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The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert April/May 2010—Vol. 16, No. 2 The Sun Runner Magazine PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)366-2700 • www.thesunrunner.com Publisher/Executive Editor:Steve Brown publisher@thesunrunner.com Founding Editor Emeritus: Vickie Waite Theatre/Film Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Literary Editor: Delphine Lucas Music Editors: Judy Wishart, Ed Munson Calendar & Social Media Editor, Asst. Publisher: Barbara Buckland

The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert

April/May 2010 Desert Ecology Issue

Inside this Issue:

Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 11 The Tortoise Telegraph News gathered from around the desert – at our own pace ... 12 Desert Art News, by Barbara Buckland & Steve Brown ... 14 Woven Words, the Authors’ Page ... 22 Coachella Valley Confidential, by Denise Ortuno Neil ... 23 Contributing Writers Cynthia Anderson • Michael Armstrong Frey’s Yacht Club Returns to Sail the Salton Sea, by Steve Brown ... 25 Barbara Buckland • Lorraine Blair David Brown • Steve Brown • John Di Pol In Loving Memory of Alvino Siva, by Katherine Siva Saubel ... 25 Pat Flanagan • Stefanie Kivelin • Jack Lyons The Blood of Ricka McGuire, by Steve Brown ... 26 Ed Munson • Denise Ortuno Neil Steve Salkin • Linda Saholt Katherine Siva Saubel Paul F. Smith •Judy Wishart

Contributing Photographers: Cynthia Anderson • Liz Babcock • Jim Barry Steve Brown •Ed Munson Denise Ortuno Neil Linda Saholt • Mark W. • Judy Wishart Contributing Artists: Karin Mayer • Diane Morgan • Sammy Morris Rik Livingston • Noah Purifoy • Rick Unger Advertising Sales: Sam Sloneker, Ryan Muccio Distribution Manager: Sam Sloneker The Sun Runner Magazine features desert arts and entertainment news, desert issues and commentary, natural and cultural history, columns, poetry, stories by desert writers, and a Calendar of Events for the California desert region. Published bimonthly. MAGAZINE DEADLINE: May 24 for the June/July issue, for advertising, calendar listings, & editorial. To list a desert event free of charge in The California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar, please send your complete press release to calendar@ thesunrunner.com, or mail to: Calendar, c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine, PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252. Please include all relevant information in text format. Notices submitted without complete information or in a wrong format may not be posted. Event information will not be taken over the telephone or psychically. No exceptions! SUBMISSIONS: By mail to the address above; by email: publisher@thesunrunner. com, or stop us at the farmers market, like everybody else does. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/ year International, $38 trillion Intergalactic) Copyright © 2010 The Sun Runner. Permission for reproduction of any part of this publication must be obtained from the publisher. The opinions of our contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the magazine. We have made every effort to be accurate, but we are not responsible for errors or omissions in material submitted to us, nor claims by advertisers. Advertising, press releases, and public service announcements accepted at the indiscretion of the publisher. 8 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

The Desert Ecology Issue

The Sun Shines on Aztlan, by Steve Brown ... 29 The Case for Preservation, by Steve Brown ... 32 Climate Change and the California Desert, by Cynthia Anderson ... 32 The Water Smart Demonstration Garden, by Cynthia Anderson ... 34 Eco-Hikes, by Cynthia Anderson ... 34 Keeping the Desert Alive at The Living Desert, by Cynthia Anderson ... 35 Return on Investment, by Pat Flanagan ... 36 Off the Grid, Part One: A Season in the Wilderness, by Michael Armstrong ... 37 Desert Survival DeRanger Steve: Gram ... 38 Desert Ecology Avoid Economic Blues by Greening Your Business, by Stefanie Kivelin ... 39 Ridgecrest: The Other “Indian Wells” The Historic Little Lake Gap, by John Di Pol ... 40 Historical Perspectives on the California Desert Camels in the Desert, Part 3, by Paul F. Smith ... 41 Ramblings from Randsburg On the Trail of... Kids on the Early Rand, by Lorraine Blair ... 42 Native Americans Honoring Veterans With the Wall That Heals, by Linda Saholt ... 43 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 44 Film Talk, by Jack Lyons ... 46 Desert Dining Bit Of Country, by Ed Munson ... 47 Coachella Valley Music Notes, by Ed Munson ... 48 Hi-Desert Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 49 Sustainable Living Simple Times in a Simple Place, “Please sit down and do not be counted,” by David Brown ... 50 The California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar ... 52

Cover Art — by Steve Brown Where do human beings figure into the desert’s ecology? People have left their mark on the desert for thousands of years. Now, “green” solar and wind power projects threaten to leave their mark as well—including the possibility of destroying Native American geoglyphs and fragile desert ecosystems.


April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 9


Stay up to date on culture & life in the California desert with The Sun Runner Magazine!

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S

ome people have the knack for being all neat and tidy, with everything in its rightful place. I have no idea how they do it. As I look at turning 50, and six full years of running The Sun Runner (Vickie Waite, our founding editor emeritus, would be proud that someone called me “the new guy” just a couple weeks ago), I find it harder than ever to put the various facets of life in the desert in their own boxes. They just won’t stay put. (Is it just me, or does everything in the desert seem to be extremely independently-minded, sometimes to a fault?) For instance, where exactly does the line between nature and art run out here in the desert? How do I separate these two aspects of existence so they can be neatly stowed in their own boxes? I can’t seem to do it, and I’m not at all convinced I want to. Especially after wandering around the desert for all these years. I mean, where else can you contemplate the pure magic of Noah Purifoy’s outdoor assemblage sculptural wonderland and hike with the hummingbirds through the wildflowers covering Big Morongo Canyon—in the same day (something everyone should do at least once a year)? For that matter, where does the line between art and the rest of human endeavor run? Isn’t a well-lived life itself art? In my world, there are waitresses at the Carousel Cafe who are true artists, and who would ever question whether Mara Cantelo is an artist? And does life as art only apply to lives that are human? I don’t think so. Or, perhaps someone can show me where the line is between humanity and

nature? Are we not, from one perspective, an integral part of nature? We’re certainly a bunch of animals. Yet, often times, it doesn’t seem like we appreciate or respect the natural beauty around us, especially if someone flashes some cash in our direction. Now don’t get me wrong. I like making money as much as everyone else, but I value other things as much or more. Mostly I like money (what I see of it), for the things it lets me do, like publish this magazine and share it with 50,000 readers each time out, for instance, or spend a week showing my nephew Kevin, from Virginia, around the desert for the first time (he’s great—at age 15, he told me he could spend a whole day just sitting at Noah’s place to take it all in). So, while I appreciate earning a living, I also enjoy the company and love of family and friends, a new place to explore, questions I can’t answer just yet, watching ravens pester hawks (for some reason, I keep seeing pairs of ravens enthusiastically double-teaming hawks), and those tiny little yellow wildflowers that smell like cumin when you pick them. Other folks seem to have shoveled the intangible stuff into boxes, and all that’s left is cash and rationalization. Lately, our marketing-mad society has decided “green” is the new buzz word. Just say the word and abracadabra, the government hands you a billion dollar loan guarantee. Sometimes the only green in green energy seems to be the cash involved. Must we obliterate much of the desert for the “greater good?” (To echo the call made for Green Path North, the

L.A. Department of Water and Power’s ill-planned and now defunct plan to run high voltage power lines through nature preserves when there were other, better alternatives.) And who is “greater” anyway? Whomever is profiting? Yes, there must be compromises. Yes, there needs to be a balance. But no, that doesn’t mean we all have to go along hook, line, and sinker with whatever is being shoved down our throats so Bechtel makes billions of taxpayer dollars. Sorry. I’m not saying all large scale green energy production is a scam. But I am saying that there are definitely scams going on in the promotion and production of green energy in this country, and as a general policy, if someone stands to make a few billion off a deal, green or not, it’s probably a good idea to not accept everything they say as the gospel truth without asking a few questions first. Especially if you’re out here in the desert where dozens of solar and wind projects are planned, some of them going for miles. In other news, our fourth annual Desert Writers Issue is coming up, with its deadline on July 6. Writers and poets from the California deserts (or with strong connections to the California deserts), are encouraged to submit short fiction, essays, poetry, and book excerpts (details on our website). We also have a special category in the issue this year, Letters Home, for the writings of our military personnel and their loved ones. All desert-based or connected military personnel and their loved ones are invited to participate. We’re rounding up prizes for the best entries in this section, so don’t be shy, just check out our website, www.thesunrunner.com, for details. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 11


Hit the Road, Jack OK, we’re probably going to catch hell on this one, but someone needs to send the folks from Santa Ana who have been drafting "branding" slogans for Twentynine Palms packing. Don’t get me wrong, we love Twentynine Palms, but if these marketing specialists are coming up with slogans like, "Flame of the Desert," as a way to attract business and tourism, they need to be smacked. First of all, what the heck is the City of Twentynine Palms doing paying lots of cash to a Santa Ana firm to come up with a good slogan? They don’t know the desert, and they really don’t care about the desert—precisely the kind of folks who should be excluded from this kind of process. To say their suggestions for city slogans are passionless and lame is to be kind. "Desert Gateway?" "The Real Desert" (Note: We’re the magazine of the real California desert, so maybe we can sue for some vague form of infringment? Heck, if you’re going to go paying some OC MBAs lots of cash, well, we’d like to get some too!) "Heart of the Desert?" Give us a break, or at least a different body part. What is the marketing slogan for these Santa Ana MBAs? How about "Lame Ideas Gone Bad," or "We’ve Already Cashed Your Check, So Who Cares What You Think?" I’m tired of an attitude I’ve encountered one too many times out here, that if it’s local, it can’t be good. We don’t need any Santa Ana MBAs to make us a slogan. Most of us (some of the Cactus Thorns contributors excluded), can draft a fairly coherent sentence on our own. Twentynine Palms should pony up some cash, and run a contest for the best 12 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

marketing slogan, and logo, while they’re at it, supporting, and utilitizing, our own local talent. We have a great, underutilized pool of talent here. The folks from Santa Ana may be great at other aspects of attracting business investment and so forth, but they evidently can’t draft a city marketing slogan worth shit (sorry, but that’s truth in advertising). So, let’s tell them to move on, and we’ll come up with the slogan and logo on our own. We might just have some fun in the process. Of course, this is the typical marketing process—brand and market, without much thought about what you are branding or marketing. You wouldn’t want to actually do something first to make the city more worthy of marketing, would you? Like fix up your downtown? The irony is that Twentynine Palms, of all the hi-desert towns, has the most pedestrian-friendly downtown. With some leadership and incentives from city government, the city could have a vibrant, tourist and family-friendly downtown, with dining, shopping, and maybe even entertainment. But instead, it is an opportunity missed—by a mile. There are some great places downtown, but the area could be an exciting destination for visitors, and it’s not anywhere near living up to its potential. Palm Springs tends to do the same thing—spend tons of cash on marketing Palm Canyon Drive when it has a 50 percent vacancy rate. Yeah, tell everyone that it’s a great shopping and dining destination then send them down to a bunch of "for lease" signs. You’d think that the first thing you’d want to do is come up with a plan to actually make the drive a great shopping

and dining destination, prior to telling everyone around the country that it is one. That’s not to say that there aren’t more than a few excellent restaurants in downtown Palm Springs (Kalura, for instance), some nice shops and a smattering of entertainment options, but all too often, there have been empty storefronts that break up the continuity of a visitor’s experience (and we won’t even talk about the eternal Desert Fashion Plaza heartbreak). So, while Palm Canyon is fun to visit, it may not always match up with the marketing it receives. What happens when you tell someone from Chicago, for example, that Palm Canyon is a superb destination for shopping and dining out, and when they get there it looks lackluster compared to offerings they enjoy back home? They tell their friends that it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. I’m not sure that was the desired marketing effect. It’s a similar situation in Twentynine Palms—there’s plenty to market(read our last issue), just make sure that what you market actually exists. Then, look around, see what you think might be good to add, and come up with a plan to make it happen. I’d start with turning a three-block section of downtown into something special for visitors and locals, but then, I’m not a $120,000 a year economic development specialist either..... Passings Brett St. Giles was a friend of mine, and a delightfully witty, energized, creative person. I was blessed to get to know her and to play music with her. I will miss her, and her strong, wonderful spirit.


I didn’t get to know Dave Miller of the Hi-Desert Star, but I saw him covering so many community events he almost felt like family. Miller had been the sports editor for the newspaper up until recently when he retired, but what it seems like he really was, was the heart of a that community paper. He went far beyond what most journalists ever do with their jobs, and really told the stories and took the pictures of everyday life in our community. Everyone got their moment in the limelight with Dave’s coverage, and he took the time and made the extra effort through his stories and photos to make our young people really shine. The story commemorating Miller’s passing in the Hi-Desert Star shared the heart-rending story of how he was drawn into journalism. While working as a firefighter, Miller responded to a car accident. The editor of the local newspaper lay dying on the side of the road. Before he died, the story noted, the editor spoke of how much he loved his life, and that love must have touched Miller profoundly, as he applied to the local paper. From that tragedy came a great blessing. I guess we owe that nameless editor a little gratitude. His dying words sent one of the best community journalists I’ve ever encountered to the hi-desert, where he did us all a great deal of good. My hope is Miller’s example is carried on to other journalists the way the words of that dying editor reached his heart. Desert Marketing Gone South I’m not sure about the reasoning behind this, but a recent Google search for something having to do with Joshua Tree, brought up an ad for "Joshua Tree and More." When you click on it, it takes you to "California’s Secret Desert”—Borrego Springs. Though I’d venture to guess that most of the desert remains a secret for many people (those who don’t regularly read this magazine, anyway), Borrego Springs is now billing itself as both our secret desert, and "the Joshua Tree alternative." Ah, trying to be the alternative to the alternative, eh? "Don’t you love Joshua Tree?" their web page asks visitors. "So do we." Then it goes on to encourage you to visit—Borrego Springs, of course, since this website is run by their chamber of commerce. I’m thinking of putting up a "Visit Borrego Springs" ad on Google and re-directing people who click there to the Joshua Tree National Park area. What do you think? Actually, I don’t think this marketing approach was either necessary, or

should be encouraged too much. After all, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a fantastic place to explore (provided the state actually funds it this coming fiscal year in our government’s ongoing attempts to destroy the best places to visit in California), and Borrego Springs sits smack in the middle of it. Should you visit? Absolutely. But why not stress its own uniqueness, beauty, and great experiences instead of trying to borrow from someplace else? The fact that the folks in Borrego Springs claim that they’re comparitively unknown might be because they have mostly marketed to the nearby San Diego region in the past, and now that they’re trying to reach out, they don’t do it by working with other folks in the desert, but by trying to borrow a little business from Joshua Tree? Maybe they don’t work well with their neighbors? From my visits to Borrego Springs, I’d have to say that other than being towns in the desert, there isn’t a lot of similarity between that town and our base in Joshua Tree, especially for visitors. Borrego Springs appears more oriented toward the conservative resort crowd, tends to offer higher end accommodations (more along the lines of the Coachella Valley), and is sprawled out quite a bit (roomy). I’ve always found it a bit confusing as to where things are, outside of the small downtown and the park visitor center. Because of this, whenever we go to explore Anza-Borrego, we stay in Julian, which has an easily navigable and attractive downtown, with reasonably priced accommodations and some great restaurants, and shops. I can find my way around there. I’m not saying Borrego Springs doesn’t have all those good things, I’m just noting that it seems harder to find them when you’re not familiar with the area. The chamber’s site tells you to ask around beccause they don’t have many signs. Well, I didn’t have much luck with that approach, so I’d recommend a few more signs. Borrego Springs and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park have a great deal to offer visitors. The park is one of the absolute "must-see" destinations in the California deserts. It’s also a fantastic wildflower location in the spring. Every time we go, we find new places to explore and enjoy. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and filled with its own brand of desert magic. We love the work of the AnzaBorrego Foundation and Institute, and we include all their educational and recreational offerings in our online calendar.

I heartily encourage supporting the ABF and taking advantage of their excellent programs. But Borrego Springs ain’t Joshua Tree, and it never will be. Borrego Springs is Borrego Springs, and frankly, it should try to market itself that way too. In Memory of Baby Wyatt There are some things almost too tragic to believe, but real, nonetheless. Such is the case of little Wyatt Garcia, son of Steven Garcia and Katie Tagle of Yucca Valley. The couple had split up and Tagle and Garcia went to Superior Court in Victorville on January 21 to decide on custody matters. Tagle repeatedly brought up threats reportedly made by Garcia that he would kill their son Wyatt. She had wanted a temporary restraining order against Garcia for some time, but two judges in Joshua Tree, and Judge Robert Lemkau refused to take her seriously. “My suspicion is that you’re lying,” Lemkau told Tagle, before admonishing her that if she was lying about the threats, there would be “adverse consequences” for her. Never does the judge ask Garcia about the threats. Ten days later, Steven Garcia killed his infant son, then killed himself. Now a website is up and active to support removal of Judge Lemkau, or at least to defeat his re-election. Talking to the site’s organizer, activist Alan Boinus, his goal is wider judicial reform. And from what I’ve seen, it’s a good idea. According to reports from the Victor Valley Daily Press and other sources, Judge David Mazurek also refused to grant a TRO, after allegations were made by Tagle that Garcia had previously hit her. This is difficult to understand because it seems like it’s easier to get a TRO at the Joshua Tree courthouse than to avoid being called for jury duty once a year. Finally, after being dismissed as a woman (even, it should be noted, by a female judge), Tagle got an emergency restraining order from Mazurek after Garcia reportedly sent her a story where a father kills his son and then kills himself. But Judge Lemkau refused to continue the restraining order, and continued a procession of poor decisions that led to Wyatt dying before his first birthday. Though Lemkau was the focus of a well attended protest in Victorville, and later apologized for his role in the tragedy, he is running for another term as judge. In his own words, “I’m going to deny it.” Deny Lemkau the opportunity to make more decisions, and visit www. lemkaumustgo.com for updates. – Steve Brown April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 13


Art by Yucca Valley High School artist Sammy Morris.

29 PALMS 29 Palms Art Gallery The April exhibit is a judged Members Show being held in all the galleries. There is an opening reception from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, April 11. The May exhibit features works by Gloria White (acrylic mandalas), Guild Members, a special Noah Purifoy tribute, and a Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council Group Show (assemblage). The opening reception will be held from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, May 2. Open noon to 3 p.m. Wed.-Sun. 29 Palms Art Gallery, 74055 Cottonwood Drive, 29 Palms (off National Parks Drive), 29 Palms. (760)367-7819, www.29palmsartgallery.com. 29 Palms Creative Center James Hammons’ exhibit, Lucid Dreams, is featured from March 20 -through April 20. Hammons received undergraduate degrees in history and psychology from the University of Redlands; later earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California’s famed film and screenwriting program. The David Greene: “Movie Star Zombie Love Affair” painting exhibit runs from May 1 – June 5, with an artist reception on Saturday, May 1, 6-9 p.m. Greene notes, “It’s funny how an innocent conversation can provide the inspiration for the creation of a series of paintings. One day, local photographer Charlotte ’Charlie’ Ohnsten remarked that she had seen a Vincent Price movie and she 14 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

thought he was sexy. Jokingly I remarked, ’Yeah, but he’s dead.’ To which she replied ’...Well, he’s still hot!’ Teasingly I said ’...oooh, movie star zombie love affaire, hey?’” Creative Center Classes: Bookmaking with Scraps, April 17, Saturday, Noon to 2 p.m. Bookmaking with Scraps is a quick way to create a one-of-akind book using images and designs from magazines, newspapers, your sketch book and any other flat found objects that can be glued or sewn onto the pages of your hand crafted book. Bring any treasures you have been gathering to be candidates for being incorporated into your bound book you will make. The workshop cost is $65/person. Earth Day Printmaking, April 24, Saturday, Noon to 2 p.m. To commemorate Earth Day, we will explore the colorfulways to express yourself with the etching press. The processes we will explore: the basic monotype, pure color monotype, and viscosity printing which are all instant gratification make you feel good art making processes. The workshop cost is $55/person. Mother’s Day Rainbow Roll, May 8, Saturday, Noon to 2 p.m. In case you are looking to treat your mom to a unique and bonding day together, this is the class for you and the whole family. The workshop will explore the dynamic and magical rainbow roll technique on a monotype plate, which entails mixing 3 colors together on a big roller creating a beautifulfade effect (a lot like our sunsets in the desert sky). The workshop


Our October/November 2009 cover artist, Rik Livingston, sent us this remembrance of Rick Unger, our December 2009/January 2010 15th anniversary cover artist (see below right) who was diagnosed with liver cancer shortly before Christmas. We are devastated by his loss. Rick was a great artist who knew how to have fun with art, and our hearts and prayers are with his wonderful Rebecca.

cost is $55/person. Spring Fling Linoleum, May 15, Saturday, Noon to 2 p.m. Now that spring is in full throttle, it is time to capture some of that creative energy and put it to use on your linoleum plate. Bring a 8x10 drawing or image to tranfer onto your plate and Gretchen will teach you how to recreate the drawing by gouging the linoleum. The workshop cost is $60/person. Gallery Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday call ahead. 29 Palms Creative Center, 6847 Adobe Road, 29 Palms. (760) 361-1805. www.29palmscreativecenter.com. The 29 Palms Inn The art of Karen Swenson and Bruce Miller is on display through April. Open daily. The 29 Palms Inn, Oasis of Mara,73950 Inn Avenue (off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760) 367-3505. www.29palmsinn.com. Twentynine Palms City Hall Pat Flynn’s exhibit of spring wildflowers and cactus blooms watercolors and paintings are on display through April 29. Flynn, known locally for her floral paintings and greeting cards, began her painting career in 1995 after her retirement from the federal government. According to the artist, she enrolled in April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 15


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16 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

watercolor classes at Copper Mountain College “just for something to do,” then fell in love with the media and its challenges, and has been painting ever since. Encouraged by a sister member of Soroptimist International, she painted a series of desert wildflowers and reproduced them into greeting cards. In 1996, her first wholesale customer was the Joshua Tree National Park Association, where the cards are still selling in all the gift shops. Flynn specializes in desert wildflowers, flowering cacti, desert animals and hummingbirds, and works primarily in watercolor, pastel, and colored pencil. She has exhibited at the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery and The Gallery in Big Bear Lake, is a past president of Action Council for 29 Palms, and chaired the first “Mural in a Day” project for the city in 2002. The Art in Public Places exhibit is sponsored by the City’s Public Arts Advisory Committee and is on display through April 29. Residents and visitors can view the show Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 29 Palms City Hall, 6136 Adobe Road, 29 Palms. (760)367-6799. www.ci.twentyninepalms.ca.us. Art at the Oasis – Joshua Tree National Park Art Festival Art and nature come together in charming cordiality at Joshua Tree National Park’s 18th Annual Art Festival held April 2-4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. More than 25 artists representing a wide variety of mediums will be on hand to exhibit and sell their work. A theme show, all work is an output of creativity inspired by the spectacle and innumerable delights to be seen in Joshua Tree National Park and the southwest desert. Meet the artists and learn what it was in their desert view that so inspired their creativity. The Festival is sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association, a non-profit organization that provides support and assistance to the park’s interpretive, educational and scientific programs. Admission is free. 74485 National Park Drive, 29 Palms. (760) 367-5537. www. joshuatree.org/artfestival.html. JOSHUA TREE Art Queen Art Queen, in Joshua Tree East, currently features works by resident artist Shari Elf. Elf’s works are also available for viewing online at www.sharielf.com/gallery.html. Art Queen Gallery, 61855 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree. www.sharielf.com.

