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Inside the Mind of Frank Tysen What Motivates Downtown Palm Springs’ Biggest Critic of ‘Progress’—and Why Do City Leaders Demonize Him So? By Brian Blueskye PAGE 14


MARCH 2014

A Note From the Editor

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

Editor/Publisher Jimmy Boegle Assistant Editor Brian Blueskye Editorial Layout Wayne Acree Advertising Design Betty Jo Boegle Contributors Richard Almada, Gustavo Arellano, John Backderf, Victor Barocas, Nicole C. Brambila, Max Cannon, Jon Christensen, Kevin Fitzgerald, Bill Frost, Bonnie Gilgallon, Bob Grimm, Alex Harrington, Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume, Brane Jevric, Keith Knight, Christina Lange, Marylee Pangman, Erin Peters, Deidre Pike, Guillermo Prieto, Anita Rufus, Jen Sorenson, Robert Victor The Coachella Valley Independent print edition is published every month. All content is ©2014 and may not be published or reprinted in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The Independent is available free of charge throughout the Coachella Valley, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies may be purchased for $1 by calling (760) 904-4208. The Independent may be distributed only by the Independent’s authorized distributors.

Cover design by Wayne Acree

The Independent is a proud member and/or supporter of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the Local Independent Online News Publishers, the Desert Business Association, the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, artsOasis and the American Advertising Federation/Palm Springs-Desert Cities.

Some folks just don’t like change. That’s one of the messages of this month’s fantastic cover story—a profile of Frank Tysen, the local hotelier who has been leading the charge against John Wessman’s hotel/retail development on the site of the former Desert Fashion Plaza. As you can read on Page 14, Tysen says he’s in favor of downtown redevelopment in Palm Springs—but not this kind of downtown redevelopment. He thinks the proposed Kimpton Hotel is too big, too boxy, too glassy, too L.A. He thinks a new shopping center in Palm Springs is a terrible idea. And he thinks it’s stupid to try to attract younger professionals and millennials as tourists to the Coachella Valley, because they lack the time and money that older visitors have. I don’t agree with Frank Tysen. I think, in this case, change is good. To my untrained eyes, the plans for the Kimpton Hotel (a hotel chain which I’ve had nothing but good experiences with on my various travels) look just fine. The height—about the same as the Hyatt next door—doesn’t bother me. A shopping center, if it has the right tenants and support, could work in a revitalized downtown Palm Springs. And up until I gave up my job (and a lot of money) to move here and start the Independent, I was a young professional who spent a lot of time and money in this city as a tourist—so I know he’s wrong there. While I don’t agree with Tysen, I respect him—and regrettably, a lot of city officials, most notably Mayor Steve Pougnet, have shown a distinct lack of respect for the man. That bothers me. Tysen isn’t just some loudmouth crank; he’s owned a small business and has made it work in downtown Palm Springs for 25 years. He’s had a distinguished career in architecture and urban planning—including a Guggenheim Fellowship (!)—so he knows what he’s talking about. Yeah, Tysen may not like change, and I definitely disagree with him. But he deserves respect—and I think you’ll come to the same conclusion after reading Brian Blueskye’s profile of him. • As for some other downtown Palm Springs folks who apparently don’t like change: The Independent’s theater reviewers have seemingly been banned from receiving review tickets from the Palm Canyon Theatre. Here’s what I know: In the not-quite-a-year that the Independent has been reviewing plays, critics Valerie-Jean Hume and Bonnie Gilgallon have covered a half-dozen Palm Canyon Theatre shows. They thought some shows were so-so; others they really liked; and only one review, arguably, was more negative than positive (of October’s The Sound of Music). Well, something in Bonnie Gilgallon’s recent review of Les Miserables must have upset the folks at the PCT. Valerie-Jean Hume recently called to arrange to see a performance of the latest show, 9 to 5—and was told that theater managers were meeting to determine whether they’d continue offering press comps to us. The woman to whom V.J. spoke said she’d call back after the meeting. V.J. never received a return call, so she called back the PCT and left a message, which went unreturned. I then called to find out what was going on, and left a message. As of this writing, I, too, have yet to receive a return call. I don’t know what’s going on. I do know that in my lengthy career as an editor, I have never had a theater company ban any of my reviewers from receiving press tickets (even after reviews that could be classified as scathing)—much less issue a ban without the courtesy of an explanation. If the theater ever gets back to me, I’ll let you know what’s up. But as of now, it seems the Palm Canyon Theatre doesn't like the change that the Independent has brought to town—namely, honest theater reviewers who tell it like it is.

—Jimmy Boegle,


MARCH 2014




BookPALS Proves That Reading Changes Lives


By Anita Rufus e’s known as Peter the Reader to the students he meets with weekly at Bubbling Wells Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs. Peter Fredric of Palm Springs is literally—and literarily—changing lives. “I saw an article in the paper,” says Fredric, “and I was looking for an opportunity to do something in the community. So, since I love reading and communicating, I decided to check it out.” What Fredric checked out was BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools). The original idea was to use actors to engage students in the joy of reading. “I did some work as an announcer and reporter for television, became a tech writer, an account executive, came to the desert to build affordable homes, and worked with local KESQ in their creative-arts department,” says Fredric. “I began my first classroom assignment with BookPALS in 2007. I just wanted to make a difference.” That same impulse led Tere Britton, a Rancho Mirage resident, to take on managing the BookPALS program in the Coachella Valley. Britton worked with NBC in community relations when she was a single young woman. After a move to Chicago, where she was involved on the boards of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Art Institute, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Britton eventually settled in the desert. “I saw a posting in 2007 from the Palm Springs Women in Film and Television (PSWIFT) looking for someone to run a local BookPALS program,” says Britton. “I remembered that when I was in the third-grade, an actor visited our class and read to us, and I was mesmerized. “We now have 50 readers in 14 schools from Desert Hot Springs to Indio. I try to assign readers to schools as close to their homes as possible. Readers don’t have to be in show business; anyone can volunteer. “Many of the classrooms we visit are in socioeconomic areas where students aren’t being read to at home, for lots of reasons, not least of which can be language difficulties. When you read to kids, it’s so important and fundamental to their lives.”

Tere Britton: “Our focus is to stimulate interest in reading and writing. The teachers teach them how to read; what we do is encourage them to enjoy reading, and to want to do it on their own.”

Jill Mincer Singer, of Palm Springs, is also a BookPALS reader. After a long, successful career as a designer, Singer is now semi-retired. “I decided I wanted to do something worthwhile for children. I heard about BookPALS from a friend, and it seemed like such a good idea. “When I walk into a school and down the corridors, and the kids yell out, ‘Hi Mrs. Jill! You read to me last year!’ or ‘I love the book we’re reading!’ it makes me feel good. There is so much joy in their faces, and they’re so appreciative to have us coming into their classroom.” Does a reader need special talents? “No,” says Singer. “Whoever reads should just be pleasant, friendly, speak clearly and use some inflection based on the story, or the kids won’t stay engaged.” Peter Fredric says a reader just needs to enjoy reading, care about kids and show up. “The students come to depend on me to be there. You build a relationship with them, and you see that you can make such a difference in a child’s life. One girl told me she is now reading to her mother and helping her mother learn English. Toward the end of the year, I even have them read to me.” Says Tere Britton: “There are no specific qualifications. Our focus is to stimulate interest in reading and writing. The teachers teach them how to read; what we do is encourage them to enjoy reading, and to want to do it on their own. We are enabling them to become critical thinkers, and exposing them to new ideas and concepts. And this program gives students a chance to relate to people in the community from diverse backgrounds whom they might never otherwise meet. Every reader brings something special to the classroom.” BookPALS readers don’t need to choose the books themselves; school librarians will find age-appropriate books, or classroom teachers make suggestions, although many readers enjoy digging through the children’s section of the library. Britton provides training, and teachers are completely supportive of the program. I read for BookPALS one morning a week for two years, at Cathedral City Elementary School in third-, fourth and fifth-

Peter Fredric, shown here with some other reading fans: “I was looking for an opportunity to do something in the community. So, since I love reading and communicating, I decided to check it out.”

grade classrooms. With my grandchildren far away, it gave me a chance to interact with children, and it quickly became the highlight of each week. I learned how dedicated elementary teachers are, how anxious to learn the children are, and how much a program like this can impact students’ future success in school and after. I keep the stack of valentines they made for me, including the one that said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” A personal awakening came when I discovered a delightful book called The Cheese. It’s a funny story of “The Farmer in the Dell” from the point of view of the cheese that ends up standing alone at the end of the song. Before I began to read, I asked how many remembered the song—and only one hand went up. I realized these third-graders came primarily from homes where the cultures differed from what I experienced growing up, and they hadn’t been exposed to things we tend to take for granted. What a thrill for me when, after I sang the song for them and explained the game, they understood and loved the irony of the book. My greatest joy came when reading a story with a twist, like Stone Soup, and watching as a face here, and then a face there, lit up with recognition of where the story was going. These were students whose thinking skills were being stimulated, and I left those encounters so full of appreciation for what they were giving me. BookPALS gives a book to each child annually. “For some students,” says Britton, “it may be the first book of their own they’ve ever gotten. I tell them, ‘This is your very own book. You can even start your own library.’” Talk to your neighbors and friends about this program, and consider giving a couple of hours a week to an activity in which you will make a difference, and you will enrich your life in ways you’ll never be able to measure. You will just feel it, and it will fill your heart with pride and joy. Peter Fredric says, “Real men do read to kids.” Jill Mincer Singer says, “Doing this makes me feel so very, very good.” Tere Britton says, “We encourage children to know the magic of books. Children learn through our readers how to enjoy reading. This is a labor of love.” For more information, or to get involved, email Tere Britton at TRB1803@ Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM.


MARCH 2014



Coachella Tickets Are Sold Out. You Really Want to Go. Here’s What NOT to Do.


By Christina Lange o you really want to go to Coachella, see some super-cool bands and have the time of your life. But you have no tickets, and the event is sold out. Other than watch for another possible locals-only sale, what do you do? I worked at the Coachella box office during the last two festivals, so take it from me: Unless you don’t mind pissing a few hundred bucks into the wind, and watching your friends go in while you cry by yourself, don’t buy a festival wristband from anyone unless you’re 100 percent sure everything’s legit. The most-heartbreaking case I saw involved a young girl who came to the Coachella Valley all the way from Australia. She’d bought a dodgy ticket and couldn’t get in touch with the person from whom she’d purchased it. Boy, did I feel bad for her. It was also unseasonably cold, and she was wearing short shorts and sandals. I did lend her my sweater while she tried to get in touch with the guy from whom she’d purchased her pass. Alas, it was not meant to be. You do not want to be like her. Here are some guidelines. No. 1: Do not buy wristbands from a third party. Sure, there are large third-party ticket-sellers that sound legit, but if you have any issues, the folks working the front gates at Coachella cannot help you. You are only covered and if you buy through the one legitimate channel: Goldenvoice/Coachella and the ticket agent, Front Gate Tickets. If you have any issues with those third-party-purchased tickets, you will have to get in touch with the company from whom you bought them, and it will be up to them to help you. If you, say, have a faulty wristband and need a new one to be issued, good luck getting them to come to Indio to bring you a new, working wristband. I repeat: The folks working at Coachella cannot help you. No. 2: Do not buy from a “friend.” Unless you know this friend’s middle name, or their parents came to your bar mitzvah, or they know that you wet the bed until you were 9, don’t do it. I’ve seen too many people standing in front of the box office, heartbroken and crying: “But I know this guy/girl; they couldn’t come, so I bought their ticket off of them.” The standard response is: “OK, so call them up, and tell them to call/e-mail the ticketing people, and have them let us know that they are happy for you to have the wristband. Maybe then we can help you.” Far too often, the story continues: OK, the person is actually just a friend of a friend of a friend, and the wannabe Coachella attendee with the non-functioning wristband doesn’t have a phone number for the friend of a friend of a friend. One popular scam involves a person reporting a “neverreceived pass,” even though that person did, in fact, receive a pass. That person then gets a new pass to replace the “never received one,” and sells the first, now-deactivated pass. Another common story: “This one guy bought all of the tickets for a big group, and we paid him back. All of the others got in, but my wristband is not working.” I repeat: You need to know the person from whom you got the wristband very well. Have the phone number, the address, the middle name and photocopies of the ID and the credit card used for the transaction, with a statement that you are allowed to have one of their wristbands. Trust no one you haven’t known since kindergarten. The wristband is attached to the purchaser’s name, and his/her presence or lack thereof can make or break you. The purchaser

has all the power as to whether you’re going in. Here is what you can do to protect yourself (and even then, there are no guarantees): If you get a wristband from someone, have him or her contact Front Gate, the Coachella ticket agent (; 888-512-7469), and add your name to the system. Register that wristband before you buy it. If the person is legit and can’t go, then why would he/she care if you change the shipping address in the system? If he/she refuses or says it isn’t necessary, DO NOT BUY THE WRISTBAND. To be extra-safe, get the wristband number after he/she calls, and call

Front Gate yourself to make sure the wristband you are about to buy is now attached to your name. If there’s a conflict, the person who bought the wristband and whose name is on the account has full authority. If you registered this wristband, and you also show up in the system, you are second in command—but you will not win if there’s a dispute. I’ll say it again: You should only buy a pass from someone you completely and utterly trust. No. 3: Do not buy a wristband from a dodgy dude/dudette standing outside of the festival gates. Why? Re-read the last 800-plus words. If you have a truly close friend who is getting rid of his/her ticket, and you follow all of the above advice, chances are you’ll be OK if you take the ticket—and you should thank your lucky stars that you have such a friend. If not, accept that you missed out this year, and get ready to buy your 2015 passes when advance sales begin; you can even opt in to a payment plan. Remember: If you are the original purchaser of a pass, you do not have to worry about being scammed. But, please, do not trust Craigslist and other third-party sellers, “friends” who really aren’t, or scalpers. It isn’t worth it. For more info, read up at



MARCH 2014



Please Explain the Mood Swings of My Mexican Wife



By Gustavo Arellano EAR MEXICAN: I know an 18-year-old who is getting deported. He has been in the U.S. since he was 5 years old. His entire family is here and undocumented. He grew up in juvenile halls and committed a felony as soon as he turned 18. Will he be deported for sure, or will the immigration judge give him a break since his entire family is here? Deportations Are for Dummies DEAR GABACHO: Alas, homeboy is probably going adiós. The Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows undocumented youngsters a two-year stay of deportation (subject to renewal) until Congress gets its amnesty act together, specifically states that candidates aren’t eligible if they’ve “been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and … pose a threat to national security or public safety.” While I don’t know the circumstances of the guy you’re talking about, it doesn’t seem he stands a chance for judicial mercy or to become a cause célèbre for DREAMers across the country. That said, if all the charges were bullshit, and the legal system has royally screwed the kid, get in contact with your local DREAMer movement, as their courage in fighting for the damned has been far more impressive than what Latino politicians have shown. And do it fast: The Obama administration deports Mexicans as quickly as California’s reservoirs are drying up. DEAR MEXICAN: My wife (who is Mexican) is a tough nut psychologically to figure out, so I am turning to the expert for some desperately needed insight. Essentially, when we began dating, all was right as rain. She was sweet, kind, considerate and extremely attentive. Now, what I call “brown outs” occur. She will fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, throw things and say nasty things—basically, she turns into a she-devil. Furthermore, jealousy is always there. I think it would drive her loca if I ever left my garage and had a beer at the cantina again.

