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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT | SEPTEMBER 2020

VOL. 8 | NO. 9

CULTURE DURING COVID-19

Outdoor art. Drive-in movies and plays. Patio dining and shadow restaurants. Here's how the Coachella Valley’s creative class is adjusting to the “new normal.”

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SEPTEMBER 2020

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 seventh 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 Monday, Sept. 14. This round consists of fill-in-the-blank 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. 28, through Monday, Oct. 26. • The winners and other results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 23, and in the special Best of Coachella Valley section in the Independent’s December 2020 print edition.

CVIndependent.com

Life in the Valley Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity Best Gym Best Yoga 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 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 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 jboegle@cvindependent.com


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 3

SEPTEMBER 2020

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 Kevin Allman, Max Cannon, Kevin Carlow, Katie Finn, Bill Frost, Bonnie Gilgallon, Bob Grimm, Michael Grimm, Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume, Matt Jones, Matt King, Keith Knight, Carlynne McDonnell, Brett Newton, Dan Perkins, Guillermo Prieto, Anita Rufus, Andrew Smith, Jen Sorenson, Robert Victor The Coachella Valley Independent print edition is published every month. All content is ©2020 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.

We here at Independent World Headquarters debated postponing our annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll this year. Why? For one thing, the city magazine and the daily already do readers’ polls—and the timing of the daily’s poll usually overlaps with the timing of ours, which confuses the heck out of everyone. For another thing … as you may have noticed, we’re in the middle of a raging pandemic, which has curtailed or shuttered many of the businesses and organizations that are featured in our poll. However, upon further reflection, we decided not to postpone our poll—and voting is taking place now. First-round (nomination) voting will be open through Monday, Sept. 14. Head to CVIndependent.com to access the ballot, where you will fill in the blank in each category. (In other words, we have no predetermined list of candidates.) Why did we decide to press forward? Well, for one thing—and I say this with all due respect to the winners and everyone else otherwise involved—those other readers’ polls are kind of terrible. For our Best of Coachella Valley poll, we ask each reader to vote only once per round, because our goal is to come up with a slate of truly excellent finalists and winners. The other polls have no such prohibition, because the goal of those polls is not to get a great slate of finalists and winners—the goal is for the publications to get as much web traffic as possible from readers visiting their websites over and over again to vote. The other reason why we pressed forward: There’s never been a more important time to shine a light on the valley’s best businesses, individuals and organizations, because so many of us are struggling right now. The top vote-getters in the first round of voting will advance to the final round, which will take place at CVIndependent. com from Monday, Sept. 28, through Monday, Oct. 26. The Best of Coachella Valley results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 23, and in our special December print edition. Complete rules and a list of categories can be found on the page to your left. Thanks in advance to all of you wonderful readers who take the time to vote! Welcome to the September 2020 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent. As always, thanks for reading—and don’t hesitate to message me at the email address below with questions or comments. —Jimmy Boegle, jboegle@cvindependent.com CVIndependent.com


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SEPTEMBER 2020

OPINION OPINION

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION

KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS T

BY ANITA RUFUS

hey work together, act together, cook together and laugh together. Dori and Rupert Smith are an example of how committed couples can inspire and support each other to become the best they can be, both individually and as a couple. Dori, currently president of Democrats of the Desert, was born 70 years ago in Madera, Calif., before being raised in Virginia. She was born second in a family that includes two sisters and a brother. “My mom grew up typically Italian in New York,” she says, “and I would describe her as ebullient: She loved to dance and was a lot of fun, but she also was the one who helped to unionize the tool-and-die company where she worked when we were kids. My dad was a hard-working man who just wasn’t around a lot. Rupert. “I was once told that the second-oldest What makes it work? “He’s patient, kind and always gets into trouble, and I certainly did. I generous,” says Dori. “He always encourages got pregnant and married very young, but then me in everything I want to do, and helps me I finished high school. I waited 10 years before with whatever it takes.” deciding to go back to college, majoring in Says Rupert: “I let her do whatever she journalism at the University of North Carolina, wants, and she’s the same with me. If you start Chapel Hill, and had worked up until then in thinking about changing the other person, the public-affairs department at GTE. After I you’re ultimately doomed. I think about a finished my degree, I came back as a mid-level relationship as a three-legged stool: trust, manager.” respect and a common sense of humor—the Rupert, 73, was born and raised in Arcadia, ability to laugh at the same things. I still smile Fla. “I was an only child,” he says, “with a whenever Dori enters a room.” pessimistic, introvert mother who was married The Smiths have been Palm Desert residents to an optimistic, extrovert father. I don’t for 21 years. They began working together remember my mom ever being overtly happy. locally doing public relations, primarily for She saw the world as black and white, and I had local theatrical groups, and both have become to learn that isn’t true. Somehow, they made involved in local theater themselves. Rupert me into an idealist who looks for the good in originally got involved in acting while in other people. Of course, taken to an extreme, Connecticut. that can be a problem, but I start from a “I needed something that would fit my position of trust with everyone.” creative side. I was told to try acting and got Rupert also studied journalism in college, involved with a Wilton playhouse. I tried at the University of Florida. He then spent out and got the part, and it wasn’t difficult, some time in the Army (“They put me in the because I had done so much public speaking in information office for a while”) and then went my job.” into public relations and marketing at GTE. Working with Script to Stage to Screen “They saw my Army experience—and I ended (S2S2S), both Rupert and Dori have starred up there for 24 years,” he said. in and been nominated for awards in staged Dori and Rupert met while working with readings. During the pandemic, when nothing GTE-Southeast in Durham, N.C. With a clear is being staged for audiences, Rupert has been note of pride, Rupert describes Dori as having writing and producing video works for S2S2S been hired as a secretary, but being ambitious that are available online. enough to go back to school and get her degree For Dori, she started acting when Gina so she could come back to the company in Bikales, the head of S2S2S, asked her to management. Rupert was the youngest vice president in the company’s history at that time, read a part. “I thought it would be fun to do something onstage with Rupert,” she says. and at one point was moved to Connecticut. Both have also helped the theater company Dori had taken a job in Indiana after her with website design, public relations and divorce. marketing. “We finally got tired of flying back and forth, “Dori can’t sit still,” says Rupert. “She has to and moved in together in Connecticut in 1987,” be doing multiple things at the same time.” says Rupert. Says Dori: “I am always extremely busy. Rupert’s first marriage of 15 years had I started the Executive Women’s Golf produced two sons; Dori’s first marriage of 18 Association, and that’s how I met women years had produced a son and daughter. “We friends when we came to the desert. I also moved in together in 1987 and married in started Moms Demand Action here in the 1994, and we all have a good relationship,” says

CVIndependent.com

Meet Dori and Rupert Smith— actors, activists and examples of what a great couple can be

Dori and Rupert Smith.

Coachella Valley in response to the gun violence against children across the country.” Dori attributes her current position as president of Democrats of the Desert (DOD) to something her mom said. “When I was a kid, I remember my mom always said, ‘Vote! Vote the whole Democratic ticket! Vote! Vote! Vote!’ I heard about a meeting of Democratic Women of the Desert and started getting involved. I worked to elect Congressman Raul Ruiz, and worked on Barack Obama’s campaign. When I joined DOD, I realized I’d like to lead the organization. I have a terrific board, and we’re holding Zoom meetings and social events. It’s a real challenge to keep people involved with all we’re going through right now.” Dori had tap-dancing on her bucket list, so she took lessons and is now dancing with her group, including getting a spot in the McCallum Theatre’s Open Call. “But I try to

relax, take a nap daily and read,” she says. “I do have a deep need to stay busy. I wish I still had the energy I had 10 years ago.” Did I mention the cooking? Dori is constantly posting pictures of the beautiful meals Rupert prepares, and together, they make scrumptious pies. Rupert’s advice to his younger self? “Don’t sweat the small stuff … and it’s all small stuff.” Dori’s? “Slow down. Enjoy every minute.” Dori and Rupert Smith are an example of how a committed couple can inspire and support each other—and, in the process, inspire us all. Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at Anita@LovableLiberal. com. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday at CVIndependent.com.


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 5

SEPTEMBER 2020

OPINION PETS

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION

BUSTER’S BIG JOURNEY T

BY JIMMY BOEGLE

o properly explain how our cat, Buster, is hanging out at Dodger Stadium at a time when we are unable to do so, we need to start the story in June 2006. We were living in Tucson, Ariz., and it had been about a year since my cat, Beavis, had died. After serious negotiations with my then-boyfriend (and now-husband), Garrett, we decided it was time to bring another feline into our lives. One weekend, we headed to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to meet some of the cats and kittens up for adoption. I was looking at a cute little grey furball when Garrett pointed to a cage containing two orange-and-white male kittens, about six weeks old. One of the kittens, then named Yoda—presumably because of the tufts of white hair sprouting out his ears—was nervously sitting in the back of his cage. The other, then Buster. (I was a big Arrested Development fan named Kiku, was hanging on the wire door, mewling his extreme displeasure at anyone and at the time.) As beloved pets do, Maeby and Buster became family. everyone who passed by. Maeby, the fluffier one, transformed from a “If we get two cats, they won’t be alone skittish, nervous kitten into, no exaggeration, when we’re not home,” Garrett said. the sweetest creature I have encountered So we went over to meet them. Yoda on this planet. He exuded joy—whenever remained nervous. When picked up Kiku to someone picked him up, he’d reflexively begin give him a look, he reached out and clawed my kneading with happiness—and loved being upper lip. social whenever friends would come over. He “Handsome, you’re going to be paying for enjoyed playing fetch, but we had to be careful that for the rest of your life,” I said. when taking him outside, because he could After they received the requisite neutering escape from any harness placed upon him. and vaccinations, we took Yoda and Kiku Buster, the shorter-haired one, turned into home. Yoda became Maeby, and Kiku became

Buster is surrounded by dogs in his seat at Dodger Stadium.

We can’t attend Dodgers games in person this year, so we sent our recently departed cat instead

the alpha of the pack—at least in his own mind. While he and Maeby adored each other, he’d chew off Maeby’s whiskers when we weren’t looking. He could be just as loving and as social as Maeby, but he was also perfectly happy to hang out by himself, whereas Maeby wanted attention whenever possible. Buster had one obsession—bugs. Whenever one was spotted inside the house, it would demand his rapt attention. In early 2013, we had decided to move to Palm Springs; this meant uprooting Buster and Maeby from the only home they had known. While they HATED the car trip here—they always hated car trips, associating them with vet visits—they settled into their new home in Palm Springs nicely. However, several months after the move, Maeby got very ill—he had an impacted hairball in his colon. He was also given another diagnosis: He was in the early stages of kidney disease. After emergency surgery and a short hospital stay, Maeby came home and fully recovered—although we were told to shave his gorgeous fur to cut down on the chances of a recurrence. While he didn’t care much for the clipper jobs, they didn’t ruin his happy, everloving nature. He remained his sweet self until suffering an apparent stroke. In 2015, at the age of 9, our Maeby passed away. Maeby’s death transformed Buster. While his base personality remained the same, and he still had occasional moments of solitude, he became an attention freak: When he was in the mood, he insisted on attention. If there was a lap open, he was on it, and if there wasn’t a lap open, he would wait, not-so-patiently, until there was. The picture posted here was taken one night as he waited for me to finish dinner so he could have access to my lap—and, more importantly, get belly rubs Shortly after Maeby’s passing, Buster, too, was diagnosed with early-stage kidney disease. But as of his regular checkup last March—right as the world was shutting down—his kidney levels were OK, and his overall health was good. Buster was quite happy with the lockdown, because it meant that both of his dads were working from home and rarely went anywhere—meaning he got more attention, belly rubs and snuggles. Early in the summer, we noticed that Buster was getting skinnier. His food bowl didn’t empty as quickly as before, and as the days passed, it started barely emptying at all. While Buster was as loving—and insistent on belly rubs—as ever, he had moments of lethargy. The final straw came when we noticed he

wasn’t cleaning his fur as well as he always had: It was time to subject our 14-year-old Buster to the cross-town car trip to the vet. (Our cats went to Banfield Pet Hospital; shortly after Buster’s March visit, they closed down the nearby Palm Springs location, meaning we had to drive him to Palm Desert.) We dropped him off on the morning of Friday, July 24; several hours later, the vet called with the news: His kidney levels were off the charts. Buster was very sick. He had only a few days left, and he could start having seizures at any time. We had a brief discussion, and decided that it was time to let Buster go. We told the vet we’d return to say goodbye.