The Red Arrow Gallery April at the Arrow features an “Art Exchange” with six artists from Alaska: Karen Foote, Tim Foote, Nancy Burhnam, Wendy Croskrey, George Gianakopoulos, and Sandy Gillespie. There is an open house on April 3, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The show runs through April 24. Gallery hours: Friday 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Arrow Gallery, 61596 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3700. www. theredarrowgallery.com. True World Gallery On display through Arpil is the exhibit, Sacred Connection: Amy Komar and Elena Ray. The two artists in this show, Sacred Connection, have never met, yet they share a deep connection. Amy Komar is a painter from Fairbanks, Alaska. Elena Ray is a photographer living in Joshua Tree. Amy’s paintings are inspired by the natural world, while Elena’s photographic collages are explorations of energy, healing systems and archetypal psychology. In Amy’s work, claybord panels are built up in thin washes of iridescent acrylic paint, up to hundreds of layers in a single painting. Elena employs painting, photography, and collage on handmade and Asian papers. The exhibit includes Amy’s series, The Alchemy of Connection. Using social networking sites, she asked individuals to submit a brief list of their daily joys and pleasures, which she then posted to her blog, artistinthearctic.blogspot. com. These simple pleasures became the inspiration for this series of paintings. Elena’s blog, The Transitional Image, (elenaray.typepad.com/the_transitional_image) is an insightful meditation on art, process and spiritual practice, illustrated by her unique photo imagery. May 1, True World Gallery will open a new show, with works by photographer Brian Leatart and painter Lily Stockman. The opening will be in the Starlite Courtyard from 7-10 p.m., with live music, food and drink. Mt. Fuji General store will also be showing paintings by Lily. Gallery Hours: Thursday, Friday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday by appointment. True World Gallery, 61740 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)3662300. www.trueworldgallery.com. Crossroads Café The art of Janet Manes is featured from March 3-May 5. May 5-June 30 the Café is showing works by Geoffrey Fenn. Geoffrey lives deep in the moun-


tains near the Yucca Valley area and is continuously working on new writings, films & artworks using music, water, stone, wood, glass, leather, paint, thread, feathers, earth, silicon, native plants, animals, video, time-lapse cinematography, photography or whatever else he finds in his travels around the Southwest. Crossroads Café is open Sun., Mon., Tues., Thurs. 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; closed Weds. 61715 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-5414. www.crossroadscafeandtavern.com. Mt. Fuji General Store The art of Clare Youmans is featured through April. Claire Youmans lives an adventurous life deeply connected to nature. Strongly influenced by Asian forms in art and poetry, she is a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist who travels frequently in Japan, where the transient yet eternal beauty of Mt. Fuji dominates both the landscape and the sensibility of the people. In addition to watercolors, Youmans creates whimsical mixed media wall pieces for indoor and outdoor areas. She is presently compiling a book of watercolors and poetry. Youmans has exhibited in group shows in California and her works are in private collections throughout the United States and in Japan. Lily Stockman’s work is featured in May also on display at the True World Gallery, with an opening show in the Starlight Courtyard, May 1, from 7-10 p.m. Gallery hours are Thurs., Fri., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mt. Fuji General Store, 61704C 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)3339174. www.fujibird.com Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG) The gallery is currently featuring The Artists Collective Show with Best, Bluefield, Burnham, Florek, Fulmer, Luckett, Magnuson, Rieman, Szabo. The show runs through April 30. This is Joshua Tree’s newest gallery. Gallery hours are Sat. and Sun. Noon-5p.m, Weekdays by appointment. JTAG is located at 61695 #A 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3636. The Sun Runner Gallery and Shop The Sun Runner Gallery at the headquarters of The Sun Runner Magazine in Joshua Tree East, features works by Karin Mayer, Rik Livingston, Bruce Miller, Billy Makuta, Steve Brown, Suckass Greetings, and others, along with a collection of desert books, CDs, cards, and gifts. Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri. Noon-5 p.m. through April 23. Sun Runner Gal-

lery and Shop, 61855 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree. (760)366-2700, www. thesunrunner.com. YUCCA VALLEY Hi-Desert Nature Museum Currently on display through April 23, is the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Exhibition. This is an exhibition of artwork contributed by local artists made from recycled or reused materials. This exhibit is designed to make people rethink our throw-away society by sharing the local community’s innovative and often surprising use of discarded items. The Town of Yucca Valley presents the annual Yucca Valley High School Art Show, April 27-June 6. The exhibition highlights the impressive work of some of the community’s young talent. An opening reception is slated for Friday, April 30, from 4:30-6 p.m. and is free to the public. The Hi-Desert Nature Museum, a true gem of the hi-desert, has served the residents and visitors of the Morongo Basin since 1965. Museum hours are Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Mondays and major holidays.) Admission is free. Donations support the museum’s educational mission. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 57090 29 Palms Hwy,Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212. www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile Artists featured in Tamma’s include nature and wildlife photography of David McChesney, Christy Anderson’s license plate and “junk art,” Christopher Pheyk glass blower and art, Divine Design greeting cards by Barbara Penney, Claire Montrose stained glass windows and bottle crosses, Frederick Ruldolph leather art, gourd art of Ronald Churchwell. Hours are 10 a.m-5 p.m daily. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile, 55727 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. (760)228-0700. MORONGO VALLEY The Purple Agave Art Gallery Currently showing through April are Penelope Krebs’ bird paintings. Sheryl Jordan ph James Hagerty acrylic paintings, Sandi Wheaton photography, and Bob Nelson acrylic paintings. May huge show featuring Cheryl Jordan’s book of black and white photography, “92256 Morongo Valley.” All book sale proceeds will go for towards scholarships for young ladies in Morongo Valley after High School. Grand Opening May 8 from 5 - 8 p.m. Show runs

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Palm Springs Art Museum The Palm Springs Art Museum announced it will present Colors of the West: The Paintings of Birger Sandzén, a major exhibition of the works of PostImpressionist painter Sven Birger Sandzén (1871-1954). Sandzén’s personal style of bold color with thickly applied masses of paint earned him the title “the American Van Gogh.” His vibrant paintings of prairie and western landscapes have been relatively unknown outside the Midwest until recently, and this exhibition is the first major West Coast exhibition of Sandzén’s work since 1948. The exhibit runs from April 17 through September 12, with more than 60 paintings, watercolors, and prints that showcase his western landscapes. A members-only opening event for the exhibit is slated for April 16, with a lecture in the Annenberg Theater at 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception until 8 p.m. A lecture, Individualizing Nature: the Art and Life of Birger Sandzén, by Ron Michael, curator for the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, is scheduled for April 17 at 11 a.m. Following the lecture, tour the exhibit with Michael and curator Christine Giles. After the lecture and tour there is a luncheon scheduled in the Elrod Sculpture Garden, $30 for Western Art Council

members, $40 non-members. Reservations required: (760)322-4888. Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner, is on exhibit through May 30 in the Annenberg Wing. In a career that spanned six decades and produced more than 150 built works, Lautner created an architecture that valued plasticity, transparent boundaries, freedom in form and plan, and continuity between building and landscape. In the Palm Springs area, Lautner designed a mountain cabin in the trees, a motel as desert retreat and a showcase home for designer Arthur Elrod. It is this dialogue between nature and built structure that defines his work and has provided a legacy for the study and understanding of his creative genius. This exhibition of the work of one of America’s most significant Modernist architects is the first comprehensive overview of John Lautner’s architecture. Co-curated by Frank Escher, a practicing Los Angeles architect and the Administrator of the John Lautner Archives, and Nicholas Ohlsberg, former Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture and independent curator, the exhibition includes 115 original drawings and sketches; ten original models; six largescale architectural models created for the exhibition and a documentary film. In addition, a monograph by the same name, published by Rizzoli, contains essays by Jean-Louis Cohen, Frank Escher and Nicholas Olsberg. The Architecture and Design Council present the film, Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner, April 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Annenberg Theater. The documentary traces the lifelong quest of Lautner to create “architecture that has no beginning and no end.” Co-producers Sara Sackner and Anna Thomas introduce the film and host a Q&A session after the screening. $10


ADC members, $15 non-members. Palm Springs Art Museum 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800, www.psmuseum.org. Backstreet District First Wednesday Art Walk April 7 & May 5. Backstreet Art District hosts their First Wednesday Art Walk Open galleries & studios featuring modern & contemporary fine art. Galleries include Art By Peter, Dezart ONe, Galerie Mystere, Images By Gideion, Red DOt Gallery, Showcase 5 Gallery, Studio 3, Trevor Goss, Gallery, and Ted Phillip Denton Working Studio & Gallery. Wednesday 6-9 p.m. 2688 Cherokee Way & Matthew Dr., Palm Springs (behind the Mercedes Dealership, off Hwy 111 & E. Palm Canyon). (760)328-1440. www.backstreetartdistrict.com/galleries. Downtown/Uptown First Friday Art Walk April 2 & May 7. The Palm Springs Downtown/Uptown First Fridays will be having their Art Walk from 6 pm - 9 pm. Browse cool galleries and upscale shopping along Palm Canyon drive from Amado Road to Tachevah Drive. Continuum Gallery at 258 N. Palm Canyon Drive; Crystal Fantasy at 264 N. Palm Canyon Drive and M Modern at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. I.M.A.G.E.S.by Gideon Art by Gideon, April 7 to May 14. Gideon remarks, “The figure has always been a source of inspiration for me. Its ever changing shapes, colors, and lines have been stimulus in my exploration process. Figurative drawing and painting became my conduit to the beauty of sensuality, flow of spirit and the ties to earth”. Gideon was born in 1947 in Sweden and grew up on a Kibbutz in Israel. He lived in Israel and Holland before moving to California in 1983. A member of several museum and art foundations Gideon has entered many art competitions and has received a variety of awards. May 15 to 16 – Student Art Show. Sat. 11 a.m-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m May 22 to June 25 – Group Show TBA, artist reception Sat., May 22, 6-9 p.m. Gallery hours are Thurs.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Backstreet Art District, 2682 Cherokee Way, Palm Springs, (760)250-1521. www.imagesbygideon.com. Dezart One Gallery April 1-30 a solo Show with new works by artist/actress Ashleigh Sumner is featured with an artist reception on Saturday, April 3, 7-9 p.m. The gallery is hosting a group show with from May 1-31 with the artists reception on Saturday, May 22 7-9 p.m. Dezart One Gallery. 2688 Cherokee Way, Palm Springs. 760328-1440. www.dezartonegallery.com. PALM DESERT First Thursday El Paseo Art Walk April 1, May 6, 5-9 p.m. Featuring works in the following Palm Desert Galleries: A Gallery Fine Art, 73-956 El Paseo, (760) 346-8885; Adagio Galleries, 73-300 El Paseo,(760) 346-1221; Christian Hohmann Fine Art, 73-660 El Paseo, (760) 346-4243; Christopher Morgan Galleries, 73-956 El Paseo, (760) 568-0336; Coda Gallery, 73-151 El Paseo,(760) 346-4661; Garant Gallery, 73-375 El Paseo, (760) 777-1362; J. Willott Gallery, 73-190 El April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 19


Paseo, (760) 568-3180; Jones & Terwilliger Galleries, 73-375 El Paseo, (760) 674-8989; Ramey Fine Art, 73-400 El Paseo, (760) 341-3800; richard danskin Galleries, 73-111 El Paseo, (760) 568-5557; S.R. Brennen Gallery, 73-375 El Paseo, (760) 773-9554; von Wening Art, 73-585 El Paseo, (760) 340-6711. www.elpaseoartwalk.com

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Heather James Fine Art Heather James Fine Art presents the solo exhibition Kelly Barrie: Trace Elements and the group exhibition A View to the Soul: Portraiture, Old and New. Both exhibitions run through May 30. Kelly Barrie creates photographs that explore the imaginary site where past and present converge. Using found photographs, the artist reconstructs the image through a performative floor drawing using photo-luminescent pigment (glo-powder) and his feet, walking out the image on the floor. The artist constructs a scaffolding system around the drawing and documents his traces by photographing the area in small sections over the course of several months. A View to the Soul: Portraiture, Old and New is an enticing display of material. Comprising of thirty-four works of art and spanning an ambitiously broad time-frame, the exhibition begins with a Pre-Colombian Olmec mask dating from 1,000 to 500 BC and flows through stylistic periods and artistic media to the contemporary output of sculptress Micaela Amato and photographer Lawrence Schiller. Other artists’ work in the exhibition include that of Steven Assael, Milton Avery, Pierre Bonnard, Tseng Kwong Chi, Alberto Giacometti, Robert Graham, Zhang Huan, Alex Katz, Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline, Lawrence Lee, David Mach, Yang Maoyuan, Kim McCarty, Berthe Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Winold Reiss, John Stezaker, Tip Toland, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman, Andrew Wyeth, and Francisco Zuniga. Heather James Fine Art, 45188 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-8926. www.heatherjames.com. LA QUINTA Art Under the Umbrellas The season finale of Art Under the Umbrellas takes place April 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fifty to 70 artists participate in the Art Under the Umbrellas event, located in Old Town La Quinta, along charming, closed-off streets reminiscent of colonial Mexico.  Quality artwork and treasured mementos, live music and wine tasting. Free admission and ample parking. (760)564-1244. www.lqaf.com. TECOPA Tecopa Basin Artists Group (TBAG) Gallery Works by John Fisher, April 13 through May 30. Artist reception April 17, 5-7 p.m.. TBAG Gallery at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. www.tecopahotsprings.org. BORREGO SPRINGS First Friday Nights. April 2, 5-8 p.m. Galleries include Stirrup Road: The House of Borrego Springs; The Center: Liesel Paris Gallery, Matson Gallery, Sally Rosen’s Gourd Art; The Mall: Borrego Art Institute, featuring: Plein Air Paintings, SoShoMe Gallery, Tumbleweed Trading Company. (800) 559-5524. Info and map: http://www.borregospringschamber.com/calendar2.html.


Indian Wells artist Diane Morgan has been selected as a finalist in Watercolor Magazine’s 2010 Cover Competition. The painting and a story about her work will appear in the magazine’s summer issue. Morgan will be returning to the Indian Wells Arts Festival Easter weekend, and was selected as the creative artist for the “Eggs in the Garden,” Easter Sunday brunch advertising for this year’s festival.

Borrego Springs Art Institute April 14-30. “Borrego Days” LOGO Contest (contest for LOGO design for the 2010 Borrego Days Festival) entries show,. Winner announced at reception on April 24, 5-8 p.m. The winning entry will be integrated into the official Desert Festival logo and appear on Festival marketing and promotions, the program book, and tee shirts and $500 from a Borrego Art Institute donor and a $500 match from the Borrgo Springs Chamber of Commerce. Borrego Springs Art Institute, 587 Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 105, Borrego Springs. (760)767-5152. www.borregoartinstitute.org. RIDGECREST Maturango Museum Wildflower Show. April 9-11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tables of locally picked (with BLM permits, of course) flowers all neatly arranged by flower families and labeled with both common and scientific names and locations. And other stuff - LOTS to see. Bring your camera! And enjoy the quilt show in progress too. May 15-July 7 - Benny Alba “American Vista Points” The Friday evening of the opening of each show is an “Artist’s Reception” from 7:00 to 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. there is a presentation by the artist. The art pieces are for sale, prices are listed on a brochure and on the object’s title tag. A portion of the sales benefits the museum. Museum is open daily (except major holidays) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900. www.maturango.org. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 21


T

he Sun Runner Magazine's fourth annual Desert Writers Issue is now accepting submissions of poetry, short fiction, essays, book excerpts, and other works by California desert writers, or writers with a strong desert connection. A special section for military personnel and their families stationed in the desert, Letters Home, is also accepting submissions. More information and guidelines for submissions to the Desert Writers Issue are online at www.thesunrunner. com. Deadline for submissions is July 6, with the annual Desert Writers Celebration planned for September. Desert authors wishing to have their books considered for review in the Desert Writers Issue should send the book, along with their press kit, to: Delphine Lucas, Literary Editor, The Sun Runner Magazine, P.O. Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.

P

hantom Seed, the literary collection of desert poetry, prose, interviews, and other writings, is seeking submissions for issue #4. Deadline is June 15, with a publication date slated for September 1. Issue #3 includes some of our favorites—Sun Runner contributors Cynthia Anderson and Mike Cipra, Lee Balan, Brian Brown of China Ranch, Allison Johnson, Kimberly Nichols, Ruth Nolan, and former Sun Runner columnist Mary Sojourner, among others. For info and submission guidelines, e-mail editor Ruth Nolan at runolan@aol.com.

S Join Us!

peaking of Mary Sojourner, her latest book, She Bets Her Life: A True Story of Gambling Addiction (Seal Press), is coming out this May. In this well-researched book, Mary shares her personal struggle with gambling addiction, as well as those of eight other women in her support group. With an estimated six to eight million gambling addicts in the U.S., half are women, and they make up the fastest growing group seeking help for problem gaming. Mary's book is a solid resource for women in that situation, and is highly recommended by our literary editor who is planning a review for our upcoming Desert Writers Issue.

R

22 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

idgecrest author Elizabeth "Liz" Babcock was recently awarded Best of Show in the Spotlight Awards, a regional technical publications competition for Southern California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Babcock won for her book, Magnificent Mavericks, a history of the Navy at China Lake. Though the book includes technical and military terminology, Society for Technical Communication judges commented that, "the book reads like a good novel," that it personalized the book with the thoughts and emotions of the people involved, and by doing so gave readers "a more complete perspective." Magnificent Mavericks is now eligible for entry in the international competition the Society hosts. The book is available from the U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology, with the paperback also available at the Maturango Museum and Red Rock Books in Ridgecrest.


I

t was a beautiful morning in the desert and I decided to take a brisk walk up in the La Quinta Cove. There are a many trails up in that area most of which are au natural desert and another that is more sidewalk-ish. Since my hiking boots were in the shop, I chose the more metropolitan workout, and went concrete style. The trail snakes around the side of the wash giving generous views of the desert landscape. There are many wildlife characters to enjoy along the way besides the variety of plant life that lines the trail. Cute little squirrels and a parade of lizards zig-zag on and off the trail as if they were playing a game of chicken with bicyclists and sidewalk trotters. I was enjoying myself and felt closer to the natural desert than if I had gone walking in the planned community complex in which I reside. I thought I was safe from the perils of perfect perennials. Safe from weed-whackers and lawnmowers, I mean it’s the desert it’s supposed to be rugged and imperfect in its beauty, right? Well actually no, apparently I would need to be way out in the desert to escape the tools that keep our desert country clubs and valley streets looking so, Orange County. What could I have encountered that would upset me so much to prompt such an irritating view against landscaping you might ask? There is only one thing that can cause such disruption, only one that can turn my enjoyment of the outdoors into my desire to want to run indoors. It is the clean air sucking, eardrum bursting,

allergy inducing leaf blower. I encountered the menacing machine as I was walking on the trail humbly taking in the serene desert, absorbing the rustic aromas of the outdoors and genuinely enjoying a stretch of thea legs. Then there was the noise, THAT NOISE that assures flying debris and the unbearable odor of dirty exhaust. The noise connected to the leaf blower. It suddenly jarred me from my innocent experience and tattooed an annoyed grimace on my face. The clean desert smell was uninvitingly replaced by the violent smell of industrial progress. I might as well have been sucking on a tail pipe. The whole concept forces my mind into overdrive to try and understand why these environmental monsters are necessary in the first place. Honestly, what happened to the rake and broom? The leaf blowers are not sucking up the dirt, that I could wrap my head around, but are just displacing the dirt, leaves, dust and trash, pushing it off into another area. They could logically be blowing the same cloud of crap around for days, not ever getting rid of it at all, just taking it for a ride around in circles. Talk about an exercise in futility. It blew my mind (rim shot), to see the blower there in the first place, it’s a desert trail for goodness sake! But that doesn’t seem to make a difference; I guess the long arm of manufactured landscape beauty has no limit. Perhaps we should adopt bans on the leaf blower like other California areas

have. Places like Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Laguna Beach, just to name a few, have slapped a sort of restraining order against the leaf blower, banning it from their locations. The reasons are plentiful. From air pollution, to noise pollution, the leaf blower can and does affect the quality of life, much more than a persistent barking dog, or a neighbor with blaring music can, because at least they don’t spew out carcinogens and you’ll still have enough breath to tell them to shut up. A-one, a-two, and a-three—that sort of sums up Ultimate Entertainer Fleet Easton’s performing capabilities, for he can sing, dance and act. But there’s so much more to this charismatic character than just his entertainment value, as I came to find out when I sat down for an interview with him in a busy hip coffee spot in Palm Springs. As we started talking, a couple of his fans walked up to him and praised him on his recent performance in February at the Embassy Suites in Palm Desert. They were so excited to see him, like little Fleet groupies. And with his giant sunny disposition it’s easy to understand why. So let’s get to know him a little, shall we? Fleet Easton has always had a desire to entertain. As a child growing up in Akron, Ohio, he would use a foil-embellished kitchen utensil as a microphone to assist him in his solitary performances in his room. And although his mother would shout at him to keep it down, the voice and talent prevailed and led him on an interesting journey with his love of performing taking center stage.