We love each other very much, so I guess you could say our marriage is anything but dull. Is this typical with Mexican women? ¡Ayúdame! Lobo Blanco DEAR GABACHO: The traditional explanation was that it was all about sangre: The blood of the Moors, Spaniards, Gypsies and Aztecs coursing through a mujer’s veins resulted in a quartet of locura that was simultaneously alluring and dangerous. (Just refer to the Agustín Lara canon, specifically “Granada,” for further details.) On second thought, that’s just bigoted heteronormative misogyny … so let’s just chalk it up to the fact that Mexican woman are crazy because they’re women, m’kay? DEAR MEXICAN: Why do Mexicans do everything in the front yard—from cooking on the grill, to celebrating birthday parties with inflatable playgrounds, to hanging their wet clothes over the railings on their front porch? A friend of mine told me the backyard was where Mexicans keep all their

chickens, roosters and autos up on blocks, but it isn’t true—at least not here in Texas. Is this just genetic? Tony Romo Is Lame, but Jerry Jones Is Lamer DEAR GABACHO: The sooner gabachos realize that front yards are just a pathetic remnant of Gilded Age nitwits pretending to live like British lords, and start using yardas like Mexicans, the better off this country will be. Since houses in Mexico historically had no lawns or ornamental plants (that’s what the fields were for), Mexicans view front yards as virgin land ripe for the taking. We grow fruit trees and sugar cane; we park cars on it. And, sí: We’ll happily put a Dora the Explorer bounce house in the front. Why? Because the backyard is already too packed with partying Mexicans. DEAR MEXICAN: I have no pride in being Mexican American. It’s pathetic that people take pride in something they had no control over! I take pride in my personal accomplishments and things that I control, the decisions I make and the goals I reach. Grow up. Proud to Be Me DEAR WAB: Congratulations on becoming the first Mexican acolyte of Ayn Rand! Catch the Mexican every Wednesday at Ask the Mexican at; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram@gustavo_arellano!


MARCH 2014



Double Your Pleasure in Your Landscape by Using Reflections


By MARYLEE PANGMAN ant to improve your landscaping without spending a lot of money? Consider this: shimmering reflections of your existing landscaping, as well as a few artfully arranged container gardens. Why not double the intrinsic value of your landscape by using your pool as a mirror that reflects your plantings year-round? Container gardens are perfect for this: You don’t need to retrofit new beds and planting areas; all you need to do is add some appropriately sized pots close to the water’s edge. Consider using some brightly colored pots, and then plant in them flowers/plants with one or two colors to gain the greatest reflective value in the pool. To keep your pool-cleaning from becoming more challenging, you will also want to choose flowers that do not readily drop. Some annuals that hang on to their blooms are Scaevola (fan flower—trailing), Pentas (tall upright) and Gazania (low perennial). I also recommend searching out some of the more interesting varieties of Lantana. They will thrive in the heat and hold up well all summer long. Some heat-happy succulents and other plants to consider: • Giant Hesperaloe. • Red Yucca. • Whipple’s Yucca. • Bougainvillea—Torch Glow. (You don’t want to use other varieties, as you will constantly be removing the petals from your pool filter. The Torch Glow hangs on to its blossoms much better.) What about the heat, you ask? You can beat the heat with some good planning. It’s best to place your pots on the south or west side of the pool. West-side pots should ideally have something behind them to provide a bit of afternoon shade. A wall would be perfect, or you can use a landscape plant if you already have a bed nearby. You can even use a larger pot behind the pool pots. The reflection value is tremendous with this latter arrangement. If the pots need to be on the east side of the pool—which means plants will get not only a direct hit of the Western sun; they’ll also bear the reflecting heat of the pool—it’s best to go with shrubs or cacti/succulents. These plants hold up well in the direct sunlight and heat of our desert summer. North-side pots are most at risk of heat problems in the middle of the summer when the

sun is setting. Again, you can add plants or large pots to offer these pool-area pots some relief. All plants will need regular water, so make sure your plantings are in pots a minimum of 24 inches tall. Floral plantings will need daily water, and shrubs require water every two to three days. Cactuses only need water once every two weeks. Your first step is to spend some time looking at your pool while the weather is still relatively cool. If you have an empty pot handy, try placing it near the pool’s edge to see where you get the best reflection. Then plan what pot(s) you will want to use, and what you would like to plant in them. Start with just one, if you’d like, or ramp it up to two or three. If you’re worried about trying this during the summer heat, go ahead and plan for the fall. A 24-inch pot with one of the succulents listed will be the easiest plant to practice with. Plant in a brilliant red or purple pot, and it’ll do the trick!

For areas that get direct sunlight, consider a succulent such as the Giant Hesperaloe.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at; you can also follow the Potted Desert on Facebook. The Potted Desert Garden appears weekly at

Flowers are twice as nice when reflected in your pool.

The color of the pots you choose are important, too.


MARCH 2014

➑ Not So "NonPartisan": Benoit Vs. Perez ➒ MARCH Astronomy •• How L.A. Became a Model of Urban Sustainability ⓬ Behind the Scenes at the BNP Paribas Open ⓭ Snapshot: The Tribal Seeds, the Fine Art Fair and More

Riverside County Is Lagging Behind Much of the Rest of the State in ObamaCare Enrollment





MARCH 2014



Pay Attention to the Important Benoit-Perez Race for Riverside County Board of Supervisors

By Kevin Fitzgerald t’s going to be a busy election year in the Coachella Valley. Residents of Rancho Mirage will kick things off with a municipal election on April 8, before the spotlight moves to the hotly contested big-name races. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat, will be opposed by Republican State Assemblymember Brian Nestande in a fierce battle that could help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. And Gov. Jerry Brown will be seeking his second term as the 39th governor of California against an as-yet-undetermined Republican candidate. Down the ballot a bit is the election for Riverside County District 4 supervisor, between Republican incumbent John Benoit, and Democrat V. Manuel Perez, who is currently serving as the state assemblymember for the 56th District (which includes the Salton Sea area and much of the northern and eastern parts of the Coachella Valley, including all or parts of Coachella, Indio, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs). However, both of the seat’s announced contenders insisted that their race is just as important—if not more important—than the bigger-name contests. “This seat is very important. In my opinion, it is one of the most important seats in government, if not the most important,” said Perez, who, like Dr. Ruiz, is a graduate of Harvard University and is considered a rising star in Democratic circles. “Many people don’t understand that. For all the policies that I’ll decide at my level, or Congressman Raul Ruiz will decide at his level, county government is where the rubber meets the road.” Benoit, on this point, agreed with Perez. “I enjoyed being a senator, and (serving in) the State Senate was an honor and a privilege,” said Benoit. “But nothing I did in the Senate even comes close to the impacts I have, sometimes every week, in the decisions I make here as a member of the Board of Supervisors—real impacts on real projects that are going to have real significance.” The office of county supervisor is considered a nonpartisan position, although the office can be attained only by enduring a political campaign and an election process. Benoit addressed this contrariety. “Because this is a nonpartisan office, and most of what we deal with is nonpartisan issues, I would think the biggest distinction between myself and my opponent is that I have 42 years of public-service experience,” he said. “That all helps a lot when you’re managing an office as part of a board responsible

V. Manuel Perez: “I’ve worked in a bipartisan way, where (most) of the (policies) I’ve passed have been bipartisan, so I’ll definitely bring independent thinking to the county Board of Supervisors.” KEVIN FITZGERALD

for 58 departments and 18,000 employees.” As for the “nonpartisan” nature of the office he’s seeking, Perez mused: “It’s supposed to be. You know, I’ve been approached by many different entities and different allies on both sides of the aisle—Republicans and Democrats—to run for this seat. I feel that’s because of my work in Sacramento and because of my strong ties within the networks of the leadership there. I’ve worked in a bipartisan way, where (most) of the (policies) I’ve passed have been bipartisan, so I’ll definitely bring independent thinking to the county Board of Supervisors. I feel I’m the person who can bridge through and build up the Coachella Valley.” So what initiatives will be the focus of their respective campaigns? Benoit cited work he’s been doing in Mecca and the East Valley. “We have the (66th Avenue) overcross and the Comfort Station, which is a legacy issue that we’re working on with the Galilee Center,” he said. The Mecca Comfort Station would provide “restroom, shower, laundry and adequate parking facilities to migrant farm workers in Mecca and the surrounding communities,” according to a county document. The Galilee Center assists the underprivileged in the East Valley. He also pledged to work on the economy of the district. “Every where you look, there are initiatives for growth and, in particular, solar projects and a vast array of potential renewable projects involved with the Salton Sea moving forward,” Benoit said. Perez also said he’d focus on the economy. “Ultimately, jobs and the economy are the No. 1 issue, because we still see a major gap between the rich and the poor,” he said. “In Riverside County, the largest number of poor exist here compared to every county in California, except Imperial County. I’ve got to make sure I deal with regulation, incentives and credits to lure in business.” Both candidates are acutely aware of the see-saw voterregistration struggle going on in the Coachella Valley. Democrats have been whittling away at the Republican advantage in the county in recent years, although Republicans seemingly stopped that trend in 2013; as of Dec. 31, 2013, Republicans had a 5.14 percent voter-registration edge, according to the California Secretary of State. “I’m pleased to see that the Republican registration numbers

John Benoit: “Nothing I did in the Senate even comes close to the impacts I have, sometimes every week, in the decisions I make here as a member of the Board of Supervisors—real impacts on real projects that are going to have real significance.” JOHN BENOIT CAMPAIGN WEBSITE

have come back some,” said Benoit. “But frankly, I’m not worried about that. I’m spending as much time or more talking to Democrats, talking to folks in the western part of the valley where I’m not as well-known—and when I talk to them, it has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. I talk about all of my experience during four years in this supervisor’s office, and that I’m the right choice to continue what I’m doing.” However, Perez pointed out that District 4 bucks the county trend: According to those same Dec. 31 figures from the Secretary of State, there were 3,600 more registered Democrats than Republicans in District 4. “We have a 4 percent advantage in District 4,” Perez said. “… Earlier, we laughed about how this is supposed to be a nonpartisan race. Ultimately, we’re going to win this not because of those numbers, but because we’re going to out-work them. The numbers, be what they may be, do exist. But this campaign is going to be won on the ground.” How do the candidates view their position in the race at this point? As of the end of 2013, Benoit had about $57,000 more in the bank, but Pérez was closing that gap. “We know we’re way ahead in endorsements … and we certainly have an advantage in fundraising,” said Benoit. “Also, we’ve seen some polling numbers that indicate we’re in very good shape. But we’re putting all that behind us and running like we’re losing, to win.” Perez also said he expects a close, challenging race. “Ultimately, people are going to have to make a decision between two individuals who are going to work hard to win this election,” Perez said. “For some voters, this decision may be a tough one. They may have to break loyalties. So, yes, it’s going to be a campaign that, in my hope, causes people to reflect and dig deep inside—not only into their pocketbooks, but into their hearts and minds. They know that I actually care, and they’ll come out and vote for me.”


MARCH 2014


Are You Ready for March Moon Madness?

by Robert Victor n early March 2014, as seen from the Coachella Valley, the three brightest “stars” visible at dusk all reach their highest points within a span of 21 minutes. In order of brilliance, they are Jupiter, passing within 11 degrees south of overhead; Sirius, the “Dog Star,” 40 degrees up in the south; and Canopus, “Great Star of the (far) South,” less than 4 degrees up when passing due south, about 21 minutes before Sirius does. In the Coachella Valley, you must choose your spot carefully, or the mountains might block your view of Canopus. From the western Coachella Valley, the star passes due south only 4 degrees up in a dark sky at 7:31 p.m. on March 1, and then four minutes earlier each day, to 7:03 p.m. on March 8, and then 7:59 p.m. on March 9—an hour later than you might expect because of our annual shift to daylight saving time. By March 12, the star reaches its high point only an hour after sunset. After a few more days, the sky will be too bright to catch it at its high point. Other features of the early evening: A telescope shows up to four of Jupiter’s moons, discovered by Galileo in 1610. Jupiter, red Betelgeuse, and blue Rigel now lie in a nearly straight line pointing downward. Orion’s three-star belt (not shown on the chart) lies midway between those two stars and points the way leftward toward Sirius, and the opposite way toward Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, the Bull, and beyond to the beautiful Pleiades, or “Seven Sisters” star cluster (not shown). The huge Winter Hexagon, in counterclockwise order Sirius-Rigel-AldebaranCapella-Pollux-Castor-Procyon and back to

Sirius, with Jupiter and Betelgeuse within, contains 8 of the 21 stellar objects of first magnitude or brighter (16 stars and five planets) ever visible from the Coachella Valley. Their constellations include a bull backing away from a charging hunter and his two canine followers, a pair of twins, and a chariot driver with mother goat and three kids tucked under one arm. Following this menagerie is Leo, the Lion, with the bright star Regulus marking his heart. The lion is chasing his dinner across the sky. Quite a menu! By March’s end, Arcturus, the “Bear Guardian” star, pops up above the eastnortheast horizon before mid-twilight. Follow the curve of the bear’s tail (the handle of the Big Dipper) to brilliant reddish Mars, about to rise just south of east, and to Spica, Virgo’s sheaf of grain, 5 degrees to Mars’ lower right within 16 minutes later. The waxing moon can be spotted daily at mid-twilight in the first half of March. It first appears as an extremely thin crescent on Saturday, March 1. (Visit for more on the old and young moons of Feb. 28 and March 1.) From places with a good, low view, you might first spot the moon between 6:03 and 6:08 p.m. with binoculars, when the hairline crescent will be 4 degrees south of west and just 5 to 4 degrees above the horizon. On the next evening, March 2, the crescent will be higher and very easy to spot with the unaided eye. Look for earthshine— illumination from sunlight reflected by the Earth onto the moon. Watch the crescent thicken daily as it moves farther from the sun on each successive evening. The moon reaches

Morning visibility map at mid-twilight. ROBERT D. MILLER

Evening visibility map at mid-twilight. ROBERT D. MILLER

first-quarter phase, half-full and 90 degrees from the sun, between the evenings of March 7 and 8. Finally, the full moon on Sunday, March 16, rises about 20 minutes after sunset, and at mid-twilight is 3 degrees up and 6 degrees south of east. You can continue following the moon for four more evenings by waiting for its rising about an hour later each night—or you can switch your viewing time to morning. March 2014 at dawn: The brightest objects in morning twilight, in order of brilliance, are: Venus in southeast, slowly fading from its February peak brilliance, and now appearing as a roughly “half moon” through telescopes; Mars in the southwest to west-southwest; Arcturus high in the west; Vega high in the northeast; and Saturn in the south-southwest to southwest. Late in month, Mercury, low in the east-southeast to east, brightens to outshine Arcturus, but it drops very low in bright twilight as it approaches the far side of the sun. Mars and Spica are 6 degrees apart on March 1, closing to 5 degrees on March 20, and to a least-separation of 4.8 degrees on March 25 and 26, in the second of three conjunctions within six months. Near Vega are Altair to its lower right, and Deneb to its lower left, completing the Summer Triangle.

To the left of the Mars-Spica pair is a yellowish point of light glowing steadily: A telescope reveals the rings of Saturn, now tipped over 22 degrees from edge-on! Extend the Mars-to-Saturn line to the left of Saturn, and drop down a bit, and you’ll find reddish twinkling Antares, heart of the Scorpion. The moon can be followed in morning twilight in the latter half of March. It starts its journey as a full moon low in the west on March 16. Within a week, passing through the southwestern quadrant of the sky, it appears near Mars-Spica on March 18 and 19, near Saturn on March 20 and 21, and well above Antares on March 22. The moon passes lastquarter phase, half-full, between the mornings of March 23 and 24. A waning crescent, the moon appears in a beautiful pairing with Venus in the southeast on March 27, and next, widely above and then left of Mercury on March 28 and 29. The last old crescent will appear very low, just south of east in bright twilight, on March 29. The second new moon of this month occurs on the 30th at 11:45 a.m. Robert C. Victor was a staff astronomer at Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs.


