Friday: 28.November.2003

Steppenwolf visits Two Bunch Palms

We're back. Spent most of our vacation (4 days) at Two Bunch Palms: a natural hot springs resort & spa, located in Desert Hot Springs. "An oasis of tranquility in a world of stress." I took along my digital camera, and planned to snap some photos for you to peruse, but never got around to it. Soaking in hot springs all day turned me to mush.

Two Bunch is all about peace & quiet, rest & relaxation (no pets, no kids, no cel phones). Long time Rad readers will remember Wendy from her Film school chronicles. She's the one who first took me to Two Bunch, some 6 years ago. But we're no longer together. So the first thing I did, after making reservations, was to call her up and gloat: "Guess where we're going?"

She couldn't believe it. She had made reservations (with her new honey) for the EXACT SAME DAYS. What are the chances of that happening? I thought it might be fun for all four of us to hang out together, but Wendy didn't quite see it that way. She wanted me to cancel my rezers, or change them to a different time. No way, Josť. In the end, we all actually had a good time. But, yes, the coincidence was strange.

A lot of Hollywood people frequent Two Bunch. The Player, a 1992 spoof about the Hollywood system, starring Tim Robbins, was filmed there. While soaking in the waters Wednesday, we ran into Bruno Kirby. He's most famous for his roles in the Godfather Part II and City Slickers. He was there with his lovely wife and kindly introduced us. Very nice guy. Distinctive voice. I just saw him in Sleepers last night. He says the F-word more naturally than anyone on television. Usually play a ganster type.

We also ran into a famous yoga instructor, whose name I'm not supposed to repeat. But if you're not into yoga, I doubt you've heard of him.

Most people take a book into the waters with them. There they find a cubbyhole, prop up their book on a life-preserver, and read quietly for hours. It's always interesting for me to see what Two-Bunchers are reading. One girl was reading Portnoy's Complaint. A guy was reading Emma (© 1816) by Jane Austin. A couple of folks were reading books by Tom Wolfe.

I took along a copy of Steppenwolf (© 1927, lent to me by Jan & Frank), by (the German-Swiss Nobel Prize-winning author) Herman Hesse. Turns out, this was a perfect book because it explores man's plight in moden society .. exactly what people go to Two Bunch to get away from.

The story of the Steppenwolf (a "lone wolf of the steppes" named Harry Haller) has influences of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. Note that both Herman Hesse and Harry Haller have the initials "HH". The book definitely strikes a cord in you. It did in me, anyway.

Most people probably associate the title with the 60's rock band, which was named after the book (Born to be Wild is their most popular song).

The book starts out with the idea that Harry is a unique individual, with a dual personality (both civil & wild). But you soon get the idea that *everyone* has a little "wolf" in them. We are all animals, you know, and we all have our animal side, no matter how well we might disguise it. The book, Hesse's most popular, is discussed here. A lady at Two Bunch was reading Siddhartha: another popular book by Herman Hesse.

The book was also extra interesting to read at Two Bunch because of how much it contrasted the Two Bunch lifestyle. Some quotes about the book that you might find helpful (not my words):

* From the text: "My story is not a pleasant one. It is a story of nonsense and chaos, madness and dreams .. like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves."
* One man's journey into the hell of his own being, paralleled only by the hell of a world in which he finds no home.

* It's about a man who does not relate to society. An outcast, because of his sensitivity and talents. He is a rebel, a genius. It's about the Artist, the True Genius, attempting to live in a world where mediocrity reigns. And how the superior human cannot bear to live in an atmosphere of stupidity, and yet must somehow come to terms.

* A mirror into the soul of every sensitive person trying to avoid becoming a wreck on the super-highway called egomaniacal nihilism. The struggle for the survival of the Self. Not a book to be read in a casual manner; put on some gentle music and read slowly, like a prayer or meditation. You will emerge all the better for it. God bless.

* Typical themes for Hesse: human exploration, psychology, self-discovery. A wonderful book, well written.
* One of the most powerful blueprints of the human experience ever written; mainly because it's a true story, written by one with the courage to go down this road and the skill to put on paper what he found.