Did I mention the “Voice?” Not only his singing voice, but his inner voice, that has helped to guide him to wonderful experiences in his life. It is his higher self, a spiritual beacon. Okay, back to the story. He focused on dance as he grew into his teens and early twenties, earning himself scholarships to American Ballet Theatre and Julliard in New York, where April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 23


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his natural ability flourished. But his entertainment journey became slightly sidetracked when he suffered physical strain due to his hectic dance schedule. But Easton’s positive demeanor hardly allowed this as a setback, and saw it as an opportunity. “When a door opens I just walk through it and see where it goes,” he says. This led him back to Akron, where he turned his gaze to singing once again. Back in his home town he started to enter talent contests which boosted his recognition and helped him land a gig at a local nightclub. Then, on a trip to Florida with his parents, noticing the warm weather and entertainment possibilities, his “voice” persuaded him to move there and take a chance. The chance paid off as he worked in a multitude of performance capacities. He started getting roles in movies and television productions such as, “The Cape,” and “Earth to the Moon,” with Tom Hanks. He also hosted a TV talk show and recorded an album titled “In His Presence,” which was faith inspired. The whispers started to get louder as the “voice” swayed him to move again, this time to Palm Springs, which he did three years ago. He performed at Hotel Zoso where he eventually caught the eyes and ears of The Forde Entertainment Management Company from Las Vegas, which signed him to a contract. They have built him his own one man show that he performs at venues throughout the Coachella Valley, where Easton can work using all his blessed talents. Thanks to Barbara and Jack Forde, as well as Renee Vargas and Dan French, for making the show possible. On top of doing his show, Easton also serves as musical director and soloist for The Interfaith Spiritual Center in Palm Springs. It was a motivating and inspiring afternoon I spent with Easton. He strongly believes in the power of thought and that “A trained thought is better than an untrained thought.” It’s about the universe and a higher power; it’s about living your dreams and believing they can happen. It’s about faith. There is no doubt that is why he has been so successful in his life and has moved forward with quiet confidence trusting in his “voice.” Perhaps we all have an inner voice ready to guide us to fabulous things in our lives. Maybe it’s just a question of listening. Spring is in the air, and possible allergens too, but there is plenty going on in the glorious Coachella Valley, so take out the tissue, and let’s sniffle on.

The Indian Wells Arts Festival takes place at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, Easter Weekend, April 2-4. Enjoy art from over 200 renowned artists, with activities for the kids and a special Sunday brunch for Easter, (www.indianwellsartsfestival.com). And yes, it’s that special time of year again when the desert swells with tens of thousands of concert goers for Coachella Fest 2010, April 16-18 at The Empire Polo Club. Performers include Jay Z, Devo, Orbital and De La Soul, just to scratch the surface. Check out www.coachella. com for ticket information. And kicking up some dust right after Coachella Fest is Stagecoach April 24 and 25, with Keith Urban, Sugarland, Toby Keith and many more. Go to www.stagecoachfest.com for additional information. May brings more ear candy with the 2010 Palm Springs Smooth Jazz Fest Saturday May 15, at the Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs benefiting the Hanson House (www.palmspringsjazz. com). And don’t forget to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a stiff margarita (I know I will) from one of the Coachella Valley’s many watering holes. Until next time, hasta luego!

Sure, we want to play! OK, so the casino that was supposed to show up in 29 Palms didn’t (yet), but now the 29 Palms Hotel & Casino is showing up—in Costa Rica? Just wait—they’ll probably find some desert tortoises there and the whole thing’ll grind to a halt! Thanks to the mysterious Mark W. for sending this encouraging photo to us!


A

fter decades of neglect, the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club, designed by the legendary architect, Albert Frey, is reopening as the Salton Sea History Museum, as well as a community and visitors center, after receiving some restoration help from Riverside County. Frey was a little known architect when builders Ray Ryan and Trav Rogers approached him to design their new resort on the Salton Sea. Frey, a modernist master, took off with a nautical theme, designing the club to look almost like a grand steamship surging through the waves. The club even came with portholes, a mast and boom. Now, the club has returned to a semblance of its former glory. No boat drinks

will be served in the Compass Room (to the dismay of some locals), but kayak tours, bird walks, and other fun activities are already underway. The grand opening of this magnificent new seaside facility is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 1. An RSVP is requested to (951)955-9759. Museum director Jennie Kelly, president of the East Valley Historical Society, gave us a tour of the newly restored building and grounds, and though the swimming pool is no longer with us, it is a family-friendly location that is an excellent addition to the east coast of the Salton Sea. Salton Sea History Museum, 99-155 Sea View Dr., North Shore.

Frey’s frayed forlorn masterpiece several years ago.

In Loving Memory of Alvino Siva by Katherine Siva Saubel

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lvino Siva, my little brother, was born March 15, 1923 in old man Chino’s thatched adobe home in Palm Springs, California. As he grew up he was always getting me into trouble. Alvino would do something disobedient and we would both be spanked for it. More often than not he would run off to Pedro Chino’s house and escape his punishment. Pedro Chino was like a second father to my brother and Alvino was always with him until he joined the Army in his early twenties. Pedro loved him and taught Alvino so much. Alvino sang Bird Songs with Mr. Chino and learned how to make Bows & Arrows, leatherwork, and gourd rattles used in Birdsinging, and of course how to ride and punch cattle... My memories of Alvino playing, going to school, even getting into trouble are very precious to me. I am very proud of all that my brother has done throughout his 86 years. he learned and remembered our customs and traditions, and he respected and honored our elders. Alvino learned from them and passed that knowledge on to our younger generation by teaching them. I held Alvino’s hand when he was born and I held his hand as he died. Excerpted from the Malki News. The Sun Runner would like to express our heartfelt condolences to all of Alvino’s family and friends. We are grateful for the cultural contributions of Alvino, Katherine, and Amara. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 25


I

’ve been a journalist for a long time now, and I can say from my perspective, it’s a profession to both love, and hate. Most of my colleagues are better at it than I am, they can keep themselves outside of the story, hold it at arm’s length, and “report” it in a way that doesn’t seem to satisfy me. They can make the worst egregious abuses of innocents, right up to, and including their outright slaughter, sound like a “he-said, she-said” story, alleged and inferred, never laid out naked and bare for the world to see it for exactly what it is. It’s like there’s a line they can see that I can’t, and they know that if you go past it, you’ll have to acknowledge and point out things that most people don’t really want to know. It’s that innate knowledge that ignorance really is bliss, and telling the truth in a story is a surefire path to unemployment, or in my case, owning your own magazine. I love to write the stories of real people though, and inevitably, I wind up telling the stories of real people undergoing unreal, often surreal, experiences. Many of the best stories I’ve written begin with, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but...” They’re right, of course, they do sound crazy, and some of them are. Who cares? Some of my favorite people are crazy, and some of my least favorite are stone-cold sane. But I’ve long ago learned that just because someone sounds crazy doesn’t mean that what they’re describing isn’t real—very real. Whether it’s the petite French woman describing how she spent years helping her severely injured husband be able to walk again, only to watch him be brutally beaten by the police over an unpaid bar tab - while being beaten herself, or the elderly woman who got 5150’d because she was worried about her cats suffering in the heat of her apartment, or the homeless woman who felt compelled to return to homelessness because Social Security pays more if you’re living on the streets than if you 26 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

manage to swing a Section 8 apartment to better your condition. Or the man whose job it was to attempt to negotiate agreements so sweatshop workers could receive the most basic of human rights. He broke down crying during our interview because he still remembered holding the hand of a futureless little husk of a girl in Bangladesh whose most fervent wish during her 16 to 20 hour work days sewing container-fulls of cheap clothes for us to buy at WalMart, was to die. No real reporter would have written those stories, and in fact, my corporate media “editor” at the time, cut the part about the little girl out of a story I was working on. Actually, he cut the entire section I had written about international sweatshops and the dominance WalMart exerted over third world governments with fewer resources than the smiley-faced retail giant. It wasn’t “relevant,” he explained, in a sneeringly patronizing manner, looking up from his desk at me as if I was hopeless. If I had been a better journalist, I would have known of this irrelevance going in and I wouldn’t have wasted my time on irrelevant doomed children. I would have focused on shiny packages of cheap chicken thighs and hundreds of thousands of square feet of bright new bargains awaiting all who entered the new “Super” WalMart coming to the desert. What is, after all, the utter devastation of the lives of children halfway around the world, if we get a T-shirt for under $10, anyway? Sometimes people put a lot of hope in the story you’re writing. They hope the wrongs they have unjustly endured will be righted, that things will once again be set straight, justice will prevail, and life will return to normal. They’re wrong, of course. Hope is for fools. I tell them not to expect too much, to be realistic. Most of the time, you can write a compelling story about the most egregious inhuman abuses, and nobody gives a damn. Nothing changes. Not one bit. The abusers remain in power, you remain screwed. That’s how it is. You’d like to think otherwise, but still... Sometimes too, a story haunts you. That’s when you know you’ve really failed as a journalist, and you’ve become something else, a storyteller, or a person with a conscience, maybe. It might slip out of your mind for a time as you move on to other stories, but it returns. One story I had written years ago, began its return journey to haunt me about a year or so ago when another writer contacted me to ask about it. He was pretty coy, one of those from Los Angeles or somewhere who didn’t want to tell me much about his “project,” as if maybe I’d figure out how to steal it from him if he shared what his plans were. But he insistently wanted to read my story about Ricka McGuire and the “fugitive felons,” so I sent it to him. That story took place a long time ago. Congress had passed legislation that played pretty well politically and sounded good—taking a hard stand against good-for-nothing felons sponging off the taxpayer, that sort of thing. Sometimes, in Congress, I think they forget that their consituents are real living, breathing, human beings, and suddenly destroying their lives no longer seems like something with a negative impact associated with it. My story dealt with the initial phase of what became a two-part government program. The phase I had written about was legislation that cut Supplemental Security Income for SSI recipients who had outstanding felony arrest warrants. Sounds good, right? Save the taxpayer some money by denying benefits to criminals. Representative Mary Bono certainly thought so, and so did many others. The legislation passed overwhelmingly. But while I wish life was as simple and straightforward


as some folks seem to think it is, when the legislation was implemented, it became quite apparent that in the transition from rhetorically-correct grandstanding to actual reality, it was creating enormous unforeseen circumstances that nobody in Congress had bothered to consider. Suddenly, old people, frequently with some level of disability, received notices halfway through the month that they would no longer have any income. In addition, they were informed they were liable for thousands of dollars that they now owed the government. So, what’s the problem? They may be old and feeble, but they’re still criminals, right? Maybe. But did we really need to punish some 79 year-old guy who didn’t pay his parking tickets or show up in court—in 1965, by throwing him out in the snow and leaving him homeless in his latter years? That scenario began replaying itself - by the tens of thousands, and elderly people around the country began trying to turn themselves in to the police to serve their sentence—and have a place to live in the bargain. The only problem was that the police in Atlanta don’t care that you didn’t pay your parking tickets or show up in court in Cleveland back in 1965. They’re busy dealing with crack dealers and serial killers and child abusers. With your benefits cut off, old people couldn’t exactly afford to fly across country to set the records straight, if the records could be found. And many of the felonies were of such age that records were difficult to find, if not impossible. On top of that, the intervening decades had produced such a vast quantity of heinous crimes and deviant criminals that law enforcement and the legal system couldn’t find the time or interest in bringing 80 year-olds in walkers to justice. So, the politicians, Social Security, and the legal system all did what came naturally—they left tens of thousands of elderly Americans to deal with this sudden change of events all on their own. Their feeble, aged cries of despair didn’t even come close to penetrating the walls of Congress, and I even heard tales of Social Security workers hiding from those seeking help. They were left to die, these criminals whose biggest crime was sometimes to have not had the proper paperwork filed, or who had their identity stolen; cast off by the government they believed in, and shunned by those who represented them. I think sane people don’t really fear death. I think they fear growing old alone without friends or family that can be relied upon in a crisis. After all, we’re all going to die, and once we’re dead, well, that’s that for this world, it seems. But to be alone in this world, with a body that needs help, a mind that’s trying to reconcile decades of contradictions and suffering and loss, and a spirit that’s worn and sorrowful, well, that frightens me. Life kills, but does it have to torture us first? Evidently it does. And so it went with Ricka McGuire. Ricka readily admitted she had passed forged, stolen checks—in 1965. A single welfare mother with three kids and $162 a month to feed and clothe them, she made a mistake, and did her time, five months in jail. The judge had told her he was going to make an example of her, and he did, but the jail time passed, and when she got out, she was reunited with her children, a happy chapter in an otherwise sad story. Something happened with her probation, and though she told me she thought it had been taken care of, when the fugitive felons legislation passed, her benefits were cut with about two weeks notice, and she was informed she owed the government over $17,000. When I talked to her for the story, Ricka lived in a rather basic cabin with hauled water and no plumbing, fairly far out in Wonder Valley. Some folks out there, though probably not

many now, may even remember her. She was isolated, disabled, with leg problems stemming from a childhood bout with polio, ate peanut butter and crackers for dinner that week, and had only 24 cents left to her name, but she still had her sense of humor and was grateful for what she had—just the kind of person who needed a bit more punishment. I ran the story on Ricka and a Cathedral City man, whom, it looked like, was the victim of identity theft, and with his mind only firing on three cylinders, was trying to figure out how to avoid being thrown out onto the street at 81 years of age. But I didn’t follow up. We received no indignant letters to the editor, and I had other stories piling up. I think I heard from Ricka shortly after the story ran, but I never did know how her story resolved. Maybe I didn’t want to know. Maybe that part of me that was trying to be a good journalist really didn’t want to cross that line. But ghosts are a dime a dozen on the desert wind, and eventually hers rattled through the baked highway in Joshua Tree on a mischievous dust devil from the past, and now I know what came to pass. It was the summer of 2006, a horrible season of death and destruction, for both others, and finally, for myself and my family. The Sawtooth fire ripped through Pioneertown and the lives and homes of too many people. It tore up Burns Canyon, destroyed beautiful hillsides, wildlife, and rampaged up into the mountains. Other fires struck in and around Joshua Tree National Park, and in July, the heat became unbearable. Everytime I looked into the sky, it seemed there was another column of smoke rising. It was a bad week for the old and indigent. The lingering heat slayed over 50 people in California, according to an LA Times story, most of them elderly and poor, many without air conditioning. There were too many and the newspaper couldn’t list them all. Their stories were mostly a passing mention, or left for the untelling. Hospitals in Fresno County were filled to capacity, and the morgue was out of room for the first time in its history. Nature was nothing short of brutal. Ambulances logged almost 350 calls in one day in the Fresno area, many because of the heat. A farmworker died in the fields, and a homeless person died on someone else’s lawn. Down the street from the Capitol in Sacramento, old people in an old hotel died. A woman in San Bernardino was found dying next to her bicycle, while a hiker near Tehachapi died on the trail with his water bottles emptied. A man loading grass clipping into a trailer was found dead in Kern County. Six old people in Imperial County were reported dead. One Slab City resident died when her car ran out of gas, while another died in Hinkley. And Ricka McGuire, 65, was found naked and dead in an old bus she had been calling home. The desert heat, up around 120 degrees, had simply been too much to bear. A story by William Hillyard, the writer who had contacted me asking to read my earlier fugitive felons story, noted that the coroner’s report laid the cause of her death as “chronic drug abuse,” though there was no apparent evidence of that, with “probably heat stroke” listed as a contributing factor. That blaming of the deceased continued the time-honored tradition of demeaning and diminishing the poor and dead, of pushing their senseless needless deaths away, of keeping their bloated, stinking bodies on the other side of the line. I am no stranger to death. But I am too far over the line to believe I can keep it—and the consequences surrounding it—at arm’s length. I am too poor of a journalist to think that I could push Ricka’s sun-baked corpse far enough away that I would not see her crippled naked body laying alone inside April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 27


that bus, or hear her last slight breath exhale into the silence of Wonder Valley without a friend or family member to hold her hand as she died. You see, I know the blood of Ricka Mc Guire is on my hands. I could have stayed on the right side of the line. I could have hung up when she called, saying, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but...” I could have done more to champion her cause. But I didn’t. I have to live with that. At the same time, I am also damned certain Ricka’s blood stains the hands of the likes of Mary Bono and all those “representatives” in Congress who sold out the lives of her, and tens of thousands of others like her, for their own political posturing and gain. I’m not passing judgment, I’m just telling the story the way I see it. I’ll let others look at their own hands, let them check the cracks in their palms for the blood that won’t wash out. As for me, I’m not washing my hands of Ricka’s blood. It’s there for a reason, one that some won’t agree with and others won’t understand. But to me, it marks that line I’ve crossed, and reminds me that sometimes, it is better to be part of humanity than to keep it at arm’s length. Ricka McGuire had a hard life. She was jailed, raped, mugged, and discarded by our own government, finally losing even her tiny basic cabin, before losing her life. She told me she liked the idea of growing old gracefully. That was denied her. She deserved better, I think, but so many do. At least that’s how it looks from this side of the line.

28 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010


I

am standing at the base of a small hill covered with desert pavement, that has obviously, at some time in the past, been terraced or shaped somehow, almost like large steps. Why and how, for the time being, are a mystery. Desert lilies bloom in the sand at the base of the hill. It is a beautiful, utterly natural place. It is almost a dream. I walk slowly back up to where Alfredo Figueroa and his son Jesus wait for me. Jesus holds out a packet of tobacco. We each take a little, and slowly release it, bit by bit, onto the wind, an offering for a holy place. Jesus puts the packet of tobacco away and picks up his drum. He sings a song, a Chemehuevi creation song, if I remember correctly, a song that seems as much of a natural part of the desert environment as the lilies and the desert pavement spread out around us. Alfredo and Jesus have been showing me things today, magical things, that I had never guessed existed out here in the desert near Blythe. Large geoglyphs etched into the desert pavement, including a giant "Kokopilli" (Kokopelli to many, I'm using Alfredo's spelling here), ancient trails, and mountains filled with petroglyphs that may contain hints to a civilization thought to only exist in mythology. The dry wind and song mingle with the tangible silence of this place to create something more than what western thinking and environmental impact statements allow to exist. I do not want the song to end. It is both simple and profound, and transcends language. This seems to be, at its very core, what the desert is really about. The tearing down of barriers between mankind and nature, and God, a oneness that transcends "rational" modes of thinking.