MARCH 2014



By Jon Christensen n 1913, Los Angeles’ legendary chief engineer William Mulholland watched water flow from the L.A. Aqueduct for the first time and proclaimed, “There it is. Take it.” The project drew water from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, more than 200 miles away, across deserts and mountains, drying up the Owens River and the once-vast Owens Lake, and dangerously lowering eerily beautiful Mono Lake. Over time, it also made modern Los Angeles possible in all its awful glory: sprawling suburbs linked by clogged freeways underneath a blanket of smog. Later, L.A. tore out its rail system to make room for a booming car culture. And even today, despite the dramatic natural setting—10,000-foot mountains, 30 miles of Pacific beaches and one of the nation’s largest urban parks smack-dab in its middle—many of L.A.’s 4 million residents have no easy access to nature, making the city one of our most park-poor. And yet, last year, as the city celebrated the centennial of its original sin—that Owens Valley water grab—it also marked a turning point in its history: Under cover of one of the worst environmental reputations on the planet, Los Angeles is becoming an unlikely model of sustainability. This coincides with a political transition. In 2013, L.A. elected Mayor Eric Garcetti, 43, who as a City Council member was a strong advocate for localizing water sources, cutting energy use, promoting efficiency, confronting climate change and providing access to parks and nature. Los Angeles has a solid foundation for this effort. Its 329 days of sunshine a year and ocean breezes give it an advantage, making heating and cooling more energy-efficient. The sprawling city is also, paradoxically, already the nation’s densest, with more people on average living in every square block than even New York, thanks to the number of duplexes and apartments in what you might call the suburbs. And it has not one downtown, but many—88 cities in Los Angeles County, a sort of new urbanist’s dream. Meanwhile, California’s overwhelmingly Democratic political landscape is famously friendly to environmental initiatives. The state has moved well beyond debates about whether climate change is happening to begin implementing the country’s most-progressive policies. Locally, decades of grassroots advocacy to restore the L.A. River—initiated by poet Lewis MacAdams—have been embraced by the political mainstream. The city is also home to RePower L.A., a coalition of environmentalists, labor unions and economicjustice activists that works with the city-owned Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to train workers to retrofit homes at no cost to homeowners.

L.A.’s bid to become a 21st-century sustainable city starts where its environmental sins began—with water. Despite their hot, dry climate, Angelenos use less water than residents of any other American city with more than a million people, according to the Water and Power Department. Aggressive conservation measures during droughts have led to savings in wet times, too: The metropolitan area currently uses the same amount of water that it did in 1970, even though several million more people live there. Still, L.A. imports approximately 89 percent of its water from hundreds of miles away—the Owens Valley, the SacramentoSan Joaquin Delta and the Colorado River. But the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been forced to leave more water in the Owens Valley, raising the level of Mono Lake, returning water to the Owens River, and keeping down dust at dry Owens Lake. With other imported supplies likely to be pinched by climate change and increasing environmental demands, the municipal utility is working to capture more stormwater and store it in depleted groundwater basins; clean up contaminated groundwater; and recycle and reuse wastewater. Woodbury University’s Arid Lands Institute estimates that aquifers underneath the city could absorb up to 95,000 acre-feet of stormwater a year—the amount of water the Water and Power Department is now leaving in Owens Lake—if the surface landscape were re-engineered with porous paving, drainage systems, infiltration basins and urban forests, instead of shunting the water into concrete channels and out to the ocean. That’s already happening in neighborhoods and parks around the city. Meanwhile, the utility has committed to phasing out coal-powered electricity in

News Analysis: How Los Angeles Became an Unlikely Model of Urban Sustainability

the next 12 years, ending long-term power purchase agreements with plants in Utah and Arizona, and inspiring the climate-advocacy group to call Los Angeles “the national leader in the fight against climate change.” L.A. already has the largest solar-rooftop incentive program in the country, and the best feed-in-tariff rules, which allow consumers to sell power back to the grid. The city itself has realized an energy savings of 57 percent by installing 36,500 LED streetlights. It’s working to reduce energy consumption by at least 20 percent overall across 30 million square feet of existing buildings. The City Council recently made L.A. the first major city to require all new and remodeled homes to have “cool roofs” that reflect rather than absorb sunlight. L.A. is also building a new rail system that is creating a different backbone for a city long defined by cars and freeways. Within a couple of years, you’ll be able to ride a train 25 miles from Pasadena to the beach at Santa Monica for the first time in nearly a century. L.A. is also, incredibly, becoming more bike-friendly, with 350 miles of bike lanes and paths and more on the way. And 19 new parks have been opened in recent years as part of the city’s “50 Parks Initiative,” many in L.A.’s most park-poor neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the city has dramatically reduced smog: You can see the mountains here more often now than you could when I was a kid, visiting my grandparents in Pasadena. That said, L.A. has a long way to go. We still have the worst air quality of any major U.S. city. Many local communities suffer from disproportionate environmental health risks because of their proximity to freeways and other polluters. And like everyone else, the city still needs a strategy for kicking its addiction to fossil fuels. As a newcomer—I moved here a little more than a year ago from Northern California—I’ve been surprised not only by L.A.’s recent accomplishments, but also by the serious selfreflection behind them. Los Angeles is taking more responsibility for its past wrongs and actively tackling current challenges. Last fall, the University of California at Los Angeles announced a major research initiative. “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles” aims to wean the city off imported water and make it fully reliant on renewable energy by 2050, while preserving biodiversity and improving local quality of life. More than 70 campus researchers—from law, policy, conservation

biology, engineering, humanities, climate science, public health, urban planning—are contributing to the plan, to be presented in 2019. The necessary partnerships with local, state and federal government, businesses, other universities and community groups are already coming together. “Let’s get it done!” Mayor Garcetti told a group of local leaders, researchers and donors, who gathered to kick off the $150 million fundraising campaign in November. Can we get it done? With the impending impacts of a hotter climate and rising sea level, more wildfires, and reduced snowpack, one could simply argue that we have no choice. We need to get it done. Jon Christensen is an adjunct assistant professor, senior researcher and journalist-in-residence in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and History Department at University of California at Los Angeles. This article originally appeared in High Country News (


MARCH 2014



Meet Some Coachella Valley Residents Who Are Saying No to the Affordable Care Act’s Insurance Requirement


By Nicole C. Brambila ichelle Brodeur makes regular trips to Mexico for her eyeglasses and contacts. At 50, the self-employed graphic artist and writer is in good health. That’s a good thing, too, because Brodeur hasn’t had health insurance in nearly a decade—and her uninsured status isn’t about to change any time soon, despite the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. Brodeur, who earned about $23,000 last year, said she makes too much to qualify for free or reduced-cost Medicare or Medi-Cal, expanded under President Barack Obama’s signature health-care reform effort, dubbed “ObamaCare.” With insurance starting at roughly $175 per month for her, Brodeur said her premium would be too big of a financial bite. So, Brodeur said she’s opting out. “If it was $95 or $100 a month, I’d be able to manage,” said Brodeur, who lives in Palm Springs, where the median per-capita income is $36,627. “It’s a conundrum. I’ve not had insurance since I lost my job nine years ago.” Early efforts to get people to sign up for insurance under the controversial law got off to a rocky start with lagging enrollment numbers, after much-publicized glitches at (California’s signup site, Covered California, at, worked much better, though it did suffer through some glitches.) The fine for opting out this year is relatively small—$95, or 1 percent of a person’s income, whichever is greater. But the fine incrementally increases to $695 by 2016, or 2.5 percent of a person’s income. After 2016, the penalty is indexed to inflation. Brodeur’s far from alone when it comes to opting out. The UC Berkeley Labor Center estimated in a 2013 report that nearly 4 million Californians under the age of 65 this year will be eligible for health insurance, but will not get coverage. The reasons vary. “Any time coverage has expanded in the past, it’s taken at least a few years for enrollment to scale,” said Laurel Lucia, a policy analyst at the University of California at Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. “As people figure out the system, and the system improves, more people will get coverage.” Some opt out simply because they do not

qualify for Medi-Cal or the exchange subsidies. Others find the enrollment process confusing and cumbersome. About a million will be ineligible because of their immigration status. And roughly 400,000 Californians will find the exchanges, as Selena Solis has, unaffordable. The 19-year-old Columbia College Hollywood student said she hasn’t decided whether she’ll get insurance or pay the fine. “I’m still debating whether or not I should,” said Solis, who graduated from Palm Springs High School in 2012. “I work two jobs. I just can’t fit another bill into my budget.” The Obama administration has struggled to sign up young invincibles like Solis. She’s a prized demographic, among the people age 18 to 34 who are relatively healthy and inexpensive to care for—and who are necessary for the pool to subsidize older enrollees. “I understand that it’s for my own benefit, but what if it’s something I really just do not need at the moment?” Solis said. Experts say about 40 percent of enrollees need to be young and healthy for Obama’s signature program to succeed. In the first three months since the October roll-out, 23,417 Riverside County residents enrolled in the health-care exchanges, according to Covered California, which released a report in January. That number is 58 percent of the 40,377 the agency expects to enroll during open enrollment, which began Oct. 1 and ends March 31. Of the counties highlighted in the January report, only Fresno and San Bernardino counties had a smaller percentage of the uninsured enrolling compared to projections, with 47 percent and 45 percent, respectively. “We are focusing in a regional campaign to increase those numbers in those counties,” said Edith Lara-Trad, a Covered California spokeswoman. “The good news is that we have (more time) to work on this. “We are very confident that we are going to reach those numbers.” Latinos, African Americans and the young are being targeted for the agency’s outreach and education efforts, Lara-Trad said. In the first three months of the enrollment period, more than 500,000 people statewide—86 percent of the six-month projection—had enrolled in plans through Dec. 31, the agency reported. The state seems

poised to exceed that projection, due to strong enrollment in January and February, according to just-released reports. Covered California is the state’s health-care marketplace, created by the state under the Affordable Care Act to offer coverage to the uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 6 million Americans will pay the opting-out penalty in 2016. It is unclear how many will elect to pay the fine this year. An estimated 48 million Americans—or nearly 16 percent of the nation—were uninsured in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In California, an estimated 7.3 million people—or roughly 19 percent of Californians—were uninsured, according to a 2012 report by the California Healthcare Foundation. Signed into law by Obama in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was enacted to insure more Americans and lower skyrocketing health-care costs. It represents a significant overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, the first since 1965 with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. “It’s a shitty system. I understand what they’re trying to do. I just wish it had been a single-payer (system),” said Brodeur, referring to a health-care system paid for by the government rather than private insurers. “They did it wrong, in the spirit of compromise.”

About the Penalty

For the Affordable Care Act to work, it requires everyone who can afford health insurance to purchase health insurance. Those who don’t will face a penalty. In the first year, the penalty is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of the yearly household income, whichever is greater. That fine jumps incrementally over the next two years, to 2 percent, or $325 per person in 2015; and 2.5 percent, or $695 per person, in 2016. After 2016, the penalty is adjusted for inflation. If you happen to be uninsured for part of the year, one-twelfth of the penalty applies to each month you’re not covered. After open enrollment ends March 31, no one will be able to get health coverage through the marketplace until the next annual enrollment period, absent a qualifying life event such as moving to a new state, getting married or divorced, or having a child. Source:


MARCH 2014




These Two Locals Have Helped Turn the BNP Paribas Open Into One of the World’s Largest Sporting Events


BY BRANE JEVRIC here was no Indian Wells Tennis Garden back in 1996. That’s when I started covering what’s now known as the BNP Paribas Open. Back then, the tourney was held at the Hyatt Grand Champions. The tournament’s champions come and go, but some of the folks responsible for what the tournament has become are here to stay. In this case, a hippie tennis star from South Africa, and a girl from Boston who taught herself tennis by hitting a ball against a backboard, were instrumental in bringing what is now the BNP Paribas Open to its current glory. The hippie is Ray Moore, the Tennis Garden and tournament CEO, and the girl is Dee Dee Felich, assistant tournament director and the former senior VP.

In 1981, Felich, then 23, arrived in Palm Springs to meet her new boss, Charlie Pasarell. He was working on a new tennis tournament at Mission Hills. The tourney was called the Xerox Grand Champions. “Everyone was on their hands and knees sorting out numbers and letters for the scoreboards, so I joined the group and did whatever needed to be done,” remembers Felich. When the tourney moved to the La Quinta Resort, Pasarell and Felich had a miniature office. She’d have to go under the table to pick up a call when they were both working the telephones—and they’d back into each other every time they had a visitor. When the tourney moved to the Hyatt Grand Champions, Felich used her lunch break to breast-feed her newborn son in a hotel room. There was no time to go home. Once, she recalls, the desert wind was so strong that it was

knocking the advertisement plaques off of the courts. She asked: “What now?!” Pasarell told her: “Hold on!” She’s still holding on, decades later. “I may not be doing as much facility ops, as we have a whole team for that, and they’re the best in the business, but we still pitch in whenever we are called upon,” says Felich. In the mid ’80s, Ray Moore became Pasarell’s partner in what would become the fifth-largest tennis tourney in the world. Over the years, the Indian Wells event climbed up right behind the Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. In 2009, Pasarell sold his dream tournament to billionaire Larry Ellison. The package included the Tennis Garden as well. The rumored price, never confirmed, was $100 million. Today, Moore is the man in charge, reporting only to Ellison. Moore is an impressive businessman—with a surprising other side. The first time I walked into his Tennis Garden office, some 10 years ago, there was a sign at the door that read: The Hippie. Hanging on the wall was—and still is—a John Lennon selfportrait. “Lennon signed it,” Moore proudly grins while gesturing toward the framed drawing. “I bought four autographed pieces; the other three are up in my house.” During his career as a tennis player, Moore was heavily into music, as well as Zen and other spiritual stuff. He was introduced to meditation by his tennis pal Torben Ulrich. Years ago, Moore took Torben’s son Lars to a Deep Purple concert. It left a lasting impression on the kid. Years later, that kid, Lars Ulrich, co-founded a band called Metallica. There is a framed picture of Metallica in Moore’s office, too. Lars Ulrich dedicated it to Amanda, Moore’s daughter. He wrote: “You know, your dad is indirectly responsible for all this!” There is one thing Moore hasn’t yet accomplished, he told me: He has not yet played tennis with Larry Ellison. The flamboyant owner of BNP Paribas Open is an avid tennis player. For time being, Moore is a happy CEO, because Ellison has poured tons of money into the tourney’s infrastructure. As a result, according to Moore, the BNP Paribas Open may soon surpass the French Open and Wimbledon in attendance. “My goal is to get a half-million people to attend our tournament during its two weeks in March,” Moore says. If the Indian Wells tennis tournament were to eventually surpass all four Grand Slams in size and attendance, what would happen then? Only time will tell. The BNP Paribas Open takes place Monday, March 3, through Sunday, March 16. For more information, visit

Dee Dee Felich and Ray Moore have helped the BNP Paribas Open become the world’s fifth-largest tennis tournament. BRANE JEVRIC


MARCH 2014




Images From February in the Coachella Valley

Smoke from, um, “herbal medicine” filled the air as fans took a deep hit of the reggae sound of San Diego’s Tribal Seeds, at The Date Shed on Saturday, Feb. 1. Steven Jacobo, pictured, was most excellent on guitar. PHOTO BY GUILLERMO PRIETO/IROCKPHOTOS.NET

Downtown Palm Springs’ Michael Weems Gallery—aka Autoerotica—is the home of Weems’ amazing metal work, at 382 N. Palm Canyon Drive. It’s also the home of this little sign, which features an ever-rotating series of humorous sayings and tidbits. Given the January and February that Justin Bieber had, it’s safe to say that most Coachella Valley residents heartily agree with this sentiment. PHOTO BY BRIAN BLUESKYE

Large crowds—including an estimated 3,500 on opening night alone—came to the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, which took place at the Palm Springs Convention Center from Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 16. Harold Matzner—owner of Spencer’s Restaurant and a supporter of seemingly countless local arts organizations—was honored by the Fine Art Fair as the Art Patron of the Year. PHOTO BY VICTOR BAROCAS


MARCH 2014

Inside the Mind of

Frank Tysen What Motivates Downtown Palm Springs’ Biggest Critic of ‘Progress’—and Why Do City Leaders Demonize Him So? By Brian Blueskye TYSEN PHOTOS BY KEVIN FITZGERALD

“These people who say, ‘We need more millennials!’ don’t understand that they have no time or money to spend in the hotels!”


