Coachella Valley Independent February 2024

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A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Mailing address: 31855 Date Palm Drive, No. 3-263 Cathedral City, CA 92234 (760) 904-4208

Editor/Publisher Jimmy Boegle staff writerS Haleemon Anderson Kevin Fitzgerald coveR and feature design Dennis Wodzisz Contributors Nicole Borgenicht, Charles Drabkin, Katie Finn, Bill Frost, Bonnie Gilgallon, Bob Grimm, Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume, Clay Jones, Matt Jones, Matt King, Keith Knight, Kay Kudukis, Cat Makino, Brett Newton, Greg Niemann, Dan Perkins, Gilmore Rizzo, Theresa Sama, Maria Sestito, Jen Sorenson, Robert Victor The Coachella Valley Independent print edition is published every month. All content is ©2024 and may not be published or reprinted in any form without the written permission of the publisher.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 $5 by calling (760) 904-4208. The Independent may be distributed only by the Independent’s authorized distributors. The Independent is a proud member and/ or supporter of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, CalMatters, DAP Health, the Local Independent Online News Publishers, the Desert Business Association, and the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert.

I had the misfortune of watching the opening minutes of that ridiculous Fox News “debate” between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. I wasn’t going to come anywhere near it, but a friend wanted to watch it. I lasted about 15 minutes before I had to bail. One of the things that irked me was the constant spin—by DeSantis, yes, but also by “moderator” Sean Hannity’s first few questions—claiming the state of California is a failing liberal hellhole that people are fleeing in droves because of unemployment, high taxes and unsafe borders. Depicting California as a failing state is a common refrain by a lot of folks on the right these days—and, well, I’ve had enough of it. I’ve lived in other Western states (that were under conservative leadership for most of my years there)—and I am very, very happy to be in California right now. To be clear, California has problems—massive problems. The high cost of living, especially housing, can cripple the budgets of both individuals and families, and I understand why some people would choose to go elsewhere as a result. While some complaints about the difficulties of doing business in California are overblown (I have to jump through just as many figurative hoops doing business in Nevada), there is something to them. The progressive wing of the Legislature can go overboard, passing well-intended legislation without realizing and/or caring about some of the consequences—and I say this as someone who considers himself a progressive. (The mess resulting from Assembly Bill 5, the state’s independent-contractor law, is one example that comes to mind.) That said, California has plusses, too. A lot of plusses. Women here don’t need to worry about the state telling them what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Same-sex couples don’t need to wonder whether their marriages will be recognized here in a year or two. Diversity is valued in much of the state, and the arts and culinary offerings are without parallel. The state government actually seems to give a damn about climate change, the plight of workers and the environment—and isn’t trying to persecute drag queens for no good reason. California remains the world leader in the technology and entertainment industries, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon, no matter what Elon Musk wants or does. I haven’t even mentioned California’s weather yet, nor have I talked about the amazing natural wonders in the state—including a lot of protected lands, including nine national parks. If someone decides California isn’t for them, that’s fine. I really do understand why some people may choose to move elsewhere. But as the kids like to say these days (?): Don’t yuck my yum. Every time I walk out my door and look up at Mount San Jacinto, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to live here. California is very, very far from perfect—but I like it here, and millions of other people like it here, too. —Jimmy Boegle COVER PHOTO BY KEITH KINCAID



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Here’s a trail workout that will transform your THE #1 CHOICE outlook on hiking—while getting you into shape COMFORT AIR



f you have not yet made your 2024 health resolutions, it’s not too late! In fact, it’s never too late to make healthy changes for yourself. While eating habits play a huge role in our overall health, exercise and staying fit are key factors as well. I’m not a big gym person—I’d much rather be outside on the trails—but I recently joined one anyway, to help balance my workout, especially with the yoga sessions that help me with stretching. I’ve learned that stretching is as important as exercising and working out. It all goes hand-in-hand and will help prevent injury. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way. Perhaps you’re the opposite—you have a gym membership, and you want to get outdoors and do more hiking this year. Or maybe you’re overcoming some health issues and need a helping three children. hand. We’ve all either been there or know I remember when she started working out someone who has. In fact, I know two ladies at the gym, after getting her diet in order. who have worked very hard to overcome their She then regularly started walking the Palm own trials—and today, they’re great examples Springs Tram Road—I like to call this the and inspirations for us all. I’m proud and best workout in Palm Springs—in the early honored (with their permission) to share their mornings before work. Through perseverance success stories. and dedication, Braun now travels all over the Julie Duran is a mother, a professional place doing Spartan obstacle races (which are businesswoman and now a passionate fitness no joke!) and exploring tough adventurous guru, She recently turned her life around and hikes. Amazing! has lost more than 40 pounds in just more Here in the desert, Braun’s favorite trail is than a year after discovering a passion for Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon, in Mecca. health, wellness and fitness. “It is beautiful!” she said. “I love how it “I began abusing alcohol and drugs at the goes from sand and desert to rocks winding very young age of 14, and it was an addiction through what can only be described as God’s I battled with for 13 years,” Duran said. masterpiece, as the natural curvature is “With the desire to become a better mother, perfect.” businesswoman and overall healthier version I agree: It truly is one of the most majestic, of myself, on Jan. 1, 2023, I made the lifeoff-the-beaten-path, adventurous trails in our changing decision to completely give up area. It’s more than a hike; it’s a total workout! alcohol and drugs and lead a sober lifestyle.” My hiking buddy, Texie Pastorok, and I Duran said she had attempted this many recently joined Jennifer and Julie on the hike/ times, but previously was unable to maintain workout. It was Texie’s first time on the trail— it. She found peace in weightlifting and discovering the mountain tops in the Coachella and she was totally amazed! It’s a favorite of Julie’s as well. Valley. Today, she has been sober for more The Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon than a year—and she’s the leanest and Trail hike is a moderate, 4.5-mile loop trail strongest she has ever been. located in the Mecca Hills Wilderness, about “I discovered my purpose and passion was 15 miles east of Indio. To reach the trailhead, to help others in their recovery and fitness journeys,” she said. “I was no longer ashamed, it’s a rough and slow five-mile drive on the unpaved, sandy Painted Canyon Road, which is but rather proud that I was able to escape the just off of Box Canyon Road, at the north end shackles of drugs and alcohol, and saw that of the SaltonGUARANTEED Sea. Follow it to the end, and you HIGHEST EQUIPMENT PRICE being open about QUALITY my recovery has influenced BEST willLOCAL see the SUPPORT parking area. many of my peers. I WARRANTIES am proud that I was able 24/7 EXTENSIVE Dogs are not allowed on the trail, and it’s to build the courage to overcome some of my not for everyone, as there are many ladders toughest battles and develop an unshakeable (some 12 feet tall) placed alongside the slot SAVE UP TO discipline that has fostered the best version canyon walls—and you’ll need to use them of me.” to climb out, unless you turn around and go Today, Duran is working toward her back. From the parking area, you will see the personal training certification through the board. From there, continue into the National AcademyLENNOX of Sports Medicine. SIGNATUREtrail SERIES SYSTEM *SAVINGS AND RESULTS MAY VARY or so, until you canyon for maybe a half-mile Jennifer Braun was diagnosed with Crohn’s see a giant rock arrow directing you to the disease a few years back; she learned that she left, where the8first This had to make many adjustments in her diet 76 0 .you 3 will 2 0find .5 0 ladder. 0 TODAY FOR DETAILS! route will take you in the clockwise direction and herCALL life to deal with everyday life—which c o m f o r twhere a cyou . cwill om (recommended), climb up, not included working tirelessly and raising her




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Theresa, Texie and Jen climb out of Ladders Canyon. Julie Duran

down, the ladders. After climbing the last ladder, you will hike your way to the top of the ridge—where you will have the most spectacular panoramic views of the valley, including the Salton Sea and beyond to the south, and as far as Mount San Jacinto and San Gorgonio Mountain to the west. You then continue hiking along the ridge for a while before making a sharp left to drop down into the wash for a long walk in thick, soft sand. Eventually, you will come to a rope that leads you down into another canyon, where you will find the last ladder—the only one you go down in this direction—before heading back to the starting point. Painted Canyon Road and Box Canyon Road can be closed seasonally due to weather conditions, so it’s a good idea to check the Friends of the Desert Mountains trails-status page ( before planning your hike.

Upcoming events

Join me on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. for Friends of the Desert Mountains Wildflower 5k. It’s the only 5k trail fun runwalk-hike on natural desert land in Coachella Valley that celebrates wildflowers, wellness and desert wildlands. The 5k starts at the Randall Henderson Trail, located just off Highway 74, on the left side as you’re leaving Palm Desert. All ages are welcome, but no dogs or strollers are allowed on the trail. The entrance fee is $35 per person and includes a T-shirt. Register today, and get information at www. Save the date! On Saturday, March 2, the Friends of the Desert Mountains’ annual Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival takes place at Palm Desert Civic Center Park. Get more details, including sponsor/vendor information, at





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SMALL TOWN, VIBRANT SOUL BY CAROL LOADER “California dreamin’, on such a winter’s day …’’ —The Mamas and the Papas


ut-of-state license plates become common on Coachella Valley roads during the winter months—and if you work in the hospitality industry or on a golf course, you meet a lot of the snowbirds who descend upon Palm Springs. I can tell you that as a Canadian snowbird who drives thousands of miles every fall in order to reside here for a few months, there is a seductive draw to this desert town. But it ain’t all about the sun. Sure, the winter weather is sublime in greater Palm Springs, but Florida and a whole lot of other U.S. destinations have warm sunshine, too. So what are the you can bunk for free with Mom and Dad in unique characteristics that draw snowbirds to Palm Springs? Palm Springs? The compact size of PSP is a dream Based on years of wintering here, I’ve for picking up travelers, compared to the compiled my top five reasons, beyond the mega-hub airports elsewhere in the U.S. My beautiful weather, why Palm Springs is the experience has been that the Transportation ultimate snowbird winter home. In descending Security Administration procedures at PSP are order … extremely efficient, in part due to the relatively 5. Palm Springs International Airport: small number of travelers in comparison to “Wait, didn’t you just say you drove here?” you larger airports in the U.S.—and direct flights might ask. Almost every snowbird who comes to Palm Springs for an extended period of time from many Canadian cities, including my hometown, are plentiful. has family and friends who come to visit, too. Then there are the aesthetics of PSP. It Why pay for a trip to a Hawaiian resort when

One snowbird’s perspective on why she keeps coming back to the Coachella Valley

must be the prettiest airport in the country. It has almost a retreat-like feel with its outside area full of greenery and mountain views. There are also outstanding places to eat, with some of the offerings from local restaurants, allowing travelers to continue experiencing the California vibe until boarding time. 4. The small-town size: Large cities, of course, have a lot to offer—but those benefits come with drawbacks. For one thing, large cities are difficult to navigate. For snowbirds in larger metropolises, driving can be daunting, frustrating and stressful—but Palm Springs, with its small population and its with wellplanned arteries such as Highway 111 and Palm Canyon Drive, is so easy to get around. Snowbirds drive a long way to get here, and we don’t want a lot more driving every day. Another stand-out benefit is the free parking in most areas, including downtown Palm Springs and the El Paseo shopping district in Palm Desert. Comparable areas in large cities have paid lots, adding a little bit of irritation for snowbirds trying to find an easy place to park in order to enjoy an afternoon out on the town. Small-city structures also allow the beautiful views to stand out; there are no towering buildings that stand in the way. Traveling among the nine cities in the Coachella Valley is simple and easy—and we visit them all! 3. Shopping: The Coachella Valley has so many privately owned stores that sell a wide variety of distinctive merchandise. Sure, there are many of the beloved chain stores here, but there are also local clothing designers and artists, and stunning furniture and decor stores, from the very high end to the downright affordable—and what can I say about the vintage shopping options? Shopping at secondhand stores in greater Palm Springs is my idea of yoga for the mind: The experience is both a meditation and a treasure hunt rolled into one. 2. Recreation: I could write a whole column on how fabulous and varied the recreation opportunities are in greater Palm Springs. There is culture galore, with thoughtful and stimulating museums that are impressive for a small city. There are sporting events, such as the popular Firebirds hockey team that the Coachella Valley has warmly embraced, as well as golf, tennis, polo and other competitions to watch. If one is a participant like I am, there are many recreation opportunities that appeal to snowbirds such as tennis, golf and pickleball. The facilities for all of these sports are well maintained, both on the private and public side.

Is PSP the prettiest airport in the country? At least one local snowbird believes it is. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs International Airport

The most outstanding recreation opportunity has to be hiking. The options for trails are so diverse, and the flora and fauna of the desert are so beautiful that they’re actually healing. 1. Community: Not every community is as welcoming as greater Palm Springs. What I really admire and deeply appreciate about the Coachella Valley is how welcoming and respectful the residents are. My husband loves to socialize, and I am amazed at how easily he can make friends here; it just takes a little effort. We have resided at several different condominium complexes and have found the homeowners to be very accepting of us as seasonal residents. Another snowbird I know was invited into an organized run group simply because he was running beside them. He now runs weekly with them while he is in Palm Springs, and has done so for many years. Finally, there is the admirable community spirit the Coachella Valley possesses. There are parades and festivals that showcase and celebrate all kinds of things. We are currently volunteering with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and my husband has done a shift at FIND Food Bank. The Coachella Valley cares about its people, and its vibrant soul shines even warmer than the sun. It all makes this snowbird want to be a part of it all. Carol Loader finds that opportunities in retirement keep her feeling young. Her hometown is Victoria Beach, Manitoba, Canada.




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n Dec. 7, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments announced some news that’s a big deal to anyone who’s been delayed or gotten stuck in traffic because of the closure of Indian Canyon Drive at the Whitewater Wash. CVAG said it was getting $50 million from the California Transportation Commission, to pay for two-thirds of an estimated $75 million project, including the building of two pre-fabricated bridges on Indian Canyon; the installation of two miles of sand fencing; and the construction of a two-mile pathway with an overhead solar panel-shade structure (for pedestrians and bike-riders). Once completed, the project should end the frequent weather-related closures of Indian there’s a $50 million application sitting in Canyon Drive, a critical route that links the city of Palm Springs, including Desert Regional the California Department of Transportation that could provide the funding for the bridges Medical Center—the location of the only Level 1 trauma center in the valley—to Interstate 10 that are needed.’ … Obviously we did not get any commitment at all from him at that and communities like Whitewater and Desert time, but we were not going to let him get out Hot Springs. That’s the good news. The bad: Construction of the room without him knowing that our application was there.” won’t start until 2025 or 2026. The same That was just one piece of a months-long goes for the long-promised bridge on Vista public-relations effort aimed at winning the Chino, and the widening of the bridge over the support of public officials at the federal, state Whitewater Wash on Ramon Road. and local levels. Nonetheless, the $50 million award from “We put together a good package,” the California Transportation Commission is Middleton said, “and we had myself, other a big deal, CVAG executive director Tom Kirk members of the City Council from Palm explained during a recent interview. Springs and (Desert Hot Springs) Mayor Scott “There was only $300 million available Matas holding multiple press conferences on statewide (in 2023), and the little Coachella the issues. Tom Kirk and his people did great Valley Association of Governments got onestaff work in getting us prepared. We met with sixth of all the dollars available in the entire Congressman (Ken) Calvert, and we met with state,” Kirk said. “That was the maximum Congressman (Raul) Ruiz. If anybody would sit amount, and we were one of the top two down and listen to us, we would talk.” ranked projects, so it was a big deal. … We Just 15 days after the award was announced, were up against the big guys in Los Angeles a rainstorm that meteorologists had predicted and the Bay Area who are getting big dollars to be insignificant served as a stark reminder for subways and trains. It feels good to be at of the need for these bridge projects: The Dec. the top of this heap.” 22 rain closed Indian Canyon overnight and Lisa Middleton, a Palm Springs City well into the next day, with Gene Autry Trail Council member who is running for the new and Vista Chino also closing—and Coachella State Senate District 19 seat, said a lot of Valley residents face several more years of preparation went into the successful effort to these closures, at the least. get the $50 million state grant. The reality is that numerous steps need “Earlier in 2023, CVAG identified funding to be taken before construction can begin, that was going to be awarded by the California including environmental studies, dealing Transportation Commission. … It originated with right-of-way matters, and design and out of federal funding that was a part of the engineering work. Then a construction Inflation Reduction Act,” Middleton told the company can be selected and, ultimately, Independent during a recent interview. “We got ground can be broken. our application (submitted) in early summer “The key is to get to be constructionof 2023—and then Tropical Storm Hilary ready,” Kirk said. “Once you’ve done that, approached. On Sunday morning before the you’re usually home free. That’s where we storm hit, we had a visit from Gov. (Gavin) expect to be in year two. I wouldn’t expect to Newsom to inspect the preparations that be in construction for another two or three we had done here in Palm Springs for the years. There’s a lot of environmental work, storm. In the course of that meeting with the soils work, design work, permitting—it’s governor, I personally looked at him and said, a complicated project, as you can probably ‘Indian Canyon is going to flood out. It’s going imagine.” to flood out very badly, and I don’t know how However, the process has started: Kirk said long it’s going to take for us to fix it—but

Local officials have made progress on roadway bridges over the Whitewater Wash—but construction is a long way away

An artist's rendering of a proposed bridge on Indian Canyon Drive.

