COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT | SEPTEMBER 2019
VOL. 7 | NO. 9
After making a name at Gawker and Wonkette, Ken Layne created the ‘Desert Oracle’ to showcase the wacky, weird and wonderful of the high desert
E C I VO DESERT E H T OF
H G I H
By Beth Allen
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Arts Best Art Gallery Best Indoor Venue Best Outdoor Venue Best Local Arts Group/ Organization Best Local Band Best Local DJ Best Local Musician (Individual) Best Local Visual Artist Best Movie Theater Best Museum Best Producing Theater Company
Voting is now under way in the Coachella Valley Independent’s sixth annual Best of Coachella Valley poll! Voting in this readers’ poll, to determine the best of the valley’s best, will take place in two rounds: • The First Round (nomination round) of voting will take place online at CVIndependent.com through Friday, Sept. 13. This round consists of fill-in-theblank voting. The voting is up to our readers, and our readers alone—there are no pre-determined “finalists” or candidates. • The top three to five vote-getters in each category will move on to the Final Round of voting, which will take place at CVIndependent.com from Monday, Sept. 30, through Monday, Oct. 28. • The winners and other results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 25, and in the special Best of Coachella Valley section in the Independent’s December 2019 print edition.
Life in the Valley Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity Best Gym Best Yoga Studio Best Bowling Alley Best Sex Toy Shop Best Auto Repair Best Car Wash Best Plant Nursery Best Pet Supplies Best Annual Charity Event Best Place to Gamble Best Local TV News Best Local TV News Personality Best Radio Station Best Local Radio Personality Best Bookstore Best Retail Music/Video Store Best Comics/Games Shop Best Hotel Pool Best Indoor Fun/Activity Best Marijuana Dispensary Valley Professionals Best Doctor Best Eye Care Best Dentist/Orthodontist Best Plastic Surgeon Best Attorney Best Air Conditioning Service Best Personal Trainer Best Chiropractor Best Real Estate Agent Best Electrician Best Public Servant Fashion and Style Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned) Best Resale/Vintage Clothing Best Furniture Store Best Antiques/Collectables Store Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store
Best Hair Salon Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/ Hotel) Best Florist Best Tattoo Parlor Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer Outside! Best Public Garden Best Place for Bicycling Best Recreation Area Best Hike Best Park Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store Best Bike Shop Best Sporting Goods Best Public Golf Course For the Kids Best Playground Best Place to Buy Toys Best Kids’ Clothing Store Best Restaurant for Kids Best Place for Family Fun Best Place for a Birthday Party Food and Restaurants Best Casual Eats Best Caterer Best Diner Best Organic Food Store Best Delicatessen Best Custom Cakes Best Desserts Best Ice Cream/Shakes Best Date Shake Best Frozen Yogurt Best Bakery Best Barbecue Best Burger Best Veggie Burger Best Sandwich Best Pizza Best Wings Best Bagels Best Smoothies Best Buffet Best Local Coffee Roaster Best Coffee Shop Best Tea Best California Cuisine Best Breakfast Best Brunch Best Chinese Best Greek Best French Best Indian Best Italian Best Japanese Best Korean
VOTE NOW AT CVINDEPENDENT.COM
Best Sushi Best Seafood Best Steaks/Steakhouse Best Thai Best Vietnamese Best Vegetarian/Vegan Best Upscale Dining Best Outdoor Seating Best Late-Night Restaurant Best Mexican Best Salsa Best Burrito Spirits and Nightlife Best Beer Selection Best Local Brewery Best Place to Play Pool/ Billiards Best Cocktail Menu Best Craft Cocktails Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club Best Happy Hour Best Dive Bar Best Margarita Best Martini Best Nightclub Best Sports Bar Best Wine Bar Best Wine/Liquor Store Best Bar Ambiance Rules: • Only one vote per person, per round, please! We’re watching IP addresses, so be honest. • Ballots without a full name AND a working email address will be thrown out and not counted. • If you do not have an opinion in a certain category, leave it blank! • Stuffing the ballot box is a no-no. Interested parties can engage in simple campaigning—like putting up signs, linking to the ballot or using social media to encourage fans/customers to vote—but anything beyond simple campaigning is a no-no. Any businesses, groups or individuals suspected of stuffing the ballot box may be disqualified, at the discretion of the Independent publisher. • If you have questions, call 760-904-4208, or email email@example.com
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 3
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Mailing address: 31855 Date Palm Drive, No. 3-263 Cathedral City, CA 92234 (760) 904-4208 www.cvindependent.com
Editor/Publisher Jimmy Boegle staff writer Kevin Fitzgerald coveR and feature design Beth Allen Contributors Beth Allen, Max Cannon, Kevin Carlow, Katie Finn, Bill Frost, Bonnie Gilgallon, Bob Grimm, Michael Grimm, ValerieJean (VJ) Hume, David Kenniston, Andy Lara, Matt King, Keith Knight, L.A. Rowell, Brett Newton, Dan Perkins, Guillermo Prieto, Anita Rufus, Jen Sorenson, Robert Victor The Coachella Valley Independent print edition is published every month. All content is ©2019 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, CalMatters, Get Tested Coachella Valley, the Local Independent Online News Publishers, the Desert Business Association, the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and the Desert Ad Fed.
Here’s some information on two important goings-on this month: • Best of Coachella Valley voting is now under way! First-round (nomination) voting in our annual readers’ poll is taking place at CVIndependent.com through Friday, Sept. 13. The ballot is open—you fill in the blank in each category. The top vote-getters will advance to the final round of voting, which will take place at CVIndependent.com from Monday, Sept. 30, through Monday, Oct. 28. The Best of Coachella Valley results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 25, and in our special December print edition. We run our readers’ poll a little bit differently than those other publications run theirs: For the Best of Coachella Valley, we ask readers to vote only once per round. The goal of other “Best Of” readers’ polls is for the publication to get as much web traffic as possible from readers visiting their websites over and over again to vote. Not us: We’d rather have readers vote just once per round, so our list of winners can be as fair as possible. If you haven’t voted already … what are you waiting for? Get yourself to CVIndependent.com! • Some bad news for local media on the circulation front: Kroger, the Cincinnati-based supermarket behemoth, has decided not to renew its agreement with DistribuTech to distribute free publications in its stores around the country. What does this mean? Barring a change of heart, or Kroger making some sort of arrangement with another distribution company (both of which are unlikely), as of sometime in September, you’ll no longer be able to pick up the Independent—or any other free publication—at the Ralph’s stores in the Coachella Valley. This move by Kroger is a very bad thing for both the media and the public. As our friends at the Memphis Flyer in Tennessee put it: “Kroger was providing a true community service with its free publications distribution … because ‘free’ information is often the only information available for a great many of our citizens. They may not be able to afford a subscription to the daily paper or the latest issue of Vanity Fair, but they can pick up (publications like the Independent) on their way out of the grocery store and get some insight into what’s happening in their community.” As a result of all this, the Independent will lose five very good distribution spots; the good news is that leaves about 385 other locations where people can pick up the newspaper (including the four local Albertsons stores). If you’re one of the people who usually picks us up at Ralph’s, and you need help finding the paper elsewhere, you have two options: One, you can go to CVIndependent.com, and click on “Find a Copy”; or two, email me or call me at 760-9044208, and I’ll personally let you know the closest distribution spots to you. One more thing: Please feel free to express your displeasure about this decision to management at your local Ralph’s. Be polite—the decision came from corporate headquarters, not local management—but if enough people complain, perhaps those complaints will make their way back to Cincinnati and change some minds. Welcome to the September 2019 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent. As always, thanks for reading—and if you have anything to say, email me at the address below. —Jimmy Boegle, firstname.lastname@example.org CVIndependent.com
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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 5
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS S
Meet Jane Summer, an L.A. gal— now a student in Palm Desert— who can’t help but drop names
BY ANITA RUFUS
ome people drop names to impress you. Others can’t help it. Jane Summer, 73, unconsciously drops names like Clint Eastwood and Janeane Garofalo. When you grow up in a company town, and the “company” is the film and television industry, you can’t help it. Summer started her career, after only six months of college, at Creative Management Associates, working with producers like Barry Diller and Leonard Goldberg. She went on to read scripts for well-known agent Mike Medavoy, who had become vice president of motion pictures for CMA, and she subsequently met film greats like director/writer Michelangelo Antonioni, and stars like Donald Sutherland and Rosie Grier. (agent and producer) Freddie Fields. She Born in Providence, R.I., Summer was raised then went to work for the Cousteau family, in Beverly Hills from the age of 2, along with and I ended up taking her job as Philippe her older sister. Cousteau’s assistant—setting up productions, “We moved to Doheny Drive,” she says, helping the crew get equipment, and things “right around the corner from Chasen’s,” like housesitting. When they moved their then a famous Beverly Hills restaurant. “My headquarters, since I had been doing writing, I dad used to play cards with Dave Chasen. I had a friend who introduced me to Los Angeles remember back in those days, we could buy a Magazine, and from there, I went to Playboy pickle for 5 cents at the deli on Beverly Drive, Magazine, where I worked as an assistant story and ride our bikes to school. The milkman editor. The story editor then was Mimi Roth, and the vegetable man would come around, whose son, Eric, wrote (the screenplay for) and of course there was the Helms Bakery Forrest Gump. bread truck. “When Playboy closed its Los Angeles “It was a different time and a charming place offices, I met someone who worked for the to grow up. You saw stars and others on the Smothers Brothers. I just had beginner’s luck. streets and in the restaurants. When you grow After 10 years of doing public relations, I went up there, you know people in the industry. It out on my own, because it turned out I was wasn’t a big deal, just part of the hometown good at creating a story and selling it for media experience coverage. I worked with restaurants—and the “My mom was very beautiful and talented. irony is I don’t cook at all. She was an actor and ballerina whose father “I’d had a short marriage earlier that I left ran a carnival. My dad was from an upper-class wealthy family that didn’t approve. My dad had at 40 with a dog and a bed. Around that same a furniture store, and then he bought a Cadillac time, I met my husband, Bruce, who was a restaurant reviewer. His wife had died, and car lot. I remember when he got a 1954 I asked him, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ He turquoise El Dorado with a leather top and seats! We belonged to the Sand and Sea Club in said, ‘Yes, you can come out to Malibu and Santa Monica, the only beach club which would walk my dog. He’s very lonely.’ I drove out on a Sunday, and it turned out we knew so many accept Jews at that time. people in common. Bruce and I were married “My family fell apart when I was 8, but for 12 years. He died in 2006.” throughout all the drama and trauma, he never By 2011, Summer’s business had diminished walked away. My dad had a great sense of as a result of social media. humor. I learned about perseverance from him.” “I’m basically very introverted. I had to be From the ages of 11 to 16, Summer lived extroverted in my business, but I didn’t want at Vista Del Mar, a Jewish agency that to be constantly ‘out there’ anymore,” she says. provides residential care and education, along “I started working when I was 13, after school, with other services. “I had good influences and I’ve always worked, no matter what was there,” says Summer. “I may not have been going on in my life. It’s just that I began to privileged, but I grew up in a privileged environment, which saved me and sent me on realize I wanted to change my life.” In 2014, Summer relocated to Palm Springs my way. It was definitely an interesting part for two years before settling in Palm Desert. of my life.” “My friend was going to school (here in Summer moved back in with her father from the valley) and told me I could possibly get a ages 16 to 18—and then was on her own. She scholarship,” she says. “I’ve been attending left the talent agency when it merged with College of the Desert part-time working another company and became ICM. toward a liberal-arts degree, focusing on things “I had a great friend who worked for
Jane Summer with Lancelot.
like creative writing, theater arts, the history of jazz and art classes. This semester, I may take some time off. I don’t necessarily want to stay in school and complete a degree, but I know it’s good for me, and it’s always bothered me that I never finished school. “Sometimes, I think maybe it’s time to go back to work. I do take care of dogs for people; I call my place Casa Dog Mom. And, of course, there’s my (dog) Lancelot. I’d like to get more involved in politics, with everything that’s going on. I just know I’m not finished yet.” Summer has traveled to London, Paris, Canada and Mexico, and all around the United States. If money wasn’t an issue, she says, she would want to go everywhere. “I speak some French, and would love to live in Paris,” she says. “I want to see Spain
and Italy, and it would be great to be able to take an around-the-world cruise. I really regret that based on how I grew up, I’ve always been somewhat fearful.” What is something people would be surprised to know about her? “I love to sing,” Summer says, with her face lighting up. “I’m really good at it. I took voice classes, and this is what I should have done my whole life—be a chanteuse. One day, maybe I’ll muster up the courage.” Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs weekdays on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays. Email her at Anita@ LovableLiberal.com. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday at CVIndependent.com. CVIndependent.com
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OUR COMMUNITY IN ACTION BENEFITING
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 7
NEWS REFUGE FROM THE HEAT I
Three new west valley overnight cooling centers provide critical relief—and could lead to more help for the homeless
by kevin fitzgerald
t’s been hot in the Coachella Valley—including a 121-degree day on Aug. 5—and no segment of our community is more threatened by that heat than the valley’s homeless population. It was a 115-degree day on June 11 that helped spur the city of Palm Springs to partner with Riverside County to open an emergency overnight cooling center at the Demuth Community Center—and that partnership helped lead to an even larger collaboration to open three new longterm overnight cooling centers in the valley. The centers opened July 1, the result of a partnership between the county, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, and the three cities where the centers are located. The Coachella Valley Rescue Mission is staffing the centers, with the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation “Staffing was one, because you need staff that offering support. are compassionate and know what they’re Greg Rodriguez is the government affairs doing. You needed port-a-potties, port-aand public policy adviser to Riverside County showers and portable storage units. … (People Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. in need) get a shower, a clean set of clothes “Supervisor Perez and I were approached and a meal.” by the city of Palm Springs to try to get (an The collaboration has not only filled an overnight cooling center) opened this year,” urgent need; it’s raised hopes of even further Rodriguez said. “Supervisor Perez suggested partnerships to help the homeless in the valley. that we should try it in the three cities of “I’ve started kind of a new role,” Rodriguez Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot said. “I’m still with Supervisor Perez’s Springs. It’s easier for transportation—for the office, but I’m heading up a homelessness homeless individuals who don’t want to leave collaborative effort through the Coachella the city that they are in—so that’s how the Valley Association of Governments in three new nighttime centers were developed conjunction with the Desert Healthcare this year. District and Riverside County. Also, it has “Ideally, I’m working on some other projects the support of the valley’s nine cities through that hopefully will result in more permanent CVAG. … We did contract through CVAG with facilities for next year that would be 24-hour the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission to handle operations,” like those in the east valley. all the daily operations. I’m more involved in In Indio, both the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission and Martha’s Village and Kitchen offer the conceptual side, the financing side and, of course, tracking (data) the results. Ideally, spaces where homeless individuals can both we’re not only hoping to get people cool stay cool and access a variety of other needed at night, but also get them tied into some services. homelessness services as well. In fact, we’ve “(Our facility) is a place where we provide had success with that already in the case of at services, but the west valley does not (have least six individuals.” such a place),” said Tom Cox, program director Can any resident of the valley escape the at CVRM. “… If there were a west valley summer heat in one of these facilities? shelter, or navigation center, or whatever “The daytime cooling centers serve all they’re calling it this week, then they would be of the (valley’s) residents,” Rodriguez said. more successful. It really is that simple: One, “The nighttime centers mainly focus just on have a place. Two, put service providers in that place who are going to make a real difference— the homeless population. That being said, if somebody’s electricity should go out, and and, three, there will be results.” they don’t have air conditioning or they don’t Daytime summer cooling centers have been have the funds to run their air all the time, a regular feature across Riverside County and they’re welcome to use the centers. We’re not the Coachella Valley for decades. prohibitive, but the focus is on the chronically “The daytime cooling centers are managed homeless population who are sleeping out in by Riverside County through the Community the elements.” Action Partnership, or CAP,” Rodriguez said. Both Rodriguez and Cox extolled the “We try to add new sites when possible. When involvement of the Desert Healthcare District, we get really extreme temperatures, they’ll which threw resources and fundraising muscle expand their hours during the day. But we behind the cooling-center program expansion. haven’t had any nighttime cooling centers.” “Regarding the new nighttime centers, they Until now. However, it wasn’t easy to get the will be open (until the end of September),” overnight cooling centers up and running. Rodriguez said. “There were a lot of logistics,” Cox said.
