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The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert April/May 2011—Vol. 17, No. 2 The Sun Runner Magazine PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)820-1222 • www.thesunrunner.com Publisher/Executive Editor:Steve Brown firstname.lastname@example.org Founding Editor Emeritus: Vickie Waite Theatre/Film Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Literary Editor: Delphine Lucas Music Editor: Judy Wishart Contributing Writers Lorraine Blair • Steve Brown David Brown • Barbara Buckland Ruth Davis Robin Flinchum • Carlos Gallinger Lou Gerhardt • Locopelli • Jack Lyons Denise Ortuno Neil • Seth Shteir Judy Wishart Contributing Photographers & Artists: Steve Brown • Gary Duncan Robin Flinchum • Snake Jagger Mike Lipsitz • Karin Mayer Billy Makuta • Denise Ortuno Neil Judy Wishart • Tami Wood • John Wright Advertising Sales: Sam Sloneker, Ryan Muccio, Allison Simonis 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 enormous California desert region. Published bimonthly. MAGAZINE DEADLINE: May 23 for the June/July Joshua Tree National Park Special 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 an annoying format may not be posted. Event information will not be taken over the telephone or telepathically. SUBMISSIONS: By mail to the address above; by email: publisher@thesunrunner. com, or stop us when we’re at Roy’s in Amboy like everybody else does. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/ year International, $38 trillion Intergalactic) Copyright © 2011 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, which is an inanimate object. We have made some 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 mysterious discretion of the all-knowing publisher. 10 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert
April/May 2011 The Desert Travel Issue
Inside this Issue: Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 11 The Tortoise Telegraph News gathered from around the desert – at our own pace ... 12 Coachella Valley Confidential, by Denise Ortuno Neil ... 15 Desert Art News, by Barbara Buckland & Steve Brown ... 18 Locopelli – Who Will Sing? ... 24 The Tangled Web of Power, by Steve Brown ... 27 First Person: Living With Environmental Allergies, by Ruth Davis ... 33 Support Solar Energy Development that Protects Our National Parks, by Seth Shteir ... 36 Ramblings From Randsburg, On the Trail of... Cecil John Rhodes ... and His Yellow Aster Connection, by Lorraine Blair ... 37 The Heart of Tecopa, by Robin Flinchum ... 38 Camisa de Gallo – The Shirt of the Rooster, by Carlos Gallinger ... 39 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 40 Hi-Desert Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 42 Simple Times in a Simple Place: One Old Hippie, by David Brown ... 43 Hot Picks from The Sun Runner Calendar ... 45 Positive Living: Desert Christ Park, by Lou Gerhardt ... 46 The Best Places to Stay in the Real Desert ... 47
Cover Art — The Desert Under Attack, by Billy Makuta Billy Makuta is a desert artist, illustrator, musician, composer, arts educator, and much more. Billy is working with us on our new Mysterious Mojave comic book, and other projects. You can order a print of this cover online at www.thesunrunner.com, or receive it as an incentive during our fundraising campaign on www. ripple.com as of May 1. Are you a desert artist or photographer? Would you like your work on the cover of The Sun Runner Magazine? Send copies of work you’ve done that might be appropriate for our cover to email@example.com. We’re now accepting vertically-oriented photos of Joshua Tree National Park for consideration for the cover of our Joshua Tree National Park 75th Anniversary Special Edition and our annual Desert Writers Issue. Are you interested in The Sun Runner Magazine’s 17 years of growth as the only regional desert media for the California deserts? If so, join our Desert Readers Advisory Group (DRAG). To sign up for future DRAG meeting notifications, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support our fundraising drive on www.ripple.com, launching May 1. We’re raising funds to continue to expand our coverage of desert issues and to bring the real California desert to more of southern California. Please share our fundraising drive news with your friends who love the desert the way we do! Thanks for your support!