MARCH 2014


HE SPOT THAT ONCE WAS HOME TO downtown Palm Springs’ Desert Fashion Plaza—and before that, the legendary Desert Inn—is under construction. It’s slated to eventually become home to a shopping center and a Kimpton Hotel, under the direction of developer John Wessman. One man has been leading the charge against the project as it is planned: Frank Tysen, the owner of the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn. Because of his opposition to what many consider “progress,” some city officials—most notably Mayor Steve Pougnet—have harshly criticized and even demonized Tysen, who has been a fixture in various Palm Springs development battles now for more than two decades. On Jan. 16, during his State of the City speech, Pougnet issued his most vicious public attack on Tysen to date. He referenced a series of letters that Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels, was supposedly sent by Tysen and Tysen’s colleagues. Pougnet characterized the letters as “vile.” “You know what that reminds me of? ‘We don’t want people here,’” Pougnet. “It’s something we got over in Palm Springs. We’re over it: ‘We don’t want Jews; we don’t want gays; we don’t want blacks; we don’t want Agua Calientes.’ We’ve moved past that kind of rhetoric that Frank Tysen continues to spew.” Given all the controversy surrounding the proposed Hotel Palomar, the Independent decided to take a closer look at Tysen, his motivations and his future plans. In a recent series of interviews with the Independent, Tysen denied sending any letters to Depatie that were in any way hateful or vile. (More on that later.) We found Tysen to be far from hateful; in fact, he comes off as polite and even charming. He’s also brilliant: In 1966, he was a Guggenheim Fellow due to his work in architecture, planning and design. While Tysen is passionate, knowledgeable, resourceful and opinionated, he also has a point of view on the city of Palm Springs that strikes many as antiquated. Most notably,

he criticizes attempts by some city officials and business leaders to aggressively pursue business from younger professionals. “The stupid thing that goes on is that City Hall has become obsessed about bringing in the millennials,” he said. “What makes this town work is basically an older crowd, because the older crowd has the time to come in midweek; young professionals don’t have the time to come in mid-week, because they work. “Every year now, they’re putting on this rock concert called Tachevah that they call a block party. I went there last year to take a look, and I saw all these youngsters from Coachella and Indio. These aren’t people who are staying here; it’s not going to fill the beds during the mid-week.”


BOUT 25 YEARS AGO, FRANK TYSEN and his business partner were shown the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn. Tysen immediately fell in love. “I thought it would be fun to have a little hotel here,” Tysen said. “(Palm Springs) was dead at the time, and there was nothing happening. Palm Springs was at a real all-time low in the ’80s. “People complain now, but there’s nothing to complain about, because the town is hopping,” he said with a laugh. “I loved the whole feeling of the place and the natural beauty, but also the lovely architecture, the beautiful estates, and so on. (Casa Cody) was in shambles because it was run like a flop house. We saw the potential and started to restore it. It’s been a nonstop restoration ever since. We’ve added three other properties … over the years.” Over the last two and a half decades, Tysen has watched as Palm Springs has evolved. “Several people came to the city (around the same time that I did) and started picking up the old inns and fixing them up,” he said “Basically, that started what I believe is the revival of Palm Springs in the ’80s and early ’90s. People started to discover it again.” Flash forward to November 2011, when voters in Palm Springs continued on next page ➠

Frank Tysen on the proposed Kimpton Hotel design: “If you see the pictures, it looks more like downtown L.A., in the area near the Staples Center. It certainly doesn’t look like Palm Springs. … It’s really nothing that people are going to come and look at. It’s a glass box.”

16 \\ COACHELLA VALLEY INDEPENDENT continued from Page 15

approved Measure J, a 1 percent increase in the sales and use tax, with that money dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Palm Springs. Tysen said he was supportive of the measure. However, as plans for the old Desert Fashion Plaza emerged, Tysen soured on that portion of downtown redevelopment. One of his main complaints involves the design of the Hotel Palomar, slated to be operated by Kimpton. In particular, the modernist design and height of the hotel was questioned and opposed by Tysen. (Most reports say that the hotel is slated to be six stories tall; however, Tysen insists that he’s seen plans showing the hotel could rise up to nine stories.) In May 2013, Tysen and his group, Advocates for Better Community Development, filed a lawsuit to block hotel construction; the group also started to collect signatures to force an election on the hotel plans. The group eventually submitted 2,700 signatures—seemingly enough to send the matter to voters. However, the city refused to place the matter on the ballot, claiming the issue was not subject to voter approval. In December 2013, a Riverside County Superior Court judge ruled in the favor of the city; Tysen and his group appealed. Then came that Jan. 16 State of the City address by Mayor Steve Pougnet. In addition to calling out Tysen’s “rhetoric,” Pougnet shocked the crowd by announcing the city would send the hotel decision to voters after all—during an April special election. Then on Jan. 29, the city made yet another about-face, agreeing to pay Tysen and ABCD $50,000 (apparently to cover legal fees) to drop the lawsuit, and canceling the April election. Tysen said he decided to drop the lawsuit because it felt like the right thing to do. “At that point, there was such a show of hysteria,” said Tysen, who reportedly received a death threat after the State of the City speech. “The city, especially, approached me to drop it. So I tried to look for another way we can solve these problems.” However, that doesn’t mean it is clear sailing for the redevelopment of the old Desert Fashion Plaza: A remaining lawsuit, also filed by Tysen and ABCD, challenges various approvals of and changes to the redevelopment project. As for Pougnet’s claims that Tysen and his fellow hotel opponents were sending rhetoricfilled letters to Kimpton hotels, the matter remains unclear. However, Tysen provided the Independent with a copy of a letter that he sent to Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels. The letter is well-written and politely lays out Tysen’s concerns about the hotel, with no “vile” rhetoric to be found. “I am very much aware of the wonderful reputation of your company and the sensitive way in which you have fit your hotel in historic areas such as Alexandria, Virginia, and I hope for something like that,” Tysen wrote. (See the letter for yourself with the online version of

MARCH 2014

this story at The Independent left multiple messages with Pougnet to discuss Tysen and his opposition to the downtown redevelopment project; he did not return the calls. What is the point behind Tysen’s opposition to the hotel? He said it’s all in the design. “The whole thing started off fine,” Tysen said. “Everything looked like it was going to be exciting. There was no mention of a nine-story hotel in the visioning sessions. It was completely different and looked very European, very low-key; they talked about world-class architecture. … Then, suddenly, the mayor decided to drop the eminent domain and started working with a developer (John Wessman), and what came out of that had no relation to the visioning sessions.” Tysen insisted the architecture is not appropriate for Palm Springs. “If you see the pictures, it looks more like downtown L.A., in the area near the Staples Center,” Tysen said. “It certainly doesn’t look like Palm Springs. … It’s really nothing that people are going to come and look at. It’s a glass box. “The whole thing is very dense. Also, the whole surrounding retail … is another stupid thing to do, because we already have so many vacancies that haven’t been filled. To add another couple hundred thousand feet of retail makes no sense.” Several times, Tysen insisted that the voices of tourists and part-time residents are being ignored—in part because they are unable to vote in local elections. “The tourists are shocked,” Tysen said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have any voice in it. If they asked the tourists, they wouldn’t build it. Somehow, there’s a group of people in town who are so tired of nothing happening for 10 years, that now, suddenly, they think we should do anything that comes along. To me, it’s something you just don’t do. You do the right thing instead. … The people who are really affected don’t vote here. The tourists and the second homeowners—all these people coming in don’t have any idea of what’s going on.”


OME OF TYSEN’S CRITICS HAVE speculated that he is fighting to protect his own interests, because his hotel is just a few blocks away from the redevelopment site. Tysen insisted that’s not the case; he said he simply believes the hotel is a bad fit for Palm Springs. “If anything, we might get more business, if people walk around, and they see a small place that looks charming,” Tysen said. “It’s going to affect the feeling of the town and those who do or do not come here. The world is getting so crazy, crowded and congested, and right now in L.A., you can’t even move around anymore. People go to places like Catalina, Carmel or Santa Barbara to get away from all that. People come here to savor the nature of it, and also the feel of a small town. To have this thing sitting in

the middle of it—it’s a terrible mistake.” Tysen also said he believes the proposed hotel and shopping center are bad ideas because the millennials who are coming to the city are not spending any money. He claimed that most of the corporate hotel chains in Palm Springs are suffering through too many vacancies. “The average occupancy at the Hyatt Hotel in Palm Springs is no more than 50 to 60 percent,” Tysen said. “Palm Springs, like many resort cities, is a seasonal town. The high season is February, March and April. Most of the hotels fill up during those few months of the year. With the young market, the Hard Rock Hotel was selling rooms in November for $59 a night during the middle of the week, and that’s the ‘hot, crowded Hard Rock.’ The Saguaro was selling rooms for $69 during the middle of the week in November. The Riviera was selling Thanksgiving for $109. There’s a lot of foolish stuff going on. This would be a big, subsidized thing.” The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism did not respond to requests from the Independent for demographics and specific hotel-vacancy information. “You can’t do everything, and I think … Palm Springs has spontaneously become very popular with young people. They enjoy coming down here, so we’re doing fine, and I’m not worried about it. But these people who say, ‘We need more millennials!’ don’t understand that they have no time or money to spend in the hotels!” Tysen claimed Palm Springs’ quiet, lovely nature attracts more visitors than anything else. “Everyone is so impressed by what’s going on at the Coachella festival once every year. Coachella is Coachella, but Palm Springs is Palm Springs. There’s no one at the Palm Springs International Film Festival under the age of 40. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg! Don’t kill the flavor of the whole town.”


OHN-MICHAEL COOPER, THE GENERAL manager of Palm Springs Rendezvous and the president of Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS), has worked closely with Tysen, a fellow SHoPS board member. He said portrayals of Tysen as a radical are off-base. “People judge Frank in a very general way,” Cooper said. “There are a lot of things about (Tysen) that are completely ignored.” Cooper said he’s worked with Tysen on various matters for five years now. While he does not always agree with Tysen, Cooper said he has a lot of respect for him. “He’s one of the founding members of the association of which I’m now president of, and he’s a very skilled hotelier,” Cooper said. “We’re all in favor of Measure J, and he’s been very accommodating. But he is very motivated in what he does, and he’s super-passionate. I’ve agreed with him on a lot of sides of this thing that is known as Measure J. I can’t say I think one way or the other about (the proposed hotel

“The reason this town is so special is because people like me have fought these battles.”

and shopping center), because it is pretty multifaceted—but I have a lot of respect for Frank.” Tysen said people are quick to make assumptions about him. “The real sad thing is there are a lot of people who have a lynch-mob mentality,” said Tysen. “You know, ‘Oh, let’s go get him—the son of a bitch! He’s stopping progress and everything.’ Most of the time, they don’t even know what’s going on; they don’t even know the issues. It’s scary to see people crawling out from under the rocks. I came to Palm Springs because I liked what I see. I don’t know why they came to Palm Springs—they could have gone to Las Vegas if they liked that kind of stuff.” Make no mistake: Agree or disagree with Tysen, he’s no dummy. In fact, before he became a hotelier, he had a long career in urban design, planning and architecture. He also has a history of public opposition to controversial projects. “I taught for many years at USC in urban and regional planning. I have done lots of studies about all of this. I was a Guggenheim Fellow, and I spent time in India (working) on master-planning in Calcutta. I worked with Gov. Ronald Reagan and had a lot of impact in not moving the (main L.A.) airport from Los Angeles to Palmdale. I was very instrumental in stopping the freeway that was going to go through Malibu and Santa Monica, and I stopped two oil refineries when I was on the … environmental council, in Beaumont and Banning. So I’ve tried to protect the environment all throughout California. It’s not just that I own a small hotel.” He also took credit for helping make Palm Springs a successful destination. “The reason this town is so special is because people like me have fought these battles,” Tysen said. “It starts when Nellie Coffman owned the Desert Inn (which was located on the Desert Fashion Plaza site); they fought an asphalt plant that was going to be up the street. There was a group here called Citizens United that had a building moratorium here. “All kinds of battles have been fought. Pearl McManus would cancel an escrow if somebody built something she didn’t like. All this stuff has been going on, and that’s why this town is special. It isn’t special by accident. Otherwise, it would look like Beaumont, or it would look like Fontana. It’s special because people like me have fought these battles.”

MARCH 2014



MARCH 2014

•• Andy Warhol and Other Famous Folks at Heather James •• Remembering Salvation Mountain's Leonard Knight •• Western Lit: Dealing With Transgenderism in "Bondage of Self" •• MARCH Theater

Photographer Elaine Sigwald Honors Marilyn Monroe’s Local Ties at Archangel Gallery



“Dogs don’t bite me. Just people” (cropped), by Elaine Sigwald.


MARCH 2014


Varied Greats Under One Roof

Heather James Fine Art Shows Off the Works of Warhol, Dali and Many Others


By Richard Almada f you have not yet paid a visit to Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert, go now— while you still have the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic Warhol exhibition that’s on display at the gallery into April. Andy Warhol’s works may very well be the most-recognizable art in the world. His parents were immigrants from Slovakia, and he was born in Pittsburgh; of course, he would go on to become one of the most-controversial pop artists of all time before his death in 1987. He turned ordinary objects into iconic symbols—celebrating the mundane as art. His art is a perfect fit for Heather James Fine Art, which shows works in various genres from around the globe, including a lot of blue-chip pieces. The exhibit Andy Warhol: Paintings and Prints has been on display at the gallery since November. “It was an honor and a pleasure to bring dozens of Warhol pieces to the Coachella Valley,” said curator Chip Tom. “He is one of few contemporary artists recognized worldwide. China, Russia, Africa—everyone knows Warhol.” Warhol celebrated celebrities—and in doing so, he became one himself, thanks in part to his clever marketing tactics. I used to live in New York City, and I remember when Warhol would arrange for groups of photographers to follow his every move in public. Heather James is not just showing the works of Warhol; the gallery is also presenting an exhibition of abstract art by five artists, each with an expressive style. One of those artists is Luc Bernard, a Canadian artist now residing in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. He began as an encaustic painter who created lush

landscapes, but his style eventually evolved into abstraction. Another artist, Betty Gold, a familiar name in the desert, is best known as a sculptor whose works in steel are collected all over the U.S. and Europe. Two of her huge works reside in front of the gallery’s garden space. David Hare (1917-1992) was also primarily known for his sculpture, but he also worked in photography and painting. He was a founding member of the Subjects of the Artist School in New York in 1948, along with Mark Rothko, William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell. Nice company! Speaking of nice company, Hare’s friends included Jean-Paul Sartre, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso. The exhibit also includes the works of

“Les Pyramides Grandes,” by Alexander Calder, color lithograph.

abstract expressionist painter Arne Hiersoux (1938-1983), and Norman Zammit (19372007), a pioneer of Light and Space, one of the most important art movements born in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Another American artist, Alexander Calder (1898-1976), gets a gallery wall at Heather James dedicated to several of his works. He was famous for both his abstract art and his mobile sculptures. His mastery of bright colors and striking designs offers a real treat to the senses. Finally, Salvador Dali—the Spanish artist who became synonymous with surrealism, and who was the subject of a significant exhibit at the gallery last year—retains a presence at the gallery, which continues to show some of his works. Dali was a mere 12 years old when he enjoyed his first exhibition of charcoal drawings. He

“Lorna Luft,” by Andy Warhol, screenprint on canvas.

entered art school in 1922, and in the late ’20s, he met and then worked with Picasso, Miro and Magritte. He was introduced to America in 1934 by art-dealer Julien Levy and was an instant sensation. Dali was known as much for his eccentric behavior and attention-grabbing public actions as he was for his art—just like Andy Warhol. Therefore, it’s fitting to see their works together under the same roof. Heather James Fine Art is located at 45188 Portola Ave., in Palm Desert. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 760-346-8926; or visit


MARCH 2014





Photographer Elaine Sigwald Honors Marilyn Monroe’s Local Ties at Archangel Gallery

By Victor Barocas hey were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t, observed Norma Jeane Baker— you know her better as Marilyn Monroe—regarding the characters she portrayed. However, in her show Hello Norma Jeane, photographer Elaine Sigwald shows there’s much to love about this world-famous-icon—who, of course, spent a considerable amount of time in Palm Springs. The show, presented in Archangel Gallery’s middle gallery, is especially timely, as it coincided with Modernism Week and the imminent departure of Seward Johnson’s “Forever Marilyn” from Palm Springs—and it’s especially local, as all but one of Sigwald’s images were taken in either Palm Springs or Cathedral City. Sigwald goes beyond merely producing photographs of Norma Jeane; she titles each image with an actual quote from Marilyn Monroe. This adds dimensionality to the icon’s mystique and persona, and offers insights into the photographer’s creative process. The show of 25 photographs includes a grouping of five black-and-white photographs. The remaining prints are in color. “Whether or not I photo-edit my color prints, I always isolate and intensify the colors,” Sigwald told me. “My goal is to make the colors ‘pop.’ “With the black and whites, there is a balance. I strive to create a ‘warmth’ while retaining the contrast within each photograph. … Using the same technique with each blackand-white image, I ensure that the same balance exists across prints.” Sigwald notes that she’s very particular about the printing of her photos. “I only use one fine art printer, Gary Kerr (of Fine Art Impressions), who luckily has his studio in Palm Springs. With him, there is partnership; he expertly helps me realizes my creative intent.”