A woman receives a drink at the Palm Springs shelter. Courtesy of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission
In July, the three centers served more than 250 people and fulfilled well more than 3,000 service requests. “There’s still a need for additional funds, because we’re helping to cover the extra utility costs of the churches who have donated their space,” Cox said. “This is where the DHCD has been such a great partner by matching any of the privately donated funds that have come in. The Desert Healthcare District has been great in providing us with email (outreach) to share what we need, and their Summer Homeless Survival Fund has done a pretty awesome job as well, and in a short time.” What can valley residents contribute to support these vital new community shelters? “Towels, toiletries, linens and pillows are all things that we need, and we have to launder them every day,” Cox said. “We need bottled water, individually wrapped snacks, coffee,
paper products, air fresheners, clothing and undergarments. Bombas socks just donated about 7,500 pairs of socks. … For the centers themselves, we need bike racks, storage racks, a few laptops, some commercial laundry washers and dryers. If somebody has an extra SUV or van lying around, we could definitely use those. We need a lot.” The three cooling centers are open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the city of Palm Springs facility at 225 S. El Cielo Road; World Life of Fellowship Center, 66290 Estrella Ave., in Desert Hot Springs; and Community Presbyterian Church, 38088 Chuperosa Lane, in Cathedral City. To donate supplies, call Tom Cox at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission at 760-347-3512, ext. 251, or drop them off at 47470 Van Buren St., in Indio. Cash donations can be made through the Desert Healthcare District at www.dhcd.org/ HomelessFund. CVIndependent.com
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A LIFE-CHANGING TRIP I
La Quinta High School senior Lizbeth Luevano joins other future Hispanic leaders on a journey to D.C.
by kevin fitzgerald
t was late in June when La Quinta High School senior Lizbeth Luevano met two other students—Diego Martinez, from West Valley High School in Hemet, and Julia MelendezHiriart, from Ramona High School in Riverside—at the Southwest Airlines terminal at the Ontario airport. The three students had never before met in person, but they were flying together to Washington, D.C., for the 2019 R2L NextGen week-long program, organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). The program—launched in 2011 by the CHCI with the support of founding sponsor State Farm—has helped bring 533 students to Washington, D.C., over the past nine years. Two trips experience and the opportunity (for her) to this summer brought 103 students from 17 find out how great and expansive the world different areas of the country to our nation’s capital to learn about the federal government, is—to meet other students from across the country, and to expand her understanding of meet important leaders, visit historic sites, our country—is really remarkable. It could be and develop a deeper understanding about a life-changer.” how they can make positive changes in their We asked Luevano about the highlights of communities. Macy’s provided gift cards to her time in Washington, D.C. students before their trips to D.C. so they “I think the biggest was when we went to could purchase professional clothing. Capitol Hill, and we got to speak with our “It was started to help develop young high representatives. We (three) actually met with school leaders as they emerge and become more active on college campuses,” said Dennis staff members of Rep. Mark Takano, who represents part of Riverside County, but not the Gonzalez, the CHCI’s director of leadership Coachella Valley,” she said. “The other students programs, about the R2L NextGen program. met with the staffs of their representatives. It “They learn more about how government was pretty great just walking around. Some of works, as well as civic engagement and the students even got to meet AOC, Alexandria advocacy.” Ocasio-Cortez, and I was really jealous that we Getting accepted to participate in the didn’t get the chance to.” program is no easy task. The more down-to-earth components of “We had over 500 applications this year,” the experience left a strong impression on Gonzalez said. Luevano. Luevano said she had to go through a “Another big part of it was the network follow-up interview after the application that we kind of created,” she said. “At one process, which included submitting a point, Jacqueline Lopez, from Dr. Ruiz’s written essay, a resume and a letter of office, was at a panel discussion, and some recommendation. of the people on the panel were from the “I had been contacted a few times to try to Coachella Valley, too. It was really interesting set up a call for an (application) interview,” that people from our background in Indio Luevano said, “and it kind of wasn’t working were in D.C., having this political engagement, out because of the time difference: After and being right where all these big decisions school here, it was 3 p.m., and in D.C., it are being made. was 6 p.m., which was after work hours. But “A great thing about CHCI is that it exposes finally, I got the call. … He was asking me you to a broader definition of ‘Hispanic,’” questions just like any other interview. Then, Luevano said. “I’m so used to thinking about just as it ended, the program director told Hispanics as being Mexican, because that’s me, ‘Well, you’ve been accepted.’ I was really just what the majority is here where I live. shocked. I had never been part of a program So being around Cubans, Puerto Ricans and that was so big. … Getting your round-trip people from the Dominican Republic, and transportation and your housing and meals covered in another city across the country—it being able to talk to them—you definitely find cultural differences. Like: I always carry was such a great opportunity.” these packets of Tapatio hot sauce in my bag, Rep. Raul Ruiz said he enjoyed meeting Luevano and the other participating students. and I’m so used to everyone knowing what it is. When they didn’t get what it was, it blew “Lizbeth told me that this was the first my mind. My roommates were two people time that she ever flew on a plane,” Ruiz from L.A., and another person from Miami, said during a phone interview. “She’s also Fla.; she was Cuban. We all got to know each from a farmworker family, like mine. So, the CVIndependent.com
La Quinta High School senior Lizbeth Luevano (right) smiles with Diego Martinez (left), from West Valley High School in Hemet, and Julia Melendez-Hiriart (center), from Ramona High School in Riverside.
other really well. “While we were there, we were able to get back to our hotel in time to watch the first Democratic Party presidential-candidate debates. Just being in a room with all of these individuals and being able to discuss anything that came into our mind, it was really great.” The experience clearly made a huge impression on Luevano—and she made an impression on the people with whom she interacted. “The students who come are really great, fantastic young people,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes I’ll be chatting with them, and I start wondering what I was doing at their age, and if I was being productive. When they’re having conversations with national leaders or they’re meeting with different presenters, they ask amazing questions. They’re very insightful, motivated and impassioned about what they’re doing. “Even though Lizbeth seemed to be very quiet at first, once she got going, she became very active during the week. I think that the chance for her to connect with all the other students who attended was a great opportunity. I think what this program does
is let all the kids know that they’re not alone, and that there are other kids who are really engaged in this stuff, too. Also, it gives them a glimpse into what college may be like, and I think they get more excited about their future opportunities once they’ve participated in the program.” Ruiz said he was impressed by Luevano. “Lizbeth is a very bright, intelligent, motivated, dedicated and caring person who wants to better herself in order to serve the community,” Ruiz said. “I’m proud that she is a resident of the Coachella Valley, because I know that she will accomplish her dreams and come back to the Coachella Valley and serve our communities. I’m really excited about this program and the opportunity it offers. Seventy percent of the students that go through this program become first-generation college students. That’s pretty remarkable.” Luevano is part of that 70 percent. “I’m applying to liberal-arts colleges on the East Coast to get out of my comfort zone and go further away,” Luevano said. “I’m looking into Bowdoin (in Maine) and Swarthmore (in Pennsylvania). I’m just going to be confident and apply.”
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 9
REVIVE’S FDA URINARYINCONTINENCE STUDY: INITIAL RESULTS UPDATE
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NEWS BUILDING A BETTER DOWNTOWN
A $15 million state grant gives revitalization efforts in the city of Coachella a big boost
by kevin fitzgerald
t was on Nov. 21, 2008, in downtown Coachella when “an initial kick‐off meeting and afternoon walking tour was conducted by the project team and city staff,” according to the Coachella Pueblo Viejo Plan (CPVP) “Vision” section. Over the next seven months, community workshops were held; input was solicited from key city representatives; and the look of a future revitalized downtown area came into focus. “Pueblo Viejo is the civic and cultural heart of Coachella,” said the CPVP plan final draft. “The community is proud of the historic charm, locally owned businesses, and vibrant civic center. As you enter through the attractive gateways on Sixth Street, you are immersed in a lively street scene offering shady walkways, cooling water fountains, outdoor dining and unique shopping. Once-empty lots are now filled with mixed‐use buildings that respect the heritage, climate and and a transportation center, in the form of community values. Family‐friendly events and a grant from the state via the Affordable festivals fill the streets and public spaces. As Housing and Sustainable Communities you relax in the clean, well-maintained civic Program (AHSC). center core, you know … you have arrived in “We are happy to be the recipients of a $15 Pueblo Viejo!” million grant that we worked very hard to get However, this is not the reality that greets for the past three years,” said Jacob Alvarez, you today if you visit those downtown blocks; Coachella’s assistant to the city manager, more than 10 years later, the plan has yet to during a recent phone interview. “This is an bear fruit. However, further revitalization may area (of California) that hasn’t been supported be finally coming to downtown Coachella: The before—and that includes pretty much the city recently announced it was getting a nearly whole Coachella Valley, Blythe and Imperial $15 million boost to fund affordable housing
Opens September 20!
The new $15 million project will be constructed near the newly installed Etherea sculpture, by Edoardo Tresoldi, in downtown Coachella. Courtesy of the city of Coachella
Valley, for that matter. So this is our first award, and we’re pretty excited about it.” Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez touted the grant in the press release. “This is another great project to enhance the Pueblo Viejo neighborhood downtown,” Hernandez said, according to the release. “The convenient location offers easy access to jobs and services at the new Department of Public Social Services building and sits next to the recently acquired Etherea sculpture. Plus, it is a short walk to the new library, expanding senior center, and shops and restaurants.” The grant is slated to fund 105 netzero-energy affordable housing units and a SunLine/vanpool hub with shade trees and public restrooms. The project will also bring 2 new miles of bikeways and 3,000 feet of new sidewalks. While the funding is for another project and not the Coachella Pueblo Viejo Plan, the $14,895,407 gives the city the keystone redevelopment funding it has needed for more than a decade. “Probably a good six to eight months ago, we received an urban greening grant to plant 188 trees, create connecting sidewalks and build an urban hiking path,” Alvarez said. “We see all of this as a nice addition to our overall vision, and we’re in the process right now of having these features designed as well.” These are all stems in creating a centralized community and business hub in the eastern valley city that was incorporated in 1946. “The AHSC is a grant program through the Strategic Growth Council of the state,” said Alvarez said. “They’re advocating for
you to build in a way that reduces vehicle miles traveled, because that will help reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants by keeping some vehicles off the road. This is provided to us from the cap-and-trade payments made by corporations to the state.” The city is calling the newly funded project the Downtown Coachella Net Zero Housing and Transportation Collaboration, with partners including the SunLine Transit Agency, the Inland Regional Center, CalVans and the Chelsea Investment Corporation. When asked if the other partners were contributing funds to the effort, Alvarez said they were not. “In fact, I believe (SunLine) will be receiving some of the (grant) funds to buy additional hydrogen buses,” Alvarez said. “And then there is CalVans as well; that will receive roughly 40 vans for people to use in carpooling. They will pick up at the transportation hub where people can park their cars and travel together to common destinations (around the valley).” How soon will the transformation become apparent to the city residents? Alvarez said the project could be completed in less than two years. “We’re in the design phase, and that is running from now through January or February 2020,” Alvarez said. “We (soon) expect to get the conceptual drawings from Chelsea Investment Corp., the developer. We anticipate that there may be shovels in the ground by July 2020, if everything goes smoothly. The grant expires, I believe, on June 30, 2021, which is the end of the fiscal year for both us and the state. So we have about a year to complete the work (after groundbreaking).”
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 11
12 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
Gov. Newsom signs a landmark police use-of-force bill
CURBING FATAL ENCOUNTERS C
by dan morain and laurel rosenhall, calmatters
alifornia will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento. Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building—used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events. The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques, including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisisintervention methods. is challenging, and law enforcement is “It is remarkable to get to this moment increasingly being called to do social work.” on a bill that is this controversial. But it Kori McCoy, who attended the bill signing, means nothing unless we make this moment was among various family members of people meaningful,” Newsom said after signing the shot to death by police. His brother, Willie legislation. McCoy, was shot Feb. 9 while he slept at a Taco He made a point of praising law Bell in Vallejo. Six officers fired 55 rounds, enforcement, saying the “overwhelming hitting him more than 20 times. majority are extraordinary and honorable “I don’t think this is going to totally change people.” He signed the bill the day before he everything, but it definitely is a piece, and we’ll attended the funeral of California Highway take it,” McCoy said about the legislation. Patrol Officer Andre Moye Jr., who was killed The law reflects a compromise between civilby an ex-felon in Riverside in August. rights advocates who want to limit when police Newsom also noted that the state’s current can shoot, and law-enforcement groups who budget includes an additional $35 million for said earlier versions of the bill would have put more police training, including training on officers in danger. ways to better handle severely mentally ill Under the new law, which takes effect Jan. people. He said as many as a third of people 1, police may use deadly force only when shot to death by police are diagnosed with “necessary in defense of human life.” schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or some other That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors serious illness. apply now, which says officers can shoot when “That is a tough assignment for law doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most enforcement,” the governor said. “What’s significant changes will allow prosecutors happening on the streets of California
to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified. “This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation. The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed, and courts will need to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support, and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support. Newsom’s staff helped broker the compromise, and his signature was not a surprise. In March—after Sacramento’s district attorney cleared the officers who killed Stephon Clark on March 18, 2018, in his grandparents’ backyard after mistaking the cell phone he was holding for a gun— Newsom signaled support for police reforms that “reinforce the sanctity of human life.” And in June, he said he would sign the bill as he praised advocates for “working across their differences” to forge a compromise. “The bill is watered down; everybody knows that,” Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark, told the Los Angeles Times. “But at least
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the signing ceremony for police use-of-force legislation. Dan Morain/CalMatters
we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.” California police kill more than 100 people a year—at a rate higher than the national average and highest among states with populations of 8 million or more. Most of the people police kill are armed with a gun or a knife. But when California police kill people who are not armed, the impact falls disproportionately on Latinos and African Americans. Together, those groups make up 66 percent of the unarmed people California police killed between 2016 and 2018, but about 46 percent of the state’s population. To read the Independent’s ongoing coverage of police shootings, visit CVIndependent.com and search for “Fatal Encounters.” CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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Follow the fainter-thanPlanets and Bright Stars in Evening normalMid-Twilight moon as autumn For September, 2019 arrives This sky chart is drawn for latitude 34 degrees(finally!) north, but may be used in southern U.S. and northern Mexico.