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
he distinctly unique, breathtakingly beautiful, intricately woven, and ultimately, precariously fragile ecology of the desert has never before been in more peril than at present. Population growth, urban and suburban sprawl, unsustainable water use, air pollution, exotic plants, off-road vehicle abuse, septic tank pollution, schemes to dump garbage, sewage sludge, radioactive waste—you name it—eventually it’ll show up on our doorstep out here. But ironically, it may be the “green” movement that now poses the greatest threat to the desert environment. Solar and wind power on the industrial scale—massive power plants that scrape miles of desert ecosystems into oblivion and pump water from pristine aquifers, are being rushed into development, fed by a bubbling spring of taxpayer-funded incentives, cheap public land, and mandates from the government. Marketed along the lines of “saving the world,” arguments against devastating the desert and finding non-destructive ways to bring solar and wind power on line are often met with derision and the rationale that in order to save the world we must destroy the desert. It’s simply not true. Studies have identified plenty of “brownfield” lands— previously developed and disturbed lands located close to urban centers where most of the energy would be used. Want to build a giant solar power plant? How about putting it somewhere near the population that’s going to be using its output instead of 150 miles away? Build it in the desert and a great deal of the energy its shiny solar mirrors are going
to produce will be lost on its way to some distant city. But still the arguments continue, and projects are approved by agencies like the BLM and California Energy Commission (agencies I no longer respect or always believe operate lawfully in the public’s best interest), that will result in environmental destruction, degradation of desert ecosystems, blatant obliteration of Native American cultural and sacred sites, a reduced quality of life and possible health hazards to rural desert residents, a reduction of desert aquifers, and another loss that I am frequently attacked for pointing out: the loss of expansive, untouched desert vistas which are the landscapes of the soul. It always astounds me that, unless we as Americans can quantify the damage done into little green slips of paper, then the damage must not be real. Well, how much would you sell your soul for? Do you love someone? How much is that worth in dollars? When we turn a blind eye to the priceless worth of natural beauty and its restorative ability for humankind, we destroy what kindles the imagination, restores our connection to nature and God, humbles us with grandeur, and comforts us in sorrow. Europeans, for an example, often come to our deserts because of the grand, sweeping landscapes they offer. Stick industrial power plants across them, criss-cross them with high voltage power lines, and these landscapes start to resemble a parched Europe. They lose that sense of mystery and adventure, history and magic, that the desert embodies
now. On a “dollars and sense” basis, this “green” industrialization of the desert is destroying the very qualities that people cherish about the desert. Once it’s gone, all we’ll be left with is the costly clean-up of industrial solar and wind sites when they become obsolete, and a nagging feeling we’ve been duped. Yet again. And anyone relying on tourism for their livelihood can look for work washing solar panels. But it may be too late. In the back of the minds of many desert folks, there’s that grain of thought that we may just have to reconcile ourselves to the destruction and loss of the desert as we have come to know it—and love it. Am I being entirely objective? Absolutely not. I care about what happens to the desert, and the desert is my home. It often seems that people who don’t love the desert and don’t live in the desert are perfectly happy to destroy it, whether for profit, or to make themselves feel like they’re doing something, rather ironically, to save the world. If that’s NIMBYism on my part, so be it. I love my home and don’t want it destroyed. Go figure. For me, I just recall the words of a song I came across attributed to the Zia Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, and think that maybe I’ve got more in common with folks like them than I do with many of the young, educated, urban “environmentalists” I’ve been in contact with lately. My home over there, Now I remember it; And when I see that mountain far away, Why then I weep, Why then I weep, Remembering my home. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 11
