Coachella Valley Independent March 2024

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


Jimmy Boegle

staff writerS

Haleemon Anderson

Kevin Fitzgerald

coveR and feature design

Dennis Wodzisz


Melissa Daniels, 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, 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 All content is ©2024 and may not be published or reprinted in any form without the written permission of the publisher.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.


People who are unfamiliar with the Independent sometimes ask me how we’re different from other valley publications and information websites—and my response is always something to the effect of: “Well, we do journalism. And journalism is hard.”

The Desert Sun, the Palm Springs Post, the TV stations and, in some cases, Palm Springs Life all do journalism. Beyond that, most other local “news” outlets largely run press releases, or simpler stories—and that’s fine. There’s definite value in those press releases and simpler stories. But we do journalism. And journalism is hard.

To clarify what I am talking about, I’ll refer you to two pieces in this issue. First is Haleemon Anderson’s piece on the Calexico recall election, on Page 8. While we almost always stick to coverage of the Coachella Valley and nearby high desert, we made an exception in this case, given the locally applicable themes of this important story unfolding just 90 miles from here— including California’s recall system, accusations of bigotry and anti-trans sentiments, and even downtown redevelopment and homelessness.

To pull off this piece, Halee had to do a bunch of research, talk to multiple sources, transcribe a lot of interviews—and then organize all of that into a well-written 2,000-word piece. This is not easy to do; it takes time, skill and expense.

We do journalism. And journalism is hard.

Next, turn to Page 10, and you’ll find a tiny portion of Kevin Fitzgerald’s herculean effort for our first Candidate Q&A this election season, on the seven candidates running in the primary to replace Assembly District 36 Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s how our Candidate Q&A series works: We develop a set of three to seven questions for candidates competing for a particular office; we then contact all of the candidates, set up interviews (almost always by phone), ask those questions, and publish the answers—in their entirety, edited only for style and clarity.

You’d think it’d be easy to at least track down and set up interviews with candidates … but that’s not always the case. Yet Kevin managed to do that for all of these candidates (even the one who doesn’t have a campaign website). He then had to do the interviews, transcribe their answers, edit those answers for style/clarity, and research/write the main intro and each candidate-interview intro.

Even though we asked these candidates just three questions, the resulting story was more than 13,000 words long. That would have taken up about seven pages of text— without photos—in our print version. Unfortunately, we have just one page to give the piece in this print edition, so we’re running only the intros, and referring everyone to CVIndependent. com, where the whole shebang is published.

Of course, these are just two of the stories you’ll find in this issue. All of the others were also researched, factchecked, written and edited by our staff and contributors; with a few exceptions, they all required at least one phone interview.

Once Halee, Kevin and our other fantastic writers/reporters finished their work, I then had to dedicate hours to editing, fact-checking, finding/editing photos and presenting/publishing the stories so you, our amazing readers, could properly be informed about these important issues.

How many press releases did we simply copy and paste into the issue? Zero. Because that’s not what we do here at the Independent. We do journalism— and journalism is hard.


Food poisoning. Bad sprain. Cactus needles. Having us nearby can help you feel better already.

LIFE HAPPENS. And not always at the most convenient time. Conditions like these may not warrant a trip to the emergency room, but they do require immediate medical attention. That’s where Eisenhower Urgent Care comes in. With locations in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta, we provide expert care on a walk-in basis. Besides treating a host of ailments and injuries, we also offer school and sports physicals. As hospitalbased clinics, we provide on-site laboratory capabilities and radiology services that enable our board certified physicians to diagnose and treat most conditions right away. Not sure whether to visit our Emergency Department or Urgent Care? Download our handy fact sheet at

For more information, call 760-834-3593.

Palm Springs ~ Rancho Mirage ~ La Quinta 760-834-3593


Whether or not this is a super-bloom year, you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy wildflowers

Will we have a super bloom this year? Given the mix of sun and rain we’ve had recently, a lot of people are wondering.

The good news: The flower-heads at DesertUSA predict a vibrant 2024 wildflower season in some desert regions. They have a very informative up-to-date Wildflower Guide that includes reports on wildflower season, as well as the best spots for wildflower viewing. You can find the Wildflower Guide at According to DesertUSA, one of the most frequently asked questions about desert wildflowers is, “When will the wildflowers bloom?” That’s also one of the most difficult questions to answer.

I’ve been seeing various wildflowers blooming throughout the Coachella Valley since December, and as of this writing (in mid-February), I’m finding patches of desert sand verbena (Abronia villosa), hairy desert sunflower (Geraea canescens) and brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) to be most prominent.


Here are some popular and easily accessible spots around the Coachella Valley to view wildflowers, super bloom or not:

Now for the bad news: Although we have a vast array of color flowing across the desert floor right now, I’m going to predict that we will not see a super bloom this year, due to the heavy rainfall and cooler weather we have had in recent months. I hope I’m wrong!

My reasoning: While rain is needed throughout the winter, it is needed in small doses, because too much rain can rot or wash away the seeds. Temperature plays a vital role as well; a full blooming season needs warm days that aren’t too hot, as stated by DesertUSA. If the temperature is too cold in certain regions, we may not see blooms in those places at all.

Parts of Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park have all endured recent flooding, as well as flooding during Tropical Storm Hilary back in August. Some of these places have even had recent snowfall. Some areas may still be closed due to storm damage; Whitewater Preserve and Big Morongo Canyon Preserve have had some trail-section closures as well. (Consider this your fairly normal reminder that it’s always a good idea to check the current forecasts before venturing into the desert areas; a great resource is the Friends of the Desert Mountains Open Trails page at www.

In and around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, wildflowers seem to be most prominent near the entrance of Coyote Canyon and along Henderson Canyon Road, just outside of Borrego Springs. (Herds of bighorn sheep have been seen along the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail recently, too!) Mid-March is often the peak time for wildflower blooms for this area, according to the Wildflowers page at Anza-Borrego Foundation (

• Indian Canyons: Just a short drive south of Palm Springs at the end of South Palm Canyon Drive, you’ll find the entrance to Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon and Palm Canyon (one of the largest natural desert palm oases), all known for their lush vegetation, various flora and numerous hiking trails. The Indian Canyons are on tribal land managed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The nature preserve is open for day visits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last vehicle in at 4 p.m. Ranger-led interpretive hikes are offered from October through June. Visitors pay a modest entrance fee. Dogs are not allowed. Learn more at

• Oswit Canyon: Another great place south of Palm Springs where you can catch a variety of early blooms is Oswit Canyon, located at Bogert Trail and South Palm Canyon Drive, just before Indian Canyons. This is a moderate, 4-mile, out-and-back hike, with an elevation gain of around 900 gradual feet. It’s most majestic, and if you make it far enough, you may get to see an amazing waterfall this time of year. Dogs are not allowed.

• Randall Henderson Trail: A scenic and well-marked trail loop, nearly 3 miles with an elevation gain of just more than 400 feet, this moderate trail is a part of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. You may see a beautiful display of various wildflowers and blooming cacti when the timing is right. You may even be lucky enough to see some bighorn sheep along this trail. It’s located near the Visitor Center and Friends of the Desert Mountains, just off Highway 74 (on the east side), about 3.5 miles south of Highway 111, as you’re heading out of Palm Desert. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

• Art Smith Trail: This is a longer and more difficult out-and-back trail that’s also a part of Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument; it features

beautiful wildflowers and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The trailhead is located almost directly across (but just before) the entrance to the Randall Henderson Trail, on the west side of Highway 74. This trail is a little more than 16 miles with an elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet, but you can make it what you want and turn around at any point. You may also catch a glimpse of the bighorn sheep here as well. Dogs are not allowed on this trail, either.

Even a drive around the desert backroads— Varner Road, Indian Canyon Drive, Dillon Road, Thousand Palms Canyon Road, etc.— can offer nice views of desert wildflowers.

Learn about snakes

Snakes are out! If you’re interested in learning about the diverse snake species found throughout Joshua Tree National Park, why they are important, and what to do when you see one on the trail, join Paisley Ramstead, an avid desert naturalist, at 3 p.m., Friday, April 5, at Black Rock Nature Center in Joshua Tree National Park. This will be an all-ages, classroom-based course about “all things snakes,” with a short hike/field excursion around the Nature Center. The fee is $35, and pre-registration is required. Get your ticket at Eventbrite.

A hairy desert sunflower, found along a trail in Desert Hot Springs between Dillon and Varner roads. Theresa Sama


“It’s charming, oddly inviting, and a love letter to an oftenunsung group of people: Caregivers.”
—Houston Press


The West Coast premiere of THE WOMAN IN THE MIRROR

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry THE WOMAN IN THE MIRROR is a dark comedy about navigating Alzheimer’s with love, laughter and wine, adapted from Dayna Steele’s best-selling book Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine.

Tickets: $25 and $35 with a $45 VIP meet and greet (with a really big glass of wine)

Previews: March 8 and 9 — all seats $20 Starring Dayna Steele and Rebecca McWilliams. Directed by Laura Stearns.



eople often ask, “What can be done about all those homeless people on every street corner?”

The answer: Support those who are making a difference!

There aren’t a lot of resources for the homeless person on the street to escape their environment. There are virtually no shelters in the Palm Springs area to handle the 300 souls (or more) who need shelter every night, and there is no place for them to even lock up their personal possessions.

If you can’t protect your stuff, you have to take it with you. Everywhere. If a street person is forced to leave their cart, bike or backpack unattended, odds are it will be looted, stolen or deemed “soiled” and thrown away by local police—and the vicious cycle of homelessness starts

once again, with them owning absolutely nothing, with nowhere to go.

Except to the Well in the Desert.

The Well in the Desert is a local charity and the main food supplier to hundreds of Palm Springs and Coachella Valley residents who are homeless and hunger-challenged. We help the hopeless. We feed those who can’t provide themselves with a warm meal—the unemployed and the unemployable. The disabled and the mentally depressed. The addicts who refuse to leave their addictions. The former addicts who are trying to go

clean. We feed them all. We care because no one else will.

But we do so much more. Suppose a street person wakes up from a fentanyl binge, beaten and bloody, dirty, starving, desperate. The first place they would go would be to one of our daily free meals, held at four local Palm Springs churches. There, 911 would be called, or they would be given the chance to clean up, take a shower, get new clean clothes and shoes, be given a new sleeping bag or blanket, be given a warm nutritious meal, visit with medical personnel, discuss their plight and

With food, services and a new bike program, Well in the Desert is spreading kindness in Palm Springs

needs with staff, and be given a bus pass or other types of needed transportation. It’s a life-saving, non-secular service the Well has given the city of Palm Springs for the last 25 years.

What would happen if the Well didn’t feed the starving and clothe the naked? If the homeless folks’ injuries or medical problems weren’t addressed, left to fester and rot? If their mental challenges weren’t listened to and cared about? Where would the 300-plus homeless individuals go? Starving people can do stupid and dangerous things.

We protect the residents in Palm Springs in so many unseen ways. One way is by curbing the need to scavenge about for food and basic survival items from local homes and businesses. Our bike-gifting program has attempted to reduce the theft of local homeowners’ bikes. Many times, a bike is stolen, or “parted,” because the street person desperately needs that part for their only means of transportation. But why steal a bike for its wheels or tubes when you can be given a tube, a patch kit, or even a whole bike, for free, by the Well—one that is registered, engraved and photographed?

One of the shining examples of kindness has been the 2-year-old bike-gifting program. Almost 170 donated bikes, as well as thousands of parts, have been gifted to street people in need of reliable transportation, allowing them to get to jobs, parole meetings, medical appointments and basic services needed to change their life’s trajectory. When asked if they have reliable transportation, they can answer that they now do. The bikes have all been donated by desert angels who want to see their bikes reused in a meaningful

way. Every bike is a good one—repaired, re-tired, greased-up, made road worthy and gifted with really good bike locks. Clients from the Well help repair the bikes; no one knows a bike better than a street person.

The program has done wonders for passing kindness from one giftee to another. It has peacefully solved more than one street skirmish. Street folk seem willing to fight over two things: drugs and bikes. The trust built through the gifting of bikes can be further developed into helping them break the cycle of homelessness.

Bicycles are the future of Palm Springs. More and more residents are riding bikes on local bike lanes and paths. Bikes are good for the environment. They are good for traffic. They are good for the health of retirees and snowbirds—but they are especially important to the person who is trying to work themselves off the street.

It has taken a lot of love, sweat and bikes to get to this point—but with a renewed vigor, the Well is stronger than ever. Some 88% of our donations go directly to serving our valley’s most hunger-challenged—a rare ratio indeed for a charity that serves the poor. We truly are a well, the provider of the “water” needed by the poorest of Palm Springs residents. But there must be sustenance to fill the bucket, to pull up to those in need.

Please donate to the Well in the Desert, so that we can continue to help so many.

Eric Frankson is a board member for Well in the Desert. Donations to Well in the Desert are fully tax-deductible. Donate, volunteer or learn more at , or call 760656-8905.

Eric Frankson.
MARCH 2024 COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 7 CV Introducing the Independent’s new events newsletter Every Wednesday, 11 Days a Week features curated recommendations from our knowledgeable staff and contributors on what to over the next 11 days—in other words, the coming weekend and the following week! Emailed to our readers and posted on, 11 Days a Week is an inexpensive, high-impact way to let thousands of people know about your event, in a variety of ways! Want your event considered for inclusion? Email Want to advertise? Email


If you can’t beat them, recall them.

That could be the unofficial motto in California. The Golden State leads the nation in recall attempts—including the most recent attempt in Calexico, a border town with about 38,000 residents 90 miles southwest of the Coachella Valley.

A coalition led by a former mayor has forced a recall election against two City Council members—including the first openly transgender mayor in Calexico’s history—and is attempting to recall a third City Council member. The campaign has been rife with rumor, internet bullying and accusations of misconduct on both sides.

Raul Ureña was a popular candidate when he ran for the Calexico City Council in 2020 and 2022, but now he will have to defend his office at the ballot box on April 16. His opponents were successful in getting more than 4,000 signatures to bring the recall to a vote.

Ureña believes he is being targeted for his progressive politics and his gender identity. (Ureña said he doesn’t have a preferred pronoun, but most often uses he.)

“In 2022, we were able to get a progressive majority in the City Council,” Ureña said. “Now after literally nine months of governing, we’ve had tremendous headways, (getting funding to build) a transit center and (starting) the New River environmental project in the most polluted waterway in the nation. However, I’m the first transgender Latino mayor in the state, and I’m the second-youngest mayor in California. Our progress is being threatened by this recall. They’re using transphobia and using a whole bunch of hate. But the bottom line is, this old political group—not old in age, but old in mentality, and old in how long they’ve been there—wants to take back power from the progressives who won the power fair and square through the election.”