CVAG has hired Michael Baker International, an engineering company which is doing preliminary work. “They’re making sure that all of the existing right-of-way property we have is sufficient to do any configuration we want, and they’re exploring different options for bridge and structure design,” Kirk said. “That’s the first step, and it’s under way.” While Indian Canyon Drive may be the most crucial often-closed thoroughfare, it’s not the only one. When we spoke to Middleton in early 2023, she confirmed that two projects—a bridge over the wash on Vista Chino, and a widening of the bridge on Ramon Road—were already funded. As for a bridge on Gene Autry Trail? “That’s next (in terms of finding funding),” Middleton said. “We need them both. We’ve already begun our conversations on that. But we’ve been very clear that, because of the proximity of Desert Regional hospital, Indian Canyon was the first priority. I think we made the right decision in … going after that funding immediately and separately from Gene Autry.” While nearly a year has passed since Middleton told the Independent that the Vista Chino and Ramon Road bridge projects had been funded, construction won’t be starting anytime soon.

Joel Montalvo, Palm Springs’ city engineer, said via email that the Ramon Road bridgewidening project is estimated to start construction in mid-to-late 2025, with a possible two-year construction schedule. The right-of-way phase has been completed, he said, and the final design work is under way. Montalvo said that construction on the Vista Chino bridge over the Whitewater Wash is estimated to begin in late 2026, with a possible three-year construction schedule. The right-of-way assessment phase is just starting, he said. While these slow timelines may frustrate locals, Kirk focused on the positive step that the $50 million award represents. “We were elated and proud and excited (when our bridge proposal was approved),” he said. “Although it doesn’t mean the bridge is built or the problem is fixed, it sure helps a lot—by the tune of $50 million. It was a big deal and a big success for the Coachella Valley, a big success for Palm Springs, and a big success for a lot of commuters in Desert Hot Springs, too.” Said Middleton: “We understand the kind of inconveniences that people have gone through, and we appreciate the patience that people have had. Now it’s time to get these bridges built.”



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by Haleemon anderson


The discovery of an endangered plant leads a Rancho Mirage church to create a ‘sacred garden’

“It turned out there were three of us from the church—Mel Wilkinson, (my partner) Sue Engle and myself. Sue said, ‘Let’s do a demonstration garden with native plants so people can see how beautiful they really are.’” The fully realized habitat is indeed beautiful. Colorful flowering plants like desert globemallow, desert lavender and desert marigolds complement the sand and stone foundation. Desert ironwood trees and smoke trees will eventually grow to bring shade to the garden, Emmerson said. Sculptures are scattered throughout. One piece, a 7-foot geometric tower of woven metal, seemingly stands sentry above the space. Stone benches and picnic tables are set on the perimeters. “The people in the congregation and people who just come by find it extremely peaceful,” Emmerson said. “They call it in Japan ‘taking a bath in nature.’ … You’re out there, and the views of the mountains are wonderful, and it’s very organic. You just sort of feel like you’re someplace else.” One of the main principles of Unitarian Universalism is a connection to the Earth and all its creatures. “It’s inherent that people are looking for this kind of thing,” Emmerson said. There’s that word again—connection. Emmerson said he remembers the day he first visited the church. He met Belshee and imme-

he beauty of the natural world is all around us—but in our busy, modernized lives, connecting with nature is often an afterthought. A group of self-described “community scientists,” however, was prompted to pay attention when an endangered plant was discovered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert (UUCOD) in Rancho Mirage. That discovery started a years-long process that resulted in the church’s brand-new Desert Canyon Habitat, a sacred garden where community members are welcome to connect with nature. Rod Belshee was shocked to find Coachella Valley milk vetch plants growing at UUCOD, where with nature featured the memorable line, he’s been a member since 2014. “Don’t erase the desert; embrace the desert.” “In 2016, I just discovered one of the endangered species of Coachella Valley growing Lisha Astorga, who owns Desert Straw House, happily on our grounds,” Belshee said. “It’s just a plant nursery specializing in native species, explained that drought-tolerant plants can be growing, and that’s kind of shocking, so that adapted to residential spaces and provided a spawned my curiosity and made me want to list of user-friendly plants. learn a little bit more.” Exhibitors provided information on various He found a program at the University of sustainability projects and offered native California, Riverside’s Palm Desert Campus plants for sale. Church members served as tour that offered a Certified California Naturalist guides, explaining the garden’s design. certification. He began getting other folks Dave Emmerson presented a certificate from excited about learning how to protect the the National Wildlife Federation designating natural environment, too. the garden as a sacred space. As one of 40 The concept of creating “community classmates who took the UCR Naturalist course scientists” grew out of that program. The in 2023, Emmerson and his team decided their 11-week class includes “classroom and field group project would be a series of models for experience in science, problem-solving, native gardens—one of which became the communication training and community blueprint for the Desert Canyon Habitat. service,” according to the course description. “Our class was so big, they recommended we “By 2018, I’d talked a whole bunch of people go in groups,” Emmerson told the Independent. into this dream that we could create habitat on our grounds,” Belshee said. “It is getting harder for native species (to survive) because of development and climate change. We had huge momentum—and a big, giant event was scheduled for March 22, 2020. On March 20, we (had to close) the building.” COVID-19 restrictions derailed the groups’ early plans; in the interim, a steering committee was formed. “We finally restarted it about a year ago, reassembled the team, updated the charter and did a little fundraising. Then we really took off again,” said Belshee, who co-chairs the committee with Diane Leslie, who is also a Certified California Naturalist. On Jan. 7, the UUCOD marked the opening of the Desert Canyon Habitat. The idea for the garden is a natural extension of the church’s spiritual views, said Belshee. “We believe in the interdependence and the interconnectedness of everything,” he said. At the opening ceremony, the church service was modified to include speakers discussing conservation. Cameron Barrows, of the UCR Center for Conservation Biology, encouraged attendees to take the California Naturalist “Sonoran Son #2,” a metallic sculpture by artist Gene Kain, overlooks the Desert Canyon Habitat. Haleemon Anderson class. His talk on the theme of being at one

diately became interested in helping bring the native-plants project to the church, and it was Belshee who encouraged him to take the California Naturalist course at UCR Palm Desert. The next session of the course begins in February. The last class was the largest so far, according to Belshee. Barrows, a retired emeritus professor at UCR, has been teaching the course as a volunteer since 2018. His speech at the dedication could serve as a motto for the next class. Its title: “Being a Part of, Not Apart from, Nature.” “He’s trying to create a legacy of people who will carry on with conservation in the valley,” Belshee said. Belshee said he hopes community members will visit the garden and perhaps consider becoming a certified naturalist. You don’t need a degree or any particular background—just a desire to connect with and conserve nature. “It could be that you’re a lifelong birdwatcher, or it could be that you’re concerned about climate change,” Belshee said. The Desert Canyon Habitat is located at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, 72425 Via Vail, in Rancho Mirage. The garden is open to the public, and visitors are welcome at any time, but are asked to be respectful of parking during Sunday services at 10 a.m. Visit www. for more information.






We all need to learn to advocate for ourselves— because if we don’t, who will?

By Maria Sestito

s someone who grew up in New Jersey, I’ve always thought of myself as a direct person. Even when it’s uncomfortable, I’ve managed to speak up when I thought something could be better at work, or in relationships when people were being offensive or mean. But it wasn’t until I became involved with a union that I realized how little advocacy I’d done on my own behalf. I was part of the The Desert Sun NewsGuild at its formation. (The union is still fighting for its first contract, by the way.) It helped me channel my negative emotions about work into a productive cause, and it taught me what rights I had as an employee in California. It was cathartic yet difficult. It gave me a sense of belonging—and it was the most empowering experience I’ve had. During the few years I spent at the daily next steps. Whether you’re a homeowner, newspaper, I was facing my own grief and renter, employee, contractor, spouse, domestic despair related to the pandemic and my partner, parent or customer, there is probably brother’s death. While I was fighting for better a legal, acceptable protocol in place for such conditions at work, I was also fighting for my relationships. Read your contracts, even the health insurance to cover therapy. It eventually fine print! Other places may be able to help, did, but the effort nearly broke me. too, including a local library, newsperson, legalAt the same time, I was an active journalist aid group or nonprofit advocacy group. If you telling stories and trying to keep the need help from any of the above, use Google to government accountable, especially when it find the resource. came to providing accurate and up-to-date Secure the evidence: If there are emails, information on the COVID-19 virus and the receipts, invoices, text messages, etc. that can resulting vaccines. I learned through the work back up your side, keep it all! You never know of my sources—and my own work—how when you will need it. necessary it is to advocate for yourself. Identify the key players: Figure out the It can take a lot of time, sometimes money, best way to contact the necessary party to take and a dogged determination that can be action. Is it your manager, your employer’s exhausting. By advocating for ourselves, we human-resources department, or the California not only have a better chance at getting the Labor Commissioner? Once you know, initiate care or service or recognition we deserve; we the conversation and/or file your complaint. also have a chance at improving the systems If you have an in-person meeting, or a phone around us that can make living so difficult in or video call, follow-up with an email outlining the first place. Advocating for yourself—and what was discussed. getting better at it over time—may even help Repeat: This is often the most frustrating, build your confidence! I know it helped mine. time-consuming and ridiculous part of Self-advocacy is “the action of representing advocating for yourself: You may need to make oneself or one’s views or interests,” according the same phone call, write the same email, to Oxford Languages via Google. It is a skill and tell the same story over and over again. that can be used in all of our roles—at work, In most cases, this has to be done in your at school, in the community, or as a customer, free time. If a business messes up, they’re consumer or patient. It seems to be an not going to reimburse you for helping them unfortunate reality that, even in the most basic correct their mistake. (Maybe they should?) If contexts, we are responsible for making sure you believe you’re in the right, just keep going. rules are being followed; contracts are being Schedule that call for every Monday at 10 a.m. honored; and people are held accountable. Eventually they may give in just to get you to (This is one of the reasons local news is so leave them alone. Also: Keep track of who you important: Most people don’t have the time, talk to each time, and mention them during money or energy to keep others at local, succeeding phone calls, etc. regional and state levels accountable.) Escalate: We all have asked for a supervisor So how can we advocate for ourselves? I now and then, but doing so is not your last have some suggestions: option. There are CEOs at the top of many Know your rights: In nearly all areas of life of the places we’re talking about, and often, in the United States, we have rights. Knowing it’s not difficult to find an email or, at the what those rights are is a key first step in very least, a social-media handle. CC them both representing yourself and planning your on your emails to those you’ve already been

Maria Sestito was one of the founding members of The Desert Sun NewsGuild—and that experience made her realize the importance of advocating for oneself. courtesy of the desert sun newsguild

“bothering.” It probably won’t get the CEO’s attention, but it might get their assistant’s— and they can get things moving. Go public: The other way to get things moving: Contacting your local representatives (and a journalist, too, while you’re at it). KQED has a guide on how to contact public officials, which includes conversation tactics and suggestions, and UC Berkeley has suggestions on how to phrase emails and letters. If the situation could be negatively impacting others, reach out to a mayor, the city council, your congressperson, the governor’s office or the state attorney general’s office. That old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” can be annoyingly true. My mom recently complimented me on how effective my phone calls were when dealing with a recent medical issue of hers. “I wouldn’t have gotten the appointment without you,” she said. I doubted that. She did get the appointment faster, though, which was important for her treatment. She may have waited forever for the call she was supposed to get—complaining

about the medical staff only to me. At one time in my life, I probably would have done the same thing. Maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to bother anyone. Maybe I trusted the system to work. But the system doesn’t work—not well, anyway. I’m not sure I’d have known how deep many problems go without my experience as a reporter. Now I know that sometimes you have to fight to get the care you need—and thanks to the last few years, I know how to fight. I always assume the best of the workers, at least to start—it’s been a tough few years for everyone. I try to be polite and friendly to staff answering the phones. Being nice often helps, and so does relating to people. As I told my mom the other day, sometimes people are so focused on their own work or lives that they forget they’re dealing with real people. When I make these calls, I’ve started to see it as my job to remind the burned-out person on the other end of the line of our shared humanity. Sometimes it works. When it doesn’t, I hang up—and try again tomorrow.






Before it became a hospital, the El Mirador Hotel was a luxurious celebrity hot spot

by greg niemann

f all the famous former “hot spots” in Palm Springs, the El Mirador Hotel may have been the most renowned. The Hollywood celebrities, political dignitaries and other prominent visitors it attracted helped establish and perpetuate a Palm Springs image of glamour, romance and carefree fun in the sun. The El Mirador opened with a flourish on Dec. 31, 1927, with a gala opening party costing $15 per head (the equivalent of about $260 today). Celebrities flocked to the new resort, and almost all of the stars of the era spent time there. Guests during the first months included Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish, Kenneth Maynard, Pola Negri, Eddie Cantor and Gloria Swanson. enlisted longtime aide Lawrence Crossley to The El Mirador was the brainchild of design and build the course. Stevens declared Prescott Thresher (P.T.) Stevens, who formed the golf course a nonprofit venture and turned a company with Alvah Hicks and other over all net proceeds to a Los Angeles children’s developers in 1926 to build the sprawling group. The gesture was noble, but the timing hotel just north of downtown Palm Springs. was terrible: The Great Depression arrived It featured a 60-foot Renaissance-inspired bell just months later, and there were not enough tower which dominated the landscape and golfers to sustain the course, so it closed. offered a view over the entire valley. The hotel The Depression was tough on Stevens. was aptly christened El Mirador—Spanish for Construction of the hotel, while projected to “the lookout.” cost about $750,000, exceeded $1 million. A successful Colorado cattleman, Stevens By 1931, Stevens was forced to sell it to married a former teacher from the Midwest, bondholders for $327,000, wiping him out. He Frances Stephens. Because of her respiratory died just months later, in 1932. problems, in 1912, the couple divested their The bondholders then hired Warren Pinney, Colorado holdings and relocated to California, a Los Angeles lawyer, to reorganize and protect first settling in Hollywood. They later moved to their interests. Under the 1931 reorganization, Palm Springs for the dry, warm therapeutic air. San Diego businessman and leading investor They stayed at the Desert Inn while building Ralph Lacoe assumed majority ownership, and a home in the 900 block of North Palm Canyon Drive. The astute P.T. immediately began buying Pinney took over as general manager. When Pinney was given the opportunity up land, primarily on the northern end of to pull the popular desert resort out of the town; he also invested in Hollywood real estate. debilitating Depression ennui, he did so with By 1920, he had considerable Palm Springs flair. Due to his guidance, the El Mirador Hotel holdings—and the water rights that went along continued to attract the Hollywood crowd, with them. Stevens bought several thousand politicians, business leaders and statesmen. acres from the Southern Pacific Railroad, to the The resort was so sumptuous that the Desert east and north of the village, embracing much Inn had to elevate its own hospitality and of the alluvial fan from Chino Canyon, adding a amenities to compete. great source of mountain water. Courteous bellboys wore in white shirts, In 1927, he formed the Whitewater Mutual ties and gold-trimmed maroon suits with Water Company, which piped low-cost water shiny brass buttons and an “El Mirador” from Whitewater Canyon, around Windy monogram. The hotel’s South Pacific Room Point, to fill the village’s agricultural needs. offered fine dining on maroon-trimmed dishes Many older neighborhoods in Palm Springs complete with the El Mirador tower logo. utilized this water source for decades. When I Island-inspired meals, which ranged from $2 to bought my home in 2001, it was still initially $3.25, included curried lobster Malayan style, served by Whitewater. Stevens also developed Mandarin duck, beef tomato Cantonese style, and was the principal owner of the Palm and pork with chestnuts and green peas. Springs Water Company. The hotel swimming pool, at 75 feet long, He helped fellow pioneer Alvah Hicks subdiwas the biggest around, and had a see-through vide, develop and sell some 20 acres owned by underwater window and both high and low Hicks. Together, Stevens and Hicks sold much diving boards. Johnny Weissmuller and Esther of the Old Las Palmas land for residences—and Williams were among the legions of celebrities together, they built the El Mirador. to swim at the El Mirador. High-diving P.T. Stevens also built the desert’s second exhibitions featuring daredevils diving from golf course—and first 18-hole course—at the 100 feet delighted the guests. El Mirador. It opened in 1929 and was open The hotel also offered tennis courts, hiking to the public with low greens fees. Stevens

Visitors frolic in the El Mirador pool. Courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

and riding excursions, bicycles, buckboard rides, archery, golf and even an early sauna that looked like a space capsule and was affectionately nicknamed the “sweat box.” Pinney hired Tony Burke to handle publicity and promotions. His photos of celebrities strolling across the El Mirador grounds helped further the resort’s reputation. He later included many of those photos in his book, Palm Springs, Why I Love You, and went on to become a prominent local real estate agent.