I am fascinated, and transported. The song Jesus sings has a power, and perhaps a deep-rooted wisdom, to it, that cannot be denied (not that I'd want to). I have traveled many places, but this place, where we trace the lines of Kokopilli, the singer of sorrows, and follow with our eyes where his flute points to the west, is one of the most extraordinary I have witnessed. That makes it all the more difficult for me to understand how this site, this home of Kokopilli, could be soon marked for demolition. "Green" energy is a big buzzword these days. Like some superhero come to rescue us from the coal-breathing dragon, enormous lines of solar mirrors and towering windmills (trailing long, high voltage power lines) march forward. They are coming to set us free from fossil fuels and end the reign of fossil fuel energy tyranny. The only problem is that with current models of green power production, we may be replacing one dusty old tyrant with a newer, shinier, nearly as obsolete, tyrant. The true "green" in this popular new "green rush" may be the enormous "loan guarantees" and incentives available if your project gets fast-tracked fast enough for stimulus funds. In other words, it is the green of cash, not energy, that is driving players the size of Bechtel into the market. And while this may prove an ideal model for the utilities and the corporations planning and building these projects, it may not, when all is said and done, be that good for you and me. This is ultimately why I have arrived in Blythe. Alfredo, a magnificent man of Chemehuevi/Yaqui descent, has a tenacious history as an indigenous traditionalist, researcher, author, April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 29


environmentalist, farm labor organizer, community and civil rights leader, musician, educator, and historian. He is possessed of deep self-taught knowledge, bursting with "youthful" enthusiasm in his 70s, and has become a guardian of these sites, along with the group he organized, La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle. Spend some time with him and you will be regaled with stories of Aztecs, Cesar Chavez, Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, Donna and Larry Charpied, the Coachella Four, Bert Corona, desert mining, and Joaquin Murrieta. Alfredo Acosta Figueroa was born in Blythe, and his family has been involved in mining in the area since the Colorado River Gold Rush of 1862. He has been aware of many sacred sites along the river since childhood, and tells me he has known of the existence of Kokopilli and the other geoglyphs for many years, while Jesus has uncovered ancient trails, petroglyphs, and more geoglyphs, including a thunderbird or eagle, somewhere to the northeast of us. Alfredo has researched possible connections between the Blythe area and the Aztec's purportedly mythical homeland of Aztlan, for decades, writing a book, Ancient Footprints of the Colorado River, La Cuna de Aztlan, to outline the connections he has found between Aztec codices, historical documentation, oral histories, and sites such as the Blythe Intaglios, the Bouse Fisherman, and the Topock Maze, along the lower Colorado River. There are connections, including those of a linguistic nature, but the topic of ancient civilizations along the Colorado River, population migrations, and the histories and lore of the tribes living along the river today, are going to have to wait to be explored in future stories, for a more immediate development, what several sources have called, "the new gold rush," or the "green rush," has emerged to threaten sites like the one where Kokopilli rests. This project is known as the Solar Millennium Blythe Solar Power Project (a sister project, the Palen Solar Power Proejct, is planned for 10 miles east of Desert Center). Both projects are being jointly developed by Solar Millennium, LLC, and Chevron Energy Solutions. The Blythe project (mostly planned for Bureau of Land Management public lands) is proposing use of solar parabollic trough technology where parabolic mirrors heat a transfer fluid that leads to the generation of high pressure steam to drive a turbine, producing electricity. More than 7,000 acres of land (about 11 square miles) will likely be used for the project, with much of that land scraped of all vegetation. In the project’s application for certification, an enormous document of thousands of pages, it is noted that "an intaglio, rock features, multi-component sites, trail segments, rock alignments, cleared areas, lithic scatters and quarries," and other sites were discovered on and around the proposed project location. Some 30 identified prehistoric sites are mixed in among more modern historical sites that mostly date to the area's training uses during World War II. A reading of the summary of cultural resources and impact assessments that is included in the application notes the inclusion of prehistoric trails and other sites, but a later note indicates a previously recorded trail as "most likely recent, not prehistoric as originally recorded," making it unclear whether or not all trails in the area are being ascribed as recent, or if there may be a mix of prehistoric and modern trails, or if modern users may have followed and increased wear on already existing prehistoric trails. In fact, the inventory of "discovered" cultural resources is eye-opening in that the geoglyphs of Kokopilli and other images, are not listed (though several "historical" era geoglyphs are included in the listing). “The geoglyph you referenced is a kokopelli figure, which 30 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

is not on the Native American Heritage Database and had not been observed by the applicant when compiling their application for certification," responded Michele Demetras, information officer for the California Energy Commission, when asked about the Kokopilli geoglyph’s presence. "The Energy Commission did not have sufficient time to research this before the staff assessment/draft environmental impact statement (SA/DEIS) was due to be published, but cultural staff is working on it now. "It’s not traditional to any groups who are known to have used the area and we are considering it as potentially important" Demetras added. "The applicant did a 100% survey of the entire site, in which a group of researchers walked side-by-side in a grid pattern and noted any artifacts they saw. The cultural resources inventory that has been found and logged to date is listed in the DA/SEIS in section C.3-41." How researchers managed to walk side-by-side in a grid pattern over the top of these rather large geoglyphs without noticing them is an impressive feat, calling into question what else they may have missed during their survey, and the wisdom of fast-tracking these projects. But they have found them now. Interestingly, a “site visit” to introduce interested parties to the location of the proposed solar project never left Interstate 10. “They had balloons up over where the project is supposed to be,” Figueroa said, noting the project area is about two miles away from the freeway, hardly close enough to see the site in any useful detail. Others, including an owner of private property that would be impacted by the project, noted this odd “site” visit. A call to a BLM archaeologist was met with a refusal to discuss the geoglyphs and a referral to David Briery, a BLM external affairs officer based in Moreno Valley. Emailed inquiries to other BLM archaeologists received no response. Briery answered my call by noting my story had been stirring things up quite a bit, though I pointed out that the story was not yet published. The BLM was only releasing a brief formal statement, Briery said, and promptly emailed a copy to the magazine. It was your standard general explanation about the process the BLM would be going through, now that this site was brought to their attention. "The BLM is currently conducting additional research and archaeological investigations to clarify the antiquity of the site and will continue to consult with the organization (La Cuna de Aztlan), as well as Indian tribes and the Native American Heritage Commission, regarding the sacred values of the site," the statement concluded. A message to Briery requesting additional information and details on this additional research and archaeological investigations and the timeline for this work, received no response by deadline. Could these geoglyphs be of more modern origins? Using Google Earth imagery, it is possible to trace the presence of the Kokopilli and other geoglyphs to 1996, but historical imagery for the application only goes back to 1994, and that year's imagery is not very clear. One representative from the Quechan Culture Committee noted that she thought the Kokopilli geoglyph had been discussed, and that the comment made that it appeared "more modern." But Reverend Ron Van Fleet from the Fort Mohave Indian Tribe, also a member of La Cuna de Aztlan, offered a different interpretation. "I think they date along with the intaglios," Van Fleet said. "Coronado came up this trail. He mentioned some of them. They recognized them and took them as warnings from local tribes. For us they were places of worship that line up with the stars and land, seasons. For the Kokopilli it's the equinox. It lines up with it."


Van Fleet said he has known of the Kokopilli geoglyph for over 30 years personally, and he offers an explanation for why it may appear modern to some. "Somebody has come in and tried to repair it," he noted. "When I knew it it was fresh (untouched), and that was 30 years ago. It was not fenced, not gated, and we should have fenced it 30 years ago. It was sacred to us, not a place to go and touch. Older people knew about it, but back then it was, "Don't tell them (Anglos) what it means." There was a lot of hush-hush about it. But now it's time to speak up and get them saved. It was hidden. now we need to reveal it." Someone cleaning up and maintaining the indigenous equivalent of a historic church may not match with contemporary archaeological practices, but it makes perfect sense in context. Alfredo Figueroa at the site of Cicimitl, one of several large indigVan Fleet said there are nuenous geoglyphs that could be destroyed to make way for a solar merous other sites including trails that once led from the power project near Blythe. Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean, used for a variety of purposes. Some, he noted, served the same purpose as religious the continent. This is too important of a site to continue shitting pilgrimages to sacred and healing sites. on. You can quote me." "One of the rites to be a man was to bring back a seashell Environmental and resource management organizations from the ocean," he explained. "They had three days to get have voiced their concerns about the site as well. The Colorado there and come back." Mohaves could run 125 miles per day. River Board noted that 628 acre-feet of water are expected to We still do spiritual runs. My cousin does with the kids." be used by the project each year for its 30 year license period. Van Fleet noted that power projects and off-road vehicle Contruction, the Board commented, would require an additional enthusiasts present a danger to the geoglyphs that should be 3,164 acre feet. With the aquifer hydraulically connected to protected by the Religious Freedom Act. the Colorado River, the Board asserted that a contract with the "We have to physically put up fencing on Kokopilli," he Secretary of Interior will be required for the project. said, adding there are many battles taking place to save culturThe Center for Biological Diversity commented, “prelimially significant sites. He still stressed he supports clean energy. nary findings indicate the site hosts a suite of rare species.” Robert Gonzales Vasquez, a member of La Cuna de Azt- Those species include some that are listed by the federal and lan, a documentary filmmaker, and director of Inland Mexican state government as threatened with extinction, such as the Heritage, is amazed more effort has not gone into protecting Desert Tortoise, or are a species of concern, such as the Burand preserving sites like Kokopilli. rowing owl. The Defenders of Wildlife noted the complete "My thoughts are, why haven't they been preserved? Why removal of all vegetation on the 7,000 acre site, the addition hasn't there been a large collective effort?" Vasquez asked. of barrier fencing preventing wildlife movement, and added "The Nazca Lines, they are a world treasure. I guess I just that the western portion of the procect site potentially has a question why people don't know about them (the Blythe area “much larger, viable” Desert Tortoise population than reported. geoglyphs)." And the Western Watersheds Project pointed out that both the He noted his academic background is a polar opposite to Blythe and Palen project sites are within the Eastern Colorado Figueroa's, and added that there hasn't been much in the way Desert Tortoise Recovery Unit, and would “disrupt connectivof research done on the geoglyphs. ity” between the eastern and northern recovery units, and could "This is a huge treasure, so why isn't it studied? It's like it reduce gene flow and impair tortoise recovery. is a conspiracy of willful ignorance," he noted. "The stories out While Kokopilli may point to the setting sun during there could rewrite the story of the area, its history. These are equinox, he also points to choices. Do we choose to continue some of the few sites like this on the planet. We owe it to our to pretend the desert is a vast wasteland, its “empty, barren” own culture in the U.S., and to history, to preserve these things. landscape suitable for scraping to build the next gold-driven "I feel like we let people destroy the desert in every imag- dream, criss-crossing with high voltage power lines, or dumpinable way," he added. "Given the opportunity, we can really ing centuries worth of garbage? Or do we learn to actually see give people a better sense of our history, and learn from it. Strip the desert—its vibrant beauty, natural diversity, its rich history, away the political, strip away Aztlan, strip away all the Mexica deep culture, and colorful heritage, and value its true wealth? identifiers, and what do you have? A national treasure being With this story, we’re launching a series of “green power” neglected and abused. I firmly believe the work of Alfredo pieces, and we’ll also be taking an ongoing look at the state of Figueroa will help rewrite the history of this region, possibly the rights of indigenous cultures in the desert. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 31


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nder normal circumstances, I would wait for someone else with better credentials to propose protection for the Blythe geoglyph sites. But with a fast-track project proposed that would permanently damage or destroy the geoglyphs, trails, artifacts, and other archaeological resources of this site, I feel I must advocate for investigation of the possibility of, either through congressional or presidential action, incorporating the sites of the Blythe Intaglios, combined with the other geoglyphs sites on lands near Blythe (possibly including outlying sites from the Bouse Fisherman in Arizona to the Topock Maze near Needles), into some protected management unit, possibly a new national monument. In Peru, the Nazca Lines are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In California, few geoglyphs are protected or preserved. These fascinating and mysterious images are windows into the desert's past and the civilizations who lived here before us for thousands of years. They have immense historical and cultural value, even though at this time, we may not know precisely what we're looking at, or why it may be there. These sites beg to be studied, respected and revered, as we attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the cultures that preceeded contemporary American settlement, and who were, and still are, a significant valuable component of human existence in the desert. But the first step is to protect these sites, for without their existence, there can be no future study, no possibility of eventually understanding what these figures represent. These geoglyphs, trails, and nearby archaeological sites could become a boon to Blythe's future. I believe serious consideration of a plan that would include relocation of the solar power project to lands on the other side of Interstate 10, fencing and restricting access to the geoglyph sites to ensure their immediate preservation, establishing boundaries for a national monument that would include all Blythe area intaglios/ geoglyphs, and other sites of potential significance, funding for an interpretive center, and establishment of an educational 32 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

n March 12, nearly 250 people attended the free Climate Change and the California Desert Conference put on by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Defenders of Wildlife. Seth Shteir, NPCA senior program coordinator, introduced the all-day event by saying, “We believe the best solution to problems like climate change is to educate the public and our elected officials.” Deann Albers of Defenders of Wildlife added, “Global warming is one of the most serious threats to wildlife today. With just a two to four degree increase, a quarter of the species on Earth could go extinct.” Next, Curt Sauer, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, took the podium. He noted, “There’s been a shift in government from having to prove that climate change is there, to doing something about it.” Sauer spoke about common sense measures each of us can do to make a difference and suggested, “Drive the speed limit. You can get the entire length of the basin in just four more minutes, and you’ll save money and make Hwy. 62 safer.” The conference’s featured speakers included: Dr. Cameron Barrows, Center for Conservation Biology arrows spoke on the implications of climate change for desert tortoises and other reptiles. He observed that for the past 130 years, overall temperatures have become warmer worldwide; though some regions are cooler and some have more variable weather than before, it’s all part of climate change. Since 1975, there’s been a notable rise in temperatures due to human-generated carbon dioxide. “That’s the culprit,” he said. “That’s why humans are part of the problem.” Along with warmer temperatures, he said that rainfall is

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program at Palo Verde College that would support research on these sites and others in the region, as well as their conservation, is in order. Protection for these sites should be assured, and studies, involving all the tribes of the Colorado River (and others with a demonstrated interest and connection), should be conducted to establish a protected inventory of indigenous sacred and culturally significant sites, trails, and lands. With such a plan, Blythe could gain jobs from the solar power project, plus additional jobs from establishment of a national monument, as well as cultural heritage tourism and educational programs that would ensue. And America would have yet another puzzle piece of its past preserved for future generations, and a better understanding of the true roots of this country. – Steve Brown


the key issue, especially in the desert. “The greatest climate changes in the U.S. are going to happen right here, in both precipitation and temperature. Some birds and mammals can move in response to climate change—they can go upslope, but they need upslope to go to. Animals that don’t move very much are more vulnerable.” Barrows studied climate change in relation to six reptiles in Joshua Tree National Park: desert tortoise, desert horned lizard, desert spiny lizard, chuckwalla, coachwhip and gopher snake. He found that with a two-degree increase in temperature and three inches less rainfall—a likely scenario in the next 50 years—all of these species would decline except the coachwhip. Tortoises would attempt to move upslope, but with enough warming would move out of the park. Also, larger-bodied reptiles would do better than smaller ones. He stated that wildlife corridors are essential to keep the park from becoming “an island or a zoo.” On the up side, he noted, “The topography of the park is the reason for its biological diversity and is what will enable park animals to have some resiliency to withstand climate change.” Jim Ferguson, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Palm Desert veteran of Palm Desert city government, Ferguson is passionate about helping people reduce their electricity costs. He pointed out, “The cheapest way to save energy is to use less of it. Our idea is to empower and encourage people to become energy independent.” He sees the key to this as AB 811, state legislation that allows municipalities to grant low-interest loans to homeowners for energy-efficient improvements. To date, the city of Palm Desert has granted $6 million to homeowners, about half of that for air conditioning upgrades and half for rooftop solar. Twenty other cities in California have their own AB 811 programs, and the movement is growing. Ferguson reported that in the next six to 12 months, the bond market will likely provide a source of additional funds. The loans are secured by the homeowner’s property and are paid off via property taxes. (Alan Rasmussen, field representative to Supervisor Neil Derry, said that San Bernardino County is in the process of starting up a program.) Ferguson observed that Southern California Edison plans a 30 percent rate increase over the next two years and said, “If all people in California reduced their energy use by 20 percent, it would reduce consumption equivalent to building 10 nuclear power plants or the total energy in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge.”

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Dr. Debra Hughson, Science Advisor to the Mojave National Preserve ughson spoke about the effects of climate change on water in the desert, specifically as related to springs in the Mojave National Preserve. She reported that there are 250 upland springs and marshes within the preserve, all but two of them above 1,000 meters in elevation. At the present time, higher elevations in the preserve get up to 12 inches of rain a year, while lower elevations get about three inches. Climate change is expected to decrease rainfall and have a significant impact on the springs. “Seeps and springs are very susceptible to climate change, with only enough storage to last a few dry years,” Hughson said. In the past 100 years, 2002 and 2007 were the driest years on record while 2005 was the wettest year on record (followed by big fires that summer). This extreme variability is typical of climate change. Hughson observed, “More variability means more fire, flood, erosion, species invasions and loss of native species.” Regarding aquifers, she stated, “If you overdraft—take

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out too much water for human use—it takes a long time for the aquifer to recover, up to 150 years or more. By the time you see damage, it’s too late.” Dr. Lori Hargrove, Post Doctoral Researcher at the San Diego Museum of Natural History argove’s research interest is the biogeography of birds— that is, how their distribution and abundance is affected by issues like climate change. She noted there are over 400 species of birds in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, and that no two species share exactly the same distribution or habitat preferences. Desert birds have special survival strategies that include flexible nesting schedules based on the climate year to year. Due to climate change, she says, “There is evidence of changes in migration dates, earlier egg laying, and mismatch with food— for example, insects peak earlier than the birds show up.” In a three-year survey of birds at three Coachella Valley sites, she observed that some species like mountain quail and phainopepla have already moved upward in elevation as a response to climate change, and that some had better reproductive success at higher elevations. “Bird shifts are the canary in the coal mine in relation to climate change,” Hargrove said. She is currently taking part in the San Jacinto Centennial Resurvey—a survey of birds, animals and reptiles in the San Jacinto Mountains that is revisiting sites from a famous benchmark survey in 1908. For more information, visit www.sdnhm. org/research/sanjacinto.

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After the speakers’ presentations, Mike Cipra, desert programs manager for the NPCA, summed up, “It takes a community to tackle an issue as complex as climate change. It takes all of us. Our impact needs to be personal, community-based and political.” Participants then relocated to the Hi-Desert Nature Museum for a reception at the Climate Change Art Show and Contest. The grand prize winner was Drew Reese for his photograph of a Joshua tree titled, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.” Additional conference supporters included the Mojave Desert Land Trust, Morongo Basin Conservation Association, The Living Desert, The Desert Protective Council, Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Copper Mountain College, The Sun Runner Magazine, the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, and the Town of Yucca Valley. To Learn More About Climate Change: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch U.S. Global Change Research Program: www.globalchange.gov. Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for California’s Water: www.water.ca.gov/climatechange.

April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 33


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t’s a sobering statistic: up to 75 percent of the drinking water used every year in the Joshua Basin Water District goes toward landscaping. What can be done to cut back on water consumption and still keep our surroundings beautiful? One answer is to choose more native and other low water usage plants. The new Water Wise Demonstration Garden at the JBWD office (61750 Chollita Road, at the corner of Park Blvd.) is a public education project that shows how it can be done. The Water Wise Demonstration Garden has five areas, each with a different theme: Desert Ranch, Mediterranean, Native Plant and Wildlife, Rock Garden and Thornless. A group of horticulturalists, botanists and naturalists participated in the design process. Representatives from Joshua Tree National Park made sure no plants were chosen that could contaminate the surrounding desert ecosystem. One special feature of the demonstration garden is a “smart” watering system. Rather than working on a conventional timer, this computerized, state-of-the-art system waters only when necessary—as determined by a combination of soil moisture, wind speed, and air and water temperature. As far as current water usage patterns are concerned, the clock is ticking. Kathleen Radnich, public information and outreach for JBWD, observes, “The State of California passed a law, effective this year, which requires water use to be reduced 20 percent statewide by 2020. We need some paradigm shifts in how we think about water use to reach that goal.” The exhibit’s grand opening will be held on Saturday, April 17 from noon to 4 p.m. Special events include a demonstration on container gardening with cacti and succulents; a presentation by Native Americans on ethnobotany (how native plants were once used for survival); a native plant seed and seedling sale sponsored by the Theodore Payne Foundation; and a demonstration on how to do your own quick start of native seeds. After the April 17 opening, the demonstration garden will be open Monday through Friday during office hours and weekends by appointment. A self-guided walking tour brochure will be available, or you can request a 15-minute docent tour. Call (760)366-8438 to schedule an appointment or tour. Templates for the themed gardens, which include plant lists, planting plans and irrigation tips, are available online at www.jbwd.com/water-conservation.

34 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

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n February, the Mojave Desert Land Trust initiated a series of eco-hikes in partnership with Uprising Adventure Guides. Led by experts in desert life and lore, these weekly Saturday hikes range from easy to difficult and visit a variety of destinations in Joshua Tree National Park—from the Eagle Cliff and Lost Horse mines to Johnny Lang Canyon and the Wonderland of Rocks. Hike Coordinator Christa Cranston says, “Eco-Hikes bring together those who love the desert with those who know the desert—naturalists who understand the inter-connectedness of desert life forms, geology and cultural history. Deeper understanding of our environment strengthens our attachment to the land and reinforces the values of land preservation—which is what the Land Trust is all about.” Founded in 2005, the Mojave Desert Land Trust is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to protecting the Mojave Desert ecosystem and its scenic and cultural resources. To date, hike leaders have included naturalist Mark Wheeler, rock climber Jacob Colella, MDLT resource advocate Pat Flanagan and hiking veterans Rich and Vera Pringle. The cost for the half-day hikes is $10 for MDLT members; if you’re not a member, you can join for $25. The proceeds go to the Quail Mountain Project, an effort to purchase 955 pristine acres that adjoin Joshua Tree National Park. The property encompasses “Tortoise Flats,” prime habitat where over 20 desert tortoises make their home. Once the Quail Mountain property is purchased, it will be donated to the park. Upcoming eco-hikes include Willow Hole on April 10, Quail Mountain on April 17 and Ryan Mountain on April 24. To sign up, visit www.mojavedesertlandtrust.org or call (760)3665440. The hikes take a summer hiatus from May-September and resume again in October. The Land Trust is always looking for hike leaders and volunteers who want to help out while getting some fresh air and exercise. If you’d like to lend a hand, contact christa@ mojavedesertlandtrust.org.


Photos courtesy The Living Desert.