O

ne of the most awful things about this damned pandemic is that it’s robbed us of our coping devices—the things we use to deal with the travails life brings us. Going to the gym, happy hour with friends, a summer vacation … nope, not possible right now. The timing of Buster’s death coincided with the blessed return of one of my coping devices: baseball. I am a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan. In normal times, I watch at least half of the team’s games on TV, and I try to get to Dodger Stadium once or twice a year to take in a game. While Major League Baseball is back (at least as of this writing … you never know what COVID-19 has in store for the future), it’s different. Some of the rules have been changed; players are asked to keep their distance from each other in the dugout; and, most notably, there are no fans in the stands. Well, actually, there are fans … sort of. The Dodgers, as well as other teams, are allowing people to purchase fan cutouts, which are then placed in seats at the stadium. (Fun fact: A cutout of the eponymous corpse from Weekend at Bernie’s currently sits behind home plate at Kansas City Royals games.) In the Dodgers’ case, all of the proceeds, except for the $11.25 value of the cutout, go to the nonprofit Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. The Dodgers aren’t just allowing human cutouts at the stadium; they’re allowing pets, too. So … because we can’t go to Dodgers games in person this year, and because the bulk of the $149 fee goes to a good cause, we decided to send Buster, in cutout form, to Dodger Stadium on our behalf. On Saturday, Aug. 8, as we watched the Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants on TV, we spotted Buster in the stands. The sight led to biggest smile I’ve had on my face since March. CVIndependent.com


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SEPTEMBER 2020

MAKE THE EASY CHOICE

THE #1 CHOICE COMFORT AIR

By Shonda Chase, FNP Nurse Practitioner, Co-owner, Artistic Director and Advanced Aesethetic Injector at Revive Wellness Centers in Palm Springs and Torrance, and Medweight, Lasers and Wellness Center in Irvine

T

SAVE UP TO

he 2020 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone in one way or another. For some, this has been a season of fear, anxiety, depression and anger. For others, it’s a �me of confidence and bravery. And all of us share the common experience of loss to some degree. Aesthe�c medicine includes the value of recovery, among its many values. A significant part of trea�ng my pa�ents over the last six months has been helping them recover a part of their confidence to be�er navigate the vicissitudes and invasions in our lives this crisis has caused. When I wrote a Secret ar�cle for February publica�on about how neuro-modulators like Botox or Jeuveau can help improve depression and anxiety, I had no idea it would be such an important topic for 2020. To review how Botox injec�ons accomplish this remarkable result, here’s what I shared: When a neuro-modulator is injected in the frown lines, some of the purified protein travels down our trigeminal nerve and comes to rest in the amygdala part of brain. The amygdala controls our feelings and emo�ons. If a person is suffering with depression or anxiety, the neuro-modulators can help reduce those condi�ons. (This is not to diminish the importance of treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist for any person who is dealing with any of these issues.) Secret No. 1: Neuro-modulator injec�ons like Botox can improve the benefits of drug therapies, but it’s not intended to replace those life-improving therapies. Many people are s�ll emo�onally suffering, even though the pandemic storm has lessened. Physicians have improved treatments to greatly increase our chances for recovery from the virus. We are six months closer to vaccines and immune-boosting therapies—but I wanted to remind people that Botox injec�ons can help us recover from some of the effects of the pandemic. I always encourage readers to keep the Secrets in my ar�cles, but now is the �me to share this Secret with your friends and family, so everyone can accelerate their recovery and feel more hopeful as we come out of the other side of this crisis.

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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 7

SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS A $3 MILLION QUESTION F

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS

After a 3-2 Palm Springs City Council vote to fully fund the new downtown park, local business organizations strenuously object

by kevin fitzgerald

or more than five years, Palm Springs residents and business owners have waited for the arrival of a showplace downtown park. In 2018, the Palm Springs City Council approved plans to deliver the attraction by the fall of this year—plans which were derailed by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve taken a long time to get to this point,” councilmember Lisa Middleton told the Independent, “and I want to see a completed project there.” Pretty much everyone agrees with that statement. However, there’s significant disagreement about how the project will be completed—which became apparent after a contentious 3-2 vote at much of that $3 million would be wasted. the Aug. 6 Palm Springs City Council meeting. There are $600,000 in parts that we’ve already The short version of the controversy is purchased for the water feature that would this: Councilmembers Grace Garner, Christy have been wasted. Already, there’s been a lot Holstege and Dennis Woods voted to proceed of underground work for the water feature with the original, fully funded plans for the and other parts of the park. We have an active park—overturning a decision made two contract with the contractor, so we were months prior to scale back those plans and looking at roughly $400,000 in delay and save the city about $3 million. Middleton and cancellation fees. That’s already $1 million in Mayor Geoff Kors disagreed. waste of taxpayer dollars. The longer version is much more nuanced “Then we were looking at probably $1 and complicated. million in city funds just to put in grass and “As a council, we recognize that we decomposed granite, which is basically dirt, are in a fiscal emergency,” Kors told the and there would be very little shade. I think Independent. “With the decision to reduce that’s an unusable park. And then one day, it staffing dramatically by cutting 80 staff would probably cost another $1 million to rip positions in fire, emergency medical, police, that grass out to put in the future park. Then facilities, planning and permitting, there’s we got an estimate that it might cost us double no department that didn’t have substantial to build the rest of the originally designed park cuts. I’ve been out there advocating for more at a later date, as opposed to right now while funding (help) through communications it’s in construction.” with the White House, with our member of What caused the sudden shift in support Congress and with our state elected officials. for the park within the City Council? Most But at a time when we see businesses closing notably, city staff members shared news and people unemployed, we should not be at the Aug. 6 meeting that a previously spending money to the extent called for by unexpected $3 million in Measure J sales the original downtown park design, when taxes was projected to arrive during the 2020every other capital-improvement project has 2021 fiscal year—money that could offset the been stopped, including road re-paving and $3 million in costs planned to be returned to money for our community centers and our the city’s ledger. neighborhood parks. So I supported doing a Another contributing factor may have modified park, as the majority of council did been the admirable salesmanship displayed previously, rather than funding the entire park by the park’s renowned architect, Mark Rios. right now.” As one can see in the video of the meeting Holstege—in the middle of a re-election on the city of Palm Springs website, Rios campaign against two opponents—explained touted the benefits in store for tourists and her Aug. 6 vote to proceed with the fully residents thanks to the park’s ambience funded park plan. and appearance, backing his belief that the “In the budget discussions (in June), the City Council should stick with the original majority of council had tried to defund $3 full park construction plan regardless of the million from the existing park project, and widespread financial pain. save those funds for reserves, while building a Middleton said her decision to vote on Aug. temporary park in the meantime. 6 against the fully funded original park plan “I, along with a (different) majority of the was strictly budgetary. City Council, decided that it would be more “At this point, we do not know how long prudent to go forward with the initial park the COVID-19 crisis will continue,” Middleton design, because the city has already spent $3 said. “So I felt that the prudent thing for us to million in building the initial design. So if we do was to wait and get some more months of were to pause or cancel or change the park,

An artists’ rendering of a portion of the planned downtown Palm Springs park. CITY OF PALM SPRINGS WEBSITE

revenue in to see where we’re going to be in terms of finances.” Kors said he voted against the fully funded original park plan on Aug. 6 because of the process. “Several months ago, we stated that we wanted the park to be reviewed and have alternatives for a reduced park brought back (for council consideration),” Kors said. “When the (2020-21 fiscal-year budget vote) came, the majority voted to reduce the park funding by $3 million and requested that different options to do that come back to council. So, on the (Aug. 6) agenda, there were six different options—and none of them was to overturn the prior vote and approve the original design. So, neither council nor the public had any indication that this was going to be brought up. Given the transparency and new rules that we’ve passed over the last few years, I thought if that discussion were to be had, it should have been properly noticed so that people were aware of it. “The public had no idea that there was any extra money. It wasn’t on the agenda, and if we’re going to put more money back in the budget, then that needed to be noticed in the agenda, so that the public and the council were aware—and then we should have discussed what the top priority was for that funding. For me, I would have put it into public bathrooms at community centers and neighborhood parks. That was the unanimous recommendation of

the Measure J Commission as to what we do with that money. So I thought that the vote was dismissive of the commissions. It was dismissive of community-member comments who were involved in the original park design. It was dismissive of what the downtown businesses said was best for downtown. And I think it was improper to delegate money that hasn’t been confirmed for certain, without the public even knowing that this was a possibility.” On Aug. 13, the controversy received fuel in the form of an open letter from the directors of three Palm Springs business organizations—the Main Street Palm Springs Downtown and Uptown Business Association, the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, and P.S. Resorts—opposing the fully funded original park plan. “What happened at last week’s City Council meeting was focused discussion on returning to the original $9.5 million park design,” said the letter, in part. “This was not the discussion noticed in the published agenda. The agenda detailed six less expensive park options. As such, it was questionable and non-transparent; it provided no opportunity for residents and stakeholders to express their opinions. … As community leaders, we call for an open and inclusive discussion on shared community priorities, with updated and accurate budget information. We call on the mayor and continued on Page 10 CVIndependent.com


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SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/NEWS

DREAMERS’ DILEMMA O

by kevin fitzgerald

n June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Trump administration’s efforts to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—seemingly giving a lifeline to the program that allows some undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children to gain legal status. Celebrations, sparked by the relief felt in undocumented-immigrant communities, spread across America. But they would be short-lived. “Today’s court opinion has no basis in law and merely delays the president’s lawful ability to end the illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program,” said a statement by ears started getting hot, and my hands started Chad Wolf, the acting Homeland Security getting sweaty, and my stomach turned,” secretary. Moreno said. “I just didn’t know what else to A few days later, the Independent spoke to say. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. Megan Beaman Jacinto, a Coachella Valley We celebrated just a month ago that people immigration and civil rights attorney, about were going to be able to apply for the first the impact of the ruling. time, and we were preparing infographics to “What the decision did was essentially say explain to people what the requirements are, that the Trump administration didn’t (try and what documents they need. It’s like when to) end DACA in the right way, and for that you get to a point that you’ve had enough— reason, DACA should be reopened for firstyou’re just so fed up, and I think everyone was time applicants,” Beaman Jacinto said. “So feeling the same. I talked to my friends, and all it not only preserves DACA for those who of them were on the same page. They pretty are already in it, and (allows them) to keep much said that they can’t (fight) anymore. renewing, which was already available, but it reopens it for people who qualified and weren’t They said, ‘I have to review my future, and where am I going to be at? Will DACA be gone able to apply after the program stopped. soon? Will I have to go back to my country? Hopefully, now there will be new people coming into the program. … But the ruling was Should I go back?’” Moreno said she’s fortunate, because she has very narrow and sort of temporary.” two years of DACA protection left. On July 28, it became clear just how “I know I’m privileged to have DACA temporary hopes were for a reinstatement right now,” Moreno said. “Still, working with of the DACA program, when Wolf issued COFEM and knowing about all the other a statement saying he was directing “DHS applicants, I didn’t know how to tell them personnel to take all appropriate actions that they can’t apply. That same day, I had to reject all pending and future initial to communicate with one parent who was requests for DACA, to reject all pending interested in applying for DACA for his son. and future applications for advance parole He had everything ready—the application and absent exceptional circumstances, and to the money order. He just wanted the greenlight shorten DACA renewals (to one-year periods) to send it. It broke my heart to tell him that consistent with the parameters established in under this memo, you can’t (apply), but we’re this memorandum.” going to continue fighting. He was upset. But The lives of roughly 640,000 current I started thinking about what else I could do DACA recipients—and countless aspiring to support (the parent). I asked, ‘Hey! Is your participants—were thrown into turmoil once kid thinking about going to school, or is he in again. college right now?’ He told me that his son had Vanessa Moreno, a resident of Coachella, is just graduated from high school, but because the program coordinator at COFEM Coachella he doesn’t have DACA, he can’t get a work Valley. The mission of COFEM—the Council permit. So, I told him right then that his son of Mexican Federations in North America—is “to empower immigrant communities to be full doesn’t need DACA to go to a two-year college. I know that DACA helps because you are able participants in the social, political, economic to have a job—to have that income to support and cultural life of the United States and your studies or get a car. But, at the end of the their home country,” according to COFEM’s day, you can still go to college even without website. As someone who came to the United DACA. States as an undocumented child, Moreno said “I told him about the Dreamer (Resource) Wolf’s July 28 announcement was extremely Center at the College of the Desert, and the upsetting. student club that I could help connect his son “I felt so super-angry and frustrated. My CVIndependent.com

Immigrant-rights advocates express frustration as the Trump administration refuses DACA applications despite a Supreme Court ruling

Vanessa Moreno: “I went to a conference at UCLA for undocumented students, and I think that’s what brought me back to my old self and got me really involved in the community. That’s when I officially came out of the shadows. Before that, I was afraid to share my status with friends and other folks.”

with. So he lit up and told me all this was great news. He said he would talk to his son about going to college, or at least taking a class or two, so he could connect to the resources. It made me think that there are probably a lot of cases like that, and that this is what the potential DACA applicants are dealing with right now. They want to seek a higher education, but they feel that they can’t. If they don’t know the resources (available to them), then I can only imagine what the state of their mental health is right now.” In the early 2000s, when she was 8 years old, Moreno and her family left Michoacán, Mexico, before settling in the Coachella Valley. They managed to maintain a foothold in this country despite numerous challenges. In June 2012, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum establishing the policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. “When I graduated from high school in 2012,” Moreno said, “it was just a couple of months before (President Barack) Obama’s executive order establishing the DACA program. I had already decided to go to community college, and because DACA was

new at that time, and it had never been done before, there was still a lot of fear in our communities, and I was hesitant to apply right then. When my sister and I—she’s now in DACA, too—saw that it was safe to apply, and that people were getting their work permits delivered to them, we figured it would be best to apply. So we did, and I think that helped me gain more confidence. “In high school, I was very involved, but then I became really discouraged since I couldn’t attend a four-year college because of my status. Not that it was impossible for me, but the economic hardships were there, and I couldn’t afford it. Thankfully, though, with the support of my mom, we (managed) to pay for my first semester at the College of the Desert. Also, the California Dream Act had been passed, so we were able to apply for state financial aid.” According to the California state website, “the California Dream Act allows students interested in attending eligible California colleges, universities and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. It is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.” It continued on Page 10


SEPTEMBER 2020

COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 9

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SEPTEMBER 2020

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UNSUNG HEROES

Mama’s House volunteer Sharon Mottern helps young mothers get on a path to self-sufficiency