At the May 3, 2023, City Council meeting, Ureña was handed a notification of intent to recall. He was just months into both a full four-year term and his one-year rotating term as mayor. Ureña dramatically tore apart the document.

That didn’t deter Maritza Hurtado and the others backing the recall. At the same meeting, they notified City Councilmember Gilberto Manzanarez that he, too, was a target for recall. Eight months later, on the day she became mayor of Calexico, the group notified City Councilmember Gloria Romo they would be seeking signatures to remove her from office.

Hurtado denies the recall is about Ureña’s gender identity. She claims Ureña did not mention any instances of transphobia when he filed a response to the recall. Instead, she said Ureña and Manzanarez are bringing in

“radical” ideas that do not align with the city’s needs, and that with Romo, they’ve formed a voting bloc that overrules the other two councilmembers. The recall petition accuses them of not supporting the interests of business owners and being unresponsive to the needs of city police and firemen.

Manzanarez responded that genderidentity bigotry has been part of the recall campaign, and that it can’t be separated from politics.

“The bottom line here is, they want to flip the council back to where they used to have the power,” Manzanarez said. “However, I do believe that they are dog-whistling to people who are upset by Mayor Ureña’s sexuality and lifestyle choices. It’s very evident by the amount of things that have been posted on their recall page—just so many people making disgusting comments.

“The very person who served Ureña the recall papers was the very person who attacked him at an LGBTQ flag-raising event. In fact, (other recall proponents) tried to distance themselves from that person at the time. That’s the moment when Maritza Hurtado, former mayor of Calexico, came into the spotlight. She was pretty much forced as the leader of the recall, because prior to that, it was mostly Ms. Rebecca Lemon.”

A video posted to the Facebook page for the Beyond Borders Gazette shows Lemon at the aforementioned pride-flag-raising event on June 15, 2023. She approaches Ureña yelling profanities before she is detained by officers; the video has 222,000 views. A public Facebook page for Lemon has multiple antitrans posts.

Hurtado responds that the recall committee warned members against bigotry toward Ureña and has taken down slurs and hate speech that were posted to the group’s page. During her interview with the Independent, she did not acknowledge Lemon as a member of the recall group, nor did she acknowledge Lemon’s role in delivering the recall paperwork to Ureña and Manzanarez. Instead, Hurtado reiterated her view that the

Two members of the Calexico City Council— including the first transgender Latino mayor in the state—face a recall election

recall is only about the way Manzanarez and Ureña are conducting city business.

“Raul had done two years (on the City Council),” Hurtado said. “He and Mr. Manzanarez and all their followers belong to a social justice group called IV (Imperial Valley) Equity and Justice. They were already out there trying to be active in the community, (and Manzanarez) was a natural candidate to join Raul and run together.

“(The people) realize they elected two individuals who are anti-police. They’re radicals. That knowledge was not known, that they were going to push their ideologies through our teeny tiny budget. They call it progressive, but they’re not. They’re extremists.”

Hurtado was on the Calexico City Council from 2010-2018, including a stint as mayor in 2017-18, and she has remained active in city politics. She said she has run her familyowned tax business in Calexico’s “tiny” downtown for more than 35 years.

Hurtado said she also objects to council meetings being conducted in Spanish, and claims Ureña and Manzanarez sold city properties to establish homeless housing near her office. She believes this will exacerbate lewd behavior and drug use.

“I participate all the time with homeless

programs; however, we have to be realistic in the city,” Hurtado said. “If you’re in support of businesses, why would you think that economic development includes bringing a 300bed (homeless) facility to your downtown?”

Hurtado said she wants the City Council to instead focus on cleaning up the city’s parks and downtown spaces.

“We’re not a city that has a budget for homelessness; that’s why they had to seek the funding somewhere else,” Hurtado said. “And the thing is, when they got that money for homelessness, (they were) funneling it to someone else. The city wants parks, and the children and parents have been there to tell them that they need to focus on things for the families.”

Hurtado said that when she heard about the 300-bed homeless facility, she felt she had to action. “I figured that … we needed to remove these two people, because their ideologies were going to kill our city,” she said.

Manzanarez said the timing of the recall is suspicious. He’d only been on the council for several months following his election in November 2022 when he was notified of the recall attempt. Calexico was dealing with the results of a state audit at the time, and once elected, Manzanarez said, he and Ureña made the audit their primary focus.

Calexico City Councilmember Raul Ureña: “Our progress is being threatened by this recall. They’re using transphobia and using a whole bunch of hate. But the bottom line is, this old political group—not old in age, but old in mentality, and old in how long they’ve been there—wants to take back power from the progressives who won the power fair and square through the election.” Barbara Davidson/Capital and Main

The lengthy audit’s opening statement summarizes the city’s financial status:

“Our office’s audit of the city of Calexico (Calexico)—conducted as part of our high-risk local government agency audit program—concluded that Calexico faces significant risks related to its financial and operational management. For several years, the City Council approved spending despite indications that the city’s budgets were based on unreliable financial data. As a result, the city’s general fund was in a deficit from fiscal years 2014-15 through 2018-19.”

Manzanarez cautioned voters to remember that he and Ureña were not in office during the financial crisis.

“In the recall statement, they cite that it’s because of the condition of the city,” Manzanarez said. “They throw just about every possible issue the city has—the amount of homelessness, the state of downtown deterioration, all of these things which are very much real problems. But how can I, in four months, destroy the city? That’s a little ridiculous.

“To say that we created this is just such a false statement to the community. I’m in disbelief that the people of Calexico might have forgotten, or they simply don’t know, that the city went into negative $8 million dollars in reserves pretty much during those years (that were the focus of the audit). The city of Calexico was taking ill-advised and non-accurate financial information, approving multimillion dollar budgets of money that we

didn’t really have.”

He said their progressive agenda reflects the needs of Calexico’s citizens.

“We tend to look at things a little differently, because the state of the country is not so forgiving toward the younger generations in terms of housing and the economy,” Manzanarez said. “We are pro (in favor of) the working-class people. We’re going to push for affordable housing. We are a generation that cares more about police accountability, and that has seen the effects of the post-George Floyd protests. It doesn’t mean that we are anti-police. We’ve certainly not made any ‘defunding police’ measures like the recall movement has claimed. I feel like we are all aiming for the betterment of Calexico. We just have different views to go about it.”

The citizens of Calexico will have the last word. The special recall election is set for April 16. The city will foot the bill. The tab, including the funds to verify more than 10,000 individual signatures, is estimated at $150,000.

Manzanarez wants the voters to focus on the work he and Ureña have done. He said the City Council, working with city manager Esperanza Colio Warren, has already resolved some of the issues in the audit.

“Because of mismanagement of grants funding, we have millions frozen from the state,” Manzanarez said. “In the last couple of years, they’ve started to unfreeze some of these funds for us. The transportation center was stuck because the City Council at the time didn’t want to provide the Imperial County Transportation Commission with the power of eminent domain. So I get (elected), and in my very first City Council meeting, we approved that eminent domain, immediately triggering the state to look at the project and seeing that (it) can move forward. Congressman Raul Ruiz comes in and does a ceremony, and there’s $18.5 million secured now for the project.”

Ureña admitted that he didn’t take the recall seriously at first. He never thought the effort would get the required signatures—but it did, and come April 16, he wants voters to remember why they elected him and Manzanarez in the first place.

“A lot of people ask me: How were you able to win?” said Ureña. “What I tell them is, ‘You don’t understand that the people I represent are the products of some of the most radical movements in United States history.’ … My grandma and my grandpa on both sides of the family, most of them marched with Cesar Chavez, so these people know how to change society. They’ve done it before. Maybe they don’t know about LGBT issues, but once they have someone who shares their language and comes from them, they’ll understand it. And that’s exactly what happened. They’ve embraced me.”

Maritza Hurtado addresses the Calexico City Council in December. The former City Councilmember and mayor is leading the recall effort against Raul Ureña and Gilberto Manzanarez. Barbara Davidson/Capital and Main


Seven candidates are running in the March 5 primary to replace longtime California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia as the District 36 representative in Sacramento.

On Dec. 11, Garcia announced that he did not intend to run for a sixth and final (due to term limits) two-year term, surprising many. He endorsed Joey Acuna Jr. for the office he was vacating.

On Dec. 15, Garcia issued a statement explaining his decision not to run for re-election.

“Next year will mark 10 years of service in the State Assembly,” Garcia said. “Ten years of delivering for our constituents. Also, 10 years of commuting to Sacramento Mondays through Thursdays or Fridays—away from my family. My son was 10, and my daughter was only a few months old as I

held her in my arms to take my oath of office. He is now a talented, creative young adult, and she is now a smart, charismatic 9-year-old. I can’t count the number of basketball games and back-to-school nights I’ve missed in this vocation. … Ultimately, I want to be present for more of these precious moments with them.”

District 36 includes far eastern Coachella Valley communities such as Coachella, Indio, Mecca and North Shore, as well as all of Imperial County; part of northeastern San Bernardino County, including the city of Needles; and portions of Riverside County south and west of the Coachella Valley, including Hemet. According to the CalMatters 2024 Voter Guide, voter registration in the district is 43.8% Democratic, 27.3% Republican and 21.3% with no party preference.

The Independent recently spoke with all seven candidates, and asked each of them the same slate of three questions:

• What are the two most important issues facing the constituents of District 36 in 2024, and what would you do to address them if you are elected?

• There are a lot of key environmental issues unfolding in District 36, including the restoration of the Salton Sea, the Colorado River water disbursements, industrial-scale solar projects, the responsible development of the Lithium Valley industries, and the future of the Chuckwalla Valley National Monument proposal. What would be your key environmental priorities should you be elected?

• From 2022 to 2023, the homelessness population in Imperial County increased by 24% for individuals, and 30% for households. In Indio, the counted homeless population increased from 322 in 2022 to 427 in 2023. How do you propose to address the homelessness challenge in District 36?

However … the version of this piece with all of their answers, edited only for clarity and style, is more than 13,000 words long—and would take up about seven print pages to run.

Therefore, we are using this space to simply introduce you to the seven candidates. You can read their answers at

Joey Acuna Jr. (Democrat)

Currently the president of Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, Coachella resident Joey Acuna Jr. has served on the board of multiple nonprofit organizations; he’s a founding member of the Coachella Valley Education Foundation and has served on the Imperial Irrigation District’s Energy Consumers Advisory Committee. Acuna works as a development manager for health clinics and as a grant writer for a local tribe.

“I believe that Joey is the best candidate to succeed me in the State Assembly and continue the fights to address climate change, build affordable housing, expand access to higher education, and improve mental health-care infrastructure,” Garcia said in his statement endorsing Acuna.

As of Feb. 10, Acuna had raised $229,000 (per the CalMatters 2024 Voter Guide) and had received at least 50 endorsements from high-profile individuals and organizations.

Waymond Fermon (Democrat)

A lifelong resident of Indio, Fermon has served as an Indio City Council member since being elected in 2018. He became Indio’s first African-American mayor in 2021-2022. For 20 years, he has been employed at the Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County. According to his biography on the city of Indio website, “Fermon has a passion for supporting local youth sport and academic pipeline programs … (and) has been active in numerous outreach programs throughout the Coachella and Imperial Valley such as school fundraisers, career day, guest speaking engagements, and youth interventions.”

According to CalMatters, Fermon’s campaign had raised $26,800, and his campaign website showed more than 30 endorsements from individuals and organizations, including numerous regional council members, and the mayors of Blythe, Cathedral City, Indio, Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

Edgard Garcia (Democrat)

Edgard Garcia, a resident of El Centro, is an attorney who established his own law firm 12

years ago. Garcia’s LinkedIn profile describes his firm’s focus as being “bankruptcy, family law, DUI and criminal defense.” He has served as an El Centro City Council member since 2015. Over the last few years, Garcia has represented Imperial Valley in the League of California Cities, serving on both its Finance Committee and the Public Safety Committee. Garcia is married and has three sons, age 14, 13 and 11. He told the Independent that he’s proud his wife and sons are all active supporters of his campaign.

According to CalMatters, Garcia had raised $18,000 for his campaign to date. His campaign website had no listing of endorsements we could find.

Jeff Gonzalez (Republican)

On his campaign website, Jeff Gonzalez describes himself as “a combat veteran, small business owner, pastor, community leader and father.” Gonzalez enlisted in the Marine Corps and served for two decades before retiring to become a local pastor. On his website, Gonzalez describes how that transition occurred: “Motivated by the tragic loss of 10 fellow Marines to suicide, he (Gonzalez) felt a calling to serve as a pastor to protect those most vulnerable.” He is a dedicated husband to his wife, Christine, and the father of four children ranging in age from 17 to 31.

According to CalMatters, Gonzalez had raised $25,000, and had garnered more than 20 endorsements from individuals and organizations, including Rep. Ken Calvert, California Republican Assembly Leader James Gallagher and the Imperial County Farm Bureau.

Kalin Morse (Republican)

A first-time candidate, Kalin Morse is a nonprofit director from Westmorland in the western Imperial Valley.

According to CalMatters, Morse’s campaign had raised $350. No online campaign presence or any record of any endorsements could be found as of this writing.

Tomas Oliva (Democrat)

An El Centro resident since early childhood, Tomas Oliva said he was first introduced to Sacramento governmental workings when he was chosen to be a Richard G. Polanco Fellow, and interned in the Attorney General’s Office, where he researched the underground economy and its effect on California’s revenues. In the second part of the fellowship, he served as a legislative assistant for then-Assemblymember Jose Solorio. In 2008, Oliva campaigned in support of V. Manuel Perez for the California Assembly, and was hired to be on Perez’s staff in Sacramento.

In 2018, Oliva was elected to the El Centro City Council, where he has served since. In 2023, he accepted a role as senior field representative for the Rep. Raul Ruiz’s campaign.

According to CalMatters, Oliva had raised $14,000. A list of endorsements provided to the Independent by Olivia included the Imperial County Democratic Party, the Teamsters Local 542, and more than 20 area officials, including the mayors of Calipatria, Brawley, Imperial, El Centro and Holtville.

Eric Rodriguez (Democrat)

Born and raised in Brawley, Eric Rodriguez has worked as an El Centro Police officer and is currently working as an emergency response social worker with Child Protective Services of the County of Imperial. The father of five children in a blended family, Rodriguez has served as an elected trustee for the Central Union High School District Board, where, according to his campaign website, “he has been a driving force behind many positive changes, including strategic allocation of budget funds, increased student and staff morale, creating new employment opportunities, transparent governance and policy, and ensuring positive outcomes in significant school site projects.”

