Palm Springs Zing: Retro Pinball Mania!

Take a field trip to nearby Banning for a museum-cool repository of old-school machines.


A CONVENTION'S QUIRKY SIDE: Hearing that there's a huge, multi-day gathering devoted to the design and architecture of another era can make an especially merry person quake a bit in their boots. Your initial thought is that things might be on the stuffy side, even a little dry, and though you love the architecture of that era you pause to think twice about attending. Such feelings may hold water for many history-related conferences and happenings, but it is unfair to paint all with such a wide, boring brush. History and architecture and design have pizzazz, as do the events built around them, too. One of the leaders in the field of pizzazz-honoring historic happenings is Modernism Week. The February-fun Palm Springs extravaganza may be about mid-century style, but it isn't overly textbook-y at all. ("Textbook-y," too, is rather a good thing, let us note.) There are lively bus tours and vintage trailer shows and what is sure to be a popular, good day out: A field trip to The Museum of Pinball. It isn't located in Palm Springs, but, rather, in nearby Banning, and on the evening of Monday, Feb. 15 a bunch of Modernism Week attendees'll load up and make for the museum for a bright night of chasing a small silver ball.

CHOICES APLENTY: Look for "...more than 700 beautifully restored, pristine arcade and pinball machines lit up and ready for your high score!" The machines hail from multiple decades -- the '60s on into the '90s -- and many have the zazzy, live-big lines and details that mid-century modernism wrought. For sure, pinball, as an aesthetic, was never about straight-arrow subtlety nor snooty elegance, but neither was mid-century-ism, though some of its physical forms are as straight as a straight arrow. That's their commonality: Being highly visual in an accessible way. Of course, they also share the 1960s in common, so if that's your favorite decade, and you consider yourself an especially merry person, then book the day after Valentine's for a grown-up field trip from Palm Springs to Banning.

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