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by madeline zuckerman

inny Rowlette, who has served on the Mama’s House board of directors for three years, introduced her dear friend Sharon Mottern to the organization. Mama’s House is the only residential home in the Coachella Valley providing shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. The nonprofit opened its doors seven years ago and has since served more than 230 mothers and babies, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these mothers to conquer fears, face challenges and get back on track for success. The young women who come to Mama’s House are in crisis pregnancies—with nowhere else to go, and no means of support. After Sharon began learning more about the nonprofit’s good work, she began to think about how she could help these young mothers. and governmental studies, working with them She felt her career as a certified K-12 teacher each week for an hour at the Hope Center— with 10 years of classroom experience would the educational and counseling extension of definitely make a difference. Mama’s House—while their babies were being “We are extremely grateful for volunteers cared for by another volunteer. like Sharon Mottern, because her role is vital Sharon has found her work at Mama’s House to the success of our Mama’s House residents,” to be quite rewarding. She said the residents to said Christina Saldivar, the Mama’s House be polite, happy and appreciative of what she is director. doing for them. Sharon decided to set up a meeting with “I listen to them and always treat them with Jan Lupia, the founder and executive director respect,” Sharon said. “You have to know where of Mama’s House—and Sharon quickly they started from. The girls would tell me that realized her teaching background would be a their brains were better before they went on the definite fit. She was confident she could tutor drugs they took; they share things with me like these young mothers in reading, English and that. When I started, they could all read, but the governmental studies, and she told Jan she comprehension needed to be worked on. would be happy to help. In January 2018, after “The girls are in the Mama’s House program completing the Mama’s House vetting process, for approximately 1 1/2 years, because the Sharon began the tutoring process by giving organization tries to keep these girls long her new students reading assessments. She enough to prepare them for employment. They quickly realized that some of the girls were not often go into nursing programs where they can avid readers, so she brought books from her get a job fairly easily.” home to share. For her tutoring program, Sharon “Most of these young girls needed a year collaborated closely with the Coachella Valley or two at Mama’s House to work to obtain Adult School (cvadultschool.com), which their GED and/or high school diploma, in provided the curriculum, books and materials order to continue as residents,” Sharon said. for the girls to complete the courses to get “The girls have to obtain their GED or high their high school diplomas. school diploma in order to secure employment Sandra was a resident at Mama’s House— after their babies are born. This is considered and is one of Sharon’s biggest success stories. critical.” Sandra was able to obtain her high school Sharon began tutoring the girls in English diploma with Sharon’s help, and left Mama’s House in 2019 to pursue a nursing program. “Being at Mama’s House turned my life around,” Sandra says. “I was able to get sober and into recovery, complete classes, and learn to take care of myself. The mentoring I received, especially from Sharon, was a blessing. The program at Mama’s House prepared me to be on my own and to keep my daughter.”

Sharon Mottern.

CVIndependent.com

For more information on Mama’s House, visit www.themamashouse.org. Madeline Zuckerman is the owner and president of M. Zuckerman Marketing and Public Relations. Her firm represents Mama’s House.

Palm Springs Park continued from Page 7 councilmembers to hold a special public meeting to discuss how the $3 million of newly available funds should be spent, and to pause any action on the downtown park.” Holstege said everyone is not “sharing the same set of facts” about the park. “I was a bit concerned to see some facts in that op-ed that were not true, and were different from the facts that were presented to council,” she said. “We’re in very difficult times as a city and a country, and we’re all facing difficult personal times. I think it’s important to come together as a community and work from the same set of facts, disagree with respect, and understand where each other is coming from. I think some of that is missing in our civil discourse right now because of

where we are as a country. … I reached out already to the business community when I saw their op-ed. They want a private space for private events, and the Marilyn (Monroe) statue downtown in a location that’s visible. So I think we can keep working together to achieve everyone’s goals, and we don’t have to be opposed.” Both Kors and Middleton said they hoped the matter would return to the City Council for another vote. “Whether this could come back as a budget discussion, and if one of the people who voted for it think it’s appropriate to bring it back so the public can have more input, are questions the city attorney will have to answer,” Kors said.

DREAMers’ Dilemma continued from Page 8 became law in 2011. Moreno said she at first struggled with her status during her college years. “I went to a conference at UCLA for undocumented students, and I think that’s what brought me back to my old self and got me really involved in the community,” she said. “That’s when I officially came out of the shadows. Before that, I was afraid to share my status with friends and other folks. But going to this conference made me realize that I wasn’t alone, and it helped to bring my motivation back.” Moreno completed her college education after transferring to Cal State Fullerton. Her a future as an immigrant-rights advocate solidified as she participated in school clubs such as Alas Con Futuro (Wings for the Future) at COD, and the Titan Dreamers Resource Center at Fullerton, where she co-founded the Dream Co-op, also known as the DiversityResilience-Education-Access-MovementCooperation student lab. She was also accepted for an internship with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). According to the organization’s website, CHIRLA’s mission “is to achieve a just society fully inclusive of immigrants.” “When I graduated, I thought about staying in Fullerton, but it was difficult to find a job,” Moreno said. “Then I saw a position here in Palm Desert with an attorney who was looking for someone who had an immigration background. I came and took the job, but I was only there for a month. I realized that being involved over in Fullerton, and again in L.A. with CHIRLA, if I came back to the valley, I needed to get involved with other organizations. “That’s how I came across COFEM. I got an email from the club adviser at the College of the Desert that they were looking for volunteers for a citizenship clinic. So, I

thought, ‘Hey! This organization’s mission is to empower immigrant communities, and that’s perfect.’ So, I went to volunteer. I think they were expecting a big event, so pretty much the whole (COFEM) team came down (from L.A.), and I got to meet them. They told me they were hiring, so they interviewed me on the spot.” Moreno said she wasn’t prepared yet to work for COFEM—”but it was definitely meant to be.” “On Sep. 5, 2017, Trump first terminated DACA. I called COFEM (again) to ask if they were doing any advocacy on DACA, because Trump had terminated the program. They asked to come to L.A. to talk again. So I did, and they hired me. In the beginning, my main focus was to support undocumented students, but then I started taking on more responsibilities with the organization. I’ve been working there almost two years now. Still, it’s crazy (this job) happened due to the termination of DACA.” Both Moreno and Beaman Jacinto pointed out that DACA is just a small part of the work that needs to be done on behalf of the nation’s immigrants. “We want people to understand the importance of a permanent solution (to the U.S. immigration quandary) and not having something temporary,” Moreno said. “Also, they should know that we’re going to continue fighting.” Said Beaman Jacinto: “There’s been a lot of focus on DACA for the last eight years, since it became law under President Obama. It’s been an important step in the right direction, but it’s a very limited program that only serves a very limited number of people, and not even all youths are covered by it. So it was a small step in the right direction—but there is so much work still to be done.”


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 11

SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS

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SEPTEMBER ASTRONOMY

Mars, brightening and rising Planets and Brightearlier Stars ininEvening Mid-Twilight the evening, takes the For September, 2020 Jupiter This sky chart isNo. drawn2forspot latitudefrom 34 degrees north, but may be used in southern U.S. and northern Mexico.

V

N

By Robert Victor

enus, the brightest planet, and ruddy Mars dominate September’s predawn mornings. Bright Jupiter and nearby Saturn float in the southern sky at nightfall, while creeping slightly closer together. Mars doubles in brilliance for the second consecutive month—and will outshine Jupiter by late September—while the red planet’s rising time shifts two hours earlier, into evening twilight. Do you enjoy watching moonrises? During Sept. 1-7, the moon rises no more than 30 minutes later on each successive evening. Notice the moon’s reddened color and flattened shape at each moonrise; the moon’s decreasing phase from one day to the next; and the northward shift of its rising place from day to day, from the full moon’s rise at 7:23 p.m. on Sept. 1, through the 70-percent full moon’s rise at 10:13 p.m. on and Oct. 3 (0.7 degrees apart). Venus then Sept. 7. Note bright Mars less than a degree goes 1.2 degrees per day eastward against the above the rising moon on evening of Sept. stars. Following Venus and Regulus daily Sept. 5. They’re still 3-4 degrees apart, high in the 28-Oct. 7 an hour before sunrise should be quite southwest in the hour before sunrise, on engaging, as day-to-day changes will be easy to Sunday, Sept. 6. notice. With daylight saving time still in effect, September at dusk: Jupiter is the bright sunrise isn’t unreasonably early, so predawn sky “star” in south-southeast to south, with watching can be done with little disruption. Saturn 8.3 to 7.4 degrees to its east (left) in Mars, doubling in brilliance from magnitude the course of the month. Blue-white Vega -1.8 to -2.5 in September, now clearly outshines is nearly overhead, with nearby Altair and the brightest star, Sirius. Find the red planet Deneb completing the Summer Triangle. in the southwest to west at dawn, getting lower Golden Arcturus is still well up in the west, as month progresses. Bright stars: The entire getting lower as the month progresses. Reddish Winter Hexagon is now in fine view. Begin Antares, heart of the Scorpion, is in the southwith its brightest member, Sirius, the Dog Star, southwest to southwest. Early in the month, in the southeast to south-southeast. Then, it’s still easy to see Spica very low in the westin clockwise order, find Procyon, Pollux and southwest. On Sept. 14, can you spot brighter Castor, Capella nearly overhead, Aldebaran, Mercury 10 degrees to the lower right of Spica? Rigel and back to Sirius. Orion’s shoulder, Binoculars and an unobstructed view are needed Betelgeuse, is inside the hexagon. It forms the to follow this pair through their approach low nearly equilateral Winter Triangle with the big in bright twilight, within 0.6 degrees apart and little dog stars, Sirius and Procyon. By the on Sept. 21 and 0.8 degrees apart on Sept. end of the first week of September, Regulus, 22. Fomalhaut, mouth of the Southern Fish, heart of Leo, emerges low, north of east, and appears in the southeast by late in month. climbs higher daily in the morning twilight Mars rises in the early evening some 10 glow. By Sept. 30, Venus pulls within 3 degrees degrees north of east within a quarter-hour to the upper right of Regulus. Deneb, last star of after Jupiter reaches due south in early and the Summer Triangle to set, is departing in the mid-September—or at nearly the same north-northwest. time as Jupiter passes south late in month. Follow the moon, waning from full to a thin Mars surpasses Jupiter’s brightness in late crescent, on mornings of Sept. 2-16. Look about September. To compare them fairly, wait until one hour before sunrise to catch the moon they’re at equal altitudes later in evening, four about 3 degrees to the upper left of Mars on hours after sunset around Sept. 9, and three Sept. 6; near Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, on Sept. hours after sunset around Sept. 30. 9; near Twins Pollux and Castor on Sept. 12 and September at dawn: In the first days of 13; about 6 degrees to the lower left of Venus September, Venus, shining at magnitude -4.3 to on Sept. 14; and near Regulus on Sept. 15. On -4.1, stands at its highest in the eastern sky for Sept. 16, look 45 minutes before sunrise to this apparition. Moving just more than a degree catch the last old crescent moon, 3 degrees up per day against background stars, Venus passes and 12 degrees north of east. within 9 degrees south of Pollux on Sept. 1. Follow the moon, waxing from thin crescent On Sept. 5, the “Twin” stars Castor and Pollux to full, on the evenings of Sept. 18-Oct. 1. On form a straight line with Venus, 15 degrees Sept. 18, look 40 minutes after sunset to catch long. Don’t miss the close pairings of Venus the thin 4 percent crescent, very low in the and Regulus on Oct. 2 (0.5 degrees apart) west to west-southwest. With binoculars, try

September's evening sky chart. ROBERT D. MILLER

Deneb Vega

E

W

Arcturus

8 15

Altair Mercury Spica

1 Fomalhaut

Evening mid-twilight occurs

22

29

Saturn 8 15 22 29 1

Antares

8 15 22 29 Jupiter

O the moon’s lower left, for Mercurywhen 5 degrees Sun is 9to below horizon. 41 minutes sunset. and fainter Sept. Spica1:4.5 degreesafter to Mercury’s upper 15:stage 40 "of twilight " " on Sept. 19, left. At the same 30: 40 " " " find a thicker 10-percent crescent moon low in the west-southwest, with Mercury 14 degrees to its lower right, and Spica 3 degrees to Mercury’s upper left. For binoculars, Mercury and Spica appear closest to each other, 0.6 degrees apart, very low in bright twilight on Sept. 21. Spica is getting lower each evening, while Mercury in this poor apparition edges only marginally higher for another week. On Sept. 21 and 22, an hour after sunset, look for Antares 8-9 degrees from a fat crescent moon. The moon reaches first quarter phase, half full and 90 degrees east of the sun, on Sept. 23. On Sept. 24, one hour after sunset, Jupiter appears about 3 degrees to the moon’s upper left, with Saturn 7.7 degrees east of Jupiter. Check again some four hours later when they’ve nearly set, and you’ll find Jupiter only about

S

Stereographic Projection

2 degrees to the upperMap right the moon. byof Robert D. MillerOn Sept. 25, an hour after sunset, the moon will be 4 degrees to the lower left of Saturn and 11 degrees from Jupiter. The Abrams Planetarium’s monthly Sky Calendar now has more than 3,000 subscribers nationwide. I originated Sky Calendar in October 1968 and produced the October 2020 issue. For more information, visit www. abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar. To check for eventual resumption of star parties hosted by the Astronomical Society of the Desert, visit the club’s website at www. astrorx.org. Wishing you clear skies! Robert Victor was a staff astronomer at Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing informal sky watching opportunities for folks in and around Palm Springs. CVIndependent.com