By Robert Victor
rom Sagittarius to Gemini and back, the moon swings! And the crescent rocks! Enjoy watching moonrises? The harvest moon on Friday the 13th is the first of a half-dozen moonrises in a row taking place in the early evening, through Sept. 18. Meanwhile, Jupiter shines steady and brightest at dusk, and Sirius, the “Dog Star,” twinkles brightest at dawn. Overnight on Sept. 22—actually at 12:50 a.m., Monday, Sept. 23—the sun is directly over Earth’s equator, marking the start of autumn for residents of the Northern Hemisphere. On the date of an equinox, the sun rises in the east, and sets in the west 12 hours later. (Well, this is not precisely true, because of the way sunrise and sunset are defined—when the top of the solar disk, rather than its center, appears on an ideal, flat horizon; refraction by our atmosphere uplifts the sun’s disk and lengthens the day by several minutes.) moon rises about one degree north of east at The moon travels around the Earth in an 8:05 p.m., and by the 17th, 12 degrees north orbit inclined 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbital of east at 9:04 p.m. September’s northernmost plane, traveling through the same belt of the moonrises occur on Saturday evening, Sept. zodiac and returning to the same stars after 21, at 11:44 p.m., and on the next night, only 27.3 days, the sidereal period of the Sunday, Sept. 22—actually Monday morning, revolution of the moon. So in less than four Sept. 23, at 12:40 a.m., some 27 degrees north weeks, the moon’s rising and setting places on of east. On both occasions, the moon “rides the horizon and height at mid-path range from high” in Gemini, passing within 12 degrees southern to northern extremes and back. south of overhead on Sept. 22 at 7:04 a.m., On Saturday, Sept. 7, the moon “rides low,” and on Sept. 23 at 8:01 a.m., setting 7 hours reaching the southernmost part of its 27.3-day and 20 minutes later. trip around the zodiac, in the constellation Follow the moon at dusk through Sept. 14, Sagittarius, the Archer. From Palm Springs, the and again Sept. 29-Oct. 13. Follow the moon moon rises nearly 28 degrees south of east at at dawn Sept. 13-27. Note the “tipped bowl” 3:10 p.m. It reaches its highest point in south at orientation of the waxing lunar crescents in 8:16 p.m., only 33 degrees above the horizon. the western sky at dusk, through Sept. 3 and As the moon passes south on Sept. 7, look for Sept. 29-Oct. 2, preceding the nearly firstSaturn 5 degrees to its left; Jupiter 23 degrees quarter (half) moons found low in the southern to the moon’s right; and the third-magnitude sky around sunset on Sept. 5 and on Oct. 4 star Kaus Borealis, northern star of the and 5. Note the “upright bowl” waning lunar Archer’s bow, within 3 degrees to Luna’s lower crescents in the eastern sky at dawn Sept. right. September’s southernmost moon sets 25-27, following the nearly half-moon close to nearly 28 degrees south of west later that night. last-quarter phase found high in the southern After Sept. 7, the moon rises farther north, sky around sunrise on Sept. 21 and 22. Best getting later each day. By Sept. 11, the moon views of zodiacal light (reflected off comet and rises 19 degrees south of east at 6:04 p.m., some asteroid dust in the plane of the solar system) 55 minutes before sunset, so it’s still possible can be had from dark places free of light from some places in the Coachella Valley to pollution just before start of morning twilight, view sun and moon simultaneously. On Sept. 90 minutes before sunrise, Sept. 27-Oct. 11. All 12, the moon rises 15 degrees south of east at these observations are related! 6:37 p.m., just 20 minutes before sunset. For The only planets easy for the unaided eye to the next five nights through Sept. 17, moonrise see in September are both conveniently placed occurs only about a half-hour later on each in the southern sky in the early evening: Bright successive night. On Friday, Sept. 13, the full Jupiter, in the south-southwest at dusk; and moon rises 10 degrees south of east at 7:07 Saturn, in the south-southeast to south, 29 p.m., just 11 minutes after sunset. to 26 degrees east (left) of Jupiter. Telescopes This month’s full moon also happens to show Jupiter’s disk, now just over 0.01 degrees be the most distant of this year. It’s also the in apparent diameter, usually with two dark faintest of all the full moons (except for those equatorial belts, and the four bright Galilean eclipsed by Earth’s shadow)—not only because satellites. Since their orbits lie nearly in plane of its distance, but also because it passes 5 of Jupiter’s equator, and Jupiter’s south pole is degrees south of the point opposite the sun tipped more than 2 degrees toward Earth for and reflects less of its light back toward Earth. rest of 2019, it’s often possible to mentally work (Look up “opposition effect.”) By Sept. 15, the out whether a satellite of Jupiter is on the near
September's evening sky chart. ROBERT D. MILLER
W Arcturus Altair
Mercury 29 Spica
Saturn 1 8 15 22 29 Fomalhaut
Evening mid-twilight occurs
O or far side ofwhen its orbit. if a moon is Sun is 9Currently, below horizon. Sept.of 1: a 41line minutes after sunset. displaced north through Jupiter’s center 15: 40 then " " that" moon must be parallel to its equator, 30: 40 " " " on the near side of Jupiter. If displaced south, it must be on far side of its orbit. Saturn’s rings span slightly wider than Jupiter’s apparent size. Saturn’s north pole is now tipped toward Earth by more than 25 degrees, giving us our best view of the rings until 2030, when the south pole will be tipped toward us by a similar angle. There are no naked-eye planets in September’s morning sky, but the brightest star visible is Sirius, in the southeast to east-southeast as dawn brightens. Confirm by noting that the three-star belt of Orion— between bluish Rigel marking his foot and reddish Betelgeuse his shoulder—points directly to Sirius. Check the website of the Astronomical Society of the Desert at www.astrorx.org for
Jupiter 1 8 15 2229 Antares
dates and times of ourMap evening starD.parties by Robert Miller at two locations: Sawmill Trailhead, our highaltitude site (elevation 4,000 feet), will have its next monthly session starting at dusk on Saturday, Sept. 28. Monthly sessions resume Saturday, Oct. 5, at our primary, more accessible location, the Visitor Center of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument (on Highway 74, within 4 miles south of Highway 111 in Palm Desert). Wishing you clear skies! Robert C. Victor was a staff astronomer at Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing sky watching opportunities for a variety of groups in the Coachella Valley. Robert D. Miller did graduate work in planetarium science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public outreach in astronomy. CVIndependent.com
14 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
After making a name at Gawker and Wonkette, Ken Layne created the ‘Desert Oracle’ to showcase the wacky, weird and wonderful of the high desert
Ken Layne wanted a minimalist look for the Desert Oracle magazine. “I had to argue with printers for months to find one who would stop trying to talk me into printing in color,” Layne said. BETH ALLEN
was early 2018. I’d just become a desert resident and was shopping at the Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley. A small yellow booklet with an illustration of a Joshua Tree and the title “DESERT ORACLE” in stark black letters caught my eye. “A pocket field guide to the strange and mysterious Mojave,” it said on its cover. I curiously bought a copy and headed home. Later that day, after a 40-page binge read, I’d learned about desert quack Doc Springer and his tiny oasis Zzyzx; original Star Trek production locations in the Vásquez Rocks; local alien legends; and tales of teen pranksters putting smoldering tires in the dried-up volcanic rocks of the Amboy crater. I was hooked. The man behind the mag is Ken Layne, who founded the Desert Oracle in 2015. He recently invited me to his office in Joshua Tree to pick his brain about what it’s like to be the “voice of the desert.” Perched along Highway 62, his rented one-room shack features a brightyellow Desert Oracle sign looming above the front door. Office hours, which are sporadic, are intentionally not posted. “In the early ’80s, I decided I would live here someday,” said Layne, now 53. “I was 17, and my family lived in San Diego. I bought this old, beat-up International Harvester Scout, and whenever I could, I would drive out here to the desert. “I remember a specific morning. The PVC valve in my Scout had popped out coming up a grade, and it was leaking oil. I feared the worst. There was a garage that opened in the morning in Baker. The sun hadn’t come up yet. It was a winter weekday; it was beautiful. The air was cold. I remember standing by that garage looking at the mountains going into Death Valley. It should have been a stressful situation— this was pre-cell phones, and maybe my car was wrecked—but I remember standing there watching the sun come up and thinking, ‘I’m going to live here.’ It might be in a couple of decades, because I knew I’d have to work in cities, and I wanted to travel the world, but ‘I am going to live here.’” Layne didn’t go to college; he instead bounced around various California newsrooms and did freelance writing. He spent three years working for media outlets overseas, living in Czechoslovakia in 1991 and later Hungary. After returning to the U.S., he landed work “typing into the internet void,” in his words, for websites including Gawker and Wonkette. At one point, he even owned Wonkette. However, he was unhappy. In 2014, Layne took a year off. “I felt like the next thing I did would be the last thing I did,” he said. “Not just a business—it was going to be my life.” He traveled. He chilled out and soul-searched—and then one day, it hit him. He was thinking about booklets he’d collected as a teen. With titles like Desert Survival, Amphibians and Reptiles, and Death Valley Jeep Trails, they were minimal, often yellow and black, with grayscale photos or illustrations. The ah-ha! moment finally arrived: He would create a desert magazine. It would fit in a pocket. The content would be short and digestible, with just enough guts in stories to pique an interest. He would write about his passion—the desert—and all its wonderfulness and weirdness. Most importantly, the magazine would be only in print—not available online. “This is spiritually satisfying, and you have to pay for entry,” Layne said, holding up a copy. “You don’t get to just go on the internet and read it on your phone.” He started as a one-man shop—editing, writing, typesetting, laying out pages, etc.—but paid a small stipend to quality contributors. “I had to argue with printers for months to find one who would stop trying to talk me into printing in color,” Layne said. The printers may not have understood—but his audience sure did. An underground cult following soon followed. Subscription sales creeped steadily upward and today are around 3,000. “Here’s the part that surprised me—and this happened very quickly,” Layne said. “I started
E C I VO DESERT E H T F O
H G I H
Story and Photos by Beth Allen
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 15
noticing that my biggest subscription zip codes were Brooklyn, Oakland, the Silverlake/Los Feliz/Sunset Junction area, and the high desert. Those were my four.” Layne said the magazine’s eccentric nature has garnered attention in a variety of places. “Like, art museums want to sell the magazine,” he said. “I do events at the Palm Springs Art Museum and other gallery openings. It’s culture; I enjoy that. Then they’ll have me on the weird news segment on the Las Vegas 5 o’clock news!” Layne intended for the magazine to be a quarterly—but he’s fallen behind. “When I did four issues in 2015, that is all I did, from when I woke up to when I went to bed, seven days a week,” he said. The magazine has only come out annually since. “I never intended to have huge gaps between issues,” he said. As the print magazine was exploding, something else was on Layne’s mind: radio. One of his favorite things—driving through the desert at night—was always accompanied by crackly radio and coming across distant stations. He began dreaming about a Desert Oracle radio show—but he did not have any relevant radio experience. However, family-owned community radio station KCDZ 107.7 FM is right down the road … literally. “When big radio stations like Clear Channel and other vulture media companies were coming around, buying up every small market station, they said no,” Layne said. He decided to send owner Gary Daigneault an email. Daigneault was a Desert Oracle reader. “He wrote back and said, ‘Let’s talk; let’s hear what you want to do,’” Layne said. After some back and forth, they reached an agreement. Layne wanted the show to be on at night; in June 2017, the first episode aired and has run on Friday nights at 10 p.m. ever since. Layne writes the shows each week on the fly—he doesn’t have a set schedule of topics planned out—and produces them himself at home using Hindenburg radio software. Each episode starts the same: A coyote howls, and a female British android voice says: “Transmitting from the Mojave wilderness in Joshua Tree, California, now is the time for Desert Oracle Radio, the voice of the desert.” Then Layne’s distinct, slow nasal drawl comes in. He speaks slowly, dry and deliberately, with large doses of humor. Lo-fi authenticity is of utmost importance. Ambient background tunes and sound effects create a mood. The effect is eerie, spooky, unsettling … yet calming. It evokes the desert perfectly. After a few dozen episodes, Layne was contacted by Rob, a Joshua Tree desert synth musician, whose one-man band is named RedBlueBlackSilver. “He’d already heard the kind of stuff I was using on the show. He had a sense of it and was familiar with that type of music—ambient, acid jazz stuff,” Layne said. Now RBBS creates new original music for each episode of Desert Oracle Radio. Layne listens to the track and writes out a script to ad-lib to for 28 minutes. The weekly show—repeats run during Layne’s summer break—has been picked up by public stations in Fresno and King County, Wash.; they’re also uploaded to the Desert Oracle website. As if publishing the magazine and producing the radio show aren’t enough, Layne regularly hosts a live event, Desert Oracle Campfire Stories. They’ll return to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club on Thursday, Oct. 31, and will then be on the first Thursday of each month through June 2020. His campfire persona is similar to his radio persona, he said. “The one who does Campfire Stories is like a park ranger,” he explained. Layne has recorded some of these events as live radio shows—but the king of all Desert Oracle live radio shows is slated for Friday, Sept. 20, at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nev. You’ve no doubt heard of the “Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us” Facebook event; more than 2 million people have marked themselves as “Going” to the attempt to storm the highly classified and well-guarded Air Force Base to “see them aliens!” What began as an online joke to rush the Area 51 gates has spawned real events in tiny Lincoln County, 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. “I’m doing the radio show from there and supposedly emceeing from the stage.” Layne said. “Jeremy Corbell and the usual bunch of UFO weirdos will be there, hopefully with thousands of regular people curious to see what’s going to happen. A raid … is unlikely, although I’m sure at least a few people will get arrested or just get lost wandering in the high desert.” Hot off the press is the news that a Desert Oracle book will soon be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “It’s going to be a hardback, and I’m designing it,” Layne said. “Two-thirds of it is going to be the best stuff from all the out-of-print Desert Oracles—all my long, weird features on various things like Yucca Man and UFOs. The other third will be new stuff, never published, that I have been writing over the past six months.” Layne said that beyond the magazine, the radio show, the book and the live events, he has yet more pokers in the fire—including a possible TV show. “I’m never done; there are a whole bunch of Desert Oracle projects that haven’t turned into anything yet,” Layne said.
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16 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
CVI SPOTLIGHT: SEPTEMBER 2019 Battling Sexism: The WTUI Goes Idyllwild Film Fest Uses Star Power to Promote Diversity
he town of Idyllwild on one September weekend will be taken over by a film festival that emphasizes diversity. The inaugural Women Under the Influence Goes Idyllwild film festival, according to founder Tabitha Denholm, will be a lot like a music festival … just with movies. “Think Coachella on a smaller scale, but without the feathers and bikinis,” said Tabitha Denholm with a laugh. “I am obsessed with the idea of diversity. This year, we have legendary documentary director Barbara Kopple, who perhaps will be next to a first-time director, who is next to someone who rocks a mean air bass guitar. Everyone is included and welcomed.” Women Under the Influence is a community founded by Denholm in 2015 with this goal: “By sharing the stories of cinema directed by women, through events and media, WUTI pushes back against the industry’s bias.” The festival is the brainchild of Denholm, creative director Laura Rule, and Meredith Rogers, the vice president of cultural programming at NeueHouse, a collaborative workspace in New York and Los Angeles. “We all have our roles and know our parts. We mix well together,” Denholm said. The idea began at NeueHouse in Los Angeles. “In other large cities, there are communities around films, and we just didn’t feel that here in L.A., of all places. So we started one.” How did they pick Idyllwild as the location? “I had heard about Idyllwild and thought it was going to have like a wine-country sort of feeling, so I drove up there in my old convertible with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt on,” Denholm said. “I got there, and it was snowing! In fact, we had to stay the night there, because we got stuck in a blizzard!
A screening of the legendary 1969 film Lions Love (... and Lies) will take place as part of the WUTI Goes Idyllwild film festival.