According to CalMatters, Rodriguez had not reported raising any money, nor had he reported any outside expenditures. No endorsements were listed on his site as of this writing.

We asked all of the candidates for Assembly District 36 the same set of three questions; their answers can be read at CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS


March 25 is slated to be a big day for the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage.

The museum, like so many other congregate destinations throughout Coachella Valley, was forced to shut its doors due to COVID-19 back in March 2020. The board of directors decided that the indefinite period of closure would provide the ideal opportunity to initiate a “re-imagination” campaign for the 27-year-old facility. New exhibits would be conceived, designed, built and installed—but copious fundraising would be needed to pay the projected $3 million cost of the upgrade’s first phase.

“We raised in excess of $2 million,” museum CEO Cindy Burreson told the Independent in a recent interview, “and then First Bank came in to help us with a line of credit that closed that funding gap so that we could finish the project. We are fundraising to pay that money back and to move forward. We’ll be fundraising forever—and I think the thing that people forget is that we’re a nonprofit.”

While 40 new exhibits—each integrated with one of the six program themes of “Imagine,” “Express,” “Move,” “Experiment,” “Explore” and “Dream”—will be installed soon, the museum board decided in midFebruary that it would not rush that installation process, and would instead delay the official re-opening until late May.

Still, March 25 remains a significant date at the museum: It’s the day when staff will launch two weeks of spring break camp, providing 20 children each week with five days of varied activities. The camp sessions will be held inside the main museum building as work goes on.

“This spring break theme is ‘Guardians of the Green,’” Burreson said. “It’s all about environmental awareness, and repurposing items to create new things with the kids. Also, we have some guest speakers coming in.”

Another improvement: Upon its re-opening in May, the museum will be designated as a certified autism center.

“Visit Greater Palm Springs has an initiative … to make the (area an) autismready destination by including different venues like restaurants and hospitality businesses,” Burreson said. “So, for example, the JW Marriott and The Living Desert … have already been certified. Now we are part of that as well. One hundred percent of our staff will be trained in sensory sensitivity awareness, and we will have sensory bags at the front desk. We’re building a lowsensory room as well, and we got a grant for accessibility funds. So our focus is reopening the museum, but also reopening it in a way that welcomes all families of all abilities by

really increasing accessibility.”

The plan has been to develop the main museum building into a space featuring experiences for children up to 8 years old; this is where the 40 new exhibits are being constructed. Plans for the second and third phases have been tweaked to focus more attention on activities for toddlers and the sensory-challenged, and create a caregiver library.

“The next phase will be the toddler and the sensory spaces … and our plan is to revamp the second building,” Burreson said. “Then we’ll have the third building with the programming for middle school- and high school-aged kids. I don’t know in what order that will all take place, and we’re still looking to obtain funding for that as well.”

The museum is accepting sponsorship deals for name placement on the crayon-shaped pillars surrounding the main lawn on the campus. As part of the “Color Our Courtyard” campaign, for a $15,000 donation, a sponsor gets to place its/their name (and logo) on one of the crayon pillars for four years.

“Essentially, it’s a vinyl wrap that looks like a Crayola crayon wrapper,” Burreson said. “… It’s just a great way to get some color, get some great donor recognition and, of course, generate some funding as we near our (Phase 1) finish line.”

Given the unexpected four-year closure, does Burreson have any concerns about re-connecting with past visitors and reaching new fans once operations re-start?

“I think that there’s pent-up demand. People want this place to re-open,” Burreson said. “It’s a real treasure. I know, as a mom myself, that my kids love this place, and I always tell people when I’m out in the community that when my husband and I looked at our pictures, we have 700 or 800 photos of our kids here at the museum. What I want for every family is (to be able) to look back and think of this place, and remember the times they shared as a family, and the learning opportunities, and the laughs they shared, and stuff like that. My hope is, and I think our (team’s) hope is, that folks are going

to rally around the museum. I think we will have a whole new generation of kids who have been born since right before the pandemic, or during the pandemic, or since then who have never been here. We’re going to welcome new families as well, so I think it’s going to be really great.”

On Feb. 28, the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce was slated to honor the museum at its annual “Rammys” outstanding business awards event.

“We are winning what’s called the ‘Heart of Rancho Mirage’ (award),” Burreson said.

“We’re really excited about that. We’re very grateful for the community’s excitement and for their support.

“Remember that every dollar does matter. We are participating in that big CV Giving Day event (on March 5; www.cvgivingday. org), so we would love for folks to keep us in mind when they’re looking for their places to support. We appreciate every opportunity folks take to champion the museum, and to support it financially as well.”

For more information, visit

Closed since 2020, the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert has revised re-opening plans for May CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert’s long-awaited reopening is now slated for late May.


General-store owner Carl Gustav Lykken is credited with helping his adopted town of Palm Springs in many ways—but he is perhaps best known as the man who installed the village’s first telephone.

Born in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1884, Lykken (pronounced Licken) earned a miningengineering degree from the University of North Dakota, and in 1912, he was hired to subdivide lots for a new American colony in Sinaloa, Mexico. The timing, however, was anything but providential, as the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) ended a lot of plans. Most of the settlers were also from North Dakota, including the White sisters, Florilla and

Cornelia. With them and three others, Lykken escaped from Mexico. They appropriated a hand cart and took turns pumping as it moved over rails that had some of the ties already burning away.

Lykken followed the suggestion of the White sisters and joined them in Palm Springs. He bought David Blanchard’s general store shortly after arriving in 1913 and originally partnered with J.H. Bartlett. Together, they moved the entire operation across the street, now Palm Canyon Drive.

The partners originally called their store Lykken and Bartlett, but it became known as the Palm Springs Department and Hardware Store. The store initially stocked groceries for local hotels and homeowners; Lykken later began to include hardware, housewares and clothing.

Lykken eventually took over the store by himself and even added ice to his inventory— although after purchasing 300-pound blocks in Colton, they would usually shrink to 100-pound blocks for his customers after travelling by rail and wagon across the desert.

In the early years, Palm Springs had spotty contact with those outside of the desert. Carl Lykken was the one who helped change that. His store provided the town with its initial post office and its only telegraph service. Lykken himself served as postmaster, and for years was the agent for Western Union. He had a dry-battery connection to the telegraph at the Southern Pacific Railroad agent’s office in Garnet, thus establishing the village’s only contact with the outside world.

To improve communications, in 1915, Lykken acquired and maintained the village’s first telephone. An extension of it went to the Desert Inn. He would answer the telephone on behalf of the entire community. He either delivered messages or posted them on the wall for locals to collect when they came to shop or pick up their mail. He later donated the phone to the Palm Springs Historical Society, where it remains on display today in the Cornelia White House downtown at the Village Green.

Lykken married Edith Coombs in 1917, and Edith oversaw the clothing department— because she felt her husband lacked a keen sense of color that was necessary to stock ladies’ clothing.

Carl and Edith Lykken and their daughter, Jane (Hoff), originally lived in a little twostory house rented from Cornelia White, just south of the store on Palm Canyon Drive. It had some pepper trees and a shady front porch. A fence separated the yard from Palm Canyon Drive, and Jane later mused that the fence was to keep her in, as well as to keep the horses and donkeys, wandering around town, out. She mentioned that her earliest memories included the thrill of seeing those horses and donkeys running through town.

In Frank Bogert’s book View From the Saddle, Jane is quoted: “I remember one of my chores was to take a little pail over to our neighbor Florilla White. They kept cows in the back yard. I had to milk the cows and bring home a pail of fresh milk.”

About the store, years later, Jane recalled: “It was the primary gathering place for Palm Springs’ early residents. If you couldn’t get it at Lykken’s, you didn’t get it here.”

In 1929, the Lykken family hired local builder Alvah Hicks to construct the town’s first home with central heating—a solid two-story home still prominent in the Las Palmas area.

Lykken continued to serve the community in many ways for almost 60 years. A founding member of the Palm Springs Library Board, the Palm Springs Community Church, the Desert Museum and the Palm Springs Rotary, he was a charter member of the Polo Club and the Desert Riders. He founded the Palm Springs police and fire protection districts and served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and the local Community Chest. He was also a member of the Palm Springs Historical Society’s board of directors.

In the 1940s, Lykken sold the business at 180 N. Palm Canyon Drive to Tom Holland, who continued to run the Palm Springs Department and Hardware Store; it continued operating under several different owners until


telephone at

his store

Carl Lykken with Melba Bennett, founder of the Palm Springs Historical Society. Courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

1979. Richard and Mary Beth Marek, who owned The Alley, then leased the location in 1979 before moving farther south on Palm Canyon Drive. The building with the familiar arches in front of the entrance still graces Palm Canyon Drive and has been the home of various businesses through the years, and is now home to a shoe store.

Near the end of a lifetime of dedicated civil service, a Carl Lykken Day was celebrated in 1970. More than 150 well-wishers gathered at the Oasis Hotel to honor the pioneer citizen. In 1971, Lykken donated $10,000 for the construction of a new library, and a wing is named in his honor.

Carl Lykken died on Jan. 12, 1972, at the age of 87. Lykken loved to hike and explore the desert, so in his honor, on June 26, 1972, the old Skyline Trail behind the Desert Museum (now the Palm Springs Art Museum) was renamed the Lykken Trail. In May 1980, an expanded Lykken Trail opened following a dedication at the Desert Museum.

Carl’s wife, Edith, died in 1974. Jane Lykken Hoff became a village leader like her

father. By 1972, she was “round-up boss” of the prestigious local riding group, the Desert Riders, and went on to become its president. Jane also belonged to Los Compadres and was its first woman president.

Jane served on numerous civic boards and committees, including the Palm Springs Historical Society’s board of directors. When I was introduced to her in March 2003, former Mayor Frank Bogert recognized Jane, then 83, as the surviving pioneer who had been in town the longest.

She extended that claim by more than two decades before passing away on Dec. 29, 2023—less than two months before what would have been her 104th birthday.

Sources for this article include View From the Saddle by Frank Bogert (ETC Publications, 2006); The Desert Sun (articles from Feb. 26, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023, by Tracy Conrad); Palm Springs: The Landscape, The History, The Lore by Mary Jo Churchwell (Ironwood Editions, 2001); and Nellie’s Boardinghouse by Marjorie Belle Bright (ETC Publications, 1981).

Carl Lykken was the pioneer who installed Palm Springs’ first NEWS


Planets and Bright Stars in Evening Mid-Twilight For March, 2024

attractions include two eclipses—and the first appearance of a particular comet in 71 years

rom the morning of March 1 until the evening of April 10, we’ll follow the moon as it moves eastward through the zodiac, passing the sun and all the other planets of our solar system— plus five first-magnitude stars, some more than once, as our natural satellite makes more than 1 1/2 trips around its orbit. Many of the moon’s encounters with other bright objects will be quite close and pleasing to the eye.

There are also two eclipses within that period. The first occurs just after midnight on the night of March 24-25, when the moon is almost 180° from the sun and passes through the Earth’s slightly dusky outermost shadow, or penumbra, passing north (above the umbra), missing the dark shadow core. The second eclipse occurs on Monday, April 8, when the moon completely covers the sun in a

narrow track across North America; here, we get to see a partial solar eclipse.

On the morning of March 1, an hour before sunup, we find the waning gibbous moon (70%) in the constellation Libra, about 4° from thirdmagnitude star Zubenelgenubi, which marks the southern claw of the older version of the Scorpion. As the morning sky brightens, look for bright Venus very low in the east-southeast, with faint Mars within 4° to its upper right. Each morning at the same stage of twilight, Venus gets a little lower, and Mars a little higher. Binoculars will help you see Mars. By March 31, they’ll be 18° apart.

On the morning of March 2, the moon is just west of the Scorpion’s head, and on March 3, the moon appears within 3° east of Antares, the red supergiant star marking the heart of the Scorpion. The moon is now at last quarter phase, when it’s half full and 90° west of the sun. You can tell where the sun is located, below the eastern horizon, by noting which side of the moon is illuminated. On March 4, the 40% crescent moon is at its southernmost position for this orbit, near the spout of the Teapot of Sagittarius, the Archer. On the next morning, the moon is still pretty far south, near a secondmagnitude star in the Teapot’s handle.

On March 7, Venus appears 17° to the lower left of the 12% crescent. Mars is within 7° to the upper right of Venus and 11° to the left of the moon. On March 8, the 5% old crescent moon is 5° to the lower right of Venus and 6° to the lower left of the moon. Very low in bright twilight, the old moon will be quite a challenge to find.

The new moon occurs on Sunday morning, March 10, as daylight saving time begins. Just a few hours earlier, the moon passes perigee, the closest for the entire year. This makes the moon climb quickly into the evening sky; it’s possible, if you have an unobstructed horizon and very clear skies, to catch a very thin 1% crescent moon just above the western horizon, within 2° to the lower left of Mercury. Start 20-25 minutes after sunset, and look for Mercury 41° to the lower right of Jupiter. The

moon will be just more than 17 hours after new, perhaps the youngest moon you’ve ever seen! Binoculars will help.

This young moon marks the start of Ramadan. During evenings this time of year, the zodiacal pathway makes a steep angle with the horizon, so the waxing moon climbs rapidly from one evening to the next. By March 13, the moon is close to Jupiter; on the 14th, it’s near the Pleiades cluster; and on the 15th, it’s widely north of Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, the Bull.

On the 16th, the moon appears close to 1.7-magnitude Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn. On the 17th, this month’s northernmost moon is near the feet of Gemini, a few degrees farther north than the sun ever gets. Notice how high the moon is in the sky around sunset!

On the 18th, the moon passes unusually close to Pollux, one of the Twin stars of Gemini. On March 19 at 8:06 p.m., spring begins as the sun, crossing northward, passes directly above the equator. On the evening of the 21st, the moon passes north of Regulus, heart of Leo. The full moon occurs on the night of March 24-25, with deepest penumbral lunar eclipse at 12:15 a.m. on the 25th. Can you notice the slight shading on one edge of the moon?

In the early evening on March 24, Mercury reaches its highest position in evening twilight for this entire year. Look 23° to the lower right of Jupiter. The innermost planet of our solar system lingers 21° to Jupiter’s lower right from March 26 through April 2, but fades to invisibility as it transitions into a backlighted crescent.

By March 27, the moon rises well after nightfall, and without the moon’s presence, the sky is quite dark for a short while in the early evening. About 75 minutes after sunset, bright Jupiter is almost down to just 20° above the western horizon. Note second-magnitude Hamal, the brightest star of Aries, just 14° to the lower right of Jupiter.

That evening, using binoculars, look for a fuzzy spot, perhaps of fifth-magnitude, in the same field, 4° to 5° to the lower right of Hamal.