12 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT

SITTABLE ART By Kevin Fitzgerald

SEPTEMBER 2020

Artists beautify another round of benches along Palm Canyon Drive

“I wasn’t that challenged in creating the design,” Calindas f you’ve been in downtown Palm Springs said. “I was inspired by Palm Springs. My design is called ‘The recently, you may have seen—or even sat Roadrunner.’ In that design, I incorporated the roadrunner, the on—one of the 10 newly painted public windmills and the basic landscape of Palm Springs. benches now adorning the downtown “As for the physical challenges—yes, it is the summer, and I sidewalks on Palm Canyon Drive between wondered, ‘Why would they even have a project like this in the Amado and Alejo roads. summer out here?’ I was there from 7 a.m. to 12 noon, and I This collection of formerly drab thought that I could finish the bench in one day—but I almost benches has just been re-imagined passed out. I was with my husband, and he was helping me. He via the beautiful artwork of was holding an umbrella, and I’m so lucky that he was there, nine local artists who applied but I couldn’t take the heat. So, I continued the following day— to the Palm Springs Public Arts which was my birthday. Even so, I just wanted to finish that Commission for the chance to bench so badly. People were asking me, ‘Marconi, what are you participate in the Palm Springs doing on your birthday?’ ‘Eating the sun,’ I told them. Main Street Bench Project’s Phase “But those were really all the challenges that I had, because 2, which concluded on Aug. 5. That we had an amazing overseer for the project, Tysen Knight. He talented group included Ernesto Ramirez knew how to handle all of the problems, so it was really almost (who painted two benches), Marconi Calindas, smooth. Without him, it would have been more challenging, Shanah Chomsinsub, Zach Fleming, Michael Marconi Calindas: “We are so glad that the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission is definitely.” Foss, Kylie Knight, Rich Rodriguez, Patrick doing this project, especially artists like me. Even before the pandemic, artists have Degree of difficulty aside, Calindas expressed appreciation for Sheehan and QWestOwen. always struggled to get our art out there, to get our pieces to be recognized. When the project. The very next day, the commission issued the pandemic happened, it was even more challenging.” “We are so glad that the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission another call for artists to transform 16 more is doing this project, especially artists like me,” Calindas said. benches, this time located on Palm Canyon “Even before the pandemic, artists have always struggled to Drive between Alejo Road and Tachevah Drive. get our art out there, to get our pieces to be recognized. When Each artist will receive a grant of $1,000 per the pandemic happened, it was even more challenging. So the bench; all the required art materials, including grants the PSPAC has been giving out for benches in this project the paint, will be provided by the commission. (enabled me), first, to stay busy during this crisis, and secondly, The Main Street Bench Project is to get my art out. Personally, I have my studio in the Backstreet supervised by local artist Tysen Knight. In Art District, and normally we would have our First Wednesday 2019, Knight was tapped by the Public Arts Art Walks, and I could invite friends and others to come see my Commission to paint 10 benches along Palm art, my new creations. So I’m very thankful for Palm Springs Canyon between Arenas Road and Museum Public Arts Commission right now—and I’m doing another Tysen Knight: "I’m able to help other people find themselves as artists, and I’m Way—and he created a series of eye-catching project through them. It’s not a bench, but a wall or fence at the blessed enough to still be working in the midst of this current climate. So that’s tributes to a variety of celebrity icons. Village Pub, and I’m excited for that, too.” pretty good. Everyone needs to look at things positively, if you can—and I think we’ll “I did do those first 10 benches by myself, Knight also expressed gratitude to the Palm Springs Public get through this somehow." so I think they’re sick and tired of seeing Arts Commission. my work,” Knight said with a laugh. “When I first started this process, there were things I had “Right now, you know, being an artist is pretty tough, because of how the economy is and the to learn by trial and error. I had to figure out the proper way to paint the bench, and what the pandemic,” Knight said. “So we got a really good turnout of artists who want to be involved in this proper sealer was, because we needed to have longevity. After I finished that first round of event. Now that (the Public Arts Commission) extended the project, we can give more artists the benches, (the Public Arts Commission) asked if I would become the supervisor on the project, so opportunity to secure some type of work.” I stayed to work on the second phase of benches. We had such a great turnout, and everything Knight discussed what else he is doing to stay busy. went so smoothly, that the PSPAC asked if I would manage another round. … Then we’ll “Since the pandemic hit us in March, I had some solo wall-mural projects that got put on hold,” probably move over to the airport and do some benches over there as well.” Knight said. “But now that school is getting back into the swing of things via socially distanced Knight explained the process, from concept to completed bench. learning, I’ll be mentoring through a program called BAM (Boys Arts Mentoring). That program “First, (the PSPAC commissioners and I) will sit down and go through all of the submissions and goes throughout the Palm Springs Unified School District, and I work with six different middle pick the ones that we think are super-cool,” Knight said. “Then we’ll kickstart the process again. schools. We’re coming up with a program where I’ll be able to teach the boys through Zoom. I’ll We supply all the materials for the artists. That’s where I come into play, because I know all of the get 9-by-12-inch canvasses and sketch out whatever theme they come up with on the canvas. ins and outs. I’ll meet with (each artist), and we’ll get the paints from Dunn-Edwards, and go from They’ll be delivered to each kid at his home. Then I’ll be doing structural painting with them there. I’ve got a really good relationship with Dunn-Edwards, and they sponsor a lot of my wallonline, so that we can keep our mentorship program going. mural projects, so I was able to (arrange) for the PSPAC to get the paint through Dunn-Edwards. “I’m signed with the Redwood Art Group, which is one of the biggest art dealers in North That’s the paint I used on the first set of benches, and it’s holding up really well. America. Usually, I’d do all the different major art fairs around the country, but due to the “Now, after the artist paints the bench, I’ll come back with a high-grade sealer like they would pandemic, everything is online right now. So, I mean, life’s good, and I’m blessed. I’m able to use on handrails and stuff that gets used a lot. I wanted a nice clear coat which protects the bench, help other people find themselves as artists, and I’m blessed enough to still be working in the for the most part. You know people will be standing on them, sitting on them and spilling ice midst of this current climate. So that’s pretty good. Everyone needs to look at things positively, cream on them. I mean, they’re outside public benches, so we just want people to use them and if you can—and I think we’ll get through this somehow. Things will get back to some type of enjoy some beautiful art at the same time.” normalcy.” Marconi Calindas was one of the Phase 2 artists. What challenges did he confront along the way? For more information, visit pspublicarts.com. CVIndependent.com

I


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 13

SEPTEMBER 2020

THE

Chef Andie Hubka rethinks her four food concepts in Indio and La Quinta—and even starts a new ‘shadow’ restaurant

PANDEMIC PIVOT

By Andrew Smith

“You can make it feel really nice if you dress it up with plants and umbrellas,” she joked. They’ve had strong support in that regard. “The OVID-19 has created a great deal of pessimism city of Indio has allowed us to do whatever we can to in the restaurant industry, for good reason— survive, while La Quinta gave us grants to extend the but Andie Hubka has a positive attitude, and is Cork and Fork patio and make it more hospitable,” finding a purpose for every proverbial lemon Hubka said. The city even paid for the misters— that life gives. except there was a problem: “It turned out there was Hubka has opened four food concepts since 2008, a mister shortage, and every company was booked conveniently divided between two sets of adjoining units, for months. Another interesting side effect of the in La Quinta and Indio. It started with Cooking With pandemic!” Class, a recreational cooking school, before expanding to Traditionally a source of supplemental revenue, Cork and Fork, Heirloom Craft Kitchen, and Tu Madres takeout is now at the forefront. In addition to the Cantina and Grill. All of her concepts center around fresh, third-party apps, all of Hubka’s restaurant websites local ingredients with modern, creative flair. They’ve offer online ordering. She’s also worked on packaging established Hubka as one the valley’s most reputable and and presentation. recognizable chefs. “We really wanted to focus on how people would She’s been going virtually non-stop for 12 years, and eat and reheat the food,” she said. “In the past, I Hubka planned to take a break after opening Tu Madres in might revisit a restaurant because of great service December. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other ideas. or their wine list, but now it’s how well the food was She limited her restaurants to takeout a week before packaged.” It was part of the mindset behind Citrine, the governor’s official orders. “Some restaurants had to because Mediterranean and Italian food “travel well.” close suddenly, then were left reassessing and scrambling While Hubka has removed a few menu items due amidst constant changes,” Hubka said. to poor transportability, she’s resisted the urge to Each of her restaurants had their own challenges. streamline and cut costs, she said. Heirloom was reasonably well set, with takeout already “We wanted to make sure our customers could accounting for half the sales—and it’s actually doing still get the food they expected,” Hubka said. “We’ve better this year than last. Cork and Fork, however, is actually expanded our offerings with daily specials. known for a social and intimate setting. They keep our customers coming back, and also give “That whole model doesn’t lend itself well to COVID,” us reason to post on social media.” Hubka joked. She’s also added affordable family meals, Tu Madres is half-bar and has no patio. “We hadn’t enhancing offerings with a brand-new smoker. The established ourselves, so we literally had to start over,” first weekend’s barbecue offerings sold out fast, she said. generating great feedback—and a waiting list. “We And Cooking With Class? “We have no idea when we’re Andie Hubka, on Citrine, her new "shadow" restaurant: “With shadow kitchens, rotate the smoker around all four restaurants, so going to be able to reopen that. It could be a long time.” most consumers don’t realize that they’re not an actual restaurant. But we made it they all get to be creative and have fun with it,” she Hubka is accustomed to adversity; Cooking With Class completely transparent, and our customers can physically come pick up in person.” said. opened in the midst of the 2008 downturn, after all. She While Cooking With Class is currently not claims to have more than 100 concepts in her head, and operating, Hubka remains dedicated to teaching. She’s heavily involved with La Quinta High she’s been investing in new equipment at a time when others are cutting back. In fact, she’s decided to take advantage of this takeout- and delivery-centered restaurant era by introducing yet School and has published three cookbooks. Because quarantine has spawned a wave of aspiring home chefs, she took to social media with free, live cooking shows. another restaurant concept. “The cooking school started my career and was behind everything we’ve done,” she said. “It “When life gives you lemons, eat Citrine!” That’s the tagline for her latest concept, one means a lot to a lot of people, myself included.” focused on fresh Mediterranean cuisine. However, you can’t dine at Citrine, because in the She is exploring options to convert Cooking With Class into a virtual model. “There’s no traditional restaurant sense, it doesn’t exist. It’s part of a modern trend of “ghost” or “shadow” kitchens, which operate in a shared space and sell through delivery apps. Hubka was inspired by comparison to physical cooking classes where you get to taste everything, but going forward, a Los Angeles restaurateur who was running five virtual restaurants out of one location; Citrine people might want the comfort of cooking classes from their own home,” she said. Hubka has also embarked on a series of virtual happy hours, co-hosted with a local real takes advantage of unused capacity at Cooking With Class. estate agent. With guests and giveaways, the happy hours have developed a strong following. “With shadow kitchens, most consumers don’t realize that they’re not an actual restaurant,” “We wanted to do something fun, invite other local business owners, and talk about what Hubka said. “But we made it completely transparent, and our customers can physically come we’re doing to survive,” Hubka said. “It’s been a cool, communal thing. It’s allowed us to touch pick up in-person.” base with people, see how they’re doing, and show them what we’ve been up to.” While patio dining is now permitted, the transition hasn’t been easy at Hubka’s restaurants, COVID-19 will likely reshape social behaviors indefinitely. Consumers may be slow to return in part due to the desert heat. Heirloom always had a few outside tables, but the other concepts to packed dining rooms, and many of us have gotten used to new technologies and remote needed help. Tu Madres borrows the patio from the coffee shop next door in the evenings, and experiences. Hubka is embracing rather than fighting that change. as the weather cools, Hubka plans to extend a shared patio for Heirloom and Tu Madres into “It was time to get creative, reinvent and find new ways to connect with our base,” she said. the parking lot.

C

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SEPTEMBER 2020

ARTS & CULTURE

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SOCIALLY DISTANCED FILMS

El Toro Flicks brings an upgraded drive-in movie experience to the Westfield mall

By matt king

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n some ways, the pandemic has driven us toward newer technology, like Zoom meetings, which allow us to meet when we can’t be physically together. In other ways, it’s driven us toward old-school vibes, including the return of the drive-in movie theater. And now, here comes El Toro Flicks—an old-school-style drive-in movie theater using newer technology. El Toro Flicks is a “Carpool Cinema” experience, and it debuted in early August at the top level of the Westfield Palm Desert’s parking garage. “The company was born in Arizona, where we have two locations that have been fully operational since the end of April,” said Justin Finn, producer of El Toro Flicks, during a recent phone interview. “With everything that’s going partnership with the Westfield mall and are hosting it on top of the parking structure on with COVID, we are able to go back into outside of Macy’s.” the future, and revitalize this drive-through The inaugural weekend schedule in August concept. One thing that we’ve done with included two classics (Jurassic Park and The newer technology is have our screens be LED Goonies) and the more-recent Toy Story 4. I was walls. They’re not your typical projection; curious about the movie-selection process. they provide for better visibility and clarity, “It’s a combination of a few different things,” as well as being able to withstand our climate. Finn said. “First of all, we do market research. We don’t want things to be overheating or We take movies that are in high demand and shutting off. put them out over the course of the week. We’ll “We decided to bring this out to Palm (eventually) be operating Tuesday through Desert, where I live now. We began a

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El Toro Flicks has made a home at the top level of the Westfield parking garage.