Needed: BS Block BSP40 OK, so we all know that whenever you get politicians involved with something, the spin meter starts going around and around so fast that MIT is researching whether it can be hooked to a turbine to provide an efficient source of inexhaustable energy (we’d say it was “clean” but we’re not so sure). Therefore, it is no surprise that the spin meter went off the charts as Secretary of the Interior for Public Lands Giveaways, Ken Salazar, and Secretary of Energy and Corporate Welfare Steven Chu, launched a series of meetings to gather comments on a “comprehensive environmental analysis” that identified proposed solar energy zones on public (ie: yours and mine) lands in the west (desert). This “study” is called the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, and so far its “alternatives” are seemingly not very popular. “This comprehensive proposal and early planning is designed to help site solar projects in the right places and reduce conflicts and delays in developing our new energy economy,” said Salazar, apparently unaware that giant solar projects are ripping up the California deserts and elsewhere as he spoke. “Early” usually implies that the study is coming along before the buldozers, mister secretary. “The lessons learned from developing this Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and the public input obtained during this crucial comment period will help make all solar development resulting from this process ‘Smart from the Start,’” said Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, no relation to Edward, obviously, and similarly unaware that the public comments me mentions are coming along after his own agency has given out the OK to start leveling ecologically sensitive areas of the desert, as well as Native American cultural and sacred sites. We attended the PEIS meeting in Barstow at the Holiday Inn Express, and heard a lot of intelligent comments—from the public, of course. Laura Crane, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Renewable Energy and Desert Conservation Program in California, pointed out a common position for more environmental groups these days—they like solar energy, just not at any price done in an irresponsible manner. Crane pointed out that the Conservancy has completed an eco-regional assessment of the Mojave Desert’s 31 million acres and of the Sonoran Desert, and concluded they are remarkable 12 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
not only because of the “unique and diverse life they host, but also because they contain some of the most intact landscape in the lower 48 states.” Half the lands ranked by their study as having highconservation value are managed by the BLM. With the PEIS options including making available up to 22 million acres of BLM lands for solar power development (the “everything-butrooftops” option), the agency’s “preferred” alternative, Crane pointed out that the narrower “solar energy zone” alternative would still open up 340,000 acres just in California’s deserts, more than twice the acreage needed to supply the state’s “green” power needs. Linda Escalante of the National Resources Defense Counsel, Charles Wood, chairman of the Chemehuevi Tribe, Carol Wiley, Charlie Shrimplin, John Coffey, a supporter of The Defenders of Wildlife, Tony Malone, David Lamfrom of the National Parks Conservation Association, Randy Banis of the Desert Advisory Counsel of the BLM, Phillip Smith of the Colorado River Indian Tribe, Anthony Madrigal, cultural resources director for the San Manuel Bands of Mission Indians, and Andrew Silva of San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt’s office, all provided pertinent and useful comments. Brian Brown of the Amargosa Conservancy pointed out the sheer impossibility of wading through the PEIS document during the allotted time. “I would like to report that I have read and understood all of its contents, but it’s a massive document—11,000 pages. If you read a hundred pages a day for the entire 90-day comment period, you’d be up to 9,000 pages,” Brown noted. A question lingered in the air that evening in Barstow— whether any of the voiced comments or concerns mattered.
Posse Season Starts April marks the start of the annual “posse season” up in Pioneertown. Members of the Pioneertown Posse and Gunfighters for Hire have been working with supporters to get Mane Street back into fun gunfighting condition. The Pioneertown Posse will be doing their Old West shootout performances every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on Mane Street, come wind, rain, snow, dust storms, rattlesnakes, giant ants, chupacabra and vampire attack—you get the idea. Relive the days when Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and even the Cisco Kid strode Mane Street, spurs a’jinglin’ and Colts at the ready! It’s a great show, family-friendly, and it’s free. New “Super” in Mojave The National Park Service recently selected Stephanie Dubois as the new superintendent of Mojave National Preserve. Dubois replaces Dennis Schramm who retired in the fall of 2010. Dubois has been serving as deputy superintendent of Glacier National Park since 2005, and is a 30-year veteran of the National Park Service. She previously worked as superintendent of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument. We welcome Dubois to her new post where she will manage a staff of 60 full-time employees and a budget of approximately $5 million. Perchlorate Sampling in Barstow As if poor, embattled Barstow hasn’t had enough troubles recently with water contamination and the resurfacing of the spreading poisons in the groundwater in nearby Hinkley that got that tiny town a starring role in Erin Brockovich. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has begun collecting surface and subsurface soil samples to test for perchlorate contamination at the home of the former owner/operator of Mojave Pyrotechnics, Inc., a fireworks manufacturer that shot its last Roman candle back in the 1980s. “EPA will work with the City of Barstow and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board to determine how much perchlorate is at this location,” said Jane Diamond, Director of the Superfund Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest regional office. “Cleanup of contamination at the Poplar Street Site will be based on the outcomes of the March sampling. We expect to have more information by the end of May.” After obtaining information that indicated perchlorate had been buried on the property, the EPA uncovered a white, solid substance in a layer just below the ground. A sample of the substance contained perchlorate, that favorite rocket fuel byproduct found in Colorado River drinking water, veggies from
Harmony Returns to U2 Roots Harmony Motel in Twentynine Palms recently celebrated the restoration of its original sign made famous by U2. The sign that stands on the south side of Route 62 was featured by U2 in a photo taken while the band was staying at the motel. Owner Nalini “Ash” Maharaj is one of the exceptional innkeepers in Twentynine Palms and we commend her for restoring a bit of hi-desert history to its rightful place. Rock on! the Imperial Valley, and most recently, from Barstow’s drinking water. Golden State Water Company, the water provider for Barstow, shut down a well that was contaminating the city’s water supply. Perchlorate is a likely contributor to problems for the thyroid to produce hormones critical to unborn fetuses and infants. Send in the Marines! OK, so maybe you were thinking more along the lines of Tripoli than Johnson Valley, but it looks more likely we’ll be getting the latter location “stormed” before the Corps pays another visit to the North African coast (though, perhaps not...). The Marine Corps and the Bureau of Land Management are hosting informational public meetings about the proposed expansion of the base at Twentynine Palms. The Marines want to expand the base to accommodate sustained, combined-arms, live-fire, and maneuver training exercises for all elements of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Meetings will be held Tuesday, April 12, at Copper Mountain College’s Bell Center in Joshua Tree; Wednesday, April 13, at the Ontario High School Gym in Ontario, which is nowhere near 29 Palms and we can’t figure out why they’re consulting with Ontario residents and not, say, those of Marin County, who, with just one more “e” could be Marine County), and then on Thursday, April 14, at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Victorville (Victorville has a Hilton?). Meetings are from 5 to 9 p.m. To download the DEIS (Dubious Environmental Impact Statement), or for intel on how the Marines are poised to invade Johnson Valley or cut-off supplies to Amboy, visit www. marines.mil/unit/29palms/las. If you don’t make it to a meeting, you may submit written comments by May 26 to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest; Attn: 29 Palms EIS Project Manager; 1220 Pacific Hwy.; San Diego, CA 92132. We are sorry to say that our proposal to turn Johnson Valley into a shared off-roading and Marine live-fire area where new variants of extreme off-roading recreation could combine tanks, artillery, sand rails and ATVs, was not included in the DEIS. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 13
A Powerful, Haunting Nightmare One reviewer of “Hard Candy, Nobody Ever Flies OVER The Cuckoo’s Nest,” raves about how the book is an “incredible novel that invades your thoughts and emotions as you read it, and long after you complete it.” The only problem? “Hard Candy” isn’t a novel at all, it’s Chuck (Charles A.) Carroll’s autobiographical story—a true nightmare so intense and horrifying that it’ll haunt your dreams long after you’ve put the book down. Chuck and his brother Bobby were dealt such a horrific hand as kids that it’s hard to know how to begin. The boys were foster children in New Jersey in the 1950s. But finding homes for them proved difficult, so—and this is nothing short of criminal—authorities reclassified the boys from “orphans” to “retarded,” sending the two off to spend their next decade trapped in the literal hell of a state mental institution. Oh, it gets worse. Trust me. And Chuck takes you along for the ride through abuse, rape, betrayal, and more. It’s real all right, almost too real to bear. It’s almost like Chuck’s lived it and survived, so he’s going to tell it and you become a direct witness to the horror through his storytelling. It reads like fiction—you may desparately want it to be fiction—but you are denied that reprieve. This is not made up. This is not easily dismissed. It is real, as you descend into that particular level of hell known as New