse came to worse, getting him to feature her son Howie who, well past the age of thirty, still hadn’t been alone with a woman.  Anything to connect to the entertainment industry.   My brother-in-law, the pharmacist, was not only impressed by her dogged pursuit, he was still brandishing photos of a movie star who’d seen better days, one he’d corralled a few years back while filling her prescription.  It soon became no surprise when staying at the Avalon at the corner of Olympic and Beverly Drive, everyone behind the reception desk was quick to note they were really actors or would-be screenwriters; the waiters and waitresses undiscovered talent.  It goes without saying that most of those congregating around the adjacent pool were flaunting an outlandish outfit and hawking their charms and winning smile or a script or a new wrinkle for a project.  In turn, the object of their affections was trying to convince the hawkers and flaunters that he possessed an untold pipeline to instant success.  Later on, a short walk up the street revealed a paunchy middle-aged man standing in front of Al’s outdoor news-stand yelling into his cell phone, “Listen to me, Harry!  I’m telling ya the me you think you’ve known has breached the barricade. I’m gonna be on the back lot taking a meeting.  I kid you not! All this, as they say More...


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.