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he Living Desert is a zoo with a difference. There, you can see exotic animals and plants from deserts all over the world. It’s no surprise that a big part of their mission is to preserve desert species threatened with extinction. In the past five years, that mission has expanded to include 75 conservation projects at the local, regional, national and international levels. Peter Siminski, director of conservation and education, says, “The real power in conservation lies in partnerships. A lot of what we do involves working with other groups to build up animal and plant populations, promote research and education, and conduct biological studies to protect species in the wild.” Here are a few of The Living Desert’s ongoing conservation projects. Desert Tortoise The threats to desert tortoises are ever-increasing: predators like ravens (which thrive on garbage and roadkill), habitat destruction by off-road vehicles and a reduced food supply due to invasive species like brome grass. In some areas of the Mojave Desert, tortoise populations have declined by 90 percent. Siminski says, “We support education programs to show that tortoises have value in the desert environment.” One of those programs is California’s Mojave Max Emergence Contest, where kids from eight counties try to guess the date that Mojave Max will emerge from her burrow at The Living Desert. Another program is Tortoise Trunks, steamer trunks filled with fun information about tortoises that teachers can use in their classrooms. This year, The Living Desert plans to conduct teacher workshops and make the trunks available in more desert communities. Right now, The Living Desert is seeking funds to host the coordinator position for the Desert Tortoise Information and Education Project, a cooperative effort that involves the Desert Managers Group and Defenders of Wildlife. Siminski observes, “The Mojave Max contest in particular has helped us raise public awareness not only of the desert tortoise, but also of desert conservation as a whole.” Desert Pupfish If you’ve never seen a desert pupfish, The Living Desert has five ponds’ worth. It was one of the first institutions to protect desert pupfish, establishing the first pond in 1972. Most of the fish came from San Felipe Creek and other areas in the Salton Sink. “The wild populations are highly vulnerable to extinction,” says Siminski. “These refugia are a safeguard against natural catastrophes and a source of reintroducing the species to natural habitats in the future.” Threats to desert pupfish include variable and decreasing water sources, competing nonnative fish like tilapia and mosquito fish, and crayfish and mollusk infestations.

The populations in the different ponds are kept separate in order to maintain genetic diversity. To date, The Living Desert has retained the most genetic diversity of all 24 pupfish refuges in California and Arizona. Spring is showtime for desert pupfish. Once the water warms up, the males, which are sky blue, set up their territories in the ponds and court the females—a display you can watch from now to October. North African Projects At the international level, one of the most significant programs to date has been the reintroduction of addax to the Sahara Desert, where they are highly endangered. An addax born at The Living Desert was reintroduced a year and a half ago, along with 11 other captive-born addax and nine captive-born scimitar-horned oryx, at Djebil and Dghoumes National Parks in Tunisia. The Living Desert is a founding partner of the SaheloSaharan Interest Group and the Sahara Conservation Fund—the strongest voices for saving critically endangered species there. “Recently we helped an Algerian biologist get trained to survey cheetahs,” says Siminski. “A little over a year ago he got the first photos of a Saharan cheetah in Algeria—a pretty remarkable achievement.” Mecca Aster There are a number of species of desert asters, like the fairly common Mojave aster. But the Mecca aster is found only in a few locations—among them, the Mecca and Indio hills and the Orocopia Mountains at the edge of the Coachella Valley. The Living Desert has worked with the BLM to develop horticultural techniques for growing Mecca asters. They are then replanted in areas damaged by off-road vehicle use. “Our role is to determine the parameters for growing and reestablishing the asters,” says Siminski. “We put out some plants a couple of years ago, and we’ll do it again this fall. In the future, we want to ramp up production to support further restoration projects on BLM land.” Plan Your Visit! Spring is one of the best times to visit The Living Desert, so plan your visit now! Hours are 9 am-5 pm seven days a week through May 31. Starting June 1, summer hours are 8 am-1:30 pm. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $11 for seniors and military, $7.50 for children 3-12, and children under three free. 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, (760)346-5694, www.livingdesert.org. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 35


Photo by Jim Barry. Prince’s rock-cress (Arabis pulchra).

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ecently, following a friend’s directions, I took a walk into the rocky foothills of Quail Mountain searching for the delicate pink-petaled prince’s rock-cress (Arabis pulchra). Looking very hard, there were maybe six or seven plants in all the area we scanned. I had never seen this plant before and for a time I thought we may have discovered something rare. That turned out not to be the case, though it is rare in this location. This essay is not about rare wildflowers; it is about a return on investment. I will explain. Even though desert plants represent 37 percent of the state’s entire native flora, only about one percent of the California deserts have been adequately explored for plants. (This is shocking in itself but especially as a stand-in for how much we really don’t know about this arid land.) A complete survey has to include both spring and summer blooming periods and include the number of years it would take some species to make an appearance. Alas, development, which usually necessitates and funds plant surveys, does not require such comprehensive studies. Currently we are engaged in a renewable energy frenzy, large scale solar and wind projects and transmission lines, which will do more to destroy life in the California deserts than any previous activity. Our state and federal governments are committed to investing the desert landscape, like they would invest money, for a massive “clean energy” return. The desert, hundreds of thousands of acres of it, has become a thing, a limp dollar bill, to be scraped and industrialized. Is this an experiment with an uncertain outcome? Will desired returns on this investment—decrease in green house gas emissions—be realized? There are only three other places in the entire world where the air is as clear and the sun as bright as in the Mojave Desert—Western Australia, the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, South Africa, and the Atacama Desert in South America. The Mojave, and the entire California desert region, has additional things going for it: lots of cheap, level public land with only a short transmission hop of 80 miles to the users (aka load centers). So far, energy regulators aren’t impressed that the 80 miles crosses the San Andreas Fault system, currently fairly active, which produced the Transverse and Peninsular mountain ranges characterized by dense vegetation and extreme fire danger. I spend a good portion of my time trying to understand the various aspects of the solar land rush. I believe in the reality of climate change and the models showing the desert will experience hotter temperatures and more extreme weather conditions. Currently our earth’s atmosphere contains 389.1 parts per million (ppm) CO2 and scientists say that 350 ppm is the safe limit for humanity. As a major world economy California must do 36 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

something to significantly diminish its green house gas emissions. What will the process cost the desert? For insight, I consult The American West at Risk—Science, Myths, and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery. Howard Wilshire and his co-authors Jane Nielson and Richard Hazlett, are geologists with years of practical work in the west. They explain the concept of diminishing returns: it takes energy to get energy. The concern is net yield, how much energy you get after factoring in every input affecting production. This is expressed as the ratio of energy returned on energy invested or EROI. They give the example of oil production starting in the 1930s when the reservoirs were full and extraction easy, costing only one barrel of oil for every 100 barrels produced, or 100:1. Now that reserves are low and pumping is difficult, the ratio has dropped to 11:1, moving toward 1:1. Wilshire et. al, demonstrate the margin for renewable electric power generation is narrow, helping us understand why transmission over distance counts heavily, as does energy used to manufacture parts and construct and maintain a facility. Critics of industrial scale solar projects question if there is enough groundwater to supply solar installations needs without draining aquifers and impoverishing nearby communities. Following the recent Climate Change and the California Desert Conference, I asked Dr. Deborah Hughson, science advisor for the Mojave National Preserve and an expert on desert hydrology, to summarize the situation. She explained, “The overwhelming majority of groundwater basins in the desert are in a state of overdraft. The cumulative effect on the desert’s groundwater systems is unsustainable. Will solar projects be required to purchase and retire more existing pumping than they will use to avoid contributing to this unsustainable situation? “The need to pump or import water requires energy which cuts into the EROI. The EROI for most solar projects is already small and probably does not include the large distances in the desert that need to be traveled by vehicles for operation and maintenance... If the price of oil goes up it means that the price of the alternative also goes up. Another unanticipated input, some would call it a happy surprise, is the recent discovery that desert soils can absorb and store carbon at a high rate. If pristine desert soils are disturbed over large areas, what is the desert-wide cumulative effect of planned projects on the amount of carbon released and the loss of storage?” The BLM lists seven fast-tracked solar thermal projects intending to break ground by December 31, in order to receive substantial federal stimulus funds. These initial projects will scrape 32,103 acres (50.1 square miles) of pristine desert land to produce 3,970 MW of power or 8MW per acre. The EROI is not calibrated as part of the environmental review. In contrast, Southern California Edison is covering 1,280 acres (two square miles) of warehouse roofs in Los Angeles with photovoltaic power cells to generate 250 MW or 5MW per acre. Installed where the energy will be used, there will be no transmission or significant construction and maintenance costs. There will be no scraped desert soils and scarce water resources are not pumped long distances, trucked, or diverted from agricultural use. The cost is 27 cents per kilowatt hour (2008 prices), 19 cents more expensive than conventional generation. That cost, however, does not reflect the real energy return on investment. I believe the EROI ratio is the most important information we can have to make informed decisions. Currently the EROI is not calculated as part of the environmental process, so we do not know the return on the proposed investment of our desert land. Until the return on investment is known, I do not believe the need to sacrifice desert wildflowers, and all they represent, has been demonstrated.


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o I have this place in Joshua Tree, California, and I thought it would be fun to spend last winter and spring here and see if I like it. I do like it, and it has been a real adventure. It is the Wild West, fer sure, fer sure. The road in is really bad. So bad that the county put up a sign saying, “Road Not Maintained by San Bernardino County.” And it’s true. My neighbors and I fill in the holes when we can’t get through. I like it. The weather last winter was awful—windy and cold—and there were many stay-in-the-house days. I have been learning all about propane systems and how to repair them. One night I went to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, our local saloon, and I agreed with the guy who said, “It’s cheaper to drink here than pay for propane at home.” My neighbors are the greatest people, and they help me all the time. For some reason they seem to think I am a real dumb guy from the city. I don’t know why... The nearest house to my place is about a quarter mile away. I’m really in town, about three miles from the center of Joshua Tree, but it feels quite rural, even though there are lots of people who live out past me. My “ranch,” which I named the Outback Ranch, is in a cute little valley in an area called Hidden River, which is in a much bigger valley. I have a wonderful view of several mountain ranges and the valleys between them. When I look south I can see up into the park—Joshua Tree National Park—which is the main reason I am here. Old timers call it “The Monument,” because it used to be a national monument, but many more people come here since they upgraded it to a national park, and some are even from foreign lands. I found out that the County Assessor classifies my place as being in a “Dirt Road Subdivision” for tax purposes. This sounds like a class distinction to me. My truck gets stuck on the road quite regularly, both coming and going, I like it. Usually I

can dig it out with my shovel. Jimmy, my neighbor, offered to grade the road with his tractor for me, but I asked him not to. He asked me why and I told him “It keeps the riff-raff out.” He laughed, because he knows exactly what I mean. Less than one vehicle a week comes down my street, and they usually back out right away. A tow truck got stuck out in front of my place this spring, but he got out. Twice this year trucks came down the street and never came back. I could not figure it out, because there is no way anyone could get through on the road. I asked my neighbor Wayno what happened and he said that they drove across the new neighbors’ yard to get out. I guess they didn’t want to try coming back the same way! I have a small pickup truck, two-wheel drive, and I like it. Someday I may get four-wheel drive, but I know I would still get stuck. Wayno feels sorry for my truck. “The poor little baby truck! You’re killing it,” he told me. But it is OK, mostly. A.J., my mechanic, told me my shock absorbers were broken off, and looked at me accusingly. I looked at the ground and said I didn’t know how that could happen. All the light bulbs on my truck have gone out this year, some more than once, and I think it is the pounding from the washboard road that does it. And my battery quit working without any warning, in a very inconvenient location. There are some off-roaders who like to tear across the desert in my area. I put up a fence to keep them from destroying the vegetation. It seems to be working. Wayno told me I should put up 4-by-4s with chain link fencing and concrete (and perhaps tank traps) to keep them out, but so far it is fine. My friend Willy asked me why I moved out here. He has this stereotype of what it’s like. He said it’s a bunch of weirdos and wackos and meth heads trying to escape civilization out here. I said, “That has nothing to do with why I am here.” Everyone here is very nice to me, much nicer than where I came from. My new friend Tom came over not long ago and looked around, and he was intrigued by the idea that I don’t have any neighbors nearby. He asked me, “Why don’t they break in when you’re gone?” I said I didn’t know, and he said, “Probably it doesn’t look like there is anything worth stealing.” I put in solar panels for electricity about five years ago, and they work great! My TV gets nine channels, but only when it is in one corner of my place. Neighbor Jay-lene clued me in. She said you have to point the antenna down. This would never have occurred to me. I can run my stereo and house lights, but don’t have enough power for AC. Life is good. It didn’t rain here for about two and a half years, and the plants were dying. I even lost some Joshua trees. But this winter it rained a lot, and I have never seen so much wildlife, and so many flowers. I am a geologist, and I study the geology of the area. It is quite interesting. My place is on a fault, and also very near some other big faults, and I can see that the landscape is completely tectonically shaped. Here in the desert there is not much vegetation, and you can see exactly what is going on. February 3 was a Sunday, the windiest day I have seen here. It measured 75 mph at the airport a couple of miles from me. The windows blew in at the store in town, and I saw several garage doors that were blown into the garages, while they were closed. Ow! They just don’t make them like they used to. The wind was not a problem for me, except when I opened the front door I could not close it, no way, and I weigh more than 200 pounds. Later I went into town and got caught in a sandstorm and my windshield has pits in it now. Bah. And the many-centuries-old Joshua tree at the main intersection in town blew down that day. Well, more later... April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 37


DeRanger Steve

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t’s funny. For over 15 years I’ve learned about, then educated, people on the desert. Not just the A to Z as found in the books but everything from the Indians settling here 3,000 years ago, how the sand is used in our technology today, and my personal experiences. There are stories of Viking ships and Spanish pearl galleons buried under the Salton Sink and a plank road that once crossed the desert as well. Of course there are the legends of Joshua Tree National Park, the Lost Horse Mine and the life and death of Gram Parsons. G r a m w h o ? Gram Parsons was an important American singer/ songwriter, musician and performer. Parsons was a member of the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. He later worked as a solo artist who recorded and performed duets with Emmylou Harris. Parsons died of a drug overdose at the age of 26 in Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn. Since his death, he has been credited with helping to found

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both country rock and roots rock. Parsons was considered a major influence on groups like The Eagles, Buffalo Springfield, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. According to the stories surrounding his death from a drug overdose, his best friend, Phil Kauffman, and a few others, stole his body from the Los Angeles International Airport where it was being held for shipment to Louisiana, and drove out to Joshua Tree National Monument where they attempted to cremate his body against the North Side of Cap Rock. The cremation ended in a fireball and the arrest of Kauffman and friends. Kauffman was fined about $700 for the theft of the coffin. No legal action was taken against the theft of Grams Parsons’ body however, and his remains were sent home to New Orleans for burial. How many tourists have I taken to Cap Rock to walk the less than 1/3 mile loop trail? How many times have I given climbing lessons there or just climbed to the cap with friends? Starting in the parking lot, most people take the loop trail to the south walking away from Cap Rock going around giant piles of boulders and rock. Gram’s cremation site is on the north side of Cap Rock and most people never see it. Those that do see the site comment on the graffiti and how the park service doesn’t take care of the site, not realizing what they are looking at until I explain it. Some people ask me about Gram, commenting on the film Gram Theft Parsons (2003), the story of his death and theft of his body. They want to know where the cremation site is, alluding to the film’s script indicating that it happened in open desert somewhere. It’s at this point I say, “Once you leave town, you are in open desert,” as we walk around this imposing chunk of granite, looking at, and listening to, the climbers as they move across the Gram

J.D. Reed & Maddy Miller’s book for Wenner Books, Stairway to Heaven: The Final Resting Places of Rock’s Legends, includes photos of Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, and shrines to Gram Parsons, shot by Steve Brown of The Sun Runner.

Parson Traverse above us. “However I think you’ll find the spot you are looking for is here, somewhat hidden,” showing them an indentation in the rocks, not a cave, just something protected and out of the wind. Covered in smoke stains and paint it is the site of Gram Parsons’ failed cremation. For years people have left their marks, notes and tributes on the surrounding rock. The National Park Service does try to clean it up, only some legends are just too strong and fans return to repaint their feelings about Gram. “Gram safe at home” and “Rest in Peace,” reads some of the comments. But Gram Parsons didn’t quite rest in peace. Instead he rocks on, and on the Friday night of Valentine’s day weekend there was a concert at one of the Indian casinos. It was John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. For over two hours we sat and listened to old fashioned rock and roll and had a great time filled with feel good music—music most of us have grown up with. Music that was definitely influenced by Gram Parsons, a man who was so caught up by the desert and Joshua Tree, that he himself became one of the legends of the desert. Rock on, Gram Parsons because of your passion for the desert, you and I have become friends.


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s the depressed economy still hurting your business? The uncertain economy may last into the end of 2010, but one thing is certain: Your business can cut costs by reducing energy, waste and water use and do something good to help Joshua Tree National Park and the planet. Let’s kick off the second decade of the 21st century by empowering businesses to develop green practices, educating visitors about sustainability and protecting our fragile desert habitat. Let me explain. In June, the National Park Conservation Association will kick off the Joshua Tree Green Business Program. The goal of the program is to reduce the environmental impact of the Joshua Tree National Park gateway community businesses while increasing public awareness about environmental concerns in our desert. It makes sense for local businesses to care about their sustainability and the health of our environment. In 2008, there were 1.3 million visitors to Joshua Tree National Park. They came to view the pristine night skies, hike through Joshua tree forests, observe wildlife and rock climb. According to a Michigan State University study, visitors spent over $37 million in our region; they ate in our restaurants, slept in our hotels and bought gas and souvenirs. The health of our local and regional economy is integrally entwined with Joshua Tree National Park. To achieve its mission, the voluntary Joshua Tree Green Business Program recognizes businesses who pledge to implement at least five sustainability measures,

two of which have to be energy efficiency or renewable energy measures. Membership is free; however, businesses will be asked to track electric, gas and water use each year in an easy to use template and implement at least 5 energy, water, or material savings strategies within 12 months. The strategies can be selected from over 50 different possibilities and from three different categories: no cost, low cost and capital intensive. An example of a no cost measure would be keeping your office thermostat low during the winter while an example of a low cost measure would be to replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. Businesses that have capital and a desire to invest in sustainability can take on capital intensive measures such as replacing an old toilet with a low flow toilet. The three categories of sustainable measures allow businesses to choose the measures that work best for them. We know that every business is different; therefore, the Joshua Tree Green Business Program honors a variety of sustainability measures. Our goal is to have 25 businesses in the local community (Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Morongo) join the program by December 2010. To achieve this goal, the NPCA Joshua Tree Green Business Program will provide: An electric, gas, and water use tracking sheet. A list of energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction measures that will help your business

identify ways to reduce its environmental footprint. A blog where businesses can check up on the latest sustainability tips and send in questions about how to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. There will also be a resource list providing information about rebates and incentives available from the federal, state, and local government, as well the local utilities. Joshua Tree Green Business Members will also benefit through free advertising. The Sun Runner magazine will showcase our community’s green businesses. In addition, a NPCA website is being created that will list members and links to their websites, if applicable. At the end of the first year, case studies about the green businesses will be written and showcased on the NPCA website. Joshua Tree Green Business Members will also receive a window decal, a website badge, and a logo to use for advertising that they are a green business. The Joshua Tree Green Business Program will assist our community businesses adopt environmental practices. By being environmentally conscious, businesses may lower material costs and utility costs, benefitting both finances and the environment. Furthermore, public recognition enables the citizens and visitors of our community to choose to shop in eco-friendly businesses around the basin, whcih is important to many who are concerned about the future of our local and global ecosystems. Please join the Joshua Tree Green Business Program to help our community rise to the challenge of protecting and preserving not only our National Parks but also our Earth for future generations.

Stefanie Kivelin, a mechanical engineer with an interest in energy and the environment, volunteered to help the NPCA develop the Joshua Tree Green Business Program For more info on the Green Business Program, please contact Seth Shteir, Senior Program Coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association, at sshteir@npca.org or (760)366-7785. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 39


Bill and Elvira Bramlette with their children Wales and Elizabeth, 1908. Bramlette family photo, courtesy of Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert. The Little Lake hotel, store, and Post Office in their heyday. Courtesy of the Maturango Museum.