… Where else can you find a town so close to L.A. with art schools, cinema and a wonderful energy?” Energy is a key ingredient in WUTI. “We are inclusive. We have a broad focus on what should be in our festival,” Denholm said. “We screen films that we like. There is no submission process. We just make a list and then bug people until they come.” When asked what festival films are her favorites, Denholm responded that she had no “favorites.” “But I love Grind Reset Shine by Margarita Jimeno. It’s about the demise of the male ego. Crystal Swan by Darya Zhuk is also a good one to catch.” A portion of the festival has been set aside for preteens and teens. “On Saturday, Sept. 21, we devote a large part of it to Gen Z,” Denholm said. “There will be talks for teens
by teen directors.” Denholm said she hopes Women Under the Influence Goes Idyllwild becomes an annual event. “Our ambition is to grow incrementally with what we can handle. Our dream is that it will be a destination for people meeting up and making new friends,” she said. “This is not just for women; anyone can come, but we felt it was important to give women a platform. There is sexism in directing; that is getting better, but it still is an issue. The way women have been portrayed in films has had a huge impact on how the audience thinks of women on a subconscious level. It affects us all; if a man is the one writing or directing he doesn’t always see things from her point of view.” Other highlights of this year’s festival
schedule include singer Karen O, the front woman of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, discussing the music she’s created in films; director Kimberly Peirce, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Boys Don’t Cry; and director Penelope Spheeris, who will join actress Tia Carrere to screen and discuss the legendary Wayne’s World. Women Under the Influence Goes Idyllwild will take place from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 20-22, at various venues in Idyllwild. All-festival admission costs $225, with discounts for teens and Idyllwild residents (use the code IDYPASS online); children 12 and younger are admitted for free. For tickets or more information, visit www. wutigoesidyllwild.com. —L.A. Rowell
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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 17
18 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
ARTS & CULTURE
FOR WOMEN, BY WOMEN
The first Palm Springs Women’s Week celebrates ‘lesbian culture and thought’ and is open to all
By jimmy boegle
fter five successful years, the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival took a hiatus in 2018. “We got off to a very good start and picked up a nice audience,” said Gail Christian, one of the producers. “Then after a couple of years, our audience wasn’t growing. “The problem is that jazz is really only 2 percent of the music audience—and then (we were slicing) that even smaller, into women’s jazz. We felt that we needed to put more in the mix to bring a larger audience in. As much as people lesbian events. But we really see ourselves as liked our events, not everyone was a jazz fan.” political activists, and everything that we do on Thus, Palm Springs Women’s Week was some level is politically centered. Like the Jazz born. The inaugural week will take place Festival, for instance: While it’s about music, Sunday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 6, at it’s about women musicians and how they are venues across the Coachella Valley. The week underpaid and underserved in their profession. is being billed as “a celebration of lesbian The whole idea is not only to have an audience culture and thought”—although all people, come, but for these players to get paid. men included, are welcome—and includes art, “Having said that, there are all sorts of parties, lectures, dance, singing and all sorts other events we decided we would like to do of other events. The week includes the return that never seemed to make it to the drawing of the Women’s Jazz Festival, on Friday and board. Out of all that came an idea: Why don’t Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5, and the L-Fund Golf we take the Jazz Festival and a lot of these Tournament, taking place Saturday, Oct. 5. other things that we’re interested in doing The week is produced by Christian and her that highlight women’s achievements, and partner, Lucy DeBardelaben. put it all into something called Palm Springs “We call ourselves producers and promoters, Women’s Week?” but that’s not what really what we consider The week came to fruition with help from ourselves to be,” Christian said. “We consider The L-Fund, a group founded in 2012 that ourselves to be activists. Lucy and I have a long assists local lesbians facing a short-term history of being involved in feminist events, financial crisis, and offers grants to lesbians for
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Women’s Week will include a “Food and Wine Party” featuring a variety of women chefs, including La Tasha McCutchen, a winner of Hell’s Kitchen.
higher education or skilled training. “I’m very close with Barbara Carpenter,” The L-Fund’s executive director, “and I was talking to her about the golf tournament, and said, ‘Well, you’ve got women coming in for the golf tournament,’” Christian said. “And she said, ‘Yes, and often those women ask, “What else is there to do?”’ And so she thought that would be a good idea if we could place Women’s Week around the Golf Tournament, and anchor the week with the Jazz Festival and the golf tournament.” The week features a diverse slate of events— from jazz singer Rose Mallett paying tribute to Sarah Vaughan, to a “Power Gathering” during which a panel of local lesbian leaders will discuss current events before a screening of the documentary film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Palm Springs Woman’s Club will be the site of a “Food and Wine Party” featuring a variety of women chefs, including La Tasha McCutchen, a winner of Hell’s Kitchen, and Nena Balestier, a winner of Chopped. “Food has defined women’s roles in the family,” Christian said. “While they’ve always been able to cook at home, they’ve had a very difficult time becoming, quote, ‘a chef.’ It’s only in the past 20 years that we’ve seen women really start to come out of the woodwork as chefs. So we’re going to talk about not only chefs and their food, but we’re also going to talk about the relationship between food and women.”
Christian said she’s also excited about the festival’s emphasis on women in art, with an exhibit at Barba Contemporary Art Gallery (191 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs), and the spotlight on an unheralded collection of historic lesbian memorabilia called the June L. Mazer archive. It’ll be on display throughout Women’s Week at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. “It’s a very important archive that most people don’t know anything about. It is a 2,500-piece lesbian archive; my understanding is it started out in someone’s home,” Christian said. “… They really have done I think a wonderful job, with very little money, of pulling together a quite impressive archive. They are bringing about 50 pieces to Palm Springs that we’ll have on display all week.” Christian said that Palm Springs Women’s Week is coming at a crucial time for lesbians— and all women. “It’s important for the same reason that the civil rights movement is still important: Certainly, there have been gains made, but in this particular political climate, it’s very easy to see how easy it is to lose those gains, or to see them being eroded, unless you stay on top of it,” Christian said. Palm Springs Women’s Week takes place Sunday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 6, at various venues across the valley. For a complete schedule, tickets and more information, visit www. palmspringswomensweek.com.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 19
ARTS & CULTURE
COMEDY AS HEALING By andy lara
elipe Esparza is a funny guy—something he proved by winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing back in 2010. Almost a decade later, the Los Angeles-based comedian has since been featured on comedy specials on HBO and Showtime, and is working with Fox to develop a sitcom. See him for yourself when he returns to the area for a show at Morongo Casino Resort Spa on Sunday, Sept. 15. Esparza is no stranger to the Coachella people travelling to this country and risking Valley—he’s performed before at Spotlight everything on the way, because he knows the 29, for starters—but during a recent phone dangers first-hand. interview, he said he’s never performed at “It was a different time back then,” Esparza, Morongo before … although he joked that he 43, said about the era when his family came to has lost a lot of money there. the United States, when he was young. “When Esparza said he wants to make the world Ronald Reagan took over, everything changed, a better place through comedy. He credits but every generation has their own issues.” comedy for helping him overcome a drug The difference between the 1980s and now, addiction; in fact, he said he made the decision Esparza said, is technology. to pursue a comedy career while in rehab. “The technology allows us to see what’s “I have people coming up to me after shows going on,” he said. “Most of the outrage and all the time, saying they felt terrible all week, shock over the immigration issue is from but after attending my show, they feel better,” young people. Ask anyone who’s 65. They’ll tell he said. you, ‘Man, this has been going on for years. Making people feel better with jokes is just None of this is new.’” one aspect of Esparza’s life. He has two rescue Esparza said talking and arguing online dogs (a pit bull and a pit bull mutt) and is a (“fighting on Instagram,” as he put it) won’t vegan. While Esparza said his comedy is not lead to change. He believes that change comes politically charged, the personal is political, as from getting out and doing work in the the saying goes—and since a lot of Esparza’s streets—via volunteering and charity work— comedy is personal, it gets political. and being present for life’s responsibilities, like Take immigration, for example: Esparza work and loved ones. illegally came to the United States as a young Esparza said he’s planning on filming an immigrant, and he pointed out that many entire show in Spanish and an entire show in people who love to talk about the issue have English during his current tour, for an upcoming no idea what it’s truly like to make the journey. Netflix special. He said he’s proud to follow in Esparza is quick to commend the bravery of the footsteps of other Latino comedians, like
Felipe Esparza brings his bilingual, personal comedy to Morongo
George Lopez, Carlos Mencia, and so on. “People aren’t used to seeing people like me,” he says. To Esparza, wellness is important, and he regularly hops on the treadmill. He also spends a lot of time on his What’s Up Fool? podcast, during which he talks with other comics about the work they do and tries to build a supportive community. It’s all an extension of how he was before he was famous, when he said he would work on his routine with co-workers or tell his
jokes to strangers, practicing his act in front of anyone who would listen. Esparza also tries to never makes jokes that hurt people—although he does take chances, because that’s what comedy is all about. Felipe Esparza will perform at 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $39. For tickets or more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.
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20 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
ARTS & CULTURE
HIGH-FLYING SHOW By david kenniston
t’s a super-big challenge to fly. That the reason it’s taken more than 20 years for the Palm Canyon Theatre to put on the popular musical Peter Pan—but the venerable downtown Palm Springs theater will launch its new season with a production of the classic musical, on Friday, Sept. 20. Paul Grant, who will play Captain Hook, discussed the show inside the spacious Palm Canyon Theatre auditorium on the northern side of Foy”—the company started by Peter Foy, downtown Palm Springs. Songs and dancing the designer of the flight systems from the and costumes and scenery are all fine and original production, which have been used in dandy, Grant said, but to really get Peter Pan nearly every production since. off the ground … you have to really get Peter “It’s very expensive,” Grant said. “They’ve Pan—not to mention Wendy, Michael and wanted to do it for a long time, but kept John Darling—off the ground, to make their pushing it off” due to the significant cost—up way to Neverland. To replicate the show’s to $10,000 for a two-week run, depending on signature theatrical effect that sends multiple the package, according to information from actors aloft, Grant said, “You have to hire the Flying by Foy website. But the theater
Paul Grant and Kellee McQuinn in Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Peter Pan. Paul Hayashi
The Palm Canyon Theatre kicks off its new season with ‘Peter Pan’
“had a good year this past year, so they’re in a better position, and they wanted to bring (the idea) back to life,” Grant said. Peter Pan was a great fit for the seasonopener, because the Palm Canyon Theatre operates a Kids’ Camp for six weeks every summer. “We wanted to do a show coming out of the summer that was inclusive of the kids,” Grant said. And what better choice than a beloved musical about a boy who won’t grow up? J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, debuted in 1904, and has been staged in a variety of forms ever since. After the popular 1953 Disney animated film, the 1954 stage musical adaptation, starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, enjoyed
a sold-out limited Broadway run. Peter Pan solidified its place in theatrical canon through subsequent televised re-stagings on NBC, in 1955 and 1956—as well as a 1960 standalone special that most people know today, thanks to numerous rebroadcasts and a home-video release. In 2014, NBC broadcast Peter Pan Live!, a new, slightly rewritten production with additional songs that starred Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. Peter Pan is one of few American productions with roots in the traditions of pantomime, a style of family-friendly musical comedy developed in England with roots in 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte. Conventions of pantomime include song, dance, gags, slapstick comedy and cross-dressing lead characters—with, in the case of Peter Pan, the mischievous hero played by a young woman in men’s clothing. Kellee McQuinn takes on the title role in this production. Grant plays the more-earthbound role of Captain Hook, a pirate with a bone to pick with Peter, because the boy cut off his hand and fed it to a crocodile—whose ravenous appetite for the remainder of Captain Hook makes it a constant, unnerving reptilian presence. Hook is “evil but fun,” said Grant, who also plays the Darlings’ initially imperious father. The dual casting is traditional, and not accidental. Grant offered a casual theory: Though the story is about a boy who won’t grow up, several other characters do grow over the course of the play, especially Wendy, the eldest Darling child— but so does her father, who at the end is a far more patient and gracious figure. “The experience of traveling through their children’s fantasy has changed the way that he responds to them,” Grant suggested. However, Grant emphasized that, as of the interview, rehearsals had yet to begin for the specific production. “In the end,” Grant said, “the actor is just a color. The director is the painter.” Longtime Palm Canyon Theatre principal Se Layne will direct and choreograph. Peter Pan will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $32 to $36, with discounts. For tickets or more information, call 760-323-5123, or visit www. palmcanyontheatre.org.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 21
ARTS & CULTURE
MOVIES WITH MESSAGES By david kenniston
inema Diverse, Palm Springs’ LGBTQ film festival, is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year as it returns over two September weekends, featuring dramas, documentaries, themed sets of sorts and even web series. The festival, a production of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, is being presented a little differently this year, according to Cultural Center spokesman Tim Rains. “(In the past), we had a second weekend for speaks directly to how the trans community the Best of Fest, where we’d show some of the has become the new target,” Rains said. films again at the Mary Pickford Theatre, but Another central topic of the film is this year, we did all original content,” he said. reparative or conversion therapy—and the “It allows us to show a lot more films.” immense damage it causes. During the first, extended weekend— “The film has hope in it, but it is also a Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 19-22— hard film,” Rains said. “We wanted to put screenings will take place at the Cultural it at the forefront of the conscience of the Center. During the second weekend—Friday community here.” and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28—the festival Other highlights of the 2019 festival lineup will move to the Mary Pickford Is D’Place in (with the synopses as provided on the festival Cathedral City. website): This year’s festival features a number of Last Ferry (3:15 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21): trans stories and filmmakers, Rains said, as well “When a young gay lawyer arrives on Fire as a particularly strong slate of films by and Island to explore his sexuality, he becomes about women. Other films touch on hot-button witness to a murder after being mugged, and topics such as immigration and gender nonthen drugged. A stranger helps him to safety, conformity, through humor and drama alike. but he soon discovers his savior may be friends Opening the festival on Thursday, Sept. with the killer.” 19, at 7:30 p.m. is For They Know Not What Spider Mites of Jesus: The Dirtwoman They Do, an unflinching examination of the Documentary (5:45 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21): impact that some religion can have on the “When he was an infant, he suffered from the lives of LGBTQ people. From Daniel Karslake, ‘Spider Mites of Jesus’ (his mother couldn’t the director/producer of renowned 2007 pronounce spinal meningitis). This caused documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, the new mental challenges that resulted in his lifelong documentary shows how conservatives are illiteracy. At 13, he began selling his body on using religion to fight LGBTQ rights. the streets as a drag prostitute. When he was “It reminds a lot of us that we’re in a arrested, he took a dump in the back of the bubble here in Palm Springs, and there are a police car, leading the cops to give him the lot of issues going on out there,” Rains said of moniker: Dirtwoman.” the film. Del Shores’ Six Characters in Search of a Two of the four stories told in the Play (7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22): “Shores is documentary center on trans individuals. “It inspired by Pirandello’s classic play to bring you six characters inspired by his real-life encounters that haven’t quite made it into one of Shores’ plays, films or TV shows. In 90 minutes, the audience will hear the truth behind how he collected these eccentrics, then he will portray them in classic Shores’ monologue style.” The Ground Beneath My Feet (7:45 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22): In this drama, “Lola controls her personal life with the same ruthless efficiency she uses to optimize profits in her job as a business consultant. But when a tragic event forces the past back into her life, Lola’s grip on reality seems to slip away.” Retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, in a Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm scene from opening-night film For They Know Not Street (7 p.m., Friday Sept. 27): “Campy and What They Do.
Cinema Diverse, the valley’s LGBTQ film festival, highlights trans issues and films by women in its 12th year
homoerotic, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has often been called the gayest horror film that Hollywood’s ever made. For Mark Patton, a young actor, it was a true nightmare, as the homophobic backlash effectively ended his film career—and banished him into Garbo-like exile. This defiant documentary tells the triumphant tale of the ‘revenge of first male scream queen,’ while also cautioning today’s LGBTQ community that the nightmare isn’t over.”
Cinema Diverse takes place Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 19-22, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road; and Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28, at Mary Pickford Is D’Place, 36850 Pickfair St., in Cathedral City. Tickets for individual films are $13.50; a “sixpack,” allowing admission to six films, is $75; all-access passes are $179. For tickets or more information, including the complete schedule, visit psculturalcenter.org/filmfest.