The end of the carefree days

With the United States’ entry into World War II, the carefree years ended. Gen. George Patton was sent to the Coachella Valley to train troops for the desert war in North Africa. A new airport was built and leased to the Army Air Corps to house the 21st Ferrying Command Group. The government also needed an Army hospital for war casualties—and bought the El Mirador, converting it into the Torney General Hospital, named for Brig. Gen. George H. Torney, the U.S. surgeon general from 1909 to 1913. Upscale El Mirador guest cottages quickly became hospital wards; the renowned Coral Room was turned into the nurse’s lounge; and the Tennis Court Club was converted into the officers’ club. After the war years, the El Mirador enjoyed a renaissance. A Midwest group, led by eccentric oil tycoon Ray Ryan, spent more than

$2 million to remodel the hotel, reopening it in 1952. The celebrities returned to a larger, more opulent hotel than before, and the stars of the ’50s and ’60s discovered the El Mirador to be as hedonistic as their earlier counterparts. P.T. Stevens’ wife, Frances, gave much back to Palm Springs, including land and equipment for the Frances Stevens School. Daughter Sallie Stevens Nichols and her husband, Culver Nichols, inherited the water company and developed residential property on the site of the old golf course on the other side of the El Mirador. After its 21-year second life, the El Mirador closed its doors as a hotel for good in 1973, and again became a hospital. (A smaller hospital actually began on a portion of the hotel grounds in 1948 as the Palm Springs Community Hospital, in one 33-bed building. In 1951. it became the Desert Hospital, owned by the Desert Healthcare District.) The Desert Healthcare District bought the rest of the property and the expanded hospital, which eventually became the Desert Regional Medical Center. The El Mirador tower remained—until it was destroyed by a fire in 1989. It was then rebuilt using the original plans, reopening in 1991. Sources for this article include Palm Springs, Why I Love You by Tony Burke (Palmesa, Inc., 1978); and Palm Springs, The First 100 years by Mayor Frank Bogert (Palm Springs Heritage Association, 1983).






Spot theinMilky Way and Planets and Bright Stars Evening Mid-Twilight the February, zodiacal 2024 light while For the skies are darkest

This sky chart is drawn for latitude 34 degrees north, but may be used in southern U.S. and northern Mexico.


By Robert Victor

N February's

evening sky chart. inoculars provide wonderful close-up views of the sky this month! ROBERT D. MILLER In February at nightfall, aim them high above bright Jupiter to enjoy the compact dipper-shaped Pleiades, or Seven Sisters star cluster. Some 14 degrees to the upper left, note the bright star Aldebaran, Follower of the Pleiades. In the same binocular field with Aldebaran, find other more distant background stars, belonging to the Hyades cluster and completing a letter “V,” the head of Taurus, the Bull. In the evening sky, Jupiter, at magnitude- 2.4 to -2.2, is high in the southwest to westsouthwest at nightfall. Early in the month, Jupiter passes 11° south-southeast of 2-magnitude Hamal, Aries’ brightest star. Uranus, of magnitude. 5.7 to 5.8, is 12 to 8° east-northeast (to Deneb the upper left) of Jupiter in February. To 18, the northernmost moon is 7° east of home in on the planet, aim your binoculars at 1.6-magnitude Elnath, or Beta Tauri, the 4.3-magnitude Delta in Aries, the brightest tip of the Bull’s northern horn. That same star between Jupiter and the Pleiades cluster. night, Regulus, heart of Leo, is at opposition, Castor Regulus Capella Pollux Three nearby stars—Zeta, Tau and 63 Ari, low in the east-northeast at dusk; high in of magnitude 4.8., 5.3 and 5.1 respectively— the south in the middle of night; and low in complete a distinctive quadrilateral with the west-northwest at dawn. On this night, E W Delta. February opens with Uranus 3° Spaceship Earth is rushing away from a point Procyon south-southwest (to the lower left) of Delta 4° south of the Pleiades in the evening sky, Aldebaran Jupiter Betelgeuse 29 Ari. Closer to Delta’s southwest and southand heading toward a point 3° west of Beta 22 8 15 15 1 southwest, by 1.2 and 2.1° respectively, are in Scorpius, top star of the head of the 8 the stars 54 Ari (of magnitude 6.3) and 53 Scorpion in the morning sky. 1 Saturn Rigel Ari (of magnitude 6.1). Around Feb. 22, a line Continuing east against the stars, the Sirius from 54 to 53, 0.9° long and extended 0.7°, moon passes closely south of Pollux on the locates Uranus. For a chart of the star field, evening of Feb. 20, and almost as closely visit north of Regulus on Feb. 23. Saturn (magnitude 1.0) is only 4° up in the The next morning, Feb. 24, one hour Fomalhaut west-southwest as evening twilight ends on before sunrise, we find the moon low in the Feb. 1. Saturn sets in twilight within a week, west, 5° to the upper left of Regulus. On Feb. but binoculars will enable you to follow it 28, the waning gibbous moon will be in the until mid-month if you have an unobstructed southwest, very close to Spica. view of the horizon. From dark places on the moonless Mornings: In the east-southeast, brilliant mornings of Feb. 8-19, just before the onset Canopus Venus (magnitude -3.9) sinks into bright of morning twilight, the Milky Way will be twilight in February. Faint Mars (magnitude visible in the eastern sky, passing through the S mid-twilight occurscoming when on Stereographic Projection +1.3) can be spotted with binoculars to the Summer Triangle—just as it appears in July There’sEvening a major solar eclipse The Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar the Sun below horizon. Map byfrom Robert D. Miller lower left of Venus, by 10° on Feb. 1; 5° on at nightfall. Monday, April 8.isIt9°will bethe seen as a total is available by subscription www. Feb. 1: 41 minutes after sunset. Feb. 11; and 2° on Feb. 18. On Feb. 22, Mars From very dark sites on moonless eclipse within15:a track crossing Mexico, the Each 41 " " " appears closest to Venus, only 0.6° to its mornings through Feb. 10, and Feb. 27 United States29: from and monthly issue consists of a calendar page 39 Texas " " to Maine, " lower right. By Feb. 29, Mars appears 3.4° to through March 10, just after the close of eastern Canada. It will be seen as a partial illustrating events such as mentioned in this the upper right of Venus. twilight (about 90 minutes after sunset), look solar eclipse from nearly all of the rest of article, and an evening sky map. For $12 per The moon: Follow the waning moon an for the zodiacal light, a huge pyramid of light North America, including here in the west. year, subscribers receive quarterly mailings, hour before sunrise Feb. 1-7, and watch it extending up from the western horizon and For details, including maps and information each containing three monthly issues. pass Spica, Antares, Venus and Mars. See its axis along the ecliptic (or plane) of Earth’s on observing the event without the risk of the thin old crescent Moon one additional orbit, tapering upward toward Jupiter and damage to eyesight, and weather prospects Robert Victor originated the Abrams morning, Feb. 8 by looking only a half-hour the Pleiades. It’s the result of the reflection at places within the path of total eclipse, visit Planetarium monthly Sky Calendar in October before sunup, of sunlight by dust particles in the inner 1968 and still helps to produce an occasional In the early evening on Feb. 10, catch a very solar system. The Milky Way and the zodiacal The Astronomical Society of the Desert issue. He enjoys being outdoors sharing the thin waxing crescent moon, only 27 hours light are best seen from dark places such as will host a star party on Saturday, Feb. 3, at beauty of the night sky and other wonders of after new, with Saturn 2° to its upper right, Borrego Springs and the surrounding Anzathe Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains nature. very low in the west-southwest less than an Borrego Desert State Park, and Joshua Tree National Monument Visitor Center; and Robert Miller, who provided the evening and hour after sunset. On the next evening, Saturn and Death Valley national parks. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Sawmill Trailhead, a site morning twilight charts, did graduate work in is 14° to the moon’s lower right. Views of the night sky in the Coachella Valley in the Santa Rosa Mountains at elevation planetarium science, and later astronomy and See the moon near Jupiter on Feb. 14; near aren’t so pristine—but things could get better! 4,000 feet. For dates and times of these and computer science at Michigan State University, the Pleiades on Feb. 16; and a wide 10-11° For information and ideas, visit the website of other star parties, and maps and directions to and remains active in research and public from Aldebaran on Feb. 16 and 17. On Feb. DarkSky International at the two sites, visit outreach in astronomy.


More than 100,000 people descend upon Palm Springs every February for Modernism Week, a 10-day stretch of events focusing on architecture, design and history—and local homes and neighborhoods are the stars of the show.

Many local neighborhoods include homes and other buildings designed by renowned architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Frey and Charles DuBois. This year’s Modernism Week features more than 35 neighborhood tours—some of which have already sold out. During a recent phone interview with Evelyn Yardley, Modernism Week’s neighborhood tour coordinator, she explained why the tours are so popular—and how they end up benefiting these neighborhoods. “The neighborhood tours are always a huge fan favorite,” Yardley said. “What’s wonderful about it is participating neighborhoods are able to raise funds that they would not otherwise be able to do, and they utilize those funds for community improvements and donations throughout the community itself. Our homeowners benefit as well. … A lot of our homeowners here in Palm Springs are not


full-time residents, and (the tours help them) get to know the community better, and the community gets to know them better as well, which is really wonderful.” Modernism Week pours a lot of effort into celebrating mid-century modern homes. “Homeowners, when I meet with them originally to view their homes, believe it’s going to be more like an open-house situation when their home is for sale, and that’s not at all what it is,” Yardley said. “I always tell them they will walk away with such a sense of pride in their homes, because people who come to Modernism have been coming for years, and even those who are first-timers are very respectful, and they love asking questions and talking about the homes. … We’re actually saving these homes from destruction. That’s what a lot of these people who attend Modernism Week are all about—preserving these mid-century modern homes.” Neighborhood tours vary in size and run anywhere from an hour to 2 1/2 hours, and typically feature six to 12 homes each. Tours can be led by entertainers, residents or Modernism Week historians. “We have larger communities, which are the bigger neighborhoods of single homes, and we have smaller communities, which are your condo communities and apartment

complexes,” Yardley said. “We require at least six homes to be on a tour to qualify. What’s always fun is to see the difference in how people put those homes with units together.” While Palm Springs is home base for Modernism Week, Yardley brought up the Lloyd Wright Historical Walking Tour happening up at the Joshua Tree Resort Center. In 1946, Modernism architect giant Frank Lloyd Wright tasked his son, Lloyd Wright, with building the Institute of Mentalphysics, known now as the Joshua Tree Resort Center. It is the largest collection of Lloyd Wright buildings in the world “I know it’s not technically a neighborhood home tour, but it is a beautiful retreat center,” Yardley said. “They have 11 buildings, and they’re on historical registration as well.” A unique neighborhood tour—with a modern twist—is the Canyon View Estates Home Tour, also being called “Cinematic Modernism.” Guests can tour seven homes and outdoor landscapes in designed by William Krisel and built by Roy Fey in the 1960s. The community is regarded as “the most photographed, documented and celebrated mid-century community in the country”—especially after the 2022 film Don’t Worry Darling used the neighborhood to depict the movie’s idyllic company town. Another tour, “Canyon View States: The Finale,” shows the final 14 homes built in the neighborhood, in 1967. “That’s a little bit different, and that one is one of our fan favorites as well, which is why it sells out every year,” Yardley said about “The Finale” tour. “Canyon View Estates is an overall beautiful area. … When you’re driving through all the white homes, it’s just overall gorgeous. It’s just a wonderful community.” When Don’t Worry Darling star Harry Styles performed two shows at Acrisure Arena last year, some of his fans journeyed out to Canyon View Estates to see the neighborhood where Styles’ character lived. The decision to highlight a modernism gem in a new movie has done wonders to spread an appreciation

for architecture and design to younger generations. “We’ve found that out through our survey,” Yardley said. “Every year, we send out a survey to our guests and ask them to fill out a form. One of the questions we ask is, ‘What is your age group?’ It used to be between 60 to 70, and we’re realizing now that the 40and 50-year-olds are the bigger grouping of people.” Modernism Week is also trying to attract younger attendees by growing the digital presence. “Every year, every neighborhood event puts together a brochure … but during COVID, we went to the QR-code method and put them together as a flipbook,” said Yardley. “When you walk up to the check-in desk, there’s the QR code, so you can go directly to the flipbook. … We were wasting a lot of paper, and people don’t always hang on to those. We got a lot of feedback that people were very pleased with us for moving to this new system, and it proves that things are definitely changing with the new generations coming in.” Modernism Week has now been around for nearly 20 years—the first “Modernism Weekend,” as it was then called, took place over three days in February 2006—and Yardley said the annual celebration has made people look at the Coachella Valley in a new light. “My husband was born and raised in Newport Beach, so we have a home there and we spend the summers there,” Yardley said. “I talk about (Modernism Week) all the time to everyone there, and we get everyone from Newport to come out this direction. I think our largest group of individuals and guests come from Australia and Canada.” Modernism Week takes place from Thursday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 25. For a complete schedule, tickets and more information, visit

Canyon View Estates was used as the main setting for the film Don't Worry Darling. Top photo by Keith Kincaid; above photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures



If anything is more synonymous with Palm Springs than palm trees, it’s celebrity culture. Streets and buildings are named after famous musicians and actors who frequented our desert in the ’50s and ’60s, and the Coachella Valley continues to attract stars today. An upcoming photo exhibition in Rancho Mirage is all about this celebrity culture. Hollywood Cool, opening at MAD. KAT Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 17, features the photography of John R. Hamilton. Hamilton’s work focuses on “a love of celebrity and the freedom of the American West” via photos of countless celebrities shot from the ’40s through the ’90s. The Hollywood Cool exhibition opens on the same day that Hamilton’s photography is being featured at a Modernism Week event titled “John Wayne, Hollywood and the American West.” The talk will feature photos from the Hamilton collection, as well as commentary from Ethan Wayne, director of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and president of John Wayne Enterprises, which acquired a portion of the collection; Laurie Kratochvil, curator of the John R. Hamilton Archives and former photo editor of Rolling Stone magazine; and Amy Shepherd, executive director of the John R. Hamilton Archives and vice president of John Wayne Enterprises. During a recent interview with both Shepherd and Russ Tolman (the partner of Kim Tolman, gallerist and curator of MAD.KAT), they discussed how the Hollywood Cool exhibit came to be. “I saw Amy and her associates, Laurie Kratochvil and Ethan Wayne, present at Modernism Week last year at the Annenberg Theater,” Tolman said. “At that point, a gallery was something that was kind of a dream of Kim's, but we hadn't really decided to move ahead with it. We really enjoyed the presentation and the photography, so when we started the gallery, and we were looking at putting together our ’23-’24

Modernism Week is a decorator’s mecca or paradise, and I think decorators are always looking for new and fresh artwork for their projects.” Tolman said MAD.KAT’s Hollywood Cool exhibit will feature 52 gems from Hamilton’s large body of work. “We're going to have quite a nice exhibit of some of the best of that archive,” said Tolman. “(The prints) are going to be quite large and impressive, so I think it’s going to be a pretty striking exhibit.” Amy Shepherd and John Wayne Enterprises purchased the Hamilton photography collection 10 years ago, and worked tirelessly to preserve and digitize the body of work. Shepherd writes in a blurb on “Because Hamilton lived and worked in the era before digital photography, it was necessary for him to duplicate slides on a Repronar slide copy machine in order to submit his images to the magazines. This posed a challenge to us, as we need to find the earliest generation to be used as a source image for digitization and restoration. … (With the photos) being nearly 60 years old, the restoration work required careful cleaning before being scanned raw (i.e. without any corrections). Once scanned, the image was then matched to the photographers’ prints and corrected for color balance, saturation, tone and spotted to remove any remaining dirt.” Shepherd explained: “We were able to spend some time on it and digitize it, as it was all analog at the time, all negatives and prints. We went through a process of curating a collection and digitizing it to preserve it.” One of the highlights of Hollywood Cool is that 12 of the works are original 11-by-14 and 16-by-20 gelatin silver prints developed by Hamilton himself. Shepherd explained how these prints have been preserved. “We need to store (them) properly,” Shepherd said. “The main thing is the storage conditions. We do take efforts to store them properly with the right archival materials at the right temperature. It is an ongoing process to preserve the silver gelatin and the negative.” I asked Shepherd and Tolman each to pick one favorite photo. “There are so many good ones, and my favorite probably changes a lot, but I really love the portrait of Paul Newman,” Shepherd said. “It’s really a striking photograph. I love the Jayne Mansfield on the barn; it’s just really campy and fun. I love the Steve McQueen, and we’re doing that in a large-scale format, and it’s a close-up of his face.” Added Tolman: “I have to mention Kirk Douglas and his tighty-whities, standing outside his trailer near Indio during the filming of There Was a Crooked Man ... out there— and his helicopter is just near the edge of the photo.”

season, we just thought that it would be natural to see if they’d be interested in doing an exhibition during Modernism Week, so we contacted them, and they said yes.” That Modernism Week presentation last year was titled “Hollywood Cool: The John R. Hamilton Lost Photography Archive Exposed,” and featured an array of photos from the Hamilton collection. “This year, we're doing a little bit of a deeper dive and looking at John Wayne specifically, and we’re titling the talk ‘Hollywood in the American West,’” Shepherd said. “We’re really digging into the Western photography for the talk at Modernism Week. As far as the gallery show, that’s not a direct connection with Modernism Week, but we are on their calendar, so I guess it’s partially connected.” Shepherd said people love to explore the wide range of Hamilton’s photography. “We had a really great reception to our talk last year,” Shepherd said. “It was almost sold out, and then they asked us to come back, so I think that’s always a good sign that they wanted to hear more. … We still have people coming up to us, even today, saying that they Photos of Dean Martin (top) and Frank Sinatra and really enjoyed the talk. Sammy Davis Jr. (above) by John R. Hamilton.