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ur Indian Wells Valley here in the Upper Mojave Desert is surrounded by mountain ranges to form one of the chain of lakes that carried Ice Age glacial water from the Eastern Sierras into Death Valley. The northern boundary of our valley is the Coso Mountains which are of volcanic origin. They run east and west and appear to connect on their west end with the Sierra Nevadas that trend north and south. But not so. The extensive ancient volcanic activity of lava flows and cinder domes stopped short, leaving a gap in the northwest corner of our valley. It was through this gap, the “Little Lake Gap,” as it later became known, that the glacial water flowed. The gap also is the exit from our valley for the main route that connects Los Angeles with the Inyo-Mono country and beyond. The gap is six miles long, with its narrowest point a quarter of a mile wide. It accommodates the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the four-lane U.S. 395 highway, the freshwater Little Lake and, in their day, the Southern Pacific Railroad and an early settlement to serve the travel and commercial traffic along the Midland Trail/Bullion Road. A main feature in the gap is the lake, on the east side of the highway, which is not large. But its 200 acres are big enough to harbor fish and wildlife—with waterfowl covering the surface during migration season. Perennial underwater springs keep the lake full throughout the year. The east side of the lake is bound by the sheer 100-foot-plus face of a massive lava flow from a nearby volcano. Habitation by prehistoric Native Americans is evident by numerous petroglyphs at the base of the lava wall. The Stahl Site, located a short distance north of the lake, was discovered in 1947 by Will Stahl, an amateur archaeolo40 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

gist who reported his discovery to the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. The museum curator, Mark Harrington, began excavation in 1948 and continued intermittently until 1951. The site was quite extensive and rich with artifacts. Harrington concluded that the site was occupied 3,000 to 4,000 years ago with some evidence that indicates a greater age. Fast-forward to the early 1900s. Traffic and settlers increased with the construction of the L.A. Aqueduct (19081913) and the S.P. Railroad (1910). William “Bill” Bramlette, a native of Los Angeles, moved up to Little Lake with his wife and children in 1915. An energetic 38-year-old, he purchased an early homestead and began a 25-year program of building and operating modern (for the times) facilities and services for the touring public. A complex of gas station, auto garage, store, café, two-story hotel, post office building, etc., were constructed in the 1920s on the west side of Little Lake Gap along the Midland Trail. The railroad line ran parallel to the trail, and the Little Lake Station was a regular stop for people, mail and goods. Over these years and into the 1930s, Bramlette acquired additional parcels of land, including the lake proper and the land north of it where the Stahl Site and Fossil Falls are located. His land, totaling 1,200 acres, formed the Little Lake Ranch. Bill passed away in December 1940, and his wife Elvira died in November 1943. The responsibility of operating the Little Lake Ranch assets fell to their son Tom. Of course, with the passage of time came changes. Tom sold the business properties in the early 1950s. He and his wife continued to live at the ranchhouse that had been built just north of the lake. Eventually, in 1962 Tom sold the balance of the Little Lake Ranch property to a group in Southern California. Today little evidence exists of the historic Little Lake settlements. The ranch house and fresh-water lake on the east side of the present highway are still standing as private property, not open to access by the public. A major realignment and four-lane construction of Highway 395 resulted in the demolition of many of the buildings at the former business complex site. A short stretch of the paved Midland Trail at the site still exists. The railroad is long gone, with the embankment barely discernible. And on the west side stands the ruins of the Post Office building—the lonely reminder of a once-thriving community. However, the topography of the gap has not changed. The volcanic features in the adjoining Cosos are striking. Several massive ancient lava flows are visible—like frozen black glaciers. Come up to see them, just a short 20 minutes north of Ridgecrest. John Di Pol Historical Society of the Mojave Desert


Edward Beale.

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dward Beale looked back across the Colorado River, thankful that all 24 (some say 25) of his precious camels had survived the crossing. Situated 25 miles north of Needles, they were now ready to begin their adventure across the Mojave Desert to California. But, what had Beale already accomplished? Their journey began at Camp Verde, near San Antonio, Texas, where the larger herd of imported camels was located. His official business was to survey a road along the 35th Parallel from Fort Defiance in New Mexico to the Colorado River. The party included 120 animals including horses and mules, wagons and 44 men. They had traveled for four months and over 1,200 miles. Beale’s job was done. Or was it? Beale had learned a lot about camels and come to respect their abilities. They were patient and did not stampede. They could wander miles for feed. He wrote to the Secretary of War. “At time I have thought it impossible they could stand the test to which they have been put, but they seem to have risen equal to every trial and to have come off of every exploration with as much strength as before starting…. In all our lateral explorations, they have carried water sometimes for more than a week for the mules used by the men, themselves never receiving even a bucketful of one of them. They have traveled patiently, with heavy packs, on these explorations, countries covered with sharpest volcanic rock, and yet their feet, to this hour, have evinced no symptom of tenderness or injury. With heavy packs, they have crossed mountains, ascended and descended precipitous places where an unladen mule found it difficult to pass, even with the assistance of the rider dismounted, and carefully picking his way.” “… I believe at this time I may speak for every man in our party, when I say there is not one of them who would not prefer the most indifferent of our camels to four of our best mules.” Their journey across the Mojave Desert was uneventful. They reached Helendale near the Cajon Pass and then started up the pass. In November 1857 a Mormon wrote: “The expedition in charge of Lieutenant Beale, sent out to examine a mail route from some point in New Mexico to San Francisco, arrived in Cajon Pass Saturday night last. There were twenty-four dromedaries and camels, a few Arabs, mules, etc.”

The professional camel experts included George Caralambo (“Greek George”), Hadji Alli (“Hi Jolly”) and Hadagoi Alli. Beale initially felt that these Greeks were incompetent but after the long journey they had mastered their abilities at dealing with camels. Beale reported: “I have subjected them to trials which no other animal could possibly have endured; and yet I have arrived here not only without the loss of a camel, but they are admitted by those who saw them in Texas to be in as good condition as when we left San Antonio.” Historian George Stammerjohan disputes the honesty of Beale’s report. “He (Beale) failed to report that he had lost three camels, the expense of which would have been deducted from the contract’s final financial settlement. And he failed to report that the Mojave Desert’s rocky soil nearly crippled the animals’ soft hooves. They were hired for work in the softer, sand-gravel deserts of the eastern Mediterranean.” Beale divided the expedition at Cajon Pass. The main caravan traveled north to the Mojave River and west to Palmdale, Lake Elizabeth, and finally Fort Tejon which was located in the mountains some 40 miles south of Bakersfield. Beale and Hi Jolly took a smaller contingent to San Bernardino for a day’s rest and then some 60 miles or so to Los Angeles over a stagecoach road. Before entering the pueblo of Los Angeles, Hi Jolly donned a colorful costume and draped one of the camels with bells. When they entered the small city of 1,500 they created quite a stir. People followed the camels all over town. Horses reportedly reared back at the sight of the strange animals and galloped away. After two days of a very public celebration, the caravan got back to business and headed out of town on the Camino Real to the San Fernando Mission. From there they headed north through the mountains to Fort Tejon. Fort Tejon was an army post which was established to protect the San Sebastian Indian Reservation from incursions by white settlers. It was also clear that the Fort was to protect herds of cattle in the region from hostile Indian raids. Hi Jolly was preparing to leave his camel duties for the excitement of prospecting for gold in the diggings of the Sierra foothills at Whisky Flat some 50 miles to the north. But he remained with the venture when he learned that Beale was preparing to return to the Colorado River with a small detachment of camels designed to test the suitability of the route during winter. Camels had arrived in the American West and would be here for some time. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 41


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uch written western history has spun around conflict of one sort of another…the term ’frontier’ suggests tension between us and them, civilized and not-civilized…the border of something and the start of something else. We tend to look through this lens at mining camps of a hundred years ago and see good guys versus bad guys. Throw in a few weathered wooden buildings, donkeys, whisky, saloon girls and mix with gold, silver, and even tungsten, and you have it: LIFE IN A MINING CAMP. But what about the children? (They lived there too, you know.) What stuck in their minds? On Randsburg’s pages of the 1900 census over half the miners were listed as married; over 100 children were in local schools! More children were too young for school and taken care of by their mothers at home. Family photos and childhood memories spin what we think we know about mining camps into a new direction. RAY Ray Conaway, born in Westminster California in 1906, lived for a time on Highland Avenue in Randsburg in what Ray remembered as a two room house. In a photo picturing Ray’s mother Ora May and toddler Ray, Ora is dressed in a loosely fitting gingham checked sleeveless dress over a white blouse. Ora and Ray wear similar sun hats as they stand in front of a screen door and open window overlooking their Randsburg front porch. Little Ray’s Uncle Fred had a freighting business which moved supplies and equipment from the railroad depots at Mojave and Johannesburg to Randsburg. Ray loved telling that Dr Rose Burcham saved Uncle Fred’s foot from amputation after a wagon rolled over it…. Ray’s little sister Edna was born in Randsburg on the 23rd of December, 1907. About ten years ago, in Barstow, Ray shared that the women and children of the family spent some cool time in Long Beach in the summer…he showed me a photo of Edna sitting in a wicker baby buggy at the edge of the surf. HARRISON Harrison Doyle, along with a brother and two sisters, accompanied their parents to Randsburg in the early days. He recalled tables and chairs in their dugout-home which were made from dynamite boxes; mattresses were stuffed with the tops of creosote bushes. As an adult, Harrison recalled the smell of wet 42 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

Teresa McCarthy’s Randsburg home, top right; and Teresa, right. Ora May and Ray Conaway, circa 1908, far left. Harrison Doyle (second from left in seated row), aged about 12 in Randsburg, 1901, above left.

sawdust coming from saloons…and how much make-up was scandalously worn by the women who worked in those saloons. The Fourth of July was really exciting to Harrison who recalled miners coming from surrounding claims to enter the drilling contest. The boys loved the soda cracker eating contest where the prize was awarded to the first boy who could whistle after devouring a certain number of crackers. Other games included a tug of war between married and single men (cigars were the winning team’s prize), a spoon race for women and a three legged race for children. A baseball game, a greased pig contest, the reading of the Declaration of Independence and a dance capped off the day. In a 1959 interview Harrison (a distant cousin of author Arthur Conan Doyle) related: I learned a great many things in Randsburg, chief of which was to sift the gold from the gilt: the real from the tinsel in life. And the gift has stood me in good stead throughout a long, and I hope useful life…I instinctively realized than that folks changed the minute they got away from civilization. They would let down the bars and do things in a mining camp they would never dream of doing at home. TERESA Teresa McCarthy remembered the taste of strawberry sodas at the drug store in Randsburg as well as the wind, which sounded to her like rain as it blew through the cottonwood trees. Teresa also remembered her parents in their Highland Avenue home: Mother, a sweet patient woman, always had time to listen to us, to answer our questions, and to pat or kiss us where it hurt. Father, a fun-loving man, a tease, was always ready to play with us. Memories are still made on the California Rand, come for a visit and do bring your children….


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ark your calendars, veterans and families: The Mobile Viet Nam Veterans’ Memorial for the Antelope Valley will be on display in Ridgecrest in Freedom Park, May 14 through 22. It will be assembled in the park May 14, with a candlelight ceremony that evening. Ridgecrest’s Armed Forces Day ceremonies will be held May 15 and 16. Exact times and events are not yet confirmed (check our calendar at thesunrunner.com). Designed like a scar in the earth, the Wall has the names of all known U. S. military personnel who lost their lives in that conflict etched into its shiny surface, arranged by year of death. While the full size original is permanently installed in Washington, D.C., several half-size reproductions have been made that travel the country, so those who could not otherwise experience the Wall may do so. The Wall is said to be a catalyst for healing, both among those grieving for lost loved ones and those scarred by the war itself. Altogether, there are 58,000 names on the wall, listed chronologically. The Wall also inspires honor ceremonies by several groups, including Native Americans. Local resident and veteran Nick Coy, one of the organizers of the Wall’s visit to Ridgecrest, described his first experience at the Wall. It was about 20 years ago, at a ceremony in Bishop. Nick was one of the speakers. “I had come to pay honor to the Wall. At the end of a wreath-laying ceremony, drums started playing and adults and children in full Native American regalia came out dancing up the main aisle to the stage, across the stage, and circled around the drum, singing songs to honor veterans. They stopped, and one of the elders came up and did a prayer in the Paiute language and someone translated into English. It was such a tremendous thing to do, very powerful. “Their spiritual advisor smudged all across the Wall with sacred sage smoke, then they all sang more honor songs in the circle, including “Soldier Boy.” It’s a modern song about warriors from all the wars, done in English. Almost all Native drum groups know and perform that song. “They concluded with another prayer, and then people started coming up to the Wall to read the names.” Nick was deeply impressed by the intense spiritual feeling of the event. “Native Americans have always revered their warriors—they are the protectors of the Nations. They put their lives on the line,

Joe Morris Sr., one of the few surviving original Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, representing all Native veterans at a similar ceremony. Joe has visited Ridgecrest.

just like anyone else does to protect their country. So, at every Pow Wow, every Native gathering, the veterans are always honored. There are special groups, like the Gourd Dancers, who are all veterans, dancing to honor other veterans.” The second time Nick saw the Wall, Natives brought a riderless horse, to represent the horse of a warrior who fell in battle. Decorated with painted symbols, the horse also boasted feathers plaited into its mane and tail. It wore a bridle but no saddle, since Natives traditionally rode bareback. “In modern U.S. military symbology, it would be a saddled horse with the boots in the stirrups backwards and no rider, led by another soldier, so the two traditions are very similar. The horse was led to the center of the Wall, to honor the many, many Native Americans whose names are on the Wall. The earliest year, 1959, starts in the center, with the years going toward the right hand end. Then the listing continues starting at the far left side, so the last year, 1975, meets the 1959 list in the center, like a circle with no beginning and no end. That’s where the horse April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 43


stood. Circles are meaningful symbols to Native people, too.” Nick was presented with the feathers that decorated the horse. “That’s how Natives honor those who honor them,” he said. He still treasures those feathers. Looking forward to the candlelight ceremony, he said, “It’s a very, very moving experience to see the glow of the candles as people move around the Wall.” There will be a strong Native presence. Little Deer Durvin, local Native activist is expecting Natives from Tehachapi, Bakersfield, Rosamond, Palmdale, Bishop, and Los Angeles County, in addition to those from the Indian Wells Valley, to take part. Military and political dignitaries have been invited, and all ceremonies are open to the public. “The Native American community honors veterans highly, as we all should, because of what they do for our country,” said Little Deer. According to Howard Auld, longtime community leader and Armed Forces Day organizer, this event is designed to recognize present service personnel, veterans, and the honored dead. The Wall will be located behind the Freedom Park gazebo, where ceremonies will be held. “You can’t overestimate the significance of the Wall,” said Auld. “It’s really a marvelous opportunity for folks to appreciate the sacrifice made by so many. There is a synergism there, to recognize not only the service personnel but also the families that supported their loved ones who served and are serving now.” If you look closely, you will see some familiar names. Several area landmarks are named for local sons who perished in the war. Nick served three tours in the Navy from 1967 to 1971, on board the USS Hancock CVA 19 in the Gulf of Tonkin. He didn’t think of himself as being in the same danger as fighters in the jungle. Years later, he came to realize that he and his shipmates were in more danger than they knew. “I thought of myself as being in a safe area, but we were providing air cover that allowed others to do their jobs.” He came home with a case of survivor’s guilt. “Why did I survive when so many others did not? I didn’t figure it out until I got involved with the Wall. It was so I could keep their memory alive and that’s what the Wall means to me.” The Wall is managed by a group called Point Man of Antelope Valley, a Lancaster-based volunteer organization that works with homeless veterans and veterans in need. The group is headed by George Palermo, who can be contacted at (661)992-2228 for more information. Writer Linda Saholt lives in Ridgecrest. 44 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

Desert Theatre Beat

By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor

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heatre in the hi- and low desert may be a little bloodied, but it’s still very much alive. The country’s economy has taken a terrible toll on everyone’s pocketbook, with theatre coming in for its share. Fortunately, our hi-desert theatres are still open but in the low desert some theatres have not been so lucky... HI-DESERT THEATRES High Desert Cultural Center – Joshua Tree The much anticipated opening of the landmark Hi-Desert Cultural Center theatre, recently renamed the Kaye Ballard Playhouse, will be a little longer in the incubation/renovation period. It was scheduled to open in March of this year but HDCC President Jarrod Radnich, informs me that newly acquired additional funding has delayed the opening to November. This is a major renovation project for the 30 year-old theatrical organization, and the Board of Directors want to give the venerable theatre building the proper attention due a hi-desert cultural landmark. “When we open in the Fall, it will be a major public relations and cultural event that will do the hi-desert area proud,” said Radnich, adding, “there are still the finishing touches to be done and we want to make sure everything is perfect.” There are other major events on the radar screens of the HDCC that will bring additional recognition and prestige in their cultural, arts, music and theatrical endeavors. These are exciting times for the hi-desert and Joshua Tree, in particular, so stay tuned to The Sun Runner and this column. On April 3, Justin Blake brings his California Desert Regional Theatre production of “No Way to Treat A Lady” to the Blak Box Theatre. This play is part of Blake’s “Murder/Mystery” series. The last production in the series was the

highly successful “Scotland Road.” “No Way to Treat A Lady” will perform two shows on the same day, Saturday, April 3 at a 2 p.m. matinee, and a 7 p.m. evening performance. Call the box office at (760)366-3777 for tickets and reservations. Theatre 29 – Twentynine Palms You still have time to catch the current show, “Walmartopia” before it moves on. The Charles Harvey directed comedy opened last month and performs Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. through April 10. Following “Walmartopia” is the light comedy children’s show “Aesop’s Oh So Slightly Updated Fables,” directed by Rob and Betty Wanless. It’s a smattering of some of the better known fables, newly updated to give the kiddies and audiences more relevancy, but still imparts the wisdom and fun of the original tales. Theatre 29 always does a bang-up job with their children’s theatre shows, as well as their traditional Christmas shows, so it should a fun evening for all. Taking your kids and grandchildren to see the shows is a great way to introduce young people to the world of live theatre and the performing arts. Theatre 29 has an outstanding program for young people interested in the performing arts scene. Show dates for “Aesop’s Oh So Slightly Updated Fables” are May 7 through June 5, playing every Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with one Thursday show, 7 p.m., May 20, and one Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m., May 29. For reservations and tickets call the box office at (760)361-4151. Groves Cabin Theatre – Morongo Valley The Groves may be small in the number of seats available for patrons (only 23) but has racked up more awards over the years than any theatre in the hi- and low desert (more than 50 awards). Also, the Groves is one of the few theatre venues that accepts and produces original material. Case in point, the last show at the Morongo Valley theatre. “The PurrLoined Parlor,” was written by awardwinning actor/writer/director Wendy Cohen and directed by Marge Doyle. I hope most of you caught this little gem of a comedy. It was a terrific show and could nab another Desert Theatre League Award this November. The outstanding cast included Wendy Cohen, Nicole Sment, Peter Nicholson, Rob Hubler, and Taylor Carson. The Groves’ current production, “April,” written by local journalist, actor, and director Kurt A. Schauppner, opens


April 10 and performs Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through May 2. This marks Schauppner’s third play to be presented at the Groves Theatre. The story revolves around two groups of friends who meet for lunch at a small restaurant located in Los Angeles. The cast features: Manny Ricon, Susan Brundage, Vicki Montgomery, Joy Groves, and Ester Wingate. Assistant director Michael Lipsitz and set designer Ann Gongdon are aiding Shauppner in mounting the production. Following “April,” the Groves presents “In the Rest Room at Rosenblooms,” a comedy written by Ludmilla Bollow, which opens May 22 and runs through June 13. For reservations and ticket information call (760)365-4523. COACHELLA VALLEY THEATRES Palm Canyon Theatre – Palm Springs The flagship theatre of Palm Springs presents the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic “Carousel.” The musical directed by Dr. William Layne, features a cast of over 35 performers, including singers, dancers, and award-winning actors. Performances will be given on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays, and Saturdays, at 8 p.m., Sundays, at 2 p.m. beginning April 9 running through April 25. Following “Carousel,” the Palm Canyon is presenting the Cameron Mackintosh blockbuster musical “Miss Saigon.” The love story set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam war will perform Thursdays, at 7 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, at 8 p.m., and Sundays, at 2 p.m. It opens on May 7 and runs through May 23. For reservations and ticket information to Palm Canyon Theatre shows call (760)323-5123. Thorny Theater – Palm Springs The only theatre serving the GLBT community of the Coachella Valley, now in its fourth year of providing quality “gay themed” theatre, opened last month with Doric Wilson’s play, “A Perfect Relationship,” directed by Jim Strait. The story about role-playing asks the question “Are there too many friends, or tricks, or one too many men in your life?” If the answer is yes, to any of those questions, then perhaps, you had better check out this production, which opened March 12 and performs Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays, at 2 p.m. through April 4. Remember most productions are strictly for adults (some male nudity involved). Call the box office for content

and for reservations and ticket information at (760)325-0853. College of the Desert (COD) – Palm Desert COD performs a spring musical every year, and the community looks forward to the production. It’s always a first rate effort, but this year, the award-winning Theatre Department has a pall hanging over it. Michele Gaines, long time director, choreographer, and teacher of the year, and an inspiration to her many students, passed away in March following a long battle with scleroderma. Michele was considered one of the finest directors in the valley and she left us far too early. She will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends at this very difficult time. In keeping with the finest traditions of the theatre, however, the COD spring production will go on. On May 6 through May 9, the Theatre Department presents “The Music Man,” by Meredith Wilson. It should be an emotion-packed four performances. Call the college for ticket information and reservations at (760)7732565. Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC) – Indio “Vincent Van Gogh: A Portrait in Two Acts,” by Delores Becker Trost, is being presented at the IPAC stages on Saturdays, April 17 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 18 and 25 at 3 p.m. Make sure you see local actor Lloyd Steele in his DTL award-winning turn as the troubled but brilliant painter Vincent Van Gogh. It’s a tour de force performance. Call the box office for tickets and reservation information at (760)775-5200. Joslyn Players – Joslyn Senior Center – Palm Desert The Players are on hiatus until this fall. Call the center for information at (760)340-3220. La Quinta Playhouse – La Quinta After five and a half years, the LQP is no more. The Old Town theatre closed its doors after the final curtain last month— a victim of the economy. It’s sad to lose any business, but in the arts community it’s especially disconcerting. Actors need theatres in which to perform and the community needs actors to enjoy the magic that theatre can provide. I spoke to JoAnn Reeves, the former artistic director of the now defunct theatre, asking what her plans, if any, were for live theatre in the East Valley. Reeves, is a savvy theatre person, and

like the Phoenix rising from ashes, she is already moving forward with plans for a new theatrical venture in Indian Wells. The new performing space will be known as “The PlayHouse at Indian Wells.” Paula Klein is the new managing director, with Reeves named as the artistic director. For Reeves it’s a role in which she is very comfortable. When I asked about the theatre’s location, she demurred saying,“It’s a little too early to announce any particular address. However, I can say the new theatrical venture will be presenting an evening of music along with a fabulous dinning experience at the Indian Wells Club on Saturday, April 17. Tickets for the event are $60 for dinner and show. Stay tuned…. A New Theatre Company Joins Our Intrepid Troupe of Players… I’m happy to report a new playwriting/ acting organization has dipped its creative toes into the desert’s theatrical waters. The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, located at 72425 Via Vail, Rancho Mirage has a core group of four playwrights with access to local actors who will perform stage readings. The four: Burt Peachy, Michael Craft, Thomas A. Lister, and James Royce McGuire, are collaborating on the last stage reading of the group’s initial season. Their effort is entitled “Gin And Coke,” which will be performed Thursday, April 22 at the UUCOD at 7:30 p.m. Call (760)567-9734 for more information. There will be more to come about this group over the summer, so stay tuned… That’s a wrap for this issue. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 45