22 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
FOOD & DRINK
A trip to Vindemia Winery shows Temecula’s amazing wine potential
By Katie finn
LOVE YOUR HAIR
very now and then, wonderful things come out of not-so-wonderful experiences. This fact has never been truer for me than the outcome that resulted from a snarky but well-intentioned article I wrote regarding my brief encounters in Temecula wine country. The purpose of the original piece was not to lambaste the entire region, but to shine a light on the Temecula “wineries” that somehow receive the most visitor attention … without themselves actually paying any attention to the wines. Country Club and Cook Street I really wanted to get a chance to do the “Temecula, Part 2: Palm The Redemption” story, but truthfully, De sert I was nervous that it might not happen. Even though I was serious when I said I hadn’t given up on Temecula, I feared there was a possibility that up to 760-340-5959 the shaded patio. The lack of pretension Temecula wasn’t worth saving, wine-wise. was disarming and refreshing. In fact, one of Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. my favorite moments was when Katie assured www.jasondavidhairstudio.net What followed was an email from a winery in my husband that the bathrooms were clean Temecula that invited me to come out for a visit … because she had cleaned them herself that so I could see that there is, in fact, a winery of morning. There was no such thing as a job that substance there taking this business seriously. was beneath her. Through a series of friendly and professional Over the course of two hours, we tasted 12 emails, it was arranged that my husband and wines. We learned how owner David Bradley I would venture over the mountain to give transitioned from being a commercial hot-airTemecula another shot. balloon pilot into being a winemaker—it’s not The rugged, rocky terrain slowly gave way as far-fetched as you would imagine—and how to gently sloping hills, and we found ourselves he’s had the same vineyard manager since day back in Southern California Wine Country. We one, some 14 years ago. turned down a little gravel road, surrounded by As we nibbled on fresh bread and local olive hillside vineyards—and a quaint, unassuming oil, there were several pieces of information terraced patio was in front of us. We had arrived Katie shared with us as the tasting progressed at Vindemia Winery. that I found fascinating. The first was the There is something charming and relaxing full disclosure regarding where the grapes about this place—a familiarity that resembles come from, and all the technical information the comfort of stopping by a friend’s place for regarding the winemaking chemistry on the a glass of wine and a chat. You can imagine, back label. Katie explained that they strive for quite easily, that this is what Napa felt like 45 “absolute transparency” with their wines. They years ago, when wine-tastings happened at want you to know exactly which grapes they dining room-tables or on the back patios of grow; which wines feature grapes from other winemakers’ homes. Before mega-mansions and Temecula vineyards; and which feature grapes egos. It felt good—and real. they source from Santa Ynez. In case you’re Walking up the flagstone steps to the outdoor curious, they are about 70 percent estate grown, tasting bar, I finally got to meet the enigmatic with six different varietals planted. young lady who orchestrated this meeting. On the back label of their wines, you’ll see With genuine warmth and graciousness, Katie an actual ingredient list—all the elements Zuber, the tasting-room manager, escorted us that went into making that particular wine,
everything from tartaric acid, sulfur dioxide and bentonite, to cultivated yeast. “Why?” you might ask—and I’d be inclined to agree with you. I’ve never seen another winery offer up those kinds of specifics, and at first, I thought giving the general consumer so much information that they won’t understand could be a detriment. But as it was explained to me: It’s all part of Vindemia’s objective to educate wine-lovers and create an environment of transparency and trust. The idea: Arming the buyer with as much information as possible is a positive thing that can spark thoughtful questions and conversations about winemaking. Whoa. My inner wine geek was doing cartwheels! Once we were on our third red wine, I noticed that the wines were cool—not cold, and not chilled to the point where you couldn’t smell aromas, but at that enjoyable red-wine sweet spot where they’re cool enough to still be refreshing without the flavors being dulled. I leaned over and asked Katie if she was chilling the reds, and a huge smile washed over her face. Just behind me, facing the other side of the tasting bar, was a large chalkboard that prominently featured the temperatures for both the whites and reds being poured that day. Wait ... what? You temperature-control your wines at a rustic outdoor tasting bar? As we continued our tasting, another small group arrived. Ah-ha! Now I’ll get to see how an unplanned tasting is conducted! Who’s gonna break out the bachelorette penis straws? When do the rowdy hay-bail rides start while “Baby Got Back” plays over the loudspeaker? Nope. Karen—the other consummate professional behind the bar, with a keen palate, warm smile and laid-back demeanor—delivered to that group the same educational, hospitalityfocused experience I was getting. Yep: Vindemia Winery is the real deal. As we continued our tasting—with an aged
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Vindemia’s tasting bar includes a large chalkboard that features the temperatures for all wines being poured that day. Vindemia Estate Winery Facebook
cabernet franc, a few zinfandel-based blends, a traditional “Bordeaux style” cabernet sauvignonbased blend, an estate petite sirah, a cabernet, a merlot and a GSM blend—I realized how all these wines are so varietally correct. They didn’t taste like wines from a region fumbling through its infancy. They didn’t taste like wines that are trying to be something they’re not. They weren’t over-extracted or over-manipulated. They were balanced, and the flavors were seamless and integrated. They were mature yet full of life. I’ve always maintained that it takes a long time for a region to figure out what to grow, and then even longer to figure out how to grow it well. It’s an exercise in patience, passion, fortitude and skill. No great wine region is born overnight, and it takes a village of masterful and forward-thinking individuals to not only see the potential of a region, but harness its ability to produce great wine. I now understand Temecula’s potential. And I can’t wait to go back for more. Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with more than 15 years in the wine industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. award-winning
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FOOD & DRINK
CAESAR CERVISIA L
Meet Will Sperling, a craft-beer expert who’s now the food and beverage manager at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club
By brett newton
ast month, I said my next column would be about a “craft-beer institution from the past that still has not been matched in this valley”—and it seems I lied. I will bring that to you soon, but I want to make sure I take the time necessary to do it well. To make up for it, I’m writing about a place—and its beer festival that took place in early August—which is vying to become the aforementioned institution’s long-awaited successor. The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Palm Springs opened in 2009. The Ace folks renovated “a midcentury desert modern former Westward Ho with a Denny’s” into a hipster paradise. The hotel bar, the Amigo Room, includes many craft-beer taps. In the early years, the Ace and the Amigo had a great rag-tag staff of people who cared easy. I don’t know why people haven’t done it about craft beer and strove to put the best already. Los Angeles is right there.” beers they could get on tap. From this, the He listed additional breweries he wanted to Craft Beer Weekend emerged. As small as it has bring out for the festival that just couldn’t make been in square footage, Craft Beer Weekend it, like Highland Park Brewery in L.A., and 3 has consistently been one of the better beer Floyds Brewing in Indiana. To my knowledge, festivals in the Coachella Valley. these two breweries’ beers have never been The cherry on top? It’s in the dead of summer. served here in the desert. He had to “settle” for Will Sperling was recently hired as the food the likes of Bottle Logic Brewing, Horus Aged and beverage manager for the Ace Hotel from Ales, Pizza Port Brewing and Mumford Brewing, his former position as general manager at among others. Many of these breweries had Mikkeller DTLA, a juggernaut of a craft-beer their head brewers pouring at the festival. bar. It was subsequently announced that this I met Jeff Bagby, former director of year’s Craft Beer Weekend, which took place brewing operations at Pizza Port—and Aug. 3 and 4, would be two beer festivals on San Diego brewing royalty—at the festival two consecutive weekend days, with a brewery pouring Bagby Beer Company’s true-to-style list that would make even people who live in and gorgeous beers. beer meccas turn their heads. When I saw the “Last year’s festival, there were 40 or so name De Garde Brewing on the list, I took breweries here,” Sperling said. “This year, there notice, as it is perhaps my favorite sour-ale were less than 30. … I’ve cut out all the filler— brewery in the country right now, and the beer not necessarily bad beer, but I don’t want any is very hard to get hold of without trekking to beer that you can find in local grocery stores. It the taproom in Tillamook, Ore. (yes, the place defeats the purpose of putting on a beer festival. with the cheese). I reached out to Sperling to I want to bring beer that no one has ever seen get his thoughts on the festival and the future before. And the cool thing is that I’ve ordered of craft beer—not only at the Ace, but in the multiple kegs for the event that will be on in the Coachella Valley overall. Amigo Room for a little while after the event, so “One of the main things I want to do is bring people can come and enjoy them … in normalout a bunch of new breweries to the desert,” sized glasses.” (The last part of that quote will Sperling told me during an interview at the be understood by people who read last month’s King’s Highway diner inside the Ace. “And it’s column.)
Sperling has the bona fides to back up what he says. Before opening Mikkeller DTLA, he headed Lantern Hall in Brooklyn; worked at the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York City; and managed The Craft Beer Company in London, on his home turf, England. What is interesting about this resumé is the timing: Every city he worked in was experiencing a huge upsurge in its local beer scene while he worked there. I have a habit of asking people who move here from a major city—tongue in cheek, of course—why here? What would bring a boy from Kent in the southeast of England to our neck of the woods? “I’ve been coming to the desert for a while,” Sperling said. “I used to come to the Ace, in fact, and hang out here if I just had a day off from L.A., and my wife and I could get away for the night. … We were looking to buy somewhere, and we couldn’t afford anything in Los Angeles. We had a little bit of money, and we wanted to invest in something—not necessarily somewhere we’re going to live forever, but something we could do that would give us a little back on an investment. So we bought this little cabin up in Twentynine Palms—an old, derelict cabin in the middle of nowhere,
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off a dirt road off a dirt road—and for the last two years, we’ve been fixing that up. It’s been a real joy. We go up there, and we don’t see any people. “I knew a few people who worked here at the hotel, and I saw they had a position open to run the bar here. I thought, ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s get out of L.A. and try something different.’” Craft-beer lovers will be reaping the benefits of his presence. I was while I was interviewing Will—drinking a pint of English-style pale ale from the unique Yorkshire Square Brewing out of Torrance. In upcoming months, I’m going to be focusing on craft-beer culture, and how it is grown. You’ll be hearing more from Sperling and others regarding how we can raise the bar in the future. If you’re as interested in making this beautiful place we call home a better destination when it comes to beer … stay tuned. Brett Newton is a certified cicerone (like a sommelier for beer) and homebrewer who has mostly lived in the Coachella Valley since 1988. He currently works at the Coachella Valley Brewing Co. taproom in Thousand Palms. He can be reached at email@example.com. award-winning
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FOOD & DRINK
ON COCKTAILS I
Syrups—both simple and more complex— are easy to make and wonderful to enjoy
BY kevin carlow
f you want something done right, do it yourself. Yes, there are things best left to professionals, like distilling grappa, dentistry and putting in a new electrical subpanel. However, when I think about all the years I was forced to use mixers that came in shiny bags or bottles—full of food additives and powdered egg whites and dyes—I cringe. Also, I get it: For many people who give up bartending to become management, a goodly chunk of their pay is incentive bonuses. They have to make the ownership money. Luckily, in 2019, we have a fair share of beverage directors who stake their reputations on quality and owners who have come around to the idea of having such a bar manager. We certainly have several here in the Coachella Valley—but this isn’t about them, not this month. Back to doing it yourself: Why is anyone buying simple syrup? I walk through the aisles of supermarkets and liquor stores and see bottles of simple syrup for almost $10 a bottle. It’s called “simple” for a reason, people! It costs 50 cents to make. Grab your food scale; weigh a pound (or half-kilogram) of sugar; put it in a tightly sealed container with an equal weight of ice-cold water. Now shake it like it insulted your momma. It will be cloudy, but the cloudiness will dissipate in time. Don’t have a food scale? No problem; just use equal parts by volume … only a total nerd would object. I like the cold-shake method over the heat method, because there is no evaporation: You get exactly what you put in. It does stay cloudy for some time, so don’t make it right when you’re going to need it. Most bartenders make simple using the hot method: Use the same recipe; put it over a flame and stir, or add super-hot water to the sugar—carefully—and stir until dissolved. OK … now that you have these methods down pat, why not take your syrup game to the next level? The easiest way to wow your friends may be an Earl Grey-tea syrup. This has become such a standard in the industry that when I was in a recent drink competition, I used one for my entry … as did three other bartenders. (It wasn’t a great way to stand out, but we are bar geeks. Maybe next time I will use oolong.) Unless you’re in a competition, don’t worry; most people have never tasted the lovely flavor of tea and bergamot in a cocktail. Simply make a strong tea; pour it into the same amount of sugar; and stir. When it’s fully cooled, use it in an old fashioned with gin and a twist of lemon. This is a great alternative old fashioned for the hot weather we still have in the Coachella Valley, as it’s more refreshing than its whiskey cousin: 2 ounces of Plymouth gin (or other light CVIndependent.com
bodied gin) ½ ounce of Earl Grey syrup 2 dashes of orange bitters Stir over some ice cubes; serve with a twist of lemon. Make a bee’s knees or gold rush with it, and your friends will be talking about for months. In fact, you can make it the way I did for the contest—as honey syrup—and tell me if I was robbed: Just use extra, extra strong tea, and stir into double the amount of honey. I added some lemon zest and lemongrass as well; it didn’t come through in the finished product enough to make it “mandatory,” but if you have it sitting around, feel free. I used egg white, which isn’t the standard recipe but mighty delicious. Feel free to omit it if you don’t like good things … but otherwise: Drop an egg white into a shaker 2 ounces of dry (or barrel-aged for extra credit) gin for the bee’s knees, or 2 ounces of bourbon for the gold rush 3/4 to 1 ounce of honey syrup 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice Shake without ice for five to 10 seconds. Add ice, and shake another 10 seconds or until the shaker is nicely frosted. Strain through a fine strainer into a Nick and Nora or coupe glass, and grate a shortbread (or other tea-time-appropriate cookie) over the top with a microplane into a thick line. It’s a little extra, but it will make your guests say, “Oh, I have never seen that before”—and that’s the point, right? Not a big fan of tea? No problem: If you have some rosemary, or lavender, or thyme, or any other shrubby herb, you can use that to make a great syrup, too! Just take your sugar and water to a simmer; add herbs; turn off the heat; and let it cool. Be sure to remove the herbs when you get the flavor level that you’re looking for, by the way; it can get too strong quickly. Oh, and if it does get too strong, don’t throw it out; just add some plain simple syrup to tame it. Once it’s cooled, you can make a
A tequila gimlet with candied chilis. Kevin Carlow
refreshing non-alcoholic lemonade out of it: 2 ounces of herbed simple 2 ounces of fresh lemon juice 3 ounces of water Shake with ice, and dump into a tall glass. Of course, feel free to add vodka or gin if you could use a tipple. One last twist on syrups: You can make what’s known as an oleo saccharum out of pretty much any citrus peel. Just peel the zest off of the fruit; cover it with sugar; and shake in a mason jar. Then give it the occasional shake until it’s a syrup. I will go into this more when I do an article on punches, but for now, here’s a little tip: You can use hot chilis with the same technique! I use a mix of serrano and Fresno chilis, and slice into fine rings. Ditch most of the seeds, but keep the membranes, and cover with lots of sugar. Shake in the jar … and I like
to leave the sealed jar in the hot desert sun. This speeds the process along and adds some more ripeness and fruitiness to the finished syrup—but don’t leave it out there too long. Use a couple of teaspoons of this syrup, after straining, with an ounce of lime juice and two of tequila, and shake over ice next time you’re craving a spicy margarita. No, it’s not a margarita; it’s more of a gimlet. No need to tell anyone, though. Feel free to add some mezcal if you have trendy friends coming. Oh, and you get candied chili peppers, too! Not only are they delicious; they make a great garnish. Drop a couple in the glass, or if you’re barbecuing chicken or pork, make an hors d’oeuvre with a chunk of meat and a candied chili ring on a toothpick. Talk about a pairing! However you ride out the rest of the summer, now you can make it a little sweeter. Kevin Carlow is a bartender at Truss and Twine, and can be reached at CrypticCocktails@gmail.com.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 25
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2019 @ THE RIVIERA PALM SPRINGS
Honoring Brian Rix
Outgoing Board Chair
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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 27
FOOD & DRINK INDY ENDORSEMENT Shrimp is on the menu this month—in two delicious ways
By Jimmy Boegle WHAT The grilled shrimp tacos WHERE El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs HOW MUCH $13 CONTACT 888-340-8226; www.elpatronps.com WHY They’re simply delicious. It was a bit strange to walk into the space I’d known for years as the downtown Palm Springs Starbucks … and instead find a vibrant, colorful Mexican restaurant. Strange … but good. Starbucks fans (A note to y’all: Considering buying local instead, damn it!) have a gorgeous new Reserve shop across the street, and fans of tasty Mexican fare and yummy drinks now have El Patron. I stopped in for a recent weekday lunch, walked to the counter where one orders, and requested the shrimp tacos and a michelada ($10) with Negro Modelo. Take note of these prices: They ain’t cheap. Fortunately, everything that showed up at my table a short time later was delicious. The tacos, in particular, were fantastic: The Mexican white shrimp (you can get ’em either fried or grilled) were prepared juuust right, topped with cabbage and pico de gallo, and tucked in a thick, house-made tortilla. They came with a handful of house-made chips and a red salsa. The person who dropped off the food asked if I wanted any other salsas; after he listed a spicy green salsa as one of the options, I responded with an enthusiastic: “Yes, please!” It was splendid. My one concern about El Patron involves those aforementioned prices: A block and a half away, I can get two shrimp tacos of similar quality—and get table service to boot—at a beloved restaurant for $2 less (or $4 less if it’s after 9 p.m.). Tourists won’t care, of course, but cost-conscious locals may. Aside from that one potential problem, I must tip my figurative hat to El Patron. The service is great; the food is delicious; and the vibe inside that former Starbucks is fun and festive.
