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Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival: Woodstock For The Mind

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

Desert Sun

Dale Gribow

February 16, 2019

Swaddle next year’s award for “best event of the season” and send it now to Jamie Kabler, founder of the Rancho Mirage Writers Festival, aptly applauded the best in the country. The 6th Season was celebrated at the RM Library for 3 days with Executive Producer Debbie Green, Director of Programming Deborah Dejah assisting Kabler and Library Executive Director Aaron Espinosa, as they and the City of RM plan two years in advance.

Albert Einstein, if alive, would have attended and joined the 43 authors, celebrities and 1000 guests, eager to soak up the knowledge to be shared. While sitting with columnist Hank Plante, he commented it was “Woodstock for the Mind”…though I had also considered the name “Coachella for the Literate”.

The festival attracted not only CV’s finest, but the best and brightest from throughout the world who were attracted to the sport of the day…learning. The festival allows authors to meet readers and vice versa as people with divergent viewpoints calmly discuss issues.

The opening night’s dinner and panel was one small thread in an amazing tapestry that was the RM Writers Festival. Susan Eisenhower suggested the theme of World War II and the 75th Anniversary of D Day, which attracted a plethora of historians, professors, acclaimed authors and nationally known speakers to the Omni for the Author's dinner. At the same time 450 major supporters of the festival dined on a sumptuous meal catered by Spencer’s at the newly named City of Rancho Mirage Dining Room at the Annenberg Health Science building of Eisenhower Hospital. Terri Ketover chaired the beautifully executed event.

Some of us were still chuckling over a recent remark made by Ketover when someone sought her advice by asking for her opinion "as a psychiatrist". Ketover jokingly replied, "I'm no longer a psychiatrist, I'm a full time party planner."

All of the guests adjourned to the newly refurbished Galen Auditorium at Eisenhower where NY Times journalist Maureen Dowd interviewed Tom Hanks. A panel discussion followed with Douglas Brinkley, Jon Meacham, Karl Rove and Bret Stephens. On the ensuing days, every forty five minutes there were 5 presentations as diverse as:

Rick Atkinson, Sir Antony Beevor and Douglas Brinkley discussing D Day;

H.W. Brands and Meacham discussing Andrew Jackson;

Anne Applebaum, Dowd and Karl Rove on The World Today;

Garry Kasparov, Meacham and Applebaum on Fight for Liberty or Stephens,Applebaum, Lord Mandelson and Roz Rothstein on Anti-Semitism.

These world renowned speakers were complimented by our own:

Dr. Joe Scherger of Eisenhower 365 author of Lean and Fit ,

Hal Gershowitz on his novel Cry Eden,

Dr. Khoi Le interviewing Geoff Dyer and Dennis Lehane.

The rush to see your favorite presentation evoked memories of rushing for classes at USC and UCLA.

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