FADE IN: Some people never see too many movies. They’re the film junkies that find themselves in a seat at their local cineplex three out of seven days a week. Now that’s either total dedication to the art form or it’s bordering on obsession or outright addiction. I’m not sure which. For these “lost souls” then, listen up! Have you thought about increasing your exposure to your addiction? Now, if you perked up at the mention of more movies available for viewing, how about this Rx? There is a whole world of exotic locales and scenery you wouldn’t normally see, stories you normally wouldn’t seek out, and interesting and exciting countries and cultures you would never visit. Yes, I’m talking film festivals. Two of the most important and largest film festivals in the country are headquartered right here in Palm Springs. First, there is the 800- pound gorilla of festivals, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the third largest in North America. Screenings for members of their film society are relatively inexpensive and available throughout the year. The Society holds forth at the Regal Cinemas complex on Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs. The second film screening organization, the Desert Film Society, is comfortably ensconced in The Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. Both organizations are very affordable and offer a wide variety of genres, tastes, and subject matter for their members. Also, both organizations present films either in English or with subtitles from the country of origin. Don’t be turned-off at the mention of “foreign films.” I urge you to attend as many for46 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

eign films as you can. It’s a great way to increase your knowledge about the world around you, and it’s interesting to see just how the other half live. People and their stories have a universal appeal no matter where they take place, however, the current U.S. economy not withstanding, you will quickly come to realize and to really appreciate how fortunate we all are to be living in the United States of America. Screening schedules for April and May for PSFS films are: “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney. It’s a story about greed, and our politicians’ desperate need to get elected. Infuriating, yet undeniably fun to watch, “Casino Jack” has a cynical villain audiences will love to hate. Having whetted your appetite about the film, the actual date of the screening hasn’t been announced as of press time, nor has their May film. Therefore, contact the Palm Springs Film Society office at (760)322-2930 and ask about the screening dates, times, and how one becomes a member, and sign up! The Desert Film Society has announced its April and May schedule. All films are screened at 9:30 a.m. sharp at The Camelot. On Saturday, April 10, “Angel of Mine,” (from France) is being screened. The film is a psychological thriller and stars two of France’s finest actresses. On April 17, the film selection is “Mortgage,” a comedy/drama from Israel. “Mortgage” examines how far a young couple will go in order to save their house from confiscation. The society’s May screening is the German film, “A Year Ago In Winter.” It will be shown Saturday, May 1. The story deals with a touching tale of a family coping with tragedy in an entirely different way. For information on becoming a member of the Desert Film Society, or to obtain information about tickets, call (760)772-2999 On a different, but somewhat related subject for May, The Camelot Theatres becomes the host venue for the 10th Annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival—a separate special event not connected with the film society’s yearly program of screenings. The annual festival, named in honor of the late Art Lyons (no relation), a Palm Springs resident and author, and a

champion of film noir movies, pays tribute to the films, the directors, the writers, and the actors of the classic “film noir” genre. Many of the stars of the films being presented are scheduled to be in attendance over the four days of the festival. If you are a true film junkie then you absolutely have to be in attendance. The festivities begin Thursday, May 13 and run through May 16. For information about schedules of films, special events, Q & A sessions, and tickets, call The Camelot Theatres at (760)325-6565. Don’t forget to check out Leanna Bonamici’s new website dedicated to short films: www.shortsshowcase.com. Bonamici, operator of Casablanca Studios in Desert Hot Springs, started the site to help promote makers of short films and share their work with film fans and the film industry through on demand and online distribution. She, Brandon Worswick, and Drew Mandinach operate Shorts Showcase. Current films include Breadwinner, from Sky and Shadow Productions, I Learn, from Grass Roots Media, Running Back To Forward, by GF Film, Little Stories Of Some Interest, Chasing Forever, from Dummy Dog Films, Bomb Yourself, from Infinite Cre8tions, Inc., Reluctance, by Hunter Woo, Dejection, from Zubarev Brothers Film, and The Lifter Upper, from Micah Monkey (poor Olive!). Vote for your favorite shorts, or better yet, enter your own work! See you at a film festival. FADE OUT:


T

here are many, many places one can go to enjoy a good breakfast, the most important meal of the day. So why is it that this little Palm Springs eatery, Bit Of Country, is always busy? And why are so many expensive cars parked outside? This is not just another “greasy spoon.” People patronize this restaurant for two reasons: the food is good and the price is right. Indeed, consistency with the menu and pricing is a great key. Many patrons get hooked on a particular breakfast and order the same thing every time they go there. I have eaten there many times and find myself sticking to two or three favorite items. This is the place I go when I desire a larger than average meal. For example, their omelettes are a personal favorite because they are big and very tasty and very satisfying. There have been some combinations that I have ordered that proved to be almost more than I could eat, but I took my time and packed away every morsel. Sometimes it strikes me that these gustatory delights are “plate-lickin’ good” Spring and autumn seasons are favorites for those who prefer to dine outside without chilling breezes or brainbaking heat. There is something about dining outside that has always held great appeal, making one hungrier and the food even better. Dining outside is when you can take your time looking at the colorful mural on the north wall. This mural actually helps folks find the place as it is otherwise so understated. According to Mary Dallas,

Mary Dallas always has a friendly smile for the customers.

daughter of Fred and Matoula Dallas, who also own a steak house in Yucaipa, there is an interesting story to go with the wall. Mary’s brother noticed a homeless man sitting outside, looking like he could use a decent meal. He offered to feed the fellow in exchange for painting a mural on the wall and that exchange continued until the wall was done. As it turns out, a

lot of celebrities frequent Bit Of Country and someone wanted the man to paint them a mural. As they say, the rest is history. The homeless man now paints murals professionally, all over the world and enjoys a family of his own. The mural is signed “Dwight”. The restaurant is open from 6am to 2pm and, although they serve lunch, breakfast is by far the main fare. Often, diners will arrive somewhere around what others consider noon, and order a filling breakfast. Well, there are plenty of people in this valley, in the business of show business, who stay up very late, get up late and have breakfast at noon. Another concept that keeps the customers coming back is reasonable prices that do not change every week is Just thinking of my most recent meal at Bit O Country as I write this article is causing me to get hungry again. “One of our biggest favorites is the ham omelete,” says Mary, “with diced ham and biscuits and gravy. It’s the homemade gravy that draws the comments. But we use high quality ham too.” Stomach is growling again. Time for a good, hearty breakfast at Bit Of Country, at 418 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, (760)325-5154. Enjoy your breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 47


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ed Herman’s 15-Piece Band is drawing crowds of dancers to Dink’s on North Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, every Tuesday from 7 to 10pm. At first thought, I pictured napkins getting blown right off the tables but that is not the case. Due to the brilliant design of the building, it is possible to contain the Big Band in the “patio area,” which affords a dance floor right in front of the band. “We are thrilled to death”, says Ted Herman, “that many come to just sit and listen.” Of course. Where else around here can you get to hear a big band on a regular basis? Now, here we have the opportunity to listen and dance to authentic Big Band music played by professionals. To watch and listen to or even dance to a 15-piece band is a unique experience. It is no wonder that those who love to dance are flocking to Dink’s on Tuesday nights. Many people love to dance to songs that were popular back in the 1940s and ’50s. Notable among that diverse group is Chris Perry. In the photo he is the well-dressed man in spats and fedora who teaches this kind of dancing in the hi-desert. Ted Herman: (760)774-7459; Dink’s: (760)327-7676. Michael Bolivar is blowing a sweet horn over at Marguerita’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. I went there to get an updated photo of the Bolivar Brothers, Michael and John, as they have been playing there going on three years. Only Michael was in attendance. Soon I discovered that, due to economic reasons, the restaurant had to cut the entertainment budget, so John now plays at the Indian Wells Country Club. This presented the opportunity to listen to Michael solo all evening, a rare treat. He was in the mood to take requests and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville struck a familiar chord with a group in the back. “I guess that song just became a standard in this venue,” suggested Michael. “Ask me for another one.” “Harlem Nocturne”. “But I’ve never played that one…let’s see…..” Michael proceeded to blow Harlem Nocturne solo, with no backing track, and it was the best version I have heard in a long 48 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

Ted Herman’s 15-piece band keeps the dance floor packed at Dink’s, North Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, every Tuesday at 7 p.m., above. Michael Bolivar blows a sweet horn at Marguerita’s in Palm Springs, Friday and Saturday evenings, right. Kal David descends from the stage while playing The Thrill Is Gone among the audience, as part of the evening’s grand finale, left.

time. Although the music is carried throughout the restaurant, the tables near the band offer an intimacy with the musicians not often found in a restaurant. Michael Bolivar: (760)7778-6244; Marguerita’s: (760)7783500. Kal David is set to play Gardens On El Paseo April 3 and Space 120 April 11. The one-hour concert, from 6 to 7pm at the Gardens on El Paseo is to benefit Angel View. “We’d really like our friends and fans to pack this event,” says Kal. “Angel View does a lot of good and deserves everyone’s support.” This past February, Kal David and The Real Deal played Space 120 (formerly Blue Guitar) and not only blew the roof off the place but blew the minds of the owners of Space 120. During that intermission, I asked owner Angelo Serio how he liked the band. “Pleasantly surprised to say the least,” said Serio. “Now I know why people came to see him when he owned this club.” In our most recent conversation, Serio offered, “We are overwhelmed that he can show up and, with no advertising, fill the club. We look forward to any time Kal can play here.” That February concert featured drummer Tony Braunagel, from Robert Cray’s band. The coming concert April 11 will feature drummer Alvino Bennett and Anthony Patler on keys. Both play with Dave Mason at present. Patler played B-3 and punched bass with Kal David for some 10 years. “I am anticipating a very good night. I’m excited,” says Kal. “We’ve been busy. On April 25th, we hook up with our old friend Johnny Rivers, in Brazil, to tour South America. I’ve been reunited with Paul Cotton (Poco). He was in my band the Illinois Speed Press, a long time ago in Chicago. No telling what this reunion will produce.” For Kal David April 11 tickets, call Leslie Valentine at (760)668-9823. Kal David: www.kaldavid.com, facebook.com/kaldavidforum.


Chris Laterzo & Buffalo Robe, with Judy.

Erik Webb & guitar students perform at Angel View.

The fabulous (City) Fritters.

Shari Elf!

B

efore embarking on his international tour, Legendary King of surf Guitar Dick Dale performed to a huge crowd at Pappy and Harriet’s. Opening for Dick was his son Jimmy playing drums with the 29 Palms band, Forever Came Calling. I first saw Jimmy many years ago when he was just starting out on guitar and he truly is a “chip off the old block.” Shari Elf and her band The Kittens held a Valentine’s Day party at the Art Queen in Joshua Tree. It included a set from David Butterfield and Shari opened her studio for everyone to participate in making Valentines. Congratulations to Evaro (Family) who played to a packed house recently at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood. Look for them when they play the upcoming Joshua Tree Music Festival the weekend of May 14-16. This is a very unique and fun festival with bands from all over the world. Just added from the UK are monster dance technicians Stanton Warriors! Get your tickets now! Portland’s Indie Rock/Acoustic/Electric/Guitar/Bass/ Ukulele sister duo Beliss Sisters sat in for an evening at the Joshua Tree Celebration Center. Sisters Belinda and Melissa Underwood were quite a treat and we hope they return soon. To everyone’s surprise at a recent Monday night open mic hosted by Ted Quinn at Pappy and Harriet’s, Canadian singer/ songwriter Feist who was here for a visit, discretely signed up as “Leslie” after being inspired by a set from Judy Van Ruggles. Feist was songwriter of the year in 2008 at the Juno Awards in Calgary, and she belted out a few tunes to everyone’s delight. You just never know who will show up. Quinn has also started an open mic night at Stumps in 29 Palms on Thursday nights as well as releasing a limited edition of his new CD “Mother and Child” on May 1, in time for Mothers Day. Josh Burrell (JB), Kenny Brown and Bobby Furgo have been playing at the Roadhouse in Palm Springs. JB is also in a new band with Clive Wright (Cock Robin), Phil Kaylor and Marky Fry called The Invaders. A recent benefit was held at Ricochet Vintage Wares to help raise money for Friendly Hills Elementary School In Joshua Tree. Coming to play all the way from Topanga Canyon were our desert friends City Fritter with guest drummer our own sound man extraordinaire, Roland Gagne. Also on the bill were Tim Easton and the Joshua Tree Army. Gram Rabbit have a new video “Candy Flip,” out from their new CD, “Miracles and Metaphors. I see a lot of familiar faces in the video and they also did something that Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde and I did one Halloween Night—taking a Ouija Board into Room 8 at the Joshua Tree

Inn to contact Gram Parsons. Concrete Blonde are releasing a re-mastered version of their CD “Bloodletting” for the 20th anniversary of their smash hit “Joey.” There is also talk of a few reunion shows this summer. Bring on the vampires!. I would like to thank Erik Webb formerly of The Wild Ass Ranchers for bringing his guitar students to play for the residents I care for at Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation. They did songs by Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens and brought such joy to the residents. The students are in the process of learning some Kyoti King songs for next time! The town of Joshua Tree was ablaze with art and music on a recent Saturday night. With performances from Krissie Gregory and Harmondale at Mt. Fuji and Chris Laterzo and Buffalo Robe at the Joshua Tree Saloon, the town was jumping all night. It was touching to see a photo and mention of our dear friend and Grammy Award-winning Art Director Tom Wilkes on the Grammy Awards. I just wish they would have given a shout out to Sky Saxon of the Seeds who also passed away last year. We lost a couple more musical gems in the last few months that had ties to some of us in the desert, Doug Fieger of the Knack and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their friends, fans and family. I am very excited to announce that there will be a Cracker/ Camper Van Beethoven Camp-out again this year on Sept. 10 &11 at Pappy and Harriet’s! This will be camp-out #6 and I am looking forward to reuniting with the band and all their fans (Crumbs). BRING ON THE SUMMER! April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 49


Sustainable Living

Simple Times in a Simple Place “Please sit down and do not be counted”

(By Pasquali via David Brown)

“Hi

, my name is John, and I’m a hippie! I go barefoot when I can in the summertime and wear rubber boots in the winter! I eat healthy things, am not always high, do not grow dope on my land, do have a job skill, work for my living, and do not smell. How’s that for an introduction?” “I love it” says I, Pasquali of the Hippies! “Me too,” says Coyote to Rabbit, “especially the part about not smelling. And then there is the job skill part...” “And what job skill may that be?” says I. “Oh well, the ability to live simply,” replies John, King of the Gypsies and Hippie at large. “I learned it sort of in an abstract way. There I was, spent a few years in ’Nam and then get out and come back to Bakersfield where everyone just gives me a load of crap...you know, the guys we call “right wing” now saying I was a loser and didn’t fight, and the “leftist” of course giving me an equal load about being a “baby killer.” It was a bad gig from both sides, and I had all this negative kharma banging around in my head about the whole thing. It was a bummer, man. Jeeze, sometimes people really get my goat and it’s the only one I have! I sure as hell didn’t like it. “After screwing around on the GI Bill and learning my trade, plumber and pipe fitter by the way, got a job in LA and between getting high and womanizing and all that youthful fun stuff, saved up a wad of cash and bought an ex-police panhead. Bitchin’ bike my man! No helmet laws in those days, they gave me the choice to wear a brain bucket, and mostly I didn’t. Anyways, I rode that Harley across the good ol’ US of A with my ever-growing hair trailin’ in the breeze. “Going to go back east and check out those quasi-commie homesteaders, the Nearings up in Maine. By the way, his writings are the greatest and were a base for my new beliefs. These people took the old socialist talk of Jack London’s time, mixed in a dosage of Quaker simplicity, and dig it! Blew my mind and changed my whole way of thinking man!” 50 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

“Mine too!” says Coyote, with his eyes squinting and trying to talk like a beatnik! “It’s like, man, I dig those intentional den communities and the sharing and free loving and the vixens and rock and roll and all that bitchin’ stuff.” “Hey, you’re missing the point,” says I. “Just sit and listen, Coyote my best of friends.” “Hey Pas, are you listening? Hey where was I? OK, yeah, the homestead thing. Riding down Interstate 70 in Missouri in the pouring afternoon rain my scooter took a dump past Columbia and I’m thinking like, this is not good, and I gather up my stuff and am standing out there with a thumb out, wishing I had my Marine duds on and hair tucked into a hat instead of wet and streaming down the side of my face because I am in the midwest after all. Instead, all these people came blowing by looking at me with my freak flag a’ flying and then this group of shaggy bohemian farmer looking people come by in a Studebaker flatbed and slow down so fast I thought they where going to fly through the windshield! They get out in the rain and load up my gear and scooter onto the back of this truck, and dig it man, give us a ride to this homestead farm of theirs outside of a town called, Fulton, I believe it was. “Awesome man, an old farm, living in harmony with nature and growing their own food and raising their kids with respect for the land and each other and not doing massive amounts of drugs and they are diggin’ the whole scene of love and work on the land and eating good food and enjoying the bounty of creation and this just blows my mind. I stayed in good old Mo until the late eighties, and then we all moved to Northern Cal and kept on farming and building stuff and doing art and all that. Then the land grab and the yuppie thing starts up there which just ruins the whole vibe of the place, along with the fact it was cold and wet. I dug it to a point, but I needed a better climate ’cuz this old hippie is getting stiff in the joints and all. So I moved to the desert and here I stay... “Here I am, living on this plot of land in this converted camper, or at least that was when it started.” “Yes, an old vintage Avion truck camper! It is a classic,” says I. “Modified of course for the desert. Check out the “double roof.” I used to have a friend up the coast in Pismo who lived in the middle of nowhere and drove and old Land Rover model 80. That thing had spent some time in the Sudan and it had a factory hardtop with a double roof. Driving out to Bakersfield in the summer

this cap would keep the inside of that thing about 10 degrees or so cooler than without. Awesome I thought, I can dig it and do this to my camper. Used light duty, 26 gauge I believe it was, corrugated steel so it would bend. Used single pieces so they were long and not so cheap, which was a bummer of sorts! “Then, I spaced these panels off of the camper’s roof using half-inch galvanised pipe nipples about one inch long, called “closed nipples.” I placed these about two feet in length, which matches the framing of the camper, and at the end width of each panel, overlapping the panels of course by a couple of corrugations. These panels were attached using self tapping screws long enough to penetrate the framing. Each one had a washer on the panel side up, and I used roof tar for the holes on the camper roof. You have to make all this strong because of the wind and the birds. Make damned sure it’s weather tight. When it rains in the desert it pours, or sometimes it does. Expect none or all. Anyways, this is what they used to call a “double roof” in the early homestead days. So, you could do the same thing to a house roof and even make it with rafters instead of the nipple spacers. Man, it works sweet, just like the Land Rover. I also mounted a double walled stove pipe with a thimble to each of the roof vents. These help draw hot air out of the camper, acting as solar chimneys or what the Persians call ‘bagirs.’” “To help this, I added some floor vents so the cool air comes up into the camper from underneath. Man, this was Ben Franklin’s idea. It worked in his stoves and it works in this camper, setting up a nice air movement. Hell, he probably got it from the Persians too! What good things those guys came up with. Alphabet, numbers, evaporative cooling, art...” “This guy sounds like some type of radical,” thinks Coyote. “All this Middle Eastern architecture and Ben Franklin!” “Didn’t he say, “He who trades security for freedom deserves neither?” queries Rabbit. “I don’t know,” says Coyote “It was one of those radical thinkers. Thoreau perhaps or Whitman, one of those guys who said, “please sit and not be counted.” “No, I think Whitman said, ‘Obey little, resist much,’” says I. “You guys trip me out, man,” replies John. He wraps a new band into his hair and then starts walking over towards his little garden area. “Pas, that’s what I love about the desert! All these little critters are so cool. Maybe it’s because they haven’t had to deal with the rest of the human race ‘en mass’ as the French


might say. Maybe it’s just because they live a simple and honest life. Who knows, I wish there were more people like that...” “Me too!” barks Coyote. “Or at least fewer of the other types,” whispers Rabbit. “Yeah, all of you guys are right to a point” replies I. “Juan my friend, like another cerveza?” “Sure man. They’re in the camper, in the cold box.” “The what?” “The cold box man! Oh yeah, check it out. Follow me.” We walk back into the little camper while our desert friends look on. In the center of the floor where the dinette used to be is a trap door. This is where the cold box John built is located. “Look at those greens,” says I. “Where in the desert did you get those?” “Oh, this stuff. Aridynamics, you know, it’s like biodynamics except it’s in the desert. These dandelions I grow out in that little lean-to using harvester ant hill discards and old dry grasses for soil. Sometimes I use the green waste of the greens themselves. It all builds the soil. This other stuff is amaranth. Great greens and grains. It grows wild in ditches that get a little rain. I cultivate it just like the Indians did. This other stuff is Mojave mustard and yes, it’s a bit bitter but it’s edible! “Sounds interesting my friend.” says I “I would like to hear more, but for now, how about the cold box. Want of cerveza has left me, how do you say, distracted...” “Sorry man,” he says. “Sometimes I have the attention span of a dog on a summer afternoon.” He lifts the door and reaches in, grabs us each a cool cerveza and begins explaining.. “Pas, this thing is cool, no pun intended. It’s basically just two plywood boxes placed inside of each other with a load of insulation in between them. Check it out! First, you build a nice well-constructed box as big as you need for storing your veggies and beer. Make it as small as you can get away with, “waste not, want not!” Then, line it with some sheet steel, because even out here wet wood likes to rot. Then, build a bigger box just like it, except don’t line it with metal. Make this bigger box, say about six inches larger on all sides. Then, starting with the bottom of the box, you put in six inches of foam building insulation. You do the same thing on all the sides and to the top door, man. Since foam has an R value of about five for inch of thickness, you get about an R-30 rating out of this thing. Dig it man, that’s a hell of a lot better than any refrigerator or ice chest, and you don’t need power and you get to build it yourself. I added another 4 inches of insulation to the outside, and then most of this box is in the ground under this camper in the shade anyway.” “Psst, they call this a Thermal Mass Refrigerator” says Coyote to Rabbit. “My friend Foxy has something like it in her den...you put cool stuff in there and it traps in the cold mass keeping everything cool...” “Kind of like when I stash things deep in my burrow where the ground temperature remains the same no matter how hot it is on the surface,” replies Rabbit. “Correctomundo!” snorts Coyote, thinking, “Where did that article of American vernacular come from?” Then, with all the attention span a Coyote can muster... “I would sure like to climb into that box and sleep on some summer’s day, even if there wasn’t food in it.” “Hey, I think it’s time to go. Let’s leave these two and go play. I got a great idea! Why don’t you chase me around this here desert and act like you’re going to eat me or something. You know, keep that old predator versus prey myth alive.” “You mean you want me to help dumb down these ‘civilised men?’ OK, no problemo. You crack me up, Conejo! Sure, but first let me go ‘borrow’ Pasquali’s cold beer...” – Paws and Peace, Coyote and Conejo April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 51