Sunday, and we’ll be showing a variety of different movies. We do take requests, so anyone can let us know, and it’ll take us about a week to get approval. “We also are going to try to incorporate different events at the space. Drive-in concerts are something we are looking into, and they have been successful at our Arizona locations. California has some different laws than Arizona, but once we get the movie element up and rolling, we are definitely going to do what we need to do to try to host different events like concerts and private events. There’s a lot of community involvement that we want to inject into this.” Finn said this team is even looking into the possibility of broadcasting sporting events. “The licensing for sports is a little bit different than general movies,” Finn said. “We’d love to be able to show some football or some basketball games if it fits and if we can do it safely.” Hosting any real event during this era of SARS-CoV-2 can be a challenge. However, Finn said El Toro Flicks’ biggest problems at the two Tucson-area theaters have not involved the coronavirus; they’ve involved weather. “My team and I have a background in producing events, so we had some knowledge as to what was needed as far as logistics go,” Finn said. “One of the most difficult issues we faced in Arizona was dealing with the monsoon season. The weather has been the toughest element; there was even a flood in one of the areas. The things that you can’t control, like Mother Nature, have led to some cancellations. Our main priority has been to keep everyone safe at the venue. If there’s anything that will

put anyone in danger, then we will cancel the show for that day.” The safety efforts even extend to the ticketing process. “One of the main things we wanted to do was keep it innovative,” Finn said. “We’re going 100 percent contactless: Ticket purchasing and arriving at the venue will all be contactless. We wanted to abide by CDC guidelines and social distancing as much as we possibly can. Another thing we are trying to incorporate here is keeping a similar element to a familyfun night. On Tuesdays, we’re going to try to bring in a taco truck, if the Department of Health will allow it, and do Taco Tuesdays. On Thursdays, we’ll do Flashback Thursdays, and even have some Chick Flick nights. There’s a lot of things we’re trying to incorporate into our weekly programming.” On top of creating fun, Finn and his team are hoping to create jobs. “We are fully staffed at the moment, but we will probably always have job availability posted,” he said. “We’re aiming to create 10 to 15 jobs within the community until the end of the year. If anyone is interested in getting some work, just let us know, and we will look into it.” El Toro Flicks currently takes place Thursday through Sunday at the top of the Westfield Palm Desert parking garage, 72840 Highway 111. Gates open at 6:45, and parking is first-come, first-serve; movies start at 7:45 p.m. Car passes start at $26.99. For tickets or more information, including a complete schedule, visit www. eltorotickets.com/coachella-valley.


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 15

SEPTEMBER 2020

ARTS & CULTURE

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CULTURE OUTDOORS I

By jimmy boegle

n September, the Palm Springs Cultural Center will reach the six-month anniversary of being shut down—along with all other venues across the state—by COVID-19. While the doors of the Cultural Center building will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future, management will still have far too much going on to take much notice of the anniversary. The Saturday Palm Springs Certified different audience than the Cultural Center’s Farmers’ Markets continue, as do the drive-in traditional indie-film fare. films that have been taking place each weekend “It’s definitely younger. There are a lot more since the start of July. The “virtual cinema” families, and a lot of the ticket-buyers are streaming-film offerings will be expanded, and female,” Green said. “Our audience, historically, the center’s annual LGBTQ film fest, Cinema we always laugh and say, ‘It’s the gays and Diverse, will proceed despite the pandemic. the grays.’ We historically have had an older And that’s just the beginning of the Cultural audience, and we’ve got a huge gay following, Center’s plans. because we feature a lot of LGBTQ films that Many of the Cultural Center’s offerings you can’t see anywhere else. But we’ve never these days revolve around the new drive-in managed to bring families in until the drive-in.” screen. Michael Green, the executive director As the fall approaches, Green said the of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, explained Cultural Center plans to expand both its how it came to be. in-person, outdoor events and its virtual “One of our board members, Ann Sheffer, events. He said the virtual cinema streaming wanted to do it,” Green said. “She asked me offerings thus far have been limited by the to look into it and see what it would involve, technologies of film distributors. and see if we could do it, because she had seen “If you pick a movie on our website, and that they were becoming popular in other you go to buy tickets, it’ll take you to the areas. She wanted to provide something to distributor’s page, and you’ll buy the film the community that would enable them to get through them,” Green said. “Longer-term, together for entertainment safely.” we’re in the process of putting together our The drive-in went live over the Fourth of own streaming engine that we will use first for July weekend—and Green said he’s been Cinema Diverse. After that, we’ll launch our pleasantly surprised by the attendance. own streaming channel powered by our own “I really didn’t think people would come engine. That’ll enable us to put films up there out in this heat,” he said. “But we’ve been whether the distributor has a direct streaming doing really well, and lots of nights have been link or not.” sellouts.” September means it’s time for Cinema Green said the drive-in has attracted a Diverse, the Cultural Center’s annual LGBTQ Film Festival. This year’s event will include a mixture of online and—thanks to the drive-in setup—in-person screenings, starting on Sept. 11 and running through the month. “We’ll open with a drive-in feature, and we’ll launch our streaming that day. The streaming will last through the end of the month, and we’ll have drive-in features every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night,” Green said. “The streaming engine that we’re putting in place does allow for Q&As with filmmakers, and it allows voting. So we’ll be able to continue a tradition of letting the audience select festival favorites, and we’ll be able to bring the filmmakers to the audience.” Beyond Cinema Diverse and the drive-in film offerings, Green said the Cultural Center plans on branching out to begin hosting live An artist’s rendering of the Palm Springs Cultural music, live theatrical offerings in partnership Center drive-in screen.

The Palm Springs Cultural Center has big plans for the fall—starting with the return of LGBTQ film fest Cinema Diverse

with Coyote StageWorks, and possibly some programming in conjunction with Palm Springs Pride. Some of those events will take place entirely outdoors, he said, while others may take place with performers inside, and the performances streamed to audiences outside. As for allowing audiences inside the Cultural Center, Green said he and his board of directors are budgeting under the assumption that the doors will be closed until sometime in 2021. “If we’re fortunate enough for that to not be the case, great,” he said. “But we felt like it’s going to be a long time before people are feeling safe gathering in indoor locations. … We’re hoping that next year at some point, whenever that is, there’ll be a vaccine, and there’ll be people who are ready to get back together to see films and see other things.” While the Cultural Center’s finances have been harmed by the pandemic, Green said the nonprofit remains on solid footing. “It’s definitely a struggle,” he said. “We’re

fortunate that we own the building, so we don’t have a mortgage, but it has definitely been a real struggle to keep the fundraising going and keep trying to raise money during this whole experience. We’re fortunate because we had established our Camelot Society, which is a monthly or annual giving program. We’ve got some folks who are members of that who are giving on an ongoing basis.” One more thing: If anyone has partnership ideas, Green would love to talk. “One thing we’re not only open to, but trying to encourage, is to provide a place where either other nonprofits or companies that want to do something (can use) the streaming (capabilities) and the drive-in,” he said. “We’ve encouraging people to think about ways that they could do something, utilizing what we have to help the rest of the community out and other organizations out.” For more information, visit psculturalcenter.org.

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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 17

SEPTEMBER 2020

ARTS & CULTURE

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DRIVE-IN MUSICAL T

By matt king

hespians everywhere have been aching for the day they can re-enter the world of theater, which was shut down suddenly—along with almost everything else—in March. The brand-new North Star Theatre Company has an outside-of-the-box plan—and if all goes according to that plan, the company will debut with a live production of West Side Story in October. Christine Michele—among other things, “We didn’t really get the ball rolling until the lead singer of the cover band Christine after the pandemic started,” Owens said. “We and the Lost Keys—and James Owens are the were stuck in that limbo period when theaters co-founders of the North Star Theatre, and both thought they would be starting back up in a few have an extensive background in local theater. weeks. Everyone thought that theaters would “Ever since March, James and I have only be closed for a month, so we thought that been talking about starting our own theater it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to do this company,” Michele said during a recent phone at that time. Now that time has passed, we can interview. “We both have been wanting to do clearly see that traditional theater probably something like this forever.” won’t be back until 2021. It was during that Added Owens: “I can’t remember when my time we realized we were going to need to come first thought was, but I definitely have been up with something a little bit more creative.” thinking about doing something like this for How can theater as we’ve come to know it a long time. The moment just came together happen in the age of social distancing? Owens when a mutual friend of ours mentioned to each and Michele’s answer: a drive-in, in-the-round of us that the other was interested in starting a stage, at an outdoor venue near Camino theater.” Parocela and San Luis Rey Drive in Palm Added Michele: “We had known each other, Springs. and had even been in a few shows together. I “COVID aside, we thought that there was reached out to him, and we got to talking about an opening in this market for a different kind this right before COVID.” of theater, one with a different approach and Plans came together rather quickly for the a different mission,” Owens said. “We started duo. bouncing ideas off of one another. Theater is really important to us—and to a lot of people we know. “To wait for things to get back to normal just wasn’t an option for us. When you’re backed up against the wall, and you need an outlet, you start to come up with a different way to do things. We brainstormed a bunch of ideas based on what our obstacles were, and we’ve taken ideas from different businesses and restaurants that have had to alter their operations, and have applied that to theater.” Added Michele: “We conducted a survey online, asking if people would feel safe going back to a theater inside, or attending a theater outside, so that’s how we got this idea for a drive-in theater.” Michele said they would like to make the North Star Theatre a place for various forms of art. “We’ve talked about having bands come and perform, because I know a lot of musicians are hurting right now,” she said. “We’re open to the idea of other things besides musicals and plays.” North Star Theatre co-founder Christine Michele: “We conducted a survey online, asking if people While it’s impossible to foresee what the would feel safe going back to a theater inside, or future may hold, Owens is optimistic about his attending a theater outside, so that’s how we got this idea for a drive-in theater.” team’s show schedule.

The brand-new North Star Theatre Company plans to launch in October with an outdoor performance of ‘West Side Story’

“We’re starting with just one show, but we already have another one in the works in terms of planning,” he said. “We’re aiming for about four shows for this 2020-2021 season, which will last until spring.” Of course, auditions and rehearsals will need to be done differently in this time of COVID-19. “Our auditions will be through video submissions,” Owens said. “Our callbacks for both dance and singing will be virtual, so the actors will get sides, and the dancers will get a combo. They’ll film themselves doing that, and we’ll decide from there. If we need to see anyone in person, we are set up for that. We have a space in Palm Desert that has a safe space for everyone. … The majority of rehearsals will be six weeks online, and the last two or three weeks will be in person.” Michele and Owens plan on creating community by collaborating with local schools. “One of our board members is a teacher at Indio High School. I’m a teacher as well, and we

have some friends that are theater teachers at other schools,” Owens said. “We’re definitely involving local schools.” They said North Star has long-term plans to start a kids’ program. “Stephanie (Jauregui, the board secretary) and I both taught at a kids’ camp for the last few summers,” Owens said. “We have a pretty good handle on that kind of curriculum. It would be fairly small at first, and the end product would be a kids’ show produced. Along the way, the kids would learn tech, costuming, the acting, etc. We would provide all of those different subjects throughout our camp.” Michele added: “Another great thing about that is my vocal coach is actually a Broadway professional, and she’s agreed to come and help teach. She’s also trying to get some of her Broadway friends to come teach a masterclass.” For more information on the North Star Theatre, visit www.northstartheatre.org.

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18 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT

SEPTEMBER 2020

MOVIES & TV

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NOW SHOWING AT HOME T

By Bob Grimm

he new Disney+ series Muppets Now—the umpteenth incarnation of the Muppets on TV—proves to be a good one, with Kermit and pals assimilating into the world of Zoom and cooking-competition shows. The premise is simple: Kermit presides over a different kind of show, one in which he remains the emcee, and Scooter continues as a stage manager, of sorts. But this time, Kermit is hosting things on a Zoom-like platform, while Scooter labors away trying to upload show elements on time to the satisfaction of Miss Piggy, Gonzo, etc. It may sound trite and unoriginal, but the writing and flow turn out to be perfect fits for Muppet sensibilities. I’m four episodes in—the show is being released to the public in weekly installments—and they get progressively funnier. Human guests such as Linda Cardellini and Taye Diggs are fun, but they never overshadow the puppet horseplay. Miss Piggy gets a fashion show called ave Franco, brother of James, makes his Lifesty, the name of which makes her directorial debut (and also co-wrote the very angry for obvious reasons. The best screenplay) with The Rental, a serviceable segments involve the Swedish Chef in a slasher film that proves the newbie director cooking competition during which he cheats can successfully create a creepy vibe. and refuses to tip delivery drivers. (The The film isn’t all that original, and you Swedish Chef is pure insanity in this new won’t feel any major sense of surprise when show.) Scientist Bunsen Honeydew now has the story ends. You might, however, refrain a sadistic edge in his wont for destroying from renting a vacation home on the Oregon things, while assistant Beaker remains coast anytime soon. petrified. Charlie and Michelle (Dan Stevens and The show pops with energy. Muppets Now Alison Brie) are looking to get away for the could have felt like producers were trying to weekend. They rent a fancy house and bring shoehorn the classic characters into a new, along Charlie’s brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen modern format—but instead, the show feels White), and Josh’s girlfriend, Mina (Sheila natural. This will appeal to younger fans and Vand), for company. After an awkward heritage fans alike. Muppets Now is now streaming on Disney+, meeting with the caretaker (Toby Huss, amassing a nice horror-film resume with with new episodes released on Fridays. this and the recent Halloween), the weekend gets off to a pleasant-enough start. Then the drugs come out … and bad things happen. When Mina discovers a camera in the shower, justified paranoia reigns—and then the bodies start piling up. Franco keeps the audience guessing about who is creating the bloody mayhem. The resolution irked me at first, but it’s growing on me. The performances help put the film over the top, as does the effective score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. They definitely use sound to keep you on edge. While The Rental owes much to previous films like Vacancy, it’s a promising start for Franco, who manages to give the film enough coolness to warrant a rental if you are a horror aficionado.

D

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‘Muppets Now’ feels surprisingly fresh; ‘The Rental’ pulls off a creepy vibe

The Rental is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Go-Go’s! The Go-Go’s is currently airing on Showtime, and is available on demand and via its streaming service.

