Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Pioneers and the west go together like Uggs and a crisp winter morning.  Thus, when filmmakers staked claim to Southern California it was only a matter of time before the western would be a staple genre.  In 1946, a group of investors broke ground in Pioneertown, a living set which would serve as the backdrop for over 50 movies and television series.  Requisite structures --a jail, bank and saloon -- were erected, but behind the facades were actual interiors where ice cream was served, bowling was played and rooms were rented.  By the 1970s the popularity of westerns was waning and the properties were parceled and sold to the public.  The cantina was originally purchased and turned into a biker, burrito bar.  Today it is the site of the renown Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, an outpost for the eclectic.  Commingling at the bar are cowboys, marines, local artists and intrepid city dwellers all in search of mouth watering BBQ and top-shelf musicians.  A stroll down faded Mane Street provides a glimpse of the evolving storefronts, some abandoned, others turned into cozy homes adorned with prayer flags and signs advertising farm fresh eggs.  Tinsel town sits over the horizon a mere 150 miles away, yet these residents, all 350 of them, have chosen to live in the extreme conditions of the high desert.  They have traded in the hustle and bustle of the city for well water and small town gossip.  I admire their pioneering spirit.