In “I didn’t pay much attention …,” the photographer balances symmetry with complexity. The composition—planned or not—contains elements of both Erté and Escher. To create the final product, Sigwald began by extracting a profile image from the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture. After creating a mirror image of the profile, the photographer fused the profiles so that each face looks outward. A deep black background provides a dramatic contrast to a combination of satin whites, soft pinks and gold. It is Sigwald’s use of colors, attention to details and art-deco quality—especially the shape of the dress— that produce an Erté-esque feel. In this same image, Sigwald repositions Norma Jeane’s tresses, breasts and dress to force the viewer’s eyes to move across and explore the entire photograph. The skirt balloons out to create a pedestal for the upper half of the image. This attention to detail creates a measured complexity and an elegant simplicity reminiscent of Escher. You’ll feel like a voyeur with Sigwald’s color image, “I love doing things the censors won’t

pass.” The photographer apparently created the image by lying on her back beneath the “Forever Marilyn” statue. Norma Jeane’s legs become structural pillars leading to her lacetrimmed panties. The skirt, as presented on the top side of the image, looks like the backside of a large, deep-sea-blue fan with the ribs exposed. The bottom section—a trapezoid between Norma Jeane’s legs—has the appearance of deep-blue ink dissipating in water. At first glance, another image—showing the entirety of “Forever Marilyn,” smiling, while the shadow of a dog approaches—seems whimsical. However, the title—“Dogs don’t bite me. Just people.”—changes the entire tenor of the print: The image becomes telling and almost tragic. The dog becomes menacing, making it difficult to determine whether Norma Jeane’s smile is real or forced. Most images bring to the show their own persona and unique reality. One, however, seems out of place: the image of Norma Jeane’s Palm Springs house sans memorabilia. The image does project a sense of distance and nostalgia, as well as a longing for privacy, reinforced by the photographer’s choice of title (“I don’t want everyone to see exactly where I live …”). At the same time, this photograph seems incongruent with the rest of the show. The picture is flat and lacks the personality, emotional depth and lyricism present in the other images. Still, the show is undeniably worth seeing. Michael Fiacco, Archangel Gallery’s director, was spot-on when he told me about Sigwald: “Her technique, intensity and attention to detail make her one-of-a-kind.”

“I didn’t pay much attention …” (cropped), by Elaine Sigwald.

“I love doing things the censors won’t pass,” by Elaine Sigwald.

Hello Norma Jeane is on display through Tuesday, March 18, at Archangel Gallery, 1103 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. Archangel Gallery is open every day except for Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, call 760-320-4795, or visit Full disclosure: Archangel Gallery has exhibited the photography of this article’s author.


MARCH 2014



Remembering When Leonard Knight Was Able to Finally See His Salvation Mountain in Full Color

By Christina Lange Editor’s note: Last May, Christina Lange wrote a piece for about artist Leonard Knight and his beloved Salton Sea-area creation—Salvation Mountain. Knight, who had been hampered by health problems, was about to return to see the mountain in its full-color glory for the first time in decades, after he had surgery to remove cataracts. On Feb. 10, Knight passed away in El Cajon at the age of 82. To honor the man and his enduring creation, as well as the efforts of those who work to preserve Salvation Mountain, we decided to re-publish Christina’s piece in this print edition. Enjoy. he Salton Sea area’s Salvation Mountain was handmade by folk artist Leonard Knight. That is right—handmade. By himself. Every single line of paint, every tree limb, every handmade flower on the walls, every “Jesus” written on the side of the 50-foot-tall mountain—all of it. Originally from the East Coast, Knight came out here to fly a balloon across the United States that he had made in the name of God, but the materials kept rotting. So Knight moved on to his new project and began to use what natural and materials were available to him. Using adobe clay, hay, water, found objects (such as tires and car parts) and—according to Leonard—a lot of faith, he built this gigantic tribute to God in the 1980s, epitomized by the words “God Is Love” standing out underneath a giant cross at the top. Both religious and nonreligious people’s faces light up when they visit his creation out here in the desert, on the southeastern side of the Salton Sea near Niland—and if they’ve had a chance to meet Leonard, they seem to have a story. He has received visitors from all over the world—and that number only increased when the film Into the Wild came out in 2007. In real life, the subject of the story, Chris McCandless, had spent some time with him; later, Sean Penn, the director of the film, got Knight to make an appearance in the movie. Today, Leonard Knight no longer lives onsite. He is turning 82 this year and has been living in El Cajon since December 2011. Knight had slept in a small trailer near the mountain, with no heating, no air conditioning, no running water and no electricity, since 1984. In the summer, day time lows can hover around 95 degrees, and

A group visits Salvation Mountain in October 2012. CHRISTINA LANGE

highs can hover around 115 for weeks on end. It can also get insanely humid. Bob Levesque, of Salvation Mountain Inc.—a nonprofit organization tasked with preserving Knight’s work and legacy—says that Knight’s health has declined rapidly in the last two years. Knight lower left leg had to be amputated due to a blood clot, for example. However, the news is not all bad: He underwent a much-needed operation on his cataracts, and he can properly see again. In fact, he is planning a visit to Salvation Mountain at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 19. If his health permits, for the first time in nearly 20 years, he will be able to see his mountain in full color. (Editor’s note: He was indeed able to make that trip. For pictures of the occasion, visit the Salvation Mountain Facebook page; the URL is below.) The massive lifestyle change—from living independently at his mountain, to living in the El Cajon home—must have been quite a shock to his system. “He made attempts to pay someone to smuggle him out and drop him off at the mountain,” Levesque says. “We, of course, didn’t let this happen, as his health would not allow him to stay. After his amputation is when he finally realized he was at the best place he could be. He now tells Dan (Westfall, the Salvation Mountain board of directors president), ‘The kids here are taking good care of me, and I like it here.’” In the meantime, the folks at Salvation Mountain Inc. are trying to figure out the best ways to maintain the site. Knight’s majestic mountain is not immune to the desert sun and heat, and is in need of repairs and constant maintenance. Throughout the cooler part of

the year, the board organizes monthly work parties, and the members hope to attract more participants this fall. The organization is accepting applications from people who wish to be onsite managers. So far, applicants have preferred short-term commitments. “We are planning to continue recruiting and fill the schedule with any qualified candidates for however long they can stay,” Levesque says. “I guess this will keep us truly living by faith. So far, we haven’t had any lapses in coverage, but at times, the coverage is a local baby sitter who fills in when someone goes away.” Managers receive a stipend and are supplied with “water, ice, solar, DSL and waste removal. For the right candidates, we may also be able to offer living quarters, but prefer if they have their own RV,” Levesque says. The charity relies heavily on donations. “The generosity of hundreds of people has helped maintain funds in our account so we

Leonard Knight back in 2008, before illnesses forced him to leave his creation. CHRISTINA LANGE

can offer a stipend to onsite managers and buy supplies and other needed items. Most of all funding comes directly from the donation box at the mountain, but we also have been receiving donations via PayPal online and through private donations.” Meanwhile, Salvation Mountain is worth visiting. In Knight’s words: “I just really believe that God built this mountain, that I didn’t. I am not really capable, especially being an artist, of doing anything, but God Almighty can do anything.” For more information or to donate, visit www., or SalvationMountainIncBoardOfDirectorsSite.


MARCH 2014


Kaitlin Sine Riordan Writes About Dealing With Transgenderism in ‘Bondage of Self’


BY BRIAN BLUESKYE any people have a hard time understanding and grasping transgenderism—and a local woman, Kaitlin Sine Riordan, is trying to change that by telling her story with her book, Bondage of Self. Born a boy, Riordan was raised in Richmond, Va., by a father who was extremely selfdisciplined and into bodybuilding, and a mother who was a housewife. During her childhood, she found herself confused about her gender identity. She describes a moment, when she was 6 years old, on a shopping trip with her mother: She was playing with dresses in a clothing store. When her mother said she would tell Kaitlin’s father, Kaitlin disciplined herself by bashing a toy rifle against her legs, leaving big, purple welts. It turns out that her father was cold and indifferent to the whole matter. Riordan also shares details about her life as a teenager—revealing a person in serious pain. She played basketball and displayed the typical masculinity of a teenage boy, but would find ways to be home alone so she could wear women’s clothing. She later got married and was a devoted husband and father—but Riordan drank, straining the relationship with her wife and children. She was in management at a Philip Morris production plant, but secrets in the workplace eventually forced her into early retirement. A key moment in Riordan’s life occurred when she started a relationship with a female co-worker who had no problem with Riordan’s love of dressing in women’s clothing; that woman would go on to become Riordan’s second wife. Meanwhile, Riordan started to reach out to others who were dealing with gender-identity struggles, including a support group who sought to embrace and encourage members to come as their “true gender.” Riordan eventually found the support and courage to go through the process of transitioning from male to female. She also confronted her alcoholism at Michael’s House in Palm Springs in 2008, after which she returned home and went through with her gender-reassignment surgery. It’s obviously been a long road for Riordan, and she shows great courage in telling her story. She details the ridicule that many transgendered people suffer through, as well

as the struggles one goes through while in the process of transitioning—including problems with friends and family, and the interpersonal issues one deals with while going through the many preparations. In the end, Riordan has emerged as a stronger, happier person. While the book is quite descriptive, it exhibits flaws that are all too common with books that are self-published: There are grammar and punctuation errors, and several of the chapters should be split. When I asked Riordan about these problems, and she said she is working with an editor on a second edition which she hopes to have out soon. Those issues aside, Bondage of Self is a book that not only someone who is going through transgenderism will appreciate; it’s also a great read for people who want to better understand the trials endured by men and women struggling with gender-identity issues. Bondage of Self, by Kaitlin Sine Riordan (Purple Books Publishing), 370 pages, $19.95


MARCH 2014


Becoming Ava—from Desert Ensemble Theatre This original tribute to the comedies of the 1940s and 1950s was penned by local Tony Padilla. 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and March 1; 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2. $22; $18 students, seniors and military. At the Palm Springs Womans Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road, Palm Springs. 760-565-2476;

Buried Child—from College of the Desert Performing Arts Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the “disintegration of the American Dream” takes place at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, March 14, through Sunday, March 23. $15 general; $13 students. At the College of the Desert’s Pollock Theatre, 43500 Monterey Ave., Palm Desert. 760-773-2565; Burying Aunt Beulah—from Script2Stage2Screen Joni Hilton’s quirky play about mother-daughter relationships takes place at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8. $10. At the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, 72425 Via Vail, Rancho Mirage. 760-345-7938; Coyote StageWorks at the Annenberg Theater The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit comedy dubbed “Hitchcock Meets Hilarious,” is performed at various times Wednesday through Sunday, from Friday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 9. Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore is performed at various times Wednesday through Sunday, from Friday, March 28, through Sunday, April 6. $39 to $55. At the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; annenberg-theater. Desert Rose Playhouse Diva Dish! With Luke Yankee features the son of Academy Award-winning actress Eileen Heckart telling tales about some of the 20th century’s biggest stars, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 1; and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 2. $25 to $28. Lesbian humorist Dorothy Kirk performs two one-woman shows in March: I Came Out in a Darkroom, her brand-new show, at 8 p.m., Friday March 7; and HOLD STILL! I Can’t See Myself, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 8; and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 9. Tickets are $25 to each show. The world premiere of Dan Clancy’s Poster Boys, a drama about two plaintiffs recruited to serve as the public faces for a lawsuit against California’s gay-marriage-banning Prop 8, takes place at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, April 20. $28 to $30. At 69260 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage. 760202-3000; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune—from Coachella Valley Repertory CV Rep concludes their season of Terrence McNally plays with this classic story of two middle-aged people who open up to each other on their first date. 7:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Wednesday, March 19, through Sunday, April 6. $35 previews on Wednesday and Thursday, March 19 and 20; $50 opening night on Friday, March 21; $40 otherwise. At the Atrium, 69930 Highway 111, No. 116, Rancho Mirage. 760-296-2966; The Great American Trailer Park Musical—from Desert Theatreworks The antics of the residents of an exclusive Florida trailer park get the musical treatment, at 7 p.m., Friday; 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, March 14, through Sunday, Feb. 23. $25; $23 students; special kids’ prices and group rates available. At the Arthur Newman Theatre in the Joslyn Center, 73750 Catalina Way, Palm Desert. 760-980-1455; Indian Wells Theater/CSUSB Palm Desert Events The theater’s Tribute Series continues with music by The Rat Pack—Frank, Dean and Sammy—at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 22. $40 first three rows; $35 remainder of the house. This season’s Indian Wells Pops! series concludes with a tribute to great big-band singers, featuring Frank DiSalvo, at 2 p.m.,

Sunday, March 30. $50. At the Indian Wells Theater at CSUSB Palm Desert, 37500 Cook St. 760-341-6909; Indio Performing Arts Center Bethany Owen stars in Country Queens, her all-country show, at 2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, through Friday, March 28, with additional shows at 7 p.m., Friday, March 14 and 15; and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 16. Kirk Geiger stars in Marvin’s Room, “a hilarious and wondrous account of one woman’s commitment to loving others first, and her belief that giving such love has made her life unbelievably rich, even as she faces her own death,” at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, April 6. All shows $19 to $26. At the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St., Indio. 760-7755200; McCallum Theatre Sally Struthers stars in the classic Hello, Dolly! at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 1; and 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, March 2; $35 to $105. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra presents A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at 8 p.m., Monday, March 3; $25 to $65. One Night of Queen is performed—you guessed it—one night only, by Gary Mullen and The Works, at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 6. $25 to $45. Michael Feinstein performs The Gershwins and Me at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8; $65 to $105. The musical-comedy The Addams Family takes place at 8 p.m., Friday, March 14; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, March 16; $35 to $95. The Pink Floyd Experience rocks the McCallum at 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 18. $25 to $45. An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin is performed by the legend herself at 8 p.m., Friday, March 21. $55 to $95. Walnut Street Theatre presents the play Driving Miss Daisy at 8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, March 25 and 26; $25 to $75. The hit musical play based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher, is performed at 8 p.m., Friday, March 28; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 29; and 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 30. $25 to $95. At the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; On the Air! An Evening of Live Radio Show Classics—from Dezart Performs This benefit gala features stars including Gavin MacLeod, Joyce Bulifant and many others performing classic shows from radio’s heyday, at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 13. $35 to $75. At the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-0179;

Palm Canyon Theatre 9 to 5 takes the adventures of Violet, Doralee and Judy from the movie to the stage, at 7 p.m., Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 9. $32; $10 students/children (call the box office). The Madwoman of Chaillot, a French play about an eccentric woman who fights the authority figures in her life, takes place at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15; and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 16. $25. At 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-323-5123; The Prince and the Show Boy Performers Faith Prince and Jason Graae re-create their hit show on the Annenberg Theater stage, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. $60 to $75. At the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; Theatre 29 The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town’s Women’s Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, a story about a theater’s opening night gone terribly wrong, takes place at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from Friday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 29, with additional matinees at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 9 and 23. $12; $10 seniors and military; $8 students. At 73637 Sullivan Road, Twentynine Palms. 760-361-4151;