Steppenwolf was originally written in German. Translations usually make for cumbersome reading. Some parts read cryptically, but overall it is smooth. I found the following passage rather bold: "I am curious to see how much a man can endure. If the limit of what is bearable has been reached, I have only to open the door to escape. There are a great many suicides [Steppenwolf-type people] to whom this [type of thinking] imparts uncommon strength."

Hesse was born in 1877. Steppenwolf was first published in 1927. Which means he probably wrote it in 1926. Which means he was probably 39 years old when he penned it. From the autobiography he wrote upon receiving the Nobel Prize in 1946: "I spent most of my early years in boarding schools and theological seminary. I was a good learner, good at Latin, though only fair at Greek, but I was not a very manageable boy, and it was only with difficulty that I fitted into the framework of a pietist education that aimed at subduing and breaking the individual personality." Enough about Hesse.

Everyone always asks, "What do you *do* at Two Bunch?" The answer invariably: "Nothing." (other than getting a few massages .. from Elia, who is the best masseuse there, daughter of a Native American medicine man. She has the mojo going on. I guess you have to eat too.)

It never ceases to surprise me how resistant some people are to the idea of doing nothing at all. Many friends are always on the go. "I could never do that," they claim, as if terrified by the very concept. They insist on filling every waking moment with one distraction or another. Relaxing is an art. On the seveth day, God rested. If he walked the earth today, he'd probably be at Two Bunch.

I have 3 inflatable neck pillows, used by travelers. I use these pillows to float me in the hot springs, late at night, when everyone is asleep. I put one behind my neck, and the other two under each knee. It's pretty cool to float at midnight, with the steam rising up into the atmosphere .. with the stars out, palms swaying in the strong desert winds, and desert white owls (nocturnal) flying thru the tall palms overheads. Talk about relaxed. It's downright magical.

Roadrunners motor up and down the sidewalks of two Bunch. They are not at all afraid of humans. Coyotes can be heard yipping and howling in the surrounding hills at night, especially around sunset. Hawks and hummingbids alike populate the place during the day.

On the way home, we stoped at Joshua Tree, which is not far from Two Bunch, to do some hiking in the surreal lanscape of the high-desert there. A coyote walked right up to us, as if it wanted some food. No fear of humans. Another stood in the middle of the road to stop cars .. looking all cute, walked right up to the driver's door, wanting a burger from In-N-Out.

Yesterday we had Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house back here in Laguna Beach. Best Thankgiving dinner I ever had. A few gourmet cooks got together. Really incredible food. For dessert they had a chocolate torte (low profile) that contained chipotle powder (smoked jalapeno pepper) as its secret ingredient. Best desert I ever had. Could've ate the whole damn thing myself. =/

After dinner, the host went around the table and expressed her appreciation (thankfulness) for everyone there, addressing each person individually, even the little kids, and speaking gracious words over them. That was cool. Never seen that approach to a Thanksgiving tradition before. All the girls got teary-eyed. A few guys, too. Hope you had a nice Turkey day, also.

Posted by Rad at November 28, 2003 02:33 PM


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Posted by:
Andre at November 28, 2003 02:47 PM

Just made reservations. Have to see for myself.

Posted by: Janice at November 28, 2003 03:30 PM

There's a 2-night minimum stay. After your first stay, you become a preferred member, which entitles you to special deals such as '3rd night free' and 'up to 40% off'.

Posted by: 2bunch at November 29, 2003 08:53 AM

Just got back from two Bunch. Please don't tell anyone else about it. It is a much too special place. It feels sacred there. Magical. Thanks for sharing your expereince. And you're right: they are a well-read group there. Rick says to say Hi.

Posted by: Diane at December 13, 2003 01:40 AM

Just got back from 14 incredibly magical days and nights at Two Bunch. I am very upset by some news I have uncovered about an expansion of Two Bunch that includes a convention center, hotel and condo's which I think is a disgrace. Have you heard anything?

Posted by: Phyllis at July 19, 2004 03:40 PM