The talk “John Wayne, Hollywood and the American West” will take place at 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $18. For tickets or more information, visit



all your artwork to kind of straighten white people out. Before you know it, you forget: “What about my own people?” So I do a little bit of both. People like the Continuum baskets. They’re decorative, and they look like large baskets or beadwork, but the fact is, they’re (made with) beer cans and soda cans. I’m also talking about alcoholism; I’m talking about diabetes within the community. Those are kind of negative things, but you step back, and you look at the whole community, and (the community as a whole) is a beautiful thing. So I try to engage both audiences. I’m really passionate about wanting to be part of my community and wanting to be respected. I want my community to also take ownership and pride in the work that I do. Are there other Native artists helping carry this torch? Actually, indigeneity is hot right now, with Reservation Dogs on Hulu and FX, and Killers of the Flower Moon just got some nominations … and there are a lot of Native artists who are jumping on opportunities that we never had before. Still, if you want to make it big as a Native artist, you’ve got to go to Sante Fe or something, and I’ve resisted that completely.

Gerald Clarke is one of this year's Intersect Palm Springs Influential Artist of the Desert honorees.

Intersect Palm Springs will celebrate local artist Gerald Clarke on Thursday, Feb. 8, at the opening-night launch party.

Clarke and fellow honoree Ryan Campbell have been named the 2024 Influential Artists of the Desert by the annual four-day art and design fair. Clarke’s impact on the local arts scene is as multifaceted as his influences. He is a tribal leader in the Cahuilla Band of Indians and a respected voice in arts academia. As a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside, he teaches Native American art, history and culture. Clarke’s works include sculpture, painting, photography and installation pieces—and he isn’t afraid to go big. “Immersion,” a dazzling piece installed last year near the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center for Desert X, required a drone to fully view its expanse. It was a giant traditional Cahuilla coiled basket—converted into an interactive game board. Since moving back to the home his grandfather built on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation in Anza Valley almost 100 years ago, Clarke has recommitted to the land. As a child, he watched his father and grandfather doing real “cowboy stuff,” and today, he is a farmer, cattleman, naturalist, historian and tribal leader. The Independent spoke with Clarke about his role as a standard-bearer in the local artistic community, and why doing art in the desert can be particularly inspiring. Congratulations on being chosen as a 2024 Influential Artist of the Desert. I understand a lot of your inspiration comes from being out in nature at your ranch. How do the beauty of the desert and other natural environments inspire your creativity? If you’re born and raised in this environment, you have a different perspective on the world than someone who grows up in the Northwest or in the swamps of Florida. We don’t really acknowledge that a lot, but I believe it’s very true.

You’ve talked a lot about getting the respect of your community, the Native Indian community. Why is that difficult to achieve? There are not a lot of contemporary art centers on Indian reservations, right? So the biggest difficulty has been showing my work where my own community could see it in a professional setting. My whole career, I’ve struggled with that. A few years ago, I had a big show at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and I was so happy, because we had 100, 150 Indian people there locally who had probably never been to that museum. The community didn’t go there because there was nothing for them—and if there was, it was usually a historical collection that goes back 100 years. There’s that lack of connection, of, “What about me? Who am I? Why am I not important enough?” Your “Continuum” series has been lauded for its fusion of traditional and contemporary themes. (As described on his website, Clarke “honors the legacy and process of Cahuilla basket makers who gather materials from the environment, but injects a contemporary approach by utilizing man-made cans that litter the same lands today.”) How do you find a sweet spot in hundreds of years of Indian culture and history? Well, there’s a danger for contemporary Native artists to fall into the trap of making

Gerald Clarke: "If you want to make it big as a Native artist, you’ve got to go to Sante Fe or something, and I’ve resisted that completely."



It’s not like I’m against showing work out; I have work at the National Gallery (of Art) in a group show in Washington, D.C. But I’m intimately connected to my community, not just as an artist, but as a community member. First and foremost, they’re my targeted audience. That doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas to share with the world. But if I’m not making art for my community, who is? The answer is nobody. The art world is increasingly going global. Intersect and other large festivals like Art Basel pull international crowds of art-lovers. You’ve expressed a need to keep local culture in focus. Why? It’s not just the arts. It’s Western culture, American culture, European culture, the art world and beyond—academia as well— that has pushed this kind of narrative that somehow, global knowledge and global expression is what’s important, and nobody’s bothering to think that local knowledge is being lost. As a Native person, I feel this really closely with, like, our Native languages. There are Indigenous languages around the world that are endangered because of this push toward global knowledge and the use of English, or these other major languages. You know, the history of California is based on mining. They mined the gold; it’s on your driver’s license. … But the mining never stopped. They mined our people, right? They mined our culture, and now through the arts, they’re mining our artists, and they’re taking our artists out of our communities. Do you see a way to balance the need for commercial impact and keeping contemporary art accessible? How would you make art more engaging to the Native community? I actually like what (the) Agua Caliente (Cultural Museum) has done by including this contemporary space for their people to interact with. Like I said, there are not a lot of contemporary art spaces on Indian reservations. It’s a historic museum about the history of their people, right? And I appreciate that. They spared no expense; it’s pretty swank, no? But they have that other gallery included, and

Horace Poolaw’s photographs are in there right now. I really appreciate that they didn’t just do the history thing, but they left a space in that building for contemporary work. What’s next for Gerald Clarke? Are there any big installations like “Immersion” on the horizon? I’m doing an outdoor kind of sculptural work out of fabric that’s influenced by the ribbon skirts that my daughters and the Indian women wear when they dance. It’s yet untitled, but it’s going to be about 21 feet wide. I’m not sure of the depth yet, but probably like 40 to 60 feet long or deep. I guess I would say that’s kind of big. It’s for a show at the Ontario Museum of Art and History. They actually commissioned it. They have this outdoor space, and I wanted to do something in that space. “Immersion” and this piece, they’re all direct expressions of my encounter with the (installation) place. Gerald Clark will participate in a panel discussion on the unique aspects of the desert light, topography and culture at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, at Intersect Palm Springs. Intersect Palm Springs starts with an opening-night preview from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, and continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros. Tickets range from $25 for a one-day pass to $100 for an all-access pass. For tickets or more information, visit

Gerald Clarke’s “Immersion,” installed last year near the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center for Desert X, was a giant traditional Cahuilla coiled basket—converted into an interactive game board.


Modernism Week is a celebration of mid-century modern architecture and design—but it isn’t all about home and neighborhood tours. Another side to Modernism Week involves a wide range of entertainment—350 events spread across 11 days, including film screenings, concerts, musicals and more. “Each presentation, performance and film does have an association with modernism,” said Mark Davis, who books and coordinates Modernism Week’s live entertainment. “… For instance, we’ve been doing a lot of jazz. Last year, I had Grammy winner Samara Joy. … I look for jazz performances that have an association with mid-century modern, ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, or with Palm Springs. One I have is Marissa Mulder, who will be doing the songs of Jimmy Van Heusen. He lived in Palm Springs, was a great pal with Frank Sinatra, and wrote some of the most amazing American standards that we all know and love. Given that he has a connection with Palm Springs and the music, it was a very good fit.” Davis said the mid-century modern influence even extends to art forms like animation. “We’ve shown films from Pixar, like The Incredibles, because the architecture in the cartoon was based on Palm Springs,” Davis said. “They actually came out to Palm Springs and got ideas. There are a lot of Disney connections—and in this year’s case, it’s the music of Disney. Matt Johnson and The New Jet Set are doing ‘Swingin’ the Disney Songbook.’ “Disney is a perennial favorite at Modernism Week. It has to do with Tomorrowland and the building of the park (Disneyland) … because it was just so ahead of its time in the ’50s when it opened, and people love it.” Other events cover elements of Hollywood during the mid-century modern era. Davis mentioned A Conversation With Edith Head, a theatrical production focusing on the renowned costume designer, starring Susan Claassen.


“I’ve watched documentaries with Edith Head, and I think Susan Claassen does Edith Head better than Edith Head herself,” Davis said. “(Claassen) is amazing. There’s not a thing she doesn’t know about Edith. She looks like her; she channels her language intonation, her wit, everything. … That whole era, the golden years of Hollywood, is basically the full stage set with Oscars and costumes, and it looks like you’re in her house.” A celebration of mid-century modern architecture and design would be incomplete without artwork—and, in one case, a musical involving artworks. Davis chose to highlight Shag With a Twist!, a musical set in the world of Palm Springs legend Shag’s iconic art. “They did this maybe about 10 or 12 years ago, and it had a run in L.A. and in Las Vegas,” Davis said. “Shag is 100% behind it. Cindy Bradley is the choreographer, and Shag has done all of the sets and designs. Basically, his paintings, his work, comes to life. It’s a murder-mystery—the case of the Tupperware Party killer. … There are head pieces that mimic Shag’s look—the hair, the hats, and then the costuming is beyond excellent. ... People love Shag; they just adore him, and he’s managed to really make these characters a part of his entire work. They show up here; they show up there; they show up in all the Palm Springs imagery.” “Poolside Gossip,” a famous 1970 photo taken by Slim Aarons, will be the subject of a cocktail party and discussion—and will include one of the people featured in the picture. “It’s a group of people. There are two women lounging—one in a white crochet top, and the other in yellow—with the beautiful view of the Kaufmann House and the mountains behind,” Davis said, describing the photograph. “The blonde in yellow is Nelda Linsk, and she’ll be chatting with fashion designer Trina Turk about Palm Springs fashion then, when Nelda owned the house. That picture took place during a Pucci fashion show that Nelda held at the house.” Back to jazz: Music is a big part of Modernism Week. Davis talked about the focus on mid-century jazz, and discussed a

collaboration with the Palm Springs International Jazz Festival, which takes place on Feb. 24 and 25. “They started right before COVID, and they had to cancel the one that was planned during COVID,” Davis said. “They’re trying to reestablish it—and they did it with a bang, because the opening performance (on Saturday, Feb. 24) is by Herb Alpert and Lani Hall with a big production. It’s basically sold out.” On Saturday, Feb. 25, the festival will feature three performances, by The Cookers, Veronica Swift, and Taj Mahal. “It’s a full day of jazz experiences including VIP tickets, special seating, meet-and-greets and then an elegant dinner at the Smoke Tree Ranch—which is pretty special, because everyone wants dinner at Smoke Tree Ranch,” Davis said. “It’s hard to get in.” Davis said Modernism Week’s entertainment offerings are essential, because they help keep the event feeling fresh for regular attendees—especially locals. “My biggest, best customers are locals who plan their week around the presentations, because they’ve already seen the homes; they’ve already been to cocktail parties; they’ve done this, and they’ve already done that,” he said. “How many times can you look at the Sinatra estate if you live here?” While a lot of Modernism Week’s neighborhood tours sell out, tickets remain for many of the entertainment offerings. “Last year, just at the Annenberg (Theater) alone, I had over 10,500 people attend, and this year, I’m expecting about 12,000,” Davis said. “I could accommodate 20,000, but as much as I’d like, not every seat sells. Sometimes I have a full house, and sometimes if it’s less-known … I might only have 150, or 200, but it’s still important to have them speak. You can’t just have Disney and Frank Sinatra all the time. You need to have a variety of programs.” Modernism Week takes place from Thursday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 25. For a complete schedule, tickets and more information, visit From top to bottom: “Swinging on a Star”: An Evening of Jimmy Van Heusen’s Songs With Marissa Mulder. “Swingin’ the Disney Songbook” with Matt Johnson and The New Jet Set, featuring Adryon de León. Shag With a Twist! A Conversation With Edith Head (image courtesy Susan Claassen). Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Live at the Annenberg. 1963: A Tribute to the Music of an Unforgettable Year.



Events 2023

He was once a college basketball player who got an F in an art class. Today, he’s a featured artist at the La Quinta Art Celebration. Daryl Thetford, from Chattanooga, Tenn., is just one of the many artists who will set up shop at the La Quinta’s Civic Center Campus from Thursday, Feb. 29, through Sunday, March 3. During a recent interview, he said he’d always loved drawing and painting—he started painting in oils at the age of 9—but he was encouraged to have a “practical” career by his parents, and he earned a degree in counseling from Murray State University. As for that art class … “Everyone else was getting A’s, so I decided to confront (the teacher),” Thetford said. “I went up to him and asked him why he was giving me F’s. He said he didn’t like my work, so I made a deal with him: I said, ‘If you give me a C, you’ll never see me again, and I will never take another art class.’ He agreed.” After graduation, Thetford worked as a counselor for 15 years—before burning out. He recounted the experience that changed his life. “A woman came in who had overdosed and was fighting with her relatives,” Thetford said. “She looked over at me and said, ‘You look like hell.’ She was the one who went through so much, but I was the one who looked like hell.” His wife was already an artist, and Thetford decided to join her. Thetford is now a renowned mixed-media artist, and his works are in public and corporate collections, and have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries around the country. His photo collage work is graphic, modern, pop and contemporary. According to his website: “The process begins with Thetford selecting a single, original photographic image followed by a digital layering and combining of dozens of additional original photographs. It is a process which takes an average of 40 hours. His resulting images range from culturally familiar individual pieces (bikes, cowboys, guitars, cityscapes) to more esoteric series based on man’s inner struggle with modern society or the human sense of isolation in the noise of the modern world. Thetford then creates a mixed-media piece using



Sept 10

Riverside’s Inland Empire Pride Festival 2023

Sept 20

2023 Business Expo & Taste of Palm Springs

Sept 20–24

Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend

Sept 22-24

Gay Days Anaheim

Sept 23 this printed image to create one-of-a-kind paintings using torn 8th Annual Aging Positively Conference and weathered handmade paper, various artist mediums and Oct 5-8 JoshuaTree Fall Music Festival acrylic paint. Thetford said he never wants discourage children away from art. “A lot of parents come up to me,Oct and6say, ‘My kid wants to beSinging with the Desert Stars an artist,’” he said. “They look at me and expect me to tell them not to do it, to choose a practical career, Oct a7backup, while painting Pride Under the Pines in their free time. But when they start a family and have a fulltime job, they’re tired and don’t have time Oct 11to paint. I tell them, National Coming Out Day ‘Let your child be an artist. I’ve made a good living, and many others have, too.’” Oct 13–14 Pride On the Page About 185 artists from 35 states and four countries will participate in the next La Quinta Art Celebration. The artists go Oct 19–22 Modernism Week - October through a blind jury process and are selected by peers who judge only the category of art in which they specialize. Event director Octgets 20one of the highest LGBTQ Center Gala, Center Stage 2023 Kathleen Hughes said Thetford always scores of any participating artist. “Since La Quinta is the golf 21-24/28-Oct 1 Cinema Diverse capital of the Western U.S.A., we willSept be using one of his golfer paintings for our shirts or posters,” Hughes said. Oct 26–29 PS Leather Pride Hughes said the La Quinta Art Celebration has been the top-ranked fine art show in the U.S. according to the Art Fair Oct 28 from each La DAP Health Equity Walk 2023 SourceBook for 2022, 2023 and 2024. Proceeds Quinta Art Celebration benefit Tools for Tomorrow’s afterschool visual and performing arts programsOct throughout the Coachella Palm Springs Halloween on Arenas 29 Valley. “The La Quinta Art Celebration isNov a nationally 3–5 acclaimed art Palm Springs Pride event and is not a local or regional show,” Hughes said. “… The Civic Center Campus is a stellar site to host this event and has been called the most beautiful festival site in the nation.” Thetford said he’s looking forward to his time in the desert; he Subscribe to the Oasis Insiders Newsletter said he rents a house in La Quinta Cove for weeks. “I love being in the desert, the atmosphere, theor beauty visitofour Day-By Day Events Calendar nature, hiking—and, of course, golf,” he said.