MARCH 2014


MARCH 2014



This Month’s Batch of Worthy Blu-Ray Releases


TOP 10 LIST for February 2014


By Bob Grimm All Is Lost LionsGate, released Feb. 11 In All Is Lost, a movie that features almost no dialogue, Robert Redford delivers some of his best work ever as a man trying to survive a shipwreck in the Indian Ocean. While sleeping in his yacht, Redford’s character (simply called “Our Man” in the credits) is abruptly awakened by a floating cargo bin crashing into his boat’s side. What follows is more than 100 minutes of Redford’s character solving problems and fighting to stay alive. Much credit goes to the legendary actor, as well as relative newbie writer-director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), for making this compelling from start to finish. Redford looks like he put himself through hell, and the results are worth it. His character gets no real backstory; other than one loud expletive, a couple of radio-transmission attempts, and some quick narration at the start, Redford’s character never speaks. There’s no need: Redford does it all with his face in a performance for which he will always be remembered. In one of Oscar’s biggest shockers this year, Redford was passed over for a Best Actor nomination. I don’t know what else Redford could have done to get a nod. He’s only gotten one other Oscar nomination for acting, 40 years ago for The Sting. The snub is strange. Special Features: A director’s commentary (without Redford) and some featurettes on the making of the movie. About Time Universal, released Feb. 4 I missed About Time in theaters last year. (Hey, I can’t see them all!) That’s a shame, because this film is deserving of high praise. Writer-director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) has made his best film yet, and finds a way to use time-travel that requires no special-effects budget. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a slightly nebbish but somewhat cute and alluring Brit, finds out from his super-laid-back dad (a wonderful Bill Nighy) that the men in his family have the gift of time travel: They just need to go to a dark place (preferably a wardrobe cabinet), clench their fists

and think of where they want to be in their own past. Then, boom—they are there, able to live that piece of life again, and make adjustments where necessary. With this power comes rules—and hazards. They can’t travel back beyond their own life, so there’s no killing Hitler. They can’t go into the future. And they have to be mindful of birth dates, because screwing around with history before a child’s birth can change the identity of the child. Tim uses his power to woo women, mostly Mary (Rachel McAdams, queen of time-travel love stories with this, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Midnight in Paris). He eventually marries Mary, after traveling back in time to redo their first meetings and sexual encounters. He cheats a bit, for sure, but it’s abundantly clear that the two are meant for each other. It’s a fun premise, employed quite entertainingly by Curtis and his cast. Gleeson is charming; McAdams is enchanting; and Nighy steals scenes. This is a good one to watch if you’re planning a romantic movie night at home. Special Features: The disc is fairly stacked, with director and actor commentaries, behind-thescenes featurettes, a blooper reel, deleted scenes and more. Escape Plan Summit/LionsGate, released Feb. 4 At long last, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have teamed up for a movie in which they both play big parts. (Yes, they have been in The Expendables films together, but Arnie has only done guest spots.) Escape Plan has Sly playing a security expert who escapes from prisons for a living. Things go bad when he gets buried in a maximum-security prison—and the folks who put him there plan to keep him locked up. Arnie plays a prisoner who befriends Sly on the inside, and they look for a way to get out of a seemingly inescapable place. Stallone is good here, and I haven’t enjoyed Arnie this much since before he became governor. Arnold has one scene in which he raves to the warden about God in German. It turns out the warden is played by Jim Caviezel, who did, in fact, play Jesus for Mel Gibson, which makes the scene extra-insane. Escape Plan is junky fun, and it will make fans giddy. Yes, Stallone and Schwarzenegger are

getting old, but they have a lot of life in them. This bombed in the U.S., but did OK overseas, where the two aging stars appear to still have a little box-office clout. Special Features: A commentary with the writer and director, deleted scenes and some behindthe-scenes featurettes. Blue Jasmine Sony, released Jan. 21 There was a time when Woody Allen was consistently making the best movies in the business. Blue Jasmine is that return to form that some of us have been seeking, thanks in large part to a phenomenal central performance by the Oscar-nominated Cate Blanchett. Blanchett plays Jasmine, the wife of a Bernie Madoff-type financier (Alec Baldwin) who must relocate from New York to San Francisco after she is bankrupted and emotionally destroyed. She gulps martinis, criticizes her helpful sister (Sally Hawkins, also an Oscar nominee) and, quite frighteningly, is prone to bouts of talking to herself. Allen finds the dark humor in the story, and employs a supporting cast that includes comedians Louis C.K. and, most astonishingly, Andrew Dice Clay—who, doggone it, delivers an amazing performance as Ginger’s financially destroyed ex-husband, Augie. Above and beyond the humor, though, Allen makes his film a parable about how some deeds are irredeemable, and some folks are simply doomed. It’s as bittersweet as any movie you will see. As far as the Allen film canon goes, it’s a Top 5 installment. On top of the acting nominations, the film got a nom for Allen’s screenplay. However, the film didn’t get nominations for Best Picture or Best Director—and Blue Jasmine is better than most of the films nominated in those categories. That’s a bit annoying. This is one of those films in which everything comes together perfectly, with Blanchett at its powerful center. Yeah, Woody Allen is total scum, but he’s still making movies, and this is one of his best.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity.

1. Gravity (Warner Bros.) 2. Escape Plan (Summit/Lionsgate) 3. Thor: The Dark World (Disney) 4. Free Birds (20th Century Fox) 5. Ender’s Game (Summit/Lionsgate) 6. The Counselor (20th Century Fox) 7. About Time (Universal) 8. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) 9. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) 10. Dallas Buyers Club (Universal)

Special Features: As is usually the case with Allen releases, there’s not much here: You get a press conference and some quickie interviews.


MARCH 2014


MARCH 2014



The Drought Is Not Threatening California’s Wine Industry—at Least Not Yet


By Deidre Pike f you want to make it rain in wine country, you can try the usual magic rituals—like washing your car, planning a sunny picnic or forgetting your raincoat. Or you can simply decide to write about the impact of drought on the wine industry. The sky was clear when I started thinking about water and wine, as I drove up the bone-dry Interstate 5—desert dry, crispy dry, whispy dry—in late January. I’d been jarred by stark images from NASA’s Terra satellite showing a swath of tan mountains reaching up along the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, juxtaposed with a 2013 shot of a snowy white Sierra Nevada. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in California on Jan. 17. A few days later, state health officials released a list of 17 communities and water districts—from Mendocino County to Kern County—that could run dry before summer if no action was taken. Then in early February came rain—up the coast from Monterey to Crescent City, in Napa and Sonoma, on the coast and in the foothills. It snowed over Lake Tahoe and the Sierra. Even here in SoCal, we had a couple of overcast days and a few rain sprinkles. Ahh. The sweet smell of hydration. Of course, the drought’s still on. Just as record freezing spells in the Midwest don’t negate the reality of global warming, a nice soaker isn’t going to make up for several months of missing precip. California’s still having the driest year ever, according to state climatologist Michael Anderson. Anderson noted in January that, statewide, only 1.53 inches of rain were recorded from October through December, the lowest aggregate total since record-keeping began in 1895. The average for that period is 7.87 inches. From the narrow perspective of a grape-lover: That’s a lot of thirsty vines. Did I say narrow? I meant it. Obviously, so much more is at stake than delicious fermented grape beverages. Several species of fish, including salmon and steelhead populations, are at risk. Farmers’ livelihoods are on the line. Worse, the wealthy could end up washing faces with Evian, like that reporter tweeting from a crappy hotel in Sochi. As usual, the less-affluent would be screwed. What are folks in the wine biz thinking on the topic of drought? One of my favorite Sierra Foothills winemakers, Ted Bechard has a plan for this season’s challenges, which includes savvy pruning around the vernal equinox and earlier-than-usual irrigation. When I talked to him, Bechard was in his winery, putting foil tops and labels on bottles. Rain was drizzling over his small vineyard in Somerset, Calif., about an hour east of Sacramento. “We’re still quite a ways behind,” Bechard says. “But it’s not unlike this area for us to get some rain in April and May. We may make up the difference at that point.” Like many others in the wine industry, he’s thinking that 2014 might not be the most-prolific year for grapes. But with the generous harvests in 2012 and 2013, California’s not going to run out of wine anytime soon. Unless some unforeseen new demand kicks in, the sizable wine inventory at many California wineries should be sufficient, says Ben Drake, president of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

“We’ve come off two good years,” Drake says. “I think we’re going to be in good shape.” Drake’s in a good position to know. He runs Drake Enterprises, a farm-management company that handles avocado- and citrus-farming, as well as vineyards. He’s also on the state’s Drought Task Force. Drake attended the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in late January in Sacramento, and drought was absolutely on the agenda. Farmers are worried, and rightfully so. Northern California’s water supplies are on-stream, from rivers to reservoirs—and that requires government officials to make hard choices about who gets water and when. Sound like a political football? Yeah. Stay tuned. Drake notes that Southern California wineries are in the enviable position of having the chock-full-o’-water man-made Diamond Valley Lake. The 800,000-acre-foot reservoir near Hemet contains the Colorado River harvest. Between Diamond Lake and other water resources for Southern California, Drake predicts that 2014 won’t be a problem. But 2015? That’s another story. Here’s something for winos to appreciate: When it comes

to efficient use of water, wine grapes are much better than other popular Southern California crops. Growing wine grapes requires less than half the water needed to grow most citrus trees, and about one-fourth of the water required for avocados. Let them eat wine! Drake suggests that the governor’s suggestion for Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent is an important step toward change. We need to evaluate how we live and what we grow—rethinking luxuries like lawns and landscaping, for starters. “Realizing the climate is changing, we’re going to have to look at a new pattern for what we’re doing in our households—and by changing crops,” Drake says. I was heartened to read that the state government plans to lead the way on efficient water use, turning off decorative fountains and not washing government vehicles as often. Those moves are mostly for show, true. A bigger water-saver will come from not irrigating highway vegetation. That saves 6 billion gallons of water annually, as much as a year’s supply of water for a city of 30,000. At Bechard’s winery in Somerset, winemaker Ted reminds me it’s too early to predict what the year will bring. “Who knows?” he says, “Maybe it will sort itself out and be a wonderful year.” Did I mention a prolific wine supply? Here’s a chance to taste it all: The Temecula Valley’s World of Wines Barrel Tasting Weekend runs Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2, with barrel-tastings and more exciting shin-diggery at 35 wineries along Rancho California and DePortola Roads in Temecula. Tickets are $99, with various discounts. And for much less than the price of a DUI attorney, you can hire a VIP shuttle or wine tour guide to drive you around. For more information, visit

Could drought make this the future of California’s wine industry? DEIDRE PIKE


MARCH 2014


MARCH 2014


FOOD & DRINK A Renowned Homebrew Festival Narrowly Survives a Strict Interpretation of a New Law


By Erin Peters he Southern California Homebrewers Festival is held every year in early May. The festival, hosted by the California Homebrewers Association (CHA), is held at Lake Casitas, in Ventura County—about a three-hour drive from Palm Springs. Commercial breweries and homebrewers pour their beers; award winning homebrewers and brewmasters speak at the wildlife recreation area. With more than 40 homebrew clubs in attendance, and unlimited tastings, it’s a beer and camping extravaganza that attracts a couple thousand beer-lovers every year. However, its future was thrown into doubt, thanks to a potentially damaging piece of legislation. On Oct. 1, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1425. The bill was supposed to do good things—namely, make home-brewed beer and wine easier to share. However, it included this phrase: “A nonprofit organization established for the purpose of promoting home production of beer or wine, or whose membership is composed primarily of home brewers or home winemakers, shall not be eligible to sell beer or wine pursuant to this subdivision.” The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control initially interpreted that phrase as prohibiting homebrew festivals— such as the Southern California Homebrewers Festival. The California Homebrewers Association put pressure on the ABC for a more favorable interpretation of the law—and they had help from some powerful people. On Jan. 23, the top two members of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization—chair Isadore Hall III, a Los Angeles Democrat, and vice-chair Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican— issued a press release announcing they’d sent a letter to the director of the ABC in an effort to ensure the festival can continue. “It appears that there is a misinterpretation of the committee’s intent with this bill,” Nestande said in the news release. “These small local festivals attract thousands of people. They are a vital part of our economy and promote small-business growth. I’m committed to working with director (Timothy) Gorsuch to ensure the festival can carry on as planned.” David Humphrey is the CEO of the Coachella Valley Brewing Company, as well as an attorney. He said that the provision in question was intended “to keep commercial breweries from using the expansive language

as an end around from obtaining a proper license. “Under no good-faith reading was the provision meant to limit a homebrewer or home wine-maker from showcasing his hobby at a festival,” Humphrey said. Brett Newman is the Coachella Valley Homebrew Club president and has been helping the other Southern California homebrew clubs fight the ABC interpretation. Newman has attended the festival twice. He said he loves getting ideas, and tasting rare beers. “Serving and pouring at your booth is just amazing,” he said. “I actually love doing that almost more than anything else. It’s like instant feedback. … You can’t trust your own senses with your own homebrew sometimes.” California Homebrewers Association president Christy Elshof wants to make it clear that it’s the Southern California Homebrewers Festival. Note that the word “beer” is not included. “We want to make that clear, because it seems that there’s a lot of misunderstanding that it’s all about the beer,” she said in early February. “We want to make it very clear it’s all about the homebrewer. It’s the homebrewers’ rights that are in jeopardy with the law as it stands.” Elshof started homebrewing 17 years ago. She started going to the event as a volunteer in the 1990s and was later asked to join the board. Elshof feels that the ABC was looking at the event as a beer festival; she looks at it as a place for homebrewers to get together and talk about what they make. “We are enthusiastic hobbyists. Over the years, we’ve grown from … three or four clubs that started it. … We had over 2,000 people last year. If they could actually hear

An image from a previous Southern California Homebrewers Festival. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding that it’s all about the beer,” California Homebrewers Association president Christy Elshof said about the festival. “We want to make it very clear it’s all about the homebrewer.”

how brewers talk to each other—talk about technique, you know. As a brewer, you’re always looking for that little intangible. You want to know what it is that added that little back flavor. What did you add? What was your temperature? You gather more information by sharing with others.” Things came down to the wire, but in mid-February, Elshof learned that the event could go on: Thanks to a loophole and the involvement of a nonprofit group, the early

May festival is safe. Tickets should go on sale around the first of March. Meanwhile, the group will keep fighting to make sure the law is fixed. “This is where we grow our future craft brewers, in the homebrewing industry,” Elshof said. For more information, visit


MARCH 2014


Restaurant NEWS BITES


By Jimmy Boegle HEY, LOCALS: GIVE THAI HOUSE ANOTHER SHOT Nisa Hennecke, the new owner of the Thai House in downtown Palm Springs, doesn’t think her personal story is all that special—but she thinks her food is. I’ve got some news for Hennecke: Both her food and her personal story are pretty gosh-darned special. Hennecke, a native of Thailand, had worked for years at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, as a poker dealer. But last year, she decided to make a huge change: In June, she purchased Thai House, at 246 S. Palm Canyon Drive. Why? “My whole family owned a restaurant, everybody, in Thailand,” she told me. Indeed, Thai House is a family affair: Hennecke’s sister and brother-in-law moved to the Coachella Valley from Thailand to cook at the restaurant, and her children help out as well. Hennecke said she and her family completely revamped Thai House’s menu, and that they prepare food the way people cook at home back in Thailand. “My sister is the best cook you will see,” she said. Hennecke emphasizes freshness, and that was apparent when she treated me to lunch: The tom yum soup was some of the best I’ve ever had. While Thai House is doing well with tourists, Hennecke said she’s had a difficult time attracting locals, perhaps because they are unaware that the food has changed. Thai-food-loving locals, take it from me: Give Hennecke and Thai House another shot. Call 760-778-1728, or visit VICEROY INTRODUCES A NEW HANDCRAFTED COCKTAIL MENU David Nepove knows his cocktails—and residents of the Coachella Valley should be elated that he’s sharing his knowledge locally. Nepove is the president of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, as well as the director of mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits in California. He was recently in town for a couple of days to help the good folks at the Viceroy Palm Springs’ Citron Restaurant revamp their cocktail menu. The goal of the Viceroy’s new menu: To use fresh ingredients that are locally sourced, if possible—and to include something for everyone. The results are refreshing and delicious. I spoke to Nepove as I sipped on a rosemary gimlet, made with 209 gin, fresh lime and a syrup made from rosemary grown on-site at the Viceroy. Nepove said it’s his goal to make sure all of the bartenders he works with get inspired to take their craft to the next level, and to think of new ways to present lovely ingredients. “The staff here at the Viceroy was extra-receptive to this training. They walked in here as bartenders; now they’re craft bartenders,” he said. The drinks aren’t cheap—the specialty drinks at Citron cost $14—but they’re also a lot better than the drinks you’ll find almost anywhere else. Citron is located at the Viceroy, 415 S. Belardo Road, in Palm Springs. Call 760-320-4117, or visit www. NOW OPEN: SHABU-SHABU ZEN I was first introduced to shabu shabu in Tucson, Ariz.—and I was instantly smitten. If memory serves, here’s how shabu shabu works: Diners are brought a soup broth, along with sauces and a variety of raw veggies and meats. The broth is brought to a boil at the table—think fondue, sort of—and diners cook the raw meats and veggies themselves in that broth. After all the raw ingredients are cooked, noodles can be added to the broth, and the concoction can be eaten as soup. Yum. Anyway, flash-forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was driving down Highway 111 through Rancho Mirage. I spotted a sign for a new restaurant, called Shabu-Shabu Zen, with the description “Japanese hot pot, tapas and sake bar.” The restaurant opened in late January, at 71860 Highway 111, and has been getting rave reviews on the citizen-review websites ever since. As of this writing, there’s no info other than a logo at the restaurant’s website, www.shabu-shabu-zen. com; presumably, more details will show up there eventually. Watch this space for details, too. IN BRIEF Tonga Hut, at long last, is open. The tiki bar and restaurant, located at 254 N. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, celebrated its grand opening on Valentine’s Day. … Smoothie fans, take note: Juice It Up! has opened at 79775 Highway 111, No. 102, in La Quinta. It’s the second valley location of the Irvine-based chain … Morgan’s in the Desert, at the La Quinta Resort and Club at 49499 Eisenhower Drive in La Quinta, is in the midst of its Spring Peak Harvest Festival. Expect a series of three-course prix-fixe meals highlighting seasonal ingredients—from blue mussels from Puget Sound, Wash., to morel mushrooms from Mesik, Mich.—between now and early June; … Congrats to the folks at Las Casuelas Terraza, the humongous restaurant at 222 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. The restaurant celebrated its 35th anniversary in February. … Appetito, a “Cal-Italian Deli” restaurant featuring the food of chef Chad Shaner, is expected to open any day now at 1700 S. Camino Real, No. 2, in Palm Springs;