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

Evening mid-twilight occurs when the Sun is 9° below the horizon. Mar.1: 39 minutes after sunset. 15: 39 " " " 31: 40 " " "

It’s Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, in its return to the inner solar system after nearly 71 years. Comet P-B is shifting position by 1.2° each day in relation to the background. On March 30 and 31, the comet will appear within one degree of Hamal, and thereafter, to the star’s upper left, in the same binocular field for perhaps three more evenings.

Shifting your viewing time back to mornings, one hour before sunrise, catch the moon near Spica on March 25 and 26; near Antares on March 30; and passing, in order, Mars, Saturn and Venus on the moon’s way to its rendezvous with the sun—a solar eclipse—on April 8.

As for that eclipse: It will be seen as a total eclipse from within a track crossing Mexico, the United States from Texas to Maine, and eastern Canada. The event will be seen only as a partial solar eclipse from nearly all of the rest of North America, including here. Learn more about the eclipse by reading the expanded version of this

column at

The Astronomical Society of the Desert will host a star party on Saturday, March 9, at Sawmill Trailhead, a site in the Santa Rosa Mountains at elevation 4,000 feet; and on Saturday, March 30, at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. For dates and times of these and other star parties, and maps and directions to the two sites, visit

The Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar is available by subscription from www. For $12 per year, subscribers receive quarterly mailings, each containing three monthly issues.

Robert Victor originated the Abrams Planetarium monthly Sky Calendar in October 1968 and still helps to produce an occasional issue. He enjoys being outdoors sharing the beauty of the night sky and other wonders of nature.

N S E W 15 22 29 Mercury 1 8 15 22 29 Jupiter Aldebaran Rigel Betelgeuse Capella Canopus Sirius Procyon Pollux Castor Regulus Arcturus
Map by Robert D.
Deneb March's

There is a lot of local love for film festivals—but a documentary-focused fest taking place in March, now in its 13th year, took a while to catch on locally, despite its international renown.

The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, aka AmDocs, will feature films made across the globe, from Thursday, March 21, through Monday, March 25, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. It will feature more than 200 films, divided into 55 different programs including shorts and feature-length movies, with topics ranging from love to immigration, sports, humanity and more.

Ted Grouya, the founder and director of AmDocs, explained why he launched the festival back in 2012.

“I started out as a filmmaker, and I traveled to any number of festivals around the world with my own work, and the people who own the Camelot Theatres were very good friends,” Grouya said. “They established … the Palm Springs Cultural Center, and they said to me, ‘Isn’t there something we can do to help build more visibility? Because of both your travels and experiences being local, maybe you could come up with an idea.’ … I did a little bit of research, and I realized that there were, at the time, no documentary film festivals on the West Coast—nothing to speak of within a 100-mile radius of Los Angeles. I said, ‘Boom, there’s the opportunity—there’s a niche.’”

Not only did Grouya want to make AmDocs the “biggest and or the best event possible,” in his words; he wanted to make sure it

supported the filmmakers themselves—so he set up the American Documentary Film Fund. Film-industry professionals review submissions from filmmakers for funding consideration each year, and per the website, “An amount up to $50,000 may be awarded or distributed in any given year.”

“The U.S. is the richest country in the world, but we don’t do a lot to support the arts, so we thought this is our little way to help,” Grouya said. “We’ve done that basically from our own funds, tickets and submissions, and we’ve given back to the filmmakers with that film fund. Any number of films have made it to HBO, Showtime, PBS and MTV; a few have

been shortlisted for the Oscars, and others have won Emmys. We’re really proud of what we’ve been able to do in such a short period of time.”

Grouya said the festival slowly attracted an international fan base—and that local recognition was even harder to come by.

“We slowly built our reputation internationally, even though we weren’t known so well by the locals, being in the shadow of the Palm Springs International Film Festival,” Grouya said. “We worked on our reputation to the point where, after six years … the American Society of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recommended us (to

be a qualifying festival) for certain categories for Oscars consideration. Our reputation was good enough that we got that after the minimum six years. … Each year, we build that reputation, and there’s sort of a Yelp amongst industry and filmmakers, which I was unaware of until recently, where they rate the festivals, and we’re consistently in the Top 100 out of the whole world of over 12,000 festivals. We don’t really care so much about status, but it’s nice to know that you’re getting these fivestar reviews, because our mission is really to bring the best to our audiences here, as well as to have a great experience for our industry guests.”

AmDocs started with a focus on documentaries, adding animation in the festival’s second year.

“We first kind of did it as an aside, and then we realized the importance of it in the industry … not just as cartoons, but there are some very mature themes that are done documentary-style, but in animation,” Grouya said. “We really push that now, and because a lot of these artists are so talented with drawing in 3-D or 2-D, they have opportunities outside of these arts, and they can become graphic artists, or they can actually become gamers. The gaming industry just itself equaled both film and music revenues combined.”

There are more connections between documentary and animation than one may think.

“(Documentary) is a very popular genre on the streamers; I think it really all began in many ways with Making a Murderer on Netflix, because everyone tried to copy that formula,” Grouya said. “Those docuseries now are uber-popular, but in a lot of them, they don’t have archival footage. Errol Morris,

A scene from Show Her the Money. Sean Penn and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the filming of Superpower.Penn is scheduled to be at the Palm Springs Cultural Center for the AmDocs openingnight screening of the film.

who was a famous documentary filmmaker, particularly in the ’80s, loved doing recreations. … We love it when we see archival (footage), but there are plenty of instances in history where there’s no footage to be able to cut back to, so what you’re seeing more and more is this combination of animation and documentary, and it’s very, very effective.”

Thanks to AmDocs’ variety of films every year, Grouya has watched the genre change over the last 12 years.

“It is said that the very first things shot on film were documentaries,” he said. “The North American formula that’s still kind of prevalent today is the interview. You might have a film of 90 minutes, and it’s mostly interviews.

… In Central and Eastern Europe, (documentaries are) much more observational, and a little more storydriven. I’m seeing more and more of that now across the spectrum, which I think is good. It’s healthy for the filmmakers; it pushes them a little more, and they’re going to have to work more than just setting up lights in the static situation and interviewing someone. I don’t want to knock them—that’s their business, and they can do whatever they want. However, if you want to keep your audience

engaged, you have to evolve, so I’m seeing more of that evolution.”

Grouya said he’s proud of how the festival has grown, from 59 films in the first year to more than 200 in 2024.

“ (Documentary) is a very popular genre on the streamers; I think it really all began in many ways with Makinga Murdereron Netflix, because everyone tried to copy that formula. ”

“There were always great films … but we went out to find some of these more storydriven documentaries, whereas now, they come to us,” Grouya said. “I still go to festivals and different places in the world, but the films really have to knock me on my butt in order for us to invite them. … I would say that of our programming, 95% is based on direct submissions, so that’s really a compliment to the filmmakers and the films, because we don’t have to go necessarily to Sundance or Berlin or Cannes, even though we’ve had some of those films. They still come to us, because they know that our programming reputation is solid.”

— Ted Grouya AmDocs founder and director

Grouya said he’s worked to make sure AmDocs has alliances with festivals in different parts of the world—and that has been helpful to American filmmakers.

“One of the things that we’ve observed when I go to these events is there’s a big antipathy towards Hollywood—and that, unfortunately, will include anyone from the U.S.,” Grouya said. “That’s not fair, because most of the (American documentary) filmmakers are independent, but there’s

this thing about Hollywood encroaching on cultural identity, and I understand that, but they leave out a lot of great films that are made by filmmakers here. There are 340 million Americans, so there have got to be a few good films.

“I would say, on average, half of our programming comes from North America. With our alliances, we are able to curate a selection of U.S.-based films at our partner festivals, and they, in turn, get (to curate the) program from Latin America or the Baltics, wherever that festival was, at our festival. It gives exposure that our filmmakers wouldn’t normally have internationally, and it really doesn’t cost much—but it’s one of the unique things that we do at AmDocs.”

the screening, which is the festival’s Opening Night Event. “With what’s going on with Ukraine now and still going on at the national level with legislators (and funding decisions), that should be a pretty robust discussion after we see his film,” Grouya said.

In lieu of proclaiming a yearly theme, AmDocs opts for more of a watch-and-see attitude.

“We obviously have themes, and if you sit in the theater, you’ll see how complex the programming is, but we’re not didactic,” Grouya said. “We don’t force it down your throat. You either get it, or you don’t, and I think they do.”

Grouya shared his thoughts on some highlights of this year’s festival.

Superpower, Thursday, March 21: This film was directed by Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman; Penn will make an appearance at

Show Her the Money, Friday, March 22: “Watching these films is like continuing education every day at a university. For example, (this film is about) entrepreneurship, focused on women. Women, of course, are treated as unequal in many ways in our society, but when they’re up there pitching in the Silicon Valley for some new product or content that they’re trying to sell, they’re only apt to get about 3% of the money that’s available. This particular film shows that there are women who are supporting one another in order to break that glass ceiling.”

Shura, Sunday, March 24: “We have films about seniors who do things to help others. (This is) a great film that was shortlisted for the Oscars, and it follows people who are on the border. Because things are so tough ... they go out there, and they find ways to bring food and clothing and water to these immigrants, whether they’re going to get into the U.S. or not. These are stories that most people don’t know about.”

The Test, Sunday, March 24: “It’s about seniors helping this man from Nigeria. He’s here legally, but he has to prepare for his naturalization exam, so the seniors work with him (to teach him) about history and everything related to understanding what you need to know before you take the test to become a naturalized American. It’s beautiful.”

The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival takes place from Thursday, March 21, through Monday, March 25, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $10. For tickets or more information, visit

A scene from Shura. A scene from The Test.

8:3O am

Welcome & Breakfast

The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast Coalition invites you to join us. This event brings together all who support equality and social justice in celebration of this influential civil rights activist.

Co-Founder and Executive Chair of the Har vey Milk Foundation

Stuart Milk, a global LGBT rights advocate, has worked on the ground supporting struggling and emerging LGBT communities in over 60 nations on six continents.

The nephew of Harvey Milk, Stuart has expanded his uncle’s example of visibility and courage leading historic global campaigns including major addresses and speaking events before the United Nations, the Munich Security Conference, the US State Department, the European Union, the US Department of Defense, the British Parliament, the Congress of Peru, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and Parlamento Italiano.

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The L-Fund—a group that, as its motto says, empowers lesbians through philanthropy— will hold its annual gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 9, at the Margaritaville Resort.

The event is a crowd-pleaser, drawing celebrants from across the Coachella Valley and beyond to gather and party for a worthy cause. This year’s gala, with the theme “Luck Be a Lady,” culminates a banner year for the women-led nonprofit.

The L-Fund has been expanding its reach since 2012, when the five founders, initially just

gathering socially, would chip in $20 each without a set plan or recipient in mind. What they knew was they wanted to help other lesbians. The L-Fund has grown considerably since; the 501(c)(3) has hit funding peaks unimaginable a decade ago.

“Last year, we gave out almost $100,000 in grants to queer women in emergency financial crises,” said board co-chair Mei Ling Tom.

This year’s gala is going big, too, with dinner and dancing in a casino-style setting, and live entertainment featuring a pop and soul revue. A focal point of the evening will be The L-Fund’s annual awards, which honor local luminaries for outstanding service to the LGBTQ+ community.

Local comedian Mina Hartong has been tapped as emcee, and special guest Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, will present the night’s most prestigious honor—the Bobreta Franklin Community Service Award.

Judy Dlugacz, the co-founder of Olivia Records and Olivia Travel, is this year’s recipient. The vacation program charters entire cruise ships, resorts, riverboats and land tours exclusively for lesbian and LGBTQ+ women. It boasts a huge repeat customer base and will celebrate 35 years in business in 2025. Gala attendees will get to bid on an Olivia cruise for two during a live auction. Dinner for six at Alice B. restaurant is another live-auction item, and there will be several silent auction items as well.

Palm Springs City Councilmember Grace Garner will present The L-Fund Visionary Award to Shann Carr and Sweet Baby J’ai. A local community stalwart, comedian Shann Carr has logged countless local volunteer hours. She is being honored for “lend(ing) a helping hand to so many organizations in Palm Springs, always with the goal of connecting people through positive experiences full of love,” Tom said in

The L-Fund, holding its annual gala on March 9, expands its mission of ‘empowering lesbians through philanthropy’

Sweet Baby J’ai is being honored for her commitment to elevating jazz and musicianship throughout the region. J’ai is an accomplished contemporary-jazz singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and playwright, known throughout the Coachella Valley for stellar entertainment events and a focus on philanthropy. She’s a co-founder of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival, and executive director of production company Sweet Baby J’ai Presents.

Her expertise will be on full display at the gala: J’ai is curating the live show, with help from L-Fund co-chair Christine Hunter. The “Soulful Sirens” revue will feature The Voice contestant Marisa Corvo and an all-women’s sextet replete with brass and reeds. Spokenword artist Be Steadwell rounds out the bill.

As co-directors of The L-Fund, Hunter and Tom said they take pride in the fact that their seven-member board of directors works on a fully volunteer-basis. No one gets a salary, although Tom said they may need to hire staff in the future.

The L-Fund has been able to fund new programs and expand the base of women it can help, with three new grant programs developed over the past six years. In addition to the original Lesbians in Need (LIN) grant, women can now submit applications for education needs, medical emergencies and

artistic endeavors. Grants were once confined to Coachella Valley residents, but in recent years, queer women from Yucca Valley, Idyllwild and Hemet have been recipients.

Applications for all four grants are accepted on a rolling basis. After screening for eligibility criteria, they are considered on a case-by-case basis by the board.

After the gala, The L-Fund’s next event will be the Women’s Health and Wellness Expo, in partnership with Eisenhower Health. The health fair is a first for The L-Fund and will take place in May at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences on the Eisenhower campus in Rancho Mirage. (Eisenhower Health is also the gala’s lead sponsor.) The L-Fund also sponsors an annual golf tournament in November.

Tom said more sponsors are coming on all the time, and every donation or ticket sold helps the organization stay committed to its goal of helping women when an emergency knocks them off their feet.

“Something happens in your life, and now you need some help,” said Tom. “And once we help you, if it’s approved, then you’re back on your feet, living life.”

The L-Fund’s “Luck Be a Lady” Gala takes place from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, March 9, at the Margaritaville Resort, 1600 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $225. For tickets or more information, visit

The L-Fund Visionary Award honoree Sweet Baby J’ai. a text statement.
The L-Fund Visionary Award honoree Shann Carr.



The comedy scene has been growing in the Coachella Valley—and Coachella Valley Brewing Co. in Thousand Palms has played a big role in that growth.