I

I

’ve been bitching about the Go-Go’s not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years. They should’ve been first-ballot inductees, but nope; Bon Jovi is in there instead. Now that I’ve ranted, let me tell you about The Go-Go’s, a super-fine documentary from director Alison Ellwood that covers the band from its punk-rock days up until the present. Yes, the group only made four albums, but when you are talking about trailblazers, you have to put the Go-Go’s at the forefront of rock ’n’ roll history. The first all-female band that played their own instruments to have a No. 1 album (the classic Beauty and the Beat) started in the Los Angeles punk-rock scene—and they were one sloppy band. Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin were part of the original group, with Charlotte Caffey (guitar/keyboards), bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock joining soon thereafter. After witnessing a shitty Sex Pistols show, the girls decided that they should tighten up their act—and the pristine pop sounds of “Our Lips Our Sealed” and “We Got the Beat” soon arrived. Ellwood, with full participation from the band, culls together great archival audio and video, along with fun interviews, to tell their stories. Caffey’s drug addiction, Schock’s health scare, and Wiedlin pulling a Pete Townshend and temporarily leaving the band did a lot to stall the Go-Go’s momentum, but they have reformed many times over the years. They had a Broadway show before the pandemic, and there are plans for more touring and music—so they have not called it quits. This film proves over and over again that it’s time the band gets its place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if the institution wants to be regarded as anything close to relevant. They were the first; they were one of the best; and their music is timeless. Long live the

’m a major Ren and Stimpy Show fan. Love the first two seasons to death. Not crazy about what happened after its creator, John Kricfalusi, left the series; he didn’t make it past the second season. The quality dropped off in a big way. Also, I’m not at all happy that it turns out John K. was a pedophile—a story that came out two years ago. This new documentary, Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story, which includes John K.’s participation, wouldn’t delve into his issues with underage girls, right? That would be crazy. Surely John K. would avoid any film that paints him as the sicko that he apparently is. Right? For a large part of the 104-minute running time, it seems as if the subject won’t be breached. Directors Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood interview John K. and his colleagues about his rise and fall in the animation world. He was a genius, but he had a crazy attention-to-detail obsession that got him in trouble—along with a nasty temper. But then, lo and behold, the movie goes there—not only speaking to some of the women who were victimized by John K. as girls, but talking with the man himself about what happened—and not in a whitewashed sort of way. They go right at him; he answers; his answers are not good. It’s really quite remarkable. So, the movie is two things: It’s a really cool look at the institution that is Ren and Stimpy—which is being rebooted by Comedy Central without John K.’s involvement—and it’s a surprisingly daring character profile of John K. and everything he did to mess up the show, his life and the lives of others. He’s a mess, but this movie isn’t. Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story is now available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.


COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 19

SEPTEMBER 2020

FOOD & DRINK

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VINE SOCIAL JASON DAVID

Due to the pandemic and government prohibitions, the South African wine industry could use your support

HAIR STUDIO

W

By KatieLOVE finn YOUR

HAIR

hen the going gets tough, the tough get going—straight to the liquor store. And the not-so-tough are right behind them. If there has been one consistent thing during this pandemic, it’s alcohol consumption. While curling up with a bottle of cabernet might Country not be theClub best coping mechanism, and Cook Streetif you’re of drinking age, you’re free to self-medicate away. Palm De sert But that has not been the case in South Africa for much of the pandemic: South Africa has twice banned booze, meaning all sales and all kinds of new ways to create their own 760-340-5959 consumption of alcohol were considered a happy hour. crime. The first ban was put into place on But the police minister was having none of www.jasondavidhairstudio.net March 27 and lifted on June 1. Without it. He enthusiastically and proudly promoted warning, a second complete prohibition was extreme methods of enforcement, proclaiming put in place on July 12, and lifted on Aug. 17. he’d destroy the infrastructure where alcohol Rightly or wrongly, those bans have had a is sold. He encouraged his police task force to devastating impact. use any measure of prosecution—including The idea was simple: If people don’t drink, the beating to death of a man caught drinking people can’t get knee-walking, commodealcohol in his own backyard. hugging drunk, and that reduces the amount The devastation doesn’t stop there. of alcohol-related injuries. No more drunk Mirroring the sentiments in this country, drivers. No more bar brawls. A reduction there is a fierce debate going on regarding of domestic violence and child abuse. Who the importance of lives versus livelihoods: wouldn’t be on board with that? Teetering on a catastrophic recession, with Perhaps this was an easy decision for South huge unemployment numbers, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, given the African wine industry has been on the verge of staggering number of coronavirus cases there, collapse. This breaks my heart. and the unhealthy relationship and history the Small, family-owned and family-operated country has with alcohol. For years, laborers wineries are facing the biggest risk of were paid with leftover wine or any unsavory extinction. They are dependent on local hooch laying around. Drinking your wages was consumption and tourism, both of which an easy way into rampant alcoholism. have been nonexistent. Many of them have But was the cure worse than the disease? limited access to exportation or distribution, The impact of these extreme restrictions will and those that do are being impacted by trade be felt for years. More than 1 million jobs were agreements that require reciprocity. affected, and the revenue loss is in the hunWhat’s more is that a lot of these wineries dreds of millions. The economic partnership are Black-owned. The idea that a Black person between South Africa and the European Union could own land, much less be a winemaker, was was fractured. More than 500 liquor stores a concept that was unthinkable 30 years ago. were robbed, and the boom in illegal alcohol In 1997, Charles Back, of Fairview Winery, production spiraled out of control, with modcreated the Fair Valley Workers Association. ern-day Al Capones seizing an opportunity to This was an amazing step toward equality: supply the thirsty masses. As the United States For the first time, Black workers had the learned during our own decade-long Prohibiopportunity to acquire land and make their tion, where’s there a will, there’s a way. own wines. In 1999, the country saw its first Even with the ban lifted, restrictions remain. wine produced by a female Black winemaker, Alcohol can be consumed inside restaurants Carmen Stevens, who was just 27 years old at and bars, but only until 10 p.m. If the citizens the time. Since then, more than 40 wineries of South Africa want to purchase libations have been established by Black entrepreneurs. to enjoy at home, they can do so—but liquor That’s South Africa for you. During the outlets can only be open Monday through area’s 360 years of wine production, the Thursday, during daytime hours, and citizens country has proven time and again that you are subject to a curfew. can knock her down, but she gets right back Meanwhile, pineapple sales have gone up. For every step back, South Africa becomes through the roof. It’s an easy fruit to ferment even more determined to take two steps and turn into alcohol in the privacy of one’s forward. This is why I love this country and own bathroom. Home brewers are discovering its wines so much: Not only do they have

undeniable, unapologetic flavors and aromas that are unique and thought-provoking; the industry has always seized opportunities to modernize and advance. It is a powerful force and will not go quietly. The good news is that we can help: The next time you’re out running your necessary and essential errands, pick up a bottle or two of South African wine. Explore different grapes and regions. See what chenin blanc from Paarl tastes like. Try a Rhone-inspired red blend from the Franschhoek area. Be daring, and open a bottle of the country’s signature wine from a grape called pinotage. Encourage your

friends to find some South African wine, and have a virtual tasting. While the United States doesn’t exactly have a healthy relationship with alcohol, either, at least this time when we drink South African wine, we can drink for a good cause. I think this calls for a lovely bottle of Graham Beck Brut Rose. Cheers! Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with two decades in the wine industry. She can be reached at katiefinnwine@ gmail.com.

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SEPTEMBER 2020

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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 21

SEPTEMBER 2020

FOOD & DRINK

ON COCKTAILS I

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We could all use a refresher course—so here’s an abbreviated version of Bartending 101

BY kevin carlow

t’s back to work for yours truly. Not that I haven’t stayed busy—more on that in another piece—but I haven’t been bartending, per se. Am I excited to go back to work? Let’s just say this guy is going to make a great retiree someday—but I am excited to tend bar the way it used to be, whenever I can do that. I was half-tempted to write a good old-fashioned rant about the state of the industry right now, and the conflicted way I feel about people who are currently traveling and going out for cocktails. “Conflicted” may not actually be the accurate term, but a guy’s gotta pay the rent, so I will leave that alone. I am grateful to have employment to return ice. Even I still end up wearing something I to, and for a lot of other things these days. dry-shake on occasion, when I get cocky. But I am out of practice, as I figure most of Two, measure. Oh, I know, your free-pour us are—so I think a refresher course is in skills are top-notch; you can tell a millimeter order. For you bartenders, home bartenders, per second’s difference with your internal servers and barbacks lying on your résumés clock. The Riverside County Department of to get a bar job, and anyone else who might Weights and Measures has a sticker on your need a touch-up, here is the world’s shortest rump. Still, use a jigger. This is something I bartending manual. never want to butt heads about with any new One, let’s set some ground rules. Never face hire again. A lot of us (unfortunately) are going your shaker at anyone; always shake to the to be job-hunting and competing with each side. If you don’t understand why this is the other soon, so get a leg up, and practice your first thing I am requiring, then you’ve clearly jiggery. never doused anyone with a whiskey sour. Three, put ice in the shaker or the pitcher. When you shake, make sure that both parts I know you think you put ice in, but you really of the shaker are firmly sealed before starting. put only half a scoop in there. That’s why your This is especially important with dry-shaking, stir looks bad (at least partly), why your shake where ingredients are shaken without adding sounds anemic, and why your drink is sad. Fill

it up two-thirds of the way with ice, after you pour your ingredients. Four, work on your stir. I get a twisted pleasure out of having people stir a drink in an interview. It has three possible outcomes: a confident and expert stir that’s silky smooth (rare); a spoon that rattles back and forth across the pitcher (extremely common); a tipped-over and/or broken pitcher, because the person has no idea what they’re doing (far too common). It takes practice, but it’s not hard! Buy a pitcher and a bar spoon, if you don’t have one, and put ice in it (see above); add a little water; and stir for 10 minutes at a time. You can binge old episodes of The Office while you do it for all I care; just have one hand stir for 10 minutes. Change the ice when needed. The stir technique is deceptively simple: It’s a push-pull. You want to keep the outside curve of the spoon against the inside of the pitcher, and the handle of the spoon between your middle and ring finger, with the thumb and index finger pinching further up the spoon for support. With your hand steady, simply push and pull with the fingers while keeping the top of the spoon still, and the spoon firmly against the walls of the pitcher. The ice should spin gracefully around the liquid, and there should be no jostling. It’s like the moon in orbit: The spoon should always show the same face as it orbits the center of the glass. You could have redrum carved into your forehead, but if your stir and shake look good, I will consider you for hire. Five, build the drink with the smallest ingredients first, and the main spirit last. That way, if you screw up, it minimizes the loss. Six, learn the basics. I don’t care if you don’t know how to make a Ramos gin fizz, although these days, that is borderline basic knowledge, but there are some drinks you just need to know how to make the “right” way. I don’t have the space to cover all of them in detail in this edition, but here’s a good little list to get you started. One spirit, stirred: Old Fashioned: 2 ounces of bourbon; teaspoon of superfine sugar or 1/2 ounce simple syrup; four dashes of bitters. Stir on plenty of ice; garnish with an orange peel. One spirit, shaken: Daiquiri: 2 ounces rum; 1 ounce lime; 1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple. Up; lime garnish. Gimlet: 2 ounces gin; 1 ounce lime; 1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple. Up; lime garnish. Bee’s Knees: 2 ounces gin; 1 ounce lemon;

3/4 ounce honey water. Up; lemon twist garnish. French 75: 1 1/2 ounces gin; 3/4 ounce simple; 3/4 ounce lemon. Up; top with sparkling wine and a lemon twist. Collins: 2 ounces gin (or vodka); 1 ounce lemon; 3/4 ounce simple. Tall over ice; top with soda and a lemon garnish. Mojito: 2 ounces rum; 1 ounce lime; 3/4 ounce simple; separated mint. Light shake; dump; tall with soda and “slapped” mint. Two spirits, stirred: Martini: gin, two parts; dry vermouth, one part. Up; lemon twist or olive. Manhattan: rye, two parts; sweet vermouth, one part; two dashes of bitters. Up; orange twist or cherry. The ever-present vodka martini is just shaken vodka with an olive, since I am tired of getting them sent back for having vermouth. I am convinced most vodka dirty-martini drinkers either don’t want to taste alcohol or have some kind of salt-craving adrenal issue, so don’t be afraid to use a whole ounce of olive brine! Two spirits, shaken: Margarita: tequila, two parts; triple sec, one part; lime juice, one part. Rocks; salt; lime garnish. Sidecar: brandy, two parts; triple sec, one part; lemon juice, one part. Up; sugar half rim. Cosmopolitan: 1 1/2 ounces vodka; 3/4 ounce triple sec; 1/2 ounce cranberry juice; 1/2 ounce lime juice. Up; orange twist. (A little simple syrup helps this category of drinks; I like 1/4 ounce.) Three spirits, stirred: Negroni: gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, equal parts. Rocks; orange twist. Boulevardier: rye, sweet vermouth, Campari, equal parts. Up; orange twist. If you want more, check out this column’s archives at CVIndependent.com. I recommend learning the three-spirit drinks (Last Word, Corpse Reviver No. 2, Paper Plane, Naked and Famous), the Mai Tai, the New Orleans classics (Vieux Carré, Ramos Fizz and, of course, the Sazerac!), and the Aviation, El Diablo, and Vesper (which are popular oddballs that don’t fit a clear template). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to practice reading lips through a mask. Kevin Carlow can be reached at CrypticCocktails@gmail.com. CVIndependent.com


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SEPTEMBER 2020

FOOD & DRINK

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CAESAR CERVISIA BY brett newton Ours is the only language you can drink! —translated German saying about Kölsch

O

ne of the beautiful things about the American craft-beer movement over the last four decades is the reviving and re-imagining of what we refer to here as “Old World styles.” This has led to things like the now-ubiquitous American IPA, inspired by the English version that had been almost entirely ignored in its homeland, and the gose—a light, kettlesoured ale with salt and coriander added—from a town in Germany near Leipzig. The former underwent a major transformation; the latter seems to have hewed more closely to the original style (though often seeing fruit additions, call the city of Cologne, and the dialect of among other things; for a treat, check out the language they speak is also called Kölsch. Modern Times’ latest version called Laser Rain, While Germany is known for its rich tradition with guava, cucumber and lime). of impeccable lagers (lagern being the German The style I want to discuss has seen fewer word meaning “to store”), the Kölsch (along alterations than most, but is often difficult with its cousin from Düsseldorf, the altbier) to re-create due to its subtleties: Kölsch. The is from a time before lagering was the order quote that heads this column refers to a bit of of the day. While it is an ale, it disguises itself German wordplay: Köln is what the Germans as a lager. This means an ale yeast is used for