MARCH 2014




Two Fantastic Dishes That Are Worth a Wait

By Jimmy Boegle WHAT The BBQ pork and egg roll vermicelli bowl WHERE Pho Vu, 34260 Monterey Ave., Palm Desert; also at 79630 Highway 111, No. 103, La Quinta; coming soon to 285 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs HOW MUCH $8.95 CONTACT 760-324-1888 (Palm Desert); 760775-2417 (La Quinta); WHY Pork and “Vietnamese vinaigrette” rock together. Let’s face it: With a few notable exceptions, the Asian-food scene in the Coachella Valley is pretty dismal. Yeah, there are some good Thai and Indian joints … but how many truly outstanding, say, Chinese-food restaurants are there? Heck, let’s not even go that far: How many better-thanpassable Chinese-food restaurants are there? The same can be said for Vietnamese food—although things are improving, thanks in large part to the introduction of Pho Vu, with newish restaurants in Palm Desert and La Quinta, and a third location coming soon to Palm Springs. I recently stopped by the Pho Vu in Palm Desert, located in one of those seemingly endless strip malls near the intersection of Dinah Shore Drive and Monterey Avenue. I was craving one of my fave Vietnamese dishes: bún, aka a vermicelli bowl, with lettuce, cucumber, mint, cilantro, green onions, nuoc cham (touted on the menu as a “Vietnamese vinaigrette”; it’s a fish-sauce-based dressing, of sorts) and one’s toppings of choice; I chose pork and egg roll. I am elated to report that my craving was more than satisfied. One of my favorite things about good bún is that it’s a veritable cornucopia of textures, flavors and even temperatures: The noodles are soft; the warm pork is slightly chewy and salty; the cool veggies are crisp and just a wee bit bitter; and the fish sauce is tart and vinegary. Despite the incredible sensory variety, it all comes together beautifully. Yeah, the Asian-food world in the Coachella Valley has a loooog way to go. But it’s on the upswing, thanks in part to Pho Vu.

WHAT Nonna’s meatballs WHERE Birba Palm Springs, 622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs HOW MUCH $10 CONTACT 520-3275678; WHY The tomato sauce and the high-quality meat. Birba Palm Springs is one of the most difficult restaurants in downtown Palm Springs at which to get a table on a busy night. No joke: If you walk in without a reservation and try to get a table on an in-season Friday night, be prepared to wait for an hour, or perhaps even longer. So how did this outdoor restaurant that almost exclusively uses a wood oven to cook its food—the little kitchen does not even include a stove, a server told us during a recent meal there—become one of the west valley’s mostpopular joints? For one thing, the outdoor vibe is lovely. Tall bushes keep the hubbub from Palm Canyon Drive to a minimum; strings of lights add ambiance; and seating is offered in a variety of options—tables and bar space are supplemented with club-style couches. For another, the menu is fairly simple, yet packed with delicious options: Eight appetizers/salads are joined by pizzas and a handful of other options, listed under the heading “Wood Oven.” One of those “Wood Oven” options has left us coming back for more: Nonna’s meatballs. Four medium-size meatballs—made with both Berkshire pork and grass-fed beef—come covered with a delicious, perfectly seasoned tomato sauce and some large hard-cheese shavings. The fact that Birba’s chefs don’t just use any old ground meat in these meatballs is evident: The flavor is fantastic. After the meatballs were all gone, we had some of that savory tomato sauce left over—so, of course, we had to ask for bread with which to sop it up. However, this being Birba, we received pizzacrust triangles to use—and they did the trick. The vibe, the friendly service and those meatballs have us so enchanted that we’re almost willing to wait an hour or more for a table. Almost.


MARCH 2014

•• Live From Sierra Vista, Ariz.: Powdered Wig Machine •• The Blueskye Report: Lucille 2, Joan Rivers and More! •• The Hellions Prep for Their First Record •• The Lucky 13 (All-Women Edition!) •• Fresh Sessions with All Night Shoes

Nick Waterhouse Grows Up a Bit on His Fantastic New Blues/Soul Record




MARCH 2014



The Members of Powdered Wig Machine Spread the Word About Their New Album


By Brian Blueskye owered Wig Machine is an unsigned band from a small Arizona town—but they’re starting to make a big name for themselves, thanks to high-quality music and bar-raising creativity. See for yourself when they stop by The Hood Bar and Pizza for a show that starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15. Powered Wig Machine—the name was inspired by a track on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9—was founded around 2007 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a town that’s a 75-minute drive from Tucson. The band consists of Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Brian Gold (guitar), Joey Rudell (bass) and Daniel Graves (drums). The band’s roots are in “stoner rock,” a term applied to a lot of West Coast bands in the early ’90s—including many of our local desertrock bands. “A lot of it goes back to music that came out of the ’70s,” Rudell explained, “(with) the fuzzy guitar and the thicker sludge sound, and bands like Foghat and Led Zeppelin. It is such a broad term. If you play vintage-style rock ’n’ roll, it can be considered stoner rock.” Rudell explained some of the technique behind the sound. “Standard guitar-tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E; a lot of times, you can get a deeper and lower sound by dropping the tuning. Queens of the Stone Age drop it down to a C-tuning, which gives them that deep sound. A lot of it is old tube amps, and tube amps in conjunction with fuzz pedals.” While the band has a heavy sound, they meld that sound with some rather unique songwriting. Their EP Bearded Goddess featured songs such as “Mullet Man,” “Recipe for Badass” and “Death by Suplex.” Rudell explained that comic books have inspired many of the songs that he’s written— and that inspiration comes to the forefront

on Supa-Collider, the band’s brand-new independent album. “This album is sort of a concept based around a comic-book idea that we came up with a while back,” Rudell said. “It never got to paper, and it never got anywhere besides the creative shelf. All the song titles relate to the story, and all the songs are tied together. It’s less satire and more of a story.” Rudell said he’s had a lifelong love of comic books. “I’ve always been a fan of a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out,” he said. “I like The Hulk. There was a series called The Infinity Gauntlet that I’ve always been a big fan of; Preacher; and stuff like Watchmen—all that stuff with the huge story lines. I’ve always been a fan of how intricate comics are.” The band released a music video for their song “At the Helm of Hades,” a track that will be on Supa-Collider. “It was real fun,” Rudell said. “I wrote most of the story for that video, and we had a friend of mine who was a film student come in and put in all the effects. We actually spent about four months on it, and we recorded it like it

Powdered Wig Machine.

was a comic-book story. There are multiple car chases, old vintage bikes and cowboys. I’m real proud of that, and that we put it out in this last year.” (Watch the video with the online version of this story at While the band’s creative juices are definitely at an all-time high after recording Supa-Collider and the music video for “At the Helm of Hades,” Rudell said the band plans to take things to a whole other level. “We hadn’t really been searching for a record label,” Rudell said. “With the new album

coming out and with the tour, we’ll probably be actively seeking one. Personally, I didn’t think we were ready yet, and we were doing a pretty good job ourselves. Now we’re ready to get that extra push.” Powered Wig Machine will play with Fever Dog and The Hellions at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit


MARCH 2014



Nick Waterhouse Grows Up a Bit on His Fantastic New Record


By Brian Blueskye ick Waterhouse is a rising star, and at the age of 27, he has found success playing rhythm and blues, jazz … and old-school soul? Yes, that’s right, old-school soul. See for yourself when he stops by Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, March 15, for his third appearance at the Pioneertown venue. The Southern California native first picked up the guitar at the age of 12. When he started to develop his interests in music, they were somewhat atypical for a teenager. “It was one out of 100 songs on the radio,” Waterhouse said. “I remember hearing songs like ‘Gloria’ by Van Morrison or ‘Shop Around’ by The Miracles, and those all were more visceral than the stuff I had been exposed to. I just kept trying to chase that feeling.” What were his peers listening to? “Blink-182, Limp Bizkit and stuff like that,” Waterhouse said. “That all felt like fake anger. There was no relation or affirmation of life in that music.” He honed his guitar skills by playing in a band while he was in high school. He moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University; while there, he fronted another band. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s music scene didn’t seem to appreciate his musical ambitions. Nonetheless, he found inspiration while working at Rooky Ricardo’s Records in the Lower Haight. “It’s great, because it also serves as a hub for other people to turn you on to things,” Waterhouse said about his time at the record store. “You get to meet other people and find out about other walks of life. Some of the most important people in my life, I’ve met in record stores, and not just over music. It’s a way to interact.” Waterhouse also mentioned the pitfalls of becoming a music aficionado. “Anybody who gets obsessed with collecting music … is never going to be fulfilled. You always want more,” Waterhouse said. “You just keep thinking, ‘If I just figure this out, I’ll be fine.’ “It’s a much better pursuit than gambling or drugs, I guess.” In 2012, Waterhouse released his debut album, Time’s All Gone. After a successful North American tour, he moved his show to Europe. He also began recording his follow-up album, Holly, which is due out on March 4. As Waterhouse’s career began taking off, he made time to collaborate with a childhood friend, Ty Segall, of Fuzz, the Ty Segall Band and other projects. While Segall is primarily

known for playing rock—in fact, he’s said in interviews that Hawkwind is his favorite band—he and Waterhouse have found common ground. Waterhouse, for example, covered Segall’s “It #1.” “We met when we were young,” Waterhouse said. “We were both playing in teenage rock ’n’ roll bands. To me, it’s really a testament to the fact that our music comes from the same place, but comes out differently. Ty expresses himself in a different way, but I felt like me covering his song put the differences aside.” Holly features more of a jazz feel, an electric organ that Booker T. Jones would envy, and sleek guitar solos. It certainly shows Waterhouse’s progression in songwriting. “I was really pleased,” Waterhouse said about the new album. “I’m just constantly working toward an ideal. If things are going right, it’s like I’m progressing any time I’m doing something. I see it as adding to a body of work or continuing to gain knowledge and experience. I was very fortunate to have a very talented crew of musicians on this record. I auditioned a lot of different people, and tried to record the record once before with different players, and this one I was really pleased with.” While Holly is a great album, it did not take long to make. “Most of the primary tracking, which was live, was done in about five days,” Waterhouse said. “The rest was sort of mixing and doing an overdub here and there. What’s funny is it’s kind of like launching a space explorer or something: You do a year of work, setting up and making sure everything is right, so you don’t blow yourself up.” Waterhouse said his love of classic R&B and soul with a jazz influence comes naturally: There is no commercial influence, even though folk music, Americana and other older genres

are again becoming popular with contemporary bands. “I don’t get to control that stuff,” Waterhouse said. “My job is just to make the records. … It’s a filter people see music through. It’s kind of hard to make a case, and it’s like being guilty until proven innocent.” He said people should look at music and its different eras and genres differently, perhaps. “I think that people maybe need to use a different metric for interpreting art other than looking at other things and seeing it as a strictly corollary process,” he said. “I think that’s something fairly recent in Western culture, because in the past, it wasn’t that unusual for a 15th-century Italian painter to paint something that occurred in biblical times, or Shakespeare to write about something in Denmark that was already told.

It’s not about the thing itself, but what’s being expressed through it.” When it comes to Pappy and Harriet’s, Waterhouse said he feels a closeness to the Pioneertown venue. “The place feels like my home,” Waterhouse said. “I grew up in Southern California. I used to race motorcycles in the desert until I was about 15, and my dad was a big desert guy. A desert roadhouse feels like where I was when I was a little kid—and that’s where I probably learned a lot about American music as well.” Nick Waterhouse will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $12. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit


MARCH 2014

The Blueskye REPORT

MARCH 2014 By Brian Blueskye The season is in full swing, so there are plenty of great March events to talk about—and this is the last hurrah before the craziness of Coachella and Stagecoach set in next month. The McCallum Theatre will host some amazing theater events during the month of March; you can read more about that in our Arts & Culture section’s theater listings. Thankfully, there are some great music events as well. Michael Feinstein will be stopping by for performances at 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8. Feinstein was mentored by the late Ira Gershwin, and he’s been labeled as the “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook.” This is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $65 to $105. Jazz-vocalist

Michael Feinstein: McCallum Theatre, March 7 and 8

Steve Tyrell will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. Tyrell makes vocal pop classics cool for modern audiences—and has been doing so for more than 40 years. Tickets are $45 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events that should be, in a word, huge—on back-to-back nights, no less. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 21, Everybody Loves Raymond stars Ray Romano and Brad Garrett will be performing. The TV show focused on the Barone family, and was based on the real-life experiences of Romano and some of the show’s production and writing staff. It was a huge hit during its entire nine-year run on CBS—in large part due to the talents of comedians-turned-actors Romano and Garrett. Tickets are $65 to $85. In a rather spectacular booking, Liza Minnelli will be coming to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. The daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli has made quite a name for herself both musically and on the big screen. More recently, she became a hit on TV as well, thanks to her hilarious portrayal of Lucille 2 on Arrested Development. Of course, she’s also famous due to some personal issues, including alcoholism and a strange marriage to David continued on next page ➠ Gest, who filed a lawsuit


MARCH 2014

MUSIC continued from Page 35

amusing tidbit about Carol Channing while she personalized a copy of her book for me. Now 80, Rivers’ mouth is as filthy as ever, and she looks like a walking plastic-surgery miracle. Thankfully, she’s also as funny as ever. Tickets are $35 to $55. Country-music star Kenny Rogers will also be stopping by Spotlight 29, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. The star of the ’80s film Six Pack is also well known for that song about how to be a good gambler; perhaps you should listen to it for advice if you plan on gambling that night in the casino. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has yet another busy schedule during the month of March. If you’re in the mood for blues, The Record Company will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, March 14. They’re a group of young, modern-day blues musicians, but trust me: You will enjoy their traditional blues style and sound. I highly suggest listening to their song “Baby I’m Broken” if you want a little preview. Admission is free. The Black Lips will be stopping in at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20. The Atlanta band is a throwback to the days of psychedelic rock, with a low-fi twist—and an unorthodox live show. Vocalist Cole Alexander often vomits during performances due to a medical condition. Other outrageous live antics have included chickens, setting instruments on fire, and a variety of other things that could have them arrested. Tickets are $18. In the midst of an impressive comeback due in part to audiophiles who seek out