The La Quinta Art Celebration takes place Thursday, Feb. 29, through Sunday, March 3, at La Quinta Civic Center, 78495 Calle Tampico, in La Quinta. Single-day tickets are $25; multi-day tickets are $30. For tickets or more information, visit

La Quinta Art Celebration featured artist Daryl Thetford's mixed-media works are in public and corporate collections, and have been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the country.






By Kevin Fitzgerald

he Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation (CVJF) was launched in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the foundation is launching something else: the Coachella Valley Media Hall of Fame. The inaugural class of four journalists will be inducted at a luncheon event at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Former Washington Post editor Martin Baron will be the keynote speaker at the event, and the proceeds will benefit the foundation. Franco, who’d been there a long time, and he The four new Hall of Famers: Longtime decided to take it. The only problem was that KESQ News Channel 3 broadcast journalist Gannett did not provide budgeting for any Karen Devine; former Desert Sun arts and replacements. So Julie was distraught and said, entertainment reporter Bruce Fessier; and ‘We can’t have a newspaper without an opinion Frank Jones and his father, the late Milton page. It just becomes an advertising piece, if Jones, publishers of Palm Springs Life. there’s no forum for community input and CVJF co-founder Ricardo Loretta talked editorial (comment).’ to the Independent about the origins of the “I told her that one of the things we could foundation. It all started at a lunch with Julie do is find out if the community wants a Makinen, then the executive editor of The newspaper at all, and the best way to do Desert Sun. that was to ask the community to support “I’ll never forget (that) during … COVID an opinion editor for at least a year after Al in August 2020,” Loretta said. “We couldn’t Franco leaves. I asked her how much money go inside a restaurant, because they had all she would need. … It wasn’t a huge amount— closed their indoor dining, so we met on the but it wasn’t peanuts, so I suggested we do a patio of P.F. Chang’s, which was being cooled 501(c)(3) and see if we can structure it in such with misting devices and fans because it was a way that we can help all the media in the August, and it was hot.” Coachella Valley.” Gannett, the parent company of The Desert The CVJF was born. Sun, had started yet another round of cuts. “Joe Wallace was eager to help, and he “Julie told me … about Gannett cutting became a co-founder of the project,” Loretta back on opinion editors,” Loretta said. “They said. Wallace, the soon-to-retire CEO of the were … offering, like, 500 employees around Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, acts the country early buyouts. Our opinion as secretary/treasurer of the CVJF board of editor (for The Desert Sun) at the time was Al directors. “For a while, it was just Julie, Joe and me on the board, because we wanted to see how the venture would go,” Loretta said. “In the first three to four months, we raised a lot of money, and the good news was that we raised it from a wide array of people who donated anywhere from $10 to $10,000. I think the average donation was about $115. Sowe did get a fairly robust number of people supporting us, and that gave us encouragement. It looked like there was support for a daily newspaper.” As luck would have it, the return of a former Desert Sun editor who chose to retire in the Coachella Valley crystallized the CVJF team. “Randy Lovely … came back to live here in Palm Springs with his husband after he retired from Gannett,” Loretta said. “He took an interest in our project, joined our board, and then agreed to take over as president, because he knows so much more about the (media) CVJF board president Randy Lovely: “It always business than I do.” disheartens me that journalists are ranked among the Lovely and Makinen led the planning efforts least-admired professions. Of course, I think it’s a noble for the Feb. 28 luncheon. (Makinen is now the profession. I know how hard journalists work.”

The Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation will celebrate its inaugural Hall of Fame inductees at a fundraising luncheon

editor-in-chief of The San Francisco Standard, a digital news startup in the Bay Area. She still has a house in the Coachella Valley and is on the CVJF board; she’s also the chair-elect of the California News Publishers Association.) The event will be emceed by Emmy Awardwinning journalist and Palm Springs resident Hank Plante. Baron will talk about his new book, Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos and The Washington Post, and share his insights regarding the future of journalism. “I’m very thrilled about the reception (the event has) received so far,” Lovely said during a recent interview. “Ticket sales are going very, very well. The reaction to the individuals who we’ll be inducting in this first group has been 100% positive, which speaks to the depth of talent that we have in the community. “I’m really excited to have a day on which we celebrate journalism, because there are so many negatives associated with the profession. It always disheartens me that journalists are ranked among the least-admired professions. Of course, I think it’s a noble profession. I know how hard journalists work. I know how much of a commitment it is, and that basically, they turn over their lives to their career, because news is not predictable.” Bruce Fessier, a journalist for more than 40 years—with much of that time at The Desert Sun before his retirement—began his career as a high school and college sports writer. We asked him about his reaction to the news of his Hall of Fame induction. “Not knowing that there were any plans to create a Hall of Fame, my reaction was, ‘What? Are you kidding?’ he said with a laugh. “… I know that (the CVJF) has been doing terrific work keeping local journalism alive, and I’m compelled to support that. It’s an honor to be recognized in the first class of the Coachella Valley Media Hall of Fame, but it’s more important to support journalism. “It’s just remarkable to me that I would be selected over so many worthwhile candidates. One of the people coming to this luncheon is the widow of (longtime Los Angeles Times sportswriter) Jim Murray, who was my hero growing up. I met him out here when he had a place at Monterey Country Club, and after that, he moved to La Quinta. Because he lived out here and covered the (Bob) Hope Classic golf tournament and a lot of major events, he could be considered a local Coachella Valley journalist himself—and he’s one of the great sports writers of all time, if not the greatest sports writer. To be inducted with his widow in

Former Washington Post editor Martin Baron will be the keynote speaker at the Coachella Valley Media Hall of Fame induction luncheon. Essdras M. Suarez

the audience is really a thrill for me. I’m very honored, and I don’t want to minimize the recognition. It’s just insane to me, actually.” While there is unlikely to be a brick-andmortar Coachella Valley Media Hall of Fame anytime soon, the CVJF board felt the time was right to start recognizing journalists who have spent a meaningful part of their careers covering life in the Coachella Valley. “We don’t want to do one group (of inductees) and then never come back again,” Lovely said with a chuckle. “So we started talking about it, and we quickly built a database of almost 100 individuals who we felt could be worthy of consideration. … We feel like we have a really deep well of people who have either committed themselves here for decades and done great work here in the valley, or who had really good, strong careers, during which their time in the Coachella Valley was a formative chapter of that long career.” There are several core goals that Lovely and the other board members believe will be served by staging an annual Hall of Fame event. “I think there are three reasons (for the event): celebrate journalism; raise our profile as an organization; and raise money,” Lovely said. “We’ve already had conversations about next year’s event in terms of when we think the best time to do it would be, and who might be a good keynote speaker.” While the CVJF was founded in an effort to pay for The Desert Sun’s opinion editor, the foundation has since broadened its support to



The Nonprofit SCENE other local journalism organizations (including KESQ News Channel 3 and the Coachella Valley Independent). “Quite honestly, we haven’t been able to do as much as I would hope,” Lovely said. “That’s just because we’re limited by how much we’ve been able to raise. About 98% of what we raise goes right back to our grant-making. We have very low administrative costs. We’re an allvolunteer organization. How much money we raise will decide how much more we can do. So instead of funding full positions like the opinion-page editor, we started (thinking), ‘Let’s invest in future journalists by funding internships.’ That’s been a way for CVJF to assist other news organizations in the valley.” The CVJF has also funded grants to assist media organizations with specific projects. “So far, that’s mostly been travel grants to help with (travel expenses), but it could be something like, ‘We want to do a poll ahead of the upcoming election to assess the strength of the candidates in a certain race.’ We would consider those kinds of requests, because the money for those just doesn’t exist in newsroom budgets anymore. “My hope is that in 2024, we can raise our visibility so that we can raise more money, because of what potentially we can do in terms of helping this whole ecosystem of organizations. There’s just so much more to be done.” “Power and the Press: Lunch With Former Washington Post Editor Martin Baron,” the CVJF’s Coachella Valley Media Hall of Fame induction luncheon, will take place at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Thunderbird Country Club, 70737 Country Club Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Individual tickets are $200, and are on sale until Feb. 16 or a sellout. For tickets or more information, visit

Inaugural Coachella Valley Media Hall of Famer Bruce Fessier: “I’m very honored, and I don’t want to minimize the recognition. It’s just insane to me, actually.”




WE'RE #1 FOR A REASON Tools for Tomorrow’s Picasso Circle VISIONARIES recently celebrated both TFT’s 25th anniversary and founder Rachel Druten’s 90th birthday at a cocktail party at the lovely Bighorn home of Barbara Rogers and Gary Geske. Tools for Tomorrow provides its free afterschool arts-literacy program to students ages 8 to 11 throughout the Coachella Valley. Now serving students in 27 elementary schools, the enrichment program integrates art, creative writing, music and theater. All students receive their own art-supply kits to take home after their sessions. Since many students missed critical years of reading instruction during the COVID-19 closures, Tools for Tomorrow is introducing literature-inspired art to promote reading. By creating hands-on art projects, writing prose and poetry, performing plays and learning music appreciation, TFT students develop communication skills and self-esteem. At year’s end, students present art exhibitions and perform plays for their families and communities. Volunteers are sought to assist classroom teachers in ensuring that every student feels seen and heard. “Celebrate Friendship!” is Tools for Tomorrow’s gala; it will take place at 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26, at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage. TFT will honor local cultural leader Joe Giarrusso (pictured) with the Vision for the Future Award, created by Karen and Tony Barone. The champagne reception will include a silent auction with fabulous items ranging from golf and dining at Bighorn to Swarovski-covered purses, as well as Coachella Valley Firebirds and CVRep tickets. Hosted by KESQ News Channel 3’s Patrick Evans and directed by Joyce Bulifant, the dinner concert will feature performances by Francesca Amari, Gilmore Rizzo and TFT students. Dancing will follow. To volunteer, buy tickets or join VISIONARIES, visit, or call 760-601-3954. —Submitted on behalf of Tools for Tomorrow by Suzanne Fromkin.



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UPCOMING SHOW HIGHLIGHTS s Selected Shorts Mitch’s Pick3 The TEN Tenors Starring Joshua Malina, Jane Kaczmarek and Kirsten Vangsness Sun, February 4, 3pm

Sing and Swing – A Jazz at Lincoln Center PRESENTS Production

Love Is In The Air

Y Great Valentine’s Gift!

Tue-Thu, February 13-15, 7pm Fri, February 16, 8pm Sat, February 17, 2pm & 8pm

Presented through the generosity of: Brooke Koehler – February 14 Carlyn & Robert Stonehill and Lynne Upton & Ed Kisling – February 15 Peg & Doug Schmalz – February 16 Mary Ann & Frank Xavier – February 17, 8pm

An Evening With

Featuring Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III

Michael Feinstein

Presented through the generosity of Celeste & John Schleimer

Presented through the generosity of Maggy & Jack Simon

Mon, February 5, 7pm

s Industrial Mitch’s Pick3 Strength Broadway A Celebration of the American Corporate Musical Thu, February 8, 7pm

Presented through the generosity of James Walter “Jim” Neuman

Robert Klein

With Special Guest Leo Kottke Fri, February 9, 8pm

Presented through the generosity of Deborah & Arthur Jacobson

Photo: Dylan Evans

Photo: Manfred-Baumann


Sat, February 24, 8pm

Pink Boots and a Machete: The Curious Life of Dr. Mireya Mayor Sun, February 25, 3pm

Tom Papa

2024 Comedy Tour

Sun, February 25, 8pm


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By Matt king

The Cinéma Français film fest returns with new French movies—after a five-year hiatus

I’m finished with it, and if I’m in between— which does happen—I’ve got other people to help me, and I will send it to them.” Fromm said programming the shorts was particularly challenging this year. “I kept writing to people to see their shorts, and no one answered me,” Fromm said. “Finally, I got the last of the seven shorts confirmed. … They were the hardest—but then the next-hardest thing is getting the money, the financial part of it. We were blessed this year, as the Supple Foundation came in and gave some major donations, which changed everything. There were other private people who donated money just for the French festival.” Fromm said attendees seem excited to have the festival back after a five-year absence. “I’ve gotten letters from people saying, ‘I’m glad it’s back,’” she said. “They all understood the difficulty, and they understood that last year, I just couldn’t do it by myself. There was no negative reaction to that, but they’re all happy it’s coming back.” I asked Fromm which of the films is her

efore the pandemic, the Desert Film Society—a local organization dedicated to showing independent films that may not otherwise be screened in the Coachella Valley—started Cinéma Français, a French film festival. It took place in two consecutive years—and has not been back since COVID-19 arrived. But that’s about to change: Cinéma Français is set to return Friday, Feb. 2, through Sunday, Feb. 4, at Palm Springs Cultural Center. Seven feature-length films and seven short films will be screened. Tickets are available for each feature film (paired with a short), and a VIP pass includes access to every film. During a recent interview, Beth Ellen Fromm, the movies; that’s not an issue, but it’s finding the people to back us up financially. This year, executive director of the Desert Film Society we’ve got some great sponsors, and we’ve got and executive producer of Cinéma Français, people helping me, and we’re able to resume.” explained how the festival came to be. Fromm explained what it takes to program “The valley has never had any festivals the festival. here that focus on one country,” Fromm said. “I read program books from other festivals “There’s the Palm Springs (International) Film Festival, which began as a foreign film festival all over the world, and if a title or synopsis sounds interesting, I go online; I try to find out and has since gone in other directions, and who has the film, and I write them; and I reach they do a lot of major studio releases now. I out and tell them that we’re having a festival, just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a and I’d like to consider their film,” Fromm French festival?’ said. “Ninety-some percent of the time, they “Somebody today asked me why I picked (respond); then I watch it, and if I love it, great; France, and why didn’t I pick Italy or Germany. I’m going to book it. If I really, really hate it, I just really don’t know. … When I was in high school and had to pick a language, I picked French. It’s just something in my head. I think French film has always had good movies.” The decision also had to do with the reception French films received when shown by the Desert Film Society. “When we show our movies every month, the movies that have the most attendance for our nonmembers are always French films,” Fromm said. “There’s a need in the audience to find French films out here.” Fromm still goes out of her way to make sure that Cinéma Français shows newer films that wouldn’t otherwise ever be shown locally. “We did it like we do (with the) Desert Film Society, where we do all new films that people could not have seen here in the desert beforehand,” said Fromm. “We did that the first year, and we were surprised it was successful. We did a second year—and then COVID came in.” While Cinéma Français could have returned last year, Fromm said she had too much on her plate. “Last year, when I wanted to resume, I said to all the members of Desert Film Society that I really wanted to do this again, but I need help,” Fromm said. “I just can’t do it all by myself, and not one soul volunteered to help me, so I didn’t do it last year. There’s only so far you can stretch yourself—and the hardest part we have is finding sponsors. I can find Take a Chance on Me will be screened at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 3.

favorite, and she replied: “Everybody’s taste is different. I’ve got my favorites, and if you were to watch all seven, you probably wouldn’t pick the same one. I like dramas, and I love stories with twists and turns that, when you start watching it, you have no idea how it’s going to end, and when it ends, you say, ‘Oh my god; I didn’t see that coming.’ “This year, we have no documentaries; they are all dramas. One, Notre-Dame on Fire, is a dramatized version mixed in with real footage of the fire.” She said there’s a good chance attendees will like what they see. “When you come to the Desert Film Society, I can’t guarantee you’re going to like all 23 films—but I guarantee that out of the last 23 films you saw at the Regal, you didn’t like all of them, either,” she said. Cinéma Français takes place from Friday, Feb. 2, through Sunday, Feb. 4, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $15. For tickets or more information, visit






By Eric Wade with Phil Herel

n America vs. Americans, Eric Wade and Phil Herel present American Laborism, a revolutionary new economic system, where the greatest commodity isn’t cash; it’s work. Despite its successes, capitalism has given us the largest wealth gap in American history, failing Social Security, a weak currency and a looming threat of AI destroying our workforce. We need a new system—one built around people rather than capital. A system that values each person’s unique contribution, ingenuity and hard work—their labor. A system in which the greatest commodity isn’t cash; it’s work. And a system in which Americans at every level of society and govpy from Stony Brook University, complementing ernment are working together. This is the subject of an excerpt from America his undergraduate studies at SUNY Oneonta, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. vs. Americans: How Capitalism Has Failed a CapiHe is the proud proprietor of a thriving outpatalist Nation and What We Can Do About It, being tient physical therapy clinic situated in Califorpublished on Feb. 6 by Forefront Books, and nia. He is currently based in California with his distributed by Simon & Schuster. wife, Monica. Eric Wade is the editor of Stansberry Here is an excerpt from America vs. Americans. Research’s cryptocurrency investment advisories, which have created millionaires and his is a conversation about American changed people’s lives. He made internet history Laborism. This has nothing to do with the selling the first domain name ( Labor Movement, organized labor, the British for more than $1 million, sold a movie script to Labour Party, or going into labor. actor Adam Sandler, and founded a Los Angeles American Laborism is a new economic system music business that was recognized locally and for managing the entire U.S. and therefore a internationally. Studying economics in college replacement for capitalism. American Laborism fueled his desire to remake capitalism, reshape respects labor in the way that capitalism our government, reduce taxes, and improve the respects capital. Labor is in turn respectful of standard of living for all Americans. He lives the individual in ways that capital never could in the Coachella Valley with Ana, his wife of 32 be. Capitalism may seem American but is clearly years, who is a children’s book author and inspinot in the best interest of all Americans. ration for his big ideas. Capitalism has its merits. But it also has Phil Herel holds a doctorate in physical therashortcomings, which most obviously led to where we are today, with the largest wealth inequality gap in American history. It is the goal of American Laborism to fix that.



hat is not an outrageous claim! American Laborism will soon provide the following benefits: • Low taxes • Unlimited, lifelong education • A strong military • Zero involuntary homelessness, starvation, or malnutrition • A sound currency, backed by assets such as gold Most importantly, Laborism will enjoy enthusiastic participation by all citizens of America, be they rich or poor, young or old, liberal or conservative. American Laborism isn’t just a replacement for capitalism. It’s an upgrade. Every human has the right to live a life of dignity, to contribute, and to ensure that their basic needs are respected by their society. I’ve made a great living under capitalism … but it has failed us.