WHAT The boom boom shrimp WHERE Kitchen 86 + Bar, 73130 El Paseo, Suite I, Palm Desert HOW MUCH $13 at lunch CONTACT 760-890-1586; www.kitchen-86.com WHY These are some tasty bites. The first word that comes to mind when I think of Kitchen 86 + Bar is welcoming. I was greeted enthusiastically as I walked in the door for lunch one recent weekday at this locally owned “modern eclectic small plate restaurant,” in the space that once housed Wolfgang Puck’s El Paseo outpost. The vibe is upscale and energetic, but not pretentious, and the lunch menu is a lot of fun: You’ll find “sharables,” some named after people (Kerry’s crispy calamari, Winston’s hummus, Abel’s salmon tacos), along with sandwiches, salads, pizza and some kids’ selections. My lunch companion, Kevin, and I split the boom-boom shrimp to start, while I selected the agu ramen ($15) as my main course. This was one of those occasions when the starter far outshined the main: The ramen was just OK, while the boom-boom shrimp were revelatory. The bite-sized shrimp were perfectly cooked, and covered (but not drenched) in the spicy-but-not-too-hot Thai chili glaze. The accompanying organic greens, lightly dressed, were fresh and tasty. My one complaint: We wanted more. Kevin is a mensch, so he let me have the lion’s share of the shrimp, and they were delicious enough that I felt bad about that. Some may complain about the portion size, given the $13 price tag—but I don’t mind paying a buck or two extra for something that’s well-prepared with quality ingredients. Because this was lunch on a work day, I abstained from cocktails—which was a bummer, because Kitchen 86 + Bar’s cocktail menu looks fantastic, as does the happy hour. I also love the fact that Kitchen 86 + Bar is open until 2 a.m. every night! I can’t wait to be welcomed back in the future to enjoy libations—and some more of that fantastic boom-boom shrimp.
Happy Hour! 4 to 6 daily
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Restaurant NEWS BITES By Jimmy Boegle OWNER OF 533 VIET FUSION TO OPEN ROLY CHINA FUSION IN FORMER ALEBRIJE SPACE One of downtown Palm Springs’ best restaurants is no more—but a veteran restaurateur is going to take over that restaurant’s space and hopefully fill a culinary need. Here’s how it all went down: Alebrije Bistro Mexico, at 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early July. The Mexico City-style upscale restaurant announced on Facebook: “Dear amigos, Alebrije will be closed for the rest of the summer. See you again in September!” Within a couple of weeks, however, it became apparent that Alebrije would not be seeing us again in September—because Chad Gardner, the owner of both 533 Viet Fusion and Dash and a Handful Catering, announced on Facebook that he’d be opening Roly China Fusion in the space that had been Alebrije’s home. A July 28 announcement on Facebook said Roly will be “serving authentic Cantonese and Sichuan Chinese Cuisine with (Gardner’s) own modern twists. Roly China Fusion will offer an exceptional social and traditional dining experiences in our indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant.” What does all of this mean? First: The closure of Alebrije is truly a loss. For my money, it served some of the most sophisticated food and drink in the Coachella Valley. The roasted suckling pig was on my unofficial Top 10 list of the valley’s best entrées. It will be missed. Second: The opening of Roly, which could come as soon as October, will be most welcome. Gardner has been looking for his next restaurant project for a while now; he announced back in 2016 that he’d be opening a Mediterranean restaurant in the much-and-still-delayed Andaz Palm Springs hotel, but those plans fell through. Given his success with 533 Viet Fusion, I am excited to see what he’ll do with Chinese cuisine—and it’s a well-known fact that the western Coachella Valley badly needs some good Chinese fare. Watch www.rolychinafusion.com and Roly’s Facebook page for updates and more information. ACE HOTEL LAUNCHES A MONTHLY WINE-TASTING SERIES The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is holding a monthly poolside wine-tasting series in the months leading up to the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival. The Golden Grapes tastings each cost $20, will occur on a weekend day between noon and 5 p.m., and will feature a “curated selection of wineries represent(ing) just a few of the new California vintners who are transforming the landscape of wine in the Golden State and beyond,” according to a press release. On Sunday, Sept. 29, Nomadica wines will be available; on Sunday, Oct. 13, the featured winemaker will be Amy Atwood Selections. On Saturday, Nov. 9, it’ll be Scribe Wine (Nouveau). As for the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival … mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8. The Ace Hotel and Swim club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. IN BRIEF New to 72301 Country Club Drive, Suite 110, in Rancho Mirage: The Sandbox Kitchen, a deli/taco joint that opened in early August. For now, the place is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday (and Saturday, when it’s open until 9). We’re already hearing raves about the street tacos and the impressive number of vegan/vegetarian options. Call 760-565-6044, or visit facebook.com/ TheSandboxKitchen for more information. … New to 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: InKa Peruvian Cuisine. The restaurant wins our Weirdest Facebook “About” Description Award with this: “The InKa came to Palm Springs, brought with him his best dishes with which he will conquer the entire city.” OK then! The expansive menu features a lot of yummy-sounding dishes with meat and seafood, as well as some intriguing vegetarian options. InKa opens at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9 a.m. the other five days of the week; it’s open daily until at least 10 p.m. For more information, call 760-992-5311, or visit www.facebook.com/inkaperuviancuisine. … Acqua California Bistro, at The River (71800 Highway 111) in Rancho Mirage, is now offering a “Buffet Bar” every Sunday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: $7.99 will get you a selection of pizzas, pastas, salads, sliced meats and other goodies—and the house chardonnay and cabernet wines are just $4.99. Call 760-862-9800, or visit acquaranchomirage.com for more information. … Coming soon to 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 130, in downtown Palm Springs: Stout Burgers and Beers. It’ll be the sixth Stout location, joining three other Southern California locations, plus restaurants in Brentwood, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.; visit www.stoutburgersandbeers.com for more information. … Coming soon to 73040 El Paseo, in Palm Desert: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. It’s a sister restaurant to The Capital Grille chain; visit www. eddiev.com for the scoop.
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31 33 35 36
Avenida Music gets set to open a center for all things music in downtown Indio Niki Haris wants to connect with audiences after decades of backing up some of music’s biggest names Jason Nutter uses music to help special-needs students communicate and connect Pescaterritory makes fans worldwide by adding a unique twist to a classic rock
UNDEAD AND UNCOMMON
The Zombies bring hall-of-fame ’60s rock to a show with Brian Wilson at Fantasy Springs
32 Payley Photography
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The September 2019 Print Edition of the Coachella Valley Independent By the Numbers 7 articles written in this issue by staff members
EPEN EY IND
10 paid freelance writers who have articles in this issue
VOL. 7 |
17 total articles by those writers 1 article from our partners at CalMatters
me at g a na makin onkette, r e t f A dW er an d Gawk ne create y a L le’ c a r Ken O acky, esert the ‘D case the w l w fu o r h e s d to on and w weird igh desert h of the
1 paid graphic designer 5 syndicated alternative cartoons
E H T OF
T R E E S C I E O D V IGH H By Be
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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 31
AN AVENUE FOR ARTISTS A
By matt king
venida Music is the reigning Best Local Band per the Independent’s Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll—and with good reason. Not only is Avenida Music one of the top cover bands in the valley, known for putting exciting new twists on tunes we all know and love, with hundreds of songs ready to go at any given moment; the band members are setting their sights on something bigger: For the past few months, Josiah Gonzalez, Samuel making it all-ages, so that everyone can show Gonzalez, Vince Gonzalez and Sean Poe have up. It’s not going to be a bar; it’s going to be been hard at work transforming a vacant a place dedicated to music and the arts for space in the heart of downtown Indio into an everyone to access. Along with having bands oasis for artists. play here, we’re going to activate the location “This is our headquarters,” said Josiah for educational events, such as teaching during a recent interview with him and creatives how to take their art and turn it into his brother Samuel. “This is going to be a a business. We’ve been meeting with people combination of office space, rehearsal space within the city government in order to make and lessons (space). We’re going to be renting that happen, so the city can help the artistic out rehearsal space to other bands and acts, community have a voice and find a place for (and offering) lessons for every instrument in their skills.” order to be able to pay for the location,” located Samuel added: “It’s been cool seeing it at 82713 Miles Ave. all come together, much quicker than we “We want it to eventually be a space expected. This definitely isn’t something that for showcases of the music and art in our came about by accident; we’ve wanted to have community. A big part of that is developing our own space for a while, a place where we’re programs and events that highlight the artistic able to provide more opportunities to people of community of the valley. We’re sticking to the valley. We want to create an environment
Avenida Music gets set to open a center for all things music in downtown Indio
that is positive and that fosters people instead of looking down on them. That’s what’s big for us. We want this place to be as supportive as possible, so that people can take what they want to do and turn it into a living.” I’ve witnessed nothing but sheer generosity and selflessness from the Avenida Music guys—and these character traits are influencing the new space in amazing ways. “We’re working right now on a couple of partnerships with nonprofits—the AMP (Academy of Musical Performance) program as well as Desert Arc,” Josiah said. “With Desert Arc, we are working to bring in people with developmental disabilities, and they’ll be able to partner up with local musicians to do music lessons. We’re going to be donating the space for them to use, and helping them find funding to employ musicians—who wouldn’t otherwise be playing during the day—to come and teach. We’re also going to be putting a ramp on the stage, to allow people with disabilities to be able to perform. We hope to be able to partner with more nonprofits in the future.” Few local bands have ambitions as large as this one, but Avenida Music is not your
average local band. I was curious how this determination developed. “The dream has always been to get out of our parents’ garage,” Josiah explained with a laugh. “The vision wasn’t anything beyond just needing a practice room, though. As we started to build out our business plans, and plans for the future, the vision developed into what it is today. We thought of ways that we can use our space to help develop the community and build the infrastructure that helps other musicians build a career and have a place in a welcoming community.” Of course, the members of Avenida Music are already looking ahead to the next phase of development for the new space. “Our next step will be putting a recording studio in here,” Josiah said. “We want it to be capable of doing live recording sessions with both audio and video. We’re already looking toward the future, and are looking at ways to develop cost-effective music production that will be accessible to people in the Coachella Valley. We’re working toward what essentially will be a ‘music incubator.’ We want to help out with every facet of someone’s career—bringing them in, recording them, producing the music, helping with merchandise, and helping with booking and management. We need space for all of that, and our reach will evolve as opportunities arise.” While the exact date for the opening of the Little Street Studio had not yet been finalized as of this writing, it’s coming soon. “We’re looking to be launching in midSeptember,” Josiah said. “We’re going to be partnering with the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce to have a big ribboncutting grand-opening event where people can see what will be available to them here. I’m on the board for the Indio (branch of the Greater Coachella Valley) Chamber, and we’ve had a lot of support from the city. We want to be up and running fully in October; we’re going to be partnering with the city for a couple of events. Opportunities are going to show up as we continue to do what we’ve set out a vision for. “If people have any ideas … we’re open to talking to people about how we can be a resource or point others in the right direction. We want to start that conversation, building a network of advocacy starts when people come together.” For more information, visit facebook.com/ littlestreetmusic or www.littlestreetmusic.com.
