Coachella Valley Independent Spring 2013
The debut issue of the Coachella Valley's alternative news source!
ISSUE 1.indd 1 3/29/13 9:57 AM 2 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 A Note From the Editor Mailing address: 31855 Date Palm Drive, No. 3-263 Cathedral City, CA 92234 (760) 904-4208 www.cvindependent.com editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle art director Andrew Arthur advertising Sales Matt Stauber advertising design Betty Jo Boegle The Coachella Valley Independent print edition is published quarterly, in April and July 2013; and monthly starting in October 2013. All content is ©2013 and may not be published or reprinted in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The Independent is available free of charge throughout the Coachella Valley, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies may be purchased for $1 by calling (760) 904-4208. The Independent may be distributed only by the Independent’s authorized distributors. So there. The Independent is a proud member of the Local Independent Online News Publishers. Cover design by Andrew Arthur | Photo by Chuck Coker Contributors Gustavo Arellano, John Backderf, Adam Borowitz, Saxon Burns, Max Cannon, Shann Carr, Matt Gaffney, Dan Gibson, Bob Grimm, Michael Grimm, Brigit Hartop, Christina Lange, Eli Pagunsan, Erin Peters, Deidre Pike, Rick Rothman, Jen Sorenson Ever since I was an intern at the Reno News & Review in the summer of 1996, I have been something of a newsweekly nerd. Every time I visit a new city, I scour news racks and bookstores for the local newsweekly. I love the mix of hard-hitting local news, compelling commentaries and unmatched arts-andculture coverage found in publications like L.A. Weekly, The Village Voice and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Sometime in the mid 2000s, I visited the Coachella Valley for the first time, when my significant other and I came to visit a friend. I did my usual find-the-newsweekly thing … and I couldn’t find one. There was the Desert Post Weekly, a weak Gannett-owned faux-newsweekly in which the locally produced stories could be counted on one hand. There was the Desert Entertainer, which seemed to specialize in press-release-style coverage of events. And that was it. Meanwhile, Garrett and I started to fall in love with the place—the culture, the mountains, the diversity and so many other things. While I was the editor of the Tucson Weekly, I decided to look into starting a real newsweekly in the Coachella Valley. Over several years, I crunched numbers, did interviews and got bids; I put together a business plan; and in the spring of 2008, I presented the plan to Wick Communications, the company I had worked for since November 2001. My plan was to start a print weekly with a staff of about seven folks—in other words, I wanted to hit the ground running. However, the budgeted first-year financial loss—in the neighborhood of a quarter-million bucks—was unappetizing to the Wick folks, and understandably, they said no, especially since the economy was just starting to show signs of weirdness. Several months later, we’d all realize that weirdness was actually the first manifestations of the Great Recession. From 2008 on, I visited the Coachella Valley several times every year, falling in love with the area a little more each time. During every trip, I’d think of that business plan. And I’d pick up every publication I could find. Some publications—the Desert Star Weekly, and then later, the Coachella Valley Weekly (to which I contributed for a while)—came. Others—like the LGBTfocused The Bottom Line—went. While some of the valley’s publications had their positive moments (as well as not-so-positive ones), I learned some of them were selling editorial articles to advertisers—and not labeling those articles as advertorials. That, combined with the continuing mediocrity of the The Desert Sun, was disheartening. As it stood, if a Coachella Valley reader wanted honest community news coverage, or an unbiased review, or just good, compelling writing, where could they go? Enter the Coachella Valley Independent, which we launched online late last year, and which is celebrating its print debut with the issue you’re reading right now. While the Independent is not a newsweekly per se, it’s designed in the alternative-newsweekly tradition. For now, the Independent is primarily an online publication; everything in this quarterly, for example, originally appeared at CVIndependent.com. We post at least three stories every weekday at CVIndependent.com (and, yes, we post on the weekends, too). As for print, we’re publishing another quarterly in July, and in October, we’ll go monthly. And in 2014 … who knows? I hope you enjoy what you read here, and that you’ll make CVIndependent.com part of your regular schedule. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at jboegle@ cvindependent.com. Thanks for reading. Welcome to the Coachella Valley Independent. —Jimmy Boegle, firstname.lastname@example.org CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 2 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 Coachella Valley Independent // 3 CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 3 3/29/13 9:57 AM 4 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 opInIon saVe tHe east VaLLeY A View From the Stage at the Environmental Health Leadership Summit WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION t By ChrIStIna lanGe he eastern portion of the Coachella Valley struggles with poverty, bad air and water quality, high unemployment, high levels of asthma, a receding Salton Sea, high levels of arsenic in well water, pesticidespraying—and the list goes on. It’s a far cry from the bright lights that shine over the golf courses to the west. However, residents are trying to do something about these problems, and an environmental justice movement is growing in the eastern Coachella Valley. As part of that movement, the inaugural Environmental Health Leadership Summit took place at Thermal’s Desert Mirage High School on Saturday, Feb. 23. The summit was organized by Promotores Comunitarios del Desierto and the Comite Civico del Valle, and had more than 30 sponsors. The focus of the summit was to promote health and environmental awareness, leadership, systems change and cultural and linguistic competency. Environmental health was the main topic—specifically, air and water quality, public health and the Salton Sea restoration. Information was distributed about ways people could help clean the air, asthma management in children, and cleaning products that are safe to use in the home. There were keynotes, speeches and workshops. I participated in the summit as a vendor, where I displayed my photographs and my book, Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea. Other vendors and information providers included 350. org, Occupy Coachella, the county Economic Development Agency, Legacy of Clean cleaning products, California Rural Legal Assistance and Planned Parenthood. The high school sold drinks and food to raise money. It was great to see the different stallholders share the same vision of environmental health and equality. I was also on a panel regarding Salton Sea restoration. It was my first time as a panelist. We were on the stage hidden behind a curtain as Congressman Raul Ruiz was announcing us. Nervousness aside, it was an honor to voice my opinion and pass on what other members of the community had been passing on to me over the years. Along with me were Doug Barnum, of the U.S. Geological Survey; Bruce Wilcox, of the Imperial Irrigation District; Paul Reisman, acting superintendent of the Salton Sea State Recreational Area; Jason Low, from the South Coast Air Quality Management District; and Phil Rosentrater, of the Economic Development Agency. Jose Angel was the moderator, from the Regional Water Board. After we each spoke, it was time for the questions from the moderator and the audience: What do we each think are the most pressing issues? What is the highest priority? If nothing is done, what is your biggest fear? What about the efforts to make a viable plan to restore the sea? We spoke about how we need to prevent a toxic dust storm from becoming a reality; how we need to prevent another Big Stink; how we need to focus on health issues; and how it would be nice to have a thriving recreational area again, or at least a sea that will not turn into a toxic semi-dust bowl while emitting hydrogen sulfide High schoolers at the summit learn about solar power by using a hot-dog-cooker. christina lange burps that stink all the way to a few shallow water ponds at the southern end of the sea. This Los Angeles. would keep those areas—which are already exposed playa— Barnum noted that there are many problems with restorawet, and would serve as habitat for wildlife. As time goes on, tion efforts, and a solution for one problem might be to the and more funding comes in, further small-scale projects would detriment of another. be implemented. I mentioned that the focus has to be on “keeping the Salton In the meantime, the question remains: Where would the Sea wet,” a quote from Norm Niver, a Salton Sea activist since money will come from for a large-scale restoration project? 1974. There was mention of how geothermal, algae, solar, wind This is not good enough, said one member of the audience. and other renewable-energy industries might be keys to findWhat about a comprehensive plan? And how is it that after so ing the funding so essential to saving the sea. The Salton Sea many years, only a couple of small shallow water ponds are area is second to none for potential renewable energy. being built? How can we trust these agencies? Why is the comI spoke about the disconnect between the community and munity not being listened to? And why are there no answers? the agencies, and how there need to be more opportunities to He spoke about the state oversight meeting on the day before, work together. led in part by Coachella area state Assemblymember V. Manuel This summit was a great start. Area residents often feel as if Perez, and how members of the public could come forward and they do not have a voice. They have been complaining about voice their opinion—but they each had only a single minute to health issues and high asthma rates for years, and have been do so. fearing the demise of the Salton Sea for decades. So, to say that Not good enough. the residents are having a hard time trusting the local agencies My hope is that we can all work together. That the man in is an understatement. The current representatives of these the audience gets the information he wants as to why the comgovernment agencies need to work really hard to earn back this prehensive plan will not be implemented. That there will be trust. future summits like this one. A couple members of the audience shared this feeling of frustration and questioned the currently proposed restoration For more information, and updates on future summits, visit ejsummit.com. project. The project, as it stands, would start small, by building CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 4 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 5 opInIon tHe YounG sCRiBe How the Palm Springs Writers Guild Helped Change My Life WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION Eli Pagunsan participates in the Palm Springs Writers Guild Grammar Game in December. Courtesy of the palm Springs writers Guild m By elI paGUnSan y name is Eli Pagunsan, and I’m a 14-year-old aspiring writer. I’m a regular teenage kid. I go to school, and then I have chores to do at home. I love to read about history and current events. With everything that is going on in the world, sometimes I wonder how any of us manage not to have an overload. I started writing about eight months ago, when I created a story titled “Road to Allentown.” I think that after years of being exposed to news about war, somehow, I had to get it out of my system. I did not have anyone I could relate to about topics like that, so I began writing—a combination of pure imagination and facts. As the story evolved, I turned to the Internet for more inspiration. I used forums and met people who inspired me to create certain characters. The Internet was an extremely useful tool, as it provided me with the insight of many people from across the world, with just a single click of a mouse. At this time, the story is still in process; the characters and the conflict are still evolving. So, we will see. Writing takes me to a special place. It makes me think. Just like any kid my age, I would rather spend my time online surfing or playing games. But I realized that if I am not careful, I would be wasting precious hours acquiring irrelevant information. But it is challenging to find kids my age who like to talk about things that I am interested in, like current events or politics. And so writing helps me a lot. It helps me argue about topics, and to express my opinion about certain things, like the fiscal cliff, gun control and illegal immigration, without annoying the kid next to me. Writing is my reprieve. I am grateful that I live in the Coachella Valley. I don’t think I would find another place in the world that would be as beautiful and inspiring as this place we live in. Despite all the things happening in the world, I feel safe and protected here. Maybe it is the beautiful mountains surrounding us. Maybe it is the weather. Maybe it is the nice people. Who would not get inspired when they are surrounded by such positive things? I asked my mom to send me to writing camps to develop my skill. I have always had a million ideas floating in my head; I was lost, and I needed help to harness them all together. It took us months of research, online, calling around and asking people about writing camps, and the closest we could find was in Los Angeles. That was not feasible, because my mom works, and I have two other siblings. Then she came across the Palm Springs Writers Guild. I told her I knew about it and that it is for professionals only, definitely not for a beginner like me. She argued that the membership guidelines did not specify age or experience, and that the worst the guild could do was say “no.” So here I am. I am ecstatic and beyond thankful to be a member of PSWG. It is quite a privilege to learn about writing from such accomplished people. For them to take me under their wings inspires me to be a better person for my generation. Thank you, PSWG. It is long road from here, and I am glad you that you are with me. the palm Springs writers Guild puts on a variety of events and activities, including a monthly meeting that is open to all. For more information, visit palmspringswritersguild.org. Writing takes me to a special place. It makes me think . Just like any kid my age, I would rather spend my time online surfing or playing games. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 5 3/29/13 9:57 AM 6 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 opInIon Don’t touCH tHat DiaL TV News in the Coachella Valley: Could It Get Any More Confusing? WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION i By rICK rothMan f you’ve ever been confused about which channel you’re watching here in the Coachella Valley, you’re not alone: It’s been more than a year since the merger between the former KPSP Channel 2 and KESQ Channel 3, which left some people scratching their heads. CBS affiliate KPSP, otherwise known as “Local 2,” was the only locally owned station in the valley. Philanthropist Jackie Lee Houston and her husband, Jim, started the station and used it to raise awareness of community-based efforts. When Jackie Lee passed away, Jim decided to sell the station to the company which owns ABC affiliate KESQ, otherwise known as “News Channel 3.” Channel 2 immediately moved operations into Channel 3’s building, and now both stations broadcast their news from the same studio in Palm Desert. They also now use the same call letters. If you think that is confusing, it doesn’t end there. News Channel 3 continues to air their evening newscasts at 5 and 6, while Local 2 broadcasts theirs at 5:30 and 6:30. But wait, there’s more. The company that owns News Channel 3 also owns KDFX, otherwise known as “Fox 11.” At 10 every night, they air a newscast called “CBS Local 2 News at 10 on Fox 11.” This newscast is replayed on Channel 2 and airs as “CBS Local 2 Night Side.” This gives the anchors at Local 2 the opportunity to go home early, where they can snuggle in bed and dream of greener pastures, presumably without the ubiquitous blue backdrop. But wait, there’s even more. Every morning, News Channel 3 airs a morning show from 5 to 7. Then from 7 to 9, it’s replayed on Channel 11, where it’s called “News Channel 3 in the Morning on Fox 11.” If you tune in on the weekend, both stations have different anchors, but use the same weatherman and sportscaster. And no matter which day you tune in, you’ll always find both stations using the same reporters. Some have complained that the merger has led to a lack of diversity, while Local 2 management contends that it gives them more resources with which to cover the news. Both viewpoints are actually correct: The merger does give Local 2 more resources with which to cover the news, while at the same time becoming a clone of News Channel 3. The issue is not the quality of the newscasts. Both stations do a surprisingly good job for a smaller market. It’s the duplication: If you were to watch both stations’ newscasts back-toback, you would essentially be watching the same program, but with different anchors. There is one bright spot, though: Every weeknight at 6:45, you can watch “Eye on the Desert.” The 15-minute program, anchored by Local 2’s weatherman, is the most informative arts and entertainment show in the Coachella Valley. By the way, there is another TV player in town: the NBC affiliate, KMIR 6. The call letters were named after the historic El Mirador Hotel, where the station was originally located. The two principal anchors on Local 2 and News Channel 3 are rumored to be golf buddies, which makes me wonder what they talk about on the golf course. Could they have inside information about their parent company’s plans to take over more stations? Could CNN be next? What about “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer on News Channel 3.” Or per- haps “Anderson Cooper 360 on Local 2 News at 10 on Fox 11.” But why stop there? They might as well go worldwide. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself watching “BBC World Service on News Channel 3 in the Morning.” What would Walter Cronkite think? Or more importantly, what would Ted Baxter think? The future of serious journalism in the Coachella Valley is at stake. The least they could do is use a different-colored backdrop for each station so you can remember which channel you’re watching. For instance, KESQ can keep the blue; Local 2 can use green; and Fox 11 can be red. Or better yet, they can have a strobe light shining different colors and play disco music. I’d rather watch the anchors get up and dance than watch the same newscast on the same set all day long. After all, it’s all about diversity. We’ll be right back. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 6 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 7 opInIon asK a meXiCan! If the DREAM Act Passes, Will a Mexi Take My White-Collar Job? ! WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION D By GUStaVo arellano EAR MEXICAN: In the past, you have defended illegal immigrants by arguing that they will do the jobs gabachos won’t do for the same wages. I agree. I have a white-collar job, so I’m totally content to benefit from the low prices brought about by an uneducated underclass unprotected by American labor laws, content in the knowledge that no Mexican will ever take mi trabajo. But now this DREAM Act comes along, encouraging them to go to college, and my job’s up for grabs, too? I already have enough competition from the Chinese and the Indians! What possible benefit could this legislation have for a guy like me? (And you know they’re just going to spend 95 percent of their time in school chanting “Sí, se puede” anyway.) Nightmare Act Is More Like It DEAR GABACHO: I’d rather have college kids chant “Sí se puede” than join a pointless fraternity/ sorority or get blotto at said pointless fraternity/sorority parties. All that said, though, you don’t have to worry about DREAMers taking your job—you’ll continue to have your middle-class lifestyle as these DREAMers catapult over you and become your bosses, because they all possess the drive, ambition and talent that gabachos used to exhibit in college before colleges became finishing schools for high schoolers. Better learn how to grovel to el jefe in English and Español, chulo! DEAR MEXICAN: I have noticed that Mexican women will put up with being called a ruca, heina, vieja, “my old lady” and even culinary terms, like “my little pupusa” or chimichanga. But when you call her a “torta,” you are in one major fight. Why? What is so bad about tortas? Don One-Liners DEAR GABACHO: You’re calling her “fat,” because tortas are fat Mexican sandwiches made on French rolls. Want to culinarily woo her? Go old-school and call her a “hot tamale,” or go postmodern and deem her your memela—TRUST ME. DEAR MEXICAN: Sometimes when I’m eating a burrito, the bottom end becomes saturated with moisture, and the tortilla breaks, and stuff falls out. Is this the result of a lack of burritoeating skill, or an improperly-made burrito, or is this just the way it’s supposed to be? Chipotle Chingón DEAR NEIGHBOR OF MEXICANS: Don’t be a Mexican and accept the world the way it’s supposed to be, ESPECIALLY the art of the burrito. Gabachos are so clueless that they think burritos are supposed to vomit out their contents like a coed in pre-narco Acapulco—¡que pendejos! A true burrito is an immaculate cylindrical god, wrapped up as tight as bacon around a hot dog, its structure so sound that you can throw it through the air in a spiral, and it won’t explode. This isn’t even a question of size: The largest burritos on Earth are those made in the Mission District in San Francisco (where Chipotle’s founder found his “inspiration” for the chain’s burritos), and the Mission burrito is a way of life— larger than bricks, wrapped tight in foil, and never exploding. (Here’s a shout-out to my favorite taquería—that’s what burrito emporiums are called in San Francisco—in the Mission, El Castillito!) If a burrito gets so soggy at the bottom that it disintegrates, then the maker either put too much salsa/guacamole/sour cream in it, or the meat’s so damn greasy that it’s not worth eating. If your burrito disintegrates, demand a refund—or, better yet, sue the business owner for defaming the burrito’s good nombre. Catch the Mexican every wednesday morning at CVIndependent.com. ask the Mexican at email@example.com; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question atyoutube.com/askamexicano! CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 7 3/29/13 9:57 AM 8 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 09 10 12 13 SaVInG the aBandoned Bad deBt: CapItal appreCIatIon BondS Food-trUCK red tape Growth In the CoaChella Valley cvindependent.com/news Lost DoGs of tHe DeseRt christina lange Helping Animals Left Behind in the East Valley CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 8 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 9 saVinG tHe aBanDoneD christina lange newS Lost Dogs of the Desert Helps Animals Left Behind in the East Valley Michael Acosta and Ann Field. WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS a By ChrIStIna lanGe nn Field and I stand on a dusty lot on Avenue 81. We’re in Oasis, south of Thermal and close to Highway 86. We’re watching for two dogs that have been abandoned and are running around the neighborhood. As the sun starts to set, there they are—only instead of two dogs, there are now four. Ann sighs softly. Animal-control officers from the Riverside County Department of Animal Services rarely venture south of 66th Avenue in Thermal. The department’s mission statement touts educating the public on keeping animals, the importance of spaying or neutering them, and ensuring they are in a good home. Yet Ann said that when she has spoken with people from the department—asking them about coming out to visit the nearby migrant work camps, where a lot of these dogs get left behind—they come up with a number of excuses. Socioeconomic factors, as well as the inability to take dogs to a new work site, are just some of the reasons why the migrant farm workers leave behind their dogs. These animals often do not get spayed or neutered. That’s where Lost Dogs of the Desert, Ann’s organization, comes in. Ann has tried to work with local animal shelters, but she wants nothing to do with shelters that put animals down after a few days. There are some animal charities that have proven to be invaluable, she said. Michael Acosta, Ann’s partner, often drives to Morongo Casino to hand over dogs to people from no-kill shelters located in Los Angeles and San Diego. There is, for example, a charity dedicated to the rescue of boxers. Others rescue only purebreds, and yet others only rescue dogs less than 40 pounds. Still, these organizations are a big help. But for large dogs who are mutts, life is not so easy. In the setting sun, the dogs are running toward a reservoir to get some water; they then cross a road and head toward a tunnel, where they will be safe for the night. Ann watches out for them. On the nearby stretches of highway, dead dogs are a common sight. For the time being, she is only able to help two dogs at a time, given her limited resources. When I spoke to her, she was waiting for two dogs to get re-housed before being able to take in two more. Honey and Rosie are two Australian shepherds currently being looked after by Holly Rose Martin, a young mother in Desert Hot Springs who volunteers to bring the dogs to groomers and to keep them until new foster homes can be found. Ann said Canadians who stay at the nearby RV park often decide to take home rescue dogs. These people take on the costs of getting the dogs spayed or neutered, pay for all the shots, and apply for a health certificate, which each animal needs before being brought over the border. She dreams of being able to build an animal shelter in the vacant lot opposite the RV park. However, she said that as of now, 80 percent of her income goes toward vet bills, feeding and grooming. This does not leave anything left over to put toward the fees needed for Lost Dogs of the Desert to become an official 501(c)3, much less start the process of building a shelter. In the meantime, Ann, Michael and Holly and other volunteers do what they can to find funds and foster parents, one dog at a time. Before I met with Mike and Ann, I asked her some questions via email. Her answers were so revealing that they are worth presenting here, as a Q&A. I have been following via Facebook the hardships and difficulties you face finding homes for lost and abandoned dogs. Tell me: What led you to start rescuing dogs and other animals? How long have you been doing this? My partner, Michael, and I began to rescue dogs quite by accident. One day, three years ago, a lovely white lab that was starving to death came to our door. I took it to the shelter, (and it) couldn’t accept a dog over 40 pounds. I realized then there was little help here for dogs. I took the dog home, fostered it, provided vet care and in the process found out the dog belonged to a priest in the neighborhood (who had) died. … I kept the dog until a local farmer provided a wonderful home for the dog. The dog is in excellent health now and is happy. I knew I had to at least try to help some of them, as it would be impossible to help all. What is the procedure when you find a dog? When I find a dog—or the dog usually finds us—the first action is vet care. Due to the expense, we can only rescue one or two dogs at a time, and I only have one foster. We have to (check) the dog, check for owners, and do spay (or neuter) and shots. We have very few supporters, so a lot of the money is out of pocket. It limits me, because I am low-income. We do home checks (after dogs are adopted) and require monthly follow-up visits, even if it is by Skype. … We will drive anywhere we have to, to know a dog is in safe hands and can live happy, healthy and in peace. We make sure the intention is forever. The dogs that have been abandoned have been through enough. They can’t be left behind again. What is the number of dogs/animals you find on a weekly basis? The number varies. I can go three weeks with none, and one day with three. There is a cycle. When farm workers leave the area for their next job, we see a Honey and Rosie. holly rose martin lot more, as they can’t take the dogs with them. (Many) of the dogs are over 40 pounds. You are currently applying for 501(c)3 status. How is that going? It’s … at Financial First Aid in Beaumont. Due to needs of the dogs, we have never been able to finish paying for it. We hope one day, a miracle can happen, and it can get filed. A grant would make a huge difference to this effort. What are your hopes for the future of Lost Dogs of the Desert? My hope for Lost Dogs is the same hope for all shelters or rescuers: that people spay their animals, be responsible, and that we are no longer needed. For now, we pray for the 501(c)3 so we can see a no-kill sanctuary and a free spay clinic here. It can happen. It is our goal to see community awareness and education put into place, as we do not have that in my community right now. We would also love to see an educated professional volunteer coordinator come in and get the community geared up to foster. There are not enough fosters. Fosters are the glue of any no-kill system. For more information on lost dogs of the desert, or to help out, visit www. facebook.com/pages/lost-dogs-of-the-desert rescue/331058100310038, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 9 3/29/13 9:57 AM 10 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 newS BaD DeBt Generations of Valley Taxpayers on the Hook for Hundreds of Millions After School Districts Issue ‘Irresponsible’ Bonds WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS W By SaXon BUrnS hen it comes to government these days, maybe, to quote an old Cole Porter song, “anything goes.” Two area school districts, Coachella Valley Unified (the east valley district that runs public schools in Indio, Coachella and points east) and Desert Community College (aka College of the Desert), are among the hundreds in California that have used financing known as capital appreciation bonds, or CABs, to fund construction projects. These bonds differ from more-traditional cousins in that payments can be put off for years—sometimes decades—allowing districts to save face by not raising property taxes, at least in the short term. However, interest compounds during those years, and when the bill comes due, many districts— and, therefore, taxpayers within those districts—will be socked with explosive costs. Repayment of traditional bonds typically runs about $2 to $3 for every dollar borrowed. In contrast, districts using CABs will frequently shell out four to five times what they borrowed in repayment costs, with rare cases extending into the stratosphere at a ratio of 20-to-1. College of the Desert issued $96 million in bonds, but will have to pay back more than $430 million over almost four decades. wikipedia.org anatomy of a Story How the ‘Independent’ Beat ‘The Desert Sun’ on This Bonds Story—and How ‘The Desert w’ Erred By JIMMy BoeGle To readers of the Coachella Valley Independent, the big “iSun Investigation” that ran in the March 3 Desert Sun, headlined “Bonds Come With Future Bite,” was not really news at all. That’s because on Feb. 15, the Independent published this piece, some 16 days before The Desert Sun came along and ran their story, by Brett Kelman, which featured almost identical reporting. (To be fair, Kelman did add some nice bits of detail; for example, he broke down what the College of the Desert’s interest payments are slated to be, whereas we didn’t.) He also made one fairly significant mistake: He incorrectly credited nonprofit news orgs The Bay Citizen and California Watch for “uncover(ing)” the story. While California Watch and The Bay Citizen have indeed done a bang-up job of covering the capital appreciation bond issue, giving them credit for having “uncovered” the story is just plain wrong. Here’s the anatomy of how this story came to be—first in the Independent, and then in The Desert Sun: • As we mention in our story, retired journalist/current blogger Joel Thurtell (joelontheroad.com) started covering the financial debacle that is capital appreciation bonds way back in May 2012. While his context was a specific school district, he did ring a warning bell about these bonds throughout the state. On May 1, 2012, he wrote: “Let’s hope the California Legislature scraps this CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Warning bells were raised last year when the Voice of San Diego website, assisted by retired journalist Joel Thurtell, reported that Poway Unified School District would be shelling out a cool billion over 40 years for $105 million in borrowing to renovate buildings. This set off a flurry of coverage from The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times (which published a database of the state treasurer’s figures on CABs) and other news outlets. The fact that things aren’t quite Poway bad for our local cases might come as cold comfort. In 2010 and 2012, Coachella Valley Unified School District issued CABs worth slightly more than $35 million. Repayment will set the district back $186.3 million over more than 30 years. CVUSD officials in Thermal, Calif., didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment over the phone. An Independent reporter even made an in-person visit to the district offices, and was told that superintendent Darryl Adams was in meetings and could not speak. The Desert Community College District, which serves the College of the Desert, issued nearly $96 million in CABs in 2007, with repayment totaling just north of $430 million over 38.6 years. At first, college spokeswoman Pamela Hunter said it was difficult to find someone who could speak authoritatively about CABs, because the person who would normally do so had quit. A week later, she furnished the Independent with the number for the college’s director of fiscal services, Wade Ellis, who has proved almost as elusive; we could not reach him after making several calls. (The Independent did miss the one return phone call Ellis made; follow-up efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. We’re sure he has a full plate running fiscal services for an institution with a $45 million annual budget and 15,000 students.) Hunter also emailed a list of two ways in which the district’s use of capital appreciation bonds helped achieve “good government public policy objectives”—justifications for why CABs were such a great idea, the first of which noted how the bonds will help pay for “long-lived assets that will benefit multiple generations of local residents and taxpayers.” These bonds “spread out the tax burden,” the email read, “more fairly over those multiple generations of local residents than the alternative, commonly known as Current Interest Bonds.” That’s not necessarily accurate. The more-traditional current interest bonds go into repayment, with periodic servicing, almost immediately, functioning much like a mortgage. Given how CABs work, it’s difficult to see how they’re fairer. On the contrary, they don’t seem to ask much of current taxpayers, instead focusing the pain into something potent for future generations. The Independent isn’t alone in that assessment: • On Jan. 17, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, both CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 10 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 11 BAD DEBT CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10 Democrats, sent out a non-binding letter asking districts not to issue these bonds: “The transactions have been structured with 40-year terms that delay interest and principal payments for decades, resulting in huge balloon payments and burdens on future taxpayers that cannot be justified. Too frequently, board members and the public have not been fully informed about the costs and risks associated with CABs. In some cases, board members have reported they were not even aware they approved the sale of CABs.” Lockyer, who has been especially vocal in his opposition to CABs, has called them “irresponsible” and “bad deals,” and has even likened them to “payday loans.” • California Assemblyman Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat who has co-sponsored a bill in the State Assembly that would prevent districts from issuing many of these bonds, told The New York Times, “Right now, if they don’t have the revenue, school boards can say, ‘Let’s just kick the can down the road 20 years and let them deal with it.’” Hueso’s bill was given a unanimous thumbs-up by the Assembly Education Committee in mid-March. • “This generation will not pay for what it needs, so some of its leaders have decided to saddle future generations with the bills,” wrote Floyd Norris, a commentator on economic issues, also in The New York Times. After hearing these quotes, Hunter said she didn’t have the expertise to explain how, exactly, CABs are a fairer way to borrow, adding that Ellis would be the one to talk to on that front. You already know how that turned out. Hunter provided one final tidbit of information worth noting: When asked where this bogus CAB justification came from—if it was official, etc.—she said it was written by the “bond adviser.” The Independent has been met with silence in trying to confirm if Hunter was referring to “this generation the bond counsel will not pay for for College of the Desert: Stradling, what it needs, so Yocca, Carlson some of its leaders and Rauth, a San Francisco corpohave decided to ration that gets saddle future paid for facilitatgenerations with ing these deals, and is involved the bills,” wrote with districts up Floyd norris, a and down the state. commentator on We’ve also economic issues, been unable to also in the new determine if these points were york times. made available to district trustees when they agreed to issue the bonds in 2007; the three board members from that time who still have their seats would not return calls from the Independent. Lockyer told The New York Times that the real beneficiaries of these schemes are the financial advisers, who, according to the state treasurer’s office, have received millions in compensation. ANATOMY OF A STORY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10 abomination. In Michigan 19 years ago, we found that CABs are good only for the handful of bond underwriters, bond attorneys and financial advisers who promote them to enrich themselves at public expense.” • On Aug. 6, 2012, news website Voice of San Diego did a piece focusing on Poway. This led to some national attention, from CNBC and other outlets. It should be noted that Thurtell was apparently upset with Voice of San Diego for not initially crediting him; VOSD then did a piece on that matter, as well as the national attention. In that followup piece, VOSD editor Andrew Donohue wrote: “There’s been no concerted effort to act like we were the pioneers. Nor do I believe we have claimed that the information contained within it came to light only as a result of our investigation.” In other words, VOSD presumably didn’t run the piece under a silly tag like “iSun Investigation.” • On Aug. 22, California Watch’s Erica Perez did a story noting the coverage of both Thurtell and VOSD. In it, she started expanding the scope of the matter beyond Poway, pointing out the obscene payback amounts some other community college districts were facing in California. • On Nov. 29, the Los Angeles Times did a piece on the bonds, presenting them as a true statewide problem. Most valuably, the Times—using data from the state Treasurer’s Office—also published an online database of districts in the state that had issued capital appreciation bonds. (Interestingly enough, the Times wound up running a correction on the piece: They initially cred- ited VOSD, without crediting Thurtell, for breaking the news on Poway. Props to them for later amending the piece to credit Thurtell.) • The Times piece—and the database, especially—led to all sorts of coverage, including localized coverage. In Northern California’s Humboldt County, for example, my friend Hank Sims, of online news source the Lost Coast Outpost, did a story discussing that county’s school districts which had issued capital appreciation bonds. A heads-up from Hank is how I first learned about the Times database, and therefore the Coachella Valley angle. (Side note: The daily in Eureka, Calif., credited the Lost Coast Outpost for first publishing the information locally—something the folks at The Desert Sun felt no need to do.) California Watch then did more, expanded coverage (some of which was used in The Desert Sun piece); The New York Times did a piece on the bonds in California. With the Coachella Valley Independent fully up and running after the first of the year, I asked Saxon to look into the Coachella Valley angle after Hank’s tip. That’s how, to my knowledge, we became the first valley publication to report on the matter. I am very happy The Desert Sun did their piece; this is an important story that Coachella Valley taxpayers need to know about. But to call this as an “investigation” without properly crediting the journalists who really exposed this matter—especially Joel Thurtell—is wrong, plain and simple. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 11 3/29/13 9:57 AM 12 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 newS fooD-tRuCK ReD tape Riverside County Takes Slow Steps Toward Allowing Mobile Kitchens WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS f By SaXon BUrnS ood-truck operators may soon be freer to serve Riverside County residents, some of whom have looked with envy upon neighboring counties with far looser rules. County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, who was elected last year after pledging to “free the food trucks,” is consulting key players about the possibility of overhauling the county’s restrictions on mobile kitchens, according to his chief of staff, Jeff Greene. Greene has been telling aficionados of food-truck fare—and those seeing potential dollar signs in an untapped market—that they’ll have to wait until the summer, at the earliest. “We want to take time to do this right,” he said, while adding that proper regulation didn’t entail “inventing the wheel.” The current rules were set in the 1980s as a reaction to incidents of food poisoning and injuries, and are among the most stringent in the state. As it stands now, vendors are restricted to selling pre-packaged foods or simple items typically associated with hot-dog carts, such as popcorn, snow cones, coffee drinks, churros and roasted nuts. Food trucks, as they’re known and loved in other counties, across the country and on the Food Network—offering items cooked from raw ingredients—are only permitted at special events at which they can be inspected. This has created the “disappointing” scenario in which food trucks only from outside of the county service these events, according to Angela Janus, executive director of Cathedral City’s ShareKitchen, a nonprofit organization that acts as a business incubator for restaurateurs. “We spend our money on food trucks that then take the money back where they came from,” she said. “The county is really missing out.” Janus added that many entrepreneurs have come to her organization seeking advice on opening food trucks in Riverside County, viewing them as a gateway into the restaurant business. They’re ultimately frustrated by the restrictive environment, she said. In terms of what a new environment might look like, Greene criticized one idea that has been circulated among county officials: that food trucks be installed with GPS devices, broadcasting their location to regulators. “We want them to be inspected, but requiring 24/7 GPS monitoring seems over the top,” he said. Government, GPS devices and food trucks have tangled before: A 2012 Chicago ordinance, which mandated the devices to enforce parking restrictions, was met with stiff resistance from food-truck supporters; a lawsuit against the rules is pending. A similar requirement in El Paso, Texas, was repealed when boosters sued. Other jurisdictions require the devices so health inspectors can find the trucks. Lynne Wilder, program chief for the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, wrote in an email that there were “no major developments to report” about the potential overhaul, but then indulged the Independent with a little hypothesizing about what change might look like on their end. “We would need to institute a new program as we do not currently have staff for the additional workload that would be generated,” she wrote. “We would want to address issues to ensure proper trash disposal, proper wastewater disposal should the holding tanks fill up during the work day, adequate commissaries located reasonable distances from areas of operation and possibly GPS for locating the vehicles.” Public-health regulators in Los Angeles County and Arizona’s Pima County have noted the relative difficulty they have in finding food trucks to conduct inspections, when compared to restaurants that don’t move. Given that, we asked Greene if GPS devices perhaps made sense. “The reality is that most of these trucks want people to know where they are,” he said. Operators post their whereabouts, at least when they’re looking for customers, to Facebook and Twitter. Greene threw out possible alternatives, including citations if operators aren’t where they’ve claimed they’ll be, or creating a website with truck locations that would serve both “a regulatory and marketing purpose.” Regulatory details aside, some county officials seem committed to the idea that greater access to kimchi quesadillas and the like is more a question of when than if. And that has proponents like Janus and Greene sounding a hopeful note. “If Orange County and Los Angeles and San Diego can have these gourmet food trucks,” Greene said, “then Riverside (County) should, too.” CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 12 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 13 Coachella Valley 2035 Our region is becoming older, more Latino—and a lot more crowded. By Jimmy Boegle We’re getting older. We’re getting more Hispanic. And we’re getting a heck of a lot bigger. Those are the conclusions that can be drawn from a series recently released Coachella Valley growth projections. The state of California earlier this year released statewide figures broken down by county, and the folks at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) were kind enough to release brand-new Coachella Valley-specific projections to the Independent. The numbers are striking: SCAG projects that while there were 443,000 people in what the association classifies as the Coachella Valley in 2008, there will be 604,000 of us in 2020—just seven short years away. And in 2035, there will be 884,000 of us. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 13 3/29/13 9:57 AM 14 \\ coachella Valley IndependeNT SPRING 2013 GROWTH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 “When you think of our growth over the years, it’s been slow and steady,” said Cathedral City Councilmember Greg Pettis, who also sits on the boards of SCAG and the Riverside County Transportation Commission. “This is an explosion.” That explosion will largely take place in the East Valley. While the population of every city in the valley is projected to grow by at least 20 percent, Indio is expected to grow from 73,300 people in 2008 to 111,800 in 2035—a 53 percent expansion. However, the projected growth in Coachella makes Indio’s growth look quaint: The city of 38,200 people in 2008 is expected to balloon to 70,200 in 2020, and 128,700 in 2035, making it the valley’s largest city. (For what it’s worth, the city of Coachella is updating its general plan, and documents show that city officials there are projecting 155,000 people by 2035.) But the biggest growth won’t happen in any city at all. The unincorporated areas of the valley are expected to see half of all the population growth between 2008 and 2035: While 87,500 people lived in the Coachella Valley’s unincorporated areas in 2008, a whopping 308,600 people will be in those areas in 2035. A SCAG map (see the next page) shows that much of this expansion in unincorporated areas will take place north of Interstate 10 and in the areas south and west of Coachella. The projections from SCAG and the state show that as we grow, the Coachella Valley’s percentage of Latinos will rise, while the percentage of “nonHispanic whites” will fall. Meanwhile, we’ll get older, too. State figures show that Riverside County will be leading California in terms of growth rate. Expanding the timeframe out a bit, these state figures show that between 2010 and 2060, Riverside County’s population will expand by 92 percent (with the Coachella Valley growing at a higher rate than the rest of the county). However, seniors will see the highest percentage of growth: The number of people age 65 to 74 in Riverside County is expected to grow by 210 percent; the number of people between 75 and 84 by 255 percent; and people 85 and older by a whopping 531 percent. While projections definitely can be wrong—the Great Recession, for example, blew holes in some earlier projections—it’s clear that our little valley will go through a whole lot of change over the next generation. Reasons for Optimism The good news is that local leaders said they’re working to prepare for this “explosion,” and in some ways, we’re ahead of the curve. For example, when it comes to area’s roadways, we’re doing OK. “So far, we’ve been able to keep up with growth and traffic,” said Tom Kirk, the executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments. “This time of year, some of our roadways are taxed, because we have so many visitors, but our roads are still far less congested than in Los Angeles and other urban areas. We’ve done a good job of keeping up with that.” He pointed to the fact that Riverside County voters approved—and renewed—a half-cent sales tax measure that funds transportation projects as one reason the valley’s roadways remain relatively viable, and said that impact fees on new developments have—and will continue to—provide funding for new roads. Pettis noted that Interstate 10 has seen a steady series of interchange improvements, and that there’s a possibility of more new or expanded interchanges, including ones at Da Vall Drive, Landau Boulevard and Jefferson Street. Kirk also brought up moves that area governments are making to go beyond vehicle-based transportation. Specifically, he mentioned the proposed Whitewater River Parkway, a bike/ pedestrian/“neighborhood electric vehicle” pathway—46 miles, at an estimated $70 million cost— that would connect all of the valley’s cities. “It’s a big part of our plan to move people from point A to point B,” Kirk said. Kirk also said he feels that the valley is well-prepared to handle the increase in water needs that will come with a large increase in population, noting that the Coachella Valley Water District and "urisdic)on in the Coachella Valley Jurisdiction in the coachella valley association of governments (cvag) Associa)on o5 Go7ernments 9CVAG: Blythe Cathedral City Coachella Desert Hot Springs Indian Wells Indio La Quinta Palm Desert Palm Springs Rancho Mirage Unincorporated Areas in CVAG CVAG Total other area agencies have long-term commitments to secure the water supply. “Also, we tend to use less water in newer developments than older developments,” Kirk said. The recent Coachella Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, prepared by the Coachella Valley Regional Water Management Group, examines many of the water issues facing the valley, and comes up with a comprehensive plan for our water supply. The plan does ring some warning bells, though, including the fact that our local aquifers are decreasing due to over-pumping, and that projected Colorado River water may not be available due to drought and climate change. Speaking of comprehensive planning, the city of Coachella is putting the finishing touches on its general plan update. Luis Lopez, the city’s community development director, said the plan is the blueprint for the city’s much-larger future. I asked him: Is the city of Coachella ready to become the valley’s largest? “As a small-city government, we need to grow and mature and sophisticate into a large city,” Lopez said. Lopez added that the city is working hard on transportation matters, to make sure future residents will be able to get around the area. He said city planners are putting an emphasis on making streets more pedestrian-friendly, and improving access to public transit. Officials are also preparing for new developments, such as La Entrada, a 7,800-home project located south of Interstate 10 and east of Highway 86. “It’s basically like a new town up there,” he said. “We need to create connectivity with the project.” Causes for Concern Of course, with growth comes change. Lopez conceded that as more and more agricultural land is gobbled up by homes and development, his small, agricultural town will cease to be so small and agricultural. “Currently, we’re more rural, with more open space. As those areas become urbanized, there will be a significant change in character,” Lopez said. Of course, character is just one of the many potential worrisome changes. For one thing, less agricultural land means less agricultural business. And speaking of business: If the size of the valley doubles, where will all these newcomers work? Pettis cited employment as a potential problem. He said that if plans and proposals to expand College of the Desert (presuming the college can ever get beyond a recent series of scandals and misdeeds) and the Palm Desert campus of the California State University at San Bernardino could come to fruition, that would be a great start. He also said community leaders need to look at expanding the health-care industry (especially considering the increase in the senior population) and getting “some kind of manufacturing” into the desert. “It needs to be a focus,” he said. Speaking of a focus, everyone the Independent spoke to agrees that the valley needs to keep the money train that is tourism on track. Pettis is especially hopeful about a proposed (and long-delayed) resort hotel in downtown Cathedral City that he said could bring 500 to 600 jobs. However, the valley may not need as many jobs, per se, if there were greater rail connectivity to the rest of Southern California. Housing is cheaper in the Coachella Valley than it is in much of Los Angeles and Orange counties, so more people who have jobs in those metropolitan areas could decide to make the commute if the commute were cheaper and easier than it is now. Both Pettis and Kirk talked up the importance of twice-a-day, seven-day-a-week rail service to Riverside, Orange County and Los Angeles; currently, Amtrak offers only three days of service between Palm Springs and Los Angeles—and the train arrives in North Palm Springs at the ungodly time of 12:36 a.m. “We have a lot of people traveling (from the Coachella Valley) to Riverside or Moreno Valley every day,” Pettis said. “Well, they’re stuck on the freeways now.” Finally, Kirk said that the concern that figura- % rowth in in % otal Ppopulation opula)on %G growth % oof5 Ttotal 2035 population 2035 Popula)on Popula)on 5rom 2008 Growth Coachella population from growth iinn coachella to 2to035 Valley 2008 2035 valley 2008 population 2008 Popula)on 2020 population 2020 Popula)on 20,300 50,200 38,200 25,200 4,800 73,300 36,100 47,100 43,400 16,900 87,500 22,700 57,000 70,200 43,500 5,500 91,500 41,600 52,100 48,900 18,800 152,200 24,300 64,600 128,700 58,100 5,800 111,800 46,300 56,800 56,100 22,900 308,600 20% 29% 237% 131% 21% 53% 28% 21% 29% 36% 253% 1% 3% 21% 7% 0% 9% 2% 2% 3% 1% 50% 443,000 604,000 884,000 100% 100% SourceW Southern Cali5ornia Associa)on o5 Go7ernments 9SCAG:, 2013 CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 14 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 15 tively keeps him up at night is a problem that neither he nor other local leaders can control. “I do believe for those of us who live in and love the state of California, there’s much that worries me. There are systematic, big picture concerns” when it comes to state government, especially when it comes to funding education and infrastructure, he said. tHe GReat unKnoWns One of the more interesting aspects of the projected growth involves the fact that so much of it is expected to happen in unincorporated areas. As mentioned above, as of 2008, 87,500 people—or not quite 20 percent of the 443,000 people that lived within the Coachella Valley Association of Governments’ jurisdiction (which, for some reason, includes the Blythe area)—lived outside of an incorporated area. In 2035, that number is projected to be 308,600, or 35 percent of the total population of 884,000. In the past, when a large number of people moved into an unincorporated area, the residents would often band together to incorporate and create a new town or city, or an adjacent city would annex the area. However, “the game is different today,” Kirk said, considering that governments at all levels—and especially at the state and county levels—are navigating through financial problems. “I think it’d be a struggle for a new city to be formed, and a very big challenge for older cities to expand,” Kirk said. “That means the challenge is going to fall upon the county’s shoulders to service these populations.” That’s not to say that the area’s cities don’t have expansion plans—for example, Coachella is planning some annexation of land involving the La Entrada development, Lopez said, and Pettis noted that Cathedral City has designs on the Thousand Palms area. Still, it’s safe to say that many of the largest-growing areas in the valley will wind up unincorporated. The biggest concern that the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has about this extra burden is finding qualified law-enforcement officials to handle it all—especially if growth comes quickly. “Deputy sheriffs and correctional deputies are required to meet strict requirements to ensure they can handle the demands of a career in law enforcement. The hiring process for a new deputy sheriff can take between eight and 12 months, with another year of training. The skill level and experience takes even longer to achieve, so you need to consider the lead time necessary to reach the intended goal,” wrote Riverside County Chief Deputy Rodney Vigue, in response to an emailed list of questions from the Independent. These requirements, when combined with the projected growth explosion, have Vigue concerned. “Less than 1 percent of the candidates who apply for a deputy sheriff position are hired, and all the agencies in the Coachella Valley and throughout the state are competing against each other for the same candidates,” Vigue wrote. Vigue, like Kirk, expressed concerns about the state’s financial picture. “The unforeseen impacts the state may have on existing funding sources and any future cuts have the potential to force local communities to evaluate budget priorities,” Vigue wrote. “For example, the recent influx of state prisoners into the county correctional facilities and into our communities, as a result of the state corrections realignment, has strained local obligations. This impact is not only being felt from a county perspective, jail-overcrowding and a rise in crime, but also from each city that is trying to make the commu- nity safer. The shift from state responsibility to the county has strained an already overburdened correctional system, which will take years of planning and funding to overcome.” So, in other words, as the Coachella Valley gets older, more Hispanic and a heck of a lot bigger, don’t expect everything to be smooth sailing. “The department will need to look toward innovative programs, technology and volunteers to assist with controlling crime and maintaining the quality of life we currently enjoy in the Coachella Valley,” Vigue wrote. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 15 3/29/13 9:57 AM 16 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent newS WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS SPRING 2013 snapsHot Images From Winter in the Coachella Valley By JIMMy BoeGle The destruction of the Desert Fashion Plaza formally began on Feb. 7, during a ceremony at which local leaders spoke, got in a Volvo backhoe and took turns poking at a surprisingly resilient sign. The largely defunct mall is slated to be replaced by a new shopping center—including a controversial sixstory hotel—built by Wessman Development, at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way. “Look at what we’ve done in the last year,” said Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, who presided over the ceremony in the parking lot near the “Forever Marilyn” statue, following his state of the city speech at the Hilton. “We brought in ‘Forever Marilyn,’ though we didn’t know she was coming. We brought this project forward. … What we’ve done in the last two years is remarkable.” However, not everyone was celebrating. As Pougnet and co. made their way to the ceremony, Food Not Bombs Palm Springs set up on the Palm Canyon Drive sidewalk in front of “Forever Marilyn.” FNB member Ethan Vega stood near a plastic bin, with a stock pot on top of it. The pot and bin contained 165 vegetarian burritos—containing spinach, rice, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and green peppers—which were free to all comers. Vega said that although FNB tries not to get too political—aside, of course, from promoting nonviolence and trying to shed a light on poverty—Food Not Bombs chose to show up for a reason. “We’re just trying to show support for local businesses, smaller businesses, who may have been pushed out in this process—and to feed hungry people, really,” Vega said. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was on display at the Palm Springs Air Museum from Feb. 21-24. The wall is a project of American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT), and is a traveling replica—with all of the names—at 80 percent of the original’s size. It’s 360 feet long. Temps in the 40s and 50s? Who cares? The sun was out on Sunday, Jan. 13, so that meant the crowds still came to the College of the Desert Alumni Association’s Street Fair. Several hundred vendors sold everything from children’s toilet seats to handcrafted art to socks—just as they do every weekend. The College of the Desert Street Fair takes place every Saturday and Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (October through May) or 7 a.m. to noon (June through September). The fair takes place at College of the Desert, at the intersection of Fred Waring Drive and Monterrey Avenue in Palm Desert. For more information, call 636-7957, or visit www.codstreetfair.net. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 16 3/29/13 9:57 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 17 Hundreds of attendees came out to peruse the oﬀerings of dozens of local authors at the Palm Springs Writers Guild’s annual Desert Writers Expo at the Rancho Mirage Public Library on Wednesday, March 20. The 42 participating authors sold their books on topics ranging from “cyber thriller” to travel to past-life regression. Student and professional artists came out to the parking area behind “Forever Marilyn” in downtown Palm Springs on Saturday, March 16, for the Third Annual Palm Springs Chalk Art Festival. Chosen subjects ranged from turtles to angels to an image from Oz the Great and Powerful. Students competed for a $250 ﬁrst-place prize, while the pros competed for prizes topping out at $500. The event was presented by the Palm Springs Sun-up Rotary Club and the City of Palm Springs Public Arts Commission. Proceeds were slated to go to the Rotary Foundation, Palm Springs Uniﬁed School District art education, and the Rotary’s PolioPlus program. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 17 3/29/13 9:57 AM 18 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent & SPRING 2013 19 SprInG artS preVIew 21 on the wInGS oF a BUtterFly 22 the adVantaGeS oF BeInG new: deSert roSe playhoUSe cvindependent.com/arts-and-culture The spRinG aRts pReVieW Cyndi Lauper Headlines the 20th Evening Under the Stars 19 CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 18 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 19 artS & CUltUre The spRinG aRts pReVieW There’s Plenty of Theater, Visual Arts, Comedy, Dance and Music Worth Your Attention This Season WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/ARTS-AND-CULTURE a By JIMMy BoeGle h, spring in the Coachella Valley. Some days feature the Best. Weather. Ever. Other days make it clear that the furnace we call “summer” is going to be here all too soon. Whether the weather’s amazing or appalling, there’s no sense in sitting around at home; spring in the Coachella Valley is simply packed with great things to do—no matter your interest, your budget, or what part of the valley you live in. We here at the Independent have scoured the various press releases and arts websites, and we came up with this selection of eight spring highlights. (OK, the last one occurs when it’s actually summer. But it’s the freaking Village People, people.) Oh, and before we begin: If you’re part of an arts organization, gallery or special event, make sure to send all of your info to email@example.com, so we can keep our readers (who, like you, are all stunningly smart and gorgeous) in the know. Thanks! And enjoy! What: Roger Ballen Photography When: Through Sunday, July 28 Where: New Media Gallery at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs: How much: $12.50; $10.50 seniors; $5 students; free to members, kids 12 and younger, and active duty military and families; free to all every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m., and the second Sunday of each month Contact info: 322-4800; www.psmuseum.org Why: When it’s hot out, the museum offers an awesome respite. Springs Art Museum. If you don’t understand it, let me translate: His photos look as cool as the air conditioning inside of the museum. So, go. At some point this spring, it’s going to get hot—so hot that, as Dave Barry once wrote, “nuns are cursing openly on the street.” And at some point when it’s nun-cursingly hot, you’re going to want to get out and do something, despite the outdoor oven. We recommend the Palm Springs Art Museum. Among the exhibits the museum has on display this spring is Roger Ballen Photography. Ballen is a New York native who moved to South Africa to work in geology after earning his doctorate in mineral economics. “Fascinated by the uncertain and precarious conditions he found, he began photographing people in small towns at the margins of society. Ballen documented these residents through a series of unsettling portraits that reveal the human condition even as his subjects exhibit idiosyncratic manners and habits,” says a write-up on the museum website. He’s since shifted away from documentary photography, and today, his photos increasingly “exploit the shallow space between a constructed backdrop and the camera in a way that is immediate and confrontational. However, the overall effect is less aggressive than intimate and challenging,” continues the website. If you understand all of that art-speak, get thee to the Palm In 2011, Robert Battle became only the third artistic director in the 55-year history of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When he started making his own mark on the lauded modern-dance company—it started as an all-African American modern-dance company in 1958, and went on to become a model organization, both in terms of creative influence and management—some critics were less than pleased. “Battle faced the tough New York critics when he presented his first Big Apple season as artistic director (in the winter of 2011),” wrote Margaret Regan of the Tucson Weekly (who happens to be one of this country’s foremost arts writers). “Several writers seemed wary of the Ailey troupe’s accessibility and celebratory appeal. A review by The New York Times’ Alistair Macaulay was headlined ‘Trying Always to Please, Rarely to Challenge.’” What was Battle’s response? “I was too busy celebrating,” he told Regan. “There’s so much to celebrate. (That is) what is wonderful about the company and what we do. People leave the theater feeling uplifted. It’s an important aspect of what we do. There’s so much cynicism in the world. People can come here and feel connected.” What: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater When: 8 p.m., Thursday, April 11 Where: McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert How much: $49 to $99 Contact info: 340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com Why: Modern dance doesn’t get any better. Now in his second season as artistic director, Battle continues to craft the company in his own way, while still honoring Ailey and Judith Jamison, Battle’s predecessor. The show at McCallum is slated to include works by young choreographer Kyle Abraham; Czech Jiří Kylián; Garth Fagan (the choreographer of The Lion King play) and others, in addition to Battle’s own works—and, of course, dances from Ailey himself, including “Revelations” in its entirety. Alvin Ailey Dance is just one small part of a packed schedule at the McCallum through May 10, when comedian/flight purser/ complete lunatic Pam Ann (aka Caroline Reid) will close out the 2012-2013 season. Check the website for a complete schedule. What: Tru, the final play in the 2012-2013 season for Coyote StageWorks When: Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 28 Where: The Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs How much: $39 to $55 Contact info: 325-4490 (box office); www.coyotestageworks.org Why: Because a theater company named after margarita-drinking episodes is putting on a Truman Capote play, and that is allaround awesome. OK, we’re being a bit smart-assed in our description of why this play is worth your attention, although the company is indeed named after El Coyote, the Los Angeles Mexican restaurant where founding artistic director Chuck Yates and his CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 19 3/29/13 9:58 AM 20 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 SPRING ARTS PREVIEW CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 friends—many of whom are involved with Coyote StageWorks—would mark important moments in their lives “by raising a margarita together,” according to the theater-company website. Nonetheless, this play—starring Yates as a lonely Capote looking back on his life—is rarely performed (the Coyote StageWorks folks say they’re one of the “few” companies granted the rights to perform it), and it’s adapted from the works of Capote, so you know it will be entertaining. Throw in the play’s Tony Award-winning pedigree, and the fine reputation Coyote StageWorks has, and this sounds like a winner. Check out the website for more details. What: Gabriel Iglesias When: 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4; 6 p.m., Sunday, May 5 Where: Agua Caliente, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage How much: $45 to $75 Contact info: (866) 923-7244; www.hotwatercasino.com Why: Because fluffy is funny. In 2006, Gabriel Iglesias appeared on the NBC TV show Last Comic Standing, in which comics compete in a competition to become … well, y’know, the last comic standing. Iglesias was doing well on the show— which offered him his first real widespread exposure—and was among the final eight contestant-comedians. Then he was caught using a Blackberry to communicate with the outside world. This was a no-no, and Iglesias was thrown off the show. Despite that bit of cheating and idiocy, Iglesias has had the last laugh: He’s gone on to not only have a bigger career than any of the other comedians on that season of Last Comic Standing; he’s arguably gone on to have a bigger career than any winner of Last Comic Standing. Also, if you saw Magic Mike: Remember the DJ who got Adam (“The Kid”) in trouble by getting him to deal drugs? Yep, that was Iglesias. Other performers at Agua Caliente this spring include Melissa Etheridge, Penn and Teller, and even Tony Bennett. Check the website for a complete list. What: Cyndi Lauper headlines the 20th Evening Under the Stars, a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program When: 6 p.m., Saturday, May 11 Where: O’Donnell Golf Club, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs How much: $395 and up Contact info: 325-8481; www.aidsassistance.org Why: It’s a great cause, and Lauper is a class act Despite all sorts of wonderful medical advances, HIV and AIDS are still around, and they’re still wreaking havoc on people’s lives. That’s where the AIDS Assistance Program comes in. The program helps low-income folks with HIV/AIDS by distributing $100 in food vouchers to them every month, and by offering counseling and training seminars to help those folks get back on their professional and social feet. According to the AIDS Assistance Program website, some $7 million in direct service has been extended to some 1,500 clients since the program began in 1991—and the AAP receives no state or federal funding. Therefore, the AAP needs to raise money—and a lot of it, and one way in which the AAP does that is through the annual Evening Under the Stars gala. The event includes cocktails, dinner and dancing, as well as a ceremony honoring three people who have gone above and beyond to help AAP and its clients. Of course, this year’s event also includes a performance by Cyndi Lauper, who is as busy as ever. Did you know that in 2010, the renowned singer, actress and gay-rights activist released an album called Memphis Blues, which became the year’s top blues album? And that she’s written a musical with Harvey Fierstein, called Kinky Boots, that’s opening on Broadway this April? Tickets for the gala start at $395 (although $270 of that is tax-deductable). It’s a lot of money, sure, but AAP is an amazing cause—and that money will get you an amazing evening under the stars, too. What: Bye Bye Birdie When: Friday, May 17, through Sunday, May 26 Where: Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs How much: $32 Contact info: 323-5123; www.palmcanyontheatre.org Why: Because OMG IT’S HEARTTHROB CONRAD BIRDIE!!! Can we get a round of applause for the folks at the Palm Canyon Theatre? Whereas most local theater companies go on hiatus when temperatures hit triple-digits and the snowbirds exit stage left, these people stick around and provide quality theater almost year-round. In May, Palm Canyon Theatre will be the home of the classic Bye Bye Birdie. In this musical, set in 1958, heartthrob rock ’n’ roller Conrad Birdie is drafted into the Army—but before he departs, he heads to little Sweet Apple, Ohio, to sing to one lucky member of his fan club. Birdie creates quite a stir among the small town and the family of the chosen fan, Kim MacAfee—and the hijinks (and songs) ensue. Also on the rather-diverse boards for the Palm Canyon Theatre are The Vagina Monologues (April 5-7), Hair (April 19-28), and Pippin (July 12-21). sniveling to the media about how tough it is to date while on tour. And he’s only 19. OK, everyone, say it along with me: Awww, poor thing! So, yeah, it’s OK to hate McCreery a little. But there’s no denying his talent; with that deep voice of his and his good looks (didja know he’s part Puerto Rican?), he’s a contender to become the most successful Idol alum of all time. He’ll kick off the month of June at Spotlight 29’s Spotlight Showroom. Other bookings this season include the Spring Love Tour on Saturday, April 6 (highlight: Exposé singing “Point of No Return”!), comedian Brian Regan on Friday, April 12, and Mexican comedian Jo Jo Jorge Falcon on Saturday, May 4. Check out the website for a full schedule. What: The Village People, in concert with KC and the Sunshine Band When: 8 p.m., Saturday, July 6 Where: Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio How much: $39 to $69 Contact info: 342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com Why: Because you can stay there, and I’m sure you will find many ways to have a good time … True story: When I was little, my mother—a conservative housewife who lived on a cattle ranch just outside of Reno, Nev.—would occasionally clean house to a Village People 8-track. She loved this 8-track, and would turn it up to a volume usually reserved for Boeing 747 engines. In other words, as a child, I was routinely subjected to disturbingly loud renditions of lyrics like: “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA! They have everything for young men to enjoy! You can hang out with all the boys!” It’s no wonder I turned out gay. Anyhow, the Village People and another ’70s mainstay, KC and the Sunshine Band, will be rocking the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center on July 6. (Fun fact: That same day, KC and the Sunshine Band’s Wayne Casey will get his own star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.) In other words: Start working on your YMCA dance now! Visit the Fantasy Springs website for a list of other upcoming shows; there’s some good stuff coming up, ranging from John Legend (Saturday, April 6) to Pepe Aguilar (Saturday, May 4) the Doobie Brothers (Saturday, June 15). What: Scotty McCreery in concert When: 8 p.m., Saturday, June 1 Where: Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella How much: $45-$65 Contact info: (866) 377-6829; www.spotlight29.com Why: Because OMG IT’S HEARTTHROB SCOTTY MCCREERY!!! Scotty McCreery was just a wee lad of 17 in 2011, when he cruised to victory on the 10th season of American Idol. What has he done since then, you ask? Well, he promptly released his debut album, Clear as Day, which went to No. 1 and achieved platinum status; and he followed that up with a Christmas album, Christmas With Scotty McCreery, that went to No. 2 on the country charts and reached gold status, even though it was a freakin’ Christmas album. He’s now at work on a new album, taking college classes, and CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 20 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 21 artS & CUltUre on tHe WinGs of a ButteRfLY Nathan Teutli Shows the World’s Fading Beauty With ‘The Butterﬂy Project’ WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/ARTS-AND-CULTURE t By BrIGIt hartop he police officer pulled over the little dirty car heading through Joshua Tree National Park, because its driver—an unshaven male in a shabby jacket—was speeding. What caught the officer’s eye was unusual: Five women also rode in the car, sitting upright and dressed in stunning, multicolor satin gowns. With stiff body language, he walked toward the car, looking at the backs of the beautiful women, with their intricately styled hair. Then he noticed something else: Each female passenger in the car was wearing a spectacular pair of butterfly wings that bore a perfectly realistic image of a butterfly’s pattern, and were bobbing gently in a lifelike manner. “Where are you headed?” the officer asked the group. “I’m a photographer,” replied the driver, without bothering to answer the actual question; he had used those same words numerous times before to explain away potentially odd behavior. “It’s called The Butterfly Project.” The police officer asked a few more questions, and he let the driver off with a warning. The photographer, Nathan Teutli, remembers that he and the five winged women then proceeded on to a dry, hot little patch of desert and spent the afternoon shooting. The prints resulting from The Butterfly Project range from startling to subtle, mysterious to amusing—but they all have an intricate story behind the pretty faces. Most of the women featured are not professional models, and what started as a personal photography experiment by Teutli has turned into an international expedition embedded with environmental and societal messages. Nathan, partially based in Palm Springs, tells me that the catalyst for The Butterfly Project occurred while he was a child. He grew up on a ranch in Mexico, and one afternoon, he fell asleep while nestled in a peach tree. When he woke up, the first thing he saw was an incredibly beautiful butterfly calmly resting on his body. He never forgot the image, he says, and when he began studying art at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, he started work on his first pair of wings. “They were really cool-looking, made from scraps of fabric and twisted bits of metal, but they were too heavy for a model to wear comfortably,” he says. The wings also lacked the lifelike movement that Nathan wanted to re-create. “Then I made one out of a coat hanger and put pantyhose on it and spray-painted it, and the picture that was made from those wings and the model I put them on wound up being purchased by a private collector out of the Palm Springs Desert Museum (now called the Palm Springs Art Museum).” Nathan was no longer the sleepy boy on a ranch; his work was being bought by collectors, and his photographs on myriad subjects had appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue and American Photo Magazine. He was also creating a story with The Butterfly Project, a theme that developed more with each model. He cre- ated a third pair of wings that would be used in every subsequent shoot. Nathan spent hours at a butterfly garden until they flew to him. He took a photograph of each butterfly and printed them onto foam boards—around 4 feet tall. “A butterfly’s average life span is about a month, for some types a week,” Nathan says while showing me photos of the final wing set. “Since each butterfly has a completely unique wing pattern, much like a fingerprint, the wings I made from their photos are utterly unique and unlike any other.” Soon after the final design, he gave up most of his possessions and moved to Japan for seven years. “There was a difference in the women (in Asia). When I approached one and said that I was looking for a fashion-photography model, most were like, ‘All right, I’ll do it.’ Then I told them about The Butterfly Project, and that they would represent their country in the series. Instantly, they would almost back out of the project, and say things like they weren’t beautiful enough, that there were other women who were more beautiful, and basically that they weren’t good enough for their country, because they weren’t the most attractive person there. It was sad. And they were shocked that it didn’t matter and that I still wanted to photograph them.” There were strict guidelines for becoming a Butterfly. Each woman would represent the country in which they resided, and were chosen based on a short, casual interview. “They had to be good people, and have an interesting story as well. Some of them were breathtakingly beautiful, but after asking them a few questions, they turned out to be pretty shallow.” One of the women is a graphic designer; another is an emergency medical technician; and one is a traveling actress in Japan. There is a deep story in each of their eyes, and those stories draw Nathan to select them. Perhaps the most striking thing about the models is the raw background of some of the shots. Part of the point of The Butterfly Project is to startle people into realizing what we’re destroying. A shoot near Niigata, Japan, shows a once-stunning beach littered with garbage, bottles marked as containing hazardous materials, chemical containers, and plastic that washes in from North Korea. Also visible are the masses of people bathing in the water amid the trash and contamination. Butterflies themselves are incredible creatures who aid in agricultural health, and 30 types are now or are soon to be on the Endangered Species List. Nathan says, “It’s easy to distance ourselves from disasters or poverty-stricken areas of the world when he hear it on the news, but to see a beautiful creature— this half-woman, half-butterfly, standing in front of all the ugliness—it hits people more. I hope it makes them realize what’s happening to the beauty of the world.” Nathan hopes that he will be able to shoot one woman from every country in the world, a massive undertaking that he speculates would take more than a year and a half. However, time is the least of his enemies. “It would take a tremendous amount of research and precaution to find models in every country, especially in the regions where photographing women may not be allowed,” he says. Nathan already has families in Russia, France, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic who have offered him housing while he shoots. He recalls a moment in Japan, when after shooting a model in a busy intersection, Nathan walked with the model across the street to a small café. An astonished old woman got up from her seat and gently poked the model to see if she was real, and drew sharply back in wonder when she felt the warmth of her skin. Another man stared incessantly at the man with the camera bag. “I’m a photographer,” smiled Nathan. nathan offers select prints from the Butterfly project via firstname.lastname@example.org and at select local consignment stores. For more information, visit www.nathanteutli.com. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 21 3/29/13 9:58 AM 22 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 artS & CUltUre tHe aDVantaGes of BeinG neW Desert Rose Playhouse Does LGBT-Themed Shows Its Own Way WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/ARTS-AND-CULTURE B By JIMMy BoeGle eing a brand-new startup sometimes has its advantages. Just ask the folks at the Desert Rose Playhouse. In mid-February, the LGBT and gayfriendly company was originally slated to open British playwright Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane. But the play wasn’t quite ready, so artistic director Jim Strait and managing director Paul Taylor decided to push the opening back a week. Then came a last-minute casting change, so Strait and Taylor decided to delay the opening yet another week, until March 1. “We’re determined not to put up a show unless it’s up to a certain standard,” Strait says. Of course, an established company could never do what the Desert Rose has done—at least not without upsetting seasonticket holders and sponsors. “We have no subscribers,” Strait says. “So our schedule is our own.” That flexibility allowed the Desert Rose’s inaugural show, Dirty Little Showtunes—a gay-themed musical revue/comedy that debuted in San Francisco and features … well, dirty little show tunes—to enjoy a nearly unprecedented run. “It opened on July 21, (2012), and we were going to do four shows per week for seven weeks,” Strait explains. “Well, people kept coming to it.” So Desert Rose kept extending the play. It finally closed as 2012 closed, after an amazing 24-week run. “It kept going,” Strait says. “It wasn’t always profitable, but it was always fun.” After a four-week run of Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little came that abbreviated run of Entertaining Mr. Sloane. The plan, last we heard, was to then put on a five-week run of The Boys in the Band, starting on April 5 and ending on May 5, before concluding the company’s first season with the premiere of David Pevsner’s Musical Comedy Whore. That plan, of course, is subject to change. It’s been an up-and-down journey for the Desert Rose, which was founded by Strait and Taylor—two theater veterans—in 2010 in an effort to fill the void after another LGBT company, the Thorny Theatre, closed. They started raising money, and planned on taking over a Cathedral City building as the Desert Rose’s home. However, the election and the competition for charity dollars with other local causes led to a slowdown in donations; meanwhile, code changes meant the building they wanted was in need of more bathrooms. (Yes, more bathrooms.) Hal O’Connell, Ryan Dominguez, Terry Huber and Valorie Armstrong in Desert Rose’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Therefore, Strait and Taylor switched courses and found The Commissary in Rancho Mirage, and rented it out last year. They moved in to the spot in May, and converted it into a showroom. Then came the Desert Rose’s first full show, Dirty Little Showtunes, and the rest, as they say, is history. While Strait and Taylor are still seeking donations, and keeping their eyes open for a permanent home for Desert Rose, Strait says they’re happy to be focusing on theater. “This is pretty much a grassroots kind of thing,” he says. “It’s really quite charming.” the desert rose playhouse’s shows take place at the Commissary, 69620 highway 111, in rancho Mirage. tickets are usually $25. For tickets or more information, call 202-3000, or visit www.desertroseplayhouse.org. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 22 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // I Got Connected… to smart money strategies and a stronger R.O.I. Nyla Patzner Marketing Director The Living Desert 23 the Feinstein Foundation’s 16th Annual $1 Million Giveaway to Fight hunger the Nesteggg Join Now! DesertAdFed.com OUR GENEROUS MEDIA PARTNERS F d Bank • FRESH PRODUCE & DAIRY • CANNED GOODS • DRIED GOODS • FRESH MEAT The Feinstein Foundation will match every dollar donated between now and April 30th! The Center & The Feinstein Foundation are teaming up to help us feed our community! Through the Foundation’s 16th Annual $1 Million Dollar Giveaway To Fight Hunger, The Feinstein Foundation will MATCH EVERY DOLLAR DONATED to The NestEggg Food Bank at The Center between now and April 30th! The Foundation will also match all donations of non-perishable food items. (They will value each item donated at $1 each - this includes canned goods, dry pasta, boxed cereal, etc.) To donaTe visiT www.ThecenTerps.org or call 760-416-7790. the CENTER SERVING THE DESERT LGBT COMMUNITY 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive #201 • Palm Springs, CA • 760-416-7790 • thecenterps.org CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 23 3/29/13 9:58 AM 24 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 MoVIeS The summeR moVie pReVieW Plan Your Cinema Trips Now! WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MOVIES t By BoB GrIMM he Summer Movie Season starts earlier every year. In fact, one could argue that March releases like Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer were summer-season-caliber, big-budget extravaganzas with lots of Hollywood pop. Yes, they blew ass, but they had a summer-season pedigree. For organization’s sake, let’s just say the summer season starts on May 3 this year with the release of Iron Man 3, and ends around Sept. 6 with Vin Diesel’s Riddick. Here’s a round up of some of the biggies that look great—and others that offer reasons for concern. Iron Man 3 (May 3): How in the heck are they going to top The Avengers? It looks like Marvel and company are going to try, starting with this, the first stand-alone superhero film after last year’s massive roundup. Shane Black, who piloted Downey to one of his best performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, takes over the franchise from Jon Favreau. I think this franchise will avoid the dreaded third-in-the-series curse that has afflicted superhero films before (Spider-Man 3, Superman 3). The Great Gatsby (May 10): Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the title role for director Baz Luhrmann. (The two worked together before, on Romeo + Juliet.) This was originally slated to be released last year; let’s hope the delay was to make it better, and not because it stinks like Luhrmann’s overblown Australia. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17): Will this be J.J. Abrams’ last time in the director’s chair for this franchise now that he is taking over Star Wars? My guess is yes. If this Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan The Great Gatsby. is half as good as Abrams’ first blessed effort with the Trek characters, then we are in for a good time. Have you seen the footage of the Enterprise underwater? This one has to be good! The Hangover Part III (May 24): I’m betting on a return to form after the lousy second chapter in what director Todd Phillips promises will just be a trilogy. The preview footage of a euphoric Zach Galifianakis and his giraffe has me excited. However, if Mike Tyson shows up and sings again, this will get an automatic “F.” After Earth (June 7): Uh oh … somebody has given M. Night Shyamalan a lot of money to do science fiction again. Will they ever learn? In Shyamalan’s favor, he has the likable duo of Will Smith and son Jaden starring as a father and son crash-landing on Earth many years after humans have left. Also … Shyamalan only contributed to the script, rather than writing it all himself. So there is hope. There is hope. Man of Steel (June 14): After doing a decent job with Watchmen and then sucking balls with Suckerpunch, director Zack Snyder takes on the Superman franchise. This time out, Henry Cavill (who was really bad in Immortals) wears the cape, replacing Brandon Routh, who actually did a great job in Superman Returns. Amy Adams is on hand as Lois Lane, and oh my goodness, there’s Michael Shannon as arch villain Zod. OK, I want to see this. This Is the End (June 14): The likes of Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill play themselves in this apocalyptic comedy. While they’re hanging at Franco’s place, the apocalypse strikes, and they don’t deal with it in the best of ways. If this isn’t the year’s best comedy, I will be disappointed. Monsters University (June 21): A prequel to Monsters, Inc.,, this will make millions upon millions upon billions upon trillions of dollars, whether it is good or not. World War Z (June 21): Another postponed movie from last year, this one has Brad Pitt squaring off against crazed zombies. I love the previews, but its The Smurfs 2 delayed status is worrisome. The Heat (June 28): Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play an FBI agent and a cop teaming up to take out a drug kingpin. McCarthy got an Oscar nomination the last time she was with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids); Bridesmaids); I doubt that will happen this time CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 24 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 out. Still, it could be fun. White House Down (June 28): Following in the footsteps of Olympus Has Fallen, this is another film in which the president and his pad are in jeopardy. This time, we get Jamie Foxx as the president, and Channing Tatum as the hero. The Lone Ranger (July 3): The idea of Johnny Depp playing Tonto—not to mention his crazy getup—has me concerned. Gore Verbinski directs, with Armie Hammer as the title character. This could be very, very bad. Pacific Rim (July 12): Big alien-monster-type things strike the Earth, and huge robots piloted by humans are sent to defend the planet. This looks amazing, and Guillermo del Toro is directing, so this will be something to see. I’m hoping this puts Michael Bay’s big robots to shame. Grown Ups 2 (July 12): I miss Adam Sandler. That dude used to make me laugh—and laugh hard. The key phrase is “used to.” His first Grown Ups was one of his worst movies, and it looks like his Sandler comedy slump will continue with this one. The Wolverine (July 26): I thought the first solo Wolverine movie was OK, but many people hated it. James Mangold directs this film, which is set in Japan. There’s no word on whether Jackman sings live on set. CoaChella Valley Independent // The Smurfs 2 (July 31): This movie is proof that Satan loves you. 2 Guns (Aug. 2): The good news is that this film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The bad news is that it is directed by the guy who did Contraband. Elysium (Aug. 9): From the director of District 9, this stars Matt Damon (with a shaved head) in a future in which the Earth has gone to shit, and the rich live in space. Jodie Foster co-stars. Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16): Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher MintzPlasse all return for a new round of comic vigilantism. Jim Carrey joins the cast as Colonel Stars and Stripes, and all signs point to hilarious. The To Do List (Aug. 16): Aubrey Plaza blew my ass out of the water with her performance in Safety Not Guaranteed. This one has her starring as a soon-to-be college freshman looking to get some things out of the way before starting college. Riddick (Sept. 6): After The Chronicles of Riddick, I never wanted to see Riddick again. Hell, I never wanted to see Vin Diesel again. After seeing the teaser—a teaser that features weird monsters—I’m optimistic this will be a return to the coolness that was Pitch Black.. 25 Serving the Coachella Valley since 1983 DESERT HOT SPRINGS 14020 Palm Drive (Vons center) (760) 329-4466 PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS 74600 Hwy 111 (Albertsons center) (760) 346-3301 INDIO/COACHELLA 83103 Ave 48 (Shopping center) (760) 342-3000 THANKS FOR CHOOSING VIDEO DEPOT! Visit us online: www.videodepot.net Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger. RENT 1 NEW RELEASE MOVIE GET 1 FREE! promo: INDIE coupon expires: 6/30/13 • limit 1 coupon per day CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 25 3/29/13 9:58 AM 26 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 MoVIeS noW sHoWinG at Home WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MOVIES These Six First-Quarter Releases Are Worth Adding to Your Collection By BoB GrIMM on the waterfront Criterion; released Feb. 19; reviewed on Blu-Ray Marlon Brando took home the first of his two Oscars for playing washed-up palooka and longshoreman Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, his third pairing with director Elia Kazan after A Streetcar Named Desire and Viva Zapata! Funny eye makeup aside, it’s easy to see why Brando got the Oscar (which was also somewhat of a consolation prize after getting nominated but not winning for Streetcar and Zapata!). He’s brilliant here, making Terry a highly sympathetic character, even if Malloy does lure fellow employees to their deaths on occasion. The “Coulda been a contender!” speech will always be a classic, perhaps the most-iconic moment of Brando’s career. Karl Malden is dynamite as a priest who will punch you in the face if you mess with him, and Eva Marie Saint is terrific in her debut big-screen role. While the movie is most notable for the Brando and Malden performances, let us not forget the contributions of Lee J. Cobb as a fierce union leader and Rod Steiger as Terry’s brother. The new Criterion Collection transfer is breathtakingly good. SPECIAL FEATURES: The disc is loaded. The twodisc set includes the film presented in three different aspect ratios. There’s a documentary with Martin Scorsese discussing the film, and that’s priceless. There’s another newly produced documentary featuring film scholar interviews, interviews with Kazan and Saint, and even an interview with the actor who played Brando’s young buddy in the film. You also get a commentary, a large collectors’ booklet and more. searching for sugar Man Sony; released Jan. 22; reviewed on Blu-ray I had no idea who Sixto Rodriguez was before I popped this Oscarwinning documentary into my player. He was a Detroit musician who released a couple of albums in the early ’70s and then disappeared. Some said he committed suicide onstage by setting himself on fire, or by shooting himself in the head. (Spoiler alert: Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know the big secrets in Searching for Sugar Man.) As it turns out, Rodriguez didn’t kill himself. He just left the music biz and led a normal, secluded life. The big surprise: Rodriguez was, and is still, a major sensation in South Africa—and he had no idea he had achieved fame elsewhere in the world. After his albums bombed stateside, he went back to being a construction worker. The makers of the movie seek him out, and find him in Detroit. He eventually makes a pilgrimage to South Africa, where he is bigger than Elvis. He’s actually touring right now, and is headed our way for Coachella. It’s an amazing story, told in a very good film. Interviews with Rodriguez, his family and his supporters reveal that this is a nice, talented guy who deserved a musical career. And he’s got one now. SPECIAL FEATURES: A director’s commentary that also features Rodriguez is a must-listen. You also get a decent making-of, and a questions-andanswers session at the Tribeca Film Festival. How to survive a Plague MPI; released Feb. 26; reviewed on DVD I was certain that How to Survive a Plague was going to take home the big documentary Oscar prize this year. Alas, Searching for Sugar Man (which, as I note above, is a very good movie) took home the award. There were other great documentaries last year; however, this one packed the biggest wallop. It chronicles the struggles AIDS activists went through to get the condition into the public conversation, and push for medications to keep themselves alive. Viewing this movie promotes a parade of emotions, from pure heartbreak, to anger, and ultimately to jubilation. It starts in the ’80s, with a band of activists including Peter Staley, Larry Kramer, Mark Harrington, Ray Navarro and Bob Rafsky. Rafsky famously challenged Bill Clinton during a campaign speech, resulting in Clinton’s “I feel your pain!” retort. Bill … I seriously doubt you felt that man’s pain. If you have never seen footage of Larry Kramer popping off at fellow ACT UP activists during a pivotal gathering with his “plague” speech, you will see something amazing when you watch this movie. You will also see things as horrid as Kramer’s speech is amazing—for example, when George Bush No. 1 complains that AIDS is a disease resulting from behavior during a televised debate, and every single time a word comes out of the mouth of Jesse Helms. You more than likely missed this one in theaters. Do yourself and your families a favor, and take the time to watch it at home. SPECIAL FEATURES: A director’s commentary featuring ACT UP activists and some deleted scenes. seven Psychopaths Sony; released Jan. 29; reviewed on Blu-ray Without a doubt, Seven Psychopaths is one of the best releases of 2012, and it further establishes writer-director Martin McDonagh as a creative force to be reckoned with. McDonagh assembled a stellar cast, including Colin Farrell (who also starred in McDonagh’s brilliant In Bruges), Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson. Farrell plays Marty (a character McDonagh undoubtedly modeled upon himself), a screenwriter struggling through his latest project. His movie within the movie involves seven psychopaths, and the characters might—just might—be based upon people he actually knows. McDonagh writes some of the funniest and most shocking dialogue out there, and he gets masterful performances from everybody involved, especially Walken and Rockwell. Walken is allowed to be as strange and eccentric as ever, while Rockwell gets his best role in years, allowing him to show off that funny, nasty charm that makes him unique. A subplot involves Rockwell and Walken kidnapping a dog belonging to a crime boss for ransom, and it all leads up to a surprising, and violent, conclusion. This one ranks with Barton Fink and Adaptation as one of the better films about the frustrations of writing. SPECIAL FEATURES: There are only a few short behind-the-scenes featurettes. The movie is great, but the features are disappointing. sound city RCA; released on DVD/Blu-Ray March 12; reviewed on digital format Dave Grohl directs Sound City, a tribute to the infamous Los Angeles recording studio that gave birth to Nirvana’s Nevermind, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes … and the list goes on. Much of the movie deals with the studio’s history leading up to its recent shutdown. Grohl actually purchased the legendary soundboard and put it in his own studio, where he recorded a forthcoming album featuring Paul McCartney, his surviving Nirvana band mates, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield and others. The film features footage of that album’s recording, most notably with McCartney, who puts forth a scorching, “Helter Skelter”-like number with Grohl and the remaining Nirvana members. This is a great, solid piece of rock-history filmmaking. Grohl’s love for the subject permeates the entire undertaking. SPECIAL FEATURES: There were no special features on the iTunes download I reviewed. Paul williams still Alive Virgil; released on Feb. 5; reviewed on DVD Paul Williams was one of the entertainment heroes of my youth. The little singer-songwriter was everywhere: awards shows, The Love Boat, The Muppet Movie, Bugsy Malone, etc. And then, one day, the dude mostly disappeared. I’d see him get a songwriting credit here and there, but for the most part, he seemed to have gone away. It makes sense that director Stephen Kessler, also a Williams fan, would think he was dead. Upon finding out that Paul Williams was still alive, he set out to meet him, and eventually made this highly enjoyable film, Paul Williams Still Alive. It turns out Paul was fighting some chemicaldependency demons. Also, with the death of variety shows and weekly television shows relying on guest stars (The Love Boat, Fantasy Island), there just weren’t many places for Williams to show his face on the boob tube. Kessler takes his camera along on a small tour and visits Williams at his house. What makes this movie so much fun is how Williams interacts with Kessler. Sometimes, he’s friendly; sometimes, he’s a little nasty. All in all, he’s a great sport, and shows that he can laugh at himself and take criticism like a champ. The strange thing about Williams is he almost looks younger as an older man. He certainly doesn’t look his age (72), and that long hair has been replaced by a short, spiky hairdo that looks cool. His singing voice remains distinctive and cuddly. Nobody else sounds like Williams, and nobody ever will. It’s good to see that Williams is clean and sober, and nice to find that interest in him remains healthy. Hey, this is the guy who wrote “The Rainbow Connection,” “Evergreen” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” for God’s sake. It’s about time we showed him some respect here in the relatively new millennium. SPECIAL FEATURES: There’s some additional Paul Williams concert footage, and that’s a good thing, but the disc could’ve used some more stuff. read Bob Grimm’s reviews of in-theater films and new home-video releases every week at CVIndependent.com. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 26 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 cvindependent.com/Food-drInK & CoaChella Valley Independent // 28 29 30 32 27 BaBe’S Bar-B-QUe and BrewhoUSe SnIFF the Cap InnoVatIVe new reStaUrantS the Indy endorSMent How Babe’s Became the Coachella Valley’s Most-Prominent Brewery sean planck 28 CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 27 3/29/13 9:58 AM 28 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 Food & drInK BeHinD tHe BaRBeCue How Babe’s Became the Coachella Valley’s MostProminent Brewery WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/FOOD-DRINK a By erIn peterS wards and medals for Babe’s brewing excellence adorn the dining room at Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, in Rancho Mirage, like golf courses adorn the Coachella Valley. Decades ago, Don Callender started a Southern California chain of American-style restaurants that was known for its pies, its fully stocked saloon and its salad bar. As the years passed, and the restaurant chain was sold and merged with other restaurants, Don had a slightly different vision of barbecue and beer. It’s not as well known that Don was fascinated with craft beer. In the late ’90s, when the craft-beer revolution took hold, Don’s passion for these new styles led him to taste what Southern California brewers had to offer. Don knew excellence when he tasted it. Strawberry blondes, pumpkin ales and fruit beers from upstarts like Belmont Brewing Company satisfied Don’s sweet tooth and culinary prowess. Don was also one of the first Californians to enjoy the Pasadena based Craftsman Brewing. The Marie Callender’s founder and craftbeer aficionado drank their Heavenly Hefe and Orange Grove Ale, while brewing a legacy all his own. Don opened two small breweries in 1998 and 1999. The first, P.H. Woods, was a popular BBQ and brew- house with beer brewed by Hans Johnson. Johnson later came up with the award-winning craft beers for Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, which opened in April 2002. In 2001, as Don prepared to unfold his ultimate beer-andbarbecue concept, he and his manager, Arthur Vasquez, couldn’t foresee the volatile socioeconomic climate they were about to face. Just a few months before opening, the Sept. 11 attacks shook the core of America. Spending was down, and the slower, warmer months of the desert didn’t promise a hugely successful launch. The most-pressing problem with opening a barbecue and craft-beer brewhouse in an area known for its spa resorts, art galleries, 60-something golfers and Rat Pack heritage was introducing the relatively new culinary art of craft beer. While nearby San Diego and Orange County were quick to catch on to the craft-beer calling, the gin-and-tonic crowd of the Coachella Valley was a little slower to heed the call. “There were no hop heads out here,” Vasquez said—not smiling. For several years, they pushed their light-to-medium beers. Vasquez carefully crafted the menus and tap offerings in order to please the Coachella Valley customer. The Honey Blonde Ale and Blackfin Lager caught on. But the passion to offer a bigger variety of microbrews smoldered inside Vasquez. After all, Babe’s Brewhouse has a beautiful, custom JV Northwest brew system with a hand-hammered, aged copper exterior, four fermenters and five serving tanks. Its massive functioning malt silo stands tall next to the restaurant’s entrance and holds 15,000 pounds of malt. It came in at a cost of just more than a half-million dollars; who wouldn’t want to show off what this thing can really do? Hans Johnson (now with Blackstone Brewery in Nashville, Tenn.), developed the recipes for the Honey Blonde Ale, Blackfin Lager and 29 Palms Pale Ale. Still served today and brewed by Scot Grabbe, the Honey Blonde Ale comes in at 5 percent alcohol by volume and has won bronze, silver and gold in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 medals in the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition. Golden in color, light- to medium-bodied, this is a smooth beer with a subtle finish from the orange blossom honey. Named in honor of the brave 29 Palms Marines, the pale ale is a deep, copper color with cascade hop floral aroma and sweet caramel malt notes. The Blackfin Lager has the most accolades, winning a bronze medal in the 2003 Australian International Beer Awards. Taking the gold in the 2009 and 2012 L.A. International Commercial Beer Competition, the dark German style beer has a hint of roasted barley and toffee sweetness. Vasquez credited an assistant manager for giving him a nudge to expand Babe’s beer offerings. “My assistant manager, Josh (Levish, who has a beer podcast at beermepodcast.com), he kind of brought it to my attention and said, ‘Art, there’s a lot more going on here with craft beer; we should start paying more attention,’” Vasquez said. “And I was kind of in this funk, and I said, ‘No, no, we gotta keep the product medium-bodied.’ That’s what’s selling. “Y’know, I lost that spark from the ’90s. Then Stone (Brewing Co.) started doing their own distribution and so we started to bring in a few more things. … And by summer 2011, I said, ‘You know what? Eff this. We’re going to go big.’” As the years passed, and the American craft-beer industry continued to grow, Vasquez and co. bumped Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse up to six taps. They featured two seasonals and made smaller four-to-five-barrel batches, so they could rotate the beers more often. They phased out Southern beers and offered more bombers and the likes of Flying Dog and Dogfish Head. Every seasonal was higher than 8 percent alcohol by volume, and they started wood-aging some of their beers. In other words, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse was getting real with their beer. And it took off. While the quality of Babe’s beef short ribs can’t be overstated, Vasquez has shown that he is serious about not just the quality of craft beer offered, but the quantity. Because of his passion and due diligence, Babe’s is now on the allocation list for Southern California-based Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Stone Brewing Co., so all of those breweries’ new International awards flank the brewery. Sean planck and interesting releases are automatically sent to the brewhouse. Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse is one of only three places in the Coachella Valley to be on this special beer list. Callender passed away in 2009, and while the restaurant pioneer and innovator may no longer be with us, it’s apparent that Vasquez, Babe’s chief operating officer and executive chef, is committed to making sure that Don’s spirit stays alive. Budget-conscious beer-lovers will be pleased to find craft beer at half-price from 3 p.m. to closing on Monday. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m., and 9 to 11 p.m. Babe’s just renewed its 10-year lease and is starting to market the beer outside the brewhouse. “I just want outside accounts in the Coachella Valley,” Vasquez said. … “I want people to know, when they’re coming here, if they don’t see our beers on tap, I want them to ask for it.” And the gospel of Babe’s is spreading. LQ Wine has all of their bottled products. Grill-A-Burger in Palm Desert also carries their pale ale, as do an increasing number of places. Love barbecue? Love beer? Love Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse. Call to schedule a free tour of the brewery 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., december through June (excluding wednesdays and thursdays) or July through november (excluding Sundays and Mondays). Babe’s is located at 71800 highway 111, in the river in rancho Mirage. For more information, call (760) 346-8738, or visit www.babesbbque.com. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 28 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 29 Food & drInK sniffthe Cap How Wine Saved My Marriage WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/FOOD-DRINK G By deIdre pIKe et married on Friday the 13th, and you’re tempting fate. That was our intention. We woke up that morning in Lone Pine, Calif., and drove to Kelso Dunes in the Mojave (not quite a threehour drive from the valley), stopping to hike the Alabama Hills, once a setting for cowboy films starring John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart. By the time we reached the Mojave, a storm was brewing. Whirling dervishes of sand. Blustery chill in the air. I couldn’t shake a nagging fear that we’d disappear in the gritty desert—and that it would then snow. We toughed it out. We’d chosen the doomed date and the desolate location as a metaphor for our decision to marry—or, rather, to renew our vows, to begin a lofty marriage do-over, against the odds, fate be damned. We didn’t want to do this on Valentine’s Day. Too trendy. We’d made The Plan well before we pulled into the Kelso Dunes parking lot. Under a bleak sky. As we parked, we stated the obvious, intoning facts as questions. We could do this tomorrow? Yeah … we could? At the last minute, neither of us would be unfaithful to The Plan. We tromped out of the car and faced the trail. Hiked up about a mile. Recited brand-new vows through tears and chattering teeth. We exchanged chocolate-peanut-butter hearts, declared a thumb war and flew back to our car. For our wedding night, we’d booked a honeymoon suite at a discount hotel in Barstow. With a spa in our room. A spa that leaked. We’d brought candles, bubbles, a bottle of Tobin James Ballistic (2007) and the movie Sideways in DVD. It was about the third or fourth time we’d seen the movie. We’re endlessly entertained by the misadventures of wine-tasting Miles and his gauche womanizing friend, Jack. The movie came out in 2004, which was a bad year for our marriage. George W. Bush’s re-election coincided with frequent urges to get divorced, a theme that recurred during the 2006 midterm elections, and again in 2008. We’d jammed through three marriage counselors during those years, the last of whom told us we’d never make it. Our differences were deeply political and religious. We’d grown apart. We had nothing in common. We didn’t both like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We kept trying, on and off. When our kids were teens, we left town for long weekends, camping and hiking. After spending one such weekend in Lee Vining, putzing around Mono Lake and Yosemite, we decided to drive up to Amador County—just to taste winey deliciousness for ourselves. “Is it possible that wine saved our marriage?” That’s what I asked my husband, my Significant Libertarian, on our re-wedding night in Barstow. It was Feb. 13, 2009. We had a stack of divorce papers neatly filed away, unsigned, at home. And we’d just recommitted ourselves to another lifetime together. The water had been seeping out of the tub, so we were reclining comfortably in a couple of inches of lukewarm water. We raised our glasses to wine. Ting. We made it through half the movie. Maybe less. Which perhaps inspired our decision, the next morning, to spend Valentine’s Day tasting wine in Sideways country. It was tricky getting a room, but we nabbed an opening at a discount motel in downtown Santa Maria, off Main Street. The motel’s apparently closed now (thank you, Google maps), and I can’t figure out why: The guests were marvelously friendly. As the Significant Libertarian unloaded the car, a dozen or so women stood in the doorways of their rooms posing in various costumes not entirely unlike the women my SL had encountered seen in Amsterdam’s red-light district. We checked in and headed out, down the road to our first wine stop, Kenneth Volk Vineyard (5230 Tepusquet Road, Santa Maria). It wasn’t the first stop made by the beloved tragic buddies in the movie (that was Sanford Winery, west of Solvang), but it worked for me. We were early—the first customers, really—so we had the pourmaster’s complete and undivided attention. Another couple later arrived on their Valentine’s Day date. We swapped cameras and took photos for each other. They were on their first date. We told them we were on our first date. We bought a bottle of the best chardonnay we’ve ever tasted. Ever. As is our habit, we bypassed larger wineries for smaller ones. We drank at Rancho Sisquoc (6600 Foxen Canyon Road), Tres Hermanas (9660 Foxen Canyon Road) and Foxen (7200 Foxen Canyon Road). It’s possible that we tasted at other places, but I can’t remember last weekend, let alone four years ago. The tastings at the wineries I listed above all included keepsake wine glasses. I drank out of the above logo’d glasses for years. (The Foxen glass was my favorite, a Riedel with a subtle foxtail logo. I eventually broke it. Sadness.) What we remember best is the proliferation of Los Angelenos and pinot noirs—the latter made famous by the movie. “Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression,” Miles tells Maya, the girl he’s hot for in the movie. “Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet.” The SL and I were in more of a bratty Jack mood. Our last stop was a crowded winery, not on the above list, over-priced, slightly pretentious. We began, in low tones, to pronounce the pinot noirs as “a bit young” and “lacking character,” and, my favorite, “Kool-aidy.” Say Kool-Aid in a snooty voice next time you’re out tasting. I dare you. I probably began saying “pee-noht” at some point. Which would be an accurate Spanish pronunciation. Which I possibly explained to anyone who’d listen, treating these lucky folks to stories about the semester I taught travel-writing in Chile. The most adorable thing about my Significant Libertarian is that he not only tolerates all of this; he seems to enjoy it. We realized our tasting trip was about done when one of us asked the pourers if they had any fuckin’ merlot. We considered this original. We thought we were being hilarious. What we were really being was together. deidre pike is an assistant professor of journalism. She lived in hawaii for a year but moved back to the Mainland to be closer to the grapes. She and her husband celebrated their 30th/4th anniversary this year. this wine column appears at cvindependent.com every other week. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 29 3/29/13 9:58 AM 30 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 Food & drInK innoVatiVe eats moRe Koffi? Indie Coffee Shop Announces Third Location By JIMMy BoeGle At a time when locally owned coffee houses across the world are closing due to everexpanding chains (like Starbucks and McDonald’s), here’s some refreshing news: The local owners of Palm Springs’ Koffi recently announced plans to open a third location in Rancho Mirage. The new location, at 71390 Highway 111, was showing signs of construction hustle and bustle, meaning that the opening could occur sometime this spring. Koffi’s original spot, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, was opened by owners John Abner and John Strohm in August 2002. They doubled the size of the place in 2005, and opened the second location, at 1700 S. Camino Real (at Palm Canyon Drive, across Camino Real from the Ace Hotel), in 2008. At the Camino Real location, a large “Road Map to Koffi” poster has for months announced that the Rancho Mirage location—in the building that was formerly home to Amici Italian Trattoria, just a bit east of the Rancho Mirage Public Library—is “coming soon.” Abner and Strohm, through Koffi general manager Troy Neifert, declined to comment for this story. In March, the Independent swung by 71390 Highway 111 today to peek in the windows. The space—which features a cute outdoor patio area to the west—was vacant and largely stripped out, save for some construction materials. However, later in March, more visible progress began to occur— including a new electric sign out front featuring the Koffi logo. We’ll keep our eye on the new Koffi location, and will post updates at CVIndependent.com when available. have restaurant news? Got a tip? email email@example.com. restaurant news is posted regularly at cvindependent.com. WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/FOOD-DRINK a Meet Three Chefs Who Are Doing Something Different With Their New Restaurants By adaM BorowItZ and JIMMy BoeGle NDIE HUBKA was five years into running a successful gourmet cooking school when she had an idea: What if she offered a dinner of seasonally driven, creative dishes once a week? Would people come? “I just started getting the itch to do a restaurant night,” said Hubka, co-owner of CORK AND FORK in La Quinta. “So we put together an underground supper club, for lack of a better word, and became really well-known for that, and before we knew it, we were turning people away, because we had more people coming than we could seat on any given night.” With the dinner nights an obvious hit, Hubka saw a craving for interesting, wine-paired dishes. She decided it was time to leave the quiet classroom of her cooking school and enter the fast-paced world of restaurant ownership, which happened officially when Cork and Fork opened to the public in January. “We’re packed every night. We just can’t believe it,” says Hubka. Cork and Fork is not that big of a place—it seats about 50 people—but packing the house night after night is quite a feat for any new restaurant. It helps, says Hubka, that there are precious few places in the area that serve the type of cuisine her team creates. “I come from Los Angeles, where you have lots of options and lots to choose from, but out here in the desert, it’s pretty devoid of interesting food,” said Hubka. “There are a lot of steakhouses and a lot of meat-and-potato places, but there isn’t a lot of ethnic or creative cuisine.” Not that Hubka is beating her guests over the head with unapproachably complex dishes. Her tactic is to take things people recognize and give them a twist. The menu is broken down into snacks, salads, pizzas and favorites that are holdovers from the restaurant’s former life as an underground supper club. Baby-back ribs, Thai shrimp cakes, tamales, mac-andcheese and a good amount of salads and other dishes take diners on a winding road without delving into anything too strange or unknown. “You’ll notice there really isn’t a common denominator,” says Hubka. “The only theme is that everything has to be really good.” The most popular item thus far has been dates stuffed with Point Reyes blue cheese and topped with toasted almonds and chive-infused oil. Guests have also been crazy about the woodfired “Coachella” pizza—think dates, applewood bacon, goat cheese and pickled onions—and the french fries made with Andie Hubka at Cork and Fork. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 30 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 local sweet potatoes. “We make food that people recognize, but that are all small plates, all shareable,” says Hubka. “The focus is on wine and food pairing, trying a lot of different foods with wines. We call it a ‘unique wine and food experience.’” Cork and Fork is located at 47875 Caleo Bay Drive, Suite A106, in La Quinta. Call 777-7555, or visit corkandforkwinebar.com for reservations or more information. —A.B. DISH CREATIVE CUISINE opened last fall in a little shopping center on a stretch of Ramon Road that could best be described as ... spartan. But inside the little space, chef/owner JOANE GARCIACOLSON is doing big things. (Want a surprise? Google the chef. Yes, that’s her; she used to be a muckety-muck lawyer. Quite a career change, no?) The biggest thing of all may be the restaurant’s signature dish, the coq au vin, one of the few mainstays on Garcia-Colson’s ever-changing menu. I’ll be honest: When this plate of food arrived, and I first pushed my fork into the cake-shaped cube, I was concerned that the coq au vin would be dry. After all, this chicken wasn’t sitting in the red-wine reduction sauce (which was drizzled on the side), but was rather crafted into the aforementioned cake-shaped cube. But those concerns were unfounded: This tasty, savory dish was moist and beyond delicious. Oh, and it’s topped with bacon. Add several deliciousness points. The accompanying vegetables were all cooked perfectly, and there wasn’t a single flaw with the entree. Of course, the coq au vin only arrived after the appetizers and drinks that my friend and I ordered ... and after about a half-dozen miniature chef’s surprises—think a joyously never-ending series of amuse-bouches. They were all tasty, but the star of these complimentary treats was a nipple-shaped beet puff with a hard meringue-like shell, and a delicious creamy interior. I do not even like beets, and I wanted more of these. But the star of the meal was Garcia-Colson’s coq au vin. Go. Eat it. Reservations recommended. Dish Creative Cuisine is located at 68525 Ramon Road, No. A-101, Cathedral City. Call 832-6526, or visit www.dishcreativecuisine.com. —J.B. With a menu of traditional Latin Americainspired fare and an interior filled with colorful CoaChella Valley Independent // 31 Mexican folk art, one of Palm Springs’ newer restaurants strives to offer a dining experience that’s as vibrant and authentic as the artist it’s named after. CASA DE FRIDA, which takes its name from well-known Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, deals largely in homemade dishes from regions across Mexico, but there’s cuisine from Cuba, Venezuela and other countries to be had as well. One dish is even described as “a Latino version of the French classic beef bourguignon.” The restaurant itself is somewhat of a shrine to Mexican art, with hand-painted tiles adorning many surfaces. Wooden masks, a huge stylized glass portrait of Frida Kahlo and other decorations complete the south-of-the-border vibe. The food, however, is a far cry from what many diners think of when Mexican food comes to mind. There are no chimichangas covered in cheese and red sauce, nor are there quesadillas. At Casa de Frida, the focus is on dishes with items like rich mole sauce, or chile en nogada, a dish that hails from the city of Puebla and features pasilla chiles, walnut-cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. “What we do here is a combination of recipes that my grandmother and my mother and basically all the women in my family have been making for years,” says chef and part-owner VICTORIANO RODRIGUEZ, who is originally from Sinaloa, Mexico. “Because of our heritage—French, Mexican and Spanish Castilian—the dishes are both traditional and, at times, unique.” Other dishes like tortilla soup, ceviche, enchiladas and several salads and starters are also available, as is a full bar and a medium-sized, yet ample, wine list. Chef Rodriquez says he will be bringing in dishes from Peru, Brazil and other Central and South American countries. “We’re trying to give American diners a chance to see how we really eat in Mexico,” said Rodriguez. “We aren’t a restaurant with piñatas or tequila shots and beer signs. We try to be a little more gourmet and a little more aristocratic, without being pricey.” Casa de Frida is located at 450 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, call 459-1681, or visit www.casadefrida.com. —A.B. 555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs 760-325-2700 www.monsoonindianrestaurant.com Lunch Buffet 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. $8.99 Monday-Friday $10.99 Saturday-Sunday Buy one dinner entree, and get the second one free! (Up to $15, equal or lesser value) Open Monday-Friday 5-9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 5-10 p.m. Expires June 30, 2013 Victoriano Rodriguez at Casa de Frida. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 31 3/29/13 9:58 AM 32 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 Food & drInK the inDY enDoRsement WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/FOOD-DRINK i By JIMMy BoeGle t’s happened to all of us—at least all of us who love food. You’re going about your normal business—toiling away at work, perhaps, or driving down the road, or maybe even taking it easy and reading a book—when all of a sudden, your mind flashes to something you ate during a recent meal. Something good. Something really good. Before you know it, your mouth is watering. You’re hungry, dammit. In that spirit, those of us at the Independent have been publishing what we call the Indy Endorsement. The concept is simple: Whenever we run across a dish that’s so good that it causes hunger-inducing flashbacks, we write about it. Here’s a selection of eight dishes that have recently received the Indy Endorsement. Enjoy—because we sure have. What: The fish tacos (Baja fried or grilled) Where: Shanghai Reds, inside of Fisherman’s Market and Grill, 235 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 78575 Highway 111, No. 100, La Quinta How much: $3.95, or $2.95 during late-night happy hour Contact info: 322-9293 (Palm Springs); 777-1601 (La Quinta); www.fishermans.com/shanghaireds.php Why: Because of the tortilla. Trust us. These tacos aren’t exactly a secret around these parts—they’re perennial honorees in the Desert Magazine Best of the Valley competition (not that you should necessarily value such honors all that much)—but we’re surprised at how many valley residents don’t know about the delights at Shanghai Reds, the bar/ casual area tucked behind Fisherman’s. The taco’s ingredients are not that unusual: white fish, topped with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, citrus and a tasty white sauce. What makes these fish tacos special is the wrapping—namely, the tortilla. It’s a thick corn variety that spends a moment or three on the grill before meeting its contents, and that maize/char/yummy flavor ties the whole package together. Somewhere along the line, far too many Americans settled for tortillas that are mere packaging—flavorless vessels to deliver ingredients to one’s mouth. Shanghai Reds reminds us We’re Scouring the Valley for Amazing Dishes—and Here’s Our Report that it’s not supposed to be that way—and proves that a good tortilla can make oh-so-much difference. What: The carne asada tacos Where: Casa Blanca Restaurant, 35850 Date Palm Drive, Suite A, Cathedral City; 66370 Pierson Blvd., Desert Hot Springs How much: $7.49 (for three, with rice and beans) as a weekday lunch special; $1.99 à la carte; available in other special combos Contact info: 328-2150 (Cathedral City); 251-5922 (Desert Hot Springs); www.casablancamenu.com Why: The little pieces of steak are perfectly seasoned and prepared. I’ve driven past the Casa Blanca Restaurant in Cathedral City many dozens of times, but I had never stopped in, until recently. Boy, have I been missing out. I was in the area on business during the noon hour, and hunger was a-callin’, so I decided to stop in for a quick bite. I’d never been to Casa Blanca before, so I asked the server what she recommended. She said that everything is good (don’t they always say that?), and she recommended one of the weekday lunch specials. So, I picked the No. 1: three soft tacos with any available meat (I chose carne asada), plus rice and beans, for $7.49. I somewhat sated my hunger by chowing down on the chips and salsa, but soon enough, the tacos you see above arrived at my table. They were pure simplicity—just tortilla, steak, white onion and cilantro. I added a bit of the tasty-but-could-be-spicier salsa to one taco, picked it up and bit in. Yum. I have sampled many carne asada tacos in my time—and these are among the best I’ve ever had. The key is in the steak: It was seasoned perfectly, with the seasonings complementing the meat, not overwhelming it. Further, the little pieces were just the right size—small enough to pick up a lot of char, but big enough to retain inner softness and juiciness, without any extreme chewiness. How’s the rest of the food at Casa Blanca? I can’t tell you. And I won’t be able to tell you after my next visit, either, because I am ordering these tacos again. What: The ramen with pork belly Where: Jiao, 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. B-10, Palm Springs How much: A downright reasonable $10 Contact info: 321-1424; www.jiaops.com Why: The flavors are a perfect mix. It was an in-season Friday night, and we were wandering around the north part of downtown Palm Springs. We had no reservations anywhere—and as hunger started to set in, that lack of reservations became a problem. There was an hour wait at Jake’s. Double that at Birba. So we crossed Palm Canyon Drive and decided to check out Jiao. We’re very happy that we did. Jiao was opened last spring by the same folks who own nearby Cheeky’s and the aforementioned Birba. While it does not CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 32 3/29/13 9:58 AM SPRING 2013 What: The Steve Special sushi roll, enjoyed as part of all-you-can-eat sushi Where: Edokko Sushi, 69195 Ramon Road, Cathedral City How much: $19.95 lunch, $23.99 dinner Contact info: 328-7770; edokkosuchicc.com Why: Because you’re hungry, and you looooove tasty sushi rolls. Look, Edokko Sushi ain’t Nobu: You are not going to get freshoff-the-boat toro here. Of course, you’re not going to be shelling out $35 for a tiny portion of fish, either. Instead, you are going to get a decent-enough selection of 30 or so rolls, 16 or so sushi options, and some appetizers (miso soup, gyoza, etc.), as much as you can shove down your gullet, for $19.99 at lunch, or $23.99 at dinner. Indulgent? Maybe. Gluttonous? Perhaps? A smokin’ deal? Absolutely. The sushi pieces are just fine, but the real reason you will want to check out Edokko is for the sushi rolls: They’re tasty, and they come to you fast when the sushi chefs are on their game (which they generally are). The one we most heartily endorse is the “Steve Special” roll—it’s the first one on the list—which is quite simple, really: It’s a California roll, topped with deep-fried shrimp and a tangy mayonnaise sauce. In a word, it’s yummy. If you’re hankering for all-you-can-eat sushi, but you’re weighed down by more-moderate eaters, never fear: Edokko Sushi also offers an à la carte menu. But you don’t want that. You want all-you-can-eat. And you should start off with the Steve Special roll. What: The $5 tri-tip sandwich Where: Neil’s Lounge, 80956 Highway 111, Indio How much: $5, of course Contact info: 347-1522 Why: It’s the best damn French-dip-style sandwich for the price that we can find in the valley. Neil’s Lounge is one of the most internally incongruent places in the entire Coachella Valley: It’s a dive bar ... with a stunningly high-class bathroom. (Seriously. Go see, even if you don’t need to go.) It’s located in Indio … but it attracts a clientele from across the valley. And it’s a freaking bar ... that serves one of the best sandwiches we’ve eaten around these parts. When you head to Neil’s for lunch or dinner, make sure you peruse both the big Western Grill menu and the smaller $5 special menu, before you go up to the kitchen to order. There’s some splendid food to be had on both menus—for example, the spinach-artichoke dip comes with two warm, fresh miniature loaves of bread, while the dip is creamy, gooey, chunky artichoke-packed nirvana—but the real attraction, as far as we’re concerned, is the $5 tri-tip sandwich. The sandwich consists of a healthy dose of sliced beef placed on a fresh roll, and then sliced in half. That’s it—so simple. Served alongside are a creamy horseradish sauce and a small cup of a weakish au jus. This sandwich doesn’t sound all that special, I concede, but the quality of the beef and the roll are top-notch. The sandwich plus a dip in the creamy horseradish plus a dip in the au jus equals deliciousness. Oh, and the accompanying potato salad? It’s fantastic. A word of warning: When Neil’s gets busy, the kitchen can get a bit backed up. However, chill out; have a cocktail; check out the amazing bathroom; and watch the game. The sandwich will be out soon, and it’ll be more than worth the wait. And when the bill comes, and you’re reminded that your meal was just $5—you’ll barely be able to believe it. What: The beef ’n’ latkas Where: Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, 401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 73161 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert How much: $13.95 Contact info: 325-1199 (Palm Springs); 568-1350 (Palm Desert); www.shermansdeli.com Why: The crunchiness of the latkas. OK, I know what you’re thinking: The Independent is endorsing a sandwich at Sherman’s? Well, duh. That’s like endorsing Meryl Streep for her acting ability. There’s no news there. On one hand, you’re correct: The fact that Sherman’s Deli and Bakery has tasty sandwiches is no news. After all, the deli has been around for a half-century, and draws big crowds at both of its locations. But on the other hand, you may have overlooked this sandwich. In fact, this sandwich is not even listed in the “sandwich” category on the menu. Instead, you can find the beef ’n’ latkas under “specials.” The concept is pretty simple: The folks at Sherman’s take either the corned-beef or pastrami sandwich, your choice (we choose pastrami), and swap out the bread in favor of potato pancakes. But the change this simple swap makes to the flavor and mouth feel of this sandwich is out of this world. The earthiness of the potatoes melds perfectly with the saltiness of the pastrami; the outer crunch and soft interior of the latkas contrasts nicely with the subtle stringiness of the meat. There’s only one problem, though (unless you’re a cardiologist, in which case this sandwich offers multiple problems): The latkas arrive at the table hot, and cool down much more slowly than the pastrami does. Therefore, we endorse eating this sandwich with a fork. Perhaps that’s why this sandwich is not listed under “sandwiches.” But no matter where the beef ’n’ latkas are listed, this is one big plate o’ food worth ordering. What: The lunch buffet Where: Monsoon Indian Cuisine, 555 S. Sunrise Way, No. 107, Palm Springs How much: $8.99 Monday through Friday; $10.99 Saturday and Sunday Contact info: 325-2700; www.monsoonindianrestaurant.com Why: The variety of delicious flavors. Buffets get a bad rap—and there are indeed bad buffets out there, featuring drying, congealing entrées dying a nasty death on steam tables, plus wilting lettuce and nasty sugar-bomb desserts. I implore you: Don’t go to buffets like that, no matter how 33 hungry you are. You can do better. Instead, head to Monsoon Indian Cuisine. Every day from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., you’ll find a varying selection of about nine delicious entrées; some basic salad; lovely chutneys; and gulab jamun (think moist doughnut holes with the flavor of rosewater) and kheer (rice pudding) for dessert. Then there’s the naan, which the folks at Monsoon bring to your table fresh and piping-hot from the kitchen. We especially recommend the garlic naan, garlic breath be damned. On a recent visit, I loaded basmati rice on my plate, and topped that with chicken tikka masala (featuring a “creamy tomato-based gravy”); chicken curry; lamb meatballs; and a huge vegetable samosa. This big plate of food did not take long to finish off. (Hey, don’t judge. It tasted fantastic.) If you’re more into the veggie side of things, no worries; beyond the samosas, the buffet often features tasty treats like palak paneer (a cheese, spinach and pea dish), aloo gobi (a cauliflower and potato entrée) and other non-meat offerings. Even though all of these yummy entrées are offered on a buffet table, never fear: There’s very little drying, congealing or wilting happening at this lunch buffet. And since it’s a buffet, it’s OK to go back for seconds. Or thirds, even, if one of the entrées fits your particular fancy. Just be sure to save room for the gulab jamun and the kheer. What: The farro calamari salad Where: Workshop Kitchen + Bar, 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs How much: $13 Contact info: 459-3451; workshoppalmsprings.com Why: The variety of textures and flavors. There are a lot of attention-grabbing items on Workshop Kitchen + Bar’s winter menu. A scallops dish with squid-ink risotto. Wood-charred Brussels sprouts. (An aside: Did Brussels sprouts become ubiquitous overnight, or what?) And the star of the show, the 30-ounce grass-fed rib eye, which is prepared sous vide before being grilled. (We endorse this steak, too, by the way, as long as there are at least four people in your party—and as long as the $77 price tag won’t give you a heart attack. It is meant for four and comes with side dishes, after all.) Flying under the radar a bit, however, is arguably our favorite thing on the menu: the farro calamari salad with olive oil, redwine vinegar, olives, tomatoes, herbs and lemon cucumber. Some foods are just delicious; other foods are fun to eat. This salad is both: Delicious because the flavors work so well together (freshness from the cucumber; tartness from the vinegar; saltiness from the olives, etc.), and fun because of the whacked-out variety of textures. Crunchy (cucumber), slippery (oil), bouncy (calamari), chewy (farro)—it’s all there. The portion is generous, too; it’s perfect for splitting with several friends, or as a main course for one. Actually … now that I think about it, this salad’s so fun to eat that it may be best to just order it for yourself. It’s best to avoid awkward I-don’t-want-toshare moments during a nice night out, after all. the Indy endorsement appears regularly at cvindependent.com. inDY enDoRsement the draw the freaking-insane-sized crowds that its sister restaurants do, Jiao seems to do a nice business, and we were happy to immediately get seats at the counter. Like I said, we were hungry. We sampled dishes from all over the reasonably priced panAsian menu (which changes every week), but one stood out: the ramen with pork belly. Here’s how good the pork ramen was: Despite some flaws, the dish was still amazing. Ramen noodles in a delicious broth were topped with perfectly prepared pork belly, greens and a sliced-inhalf hard-boiled egg. Simple, but splendid. Every bite in which I could get all of the ingredients was pure heaven. That leads to the aforementioned flaws: It was almost impossible to get all of those ingredients together in one bite. There is not enough of the earthy, salty (in a good way) broth—it goes fast—and the large pork-belly slices get devoured too quickly unless one cuts them up with a knife. But those bites where everything does come together? Perfection. The next time I am at Jiao, I will order this dish with extra broth and a steak knife (that is, if the dish is on the ever-changing menu that week). I recommend you do the same. CoaChella Valley Independent // CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 33 3/29/13 9:59 AM 34 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 Food & drInK maRK YouR CaLenDaRs Palm Springs Restaurant Week 2013 Is Much Longer Than a Week WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/FOOD-DRINK t By JIMMy BoeGle he organizers of Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week think that foodies—both local and regional—would be best served if they started planning for the “week” now. “Every year, my husband and I make it a staycation,” said Kim Crandal, the executive director of Restaurant Week, during which a bevy of local restaurants will be offering special three-course prix-fixe menus for either $26 or $38 per person. Given that this year’s Restaurant Week is bigger than ever, perhaps planning is a good idea. For one thing, the week is much longer than a week—it runs for 17 days, in fact, from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16. Why the expansion? “We took a look at the history of requests from some of the restaurants,” Crandal said. “… So many people were experiencing success.” As of now, 79 restaurants throughout the valley—including local favorites, big chains and eateries that are new to the scene—are signed up to participate. But the week goes beyond food; the tag line for the event is “Eat. See. Stay.” Crandal said numerous hotels and resorts (that would be the “stay” part) are participating, as are various attractions and spas (that would be the “see” part). “We are focusing more on crafting the ‘see’ and ‘stay’ components so people understand it’s more than a restaurant week,” she said. “What do you do during the day?” About a dozen hotels are currently signed on, and the 20 or so “see” partners include everything from the Palm Springs Art Museum to Knott’s Soak City to the Desert Springs Spa to Desert Adventures Eco-Tours and Events. Restaurant Week also has something of a special relationship with “Forever Marilyn,” the 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe that currently graces downtown Palm Springs. She was installed just before last year’s Restaurant Week, and she’ll be taken down and moved (temporarily, many hope) during this year’s Restaurant Week. While plans are not yet finalized, an idea is being batted around to create a more lifesized Marilyn Monroe representation—a statue, perhaps, or a cut-out—and have her pop up at the various restaurants during the 2 1/2 weeks of Restaurant Week. Crandal noted that some folks got an early start on making Restaurant Week plans. For example, she cited a group of about 90 golfers from Santa Barbara who have made Restaurant Week an annual trip. “It’s really building a nice following,” Crandal said. palm Springs desert resorts restaurant week takes place from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16. For a complete list of participants and updates, visit www.palmspringsrestaurantweek. com. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 34 3/29/13 9:59 AM SPRING 2013 CoaChella Valley Independent // 35 MUSIC the LuCKY 13 We Wanted to Get to Know Our Local Musicians Better, So We Came Up With This Little Q&A WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MUSIC L By JIMMy BoeGle et’s face it: The local music scene in the Coachella Valley could use some improvement. There are only a handful of local venues that regularly feature local acts (though the venues we do have are pretty damn cool). The music coverage in the local press is abysmal (although the CV Weekly’s presence over the last year has been a big help, and the Tachevah block party is a step in the right direction). In other words: Things are improving, but a lot of good local musicians are still toiling away in near-anonymity. In an effort to remove a little of that anonymity, the Independent launched a regular feature called The Lucky 13. The concept is simple: We ask a musician (usually a musician who has a show coming up) a set of 13 music-related questions, and we publish the answers at CVIndependent.com. The goal is to shine a little light on these fine musicians—and, of course, to get to know these musicians a bit better. Here’s a selection of the Lucky 13 interviews we’ve done over the last few months. We publish a new Lucky 13 each week, more or less, at CVIndependent.com—and since it’s the Internet, we can embed links, videos, songs and all sorts of cool stuff that we can’t here. We encourage you to check it out—and if you know of a musician or band who is worthy of The Lucky 13 treatment, drop us a line! Name: Israel “Izroc” Andrade Band: What the Funk Hip-Funk All-Stars (lead guitarist) More info: www.reverbnation.com/ whatthefunkband What was the first concert you attended? Megadeth, seventh grade, a small show in Riverside. My uncle took me. What was the first album you owned? Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, age 6. What bands are you listening to right now? I listen to a lot of stuff; right now, I’m into Die Antwoord. Crazy African rap group. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? I can pretty much get down to anything except country. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? The Red Hot Chili Peppers. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? ’70’s yacht rock … shhhhhh! What’s your favorite music venue? The old Blockbuster Pavilion in San Bernardino. Locally, the Tack Room Tavern. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “Shine bright … like … a … diamond” (from Rihanna, “Diamonds”). Thanks; now it’s in my head again. What band or artist changed your life? How? Sublime. There’s something about Bradley Nowell’s lyrics and delivery. And the eclectic style; it definitely changed my life. It’s just pure emotion. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? Jimi Hendrix: “How do you do it?” What song would you like played at your funeral? Jimi Hendrix, “If Six Was Nine.” Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? It’s a toss-up between Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love, and the Beatles, Abbey Road. Hmmmm. Abbey Road’s “Oh! Darling!” is the song of my wife and me! What band or artist changed your life? How? Between the Buried and Me, and their drummer, Blake Richardson. After hearing about them, I developed a whole new world of inspiration. Although their style of music is very different from what I typically play, it helped me to understand how to mash together multiple styles of music and the importance in tasteful transitions. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I would probably ask Glenn Danzig if he would sign my fishnet shirts, ha ha. What song would you like played at your funeral? Christina Aguilera, “Genie in a Bottle.” (Don’t ask, ha ha.) Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Lagwagon, Trashed. What song should everyone listen to right now? “The Plank” by The Devil Makes Three. What song should everyone listen to right now? “Mamacita” from What the Funk ... ha ha. Shameless plug. Name: Marcus Bush, aka Marco D’Beast Band: The Butchery Boys, psychobilly (guitarist/vocalist) More info: www.facebook.com/ TheButcheryBoys; www.reverbnation.com/ butcheryboys What was the first concert you attended? I can’t remember, ha ha. Probably my uncle’s band, RedRum, when I was a wee lad. Name: Kymm Galvan Band: Alyce Bowie, classic/Southern rock, blues; Two Twelve, classic rock (vocalist) More info: www.alycebowie.com; www.facebook.com/TwoTwelveBand What was the first concert you attended? Kiss!!! What was the first album you owned? Kiss, Destroyer. What bands are you listening to right now? Hotcakes by The Darkness, and any Angel album. What was the first album you owned? Billy Idol, Rebel Yell, on vinyl. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Crappy white-girl hip-hop bands. What bands are you listening to right now? Every Time I Die, He Is Legend, Between the Buried and Me, The Devil Makes Three, Koffin Kats, Propagandhi, August Burns Red, Mad Sin— usually something different every day. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? Led Zeppelin with Jason Bonham. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Dub step. I’m not one to bash anyone’s musical tastes; I just don’t understand the monotony. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? It would be awesome to see Sikth reunite. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Although I have a lot of them, Cradle of Filth, I’d say, is the biggest favorite. I just grew up on it and at one point had every album. One that I don’t usually admit to is old Blink-182. Ha ha. What’s your favorite music venue? Growing up, I was extremely fond of the (defunct) Showcase Theatre in Corona. Now it is definitely The Hood, not only because I work there, but because it’s a small, intimate venue where some really good shows have gone on in the past year or so. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? There are a ton of them, but I always find me and my co-workers singing “Saturday Night” by the Misfits. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Indian techno house music: “Ja Sha Taan” by Fun-Da-Mental. What’s your favorite music venue? Coach House (in San Juan Capistrano). What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? The rant in the middle of the uncut version of “Down With the Sickness” by Disturbed. (It’s too vulgar to repeat.) What band or artist changed your life? How? Angel. Frank DiMino’s vocals are legendary. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? John Lennon: Did he ever think that someday, he would become so significant to the world that he would be assassinated? What song would you like played at your funeral? “Live On” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 35 3/29/13 9:59 AM 36 \\ CoaChella Valley Independent SPRING 2013 LUCKY 13 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Super-tough call, but I would have to say One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back, The Darkness. What song should everyone listen to right now? “The King Is Dead, but the Queen Is Alive,” Pink. My mantra. Name: Zach Huskey Band: Dali’s Llama, desert rock (vocals/ guitar) More info: www.facebook.com/ dalisllama; www.reverbnation.com/ dalisllama; www.dalisllamarecords.com What was the first concert you attended? The Plasmatics. What was the first album you owned? Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Rust Never Sleeps. What bands are you listening to right now? Sleep, Down, Electric Wizard, The Sword, The Damned. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Rap and new country. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath, circa 1972. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Danzig. What’s your favorite music venue? The Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “She’s like heroin to me, she cannot miss a vein,” The Gun Club, “She’s Like Heroin to Me.” What band or artist changed your life? How? The Who’s Live at Leeds. Power and brains. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I’d ask Lemmy if I could have a blood sample. What song would you like played at your funeral? “Resolved” by Dali’s Llama. that I can’t remember anything else, but he played with a 13-piece band with a horn section, guitars and a rad drummer. I knew Quik was a genius, but that’s when I fell in love with the idea of a band playing behind a hip-hop artist. What was the first album you owned? I remember when I was in middle school, one of my mom’s co-workers took me to his car to show me his new system he just installed. He was bumping Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001. I asked if I could borrow it so I could make a copy; he gave it to my mom to give to me, but she wouldn’t let me have it because of the lyrics. I actually stole that out of her purse and played it off like I didn’t know where it went. What bands are you listening to right now? Definitely listening to that new Jesus Piece album by The Game right now. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? As a producer, I need to understand all genres of music. Especially with hip hop crossing over into so many different genres now, I have to look at what the average person likes and try to incorporate that into our music … but I definitely do not listen to EDM, because I’m just not into that type of music. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? When I was younger, I had tickets to see Run-DMC, Aerosmith and Kid Rock in Worcester, Mass. For some reason, we didn’t end up going, but I would have loved to see Jam Master Jay and Aerosmith rock that stage together. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? I love that cheesy ‘80s music—A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Eddie Murphy’s one-hit wonder “Party All the Time.” What’s your favorite music venue? I love playing at The Date Shed; it’s a smaller venue, so it’s more personal, and it’s at home. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? I have the hook of that song from DJ Drama, “My Moment,” stuck in my head: “Tired of livin’ day to day like everything is alright; every night just one thing on my mind. Just waiting on that moment.” What band or artist changed your life? How? Dr. Dre. This goes with my favorite album of all time, Chronic 2001, by Dr. Dre. … It changed my life. I fell in love with hip hop. Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Machine Head, Deep Purple. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I would ask DJ Quik if I could have permission to do an updated, 2013 version of “Pitch in on a Party,” and have him collab with me on it. What song should everyone listen to right now? “Bad Dreams” by Dali’s Llama. What song would you like played at your funeral? Lil’ John, “Get Low,” as I’m being buried. Name: David Lumpkin, aka DJ Lumps! Band: The Death Merchants, hip-hop More info: www.facebook.com/DeathMerchants; www.soundcloud.com/ death-merchants What was the first concert you attended? The first concert I actually remember going to was a DJ Quik concert at the House of Blues in Hollywood when I was 17 or 18. I don’t know if that’s the first concert I ever attended or if that was just so monumental Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001. What song should everyone listen to right now? People need to hear every Death Merchant song we have released. They’re all amazing. But one in particular, the song “Food Chain,” stands out to me the most. Name: Daniel Wheat, 28 Band: Boycott Radio, “anthemic pop punk-esque rock”; Remnants of Man, “melodic death metal” (bass/vocals) More info: www.facebook.com/ boycottradio; www.remnantsofman. com; www.facebook.com/ remnantsofmanmusic What was the first concert you attended? Good Riddance, Dead Kennedys and Strung Out at the Orange Show in San Bernardino. What was the first album you owned? The first album I ever bought with my own money was Green Day, Dookie. I was in fourth-grade. My mom hated it (lyrically), so I had to hide it. The first was ever given was Michael Jackson, Bad. I was 5, I think. What bands are you listening to right now? Bracket, Coheed and Cambria, Sky Eats Airplane, Atmosphere, and Belvedere. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Anything with Auto-Tune. Just don’t get me started. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? The Dillinger Escape Plan. I’ve seen them before, and, by far, it was the best set I’ve ever seen. Pretty much a re-birthing experience. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Dubstep. I don’t know why. What’s your favorite music venue? The first that comes to mind is the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Went there last year on a solo mission, and it was fantastic. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “But you forget that in your fairy tale, bitch, I’m the wolf. All this attention got you thinking you were a queen. You thought that everything in life you want should be free, but nothing is what you think,” The Dillinger Escape Plan, “Black Bubblegum.” A bit dark, I know, but so meaningful to me. What band or artist changed your life? How? NOFX. Fat Mike was the first person who made me want to play bass. He was doing it differently than anyone (that I had heard at the time) in the punk scene back then. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? Victor Wooten: “What the hell, man? Who’d you sell your soul to? Because the devil couldn’t make you THAT amazing.” What song would you like played at your funeral? Victor Wooten, “The Vision.” Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? A Wilhelm Scream, Ruiner. What song should everyone listen to right now? CB4, “I’m Black Ya’ll.” Ha ha ha ha ha!! CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 36 3/29/13 9:59 AM he aBIdeS SPRING 2013 J eff Bridges has a few movies in the works (he is an Academy Awardwinning actor, after all); he has a newish book out (The Dude and the Zen Master, co-written with Zen Buddhist Bernie Glassman); and he’s a spokesman for an antihunger organization (www.nokidhungry.org). In the midst of this busy schedule, he makes playing concerts— like his appearance at Stagecoach— seem like something thrown together at the last minute. You might call your buddies to watch a game somewhere; Jeff Bridges plays live music for thousands of people. People have to have a hobby, right? “We pretty much just let it fly,” Bridges said in a recent phone interview. “If people enjoyed Crazy Heart,” Bridges mentions off-hand, not really noting that he won an Oscar for his role in the film, “we’ll be playing some songs from that.” Bridges also has some new music that he and his band, delightfully called “The Abiders,” have been working on, following up on his 2011 self-titled second album. (A delightful Big Lebowskireferencing side note: He wanted to call them “The Royal We,” but “the guys were digging the other name, so we went with it.”) “I imagine people have had time to check out (my most recent album) by now, so they’ve probably decided if they like it,” Bridges said. Music has been a part of the Jeff Bridges aesthetic for nearly as long as he’s been in the spotlight, as he’s been known to pull out a guitar during filming down-times at his day job. “I’ve been playing music all my life, really. I picked up a guitar at age 12, and started writing songs not long after,” Bridges said. During the filming of Heaven’s Gate, Bridges met roots-music super-producer T-Bone Burnett, who produced the 2011 album; Bridges hopes Burnett will be his collaborator again. “T-Bone’s the best, and we’re old buds, so I’d work with him again anytime,” he said. But even their relationship seems almost accidental in the laidback way that Bridges describes it. “After the success of Crazy Heart, I thought I could parlay that into recording some tunes, so I threw the idea out to Bone, and he dug the idea. Off we went to the races, you know?” The band consists of guys from Santa Barbara—his “homies,” as Bridges puts it. “We have a great time together, and they’re superb musicians. I love making music, and I get to make it with my pals, so you make time for the things you want to do.” Even the experience of being part of the Stagecoach lineup has him largely unaffected. “Playing these things can be surreal, but it’s cool.” Plus, he has friends with whom he’s sharing the lineup: “Toby Keith let us borrow his audience for the concert scenes in Crazy Heart. Nice guy.” If you happen to come by the stage while Bridges and his buddies are playing, he does wish you CoaChella Valley Independent // 37 Jeff Bridges Doesn’t Sweat His Upcoming Appearance at Stagecoach By dan GIBSon the best possible experience, but the fates will also have to intervene. After all, Bridges himself has a rather Zen/Dude-like approach to the whole thing. “I hope people enjoy the show, but I’m not one for expectations. I like to lower mine and be surprised,” he said. Jeff Bridges and the abiders play on Friday, april 26, at Stagecoach. the festival takes place Friday, april 26, through Sunday, april 28, at the empire polo Club, 81800 avenue 51 in Indio. passes for all three days start at $239. For tickets or more information, visit www.stagecoachfestival.com. CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 37 3/29/13 9:59 AM 38 \\ coachella Valley IndependeNT SPRING 2013 COMICS & jonesin’crossword Across 1 “Welcome Back, Kotter” star Kaplan 5 Unpleasant atmosphere 11 He hosted a reality show called “I Pity the Fool” 14 Vows sometimes rushed in comedies 15 “The Other ___ Girl” (2008 Natalie Portman movie) 16 “Star-Spangled Banner” contraction 17 Five on a dude’s foot? 19 Clay, later 20 Passover dinner 21 “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” singer Paul 22 “Kilroy Was Here” band 23 Co-star of Morgan and Baldwin 25 Chunky milkshake ingredient 27 Words before “fire” or “emergency” 32 BFFs 35 “Are we there yet?” answer, maybe 36 Time off from the group? 40 Former NHL star Robitaille 41 Thorny trees 42 Co. whose mascot is Nipper 43 The right amount to be serendipitous? 45 “Win, Lose or Draw” host Convy 46 Herb that’s also a name 47 Old-school fastener at the roller disco 49 Hit for ZZ Top 52 Bread for a reuben 53 Madcap 56 Sitcom starring a singer 59 Big name in handbags 63 Vexation 64 Ad line that caused a Muppet to answer “You bet me do!”? 66 Turn down 67 More level 68 “So Big” author Ferber 69 Nyan ___ (internet meme) 70 Nissan model 71 Awestruck response Down 1 Band events 2 “For two,” on sheet music 3 Woody’s last name on “Cheers” 4 Miami Sound Machine surname 5 Two-year degree type (hidden in REMEMBER) 6 New Rochelle, New York college 7 Actor Tudyk of “Suburgatory” 8 Timex competitor 9 Birthday balloon material 10 Ques. counterpart 11 Drawbridge site 12 Bank (on) 13 Cereal that rarely got eaten by its mascot 18 You can dig ‘em 22 Like some gummy candy 24 “That smells horrible” reaction 26 Recessions 27 Spot in the water 28 Mad Libs category 29 Apres-ski drink 30 Spoken 31 Make it really clear? 33 Jeter at short 34 “___ bleu!” 37 Candle end 38 Senegal’s capital 39 Singer Perry 41 “A Death in the Family” playwright James 44 Like some truth 45 Party item with a tap 48 What this glue has 50 Where oranges are grown 51 Movie with the line “What’s in the box?” 53 Stuff in lozenges 54 Opera highlight 55 “Friday After ___” 57 Like paperclips 58 Rival of Dell 60 Opera set in Egypt 61 Reading rooms 62 Posthaste 64 Primus leader Claypool 65 “... ___ mouse?” © 2013 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org) Find the answers in the “About” section of CVIndependent.com! CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 38 3/29/13 9:59 AM SPRING 2013 Coachella Valley Independent // 39 46156 FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS 8 PM to 2 AM LADIES FREE BEFORE 10 PM MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE LIVE SPECIAL GUESTS MONTHLY! DJ JAVI MIXING LATINO REGGAETON ROCK N ESPANOL 46156 DILLON ROAD COACHELLA, CA 92236 TOP 40 DANCE MUSIC * EXCLUSIVE VIP ROOM * TABLE RESERVATIONS CALL (760)398-6666 CREDIT CARD REQUIRED CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 39 3/29/13 9:59 AM 40 \\ coachella Valley IndependeNT SPRING 2013 CVIndependent.com ISSUE 1.indd 40 3/29/13 9:59 AM