APRIL 2010

52 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

Apr. 1 – April Fools’ Day “Nature” Hike with Professor Itchy Scratchy. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. $10. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Meet at ABDSP Visitor Center’s 3rd Parking Lot. 200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs. (760)767-4063, www.theabf.org. Apr. 1-4 – Dinah Shore Week 2010 aka Palm Springs Women’s Weekend. Wed.-Sun. Women who like women party weekend, www. thedinah.com. Apr. 2-4 – 18th Annual Joshua Tree National Park Art Festival. Free. Fri.-Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Artists exhibit and sell their work inspired by Joshua Tree National Park. JTNP, Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-5537. www.joshuatree.org. Apr. 3 – Hell’s Gate Hundred AdventureCorp Cycle Experience. $109. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Epic, spectacular century and metric century ride in Death Valley. Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley. (888)917-1117, www.adventurecorps.com. Apr. 3 – Palm Springs Firemen’s Association Annual Easter Egg Hunt. 9 a.m. Children ages 1-9 years old search for approximately 3,000 eggs. The Easter Bunny is expected. Ruth Hardy Park, 700 Tamarisk Rd., Palm Springs. (760)323-8186. Apr. 3 – Malki Museum’s 16th Annual Agave Harvest. Daniel McCarthy leads traditional harvest of agave. Meet at Cahuilla Tewanet Overlook on Hwy. 74. $10 donation requested. Malki Museum, 11795 Fields Rd., Banning/Morongo Indian Reservation. (951)849-7289, www.malkimuseum.org. Apr. 4 – Pappy’s Allstar Band. 7-10 p.m. Sundays. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)3655956, www.pappyandharriets.com. Apr. 5 – Wine & Books Book Club. 6 p.m. Free. The Palm Springs Public Library & Wild for the Vine present a new book club that meets the first Monday of the month. Wild for the Vine, 390 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. (760)325-9930. www.palmspringslibrary.org. Apr. 5 – Teddy Quinn’s Open Mic Reality Show. Mondays, 7 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www.pappyandharriets.com. Apr. 6 – Life-drawing Workshop. 6:30–8:30 p.m. Meets weekly. Borrego Art Institute, 587 Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 105, Borrego Springs. (760)532-5129. Apr. 7 – Mary Wilson of the Supremes. 1:30-3:30 p.m. $45.95 and up. Through May 16. Palm Springs Follies, 128 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. (760)327-0225, www.psfollies.com. Apr. 8 – Mars Arizona with Harmondale. 7:30 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www.pappyandharriets.com. Apr. 9-11 – Wildflower Show. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Locally picked flowers arranged by flower families, more. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave. Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900, www.maturango.org. Apr. 9 – Palm Springs Art Museum’s “Meet the Museum” Party. 6-9 p.m. $35 (must be a member). With actress Rose McGowan. Kicks off “White Party XXII.” Food, open bar, music, more. 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4825. Apr. 9-12 – White Party XXII. Annual gay-themed extravaganza, one of the biggest gay celebrations in the nation. Many events. Welcome center in The Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel & Resort, 888 Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, www.jeffreysankertickets.com. Apr. 10 – Exploring Rock Art. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $10. Rock art petroglyph site at Corn Springs, about 90 minutes east of Palm Springs. Presented by Agua Caliente Cultural Museum & the Corn Springs Campground. Bring your picnic lunch, visit several sites of petroglyphs & grinding features. (760)778-1079, Ext. 113, www.accmuseum.org. Apr. 10 – Malki Museum’s 16th Annual Agave Roast. 10:30 a.m. Annual Native food tasting event. Agave is cooked in an earthen pit


and served at noon along with a tasting of other traditional Native foods. Those arriving early (10 a.m.), may help remove it from the pit. Demonstrations this year include birdsinging, rabbit stick throwing, basketweaving, Native foods display, fry bread demonstration, Cahuilla pottery, old style rope making, and more. Free, food tasting $10 per person. Malki Museum, 11-795 Fields Rd., Banning/Morongo Indian Reservation. (951)849-7289, www.malkimuseum.org. Apr. 10 – Second Annual Maturango Museum Dinner/Auction. 5 p.m. $30. Kerr McGee Center, 100 W. California Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900, www.maturango.org. Apr. 11 – Home Is Where the Hole Is. 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $50. Learn about ground holes, elevated holes, divots, & mounds in classroom/ field class. Moderate hike. Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-5535, www.desertinstitute.homestead.com. Apr. 14 – 6th Annual Taste of Palm Springs. 5-9 p.m. $50. 40+ restaurants, vast array of foods. Benefits Aids Assistance Program. Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs. (760)322-3554, www.tasteofpalmsprings.com. Apr. 15 – Thursday Morning Hikes. 9-11 a.m. Free. Explore & learn about the plants, animals, & geology that make this area unique. Destinations vary. Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, 51-500 Hwy. 74,Palm Desert. (760)862-9984. Apr. 15 – Nick Jaina. 7:30 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www. pappyandharriets.com. April 16-18 – Coachella Music & Arts Festival. Ticket prices vary. Echo & the Bunnymen, Gil Scott-Heron, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Infected Mushroom, much more. Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio, www.coachella.com. Apr. 16 – Roger Thomas: A Perfected World. Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Through June 30. Heather James Fine Art, 45188 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-8926, www.heatherjames.com. Apr. 16 – MENsky’s BURLYesque. 8 p.m., 2 p.m. Sundays. $25. Songs, sketches, etc. as seen through the eyes of the 21st century male. Nudity/mature. Through May 9. The Thorny Theater, 2500 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. (760)325-0853. www.thornytheater.com. Apr. 17 – Party for the Planet: Earth Day Celebration. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free for members, general admission ($12.50) is 1/2 price. Kids activities, live entertainment, art show, plant giveaways, & more. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-5694 ext. 2000, www.livingdesert.org. Apr. 17 – Yucca Valley’s Earth Day Celebration & Conservation Fair. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Family-oriented event includes live international music & dancing, kids activities, artists & environmental education resources. Community Center Complex, 57116 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212, www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org. Apr. 17 – Alex A and the Desert All Stars Latin Ensemble. 9 p.m.midnight. Every Saturday in April. Viva Cantina & Grill, 78075 Main St., La Quinta. (760)777-6625, www.myspace.com/lxsantana. Apr. 18 – Morongo Basin Photography Show. 1-3 p.m. Juried Show. A Roadside Attraction Art Gallery, 69197 Hwy. 62, 29 Palms. (760)366-2226, www.mbcac.org. Apr. 18 – KCRW Presents: Outdoor Show with The Artic Monkeys & special guest earthlings? 8 p.m. $20. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www.pappyandharriets.com. Apr. 23 – 57th Annual Imperial County Farm Bureau Scholarship Barbeque. 5-7 p.m. Ryserson Hall (Desert Trails RV Park & Golf Course), 225 Wake Ave., El Centro. (760)352-3831, www. elcentrochamber.org. Apr. 23 – Old Firehouse Lecture Series: Water and the Coachella Valley. 7 p.m. $5. Robert Keeran, Coachella Valley Water District. The Portola Community Center, 45-480 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)367-5535, www.desertinstitute.homestead.com. Apr. 24 – Earth Day at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. $10 suggested donation. Music, food, cultural exhibits, art show. 67616 E. Desert View Ave., Desert Hot Springs.(760)315-7416. www. cabotsearthday.org. Apr. 24-25 – Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Ticket prices vary. Brooks & Dunn, Keith Urban, Sugarland, more. Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio, www.stagecoachfestival.com. Apr. 25 – CBID Downtown Car Show. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Car show, food booths and live entertainment for the family. Downtown Calexico. (760)357-1166. www.calexicochamber.net. Apr. 29 –Villagefest. 6-10 p.m., every Thursday. 200 booths with art, handcrafted items, unique foods, music, farmers market, etc. And the

April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 53


Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Dr., is free from 4-8 p.m. Downtown Palm Springs. (760)320-3781. Apr. 30 – Christopher Hawley Rollers. 9:30 p.m., 21+. Joshua Tree Saloon, 61835 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-2250. Apr. 30-May 2 – 15th Annual Elvis Presley Celebration. “Memphis in Palm Springs,” 75th Birthday. Riviera Resort & Spa (Grand Ball Room.), 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-1192. www.elvishoneymoon.com. MAY 2010

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May 1 – Cellar Fest 2010. 2 p.m. to Midnight. $20. All-day music event, 10 bands for 10 hours. Food & wine specials, raffle prizes. 78015 Main St., Suite 109, La Quinta. (760)771-8950. May 1 – Celebrating Earth Day in the HD (High Desert). 8 a.m.noon. Free. Give-aways, learn recycling & composting, farmer’s market. Materials Recovery Facility, 17000 Abbey Lane, Victorville. (760)241-1284. May 1 – Salton Sea History Museum Grand Opening. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Re-opening of architect Albert Frey’s impressive North Shore Beach & Yacht Club as a museum, community center, & visitors center. 99-155 Sea View Dr., North Shore. (760)393-1312, www. saltonseamuseum.org. May 2-3 – Cinco De Mayo. Live entertainment, dancing, craft vendors, authentic food, & kids activities. Noble Creek Regional Park, 650 W. Oak Valley Pkwy., Beaumont. (951)845-9555. www.bcvparks.com. May 4 – Super Ruby Tuesday Open Mic with Ted Quinn. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. 21+. Joshua Tree Saloon, 61835 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-2250. May 6 – “Concert of Prayer.” 7 p.m. SW Performing Arts Theatre, 2001 Ocotillo Dr., El Centro. (760)353-1395, www.elcentrochamber. org. May 7 – Borrego Springs First Friday Artwalk. 5-8 p.m. Downtown Borrego Springs. (800)559-5524 or (760)767-5555, www. borregospringschamber.com. May 8 – San Gorgonio Pass Poets Society Meeting. 2:30-3:30 p.m. Meets 2nd Sat. each month. All welcome. Beaumont Library 125 E. 8th St., Beaumont. (951)849-1022. May 8 – Finding the (San Andreas) Fault in DHS, the Sequel. 5-6:30 p.m. Free. Shows where residents can find the fault. The Carl May Center, 11711 W. Drive, Desert Hot Springs. (760)660-3678. www.deserthotsprings.com. May 8-9 – Bluegrass in the Spring Festival at Calico. $5/day. 2-day bluegrass festival with Ricky Nelson Remembered (Ricky’s sons), The Mill Creek Boys. Calico Ghost Town, Yermo. (800)TO-CALICO. www.calicotown.com. May 9 – Mother’s Day Tea with Armen Ksajkian & Judith Farmer. 2 p.m. $15. Hi-Desert Cultural Center, 661231 Hwy. 62, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3777, www.hidesertculturalcenter.com. May 11 – 15 – 19th Annual Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras. Weeklong festivities: Mariachi Idol Competition, arts & crafts sale featuring artisans from Mexico & Mariachia Divas—Grammy winning female group. Calexico. (760)357-1166, www.calexicochamber.net/mariachi. May 14 – Citizen Band. 7:30 p.m. Featuring Jeff Berkley from Berkley/Hart. Reservations encouraged. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www. pappyandharriets.com. May 14-16 – 8th Annual Joshua Tree Music Festival. Three days of great music, art, & fun. 9 a.m. Friday-? Sunday. $50-100. Stanton Warriors, Mexcan Institute of Sound, Gaudi, The Mast Featuring Haale, Wally Ingram & Jerry Joseph, much more. Joshua Tree Lake Campground, 2601 Sunfair Rd., Joshua Tree. (877)327-6265. www. joshuatreemusicfestival.com. May 15 – Harvey House Market Day. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 3rd Saturdays, March to August. Historical Casa del Desierto Harvey House, 681 N. Fist Ave., Barstow. (760)256-8617, www.barstowchamber.com

For the most comprehensive event listings for the California deserts, please visit the California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar produced by The Sun Runner Magazine, at www.thesunrunner.com. 54 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010


F

The Last Word

or years, communities in the California desert have had little connection with each other. Nobody knows what goes on anywhere else. No one knows the history, culture, or the hidden secrets, lost over the years. Most folks don’t have any idea of what other areas of the desert are like, and few communities work together. There is no desert-wide source they can turn to in order to learn about other parts of the desert, and there is no desert-wide media that people outside the desert can turn to in order to learn about the region. But doesn’t the California desert region deserve its own publication? Don’t the people from Needles to Calexico, from Palm Springs to Randsburg, and all dusty towns in between, deserve to have their events and communities promoted, their stories shared? Doesn’t the desert deserve its own independent media source that speaks with a desert voice-and a desert soul? I think it does. That’s where The Sun Runner comes in. For fifteen and a half years, this magazine has evolved to tell the story of the California desert, and we’ve got at least 100 years worth of more great stories just begging to be told (with more added to the list daily). We’re in constant evolution as we expand, include more communities, reach more readers, and share more stories. We aren’t owned by any big corporation, like most "desert" media, and we don’t intend to compromise our independent voice. We’re not a bunch of "Insiders," but we know quite a bit about the desert, and are always driven to learn more. We’re not an exclusive club, we want to include everyone. We don’t draw borders between us, or build walls around us. If you live here, love the desert, or are simply drawn to it, you’re in our club. The Sun Runner is starting our Desert Readers Advisory Group (DRAG), to connect more with the communities we serve and the people who enjoy the magazine. I invite you to come to our initial DRAG meeting this May to share your views about what a desert-wide regional magazine should include, what you’d personally like to see, how we can better support the communities we serve, and what desert issues you’d like to see more of in the magazine. If you’re interested in participating, then send me a note at publisher@thesunrunner.com. We’ll be having our first meeting in mid-May. It’ll be low key and casual, and hopefully lots of fun, along with being insightful. If you’re reading this before mid-May, then please send your ideas and suggestions to me and we’ll compile them for discussion at the meeting. If you’re reading this after mid-May, send me your suggestions anyway. It’s always good to hear from our readers. About six years ago, Vickie Waite convinced me to buy the magazine and continue its growth. She had taken it a long way in her nine and a half years as founder of The Sun Runner. Now, the magazine reaches over 300,000 readers a year, from Tecopa to Lone Pine, from Barstow to Oceanside and Newport Beach. We have subscribers all around the country, more coming through Magazines.com, the largest online subscription service in the country, and thousands of readers online through our digital editions. The Sun Runner is handed out at events ranging from job recruitment fairs to travel shows, on three military bases, at hundreds of locations frequented by tourists and locals alike. With print and online advertising packages as low as $1 per day, it makes sense to see your business or organization represented in the magazine. Not only do you get the best print and online advertising value in the desert, but you also get to participate in building the desert’s own independent voice, a connecting link between communities, and a way to share with folks who have an interest in the desert. Please join us on this adventure—as a reader, subscriber, advertiser, DRAG member, and/or a contributor. – Steve Brown

April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 55


29 Palms Inn

Fine food & lodging since 1928. Lunch, dinner, continental breakfast, Sunday brunch. Art-filled dining room, bar. Heated pool, poolside patio, adobe bungalows. “Oasis of Mara” and trails, near JT National Park headquarters and visitor center. Paul & Jane Smith, Innkeepers. 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3505 www.29palmsinn.com

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

Free Smart Start breakfast, free local calls, fast DSL Internet access, heated pool & spa, fitness center, business center. Andy Patel, General Manager. 71809 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-4009 • 1-800-HOLIDAY www.hiexpress.com/twentynineca

Sunset Motel

At the foot of Joshua Tree National Park in downtown 29 Palms. Pool, direct phones, TV, HBO, refrigerators, complimentary coffee, full kitchens available. A/C. microwave oven. Friendly, European-style hospitality. Owner: Jan. 73842 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3484 totteknutzen@hotmail.com

High Desert Motel

56 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

In the heart of Joshua Tree, a modern motel with spacious rooms, HBO/Cable TV, A/C, in-room phones, in-room coffee, laundry, swimming pool, picnic facilities, BBQ areas. Reasonable rates. Near west entrance to JT National Park and local rock climbing schools. Your host, Vijay Hira. 61310 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA (760)366-1978 • Toll Free 888-367-3898

Pioneertown Extra! The historic pioneertown motel, just off mane street, has re-opened! Once again you can stay where the movie Cowboys stayed!


EL RANCHO DOLORES MOTEL

Circle C Lodge

Private oasis offers 12 spacious guest rooms nestled in a lush garden courtyard with heated pool, spa, BBQ pit. Full kitchen, A/C, HBO, phones, continental breakfast. AAA, extended stay available. 6340 El Rey Ave., 29 Palms, CA (760)367-7615 • 800-545-9696 www.circleclodge.com

Country Inn

Complimentary Continental Breakfast. Pillow top matresses. Business Center with fast DSL Internet Access, Data Port/Fast DSL Access in all rooms. FREE local calls. Outdoor pool, some Jacuzzi Rooms, Kitchenette Rooms. TV w/remote, iron, coffee maker, hair dryer, clock radio. Friendly, professional staff. 71829 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-0070 • (760)367-9806 Fax

A respite for desert travelers since 1940, downtown 29 Palms. Swimming pool, courtyard, A/C, direct phones, satellite TV/HBO. Refrigerators/microwaves, kitchenettes available. Ken Patel, Manager. 73352 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3528 virtual29.com/a-z/dolores

SUNNYVALE GARDEN SUITES Condo-like suites with a touch of the “old west.” Junior, 1 & 2 bedroom suites, full kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, private patios w/barbecues, Cable TV, DVD, patio area, playground, spa and fitness center. Tony & Cora Naraval, owners. 73843 Sunnyvale Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-3939 www.sunnyvalesuites.com

April/May 2010 – The Sun Runner 57


Amargosa Opera House & Hotel

Historic Spanish Colonial style adobe hotel with Marta Becket murals, gift shop, AC. Reservations recommended. (760) 852-4441 www.amargosa-opera-house.com

Mojave National Preserve Joshua Tree National Park

74485 National Park Drive (at Utah Trail) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 Park Info: (760)367-5500 www.nps.gov/jotr

Joshua Tree National Park Association www.joshuatree.org

Death Valley National Park

Beatty Information Center, Beatty, NV (775)553-2200 Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum (760)786-3200, www.nps.gov.deva

Death Valley Chamber of Commerce www.deathvalleychamber.com

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park www.parks.ca.gov

Anza-Borrego Foundation www.theabf.org

Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association www.abdnha.org

California Deserts Visitors Association www.californiadeserts.org

58 The Sun Runner – April/May 2010

www.nps.gov/moja

29 Palms Chamber of Commerce 73660 Civic Center, Suite D Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3445 www.29chamber.org www.visit29.com

Barstow Chamber of Commerce www.barstowchamber.com/visitors

Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 1-800-847-4830 www.visitdeserts.com

Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce www.ridgecrestchamber.com

Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism www.visitpalmsprings.com

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority www.palmspringsusa.com

The Sun Runner Magazine www.thesunrunner.com www.desertfuncoupons.com


Fine Food and Lodging at the Historic Oasis of Mara

GEOFFREY PRESTON PHOTOGRAPHY

Family Owned and Operated since 1928

The Sun Runner

• Lunch, Dinner, Cocktails, Sunday Brunch • Charming Adobe Bungalows with Fireplaces • Heated Swimming Pool • Entertainment Friday and Saturday Nights • Available for Special Events • Tour our extensive fruit and vegetable garden and grape arbor. • See California Fan Palms, Oasis Lagoon, Barn Owls, Roadrunners, Gambel’s Quail, Bunnies and Jackrabbits and other delightful things!

73950 Inn Avenue, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 • 760-367-3505 www.29palmsinn.com

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29 Palms, CA 92277

PERMIT NO.105

Annual Desert Ecology Issue, April/May 2010  

Our annual Desert Ecology Issue takes a look at the human footprint in the desert, and whether "green" power may endanger important Native A...