While CVB is a brewery first and a performance venue second, it’s been a key part of the area’s entertainment scene. During the COVID-19 shutdowns, CVB was one of the first venues to start hosting socially distanced entertainment; today, comedy shows and live music pack the place.

One event in particular shows how CVB has enhanced the local comedy scene: the yearly Comedy Fest, which highlights the talent of desert comics while featuring a number of great

out-of-town acts. The third annual fest takes place Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24.

“I’ve been booking comedy shows at Coachella Valley Brewing Co. since about late 2018,” said comedian and Comedy Fest organizer Dacoda Miracle. “After the pandemic, I talked to Wes (Gainey, taproom manager at CVB) about how it’d be really cool to get a bunch of comics who have done shows here who I’ve worked with in the past, and have an all-day hangout with a bunch of comedians. I started talking to some friends and all these comics who I’ve come across, and they all seemed really interested—so it just kind of turned into a comedy festival.

“The response from the local community was immense and a lot more than I expected for the first year. … It was very rewarding to see how happy it made everyone and how excited everyone got for it. It just snowballed to where I’m like, ‘Well, I guess I’ve got to do this every year now.’”

Miracle has been pivotal in the growth of the local comedy scene, and his work at CVB has helped inspire locals to pick up a microphone and get onstage.

“When I first moved here in 2018 … I hadn’t really met too many other local comics at that point,” Miracle said. “The consistency of the open mics at the brewery, and a few other pop-up open mics that have sprung up across the valley, have generated close to 20 local comics from 2018 until now. It’s been an amazing growth, in large part due to the comedy shows at the brewery.”

Miracle explained why CVB remains a staple of the local comic world.

“When I first started doing open mics here, everyone was so supportive,” Miracle said. “I think because there was already this support for local acts, local artists and local everything with the Coachella Valley … it just made me feel at home and made me feel like I can experiment and kind of take risks onstage. That’s kind of what Coachella Valley Brewery has been all about from the beginning.

“Thanks in large part to Wes and the team here at Coachella Valley Brewery, I’ve been able to experiment with different types of shows, and do street-comedy shows—but also, we’ve done some variety shows as well. Wes has been very gracious to allow it to morph and change in terms of the setup of the comedy. We started doing it in the taproom back in 2018, and all the lights were on, there were just high-top chairs; there was no stage or anything. Then we moved it to the back, where they brew the beer. We started turning off the lights and having tables, and now the setup is just rows of chairs, and we have stages and proper lighting—and it actually feels and looks like a comedy show.”

The consistency of CVB’s Saturday comedy nights has helped empower local performers.

“How any comic gets better is just having enough stage time, and getting up there constantly,” Miracle said. “The more opportunities there are for comedians, the better they can get. With the comedy community growing, that means there are more comedians who run their own shows, and more open mics pop up, which means everyone gets more stage time and can grow their own act. Being able to produce shows at the brewery here and across the valley has personally given me more stage time, and has allowed me to sharpen my skills. In turn, that benefits everyone as well.”

At this year’s Comedy Fest, comics from the desert will share a bill with performers from Las Vegas, Reno, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dakota Ray Hebert, from Canada, will be performing a non-traditional comedy show.

“She’s a pretty prominent feature in the Canadian comedy scene,” Miracle said. “We’re bringing her and some of her close friends in comedy out for the fest, and they are going to be doing a show called Red White and You They’re writers on shows in Canada, and that’s one of the shows that they’re pitching, so they’re going to be performing it live here at the Comedy Fest.”

The festival also includes a non-traditional

Coachella Valley Brewery Comedy Fest organizers hope to boost the desert comedy scene

show hosted by Indio comedian Los Digits.

“We’re doing a one-liner joke-off competition, and we’re doing the ‘No Llores Roast Battles,’” Miracle said. “He grew up in Indio and moved out to L.A. a few years back, and he’s made a name for himself on the roast-battle scene at the Comedy Store, and he’s created his own style of roast battle that he takes around to different comedy clubs.”

Miracle said he wants the Comedy Fest at CVB to both entertain and help local comedians make big connections.

“This is a really big networking opportunity

for all the comedians, just to be together on one day,” Miracle said. “It’s definitely a very natural way to meet other people in the industry and form those connections, and I think that’s very important for everyone in the industry.”

The Coachella Valley Brewery Comedy Fest takes place from Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, at Coachella Valley Brewing Co., 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Tickets start at $29.99. For tickets and more information, search for the fest on Eventbrite.

Dacoda Miracle: “This is a really big networking opportunity for all the comedians, just to be together on one day. It’s definitely a very natural way to meet other people in the industry and form those connections.
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In the world of modern architecture, a few names stand out—including Le Corbusier, the professional name of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, the Swiss-French architect.

Less well-known internationally—but rather well-known locally—is one of Le Corbusier’s pupils and co-workers, Albert Frey.

Frey’s life and work are celebrated in a new exhibition, Albert Frey: Inventive Modernist, on display at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center through June 3. The exhibition, presented by the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, features architectural models, drawings, films, photographs and furniture—and took 2 1/2 years to assemble and complete.

The exhibition’s creator, Brad Dunning, explains that Frey (1903-1998) was born in Europe, and started his career there, but he was always fascinated by America, moving to New York and then Palm Springs.

“He felt America represented the future, and would welcome more new ideas than Europe.

Everything about Albert was modern— modernism,” Dunning said.

Frey’s local work included hundreds of designs, including projects from custom homes to landmark buildings, including Palm Springs City Hall, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s

Valley Station, the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club (overlooking the Salton Sea) and the iconic Tramway Gas Station, now the Palm Springs Visitor Information Center. He also co-designed the Aluminaire House, an all-metal home designed in 1931 in New York that now has a permanent home in Palm Springs.

Frey differed from Le Corbusier in his approach to the relationship between architecture and its surroundings.

“He was a one-of-a-kind architect in the desert,” said Melissa Riche, founder of Preservation Mirage and author of Mod

The Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates the work of renowned local architect Albert Frey

Mirage, a book on mid-century architecture in the area. “He came from Europe and had a new, international, pared-down approach to modernism, using durable materials that changed over time because of the environment.”

One example of Frey’s belief in the relationship between the man-made and the natural is the house designed for the industrial designer Raymond Loewy between 1946 and 1947. Dunning points out that “the swimming pool creeps under a sliding glass door into the living room. It’s whimsical and fascinating, blurring the lines between outside and inside.”

In the hillside house overlooking Palm Springs that Frey designed for himself in 1964, the materials are high tech—including glass walls and a corrugated metal roof—but the natural world intrudes, literally, in the form of a boulder that forces its way into the living space through an aperture in the wall, precisely cut to accommodate it. In Frey’s own words: “The contrast between the natural rock and tech materials is rather exciting.” He added: “I’m excited to see every day the varied spectacle of nature that is part of the house, changing with light and color, wind, rain, calm

and the sun.” The house is now owned by the Palm Springs Art Museum as the result of a bequest by Frey.

Dunning, who knew Frey, described him as “quiet and soft spoken, yet animated when he talked about his passion—designing. He was always impeccably dressed, retaining his continental manners his whole life.”

His business partners did most of the socializing and getting accounts, so Frey could focus on design, Dunning said. “It was a good combination. Albert wasn’t an aggressive seller.”

Janice Synder, an ambassador for the exhibition, said of Frey: “He lived like he believed— man and nature, they complemented each other.”

Albert Frey: Inventive Modernist will be on display through Monday, June 3, at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center, 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The center is open from noon to 8 p.m., Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Monday. Admission is $10, with free admission every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit psam-a-and-d-center.

Albert Frey incorporated a large boulder into the design of his hillside home, called Frey House II. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Art Museum


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ith season in full swing here in our beautiful desert paradise, I have been busier than

While I enjoy the fun and lively weekly tastings we have in my little shop, I don’t have the ability at those to get nerdy and in-depth about the wines we’re pouring. For some but I’ve discovered that more and more, folks are genuinely curious about different grapes and regions,

Country Club and Cook Street

Palm De sert


heard of, from places you didn’t know existed. For this particular group, we tasted a Spanish sparkling wine from Raventos, the oldest family-owned and -operated winery in the world. It was followed by a unique white wine made from a grape called godello; a clay amphora-fermented tempranillo from Rioja; and, lastly, a beast of a red wine from the region of Jumilla made from the monastrell grape, which is known as mourvedre in France.

As we worked our way through each wine, the conversations and questions led us down various tangents where we dove into hot topics like wine scores, corks vs. screw caps, and whether there are any good Temecula wines. But above all that, there was one particular question that got me thinking: “These wines are wonderful, but I never would have thought to buy them myself. If we don’t have a sommelier on speed dial, how would we ever know to purchase these wines in a shop?”

Being in the wine business for as long as I have, I know certain insider tips, tricks and hacks. Sure, there are a ton of books out there that discuss the nuts and bolts of winemaking, grapes and places—which is all useful stuff when beginning your wineeducation journey—but the average winedrinker doesn’t necessarily want or need to know all of this information.

So this leads us back to the question of what to buy if you don’t want to drink the same wine you’ve been drinking for 10 years. How do you explore and take a leap with something new—with a little bit of confidence?

Here’s one big insider tip: When it comes to selecting wine from outside of the United States, look at the back label, and find the name of the importer. Make a note of it, and

when you taste the wine, decide if you like it or not. If you do, look for another wine from that same importer. If you find that you like that bottle, too, then you and the person selecting the wines to bring into this country have similar palates. I have found this is single-handedly the most important piece of information to have if you want to get out of your comfort zone—without flying totally blind.

Most importers I know decide what to import based partly on what they like to drink. Now, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch and decides to email me, please note I said partly. Of course there are other deciding factors, but if someone is passionate about German riesling, they’re probably not seeking out traditional Australian shiraz for their portfolio. Most importers stay in their wheelhouse.

I first discovered this little-known rule of thumb with the wines of Kermit Lynch. This man is an icon in the wine industry. He not only imports the best French and Italian wines that have ever touched my lips; he is a champion of small producers, shining a light on family growers and winemakers that would have remained largely undiscovered if not for him. Lynch is a retailer, distributor, importer, writer and musician; in my mind, this man can do no wrong.

After sipping a glorious Champagne called J. Lassalle, I noticed the very distinct Kermit Lynch trademark on the back of the label. Sometime after that, a friend shared a bottle of Champalou Vouvray with me; right then and there, not only did I discover my love for chenin blanc, but I also realized it, too, was a Kermit Lynch import. As my career continued, I was introduced to the wines of Chateau Ducasse, Marcel Lapierre, Chateau Thivin and Giuseppe Quintarelli, just to name a few. These wines had two things in common: I loved them, and they were all imported by Kermit Lynch.

Through this simple concept, I’ve learned to lean on the rieslings of Terry Theise, the South African wines brought in by Vineyard Brands, the Champagnes and sparkling wines

Want to discover a new wine you may like? A clue can be found on the back label

from Skurnik, white Burgundies imported by H. Mercer, Italian gems from Oliver McCrum, and the rosés supplied by Jeff Welburn. In my experience, Vino del Sol has always been the go-to for wines from Argentina, and Eric Solomon is known for bringing in crowdpleasing and luscious Spanish selections.

Of course, there are hundreds of companies that import wine from all over the world—

but don’t let that be a daunting thought. Instead, think of these suppliers as “wine counselors,” and it’s their job is to guide you to your next favorite discovery.

Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with two decades in the wine industry. She can be reached at katiefinnwine@

Our wine scribe has discovered numerous wines she loves by looking for the name Kermit Lynch (pictured here) on the label. Gail Skoff




At the beginning of the 19th century, European beer was in a sorry state. Standards were all over the place, and the results varied wildly. In the Bohemian town of Pilsen (now in the Czech Republic), the citizens were so exasperated by the quality of their local beer that they gathered in front of City Hall and dumped 36 kegs of beer in the street. (If you read last month’s

Country Club and Cook Street Palm De sert


resulted in a strikingly golden and extremely drinkable beer with a soft, malty body and a

Stelzer took everything into account when he built the brewery in Pilsen—from the sandstone rock it was built upon, to the access to soft-water aquifers.

Then they recruited Josef Groll. Groll had learned much from his father and had been brewing lagers from a young age. He also studied techniques and beers in England to round out his knowledge. What Groll did when he got the job made history: He used very lightly kilned pale malt, generous amounts of the spicy Saaz hop, and the incredibly soft water of the area. He then used bottomfermenting yeast and lagered it underneath the brewery in the cool sandstone caves. This

Not only had the beer-loving citizens of Pilsen been saved; the beer that was produced eventually, the entire world.

This pilsner beer’s notoriety spread with the development of railways and refrigeration to neighboring Germany, where it was made similarly, but with harder water (with high sulfate levels). This made the German versions less malty and more hop-forward. (Mind you, this is relative to the Czech pilsner, so this distinction is somewhat subtle.) Thus, the pilsner began its eventual world conquest.

With German emigration to the New World, the pilsner came along for the ride—but not all of the ingredients could join them. What these brewing emigres found in the New World was six-row barley, and native hop strains


tribute to the pilsner style, one of the truest tests of a brewer’s skill

like Cluster. The higher protein levels in the six-row barley variant were supplemented by corn to lighten the body of the beer in order to reproduce the pilsners from the old country. Then, of course, Prohibition happened, all but killing this form of the style, outside of homebrewing.

Why are pilsners so well-regarded by brewers and beer nerds the world over? With a style that relies on subtleties, there’s a corresponding necessity to create as clean of a canvas as possible to allow those subtleties to come to life. What this means is that your skill as a brewer is exposed as completely as it can be with a pilsner. Tons of hops and/or adjuncts can do a lot to cover up sins in some beers, but there is no such refuge for brewers when it comes to the pilsner.

After the folly (to put it very lightly) of Prohibition, a pale lager similar to the pilsner was brewed with ever-increasing consistency between batches—creating beer brands that had more differences in marketing than in flavor. This was exported to the rest of the world, and breweries worldwide began making their own versions of what is now known as international pale lager in the Beer Judge Certification program style guidelines (along with its lighter version, of course). Like many things, these beers have become points of pride for the people from the countries where they’re brewed—Heineken for the Dutch,

Molson for Canada, Moretti for Italy, Sapporo for Japan etc. (Good luck being able to tell the differences between them if you tasted them blindly, but you know how people get about these things.)

The recent trend in lagers toward pilsners has been welcome, because it makes it so much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to breweries. So many breweries I mention in this column’s confines deftly brew delicate styles like the pilsner. Many also use the pilsner’s subtleties to act as a springboard for other ingredients, especially hops. Hoppy pilsners are one of my favorite versions of the style, like Burgeon Beer Company’s Clever Kiwi (which is one of my picks for a trapped-on-adesert-island beer), as well as the Green Cheek Brewing versions that I’ve experienced, like their recent pilsner with the most intense and fruity expression of the Riwaka hop I’ve ever had in a beer. The style allows a beer with a delicate malt backbone to really push an added ingredient to the forefront to shine.