An excerpt ‘From America vs. Americans: How Capitalism Has Failed a Capitalist Nation and What We Can Do About It’

American Laborism, however, can improve the lives of every member of our society by bringing upward the least among us without bringing down anyone else. We have a heavy burden with this book. We want to introduce a new economic structure for America. We want it to thoroughly alter how people living in poverty or dissatisfied with their current economic condition receive aid from the federal government. We want to radically reduce our high marginal tax brackets and restructure taxes overall. And we want to realign the foundation of our entire economy from focusing on capital to focusing on labor. But we want to do it without handing you a book full of statistics, projections of doom, and the kind of economics discussion that has earned econ the nickname “the dreadful science.” We want this to be a light read about heavy subjects. But more importantly, we want this book to be a conversation with you. Here’s why: American Laborism is a simple idea. The federal government bureaucracy of the United States of America can provide a safety net of everything everyone who needs a safety net would need, as well as unlimited, free, and lifelong schooling, training, and education. Yes, from cradle to grave, all needs, and all training or education met for those who need it. Forever.


ou may have read the previous chapter and are asking, “So … is this the end of America?” No, it isn’t the end of America—although the changes we are proposing are indeed significant. Replace capitalism. End progressive taxes. Shrink the federal government. Provide free lifetime education. We can see why someone might think the America they know is ending. But you could also argue that we’re getting closer to the beginning of America—and doing so in a way that is fair and respectful to all Americans. For the next few minutes, pretend you are with an acquaintance, and you are having a conversation to pass the time. Imagine that the question of where we are today in terms of how well America takes care of Americans comes up. Maybe even the concept of America working against Americans—America vs. Americans—is mentioned. If you don’t think you both will agree on the topic, you might be concerned that the discussion could become heated. Alternatively, you might feel as though it would be best to keep your thoughts to yourself. Paradoxically, virtually everyone can think

of ways that America is on the brink of failing our fellow Americans, be it social issues, wealth inequality, runaway taxation, outrageous debt, or crime. Yet because each of us sees differently how America is failing us, it is likely that talking about it will be challenging. For many people, this could be a difficult situation, but it doesn’t have to be … if you go purple. By that, we mean try to find some common ground by approaching the conversation from the standpoint that, even if you don’t know how another person feels about America right now, there must be something you both agree on. The benefit of doing that—finding common ground—is that together we can help people who need help, stay out of the way of people who don’t so they can prosper, and work on building an America we can all be proud of. The role of government in society and how much power it should have are hotly debated topics in America. Liberals and conservatives have very different views on these issues, and their beliefs have shaped the political landscape of the country. Liberals often believe government has a duty to provide for the common good of society and ensure that all citizens have access to basic necessities such as healthcare, education, and housing. They believe a powerful government can help create a more just and equal society, and that it is government’s responsibility to safeguard vulnerable groups of people and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to prosper. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe government’s role should be limited and that individuals should have more freedom to make their own decisions. They argue that a strong government can have a negative impact on personal liberty and economic growth, and that it is the responsibility of individuals to take care of themselves and their families. Can anyone say right now that either “side”— and we call that out with quotes, because we are different “sides” as much as the left hand is separated from the right hand (separate but still connected as two parts of one body)—is getting what they want?

Change Is Coming … and It’s Needed Fast (But We Better Get It Right)

There are many reasons we believe that purple thinking will benefit America. The most obvious reason is that America suffers from division among our people. We won’t go into politics here, and truth be told,



some of the things Americans disagree on are important to their respective sides, and they don’t want to agree. But this is an economic improvement we’re undertaking with American Laborism. While we’ll acknowledge that we’re divided, we’re going to focus on the part that we can turn into a purple agreement of how best to provide a lifetime of free education and an improved safety net for people who need it. So a benefit that purple thinking can provide is at least we can agree that the Americans who need help can be helped by the safety net we’re providing … and that currently, America is spending trillions of dollars, but Americans’ problems aren’t being solved. Another purple benefit is simply receiving the dividends of that unlimited, free education. Who could argue that our society wouldn’t be improved by anyone who wants to become better educated having access to free training and advancement? But there are also some powerful examples of why it’s critical that we get this right—and fast. Let’s dive into how a tool we plan to use to improve the delivery of customized education— artificial intelligence (AI)—is so powerful that it could serve as a disruption simultaneously. Worse, if AI does disrupt our economy or labor force, and we haven’t “gone purple” with American Laborism, our government and our present benefit programs are in no way prepared to handle it. To offer some background, AI has the potential to disrupt our economy by making some jobs easier, some unnecessary, and others so hyper-efficient that employers and employees will have a lot of adjusting to do. We don’t even know all the ramifications and changes that AI will bring, because AI is rapidly developing. Some AI technologies can read, understand, and summarize huge amounts of information that formerly required trained professionals such as lawyers, business administrators, engineers, doctors, and subject experts to accomplish. More than that, AI can do this work in minutes, replacing untold hours of human effort. Other AI technologies can look for (and find) patterns in data that could allow anything from medical or scientific research to criminal investigations to become lightning fast. One thing is certain, though: AI will be able to build custom lesson plans and educational curriculum for people seeking to learn. If a core offering of American Laborism is access to training and education for all people, it makes sense that AI can be used to determine what a student knows, what they want to study, what their education goals are, and the best path to achieve that. Once AI starts helping our students, it can also determine what improvements or changes need to be made to the lessons to best suit each individual. Imagine having schooling custom-built for you, rather than having to learn the same as everyone else assigned from a specific textbook.

The possibilities of how AI can help us are just as exciting as the threats it poses to job security are scary. In fact, years before the AI we know today was even possible, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a review of what it thought the disruptive effects of AI might be. The report found that, contrary to most people’s fears—which are that robots, automation, and AI would render blue-collar workers jobless—most of the expected disruption MIT found would instead occur among white-collar professionals. The report revealed a lot, but there are two important findings we want to discuss. First, MIT pointed to another prediction that AI will create as many jobs as it destroys, and that could be as much as 47 percent of jobs. Destroying nearly half of all jobs and replacing them with different jobs—that is a near-perfect picture of disruption. Wherever you work, imagine half of the workforce gone and replaced by people doing something completely different. The second finding almost proves the case for American Laborism all by itself. AI disruption is expected to affect white-collar workers the most, “they may find it easier to retrain or find alternate roles”—which is exactly a benefit of free, unlimited, lifelong education. We believe there will certainly be disruption; some people will lose jobs and need to seek other jobs that may require further education or retraining (which American Laborism will happily provide). However, the leaps in efficiency that AI makes possible in some areas will increase our economy and—ironically—drive a need for more labor. Yes, we think the job-disrupting technology will drive more jobs thanks to efficiencies and processes that took days and weeks that will be reduced to just minutes. So let’s get back to the question, which might be expanded to read: If American Laborism drastically reduces government, lowers taxes, and shifts our so-generous-they-can-be-easilyrobbed benefits … is this the end of America as we know it? The answer is (still) absolutely not. Though it might be the end of overspending on programs that leave hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps millions of people—without sufficient support while excessively taxing everyone. It would be more accurate to say that this is the beginning of an America where we can be proud of ourselves for taking better care of people, reducing waste, and thinking of an improved future where anyone who wants to can increase the value of their labor with a lifelong free education. That is something both “sides” of America can agree on.

68510 East Palm Canyon Dr Cathedral City, CA 760-296-2966 ext 101

Excerpted from America vs. Americans: How Capitalism Has Failed a Capitalist Nation and What We Can Do About It, with permission. Copyright 2024, Eric Wade and Phil Herel.






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Have you ever tried a cinsault? If not, that needs to change




abernet sauvignon with steak on Saturday? Pinot noir with your weekday baked salmon? A red blend for movies on the couch? I get it. We’re creatures of habit—especially with wine. It’s easier to stick with what you know (and what you like) than it is to go out on a limb and try something new. What if you Club and Cook Street hate it? What if it doesn’t pair with your salmonCountry or steak or taste in movies? Eek! Palm Deout sertthere to dip your toe In the spirit of the new year, I’d like to challenge you wine-lovers into what’s probably uncharted territory—a little grape called cinsault. 760-340-5959 Maybe this varietal, often from southern at a fabulous restaurant called In Bloom, France, is nothing new to you, and perhaps where I pored over the wine list trying to you are familiar with the wines made from figure out what this group of wine nerds this grape. However, if you don’t know how would all enjoy. Sure, there were cabernets to pronounce cinsault, let alone know what it and lots of grenaches and red blends from tastes like, allow me to introduce you. which to choose—but something unique This red grape is pronounced “san-so” and caught my eye: a bottle of cinsault from a has long been a staple in the Languedoc-Rous- small winery named Thacher. Perfect! sillon and Southern Rhone regions of France. We went through three bottles of this wine Here, this grape—which is soft in tannins that night. The Thacher cinsault was center and higher in acid—displays beautiful brightstage on our table, with each of us raving red fruits like cranberry and pomegranate about how it paired so beautifully with all with a touch of spice; it has long and solely the different dishes that kept coming. We been used as a blending grape. It’s one of 13 drank it with everything from stuffed squash permitted varietals in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, blossoms to whole pan-seared trout, and but it’s not on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Kurobuta pork chops to grilled New York Cinsault had become the backup signer to steak. It was light enough in body not to more prominent grapes like grenache, syrah overpower the more delicate courses, but fulland even mourvedre. Cinsault was nothing flavored enough to stand up to the heartier more than a cog in the wheel of French wine, dishes that arrived. Indeed, cinsault had a blended into obscurity. breakout performance and stole the spotlight Its hardy nature and tolerance of heat and at that dinner. This was the first time I had drought has made this grape the global “little tasted a 100% cinsault—and I was in love. engine that could” for countries like Algeria, Since then, I’ve come across several outMorocco and Lebanon. While still a blending standing bottlings of this once-obscure grape. grape in these far-off regions, cinsault in As I’m writing this, I’m sipping on a fabulous these places was at least starting to take cinsault from South Africa—not a pinotage, center stage, being the focal point of the mind you, but rather a 100% hermitage, or as wine. But then again, wines from Algeria and they are calling it now, cinsault. The Mother Morocco aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, Rock Wines “Force Celeste” cinsault from and cinsault wasn’t helping their popularity. Swartland 2022 is the brainchild of winemakIn South Africa, cinsault is known under er Johan Meyer, aka “Stompie,” a rising star another name: hermitage. Back in the 1920s, in the South African wine scene. His cinsault a professor of viticulture at Stellenbosch is unfiltered and unfined to give it depth and University decided to cross pinot noir—a texture, while the crunchy yet ripe red fruits fickle and difficult grape to grow—with explode out of the glass. There is a subtle hermitage/cinsault to create a whole new herbaceousness and rustic quality to this wine varietal that could withstand the harsh winds as it offers up lip-smacking tart cherry flavors of the Cape of Good Hope thanks to the hardy that keep you coming back for more. cinsault vine, while showing off the beautiful Even more traditional wineries like Tablas and delicate flavors and aromas of the pinot Creek are venturing into the world of singlenoir grape. Pinot noir and hermitage became varietal cinsault bottlings. I just had the one, thus the name pinotage. This was the pleasure of tasting the newest release of closest cinsault had gotten to having its own their 100% cinsault, and it is dreamy. While identity—and yet we were still a far cry from a little bigger and more robust than some of really knowing what this grape was all about. its counterparts, the Tablas Creek offering is A few years back, I travelled to Paso Robles ideal for wine-lovers looking for a traditional with some friends for my birthday. We dined style of wine from an unexpected source.

Onesta’s Jillian Johnson DeLeon poses with a cluster of cinsault grapes. Onesta Wines Facebook

Flavors of red plums, black licorice, kitchen spices and chocolate are layered in the glass. One of my other personal favorite incarnations of this grape comes from a little wine project called Onesta. Winemaker Jillian Johnson DeLeon graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in viticulture and immediately began working for wine icon Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon. She became assistant winemaker for the head “Rhone Ranger” before starting her own wine label. This is a true testament to her wine skills—she makes a 100% old-vine cinsault from one of the most famous vineyards in the country… the Bechthold vineyard in Lodi. Ladies and gentlemen, not only is this one of the oldest vineyards in the country, planted

in 1886; it is the oldest cinsault vineyard in the world. THE WORLD. All organically grown and dry-farmed, these ancient vines produce a cinsault of great concentration and depth, with flavors of black cherry, rhubarb, plums and vanilla. It truly is a treasure to taste. The next time you’re out shopping for your weekly wine allowance, instead of reaching for the same old bottle of blah blah blah, shake up your new year with some cinsault—and see what happens when the backup signer gets her own show. Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with two decades in the wine industry. She can be reached at katiefinnwine@



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Thoughts on local breweries, new Orange County spots and worthwhile beer fests



By brett newton


ere I sit at my computer, wondering what I should write about. That can only mean one thing … Yes, it’s time for my customary Larry King USA Today column imitation, in which I rapid-fire a bunch of beer-related things on my mind. (Unfamiliar with Larry King’s column? Look it up. I remember many ellipses, which I promise I won’t imitate.) This allows me to touch on Country Club and Cook Street topics about which I couldn’t write a whole column. sert is still at the tippy-top We’ll start locally by saying that not much has changed. LasPalm PalmasDe Brewing of the list, and I wish I could visit more often. If you haven’t gone, and you like beer (or a great natural wine selection in bottles), just go. Rey Romehere; 760-340-5959 it’s not magic. It does take unwaveringly ro and Sam Gill, the owners, are cool, and I look high standards for the beer itself, as well as forward to the next time I can make it there. knowledge (and humility when you don’t have I can’t say the same about Luchador Brewing said knowledge) and a commitment by the Company, I’m afraid. The beer there is still a ownership to stick to those high standards. mess, which is an absolute shame, because On a more positive note, Orange County their taproom is cool, and the food is good. breweries seem to be continually stepping up I’ve been waiting to see if Luchador could get to the plate and making great beer. I’ve talked it together before commenting, but they just about a few this year, and yet others have haven’t. I know nothing about their main emerged—like Unsung Brewing and Villains location in Chino Hills, but I certainly wouldn’t Brewing, the latter of which took over Modern go out of my way to try the beer there based Times’ old spot in Anaheim and won a bronze on the Cathedral City location. medal at the Great American Beer Festival Not much else has changed with the rest this past autumn. I have not yet tried either of the breweries here. The desert continues of these breweries, but I have heard very good to be a disappointing place to find really things from trusted sources. good locally crafted beer—and for beer bars Green Cheek Brewing is still blowing me in general. The fact that so many world-class away time and time again, and the brewery has breweries exist within a 120-mile radius makes three locations in OC to visit. Bottle Logic is as this bitter pill easier to swallow—but it also good as ever—maybe better, honestly. I’ve had proves that people could make great beer some incredible lagers there of late to go with