CVIndependent.com

Kölsch-style beers—both domestic and from Germany—are perfect pairings for barbecued meats

fermentation, but the beer typically receives the lager treatment, being stored at lower temperatures (45-55 degrees Fahrenheit) at some point during fermentation. This leads to a smoother, more-subtle taste experience which, unlike lagers, often includes a fruity note from the esters the ale yeast produces. Cologne’s website describes the beer as “a top-fermented, light-colored, clear, highly fermented, hopsy (sic) full ale and is brewed according to the German Purity Law of 1516.” Now that we have that out of the way, you may be wondering how it tastes. This is the best part about discovering or revisiting beer styles: The best way to do it is by drinking them. Thankfully, it is not as difficult of a style to find as it was even several years ago. I’ve bought cans of Reissdorf Kölsch at our Total Wine and More (and have even had it on tap at The Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs), and it is a widely celebrated example of the style. Bready from its pilsner malt, light and crisp at 4.8 percent alcohol by volume, floral, herbal and/or spicy in its hop profile—with enough of a bitter backbone to balance it with the malt—it’s a perfect summer beer when you want lightness without having to sacrifice flavor. The Germans have perfected “summer sippers,” and they have the added benefit of going well with barbecued foods, not so coincidentally. Especially if you do it the German way: If your meal includes wurst, potato salad (not the nasty, swimming-in-mayonnaise version we do here in the United States; German potato salad is a revelation) and an accompanying bread, a Kölsch has your taste buds’ back. From all I’ve heard and researched, the typical beer-drinking experience in Cologne is interesting and a little quirky. A Colognian (or, as referenced earlier, a Kölsch) person or visitor would enter a brauhaus (beer house, literally) and find a place with a surface. The server, called a köbes, stands in front of a tapped barrel of Kölsch ready to pour it into a 0.2 liter (a little less than 7 ounces) glass called a stange. The köbes will then continually bring you full glasses until you indicate you are done by placing a coaster over the empty glass. People who are familiar with Brazilianbarbecue restaurants will understand this process—except, instead of a seemingly endless selection of grilled meats, you get one style of beer, often from only one specific Kölsch brewery. Want an altbier? Forget it. You will deeply offend your hosts if you ask for one, as it comes from their rival city. As mentioned, American brewers, both

professionals and hobbyists, have taken this style and run with it. One of the benefits of the style is that the above-mentioned lager treatment (or “cold conditioning”) can take less time than a traditional lager. Less time in tanks equals more beer that can be made by a brewery. Having said that, not all American versions are created equal. Some examples I have had make it painfully obvious that the brewer has never had an authentic Kölsch and has simply copy and pasted a recipe. Others are just as sublime as their traditional counterparts (sorry, German friends) and, happily, are readily available to the interested consumer. During the summer, Trader Joe’s Summer Brew, from their line of JosephsBrau brand beers (brewed by Gordon Biersch, a northern California brewery started by Dan Gordon, who received his training in Chicago at the prestigious Siebel Institute of Technology, whose namesake was a German immigrant chemist), is a Kölsch-style ale for around $6 per six-pack. The reason I don’t say it is a Kölsch is that the designation of “Kölsch” can only be applied to breweries from Cologne, much like any sparkling wine outside of the Champagne region of France cannot be called “champagne.” But I promise you: The soft malt body and lightly herbal, floral hop bite will quench your thirst just the same. The brewery I work for has made a Kölsch-style ale since its inception called Kölschella, if you’re interested in supporting a local brewery and trying a drier, more-hop-forward version of the style. If you’re tired of the grabbing the same old lager when you’re barbecuing (I sadly typed “going to a barbecue at a friend’s house” and then deleted it when I thought of our current situation), try finding some Kölsch to take with you. I love that these beers are as easydrinking as generic lagers can be, but have more character to stand up against some of the stronger grill flavors Germans take this stuff very seriously and are very proud of their brewing traditions. While I don’t want all of that seriousness to be transplanted into our craft-beer culture, we can certainly benefit more from taking what’s good in the beer world—past and present—and putting our unique spin on it. Prost! 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 caesarcervisia@gmail.com.


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MUSIC

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PRESERVING LIVE MUSIC T

By Matt king

o say that I miss live music is a gross understatement. I write about music. I play music, with two bands and as a solo artist—and, of course, I enjoy going to concerts. One of the biggest parts of my life has been pretty much nonexistent for almost six months, and I’m hurting. So, too, are the country’s music venues. The Save Our Stages movement is than Pappy and Harriet’s, a small and not-soan online petition by more than 2,000 secret restaurant and live-music venue located independent venues—including Pappy in Pioneertown. What was once a cantina set and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace and The on Pioneertown’s Western movie lot is now a Alibi—calling for support from Congress. The mecca for music and mystique. Some of the movement is led by the National Independent biggest acts in music have played Pappy’s, Venue Association (NIVA), whose mission is including Paul McCartney, Leon Russell, to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and independent live music venues and promoters many others. throughout the United States.” The goals are I reached out to Robyn Celia, the owner/ for Congress to provide long-term assistance talent buyer at Pappy and Harriet’s, to talk to shuttered businesses, offer relief through about Pappy’s and the Save Our Stages tax credits, and continue unemploymentmovement. While Pappy’s is not currently insurance benefits. hosting shows, the restaurant is open While the desert is home to a variety of Thursday through Sunday for outdoor dining, music venues, none of them are more stored takeout and delivery. She agreed to answer

The Save Our Stages movement’s goal: protect indie music venues like Pappy and Harriet’s

my questions via email rather than the telephone, due to a lack of cell service. “We are hanging in there,” Celia said. “Very lucky that we have lots of outdoor seating. We put up shade covering and installed two mister systems in our beer garden and the outdoor show space. “The future is unknown! We are taking it one day at a time.” Gone for the time being is the revenue from live performances, which due to high demand are booked well in advance—and often sell out. “We are now booking and rescheduling shows for 2021 and hoping for the best,” Celia said. Bands and venues all over the U.S. have found innovative ways to continue offering some form of live music, including live streams and drive-in shows. Pappy and Harriet’s is tapping into this trend, recently launching Pappy and Harriet’s: A Distanced Concert Series on YouTube, which features local bands performing at an empty Pappy’s. “Mario Lalli, an amazing musician and lifelong local, wanted to help keep Pappy’s name out there in the music community and

help local artists keep their creative hearts beating,” Celia said about the YouTube series. Celia and her team at Pappy and Harriet’s are doing their best to spread the word about the Save Our Stages movement. “NIVA has been tireless in their approach to get Congress to see how important independent venues are to all of our lives,” she said. “We have been trying to help raise awareness through our social media. While the future of live music is uncertain—there’s another gross understatement—Celia expressed hope that concerts, in some form, will return to Pioneertown soon. “I think we are very open to seeing how we can host a very small show outside,” Celia said. “The safety of our staff and customers are more important than anything else, so it really is a day-by-day situation. We are all making the best of it up here and hoping for better days. Come out for lunch and dinner!” For more information on Save Our Stages, visit saveourstages.com. For more information on Pappy and Harriet’s, visit www. pappyandharriets.com.

Jesika Von Rabbit and Lee Joseph perform during Campout 15 at Pappy and Harriet’s last year. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

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MUSIC

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MUSIC

CREATING GOOD MUSIC D

By Matt king

uring normal times, backyard shows throughout the Coachella Valley are packed with younger people enjoying hidden musical gems—such as the band Koka. Koka is a four-piece consisting of Edith Aldaz on vocals, Sebastian Camacho on bass, Ricardo “Ricky” Saavedra on drums, and Ubaldo “Uba” Norzagaray on guitar and synthesizer. The band’s indie-pop music is rather unique, mixing vibes from Clairo, Soccer Mommy, and Crumb into their own sound. along that features a pulsating, Blondie-esque Koka just released a new single, “Did You beat and vocals. I recently spoke with the band Fall Asleep Yet.” It’s a three-minute dancemembers about Koka’s genesis.

Koka.

Local indie-pop group Koka releases new single ‘Did You Fall Asleep Yet’

“During my senior year of high school, my plan was to just go to college and live a boring life,” Camacho said. “It wasn’t until my English teacher, Mr. Jonathan Adler at La Quinta High School, had a conversation with the class about doing what you love. That was really the point when I decided to take Koka seriously. It wasn’t even Koka at this point; it was just a friendship between me and Edith, who was, at the time, just a girl I knew who could sing. We met Uba through some mutual friends, and some months later, he posted that he got a guitar. I invited him to come write some music with us. “We started searching for a drummer for our live shows about a month after we released our first song, and that’s when we met Ricky. Originally, Edith was singing and playing drums, which I thought was cool as fuck and unique. After a while, she preferred getting someone with more experience, so we were super-lucky to find Ricky—and more importantly, get along with him.” The first song the band released was “Tissue,” a lo-fi, slow-tempo groove track. It wasn’t until the song was finished that the members of Koka began to view themselves as a band. “We were just writing music for us,” said Camacho. “Once we finished and decided to release our first song, we all agreed to start doing more band-related stuff. Uba had the idea to do a photo shoot, so once we released the song, there’d be a photo of us to go along with it.” Added Norzagaray: “We were focused on releasing good music before we began to think of a name. After we finished ‘Tissue,’ we all brainstormed names, and Koka was one of the ones I wrote down. We wanted something that sounded catchy and was easy.” Added Camacho: “Some of the other names we thought of were ‘Cheque,’ but we thought that most of our Spanish speaking listeners would pronounce it ‘che-kay,’ so we didn’t go with that. There was also a time when Edith was obsessed with apples, and there was a type called ‘Gala’ that I thought was cool, but we eventually went with Koka. We wanted to make sure we had a name that we all agreed on.” “Tissue” found success on SoundCloud, and is currently sitting at nearly 12,000 streams. “We really had no plan in the beginning, and not much of an idea of what we were doing,” Norzagaray said. “We just uploaded it to SoundCloud and shared it on Twitter and Instagram. The initial success it had made us

freak out, as we got 1,000 listeners in a week! We immediately got to work on releasing another song.” The band followed up with two more tracks, “An Inside Stay” and “Baby’s Breath.” “Baby’s Breath” has 43,000 streams on SoundCloud, and 12,000 on Spotify. The quality of the band’s recordings has improved with each release. “Our idea of mixing and mastering was panning tracks and changing audio levels,” Camacho said. “There are a lot of issues with them, but I actually like them. They were perfect for the time being, and those are the songs that created our audience. Our newest two songs are produced by Brian Harrington, and if you listen back to our original tracks in comparison to our newer songs, you’ll hear a huge difference in quality.” As for those two newest songs, “With Time” came in April, and “Did You Fall Asleep Yet” was released Aug. 1. “The idea is to work toward a full-length album soon, but as of right now, our main focus is creating good music,” Norzagaray said. Aldaz added: “We have a lot of different ideas recorded right now, and we have three songs, plus a cover, that we are currently working on completing.” A recurring theme with local bands is an increase in productivity during the pandemic— and Koka’s latest two releases are their first since 2018. The band has made a point to get together, as safely as possible, during the pandemic. “We try to meet up at least twice a week, but sometimes, schedules conflict,” Aldaz said. Added Saavedra: “It’s been super-hard to continue meeting during this time. We are doing our best, though, and are doing all that we can to continue to meet.” On top of working on more music, the band has started creating a playlist for Spotify listeners. “Each of us will pick five songs we like for that month, and we’ll put them all in a playlist called Koka Radio,” Camacho said. While the band remains productive, the members of Koka are missing the tight-knit backyard shows that they used to pack with fans. “People are still throwing shows, but they aren’t approved, and it’s really dumb for them to be doing that right now,” Camacho said. “We are going have to wait awhile until we can have approved shows again.” For more information, visit soundcloud.com/ koka10 or www.instagram.com/koka.wav. CVIndependent.com


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COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT // 27

SEPTEMBER 2020

MUSIC

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MUSIC

GENRE JOURNEY S

By matt king

ome bands struggle to find a sound and reach an audience; others are greeted with success almost immediately. The latter was the fortunate case for Out From Under, a local four-piece with Tarah Risnes on vocals, Josh Carbajal on lead guitar, Joel Reyes on drums, and Josh LaCroix on bass. The group released a three-song demo via SoundCloud on Aug. 1, and the three songs have already received more than 1,000 streams combined. Said Risnes: “Vocally, I get inspiration from “We got together about a year ago,” said Car- girl punk. There’s something about those groups bajal during a recent phone interview. “I sent that really resonates with me. For our more Tarah a video of me playing guitar, and she alternative stuff, I try to have my own twist said that we should start a band. So we did!” on Erykah Badu’s jazzy sound. I’m trying to Added Risnes: “I had just been kicked out of figure out a sound that is in the middle, so I can a different band a month prior. I didn’t have combine aspects from both of those genres.” much creative control in the band, and they Some may question the quality of the didn’t care to listen to any of my thoughts. recordings; however, the band doesn’t mind. When they kicked me out, I knew I wanted to “We have music, but we don’t have start my own band where everyone can have equipment to professionally record,” Risnes a creative input. Bands are a group effort, and said. “I wanted to put out some demos during everyone should be creating within it.” these months for people to listen to, so they Out From Under’s three-track demo is a can be able to hear us and not forget about us. genre journey that sees the band members test Our debut show was only a few days after the their musical skills in punk, alternative and new year, and we’ve only played about four indie rock. shows altogether. “I’m very big on music, and I draw influence “I had been wanting to record our music for a from softer bands like Never Shout Never really long time, because I want to progress as a and Death Cab for Cutie, and at the same band. I just decided to use my phone to record time, really heavy aggressive punk bands like the audio. We did a few takes and put them out. Cannibal Corpse and Sex Pistols,” said Carbajal. It’s just a demo, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. “I also draw inspiration from some indie bands We just wanted to get our sound across.” like Clairo.” When I first heard the name Out From

Out From Under releases a lo-fi threetrack demo to get the band’s sound out

Under, I thought it might be some sort of reference to Australia. However, that’s not the case. “Some of the names we came up with were really bizarre,” said Risnes. “A huge part of creating a band is being creative and having fun. We had a bunch of hilarious names come up, but I wanted to go with Out From Under. We all settled for it, but to be honest, I think we may change it in the future. I like it, but the more I read it, the more I question as to whether it has a good-enough ring. I believe a name has a lot to do with how successful a band is, and when you look at bands that have made it, many of them have names with a great ring to them. I don’t like having a set meaning to something I create. I enjoy other people figuring out meanings that resonate to them. Out From Under is really something you can interpret in any way.” As musicians, we all expressed our desires to play shows again. We talked about the pros and cons of some of the socially distant concert methods.