That said, finding a nice, crisp, traditional pilsner remains one of the great pleasures in beer-drinking—and I will continue to seek out the best examples.

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

The Pilsner Urquell, created by Josef Groll in the Bohemian town of Pilsen, is the beer that started it all. Monticellllo/
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This month, we savor seafood at two different Palm Desert restaurants

WHAT Seafood stew

WHERE Pacifica Seafood Restaurant, 73505 El Paseo, Palm Desert


CONTACT 760-674-8666; www.

WHY All the subtle flavors.

El Paseo is lined with multiple high-end seafood joints. How does a discerning seafood-lover choose among them?

I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know we (somewhat randomly) selected Pacifica Seafood Restaurant when we last faced this decision, on a cold, rainy day after a matinee at the McCallum Theatre— and we were quite glad we did.

Located on the upper floor of The Gardens on El Paseo, Pacifica offers both indoor and (mostly) covered patio seating. The décor was nice, and the service was efficient and friendly. The Manhattan I ordered hit the spot. And the food? It was impressive.

The hubby ordered the shrimp pasta in a garlic/cream/white wine sauce ($39), and our friend Bryan got the grilled swordfish ($42 for full size). I went with the seafood stew— the weather made me want something soupy and warm—and, to repeat myself, I’m very glad I did.

The broth was fantastic—flavorful, but not so much so that it overpowered the variety of fresh-tasting seafood. The stew included salmon, prawns, scallops, mussels, white fish and half of a lobster tail, as well as jasmine rice, and every bite was wonderful. Dealing with all of the shells was messy, of course, but I finished all of it and wanted more.

Bryan would also like me to tell you that his grilled swordfish (accompanied by jasmine rice, an avocado puree and tomatoes) was top-notch. The menu notes that the item is “new!”—a great addition.

The next time I’m faced with the El Paseo seafood restaurant choice, it’ll be hard to say no to Pacifica—despite the abundance of other options nearby.

WHAT Oceana tostada

WHERE Oceana Restaurant, 77932 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert


CONTACT 760-610-2517; www.

WHY The freshness.

It was a Saturday night. We had just left a function in the northern portion of Palm Desert, and we wanted dinner—so we decided to head to a place I’ve wanted to try for a while, Oceana Restaurant.


We didn’t have a reservation— and as a result, we didn’t get a table. It turns out that Oceana is very, very popular on Saturday nights in February. Fortunately, there were seats at the bar, and we grabbed ’em.

We soon learned why Oceana is so popular: The food at this Mexican-influenced seafood is quite good.

We ordered the Oceana tostada (with shrimp and octopus) as a starter; the hubby selected the chipotle shrimp ($25) as his entrée, while I went with the whole red snapper ($36). Although the snapper stayed in the fryer for a minute or two too long, everything we had was quite enjoyable—but it’s that tostada that makes my mouth water every time I think about it.

The shrimp and the octopus, of course, are at the center of the dish, and they’re complemented by fresh fruits and veggies like avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, onions and pineapple. The one word that comes to mind (other than delicious) when I think about this dish is fresh. It was a pleasure to eat in every way.

Oceana’s menu is packed with seafood delights, ranging from branzino to scallops to ahi and more. If you prefer land-based proteins, no worries; steaks, chicken and an intriguing mole poblano pork shank are also on offer.

I highly recommend Oceana, and I also highly recommend reservations. We were lucky enough to get those great bar seats—but one’s luck can always run out, after all.

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Purple Room

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Open Thursday through Tuesday

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Restaurant NEWS BITES


At least three new Coachella Valley markets are now open or in the works.

First up: Haines Packing Company opened in December at 79775 Highway 111, Suite F103, in La Quinta; this independently owned, Alaska-based company focuses on sustainable seafood, with everything purchased directly from fisherfolks and artisan seafood producers. Learn more about them at—or go into the store to see what they have.

Spice Rack, an Indian grocery store, has opened in Cathedral City at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite E101-102, with a wide variety of Indian pickles, frozen foods, spices and snacks. This is a fun shop and well worth checking out. The website doesn’t have a lot of information, so go in and get inspired.

Finally, Sprouts Farmers Market is coming to Palm Springs, in the former Bed Bath and Beyond space, at 5200 E. Ramon Road, just a couple of doors down from Aldi. Scheduled to open by the end of 2024, this grocery store is known for offering organic, gluten-free, plant-based, non-GMO products at affordable prices. Learn more at


Taste of Tennis is back at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa, 44600 Indian Wells Lane, in Indian Wells, from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, March 4. Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa will debut two new restaurants at the resort, Tia Carmen and Carmocha, during the event. Taste of Tennis celebrates both cuisine and tennis (most notably the BNP Paribas Open, which starts the same week); guests, including current players and tennis legends, will enjoy music and savor delicious bites and signature cocktails. Learn more at get tickets, which are $250, at

Palm Desert Food and Wine returns to The Gardens on El Paseo from Thursday, March 21, through Sunday, March 24, with some impressive celebrity chefs, including the Food Network’s Tyler Florence, and Dominique Crenn, of three-Michelin-star restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. Tickets to individual events range from $40 to $250; get them, along with more information, at


If you have always wanted to make pasta at home, but don’t know how—or you want to improve— executive chef Jeremy Loomis at Trio, 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, can help. He has launched a series of two-hour classes, during which he shares his passion for pasta-making. The classes, which range in price from $95 to $125, include wine, a two-course lunch, hands-on instruction, recipe cards and a bag of pasta to take home. Reservations may be made by calling 760-864-8746. Learn more at


The space formally occupied by Shame On the Moon, at 69950 Frank Sinatra Drive, in Rancho Mirage, will soon reopen as Foxy’s Kitchen and Bar. The team is planning on an April 15 opening. In the meantime, they have started a wine club with all sorts of interesting benefits. See the full menu and learn more at … New to La Quinta: Ms. Boba, at 79485 Highway 111, serves a variety of milk tea, smoothies and slushies. Learn more by searching for Ms. Boba on Facebook. … Shorebird Coastal Kitchen, with locations in Newport Beach and Sedona, Ariz., has opened a third location at 73061 El Paseo, Suite 8, in Palm Desert. The restaurant offers a wide range of seafood as well as land-based proteins; this looks like a great addition to the valley’s dining scene. Learn more at … The Pantry at Holiday House, at 200 W. Arenas Road, in Palm Springs, has started brunch service on its patio—with a South-of-France flair. The sweet and savory menu pairs perfectly with rosé wines and champagnes. Highlights include the “shellfish plateau” for sharing, Dutch baby pancakes, and fried chicken and waffles. Check out all the deliciousness at Tony’s Burgers is opening a second location at the former location of Pete’s Hideaway, at 665 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. It’ll be called Tony’s Grill and Bar, and I am told they are trying to open by the end of March. Watch for updates. Finally, a farewell, of sorts: Rick’s Restaurant and Bakery, at 1973 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—an institution for nearly 30 years (and my favorite breakfast spot)—is closing its doors due to the end of its lease. Thankfully, the owner’s other restaurant, Rick’s Desert Grill, close by at 1596 N. Palm Canyon Drive, will begin offering breakfast. See the full menu at

Have hot tip or news to share? Reach out:


DJ trio Dry Heat offers underground music events for the queer community

Mario Lalli and other local legends join together for the Rubber Snake Charmers’ debut LP Jayce Levi is getting ready to reopen Sunny Sounds Recording Studio and Repairland in Indio The members of Domestic Stars, about to release their debut EP, mix fun with dark lyrics The Venue Report: Madonna, Melissa Etheridge, Reverend horton Heat—and More!


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Another supergroup of local desert-rock pioneers has assembled and created a new album— and, of course, it’s a desert-centric musical experience.

The group is called Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, and the band’s debut record features Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man) on bass; Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu) on guitar; Ryan Güt (Brant Bjork, Stoner) on drums; and Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag) on vocals. The

band has featured various other musicians at times, as the group is heavy on improvisation and jams—but the record, Folklore From the Other Desert Cities, is a live recording of a show in Gold Coast, Australia. The album is due out March 29.

“The idea for this band started back in, like, 2011,” Lalli said during a recent phone interview. “I was living in Los Angeles, and my regular bands, Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man, were a bit spread out. There was a member from each of those bands living here in the desert, and then vice versa—where now I’m living in the desert, and half of Fatso Jetson is in L.A. We’ve always had a challenge to get together regularly, rehearse and write, and act as a normal working band. We’ve managed to do it … but with that downtime, I always love to keep playing in some respect, and I’ve always been a jammer.

“Early on, back in the ’80s, we started to enjoy improvisation, but not any kind of schooled improvisation with some sort of musical theory behind it like jazz improvisation. This is just really a bunch of friends getting in the garage and making noise, and sometimes … it would start to take the form of something rather musical. We did this a lot, and I did it for years with all my brothers—Alfredo Hernandez, Gary Arce, my cousin Larry Lalli, Tony Tornay and then, later, with Jerrod Elliott, who still performs with the Rubber Snake Charmers. … With that practice and that comfort level, after years, it started to make more musical sense, and we developed these pathways that we would travel musically, and a chemistry started to build.”

The Rubber Snake Charmers performed one of their first shows at Cobraside Distribution, a vinyl distributor based in Glendale, around 2013.

“The idea started to take form that it was almost like a club, and the club was guys who enjoy improvising, are willing to get up in front of people and do it with zero rehearsal, and who have something to say when they do that,” Lalli said.

Lalli said about 20 different performers have been part of this club, but things began to change course when Yawning Man went on tour with Stoner (Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and

Ryan Güt).

“One of the guys in Yawning Man got ill, and we couldn’t do the tour, so instead of finding another support band, Brant was like, ‘Dude, why don’t we just do an old-school desert jam session before the Stoner set?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got a thing that I do, and have done over the years, and it has a name.’ We did it on that tour, and it was very successful in the way that we had an instant chemistry.”

On Folklore From the Other Desert Cities, vocalist Sean Wheeler complements the improvisation by reading from his book Dry Heat, a collection of poems and words all about the desert. Wheeler was performing in a similar fashion under the name Dry Heat, reading his poetry while desert musicians (sometimes including Lalli) jammed—and put on a puppet show.

“Fast forward, we got another opportunity to open shows for the band Stoner, and this time, it was a tour in Australia, and we basically drew from the Dry Heat experience with the poems and stories from that book,” Lalli said. “… That would become the content for the performance that was recorded in the Gold Coast, which is this album that we’re releasing. It was really cool the way it came out; it was very organic. … There was zero planning, which is great, because when we perform the music, I think the only planning is who’s going to play. I have a huddle before the show, and I say, ‘OK guys, less is more. Let’s all listen; don’t start off at 11 volume; let’s start off really sparse and mellow. Just let it build, and watch Sean.’ He’s got the hardest job; he has to put words to all this cacophony. Sean and myself, we kind of both share the role as the conductor.”

Lalli admitted the difference between the Dry Heat band and the Rubber Snake Charmers is somewhat nebulous.

“Dry Heat is basically specific to the material in the book, that group of poems, and that is a primary source for Sean in the Snake Charmer performances, but it’s not exclusive to that, and in the future, if Sean is part of a Snake Charmers performance, he’ll be doing stuff different from Dry Heat,” Lalli said. “Both projects came together in a confusing way, because we were doing both at the same time, but there are Snake Charmer performances that Sean

Mario Lalli and other local legends join together in improvisation for the Rubber Snake Charmers’ debut LP

may not be able to attend, or Brant may not be able to attend or Ryan, and I will pull together a different group of guys. … I don’t even have to be there. Let’s say I’m off playing bass for Brant and me, and Brant and Ryan, the rhythm section for the record, we’re not available, but somebody says, ‘Hey, we’d like to have the Rubber Snake Charmers play at The Hood.’ I’d call my son and say, ‘Hey Dino, do you want to host and, for lack of a better term, be the musical director for a Snake Charmers performance?’ Knowing him, he’d say yeah, and he would get on the phone and find a bass player and a drummer and a sax player or a keyboard player, and the Snake Charmers would perform. It’s not exclusive to any one person.”

Lalli said the spontaneous nature of the Rubber Snake Charmers has opened the eyes of some participating musicians.

“The guys who grew up playing more traditionally in live bands, who write songs and rehearse and then perform those songs, always voice real gratitude for the experience,” Lalli said. “They’re like, ‘Wow, it’s a really cool exercise in being spontaneous and creative, and also being vulnerable.’ It just depends on your ego. Like, ‘Do I want to look like some guy up here just making noise?’ And, ‘If I clear out the bar right now, is that going to be a bummer for me?’ It’s a selfish, self-indulgent action, but therein lies the art. There have been a couple

(of shows) that were hard, and it’s especially, again, hard for Sean. When you’re playing an instrument, you can go on and on and on and on, and if it gets weird, it gets weird, whatever—you make some noise, and you regroup and get back on a groove, but with Sean, he can’t do that. He’s saying words, and the words have to be placed. He’s the focus of attention in the eyes of the audience, and if the music isn’t delivering something he is inspired by, it can be a very uncomfortable, even frustrating position to be in … but it’s only been a couple times out of many, many, many performances.”

Since the Rubber Snake Charmers excel in the realm of improvisational jamming, it’s only right that their first album is ripped straight from a live show.

“We’ve recorded some stuff with us four— me, Sean, Brant and Ryan at a studio—and it’s cool, and when I listen back to it now, there are some really amazing moments, but it’s very different,” Lalli said. “Your mindset in the studio is just so different than when there are people watching and listening. The Snake Charmers will not always be live recordings, but it certainly made sense for this one, because it was actually an inspired performance—and captured really well.”

For more information, visit

Mario Lalli.










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Every great music community needs both a quality instrument-repair shop and a good recording studio.

Fortunately, the Coachella Valley has Jayce Levi. The owner of Sunny Sounds Recording Studio and Repairland is moving his businesses from Palm Springs to Indio, with a scheduled April 5 reopening. He offers studio sessions with top-notch gear and a comfy recording environ-

ment under the Sunny Sounds name, and is a wizard instrument tech under the Repairland moniker. Since he closed his Palm Springs location in January, Levi has been doing pickups, deliveries and pop-ups for Repairland.

During a recent phone interview, the New York native talked about his music history.

“I started playing drums and percussion when I was in elementary school, and I was in the all-state jazz band when I lived in New York,” Levi said. “When I was about a junior in high school, I had a really bad accident—I fell and shattered my hand, and I couldn’t play the drums anymore, which was kind of terrible. I was basing my whole life off my ability to play the drums, so I had to really rethink.”