Las Palmas Brewing continues to make the best local beer, according to our beer scribe. Las Palmas Brewing Facebook

the insane barrel-aged adjunct stouts they do. Across the street from Bottle Logic is an interesting little store called Windsor Homebrew Supply. I recommend it to homebrewers, of course, but I also would suggest you pop in if you just love craft beer in general. They have a great can and bottle selection to go, as well as a killer tap selection, much in the style of Bottlecraft’s locations in San Diego. Brewery X is not far away, and their beer is professional. That may seem like a strange way of complimenting a brewery, but it’s a big compliment, because it means everything they release is really well done—including German lager styles, stouts, IPAs of all stripes and even a Cactus Cooler seltzer that I enjoyed. They’re just killing it. I couldn’t end this Orange County section without mentioning Beachwood Brewing, which brews out of Huntington Beach and therefore has officially become an Orange Country brewery. Head brewer Julian Shrago and company really know what they’re doing, and they are dispensing incredible beers at their many locations all over OC and Long Beach. Finally, I want to mention some festivals coming up. The Ensenada Beer Fest is coming up on March 17-18. I wrote about this after going in September 2021, the first year it came back after the lockdowns, and I was very impressed by a number of things. Now it’s back in its normal place on the calendar,

and between the beer, food and music, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. I won’t be going this year, though, because I’m using the time I have to return to the twice-yearly LA Beer Fest at LA Center Studios, on April 6. I wrote about my first visit, and there are a few reasons I’m going back. The main one is my friends are choosing to go as well—but the festival is solid. It is organized very well, with lots of breweries that I might not get a chance to check out normally. If Trumer Pils is there again, I will probably hang out there for too long once more. The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest is coming. Yes, it’s after Memorial Day, but with tickets that are notoriously difficult to get, I suggest you look out for them when they go on sale in February. This also means shoring up a place to stay in or around Paso Robles that weekend. This is the single greatest beer event I attend every year, and I’ve written about it so many times that I’m certain my editor is sick of it. Surely I can’t write about it again this year … I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges in craft beer this year—and I hope to see some progress here in the desert as well. Brett Newton is a certified cicerone (like a sommelier for beer) and homebrewer who has mostly lived in the Coachella Valley since 1988. He can be reached at




FOOD & DRINK INDY ENDORSEMENT We enjoy biscuits at Alice B., and an ice cream/candy concoction at Monster Shakes By Jimmy Boegle

WHAT Cornmeal cheddar drop biscuits WHERE Alice B., at Living Out, 1122 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs HOW MUCH $16 CONTACT 760-537-4311; WHY They’re really good! To be frank, I’ve been unimpressed by restaurants touting a “celebrity chef” more often than not. The celebrity name tends to drive up prices—and expectations. This was on my mind when I recently visited Alice B., the restaurant in the lobby of Inside Out, the brand-new luxury apartment complex for LGBTQ+ folks 55 and up. The restaurant is a project of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, of Border Grill and Too Hot Tamales TV fame. Encouragingly, their executive chef is Lance Velasquez, whose Biscuit & Counter pop-up restaurant impressed local foodies in recent years. After visiting Alice B., I’m having a change of heart about celebrity-chef restaurants. I do have a minor complaint or two—the main space is quite noisy when busy, and a couple of menu items were unavailable (and the menu isn’t that large to begin with)—but I have no complaints about the food: Everything we had was delicious. Our yellowtail amberjack crudo ($18) was impeccable, and the short rib and potato croquettes ($19) left me wanting more. I am a confirmed meat-eater, yet I ordered the butternut squash risotto ($29) as my main course—and I loved it so much that I may have to order it again on my next visit. But the food that makes my mouth water every time I think about it is the plate of cornmeal cheddar drop biscuits. The price tag gave me pause at first—$16 for three biscuits is a bit crazy—but, boy, were they good: crispy and flaky on the outside, pillowy in the middle, and splendidly savory all around. The accompanying cardamom honey was a hit, too. I had high expectations of Alice B.—and those expectations were met, and then some.

WHAT Chocolate peanut butter crunch monster shake WHERE Monster Shakes, 425 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs; also at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City HOW MUCH $14.95 as shown CONTACT 760-325-9803 (Palm Springs); 760-832-6166 (Cathedral City); www. WHY The reality matches the picture. The Monster Shakes website includes photos of the various offerings—and the pictures in the eponymous “monster shakes” section look completely unreal. Consider the picture of what we’d eventually order, the chocolate peanut butter crunch monster shake: It shows a tall, clear cup overflowing with whipped cream, two full Reese’s peanut butter cups, puffed pretzel pieces, two chocolate wafers and chocolate-syrup drizzles. The top inch-plus of the outside of the cup is slathered with peanut butter and miniature Reese’s pieces; inside, chocolate syrup streams down the sides to the bottom of the cup. I told the hubby: “There’s no way the actual shakes look like this.” Well, guess what: They do, as you can see in the photo. The shake not only looks stunning; it was pretty damned tasty, too. I mean, how can you go wrong with chocolate peanut butter ice cream and all of the aforementioned ingredients? It was also quite filling; the hubby and I split the thing, and we were decidedly full afterward. (Amazingly, there’s even a larger size, the “mega monster,” available for $4 more.) If massive milkshakes aren’t your thing, Monster Shakes has a lot of other treats, too, including ice cream scoops/pints/quarts, sundaes, shaved ice, energy bowls, a “cotton candy burrito,” vegan shakes, smoothies, Italian cream sodas, a “monster ice cream taco,” varied Dole soft-serve flavors, coffee, other beverages, and more. I think I gained five pounds simply typing that last paragraph. Fun fact: Most of Monster Shakes’ offerings are available for delivery. I have no idea how that would work without multiple messes.




Restaurant NEWS BITES

3 Restaurants Unlimited Flavors

By charles drabkin FEBRUARY IS A MONTH OF FOOD-RELATED FESTS The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival is back for 10 days, from Friday, Feb. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 46350 Arabia St., in Indio. Food is abundant—much of it including dates and/or deep-fried. General-admission presale tickets are $12. Get all the information you need at Agua Caliente Casinos and the city of Rancho Mirage are bringing the second annual Lunar Festival back to The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10. You’ll find cultural performances like lion and dragon dances, along with art vendors and, of course, food. Find out more and reserve free tickets at lunar-festival-at-the-river. Greater Palm Springs Food and Wine, part of the Desert Woman’s Show (yes, that’s where they put the apostrophe), takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Classic Club, 75200 Classic Club Blvd., in Palm Desert. General-admission wristbands are $45 and include admission to the Desert Woman’s Show. Learn more and find an updated list of “tasting partners” at IN BRIEF Espresso Self is now open at 66169 Pierson Blvd., in Desert Hot Springs. Check out instagram. com/espresso_self_dhs for more info. … Rancho Mirage’s Dragon Lili Boba Bar has announced a new location at 166 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, specifically in the historic Town and Country Center. The offerings include premium boba, fruit and milk teas, plus smoothies, flavored coffees and more, in a colorful setting. For more information, visit … I spoke with the new chef at Cipolline Osteria, an Italian steakhouse reopening in the former New York Company Restaurant space, at 1260 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. I was told an opening could happen as soon as late January—in other words, right around the time you’re reading this. Watch for updates. … The Palm Springs Surf Club, at 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, has two new restaurants: Amala, with indoor and outdoor seating where you can sit and watch the surfers, and Drifters, offering poolside dining. Although the wave pool was closed as of this writing, Amala remains open; Drifters is accessible with the purchase of a general admission day pass ($20). There are no menus currently online, but you can make a reservation for Amala at … From Mouth to Mouth, at 67730 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, opened in mid-December and sells sandwiches, pizzas, soups and salads. The restaurant also offers fresh-made uncooked pasta, as well as bread and gelato to take home. Find the restaurant on Yelp or to learn more. … Rancho Mirage has a new Mexican restaurant. Los Arcos, which also has a La Quinta location, is now open at 72817 Dinah Shore Drive. You’ll find standard Mexican food plus some unique dishes from the owners’ native state of Querétaro. Get details at … The desert has a new place to get banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches): Sai Gon Deli Café, at 73510 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, inside the Clubhouse Liquor. Offerings include traditional and chicken banh mi sandwiches, as well as a Philly cheesesteak and, inexplicably, nachos and Cajun fries. Find them on Yelp to learn more. … The Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream chain has opened a second Coachella Valley location, at 42211 Jackson St., in Indio. The Palm Desert location (44489 Town Center Way) serves some seriously delicious ice cream, and I can’t imagine this store is any different. See the flavors and find out more at … Farewell to the KFC that was formerly at 725 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. With the shuttered Starbucks at the opposite corner of the same intersection, this makes for an ugly entrance to/exit from downtown Palm Springs; let’s hope we see some revitalization soon. … Also closed: Le Petit Dejeuner, the soul-food restaurant that had been at 67778 E. Palm Canyon Drive. Sadly, it never found its footing in this challenging Cathedral City location. … Looking for food during an out-of-valley adventure? Thai Cafe 2, at 57069 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Yucca Valley, has a selection of Thai classics and some lesser-known dishes; get the menu at Or consider the new Just a Small Town Grill, at 49643 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Morongo Valley, offering pizzas, salads, sandwiches and on-tap beers. (We couldn’t find a website, so your best bet for info may be Yelp.) Or perhaps you’re heading to Idyllwild-Pine Cove? If so, consider Waffleton, at 54245 N. Circle Drive, with all manner of sweet and savory waffles. Find out more at Have a hot tip or news to share? Email

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Say She She brings a trustworthy groove to Pappy and Harriet’s

By matt king

he band Say She She uses the term “discodelic soul” to describe the mix of disco, psychedelic rock, soul, funk and more that can be found within their music. Best friends and harmony masters Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown are the leaders and vocalists—backed up by the funk band Orgone, making for an impressive seven-member ensemble. The band has captured ears and hearts with two said. “The actual creation of the songs was impressive albums filled with earworms, made in a more acoustic way, versus Silver, as and the group has toured almost nonstop, we did that with our band. Having a rhythm bringing the dance floor to places like section when you’re writing a song allowed Glastonbury, the Hollywood Bowl—and, on us to really explore; it allowed us to express Sunday, Feb. 11, Pappy and Harriet’s. ourselves in the most honest way, because During a recent phone interview with you’re inspired differently. If you don’t have a Cunningham and Brown, the musicians beat or a drum or a killer bassline underneath, discussed the importance of being great it changes the feeling; it changes the mood, friends before starting their musical career. and you end up writing more of a soothing “I feel like that’s the glue that holds it all sort of music. We really wanted to push it a together, really,” Cunningham said. “It’s so little bit and get a little bit grittier. … I think important, because we spend so much time we were able to do that with the band writing together, and we’re creating together. It’s with us.” the imperative baseline that we all truly care The energy on Silver may be, in part, a about each other and are good friends. I result of the recording process. think that is how the magic developed, from “The way that we do it at (Orgone guitarist) the friendship and sharing all the intimate Sergio Rios’ studio, Killion Sound in North details of our lives. That’s really how some of Hollywood, is we’ll sit down and basically these writing sessions start—by unlocking or start and finish in one day,” Cunningham unloading about something, whether that’s said. “Sergio crafted this incredible studio out relationship trouble, or joy, or something of a two-bedroom apartment—and there are that’s going on in the world. neighbors, so we have a strict end time, which “On the Orgone side, they have all known is 8 p.m. We work within these constraints, each other for so many years, and they have and we have to really focus our energy and this unspoken familial sort of care for each our creativity into this period, and it just other as well. You can really feel that in the worked for us. It really felt right, and with room … and we’ve felt that for them, too.” Brown agreed. “We are there to have a good seven brains working on the task, it goes a lot faster than if it was just one person behind time, and to reach audiences and to make the piano.” them have a good time … and make them Added Brown: “That process made us really dance and to make them feel good and make be fully present and trust the moment when them feel empowered—and the only way I we created this particular song. Because we think that we can do that is if we are feeling have these deadlines and goals, like a song a that ourselves.” day or whatever, it forced us to accept what Say She She’s debut LP, Prism, wasn’t made we came up with, and not keep going back in the most ideal of conditions. Restrictions and editing and changing. … It let that be a from the COVID-19 pandemic caused the record of this moment that we have together band to create in a distanced manner—yet in this room, the seven of us.” they still brought the groove, delivering Trusting the moment helped birth one of favorites like the mysterious spy-movie Say She She’s most popular songs, and what groove of “Fortune Teller” and the trancemight be their catchiest earworm, “Forget Me dance of the title track. Sophomore album Not.” Silver was created with everyone in the same “‘Forget Me Not,’ we did the first day we room; having the rhythm section present met those guys,” Cunningham said. “We went helped the band deliver progressive funk on to the studio; we hung out in the kitchen “Reeling,” and create quirky fun on the catchy for an hour and a half, and then went in and “C’est Si Bon.” wrote that song. I think it was like two hours “Prism was primarily written around or something, pretty quick. It was the first the piano, just in an apartment, and then time ever meeting them, and we just realized thereafter produced remotely,” Cunningham

Say She She. Kaelan Barowsky

that there’s definitely something there, so we clung to that and haven’t looked back.” Brown and Cunningham said they’ve had a lot of fun performing the songs live. “I will say that my favorite to perform is ‘Bleeding Heart,’ just because of the drama,” Brown said. “Onstage, performing that song, you can just give any drama that you’ve ever wanted. It’s the perfect time to be the most dramatic you can ever be in your life. I just give all the drama, whether that’s in a facial expression, or whether that’s a dance move.” Cunningham cited “Astral Plane” has one of her live favorites. “I love the breakdown, then the build-up section of it where Nya holds that long note, and then when it breaks, everybody cheers,” Cunningham said. “It’s a really fun moment; it’s one of my favorites, and we get to dance our little butts off on that one, too, and all throughout the set.” While the feel of Say She She’s music

may shift from song to song, it’s always undeniably groovy. “The vocal tone that either one of us is choosing as we’re coming up with ideas is the very thing that may set the song off, or inspire the song completely,” Brown said. “It really does depend on the energy and the synergy in the room with what the musicians are playing. Sergio may inspire a certain mood and sound with his guitar-playing, or Dan Hastie may inspire something with his keys, and then Dale Jennings, same thing, as his bassline may require a certain kind of tone. It’s very much the collaboration and energy in the room that we’re going by and depending on to inspire the song.” Say She She will perform at 9 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 11, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets start at $25. For more information, call 760-228-2222, or visit



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Two decades after winning the McCallum Theatre’s talent competition, Carrie St. Louis returns

By matt king

arrie St. Louis has built an impressive musical-theater résumé. She’s starred as Rose in Titanique; Glinda in the Broadway and national touring company productions of Wicked; and Sherrie in the Broadway and Las Vegas companies of Rock of Ages. But it all started on the McCallum Theatre stage, at the Open Call talent competition—which she won in 2004. Carrie St. Louis has returned to the McCallum many times since, but nearly 20 years after her win, she’s back for a special show celebrating growing up in the desert.” celebrating both the songs of her career and the St. Lous said she—and the rest of the desert, on Thursday, Feb. 22. desert—are fortunate to have the McCallum “There are so many emotions,” St. Louis said Theatre. during a recent phone interview. “We keep “I feel so lucky that I grew up in the desert, joking, my family and I, that it’s like a wedding with a resource like that and a theater like that, for one person, because so many friends and because that’s just so rare,” she said. “The arts family are flying into town for it. People who are so important. I’m having a guest onstage I grew up with are able to come. My first voice (during my show), as I’m a vocal coach, and teacher in the desert—he’s now in his late she’s a student of mine. I’ve been working 90s—is going to be able to come. It’s just such with her since she was 10. Her mom did a full-circle moment for me.” theater with me when I was growing up, so the Before her Open Call win, she performed story goes on. To be able to give back to the as a youngster in Onstage Theatre Company community, and celebrate it for what it is and shows at the McCallum. what it gave me, is really special.” “It’s crazy to look back at when I was Annie St. Louis talked about her Open Call win— at the McCallum, and Brigitta in The Sound of which came during her third appearance in the Music, and now to come back and have my own talent competition. show,” she said. “When I told my mom that “The first year, just getting accepted into I was asked to do it, she cried. It’s just a big, it was such a huge deal,” St. Louis said. “I big moment for me, and it’s really so special. was, like, 12, and I sang ‘You Can’t Get a Man The McCallum is such a wonderful theater With a Gun,’ and I would shoot my little fake in general, so I’m just honored. … It’s a show gun on the stage, and a rubber chicken would fly out. I had this little cowgirl outfit and everything. My brother was also in it that year, so it was really special and really cool. At that age, you’re sort of still like, ‘Am I good at this, or are my parents just like, you’re great; you’re amazing?’ “I came back the next year and did a song called ‘Soprano’s Lament,’ and then in my final year, I did ‘The Girl in 14G,’ which was made famous by Kristin Chenoweth, who also has a show at the McCallum this year. Many years later, I got to follow in her footsteps as Glinda on Broadway, so it’s just really cool. … I sang opera and jazz, and it was kind of a mix of all the different styles, and that year, I won, and also I won the Audience Choice Award. It was 2004, so I was 14, and that was really, really huge for me.” St. Louis has remained involved with Open Call in the years since her win. “I look back, and I’m like, ‘What an incredible opportunity just to get better at performing and competing, and stepping outside of your comfort zone,’” St. Louis said. “I’ve come back many years. I’ve judged a couple years, and last year, my vocal student won. I wasn’t allowed to judge, because I was too close to Carrie St. Louis.