Avenida Music. Briana Broyles
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The Venue REPORT
UNDEAD AND UNCOMMON
SEPTEMBER 2019 By andy lara
Summer is finally beginning to wind down— and that means some venues are waking up after summer hibernations. Here are some of the most noteworthy events happening in our warm and sandy home. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting a lot of fantastic events in September. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1, the “Something Great From 68’” tour will land at the Indio casino, bringing Brian Wilson and The Zombies to play music from their 1968 works: Wilson, the songwriting genius from the Beach Boys, will play from the albums Friends and Surf’s Up, in addition to “all the hits,” while The Zombies—recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees—will play the album Odessey and Oracle. Check out an interview with Colin Blunstone from The Zombies to your right. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, Bryan Adams will stop in to perform his pop-rock hits such as “Summer of ’69,” “Heaven” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You.” These radio staples are timeless, but seeing them live could give new life to them, and perhaps to your relationship—the show has potential to be a great date night. Tickets are $59 to $99. The Doobie Brothers, one of the most successful non-disco bands during the disco era, will hit the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14. They’ll bring more than five decades of songs to the Special Events Center … but I doubt they’ll bring doobies, since I don’t think those are allowed inside. Tickets are $39 to $69. If you like Latin music, you’ll want to be there at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, when Luis Fonsi will perform songs spanning his 20-year career, including the world-wide smash hit “Despacito,” a remix of which famously featured Justin Bieber. Tickets are $49 to $99. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, alt-rock crooner Rob Thomas, formerly of Matchbox 20—a band you might remember if you watched VH1 in the ’90s—will perform in support of his fourth solo album, Chip Tooth Smile. Though he has a wide catalog of solo material, based on continued on Page 34 CVIndependent.com
The Zombies bring hall-of-fame ’60s rock to a show with Brian Wilson at Fantasy Springs
By matt king
he Zombies are one of classic rock’s greats—and one of classic rock’s great paradoxes. Even though the band has been wildly successful—the British Invasion made “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season,” with its famous opening riff and echoey vocals, big hits in the United States—the name is unbeknownst to many. The reason? While the band is approaching its 60th anniversary, it’s been active for less than half The conditions were not ideal. that time. “It was quite physically demanding,” The Zombies will perform alongside musical Blunstone said. “We were doing huge distances, genius and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson at and often not staying in hotels after shows. We Fantasy Springs Casino Resort on Sunday, Sept. did the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars and played 1, as part of the “Something Great From ’68” with Del Shannon, Tommy Roe, the Shangritour. I was able to speak to lead vocalist Colin Las, and Velvelettes. Since some of the artists Blunstone about this opportunity. lower on the bill weren’t earning as much, we “I’ve always listened to Brian Wilson’s music would have to sleep on the bus every second with awe. I think he’s absolutely wonderful, and night: They would drive slowly through the the guys in his band are great too,” Blunstone night so we didn’t have to get a hotel. We would said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful arrive as late as possible in hopes that our experience to tour with him and his band— rooms would be ready, and we could catch a bit from a musical point of view, but also just to be of sleep before the show. We were all very tired traveling with brilliant musicians and fantastic at the end of that particular tour. people. It’s going to be a truly wonderful show!” “Dick Clark had a few different tours out in Earlier this year, the Zombies were at long last the States, and the top acts would meet up at inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the end of the tour. We went up to Canada and alongside Radiohead, The Cure, Stevie Nicks, got to play with Tom Jones, Peter and Gordon, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson and Roxy Music. Herman’s Hermits and a whole host of other “It was so exciting to get that kind of award artists at the end, which was very exciting. We in the autumn of your career,” Blunstone said. “It’s a recognition from both your fans and from played very big, sold-out venues, and there was still that ’60s hysteria. It even got a bit scary the music industry that they’ve appreciated sometimes, because the audiences got a little bit what you’ve been doing all of these years. It’s a out of control sometimes.” wonderful feeling and still very exciting.” Feeling frustrated over what they perceived The band’s momentous achievement was well deserved, as the Zombies’ career has been full of as a lack of success, the members of the Zombies parted ways in 1967. The band hard work and sacrifices. wouldn’t truly reunite until 2000. “It was nonstop craziness in the ’60s,” “We had been together since 1961, and Blunstone said. “When we first came over, we our first record was in 1964. We had only played in New York for the Murray the K’s Show been together professionally for three years, at the Brooklyn Fox on Christmas 1964. We but we worked very, very hard. I think we all opened on Christmas Day and played for about needed a break,” Blunstone said. “In 1967, the 10 days, and did six or seven shows a day! Most band finished. Maybe if we had taken a break, of the artists did one or two songs, and there we could’ve got back together. We perceived were about 15 acts on the bill: Dionne Warwick, ourselves as being unsuccessful, and it is only the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, Chuck Jackson, years later that we realized we’d always had a Ben E. King, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, hit record somewhere in the world. Without the and more. That was our first experience on a internet, we didn’t realize what was happening. stage, and it was absolutely brilliant. We were We would get the chart positions from countries a little apprehensive since we were only 19 and around the world almost two years later! came to the land of rock ’n’ roll. Every British “In ’67, we saw ourselves as unsuccessful, but musician wants to play in America, because this really, we weren’t. Everyone thought it was time is where the blues, rhythm and blues, and rock ’n’ roll originated. We came in awe of the history to move on, and so we did, but then we found ourselves in a very strange position when ‘Time of American music, and there was a very good of the Season’ reached No. 1 on the Cash Box backstage camaraderie, because we were all (magazine) chart (in 1968), and there was no away from home over Christmas, so there was a band. We were all committed to other projects, great team spirit feeling there.” and it was just too late to put the band back The Zombies went on to tour relentlessly.
together. … It’s very unusual that we didn’t get back together to promote and exploit the hit record, but it was never even talked about between us.” The members of the Zombies stayed close. They frequently collaborated on projects, including Blunstone’s debut solo album, One Year, in 1971. “(Fellow Zombies members) Rod Argent and Chris White produced many of my solo albums, which were quite successful in the U.K. and Europe, but never in America,” Blunstone said. “People think that I just stopped and didn’t start working again until recently when we regrouped, but I was always working; I just had no chart success in America, so there’s really no reference for it.” What finally led the Zombies to reunite after more than 30 years? “There was a band put together with Don Airey, who was in Deep Purple and played with Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne and many other rock groups,” Blunstone said. “He called me quite often and encouraged me to get out on the road. He put a band together, and we started touring in 1997. … Eventually, Don and the guys moved on, and we had six shows left with no keyboard player. I rang Rod Argent, who had established himself as a successful producer and had been in the studio for a long time. I didn’t think he’d want to get out on the road again, but he said he’d do those six. … Here we are, almost 20 years later, still playing. “It’s always been the same with the Zombies—we’ve always played because we just enjoy playing; there was never any thought of hit records or awards. We just really love music, and that’s always what’s driven us.” The Zombies will perform with Brian Wilson at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Drive, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $89. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www. fantasyspringsresort.com.
The Zombies. Payley Photography
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 33
SINGING WITH HEART
Niki Haris wants to connect with audiences after decades of backing up some of music’s biggest names
By L.A. ROWELL
iki Haris’ career is like looking through a kaleidoscope: It’s full of changes, turns and beautiful colors. She is best known as one of Madonna’s choreographers and backup singers, a job she had from 1987 to 2001. If you’ve ever seen Madonna’s 1991 groundbreaking documentary Truth or Dare, you’ve seen Niki Haris. She has also lent her talents to Kylie Minogue, Prince, Whitney Houston and Ray Charles, performing in some of largest venues and arenas in the world, including Wimbledon, the Staples Center, Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. But after years of such a fast-paced lifestyle, Haris is ready to be more intimate with her audiences. She is enjoying smaller venues mountains. One song can change somebody’s during her solo tour, which will bring her to whole day.” the Purple Room on Saturday, Sept. 28. One of Haris’ favorite songs on Lift Thine During a recent interview, Haris said being Eyes is “Optimistic.” a single mother of a teenage daughter has “The songwriter wrote at their deepest changed her perspective on touring. despair. They took that despair and turned “Being a mother takes you out of the ‘all it into beauty,” she said. “My grandmother about me’—the ‘bigness’ of everything,” Haris used to say that the worst thing about being said. “It helps you see that there is more of a unhappy is that you feel that you’ll never be collective good for the world, and it’s a wakehappy again. But you have to be brave enough up call.” to just keep taking one more breath.” Haris is the daughter of Grammy AwardOne of her favorite songs in her set is Bob nominated jazz pianist Gene Harris; she Dylan’s “Lord, Protect My Child.” She said she credits her father for teaching her about the was drawn to the lyrics, because they are as importance of faith—and sharing with her a relevant today as they were when the song was love of gospel music. This helps explain why released in 1991. her newest album, Lift Thine Eyes, released last “So many members of my daughter’s year, features songs about healing, loss and generation have lost the optimism that God. The album’s title comes from her favorite is needed to survive. They have a ‘fuck scripture, Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes it’ attitude,” Haris said. “They are overly unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. concerned with frivolous things. They are My help cometh from the Lord, who hath all stuck in this Twitter world—and their made heaven and earth.” generation is facing a lack of water and clean Haris said she prefers to sing lyrics that air. They need to wake up.” touch her deeply—and she hopes they touch Haris is trying to do her part to make the the audience as well. world a better place. “I don’t know how stop “It seems we are all attached to pain. … It fossil fuels from fucking up our Earth, but I do seems we get stuck in the muck in the mire,” know how to sing a good song that will bring Haris said. “It helps to remember that music us together,” she said. does inspire, and one small act can move Haris said she loves to connect with her audience, and she described her show as being full of love and connection. “You will get insight from my career and boisterous banter about life, love and motherhood,” she said. “But most importantly, people will leave with a bigger heart. They will get that heart muscle exercised.”
Niki Haris. Nick Spano
Niki Haris will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $35 to $40, with dinner reservations (minimum $25) at 6 p.m. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit www. purpleroompalmsprings.com.
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34 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
The Venue REPORT continued from page 32
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Sharon Van Etten
recent set lists, Thomas will probably throw in a few of Matchbox 20’s hits (“Unwell,” “3 a.m.,” and “If You’re Gone”), in addition to a rendition of his 1999 smash hit with Santana, “Smooth.” Tickets are $59 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com. 1980s pop legends Duran Duran will bring the band’s songs and co-occurring glam fashion to The Show at Agua Caliente at 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5. This performance is only one of seven shows scheduled (as of this writing) for the British icons, whose songs include “Rio,” “Girls on Film,” “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Tickets were $85 to $115, but are listed as sold out … so if you want to go, you’re going to need to check the secondary markets. September in the Coachella Valley seems to really attract legendary acts, as Steely Dan will also play at The Show, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. The band is famous for its eclectic influences. Its endurance as a classic-rock act is indebted to legendary songs including “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Do It Again.” It will be interesting to see this iconic band perform in an intimate venue. If all of the concerts occurring this month haven’t already depleted your entertainment budget … tickets are $125 to $175. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com. At 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, Morongo welcomes comedian Felipe Esparza. Read our profile on him back on Page 19. Tickets start at $39, and were close to selling out at our press deadline. Although we don’t know the weather for that day yet, it will at least be 98 Degrees at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, when the ’90s boy band featuring Nick Lachey and company will stop by to perform the hits. Tickets are $29 to $49. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-2524499; www.morongocasinoresort.com. Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, has a lot of good shows for fans of indie rock scheduled in September. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13,
the female-led Merge Records band Ex Hex will perform its garage-punk alongside queer icon Seth Bogart (from Hunx and His Punx). This is an inside show, and tickets are $18 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, Pappy and Harriet’s will welcome Sharon Van Etten, who has been gaining much acclaim lately from independent radio and media, most notably for the melancholic yet uplifting song “Seventeen.” Tickets are $32 to $36. Acclaimed lo-fi indie-pop musician Ariel Pink will perform in support of his new album at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. Support will come from Jennifer Herrema. This rare show from this “cult weirdo” promises to be interesting and will be worth the drive up the mountain. Tickets range $28 to $33. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www. pappyandharriets.com. Open again after its usual two-month summer hiatus, the Purple Room at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, will welcome Adam Pascal, an original cast member of Rent. He most recently performed in Pretty Woman: The Musical. The event, “So Far …” promises to be an “intimate, acoustic, career retrospective, including questions, answers, stories, and songs, in a one-of-a-kind event.” Tickets are $40 to $50. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, Brenna Whitaker will stop by to perform her vast catalog of cover songs and originals. One of her biggest fans is Michael Bublé! Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com. Toucans is waking up from its summer entertainment slumber with a show by someone who’s becoming a Palm Springs regular: Ty Herndon will perform at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20. The country singer twice topped the country charts with songs back in the ’90s; he came out as a gay man in 2014. Tickets are $30 to $40. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 35
THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE J
By Andy lara
ason Nutter wouldn’t tell me his age; all he’d say is that he’s been doing music for a long time. He’s played music since his childhood—and now his love of music spills out to the community. Not only is he a musician who plays regularly at venues including Tonga Hut in Palm Springs; he’s an educator and the founder of Music Heals Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting musical instruments into the hands of autistic and special-needs students. His beliefs in music as therapy and the talk,” Nutter said. inherent value of every person motivate the He began letting the students all take turns work he does with Music Heals. Moreover, singing their favorite songs, with the rest of the Nutter is convinced that everyone has musical class learning to play them—and whenever a ability. He is interested in helping parents and student struggles with the ability to sing, the students recognize the benefits of music and the rest of the class jumps in to help. While the positive role it can play in the lives of people. participants in his programs vary in ability, Though he’s lived in the desert full-time Nutter finds an opportunity for everyone to for eight years now, Nutter is originally from participate. Beaumont. Before he moved to the Coachella “Even if they can’t play a guitar, they can still Valley, he commuted to the desert to play shows, play a bongo, tambourine or shaker,” Nutter said. including a gig every Friday at the Village Pub for After falling in love with the desert and three years. He worked with the Banning Unified receiving a generous donation, he made the leap School District’s special-education department and moved to Palm Springs full-time. He is in as an educator, but as the battle for education the process of opening a classroom and building funding waged, Nutter eventually decided to a stage—for learning to occur, and for bands to open a music school on his own. play. The philosophy he developed in Banning A non-verbal student began attending his continues here in the desert: Students with classes—and it wound up changing his life. autism are encouraged to learn how to play their “She was a very shy, meek girl, about 15 years instrument, play songs and eventually begin old, and though she would only observe, one writing their own material. day, I saw her tapping her foot—and it was in As the summer winds down, and the time,” Nutter said. “I gave her a pair of drum temperatures decline, Nutter will hold concerts sticks and discovered she could keep the rhythm featuring his students once a month during the to anything I played.” Village Fest on Thursday nights, in front of his This discovery led Nutter to the path he is on record and collectible store, located at 280 N. now. He started by dedicating one class a week Palm Canyon Drive. to students with special needs. The students In addition to his work with the desert’s would all learn to play instruments, eventually autism community, Nutter has continued his learning popular songs, writing songs, making successful music career, most recently releasing music videos and holding concerts. Nutter soon a country-folk song in collaboration with Jesika made another realization: Everybody loves the von Rabbit titled “Joshua Tree,” and securing a spotlight. Thursday-night residency at Tonga Hut. “Everybody wanted to be the singer, even if Nutter said the demand for the services that they were non-verbal and did not have ability to Music Heals provides is overwhelming. He said
Jason Nutter uses music to help specialneeds students communicate and connect
the best way to support him is to donate records and music memorabilia to his shop, which he sells in exchange for donations in order to purchase music instruments for the program’s participants. If you would like to donate, please call 909-435-9705 to make an appointment to have your donation items reviewed. Nutter has formed a partnership with Desert Arc, another desert-based organization that provides resources to people with special needs. He currently has two adult-transition workers
helping at his record store. Mr. Nutter remains determined to make a difference and help people—especially nontraditional musicians—realize the benefits of music. It’s an uphill battle, but he has the vision and desire to succeed. For more information on Music Heals, visit the store at 280 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs; call 909-435-9705; or visit www.facebook. com/musichealskids.