As he endured several reconstructive surgeries, he started playing other instruments—and recording music.

“I still have a metal plate in my knuckle,” he said. “Now I’m all healed up, but back then, I was like, ‘Oh, my life’s over; I’ve got to do something.’ I started recording myself, and started getting into MySpace and promoting myself on MySpace—and that led me to get a record deal with Drive-Thru Records.”

That was with a band called Secret Secret Dino Club, whose first release on Drive-Thru Records was a split EP with Allstar Weekend. After a few tours and the 2009 album Look Cat Meow, Levi moved on to other endeavors, founding the band Astro Safari USA, and writing much of Allstar Weekend’s album All the Way on Hollywood Records (owned by Disney). He even was in a kids’ band, Poop Emoji.

“I started writing for other people and started writing music for TV shows—and I was kind of all over the place,” Levi said. “It was really fast-paced, and I wasn’t into it after a little while; I got pretty burnt out. I wanted to do something that was a little different that didn’t necessarily depend on getting involved in the industry. … I did about 700 kids’ gigs, and that got me pretty burnt out, too, so I had to really re-evaluate what I wanted to do.”

In search for a career move, Levi focused on a longtime love of fixing guitars.

“I’d always fix all my bands’ instruments on the road and other bands’ instruments, so I really focused on that and started honing

my skills and getting certified from different vendors and stuff to do repairs for them,” said Levi. “I was working out of my garage, and then I started doing the mobile service, and then as the mobile service grew, I had too many guitars in my house, so I opened my shop.”

Repairland was born—and Sunny Sounds was close behind, as Levi began offering recording and production services. Considering he’s responsible for more than 55 million streams across music platforms, and more than a decade of musical output, Levi felt he “had a lot to offer.”

“As I opened my shop, and people were like, ‘We want to record,’ I wanted to bring my skills back,” Levi said. “… So I kind of focused my efforts on that. I was in Palm Springs for about a year. I saw the writing on the wall that everyone who was coming to my shop and my studio was coming from the east side of the valley … so when my lease was up, and I didn’t really want to be in Palm Springs anymore, I started to make the move to Indio, and started to talk to the city about renting a spot out there.”

Levi said he really enjoys doing repairs.

“A lot of crazy stuff has walked in the door of my shop,” Levi said. “… It’s really a blessing, and it’s kind of crazy how many instruments are really out in this valley, and how many special instruments are out here from old rock stars. I’ve worked on a guitar played by Jerry Garcia, and one played by Jimi Hendrix—so I’ve seen pretty much everything I could imagine, and more, out here in the desert.”

Levi said he allows owners to watch what he’s doing with each instrument.

“I think I’m the only repair guy I’ve ever met who fixes stuff in front of people, or does pop-ups, and will fix guitars live in person,” Levi said. “I’ve never seen anyone else do that, and that always kind of boggled my mind.

Why can’t people watch? Why can’t people be involved in their repairs on their instruments?

Being out here, I hear all kinds of horror stories (about) other repair men and people who’ve had really bad experiences getting their guitars fixed, or they pay $100, and they have no idea what the person did. I hear that pretty much every day, so I’ve been trying to really

Jayce Levi is getting ready to reopen Sunny Sounds Recording Studio and Repairland in Indio

change how the business is done, and trying to get more honesty and integrity into it. It’s like getting your car fixed: If you don’t know a lot about cars, you bring it in, and you put yourself in a place to be taken advantage of. I was seeing a lot of people out here being taken advantage of, and I thought that was wrong, and I wanted to kind of reinvent the model of how guitars are being fixed.”

Levi’s move to Indio is coming at a time of revitalization for the city’s downtown.

“I really feel the energy is shifting to Indio, especially with the kind of people who I want to work with and be involved with—people who are hungry to get better and take their careers further, or they want to work really hard,” Levi said. “… There’s a young scene here that’s growing really fast.”

On the recording side, Levi said he’s working to make sure customers get timely, cost-effective and worthwhile recording sessions.

“I know that people are tired of paying to have to set up their stuff, so my plan is to have everything already set up—you just plug it in, and everything’s ready to record,” Levi said. “It

keeps prices down. … I’ve tried to use technology to automate the process a lot more so you can get a lot more done in a lot shorter time than you can with other people. That might not be something everybody’s interested in, but there are a lot of people who just want to come in and record a song.

Sunny Sounds in Palm Springs featured open-mic nights where Levi would record people’s performances—and give the recordings to them.

“I think that’s really important for people, when they do performances, to be able to hear what they sound like—and not just on an iPhone recording, but what it would sound like if someone really took time and recorded you and made you sound their best,” he said. … “That was something that was important to me when I was in my last space, and I’m hoping to continue that energy into Indio.”

Sunny Sounds Recording Studio and Repairland is slated to open April 5 at 45250 Smurr St., in Indio. For more information, visit www.instagram. com/sunny__sounds.

Jayce Levi: “I think I’m the only repair guy I’ve ever met who fixes stuff in front of people, or does pop-ups, and will fix guitars live in person. I’ve never seen anyone else do that, and that always kind of boggled my mind. Why can’t people watch?”



The Coachella Valley is rich with both music events and LGBTQ+ events—but local DJs Dr. Time, AA and E.Feld noticed there was nothing resembling an underground party for queer folks.

So they started one.

Dr. Time (Justin Lenzi), AA (Aaron Aldorisio) and E.Feld (Erik Grosfeld) created Dry Heat,

a music collective dedicated to providing inclusive spaces for the local queer community—in other words, music-focused alternatives to mainstream gay culture and club events. You can catch the group at the Barracks on Friday, March 15, with DJ Prosumer, and at the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel on Thursday, March 28.

During a recent phone interview with Aldorisio, he explained why Dry Heat began.

“I came from Los Angeles; they both came from San Francisco, and we saw a lack of the sort of queer music-focused parties we like to go to in the cities we came from, so we started throwing a little party ourselves,” Aldorisio said. “Just over a year ago, the last Thursday of January 2023, we did the first one. We call it Dry Heat, just because the name made sense with the desert. We were doing it the last Thursday of the month in the back room of Wendy’s Hideout (aka Pete’s Hideaway), which is now out of business. … We started getting asked to play outside gigs, like we played at Splash House last year, and we’ve played at big warehouse parties in L.A.

At Dry Heat events, the DJs focus on diverse music—and a diversity of attendees.

“Palm Springs has obviously a huge gay population, and there are lots of circuit-type events where (the music) is more mainstream EDM, but they’re not really as focused on playing diverse music, and they’re more focused on a night out for gay men,” Aldorisio said. “We wanted to do something more queer and inclusive that was all about the music and not necessarily about the sexual or flirting element of it. It’s definitely social, but it’s a queer party, and all are welcome. We’re focused on playing underground house music and techno that we didn’t really hear coming from any of the other gay parties in town.”

Aldorisio said Dry Heat events have “grown and grown” over the last year.

“Luckily, between the three of us and the amount of out-of-town friends we have coming through all the time, we’ve been able to build a good following,” he said. “As we expanded, we’ve started doing it at places like the Tool Shed, a traditional old-school leather bar—and we’re bringing in women,

trans folks and more feminine folks, who are coming for the music. At the same time, some of the regular customers, the older leather guys, they’re saying how excited they are to hear house music or dance music being played, and have their space kind of turned into a dance party for the night.”

One of Dry Heat’s highlights thus far: playing at a Splash House afterparty.

“That happened about five or six months into us just kind of starting this thing,” Aldorisio said. “We got a great reception for that, and we’ve been booked for a lot of stuff because of that, like outside gigs that aren’t our own party. (At the Splash House afterparty), we got to play to a few thousand people at the Palm Springs Air Museum, and we opened for Purple Disco Machine, who my stepdaughter—who is 21 and listens to more mainstream EDM—was very excited about. We kind of have these fairy godmothers, Heidi Lawden and Masha Mar, who are big DJs in L.A. and old friends of mine, who played on that bill, too, and they made it comfortable for us. It was a very surreal experience, but the feedback’s been great.”

DJ trio Dry Heat offers underground music events for the queer community

Dry Heat’s performance at the Amigo Room on Thursday, March 28, will be the final show of their “Last Thursdays” residency there.

“We played our first one in January, and we packed the Amigo Room on a Thursday night until closing,” he said. “People were dancing, and it was a great mix of our local friends and some hotel guests and people who just read about it online and showed up and wanted to see something different. We actually played there once before in November; we did a takeover of the Amigo Room on Friday night and then played poolside Saturday. … We’ve been getting good responses, and every time they’ve been different but good crowds. Every time I play the Amigo Room, it’s really good fun.”

Aldorisio said he and his fellow DJs are dedicated to providing great events for musiclovers, the queer community and beyond.

“As we get older as queer men, and more people we know become the age where they want to move to Palm Springs, we want to be there for people of our generation who grew up going to warehouse parties and queer raves and things of that nature,” Aldorisio said. “Also, I know there are a lot of young people in the valley who are actually straight, or queer, or what have you, who are interested in that kind of music, and there are not a lot of spaces for them to get it. We’re always going to be community-focused, and we wouldn’t ever continue Dry Heat if it wasn’t rooted here in the Coachella Valley. That’s one of our

founding principles: We’re a local based party. We’re not coming in from San Francisco or some other city trying to just throw a party here and make money. We’re trying to do something for the place we live in, and fill a gap in the culture we didn’t see when we all landed here.”

If you’ve read this, and you’re on the fence about Dry Heat, Aldorisio personally invites you to come experience it firsthand.

“It’s a very casual environment where if you’re coming to hear good music and dance and be around people who are in the same boat, that’s what it is,” he said. “You can come dressed however you want, with whatever orientation or attitude or mood or anything you’re in. The party is there, and it’s about the music and dancing, and we’re trying to just play underground dance music for people out here. If they want to hear it, they should feel welcome at our party.”

Dry Heat will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, March 15, with DJ Prosumer at the Barracks, 67625 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. Advance tickets are $10. For more information, visit Dry Heat will perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 28, at the Amigo Room, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The event is free, but attendees must be 21+. For more information, visit Learn more about Dry Heat at www.instagram. com/dryheat_ps.

Dr. Time (Justin Lenzi), AA (Aaron Aldorisio) and E.Feld (Erik Grosfeld).



ne of the valley’s newest bands is being welcomed with open arms by desert creatives.

Indie-rock group Domestic Stars features Jeff Aquino (guitar and vocals), Lauren Brennan (guitar and vocals), Riley Baker (bass and vocals) and Alex Renteria (drums). They mix light-hearted and fun group dynamics with emotional lyrics—crafting a unique musical mix, which they intend to put on full display on their debut EP, coming as soon as


During a recent phone interview with Aquino, Baker, and Brennan, they explained how Domestic Stars was formed thanks to Gré Records and Coffee.

“We all pretty much met here,” Aquino said. “…. Lauren had been frequenting open mics, and how it happened was really strange, because it was just Alex and I for a minute.”

Added Brennan: “You texted me and you were like, ‘Hey, I just started the band; do you want to come in and see if you like the vibe? We need a bassist. I came in one day and I got this $50 bass, and I started playing bass for the band.”

Baker explained that Brennan moved to guitar when he returned to the area from Northern California. “Bass is actually my main instrument, so I was very happy to step

in since I used to work with Jeff, and Lauren and I have known each other for years.”

Domestic Stars has experienced a lot of love since the band started performing, they said.

“It’s been such a cool experience, being able to perform in a lot of different settings in the valley,” Brennan said. “We had backyard shows … and then a great gig at Bart Lounge. It seems to me that there’s a great group of people, and no matter where we go in the valley, they’re very welcoming and just very supportive of new artists. After almost every gig, people are coming up to us like, ‘You guys are great! Where can we find you?’”

Aquino gave some shoutouts to members of the local music scene who helped the band.

“Danza De Luna from Bart Lounge, he worked with us, and he’s doing really cool things at Bart Lounge, like helping out local acts,” Aquino said. “… We did our last gig in Sky Valley, and we had people from Town Troubles there. Grease Trap was there, Lazuli Bones—and everyone was helping. Even Madi (Ebersole, frontwoman of Lazuli Bones), she was helping us out during our set, fixing the lights and stuff.”

They said they were surprised to see how crazy some of the crowds can get.

“I have a jazz and orchestra background when it comes to bass, so getting to be in an environment where people are actually dancing and stuff is wild, and it’s so fun,” Baker said. “I’m having the time of my life actually seeing people enthusiastic and moshing. It’s very fulfilling to see people actively enjoying the music instead of just sitting there staring at you in an auditorium playing some classical shit.”

The band recently performed at Bart Lounge for a special Scott Pilgrim theme night. Domestic Stars performed songs from the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and invited people to cosplay as characters from the movie. Aquino said the band has been influenced by the film.

“There’s so much stuff in there that is teeming with pop culture that it’s hard not to be influenced by something in Scott Pilgrim,” he said. “… Another cool thing about that is it did so well that it was able to, a billion years later, bring a whole bunch of people from the

The members of Domestic Stars, about to release their debut EP, mix fun with dark lyrics

valley together and really have a moment with each other.”

Baker said the event featured some impressive cosplay.

“We had this one person dress up as Envy Adams (played in the film by Brie Larson), and during the second or third set of the night, when we played ‘Black Sheep,’ she was standing up there with a fake microphone lip-syncing. We pulled her up to the front, and everyone made a circle around this random person. It was totally like acting in a shadow cast.”

While the band can be goofy, their original music often explores darker, more serious themes.

“Jeff wrote this great song called ‘Drown’ about Hurricane Hilary,” Brennan said. “We were supposed to practice right as it was rolling in, and I was going through it, as I always am. I sent a text in the group chat, and I was like, ‘Let the flood take me; let the flood wash me away. I am so done.’ Jeff was like, ‘This is a great idea for song.’ He wrote ‘Drown,’ and it’s this really cool, oddly beautiful song.”

Aquino explained: “I went to practice, and I drove through the hurricane, and the thing is, I really felt like I could have died. I told myself, ‘If I get home, I’m just going to do this song.’”

Another song, “Inverted World,” is about regrets and missing out on things, while another, “i am (dead),” is about hands reaching out from the ground. Aquino went so far as to describe the band’s subject material as “all bummer shit.”

Baker explained: “I think lots of us in the band gravitate toward really grotesque imagery, and we all are a little bit unstable. We all are kind of poetic, in a sense, so I think we just turn that into whatever we can. We pull inspiration for our sound from the’80s gothic stuff, and I’m really into gothic literature, 1800s type stuff, so I think we kind of all just draw from that for our vibe s.”