some people in it, but it’s just really neat to be able to be onstage performing, and then be judging it, and then come back and be coaching the person (who) won. I’ve been able to have my hand in many different pots with Open Call, and I always love coming back.” Winning Open Call didn’t propel St. Louis into Broadway stardom immediately—but it gave her the confidence to dedicate herself to performance training. “It propelled me with the doors-wideopen mentality of, like, ‘Oh, maybe I am kind of good at this; maybe I could pursue this professionally,’ because when you’re that young, you really don’t know,” St. Louis said. “I ended up going to a prep school in Massachusetts the next year, so I left the Coachella Valley when I was around 15. … It was in the Boston area, and I would take the train to the city every weekend and study opera at Boston University. I really started to hone in on my training, and from there, I ended up going to USC, actually, and I majored in vocal arts and opera.” St. Louis’ performance will include selections from her Broadway stints, shows she performed at the McCallum, and conversations and stories about her life, from the desert to Broadway. She said it’s “a love letter to the desert and to the community.” “No two people’s paths are exactly the same,” St. Louis said. “It was a very interesting path I took from graduating—studying opera and really getting my training down. My vocal technique was really strong, but three months out of college, I booked Rock of Ages in Las Vegas, and now I was belting ’80s rock. … There are a lot of fun stories along the way, and I’ll show videos of my time in high school. I have a video of me at La Quinta High School singing Wicked in our choir concert, and then 10 years later, I was singing the exact same thing on Broadway in front of Stephen Schwartz, who wrote Wicked, so it’s just very wild. (There are) lots of pinch-me moments, for sure.” St. Louis said her McCallum show will undoubtedly be a career highlight. “I’m very excited to return now, having performed at theaters all over the world—but this feels the most special,” she said. Carrie St. Louis will perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $25 to $65. For tickets and more information, call 760340-2787, or visit

The Venue REPORT FEBRUARY 2024 By matt king

Smash Mouth

Happy February! I hope you love all that the Coachella Valley entertainment scene has to offer this month. The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival returns from Friday, Feb. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 25, to spread community joy and a love for dates at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. This year’s headliners are late ’90s garage-pop rockers Smash Mouth (performing Friday, Feb. 16) and country hit-makers Diamond Rio (Monday, Feb. 19). Tickets range from $10 to $35. For tickets or more information, visit Acrisure Arena features a run of diverse and impressive pop singers. At 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, international icons Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull and Ricky Martin bring three sets of radio hits to Palm Desert. Remaining tickets as of this writing started at $128. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, Mexican singer, dancer and renowned “Supreme Diva of Mexican Pop” Gloria Trevi is set to perform. Tickets start at $39.50. Four-time Grammy Award winner, eight-time Latin Grammy Award winner, and top selling tropical-salsa artist of all time Marc Anthony will provide an enchanting evening at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14. Tickets start at $67. Acrisure Arena, 75702 Varner Road, Palm Desert; 888-695-8778; The McCallum Theatre features a range of genre-spanning entertainment. Some highlights: At 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 4, enjoy a performance of Selected Shorts, during which actors Joshua Malina, Jane Kaczmarek and Kirsten Vangsness will read short stories by well-known and emerging writers as part of the popular radio show/podcast. Tickets range from $25 to $55. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, catch a different kind of musical experience with Industrial Strength Broadway, featuring performances from musicals written—often by Broadway greats—specifically for corporate events in the ’50s to the ’80s. Tickets range continued on NEXT PAGE



The Venue REPORT continued from page 35 from $35 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, comedy, Broadway, television and film guy Robert Klein teams up with accomplished guitarist Leo Kottke for a special show. Tickets range from $35 to $75. McCallum favorites The TEN Tenors return to Palm Desert with a show featuring love songs. Performances take place from Tuesday, Feb. 13, through Saturday, Feb. 17. Tickets range from $55 to $105. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25, funnyman Tom Papa celebrates two decades in standup comedy with a sure-to-be hilarious performance. Tickets range from $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; Fantasy Springs has too many events to list them all; here are a few. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, ’80s rockers Great White and Slaughter team up for a night of rock. Tickets start at $59. If you’ve ever wondered what popular Top 40 songs sound like in the style of Yacht rock, check out Yachtley Crew at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3. Tickets start at $49. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, experience Mexican music magic when singer Alicia Villarreal heads to Indio. Tickets start at $49. Another Fantasy Springs team-up is happening at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24 when hard-rock titans Extreme and Living Colour bring guitar solos and more to the stage. Tickets start at $39. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www. Spotlight 29 features some unique music acts. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, dance to a night of Spanish music by Mi Banda el Mexicano and Banda Arkangel R-15. Tickets start at $15. The love of Latin music continues with Latin Legends, happening at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10. The show will feature El Chicano, Tierra Malo, Thee Midniters and A Lighter Shade of Brown. Tickets start at $35. A few tickets remained as of this writing for R&B, hip-hop and soul singer Keyshia Cole’s performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. Tickets start at $50. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23,

Spanish songwriter Pablo Alboran will head to Coachella. Tickets start at $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760775-5566; Morongo’s February schedule features some blasts from the past. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, R&B quartet 112 will bring late ’90s/early ’00s hits to Cabazon. Tickets start at $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, soul band Tony! Toni! Tone! is set to perform with founding member D’Wayne Wiggins. Tickets start at $49. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23, Banda El Recodo will fill the high desert with music. Available tickets start at $132. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage is pulling in some big names, and tickets are removing fast! Here are some shows that were not sold out as of our deadline: At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, Bronco will perform hits featuring their modern norteño sound. Tickets start at $75. Standup comedy legend Bill Burr will perform a second date at The Show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, after his Friday show sold out. Tickets start at $125. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, classic-rock pioneers Styx are set to perform. Tickets start at $75. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; Agua Caliente Palm Springs hopes you love their residencies! Desert Blues Revival Wednesdays offer a mix of music, drama and history with Evolution of the Blues (Feb. 7), a Valentine’s Day Mardi Gras celebration with the Gand Band and Madame LeRoux and Crewe (Feb. 14), the 1940s rock of Pachuco Jose (Feb. 21) and the modern blues rock of Bodhi Corbett (Feb. 28). Shows are at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $15 to $20, available at Jazzville Thursdays feature the baritone vocalist Nicolas Bearde (Feb. 1), classic mambo jazz by Angel and his Mambokat Quintet (Feb. 8), a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes by Matt Forbes and Sinatra

Sextet ’62 (Feb. 15), a live tribute to the 1962 jazz album Love Is a Drag (Feb. 22) and great tropical movie jazz from Hollywood Film Noirchestra: Exotica! (Feb. 29). Shows take place at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $15, available at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs, 401 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 888-999-1995; www. Pappy and Harriet’s has a wide mix of great music, as is normally the case. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 4, folk favorite Buck Meek will perform an enchanting evening of song. Tickets are $25.49 Funk band Diggin Dirt will groove up Pioneertown at 8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5. Tickets are $20. Tickets are moving fast for Vieux Farka Touré; this Malian musician dubbed as the “Hendrix of the Sahara” will bring his desert blues to our desert at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9. Tickets are $32. Tickets are also going quickly for a special acoustic set from Hot Tuna—members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady are both in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—at 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. Tickets are $65. At 9 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, indie Spanish folk artist Helado Negro will visit Pappy’s. Tickets are $28. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 29, Japanese punk-ettes Otoboke Beaver return to once again ignite pandemonium inside the Pioneertown Palace. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-228-2222; Oscar’s Palm Springs features some festive events in addition to the normal residencies. San Francisco “drag treasure” Matthew Martin pays tribute to the leading ladies of old Hollywood at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, and Saturday, Feb. 3. Tickets start at $34.95. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, New York comic and musician Amy Veltman will perform her show Pelvic Service Announcement. Tickets start at $29.95. Legendary actor Tony Danza brings his four-piece band to Palm Springs for the very first time to perform selections

Shervin Lainez

Buck Meek

from the Great American Songbook. You can catch the show at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19; Tuesday, Feb. 20; and Wednesday, Feb. 21. Tickets start at $80. Oscar’s shows usually include 5:30 dinner reservations and a food/ drink minimum. Oscar’s Palm Springs, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 760-3251188; The Purple Room features double dates for every weekend performer—and a lot of the shows are sold out. Tickets remained as of our press time for these shows: At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 3, Broadway Barbara brings funny stories and great songs to Palm Springs. Tickets start at $40. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, and Saturday, Feb. 10, acclaimed classic jazz singer Anthony Nunziata offers some “Romantic Classics for Valentine’s Day.” Tickets are $40. These Purple Room shows include a 6 p.m. dinner reservation. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-3224422;


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Meet the vocalist for metal band He Films the Clouds, and the guitarist/vocalist for The Dreamboats by matt king

Dead End Studios

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Every once in a while, I’ll get lost down a rabbit hole of ’90s video-game soundtracks. What’s your favorite music venue? Chain Reaction in Anaheim.

NAME Xavier Hernandez GROUP He Films the Clouds MORE INFO He Films the Clouds has been a longstanding force in the local music scene thanks to an ability to be extremely heavy— both in lyrical subject matter and instrumentation. The mix of metalcore and melodic comes in powerful waves, as soft guitar tones quickly turn into earthquaking drop-tuned riffs and blast beats. Vocalist Xavier Hernandez gracefully switches back and forth between intense screaming to heart-wrenching singing. Learn more about He Films the Clouds at www. What was the first concert you attended? A local band called Serena Drive playing at a nearby Elks Lodge. What was the first album you owned? The Pokémon 2.B.A. Master soundtrack. What bands are you listening to right now? Mogwai, Whirr, Heilung, Kickrox and Shiloh Dynasty have been on repeat as of late. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? This might be a hot take, but I can’t listen to Cigarettes After Sex without falling asleep. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? Hammock. There’s a catharsis present in “Then the Quiet Explosion” I would love to experience in person.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “You’re going to be OK. That’s what’s going to happen. Everything’s OK. We’re right here beside you. We won’t let you slip away. Plan for tomorrow, ’cause we swear to you, you’re going to be OK,” from “What’s Going to Happen?” from Scrubs. What band or artist changed your life? Underoath. They are the band that made me realize it’s possible to take the sadness in life and turn it into a positive message that can attach itself to posterity. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I would ask Ludwig Göransson what pedals he likes to use. What song would you like played at your funeral? “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen. Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Define the Great Line by Underoath. What song should everyone listen to right now? “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione (the nine-minute version). NAME Chris Hummel, aka Ritchie Hummins GROUP The Dreamboats MORE INFO Our valley has been blessed to be a second home for Canada’s The Dreamboats, a rock ’n’ roll revival band that is a walkin’, talkin’ jukebox. Their performances have a wild energy, as the band gives rock’s classic songs the emphatic performances that they deserve. You can catch The Dreamboats perform on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Doo Wop Sock Hop at Agua Caliente in Cathedral City. Tickets are $10. For

more information, visit aguacalientecasinos. com. Chris Hummel, aka Ritchie Hummins, is the guitarist/vocalist.

Sventure Snaps

What was the first concert you attended? The first concert I ever attended, or can remember screaming my head off at, was Green Day at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, fresh after they released their breakthrough album Dookie. I remember the next day at school, I couldn’t talk because of how loud I screamed and cheered. What was the first album you owned? This is a tricky question, because I received my first three albums all at once. They were Onyx, Bacdafucup; Vanilla Ice, To the Extreme; and Snow, 12 Inches of Snow. My sister Darlene gave me these albums when I was so young. I guess you can say I was a little influenced by what she was listening to at the time. What bands are you listening to right now? I’ve been listening a lot to Stephen Sanchez. His new album, Angel Face, is such an awesome throwback to the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s that I love. It’s very inspirational songwriting, and he has such an amazing voice at such a young age. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? I feel so old when I start talking about some of the more recent hip hop that’s been popularized these days. I was a big fan of late ’90s and early 2000s hip hop growing up. Mumble rap is making me feel very old right now. I miss good punchlines and metaphors! What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? I would’ve loved to see a musical act by the name of Sha Na Na from around the ’60s/’70s era. They had their own spoof on ’50s music and put on some of the most entertaining and high-energy stage shows. They would leave their audience in awe and confusion, which made their performances 10 times better. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? I’m a guilty fan of late ’90s pop groups. Catchy melodies are my absolute favorite, and I cannot resist how they are delivered, and by whom, even if these songs were sung by a guy wearing ski goggles and frosted tips on their head as a fashion statement! What’s your favorite music venue? My favorite music venue has and will always be the Living Arts Centre in the city of Mississauga, in Ontario, Canada. It is our hometown theater, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Back in my old skating days, I used to always grind the handrails and jump over the staircases in front of the venue. I always thought to myself, ‘One day, I will perform here,’ and I’m lucky to have gotten the opportunity.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? One lyrical phrase that really speaks to me recently, being the cheese ball that I am, is from a song called “I Need You Most of All” by Stephen Sanchez. On top of the lyrics he sings, the melody in this phrase is so killer and tugs on the heart: “I don’t need the stars for wishes to speak. Don’t need the world or what heaven could bring me. I just need your arms and permission to fall, for I need you most of all.” What band or artist changed your life? One band that I always gravitated toward was Weezer. It doesn’t matter when or how often I listen to their songs; I’m always put in the perfect place of honesty and vulnerability, something I believe is the only thing that really connects to people when you’re writing songs. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I would ask Paul McCartney if there was anything he could’ve ever done, or changed, about the outcome of the Beatles, what would it be? What song would you like played at your funeral? I would like someone to perform live “In My Life” by the Beatles. I performed this song at my grandmother’s funeral while she was being buried. It’s a pretty emotional song for me to say the least, and one of my favorites by John Lennon. Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? I would probably be executed by this masked gunman, as I wouldn’t be able to choose between the La Bamba soundtrack and Pinkerton by Weezer. Both albums, I’ve owned multiple times from overplaying and scratching CDs to the point where they are unplayable. What song should everyone listen to right now? If anyone is into big retro-style throwback songs like myself, I would encourage everyone to check out the song “Something About Her” by Stephen Sanchez. This song has such a retro feel combined with a modern sound—something I hope to accomplish with my own songwriting moving forward.




“Welcome to ’24”—the year with things in common. By Matt Jones

42. Like some salad dressings 43. Stracciatella, e.g. 44. 7’7” former NBAer Manute Across 45. “___ the Walrus” 1. Roast battle hosts, for (1967 Beatles tune) short 48. Uno plus uno 4. Bumble profile 49. Talk trash about maintainers? 52. Removes names from 8. Flight seat option pictures, on some 13. “___ y Plata” social media platforms (Montana motto) 54. To the letter 14. Actress Mitra of The 56. Units where 24 = Practice 100% 16. National prefix 60. Poodle plaguer 17. Lead character of 24 61. Remain patient 19. Feeling regret 62. The NBA sets it at 24 20. Early Peruvian 64. Penny-pincher 21. Nursery rhyme pie 65. Vietnamese capital fillers (“four and 66. Burns downvote? twenty,” they say) 67. Planetarium display 23. Connect with 68. ___ baby (one who’s 25. Barely achieve famous via family 26. Rowboat implement connections) 27. George Burns title role 69. Pre-album drops 29. Impersonated 30. Spot for a soak Down 33. Big name in circuses 1. Mint-garnished cocktail 36. Loads 2. They surround brains 37. Ratio that’s often 24 3. Goal-oriented item? for film cameras 4. Royal sphere

5. Obsessive whale chairman Sumner hunter of fiction 40. ___-pitch softball 6. Biffed it 41. Reduce 7. Creep around 45. Comic book artists 8. “He’s right. Ain’t no rule 46. ___ standstill that says a dog can’t 47. Swampland play basketball” movie 50. Polar covering 9. Arctic First Nations 51. They may never have resident been higher 10. Make Kool-Aid 52. Part that the ointment 11. Give for a bit Bag Balm was 12. Rowing machine units designed for 15. Took a curved path 53. Depeche Mode lead 18. WandaVision actress singer David Dennings 55. Short-lived gridiron 22. Pond fish org. revived in 2020 24. Fairy tale meanie 56. Legs, in film noir 28. Come-___ monologues (enticements) 57. “In memoriam” piece 30. Was the odd one out 58. Simpson who got into 31. “___ de Replay” crosswords around (Rihanna’s first single) 2008 32. Joining word 59. Word before 34. Actress Adams “Hammer time!” 35. Sister of Chris and 63. A.F.L. merger partner Stewie 36. Division for Hamlet or © 2024 Matt Jones Hamilton 37. Keyless car key Find the answers in 38. Duran Duran hit of the “About” section at 1982! 39. Former Viacom



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