Liza Minnelli: Agua Caliente, March 22

against Minnelli for alleged physical abuse. (The suit was later dismissed.) Still, she’s a true icon—and an inspiration for many famous drag performers! Tickets are $80 to $120. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will host great events throughout March that should draw big crowds. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, Daryl Hall and John Oates will be playing. Hall and Oates are icons of ’80s pop music, best known for “Maneater” and “You Make My Dreams.” Meanwhile, video-game lovers know them thanks to the appearance of “Out of Touch” on the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack. Tickets are $49 to $79. R&B superstar John Legend will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. While many modern “R&B” singers don’t really have a lot of R&B in their music, Legend is a genuine soul singer with elements of Motown and Stax Records in his sound. In 2010, Legend and The Roots teamed up for the album Wake Up, which was a huge hit. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www. At Spotlight 29 Casino, comedy trailblazer/ legend Joan Rivers will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 1. An amusing personal story: I used to work at the now-late Borders Books and Music in Rancho Mirage, and Rivers stopped by there for a booksigning in 2009. At the time, she was being filmed for the documentary A Piece of Work. Well, I wound up in Joan Rivers: the film, with her sharing an Spotlight 29, March 1

Black Lips: Pappy and Harriet’s, March 20

rare records and then share information about them online, Linda Perhacs will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 29. Perhacs released a trippy psychedelic folk anthem in 1970 titled Parallelograms, which has since been rediscovered by the millennials. The album featured haunting folk anthems that went the way of an Alice Coltrane album at times; “Hey, Who Really Cares?” is enough to give one the creeps. Now, 44 years later, she’s releasing her sophomore album, called The Soul of All Natural Things. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; The Date Shed has a couple of intriguing events booked in March. If you had a great time at Tribal Seeds show in February, you may want to attend the Fortunate Youth show at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 8. The Los Angeles-based reggae outfit has played some high profile reggae festivals and has toured with Tribal Seeds and The Expendables. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Cleveland rap legends Bone ThugsN-Harmony will be stopping by. As a native Clevelander, I remember when E. 1999 Eternal dropped in 1995, and you’d hear “1st of tha Month” and “The Crossroads” playing on every

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: The Date Shed, March 15

car stereo. “1st of tha Month” would also go on to be hilariously referenced in Chris Rock’s stand-up comedy routine. Plus there was the unforgettable moment in MTV Music Awards history when law enforcement showed up to arrest Bizzy Bone. Tickets are $40 to $100. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-7756699; The Copa Room has some worthy events occurring in March. Comedienne Heather McDonald will be performing at 8:30 p.m., Friday, March 14, and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. McDonald has regularly appeared on Chelsea Lately and is now a best-selling author thanks to her memoir, You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. If you’re a fan of the Broadway musical Rent, catch Adam Pascal at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20, and Friday, March 21. Pascal, who played the HIV-stricken Roger Davis in the original cast, is also a talented rock musician. He played Eddie in SLC Punk, and Jack Black’s nemesis, Theo, in School of Rock. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www. The Purple Room in Palm Springs will be hosting an Academy Awards screening party at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, March 2. The screening will be part of The Judy Show, and there will be a “purple carpet,” mock paparazzi and a six-course dinner included with admission. Proceeds will go to the AIDS Assistance Program. Tickets are $75. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760322-4422;

Adam Pascal: The Copa Room, March 20 and 21


MARCH 2014


ALL HAIL THE HELLIONS After 16 Years Together, the Band Plans to Finally Record a Proper Album WWW.CVINDEPENDENT.COM/MUSIC

By Brian Blueskye hile many great local bands have come and gone, The Hellions are still going strong after 16 years. Fans will get several chances to see them in March. They’ll be opening for Powered Wig Machine at The Hood at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and they’ll be headlining the benefit show I am putting on for The NestEggg Food Bank, at Bar in Palm Springs, starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28. When The Hellions came together 16 years ago, they didn’t anticipate becoming an ongoing, serious band. Angel Lua (aka Angel Shakedown, lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Bob Llamas (aka Bob Smack, drums) remembered how the band began to come together. “I think the way we met was Angel was one of the only people in the desert who had a leather jacket,” Llamas said. “(Former member Christian Reyes) and I had leather jackets, and we met Angel because he had a leather jacket. He was into the same bands that we were— The Cramps, Social Distortion and other old punk bands and rockabilly music. He stood out, because wearing a leather jacket out here in the summer isn’t too common.” Lua said fate led him to meet Llamas and Reyes. “The cool thing about it was we met, and we never asked each other, ‘Hey, you want to play music?’ or anything like that,” Lua said. “We knew on instinct that we were musicians, and we were going to play music. We had common interests in movies and music, and it was weird.” The Hellions first played at house parties— and anywhere else they could. “There wasn’t anything out here,” said Llamas. “There was no place to get music or find cool shit. We both somehow found ways to get all the cool shit, and we had a lot in common that way. Back then, there was Record Alley, but even back in those days, we’d have to go in and ask them to order us stuff. That was also back when there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done over the Internet.” Lua said he remembers those days well. “You had to have money,” Lua said. “We had to drive two hours to go to the record store in places like San Bernardino or Ontario, and make a whole day out of it. You’d come home with hours and hours of music.” Llamas and Reyes were already playing music. They invited Lua to come over one day; they began to write songs as a band. Because some of the members were younger than 21 at the time, they couldn’t play in a lot of places.

One of the few was the former Rhythm and Brews in Indio, owned by Mario Lalli of localband Fatso Jetson. Eventually, the band added Jamie Hargate (aka Colonel Lingus, guitar). They soon discovered their band name was not all that unique. “Later on, thanks to computers, we started finding other bands who were called The Hellions,” Lua said. Hargate chuckled when he brought up one band that e-mailed them. “We were threatened with a lawsuit once, but that was 10 years ago,” said Hargate. “(It was) some metal band, and they went away; they didn’t try too hard.” “Generator parties”—often thrown in the desert, with the help of generators—helped launch Kyuss and some of the other desertrock-scene bands. “I did a shitload of those,” Hargate said. “I was inspired as a kid going to these parties with older friends. We would drive to these parties in the middle of the desert, and I was blown away every night by these rad bands like Kyuss and Unsound. I caught the last wave of their parties, so I tried to do what I could in high school to bring that back. My stepdad had a generator; I would take it, put it in the back of my little Honda Civic, and drive to the middle of the desert. … Today, you can’t do that—you’ll get arrested.” While The Hellions are known for energetic shows, they’re also known for their trademark denim jackets. The jackets pay homage to the Norwegian band Turbonegro. “Turbojugend,” which is printed on the back of their jackets, references the Turbonegro’s “Navy” of fans. Turbojugend chapters have popped up all around the world, and The Hellions make up the Palm Desert chapter. “We came across Turbonegro in late 2003,”

The Hellions. RICK KOSICK

Lua said. “I used to read this magazine called Gearhead, and they had a lot of punk and rock ’n’ roll shit in it. There was this chick in there who used to do all these reviews of records, and she talked about Turbonegro, who were broken up at the time. I said, ‘Fuck it; I’ll buy a CD or whatever I could find.’ I bought their Apocalypse Dudes album at Virgin Records in Ontario. On the way home, I put it on, and I was blown away by it.” That album led The Hellions out of a hiatus. “There was a point where the original drummer went to school, and Christian moved to Texas, and we almost stopped playing,” Llamas said. “When Angel came over and played us that CD, we started jamming again. That’s where we got Travis, and really got something going. That album really inspired us to keep playing.” When the band first added Travis Rockwell (Travis Rawkhard) on bass, he had never played the instrument. “I couldn’t even play standing up,” Rockwell said. “I had to sit for the first seven months, because standing up and trying to play was just too hard—and I’m still learning. … It took a couple of months before I was comfortable playing during practice. I’d fuck up a lot, but I just learned and kept going with it.” One fabled bit of the band’s history came when they played at a Video Depot Christmas party—with Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes on the drums. “Somewhere, someone has a video of that, but I’ve yet to see it,” Hargate said. (In fact, if anyone has footage of that show, the band would like to hear from you.) Since Rockwell joined The Hellions around 2004, the band has been playing on an ongoing basis. They’ve played shows out of town, and have opened for some of the national acts that have passed through town—most recently The Angry Samoans. The band also recorded six songs at the

Rancho de la Luna recording studio up in the high-desert; it’s the studio responsible for some of the recordings of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and the Arctic Monkeys. The sessions led to a threesong demo. “The only time we’ve really recorded and finished something was at Rancho de la Luna,” Llamas said. “We all took the weekend off and did that for a few days. It was awesome. You go up to that place, and you don’t feel like you’re in a recording studio; you feel like you’re in someone’s home.” Right now, their only release is a self-made EP on a CD-R, which the band selectively distributes. “That’s the Best of The Hellions at this point,” said Hargate. “That has about four songs from the Joe Dillon era, when Joe Dillon played guitar. … There are three songs … we did at Rancho de la Luna, and then a live song. We made it just to show everyone how we’ve progressed over the years and what’s available.” They’re looking toward the summer, when they hope to write more songs and finally make it into the studio to record an actual album. “We’re writing, rehearsing and figuring things out for a new release,” said Hargate. “We finally have some coin in The Hellions fund, and we look forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in five years. It’s time to get back in the studio and give our fans a proper release.” The Hellions will play with Powered Wig Machine and Fever Dog at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook. They’ll also perform at The NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; $5 suggested donation.


MARCH 2014





By Brian Blueskye

NAME DJ Femme A MORE INFO DJ Femme A (aka Annie Flores) has played at special events at Saks Fifth Avenue, on El Paseo in Palm Desert, and for the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. She also performs regularly at Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs. Hear more at What was the first concert you attended? The first concerts I attended were through the Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ, and they all had tons of different bands playing, but I remember enjoying Linkin Park, Incubus and Hot Hot Heat. What was the first album you owned? I owned a bunch of “singles” cassette tapes, and they were mostly R&B and hip-hop: Soul for Real, The Notorious B.I.G., New Edition, Michael Jackson and Mary J. Blige, to name a few. What bands are you listening to right now? Lately, I’ve been listening to Santigold, Salt-nPepa and some psytrance, when I work out and drive. What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? (English dance-music group) Above and Beyond. Is that even considered EDM? What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? I’d like to see a sweet DJ (maybe Day Din) in Germany at a festival; I’ve seen videos on YouTube, and they look awesome. Santigold would be nice to see as well. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? When I really, really love a song, I can listen to it on repeat for days. What’s your favorite music venue? I’ve been to a handful of outdoors events and festivals, and they are, by far, my favorite.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “Ey, ey, ey, ey, you don’t lie,” from “Unstoppable” by Santigold. What band or artist changed your life? How? The Cure! I first heard them when I was 18. I went to this small club/dive bar every Sunday night that played new-wave and electro, and I remember whenever “Just Like Heaven” played on those club speakers, we’d drop our dirty cigarettes and run to the dance floor. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? The question is for Gwen Stefani: “Will you marry me?” What song would you like played at your funeral? Wolfsheim, “Once in a Lifetime.” Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom. What song should everyone listen to right now? Chali 2na’s “Gadget Go Go.”

NAME Valerie Kattz MORE INFO If you’ve listened to MIX 100.5 (KPSI FM), you’ve heard DJ Valerie Kattz. Valerie has been on the radio locally since 1993, when she moved to Palm Springs and started with RR Broadcasting. She donates a lot of her time to local animal-related charities, such as Loving All Animals. What was the first concert you attended? George Strait and Highway 101 in Lake Charles, La. I was 15. What was the first album you owned? The first album I remember begging my parents to purchase for me was Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Two Women Who Bring Music to the Coachella Valley Answer Our Questions What bands are you listening to right now? I’m at work, and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” by War is playing on the overhead. Oh, the joys of working at a radio station! What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? I do not get rap/hip hop music. Apparently, I am just not THAT down with my homies, yo. What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live? My dream performance would be to see Journey reunite with Steve Perry. What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? 1980s music is my favorite, and I don’t feel guilty at all! What’s your favorite music venue? We have a lot of nice venues in the desert. … The Show at Agua Caliente is a really nice venue, as is the McCallum Theatre. For bars, I love the Palm Canyon Roadhouse. But my absolute favorite is whichever one my boyfriend’s band, Lost in Los Angeles, is playing at. What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? “Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feeling,” from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” (It runs on a loop non-stop in my head.) What band or artist changed your life? How? It started out with Duran Duran, then in junior high, it was Mötley Crüe and all the “big hair” bands. In high school, I became a huge of alternative music, with Depeche Mode being my favorite. My all-time favorite is Journey. You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? Steve Perry: “Will you PLEASE get back with Journey and go on tour?” What song would you like played at your funeral? Don’t even like thinking about this one. Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time? Journey, Greatest Hits. What song should everyone listen to right now? You can probably guess where this is going by now: “Don’t Stop Believin.” I will never stop believin’!

FRESH SESSIONS WITH ALL NIGHT SHOES: MARCH 2014 Welcome to the March edition of FRESH Sessions! I want to thank Ivanna Love (aka Cici Ochoa) for stepping in last month with her selection of tracks. There are more guest mixes on the way! I am always looking to evolve and share the best tracks I can find, often featuring local talent. This month, I’ve featured a track from Coachella Valley favorite Pedro Le Bass. You can find his music at March will be a blessedly busy month for me! I’m honored to be playing the Save Our Sea Festival on Saturday, March 15, at the Salton Sea. It’s an event that supports the restoration of the Salton Sea, put on by nonprofit group EcoMedia Compass. Tickets are only $11.85 and can be purchased online at You can also catch me La Villa Basque in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 2; I’ll be playing with Synthetix and Cream SFV. And toward the end of the month, on Friday, March 28, I am part of the lineup for the NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. (The show was organized by my friend Brian Blueskye, of the Independent!) Listen to the March FRESH Mix at Enjoy! • Basement Love, “Boy” • Toro Y Moi, “Harm in Change” • Yuksek featuring Amanda Blank, “Extraball” (Tobasko Remix) • Colby O’Donis, “State of Mind” (Pedro Le Bass’ Pharmacy Remix) • Framewerk, “Electric Religion” (Original Mix) • Ks French, “Ain’t Nobody” (Ks French Re-edit) • Kant, “Love Like This” (Original Mix) • All Night Shoes, “So Far Away”


MARCH 2014


Across 1 Ready to go 4 Running jokes 8 Hemmed in? 12 Sat for a portrait 14 Foot or furlong 15 Certain Fed 16 QUERY, PART 1 19 I-5 or I-95 20 Ginormous 21 Player who cannot be a DH 22 QUERY, PART 2 27 Swallowed hard 28 Make a selection 29 Graffiti ID 30 Hot tempers 31 Went after 33 Go back, like the tide 34 QUERY, PART 3 38 Au ___ (roast beef order) 41 Oscar winner Jeremy 42 Drunken utterances 46 Long ending? 47 Rabbit food? 48 Affectedly trendy 50 QUERY, PART 4 54 Gin mills 55 Just slightly 56 Casual dress day, for short 57 LAST PART OF QUERY

61 500 sheets of paper 62 Brickmaking need 63 Shopaholic’s binge 64 Franklin and Folds 65 ___ a one (zero) 66 Avg. Down 1 Stuff on a kitten’s underbelly (because awwwww....) 2 Getty of “The Golden Girls” 3 Typo often mocked online 4 Try to answer a riddle 5 Loos who wrote “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” 6 Soldiers, for short 7 Hold firm to a decision 8 Throat problem, in brief 9 Abu Dhabi or Dubai 10 Ball of cotton 11 180 degrees from SSW 12 It’s eaten in Eastern Europe 13 1990s R&B group Bell Biv ___ 17 See 32-Down 18 River that flows past Omaha 23 ___ facto 24 Childhood taboos 25 Metered vehicle 26 CIA Cold War counterpart 31 Perch for a chicken

32 With 17-Down, “Atlas Shrugged” author 35 Scheming operatic barber 36 “Breaking Bad” star Bryan 37 Prisoner’s knife 38 Prominent Jay Leno feature 39 “Eww, gross!” 40 Tofu base 43 Winter project in the Arctic, maybe 44 Mapped out 45 Gary of “Forrest Gump” and “CSI: NY” 48 Shabby ___ 49 More than dislikes 51 Settles down 52 Communion item 53 Piano key wood 57 Crystal ball, for example 58 Payment for services 59 Eggs, in the lab 60 Vinyl spinners ©2014 Jonesin’ Crosswords ( Find the answers in the “about” section of!


MARCH 2014

Coachella Valley Independent March 2014  

The March 2014 issue of the Coachella Valley's alternative news source.

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