Jason Nutter. George Marruffo
36 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
TEEN MUSIC TITANS T
By matt king
ake rock music out of a 1970s time capsule; add rock ballads with memorable riffs, blazing guitar solos and commanding vocals with sweet three-part harmonies—and you have Pescaterritory. Pescaterritory includes four high schoolers: vocalist Aiden Schaeffer, 16, a senior at Shadow Hills High School; drummer Nick Willman, 16, a senior at La Quinta High School; bassist Gavin Lopez, 14, a freshman at Palm Desert High to send over some recordings. We didn’t have School; and guitarist Jason Zembo, 15, a junior any recordings yet, so we went right into the at Palm Desert High School. Despite having studio.” only eight performances under their belts, Before Pescaterritory came along, the the band’s music is being heard around the boys took part in the Academy of Musical world: Pescaterritory’s first two singles, “Better Performance program. Off Dead” and “King Street,” were recently “We’ve been all band-hopping for a really broadcast on the US10 Radio Show, hosted by long time, and we were all finally ready to Barry Tomes, in the United Kingdom. make a band that’s gonna be the band,” How did that happen? Schaeffer said. “We were all on the same page “Pappy and Harriet’s has an open-mic and wanted to work together. We’ve only been night on Mondays, and we decided the night together for a year.” before to go play there,” explained Zembo. Zembo added: “We started practicing in “We had played there before, and it really late July (2018), but it was very on and off helped us grow—we gained a lot of followers due to our other bands and summer school. on Instagram—so we decided to go again. Eventually we came together and decided It just so happened that … there was a radio to make Pescaterritory a priority. Our first host from Birmingham named Barry Tomes in show sounded really good, and we were very the audience. He thought our band was really tight. Right away, we knew that it was a good great and invited us on his show. My father decision to keep going with this band.” exchanged emails with him, and he asked us While some bands play their first show at
Pescaterritory. Greg Flores
Pescaterritory makes fans worldwide by adding a unique twist to a classic rock sound
a birthday party or open mic, Pescaterritory’s came at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the Garden Jam Music Festival, supporting acts including Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real and blues legend Buddy Guy. Pescaterritory has also performed at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. “We did a cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd and turned it into an 11-minute jam,” Zembo said about the Tennis Garden gig. “It was our first ever show, and our improv went so well; it was really eye-opening. Pappy’s open mics were also huge for us. They only give you two songs each night, but the people gave us very good responses for only playing two songs.” Lopez added, “The first night we played at Pappy’s was Coachella weekend, so there was a really big gathering of people up there.” As for that Whisky a Go Go show: “We were actually able to sell out of all of the payto-play tickets,” Zembo said. “We had a lot of family members wanting to go, and Gavin always brings a crowd; he’s a party animal! The only bad part was the three-hour drive to Los Angeles.” While their music is reminiscent of classic rock, the members of Pescaterritory want to be
defined by their own sound. “We all have our influences, but we’re really just doing our own thing,” said Zembo. “We’re not trying to bring out one sound, but mending a bunch of sounds that are working well together. We want to bring back rock ’n’ roll in terms of the instruments, the feeling, the improv-filled live shows. Most music nowadays is to tracks, which takes away from the heart and soul of the music.” The Pesca boys laugh and goof off like any group of great friends. They told some hilarious stories—there was that one time when Willman’s dog pooped on Zembo’s Les Paul—and joked about the fashion sense of rock ’n’ rollers. “I do wear women’s clothing from time to time onstage, because of my smaller figure, but I do not wear panties at all,” Zembo said. “No women’s bottoms—only from the waist up. … Actually, I think I do have a pair of women’s jeans, but I wear them like a badge of honor, like the old rock ’n’ rollers. Robert Plant wore women’s jeans! “I’m not really shooting for sex appeal; I’m shooting for rock ’n’ roll. Most shows, I wear a jacket with no shirt, showing the six pack,” Zembo continued as his bandmates laughed. “I wouldn’t go totally shirtless. Nick would, but I have class, mixed with some rocker tint of ‘I just don’t care.’ Usually, Gavin has a tuxedo on; Nick is shirtless; and I’m somewhere in between.” Schaeffer added: “I’ll show up with nipple piercings and be suspended from the ceiling.” While the boys know how to have fun, they take their music very seriously. Schaeffer talked about his relative inexperience and rewarding growth as both a vocalist and a music writer, and all of the members discussed their goal—to make music for a living. “Popularity is all up to chance, but as long as we keep working hard, and people dig us, we’ll be able to make enough to keep making the music,” Zembo said. “I just want to continue making music for life. We’re all young, and there’s so much potential, but we still have a lot to grow. The music business is a hard business to crack, but as long as we’re doing enough to make a living, that’s all that matters.” Schaeffer added: “We’re very passionate. That’s what makes us a lot better as musicians. We all want the same thing. It’s truly what we love in this world.” For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ pescaterritory.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 37
Photo by laura hunt little
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? You shouldn’t feel guilty about any music you listen to. You like it; listen to it. No shame in my game.
Meet two amazing women who are icons in the local music scene By matt king
Photo by brian blueskye
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Halsey. I’m not usually into that sort of music, but she’s rad. What’s your favorite music venue? I have so many memories of going to Chain Reaction in Anaheim, because it’s a small, all-ages venue, and I love to get really close to the stage and meet the band afterward!
NAME Jetta King MORE INFO Jetta King has gained a lot of attention within the last year thanks to her extremely powerful voice and tight backing band (featuring Nick Hales, Carlyn Park Basore and Tyler Ontiveros). She recently performed at the Idyllwild Strong festival. What was the first concert you attended? Either Tool or (the) Wango Tango (festival). What was the first album you owned? Hanson, I think? Wow, that’s embarrassing, but I was, like, 7. I used to get out pots, pans and chopsticks to make drums, and I would play along to the CD. I would actually invite my “neighbros” over to watch my “band.” What bands are you listening to right now? There’s this band called 3. They’re the band that Coheed and Cambria copied, except 3 is WAY better. The album Wake Pig is on repeat quite often. I really connect with the song “Alien Angel.” What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Mumble rap ... it’s “terribad.” I really don’t understand why everyone is obsessed with Billie Eilish, either. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? I would have loved to see Metallica (perform) S&M back in the day. That was such a powerful, awesome combo of classical and metal.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? Lately, it’s been all local-band songs! I’ve had Mega Sun, The CMFs and Order of the Wolf songs stuck in my head for days! “Just a little bittle this! And a little bittle that!” What band or artist changed your life? August Burns Red. There’s just something really special about what they put into their music. It’s spiritual. Every time I see them live, it fills me with incredible energy. Also: I have grown up watching Sia’s career from the beginning, and she is so powerful. She’s a huge influence in every way. They both have a way of bringing me out of a funk and back to the light. They inspire. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? “Hi, August Burns Red! Can I be in your band?” Ha ha, just kidding. But I really want to collaborate with my favorite artists. I would love to guest-vocal on a track with them.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin.
What’s your favorite music venue? Anywhere that has live music. NAME Chelsea Sugarbritches GROUPS 5th Town, Long Duk Dong MORE INFO Chelsea Sugarbritches is a massive supporter of the Coachella Valley music scene. When she’s not belting her heart out on stage with 5th Town (www.facebook. com/5thtown)—currently in the studio recording its debut album—or kicking it ’80s style with cover-band Long Duk Dong, her unique and ever-changing brightly colored hair can be spotted in the audience at many local shows What was the first concert you attended? Technically, the Beach Boys at College of the Desert. But my first big, big concert was Pearl Jam at the (Empire Polo Club). What was the first album you owned? My parents have an extensive album collection, so I was pretty much listening to albums out of the womb. I think the first one I personally went to Record Alley (in the Indio mall) and bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? This week? “Let it go before it breaks; you know it’s got to be that way,” “It Breaks,” by Blasting Echo. That song is fuckin’ killer. I can’t wait for their new album! What band or artist changed your life? Every band and artist that I connect with changes my life. That’s what’s so cool about music: It’s personal; it’s emotional. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Nirvana, and Snoop Dogg. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? How do you ask someone one question? How about 13? I would love to go back in time and have a conversation with Janis Joplin. What song would you like played at your funeral? Show tunes: “Seasons of Love” from Rent.
What bands are you listening to right now? Mostly local bands right now: Mikey Reyes, Blasting Echo, The After Lashes, Reborn by the Sunshine, and FrankEatsTheFloor. Oh and I’m pretty obsessed with Lizzo right now.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? This is an impossible question to answer. I really love 3 Years 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of ... by Arrested Development. I don’t know if it’s my ALL TIME FAVORITE, though … ugh, that’s hard.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? I wish the overly auto-tuned vocals trend would quit already.
What song should everyone listen to right now? “Growing Scheme,” by Mikey Reyes featuring Bryanna Evaro.
What song would you like played at your funeral? “The Imperial March”! Yeah! Bury me to Star Wars. Can you imagine that playing as the casket is lowered into the pit!? EPIC! Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Metallica’s ... And Justice for All was an album that I would listen to as a kid on repeat with my Walkman and headphones. It really kept me from going to a dark place at a dark time. What song should everyone listen to right now? “Alien Angel” by 3. CVIndependent.com
38 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT
OPINION SAVAGE LOVE
SIGNIFICANT SHRINKAGE I
BY DAN SAVAGE
’m an otherwise healthy male of 54. When I was a teen, my cock measured about 6 1/2 inches—not small, not huge, pretty average. I never kept track of the situation down south, but suddenly, I find my junk reports in just more than 4 inches. WTF? Is this normal? Do men lose size/girth as they age? I’m only 54! How much more do I have to lose before 60? And beyond? I’m single now, and suddenly I’m afraid to be intimate with women I formerly would have embraced without a second thought, out of embarrassment. My confidence is at an all-time low. I’m actually afraid to ask anyone out for fear of “exposing” the evidence. I assume there are no pills for this, but please tell me there are options. when you’re erect, SIS, the suspensory Shrinking in Seattle ligament also holds some of your dick up and inside the body. Men who want their cocks “We have to make a distinction between to look larger when they’re soft and who observed penile length and actual penile don’t mind if their hard cocks are harder to length,” said Dr. Ashley Winter, a boardcontrol or flop around during intercourse will certified urologist in Portland, Ore. “Penis sometimes have this suspensory ligament cut, length changes in real time based on a number which causes the penis to “drop.” Their cocks of factors—factors that include level of aren’t as useful for sex, it’s true, but there’s arousal, stress and ambient temperature. For more “observable” cock for other men to this reason, researchers like to limit variability admire in locker rooms and at urinals. by measuring the ‘stretched flaccid length’ in a “The most dramatic cause of lost ‘observed’ warm room.” penile length with aging is weight gain,” said Needless to say, most men aren’t Dr. Winter. “As the average guy gains weight, observing—much less measuring—their dicks more of his fixed penile length gets hidden, when they’re soft. as the crucial sit-bone-to-skin distance gets “We know that almost ZERO home dick longer.” measurements are done in the flaccid state,” So your dick may not be any smaller than it said Dr. Winter. “But unless SIS jotted down was in your teens, SIS; it’s just that more of it the room temp or precise level of arousal when may be hidden inside your now-middle-aged he measured his teenage penis, it’s unlikely body thanks to weight gain and that damn he’s comparing apples to apples. ligament. “Another issue—and a far less appreciated But, hey, let’s say you’re no thicker today one—is that the penis is anchored to the than you were in your teens, and that your undersurface of your pelvic bones, so nearly arousal levels are constant, and that you’ve one-half of the average penis length is ‘hidden’ kept your apartment at a constant temperature along the undersurface of the pelvis.” over the decades. Could something be causing There’s a very special tendon—the your cock to actually shrink? suspensory ligament—that runs from the “The main causes of actual penis shrinkage base of your penis to your pelvis. In addition are having your prostate removed, Peyronie’s to providing you with some degree of control disease (plaque development that narrows or
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bends the penis), or the scarring of erectile tissue, something called corporal fibrosis. SIS would know if he’d had prostate surgery, and he would have a noticeable ‘lump’ or change in erection shape if he had Peyronie’s. So the main concern here is corporal fibrosis. It can be insidious and is usually associated with conditions that make blood vessels unhealthy—like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. SIS says he’s healthy, but the penis is often the first body part to manifest signs of the above conditions, because it is so dynamic. Which means the penis, wonderfully and tragically, is often the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for cardiovascular health.” Let’s say your canary is shrinking, SIS. What can you do about it? “First and foremost, he should realize that far less women would care about his penis length than he does,” said Dr. Winter. “Studies including 52,000 individuals showed that 85 percent of women were satisfied with their partners’ penile length, while only 55 percent of men were satisfied with their own length.” And unlike you, SIS, the women you sleep with today aren’t going to be comparing the dick you’ve got now with the dick you had (or thought you had) then. “But if SIS wants to maximize his ‘observed’ penile length, he should shed extra weight—if he’s overweight—and should also check in with his doc for a test of his cholesterol and blood pressure, and a diabetes screen,” said Dr. Winter. “Regular erections do help keep the penis healthy, so if he has some ED, a Viagra (or similar med) can preserve length.” I am 66 years old and a gay man. After a very promiscuous youth, I have settled down a lot as far as sex and mostly just masturbate, with a trip to the baths every few months. I have a question about orgasms. I have noted, since I’ve gotten older, that my orgasm from masturbation is very intense and seems to last about five minutes after I ejaculate, during which I feel orgasmic feelings in my penis, legs, and sometimes my whole body. I’ve never had this before. Is this normal? Mr. Sixty Fucking Six “The question of normalcy in sexual function is hammered into us from the start—but it’s pejorative and irrelevant,” said Dr. Winter. “As a physician, the relevant question here is: ‘Does MSFS find this distressing or harmful?’ It doesn’t sound like five-minute total-body
masturbation-induced orgasms are painful for MSFS, nor are they interfering with his dayto-day quality of life. So by definition, they are ‘nothing to worry about.’ Furthermore, they are not the harbinger of any dangerous medical condition. As you like to say, Dan, this is more of a ‘YAHTZEE!’ than a problem.” Anecdotal evidence—my own, a huge pile of it, gathered over the years—indicates that you’re something of an outlier, MSFS; most of the older men I hear from with questions about their orgasms are concerned about their slow and steady deterioration, MSFS, not their sudden improvement. (Erections are harder to get; their orgasms are less intense; and their jizz is less abundant.) But even if this isn’t a problem—even if this is a Yahtzee—what might be going on? “That’s the far more interesting question: Why is this happening?” said Dr. Winter. “I don’t have a lot of quotable studies on that one, but I have a few thoughts. First off, this may have nothing to do with age and everything to do with his position. Contraction of the muscles in the pelvis and thighs (even calves!), and the muscles at the base of the penis (or clitoris) can contribute to strength of erection and intensity of orgasm, and certain positions may allow more effective muscle ‘recruitment.’ So differences in position or stance during partnered versus masturbatory activities may hold clues for MSFS.” Another possible explanation—and another definite “Yahtzee!”—is that you’re ever so suddenly multi-orgasmic. “While it is more common for women to be multi-orgasmic, there are men who can do this, too,” said Dr. Winter. “Longer duration of arousal—common with porn watching—and certain medications that prevent prolactin surge in the brain and strong Kegels (those muscles again!) may lead to the ‘condensed multi-orgasm,’ a phenomenon that may fit the description MSFS is providing.” But finally and again, MSFS, so long as those powerful, long-lasting, all-body orgasms aren’t diminishing your quality of life, they’re nothing to worry about. Enjoy! Follow Dr. Ashley Winter on Twitter @ AshleyGWinter. Dr. Winter co-hosts The Full Release (thefullreleasepod.com), a terrific, funny and informative sex-and-relationship advice podcast with comedian Mo Mandel. Read Savage Love every Wednesday at CVIndependent.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; @ FakeDanSavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.
COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 39
OPINION COMICS & JONESIN’ CROSSWORD
“Some More Words”— this time, themeless. By Matt Jones
35 It followed “and” in the Gilligan’s Island theme song, early on Across 36 Back out 1 “The Liberator of 37 Puts up a fight Italy” 38 “R.I.P.” singer Rita 10 REO Speedwagon 39 Editorial writer lead guitarist Dave 42 Indian princess, 15 1995 hit for Tripping once Daisy 44 Downsizing star 16 “Skip to ___” 49 Team obstacles 17 Final stage, often 50 Unprocessed video 18 Apportion 52 Mates of vacas 19 Doesn’t lose money 54 Insufficient or turn a profit 55 Of the kidney 21 Isn’t 100 percent 56 Coincidental 22 Greek New Age 57 Northern California keyboardist town that once 23 Smart remark had a palindromic 25 “Uncle” of early TV bakery 26 Universal plan in 58 A bridge from Japan, for short Philadelphia is 27 Currency where named for her the “soberano” variety replaced the Down “fuerte” in 2018 1 Lead singer Haynes 32 Detective, often on the 1996 hit 34 Simian “Pepper”
2 Prefix with phobia 3 Dolphins QB Josh nicknamed “The Chosen One” 4 “___ honor” 5 Perfect Strangers cousin 6 Long stretch 7 Fireball 8 Villain whose real name is revealed to be Dougie Powers 9 Most sickly 10 Reddit Q&A session 11 Balloon material 12 Close associations 13 Hammer home? 14 Periphery 20 Choice word 24 Dwarf planet named for a Greek goddess 25 Do well on a hole, maybe 27 Collection of air pressure data 28 Mozart fan, perhaps 29 She played Glinda in The Wiz
30 Land in a riviere 31 Bounce 33 Former shipping nickname 35 Wooden hideout in more wood 40 Nursery rhyme trio’s place 41 “That’s a ___ on me!” 43 Saturated 44 Ornamental mat 45 Rose petal extract 46 Cibo ___ (trip-hop group that split in 2017) 47 Gazes extremely rudely 48 Requisites 51 World Cup cheers 53 Infamous 1974 bank-robbing gp. © 2019 Matt Jones Find the answers in the “About” section of CVIndependent. com! CVIndependent.com
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The September 2019 issue of the Coachella Valley's alternative news source.