Domestic Stars plans to release their debut EP in March, although they said that could change, because they want to make sure they put out a quality first recording, with the help of a sound engineer/producer.

“We want to make it the best we can,” Brennan said. “We want to put out real good quality, and if we’re not happy with the way that it shows up, we’re going to try our best to be as good as we can.”

For more information, visit domesticstars.

March 2024

Storm Large

Happy March! Here’s what you can expect from the valley’s vast entertainment scene this month.

Acrisure Arena is offering a fascinating variety of shows. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 2, pro wrestling returns to Palm Desert for WWE Road to Wrestlemania. Catch the high-flying action from some of the best in sports entertainment! Tickets start at $26. The legendary Madonna celebrates four decades of hits on “The Celebration Tour,” at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 13. Resale tickets started at $225 as of this writing. Enjoy the return of bona fide rodeo with the PBR: Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, spending two evenings at Acrisure, at 8 p.m., Friday, March 15; and 7 p.m., Saturday, March 16. Tickets start at $26, or $71.50 for a two-day pass. At 7 p.m., Friday, March 22, country star and longtime coach on The Voice Blake Shelton brings some twangy jams to the desert. Resale tickets started at $161 as of this writing. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 29, Puerto Rican rapper and “King of Reggaeton” Don Omar heads to the valley. Tickets start at $107. Acrisure Arena, 75702 Varner Road, Palm Desert; 888-695-8778;

The McCallum Theatre features a number of engaging stage shows. Historic Broadway smash Chicago will run for five performances, from Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 3. Tickets range from $65 to $145. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 5, funnyman Brad Williams brings high-energy standup to town. Tickets range from $35 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9, musician, actor, author, playwright and sheer talent Storm Large will share an evening of songs from her solo career and work with Pink Martini, Michael Feinstein and her own band, Le Bonheur. Tickets range from $45 to $85. McCallum favorite and genreshifters Pink Martini will give the locals the music they love during six straight shows. Performances run from Wednesday, March

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Domestic Stars.
The Venue REPORT
Laura Domela

13, through Sunday, March 17. Tickets range from $55 to $95. At 3 p.m., Sunday, March 24, the revue show composed of all-star magicians heads to Palm Desert as It’s Magic! celebrates its 66th edition. Tickets range from $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.

Fantasy Springs has a busy March; here are some highlights. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 1, 1990s hitmakers Gin Blossoms head to Indio. Tickets range from $39 to $89. Comedian and podcast host Tim Dillon is set to bring the laughs at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9 Tickets range from $39 to $99. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, enjoy an ’00s R&B party with your host, Diamond selling, Grammy Award-winning rap sensation Nelly. Tickets range from $59 to $139. Rock star, superstar and activist Melissa Etheridge will perform a mix of easy and blues rock gems at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 30. Tickets range from $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29 is all about tribute acts this month! At 3 p.m., Thursday, March 7, the “Ultimate Elvis,” Justin Shandor, pays respects to The King. The show is free. The Beatles never had the chance to perform their hits in a live orchestral setting, but Classical Mystery Tour pays tribute to The Fab Four with a live string section, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9. Tickets start at $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 15, experience musicaltribute royalty with Killer Queen, honoring the energy and sounds of the rock-anthem legends. Tickets start at $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760775-5566;

Morongo tickets are moving fast! Here’s what was left as of our print deadline. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 15, ’80s funkateers Cameo will bring a nonstop groove to Cabazon. Tickets start at $49. At 6 p.m., Sunday, March 24, country-pop star Russell

The Venue REPORT

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Dickerson will perform an intimate show. Tickets start at $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-2524499;

Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage boasts a stacked lineup; here are some highlights.

At 8 p.m., Friday, March 1, the extremely recognizable voice of legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson comes to Rancho Mirage. Tickets range from $85 to $225. Three ’80s bands are teaming up for 80’s Fest, happening at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 2, and featuring Berlin, The Hooters and The Smithereens. Tickets range from $35 to $75. America’s Got Talent’s Daniel Emmet and American Idol’s Pia Toscano are teaming up for an evening of song at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 6—and they’ll be backed by The Desert Symphony. Tickets range from $45 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, Joey Fatone (*NSYNC) and AJ McLean (Backstreet Boys) will take the stage for a night of boy-band hits. Tickets range from $50 to $150. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Three events at Agua Caliente in Cathedral City are not to be missed! At 9 p.m., Friday, March 1, catch a free show by the high energy, genre-mixing Los Garza’z. Cathedral City celebrates LGBT Days with a performance from comedian River Butcher at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, the rockers behind hits like “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” Blue Öyster Cult, will grace the Agave Caliente Terraza stage. Tickets are $50. Agua Caliente Cathedral City, 68960 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 888-999-1995; www.

The residences at Agua Caliente Palm Springs roll on in March. Desert Blues Revival Wednesdays feature the blues/Americana mix of Allison August (March 6); a Blues Brothers tribute led by local luminaries The Gand Band (March 13); radio host, comedian

and local musician Brad Mercer and his band The Profile (March 20); and the local fiery guitar of Laurie Morvan Band (March 27). Shows are at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $15 to $19, available at eventspalmsprings. com. Jazzville Thursdays bring a tribute to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass from Marty Lush and His Latin Livers for Jazzville’s sixth anniversary (March 7); legendary saxman Bob Sheppard and his quintet, featuring vocalist Maria Puga Lareo (March 14); the jazzy sound combination of Austin-based vocalist Christian Wiggs, firebrand trumpeter Danny Jonokuchi and the Kevin van den Elzen Quintet (March 21), and the eight-piece timecapsule pop sound of Jerry Costanzo and His Gotham City Swingers (March 28). 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 the live-music goods! At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 5, psychobilly surf-rock heavyweights Reverend Horton Heat will return to Pappy’s. Tickets are $35. Longtime Ty Segall collaborator Charles Moothart brings his own garage-rock gems to town at 10:30 p.m., Friday, March 15. Tickets are $18. At 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 24, the folk sounds of Dawes meet the indie-pop jams of Lucius when the two bands perform as one band. Tickets start at $45. The neo-psychedelic project of country icon Willie Nelson’s son Micah Nelson, Particle Kid, visits the high desert at 9 p.m., Sunday, March 24. Tickets are $20. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 30, ska sensation Save Ferris returns to the desert after a previous sold-out show. Tickets are $39.50. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-228-2222; www.

Oscar’s in Palm Springs is bringing in some surprises. At 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23, experience an intimate evening with Latin

hip-hop and freestyle diva Lisa Lisa. Tickets start at $29.95. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, David Marino, the multilingual jazz crooner and finalist of Canada’s The Voice, heads to town. Tickets start at $40. Tickets are moving fast to see Palm Springs favorites Branden and James with special guest Effie Passero as they perform songs from their joint album. Tickets start at $39.95. At 7 and 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 29, comedian Willie Barcena is set to bring the laughs. Tickets start at $39.95. 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;

Tickets are moving fast over at the Purple Room. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, Andrea McArdle, the original Annie on Broadway, brings tales and tunes from a lifetime onstage. Tickets start at $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, Chadwick Johnson performs songs from Michael Bolton, Michael McDonald and the legendary George Michael. Tickets are $40. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, Broadway star and television performer Karen Mason pays tribute to songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb. Tickets start at $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.

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LUCKY 13 the

Get to better know a legendary drummer, and the bassist for a great local band

MORE INFO There’s no denying the massive impact the Smashing Pumpkins have had on music—and there’s a reason why the band’s very first single, “I Am One,” started off with a rolling drum intro. Frontman Billy Corgan’s distinct vocal sneer and powerful guitar helped create hits like “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Zero” and “1979,” but drummer Jimmy Chamberlin’s creatively tight percussion work turned the songs into unforgettable works of art. His jazz fusion project, Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, is set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s on Sunday, March 10. Tickets start at $35. For more info, visit pappyandharriets. com. Don’t miss a chance to see a rock legend in such an intimate venue!

What was the first concert you attended?

The Oscar Peterson Trio, featuring Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald. I was 12 or 13. It was here, this night, that I decided I wanted to be a professional musician.

What was the first album you owned?

Deep Purple, Who Do We Think We Are

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mostly classic jazz with some scatterings of video game soundtracks like Guilty Gear -Strive-.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Pop.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1980s Brit/power pop: Squeeze, Crowded House/Split Enz, Rockpile, etc.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hollywood Bowl.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“It’s a small world, after all …”

What band or artist changed your life?

Miles Davis/Tony Williams. I learned that a singular musical ideology, if it’s right, can transcend all genres.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Carly Simon: Who is “You’re So Vain” really about?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Fela Kuti, “Water No Get Enemy.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Shoot me, because I don’t have just one.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

John Lennon, “Imagine.”

MORE INFO Local band Tourists have only released a few songs so far—but those songs have proven to be quite popular. At a recent performance, I saw the crowd singing and dancing along to their mash of groovy, anthemic pop rock; the vibes being expressed by the members of Tourists revolve around positivity and fun. The band is set to perform on Thursday, March 21, at Plan B in Thousand Palms. For more information, visit Bassist Billy Gargan handles the low end of the poppy jams with his beautiful five-string bass.

What was the first concert you attended?

A Van Halen concert in 2013 when they went on their “Different Kind of Truth” tour. I saw Eddie Van Halen perform “Eruption” live, and it was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in music, aside from becoming a musician myself. Rest in peace, one of the great ones.

What was the first album you owned?

The first physical album I’ve ever owned was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly on vinyl. It is truly a masterpiece in the world of hiphop, is considered one of the greatest albums conceptually in its respective genre, and is toptier in my book.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m currently all over the board right now. Some of my major influences in my writing and bass-playing style are classic and modern funk groups, such as CHIC and Vulfpeck, while artists in J-Rock, alternative and punk influence our writing for Tourists material. I’ve really been listening to indie, nu-jazz and sample-heavy hip-hop such as Men I Trust, Domi and JD Beck, MF DOOM, the Alchemist, Nujabes, KNOWER and Casiopea. Ultimately, I have been appreciating the music scene out here, and bands such as Destroy Nothing (formerly Analog Lab), TV Screams, Lazuli Bones, Caña, Town Troubles and the Divines have been on rotation for me.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I try not to discriminate based on any music genre, because it’s all subjective; however, I don’t understand the obsession behind Taylor Swift. I know I will probably receive much backlash for this, especially if my students read it. (I’m sorry.) The obsession is something I just don’t understand. Her concerts are also crazy expensive, especially during her Eras Tour. Four figures for some nosebleeds is not really a rational thought to Me.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

One of my favorite artists of all time is Prince, so being able to see him (or the Revolution) would definitely be on the top of my list. Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Jaco Pastorius (bass influence) and Mac Miller would also be acts I would kill to see live. I’ve seen Mac Miller once before, but I would have appreciated it more if I knew we would not have him for much longer after I saw him.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

One is Dua Lipa, as her music is catchy and extremely fun to play on bass. Her songs were some of the first I learned on bass, and it also made me look more into funk and disco acts such as CHIC and Vulfpeck because of the influences I see in her music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

One of my favorite venues in Los Angeles is the Wiltern, as it has large neon signs and a beautiful interior that feels like an old theater. Locally, I really love Little Street Music Hall in downtown Indio. What Avenida Music is doing is truly amazing, giving local artists in the Coachella Valley, including Tourists, an opportunity to perform and a platform to grow.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

I can’t really give a specific lyric, but I always have melodies that are ingrained in there. Songs like “Diamond Eyes” by Deftones or “Big Man, Little Dignity” by Paramore are both songs that are stuck in my head for some reason.

What band or artist changed your life?

Gorillaz. This band was one of the first bands I got into, and I got into them really young (probably when I was 5 or 6 years old). Their impact on my perception of music is also one of our primary inspirations for Tourists, and it’s everlasting. The music video era is an era I miss in music, because it gave the listener an opportunity to see music in the artist’s perception. With their releases of Song Machine, Season One and Cracker Island, they always kill it in their animation, visuals, character design and plot/stories. They were and still are groundbreaking to me.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

To Thundercat: Why are you so damn good at the bass? You inspire me to play more and get better, but other times, you inspire me to quit. Thank you, Stephen.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“El Mañana,” Gorillaz.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

My brains would be blown out by now, because this changes all the time. For now, I will say Metaphorical Music by Nujabes. However, MAGIC! by Tourists is going to be an absolute banger (spring 2024). Stay tuned for that.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Rent Free” off the Tourists EP. It will prepare you for the album. Be ready!



“Strong Suits”—dealing with another puzzle.


1. As of yet

6. Judge’s seat, in law

10. Ray Donovan actor Schreiber

14. Jumper cable terminal

15. As well

16. Give the creepy eye to

17. Remove all the dirt and grime from

19. Server operating system

20. Release

21. Three-part vacuum tube in old TVs

23. “___ Little Tenderness”

24. Becomes enraged

25. Double sextet

28. Borrower

29. 2001 high-tech debut

30. Apt answer for this clue

32. It had a hub at JFK

35. Keanu’s Matrix role

36. What you may need

to do to understand the four sets of circled letters

37. Talking computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey

38. Slippery tree

39. Inquisition target

40. Clock feature

41. Kicks out

43. Injection also used to treat migraines

44. Gangsters’ headwear, in old movies

46. Tiger sound

48. Cider fodder

49. England-Scandinavia separator

53. Golden State sch.

54. They’re unbiased and accepting, and not short-sighted

56. Wine bouquet

57. Expert pilots

58. Rice-___ (“The San Francisco Treat”)

59. Lawyer, for short

60. Put a stop to

61. The Walking Dead villain


1. Rude response

2. “Falling Slowly” musical

3. Ticonderoga, e.g.

4. Took on grown-up errands, so to speak

5. Like a phoenix

6. Lightweight modeling wood

7. Out of the breeze, to a sailor

8. Hush-hush govt. group

9. In a satisfied way

10. Thelma’s cohort, in film

11. “Disregard what you just saw ...”

12. Avoid some syllables

13. Bewildered

18. Slyly shy

22. Change color again

24. Peasants of yore

25. Feast

26. European car manufacturer

27. Went by quickly

28. “One of ___ great mysteries ...”

30. Locale in a Clash title

31. “Everybody ___” (REM song)

33. Home of Baylor


34. James Patterson detective Cross

36. Hobbits’ homeland

40. Available to rent

42. Tennis shot

43. Role for Keaton and Kilmer

44. Animals, collectively

45. Disney World acronym

46. I Only ___ the Ones I Love (Jeffrey Ross book)

47. Airport code for O’Hare

49. Great British BakeOff co-host Fielding

50. Make out in Manchester

51. ___ Mode of The Incredibles

52. “O ___ Oscar”

55. “His Master’s Voice” company

© 2024 Matt Jones

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