“With a drive-in show, people will just be sitting in their cars,” Risnes said. “I want to be able to feel the energy and feel the vibe from people. That’s the whole point of performing. I really miss mosh pits. Maybe the drive-in shows can have the cars starting a circle pit. Another barrier would be that most of our audience is made up of teenagers. Not all of them have vehicles available for a drive-in show.” The members of Out From Under remain hopeful, despite the pandemic and the growing pains bands universally go through. “We are unsure about the future of the band and some of our members,” Risnes said. “Our bass player just moved an hour and a half away, so we are trying to decide how to move forward with that. Other than that, I’m really hoping to continue creating and expanding our audience. We really want to keep moving.” For more information, visit soundcloud.com/user430976186 or www.instagram.com/out.from. under.official.

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the

LUCKY 13

Meet the leader of Cody White and the Easy Ride, and a drummer who pulls triple-duty by matt king What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? Yacht rock. What’s your favorite music venue? The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “Well now everything dies baby that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City,” Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City.”

NAME Cody White GROUP Cody White and the Easy Ride MORE INFO Many patrons of the Guitar Center in Palm Desert have been helped by a tall dude with a blonde ponytail. As soon as that dude clocks out, he’ll be rocking with his band, Cody White and the Easy Ride. The group’s music is available at soundcloud.com/ codywhiteandtheeasyride, and it offers a nice blend of twangy rock along with White’s Neil Young-esque vocal delivery. What was the first concert you attended? Huey Lewis and the News. What was the first album you owned? Michael Jackson’s Bad. What bands are you listening to right now? Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Mark Lanegan Band, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Tom Petty. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? Dubstep. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? The Flying Burrito Brothers.

What band or artist changed your life? How? Israel Nash took me back to my roots and brought me back on track to play music with passion. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? To Frank Zappa: “Your opinion on the current state of the world?” What song would you like played at your funeral? “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde.

drummer who actually pulls triple duty, as his chops are spread among Silver Sky, Pescaterritory, and Instigator.

brian blueskye

What was the first concert you attended? KISS at the Soboba Casino in 2007. This was the only KISS show that Paul Stanley ever missed, so Gene Simmons sang all the songs, and KISS was a three-piece that night. What was the first album you owned? My dad already had all the CDs of most of the stuff that I grew up listening to—mainly classic and hard-rock/heavy-metal stuff. But the first CD I remember getting physically was Apocalyptic Love by Slash. What bands are you listening to right now? Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, and Guns N’ Roses. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? A lot of rap and new pop music does not interest me. There is nothing really special about it, and it doesn’t seem authentic. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? Led Zeppelin in 1973 at Madison Square Garden. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. What’s your favorite music venue? My favorite local venue is the Date Shed, but the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino is my favorite venue ever. It’s one of my dreams to play there. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses, evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death’s construction,” “War Pigs,” Black Sabbath. What band or artist changed your life? How? A lot of music has impacted my life, but the

most significant influence on me was KISS. That’s what got me started, and without them, I wouldn’t be a musician. When I was just learning to play drums, my dad and I would jam out to “Deuce” by KISS. I’m pretty sure that was the first song I learned on drums. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? I’m asking Dave Grohl if he wants to start a new band. What song would you like played at your funeral? “Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe. Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. What song should everyone listen to right now? “Sick as a Dog” by Aerosmith.

What song should everyone listen to right now? Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “Ohio,” about a much different time, but a very similar situation to what we’re going through at this moment. NAME Nick Willman GROUP Silver Sky, Pescaterritory, and Instigator MORE INFO Our music scene is rather tightknit in part because so many bands share members; it can feel like a big family when you catch a show featuring a few people pulling double duty. Nick Willman is a young CVIndependent.com


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SEPTEMBER 2020

OPINION SAVAGE LOVE

CVINDEPENDENT.COM/OPINION

CHANGING THE TERMS BY DAN SAVAGE

I

’m a 38-year-old bi woman who has been sleeping with a married male co-worker for the last eight months. We’re a walking cliché: I’m a nurse; he’s a doctor; and one night, he ended up spilling a lot of personal information about his marriage to me (sexless; non-romantic; she might be a lesbian) before asking if he could kiss me. I declined. Three months and many text messages later, I met him for drinks. The next thing I know, we are falling in love and spending as much time together as we can manage. Even though he is married and has kids, this has been one of the best relationships of my adult life. He loves me in ways I never thought possible. (He even savors my COVID-19 curves.) The obvious certainly couldn’t rely on him in an emergency. problem here is that he is married, and his wife I want this to work. I don’t necessarily want allegedly doesn’t know about his unhappiness him to get divorced, Dan, as I fear it would cause in their marriage. We have to arrange our dates him to resent me, but that would honestly be my around his work schedule and his lies to his wife. preference. What should I do? I find myself becoming increasingly jealous of the time he spends with his wife and his inability to Outside The Home Exists Romance spend more time with me. I want him to confront the issues in his marriage, and I want him to at What are you willing to settle for, OTHER? least attempt being honest with her so we can figure If you can’t live without Dr. Married, and you out if it’s even possible for us to move forward. can only have him on his terms—terms he set My question is this: How do I have this at the start, terms designed to keep his wife in conversation with him without it seeming like an the dark—then you’ll have to accept his terms. ultimatum? I adore him, and I don’t think he’s lying You can only see Dr. Married during office to me about his marriage. But I long to have more hours; you can’t call or text him; and you’re on freedom in our relationship. I love that I finally your own if you have an emergency outside found someone who treats me so well when we are office hours. But agreeing to his terms at the together, but my heart is breaking, because our love outset doesn’t obligate you to stick to his terms exists in the shadows. It’s a win/win for him—he forever. Terms can be renegotiated. But unless gets his marriage, his kids, his “real life,” and me, you’re willing to issue an ultimatum, OTHER, too. But I can’t even text or call him freely, and I Dr. Married has no incentive to renegotiate the

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How do I tell the married man I’m dating that I want more—without issuing an ultimatum?

terms of your relationship. Zooming out for a second: I get letters all the time from women who ask me how issue to an ultimatum without seeming like they’re issuing an ultimatum. I don’t get many letters from men like that, for good and not-so-good reasons: Men are socialized to feel entitled to what they want; men are praised when they ask for what they want; and consequently, men are likelier to get what they want. To get what you want, OTHER, you’re gonna have to man up: Feel entitled; act entitled; make demands. And you’ve gotta be willing to walk. You have to go in fully prepared to use the leverage you actually have here—your presence in Dr. Married’s life—or nothing will change. His circumstances have required you to live in the shadows if you wanted to see him, and maybe that worked for you once. But it doesn’t work for you anymore, and Dr. Married needs to understand that if his circumstances don’t change—if he doesn’t change them—then he’s going to lose you. There’s a middle ground between divorce— your preferred circumstance—and things staying exactly as they are. Dr. Married’s wife is surely aware that her marriage is sexless and non-romantic—assuming he’s told you the truth—and if his wife’s actually a lesbian, well, perhaps she’d like the freedom to date other women, too. (Or date them openly, I should say; for all we know, she’s been getting some pussy on the side herself.) If they want to stay together for the kids—if they have a constructive, functional, low-conflict loving partnership—and it would be possible to daylight you without anyone having to get divorced, maybe you could settle for those terms. I’m a bi man in a straight marriage. We have two young children. My wife and I have been working through some relationship issues. Because of these, she has not been open to sex with me, and for 18 months, our marriage has been essentially sexless. I’m not happy with this, but we are working on things. Since we stopped having sex, I have been using my wife’s used panties to masturbate. I work from home and do a lot of the household work, including laundry. Every couple of weeks, I will take a couple of her panties from the laundry. I rub myself with one pair and sniff the other one. I enjoy the way the fabric feels and am turned on by knowing that they’ve been rubbing up against her pussy. It makes me feel very close to her. I finish by ejaculating into her panties, and then I rinse them out and wash them. I’m very careful not to stain or damage them.

This is something I do to feel more connected with her sexually. I don’t get hard thinking that she’s wearing panties I came in; I get hard thinking about coming in panties she’s worn. But I worry that I’m violating her—which is not something I want to do. I know that if I were doing this with a stranger’s panties, or with the panties of someone I knew but was not in an intimate relationship with, it would be, at best, creepy, and, at worst, a sex crime. But she’s my wife, and although we are in a hard place right now, we’re trying to find our way back to each other. So, is this an acceptable way for me to get off while we work on our relationship? Or is it a violation? Wonders About Nuzzling Knickers I’m torn, WANK. If you and the wife were fucking, WANK, she might enjoy knowing that, however many years and two kids later, you’re still so crazy about her that you’re down in the laundry room perving on her dirty panties. But you aren’t fucking, and things are strained for reasons you didn’t share. So you need to ask yourself whether this perving, if your wife were to find out about it, would set you two back. If you think it would— if, say, your wife isn’t fucking you because she feels like you don’t respect her opinions, her boundaries, her autonomy, etc.—then the risk (further damaging your marriage) has to outweigh the rewards (momentarily draining your sack.) That said, WANK, if perving on your wife’s panties—without damaging or staining them— is helping you remain faithful during this sexless period of your marriage … and sustaining your attraction to your wife though this difficult time … well, an argument/rationalization could be made that your wife benefits from this perving. And these aren’t stolen panties—these aren’t a stranger’s panties or a roommate’s panties— these are panties your wife hands over to you for laundering. That you derive a moment’s pleasure from them on their way from laundry basket to washing machine could be selfservingly filed, I guess, under “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” But if you feel like your wife would regard this as a violation—and I’m guessing you feel that way, WANK, since you’re asking me about it and not her—then you might wanna knock it off. Read Savage Love every Wednesday at CVIndependent.com; mail@savagelove.net; @ FakeDanSavage on Twitter; www.savagelovecast.com.


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OPINION COMICS & JONESIN’ CROSSWORD

“For the Birds”—multitasking for the “modern Stone Age family.” (No. 34, Feb. 2002) By Matt Jones

taught Ubby-Dubby 36 Fortune 500 member, most likely 37 Signaling item, when the bird’s tail is pulled 39 Motorist’s signal, when Across the bird is squeezed 1 Drains, as energy 42 Parisian street 5 R&B singer Cantrell 43 Annoying Sesame 8 Cause counterpart Street muppet 14 Jog like a horse 45 Biography network 15 Presidential monogram 46 “Abso-friggin-lutely!” during the 1960s 47 Mother of all, in Greek 16 Starlight Express mythology director Nunn 48 Other, to Osvaldo 17 Gigantic bird with a 49 Garden tool, when the stone passenger cabin bird’s legs are squeezed 19 Item with an image53 “The Heat ___” chiseling bird 55 Dig in 20 Suffix for McCarthy 56 Pension plan 21 With a tilde, “year”; alternative without, something 57 Writing implement nastier using a bird’s beak 22 Darkness and obscurity 59 Talking bird flying back 23 Musical item using a and forth between pointy-beaked bird stone boxes 28 Eye color location 61 Cover for a platter 29 Birds on a ranch Down 62 “Little piggy,” really Under 63 “___ but known ...” 30 Word after tight or rear 64 Tousles, like a puppy 33 “Ad ___ per aspera” 65 AMA members (Kansas state motto) 66 Corrida cheers 35 PBS kids’ show that

Down 1 It’s made to step on 2 Obey Viagra? 3 San Francisco and New Orleans, for two 4 Frequent NASCAR sponsor 5 Uses an iron, maybe 6 Quick stretch in the alphabet song 7 Article written by Voltaire? 8 List-ending abbr. 9 Web design option that’s obsolete 10 Thighbone 11 The Greatest Story ___ Told 12 Stopper for the bubbly 13 Singing syllable 18 Cowboy’s rope 24 Hockey great Bobby and family 25 Summer sign 26 Service station owned by BP 27 Arizona City, today 30 Cost-friendly 31 Bookish type 32 Cooked to perfection 33 Off-kilter 34 Elisabeth of Leaving Las Vegas

35 Woody Allen “regular guy in famous situations” movie 38 Old paint additive 40 Ostrich or kiwi, e.g. 41 First Do No ___ (Meryl Streep TV film) 44 Sallie ___ (student loan provider) 47 Site of a 1949 European “Convention” 48 Takes to the soapbox 49 Wishes 50 Carreras, Domingo, or Pavarotti 51 Etch away 52 Harold of Ghostbusters 53 To Live and Die ___ 54 Twist, as statistics 57 AOL or MSN, e.g., once ... 58 ... and where to find them 59 “___ be my pleasure!” 60 Sorority letter © 2002, 2020 Matt Jones Find the answers in the “About” section at CVIndependent.com!

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