Lisbon. “Hard Candy” is an important book, and frankly, it shows just how vacuous and formulaic Hollywood is these days when the screenplay for the book hasn’t been turned into a movie. Sure, you would have to find actors who could act, and it would be harder for audiences to sit through than Spiderman 16, but this is a story that Americans need to read, and if they don’t read it, they need to see it. This story has the ability to bring about change that can shine light on a dark, dark system, and put faces to those we never, or, almost never, see. Thank God Chuck doesn’t give up easily. He’s one of the bravest men I’ve met, and he’s become an outspoken advocate for improving the conditions of those who suffer inside places like New Lisbon, and for improving the system that imprisoned himself and his brother inside such an abusive, sick world. It is no wonder that Chuck Carroll will be the keynote speaker at the Palm Springs Public Library during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, at 6 p.m., April 19. Don’t miss listening to Chuck 14 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
and Bobby’s story, and his determined advocacy for those who are so easily forgotten by society. Buy his book. Read it. No, it’s not a novel. It is one of the most riveting stories I’ve encountered, made moreso by Chuck’s straightforward telling, and made doubly tragic by the fact that the nightmare continues today inside numerous New Lisbons across this country. Chuck has won some well deserved awards for “Hard Candy,” and has spoken on the national, state and local levels advocating a voice for institutionalized victims still being gagged by secretive bureaucracies. Join him in a memorable one-hour presentation that includes NPR and PBS interviews, a Power Point presentation, readings from the book, why he wrote the book, with a surprise ending. You won’t forget this one. In the meantime, check out his ongoing pitbull advocacy on his blog at www.hardcandyblog. com where you can read posts from those inside the system and even see photos of some of the almost-nameless, almostforgotten victims who, unlike Chuck and Bobby, never made it out alive. Palm Springs—Playground of Felons! That’s precisely what the hospitality industry of California’s premiere desert resort city didn’t want you to start thinking as you came over the top of the Banning Pass past Whitewater—and encountered a proposed $300 million jail facility. Riverside County supervisors seem to have rejected the plan to site a giant jail on the road to Palm Springs, while tourism officials breathe a sigh of relief. Ultimately, it may have been the price tag, not aesthetics, that killed the project. A Rose by Any Other Name... Something stinks in Mecca, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District has been trying to find out what it is about the Western Environmental operations on Cabazon tribal lands that may be causing the objectionable stench. Just don’t blame it on the Salton Sea! And Finally At Last and About Time! The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will not hear an appeal that was necessary for the possible development of the world’s largest garbage dump on the border of Joshua Tree National Park. The Eagle Mountain dump monster may be dead, but don’t worry—the way things are going out here, new monsters are born every day. We hope Donna and Larry Charpied get a break, but we hear they may get their very own industrial solar power plant instead. Sorry guys!
Courtesy Palm Springs Historical Society
t seems that all communities share a common thread of controversy now and then, a spark that can lead to a fire of debate by concerned citizens. These controversies usually have something to do with change, some wanting it, and some not. But in the case of the Desert Fashion Plaza in Palm Springs, it’s not whether or not to change it, but how to do it, and who’s going to pay for it. Palm Springs has seen many changes since its humble beginnings as a desert oasis. Ironically enough, the location that is the focal point of the current malaise in downtown, was the pinnacle of change in the town over 100 years ago. Wow, that’s really amazing! I think that might have been what Nellie Norton Coffman may have said when she first came to Palm Springs with her son on a visit from Santa Monica back in 1908. She was the woman crowned the pioneer who put Palm Springs on the map with her famed hotel, the Desert Inn. As she rode into town on a brokendown wagon from the train station, she was said to have thought twice about coming for a visit. The magical tales she had heard about the clandestine oasis
didn’t seem to be coming to reality on the sandy desolate road. When their ride finally spilled them out onto the porch of the Palm Springs Hotel, she was taken aback by the absence of light in the thick coal-hued night. But when she woke in the morning, the coal color shroud had given way to a turquoise sky, and her heart had given way to the desert. She had first heard of Palm Springs from Mrs. Keene, the keeper of the boarding house that she was staying at in Idyllwild back in the summer of 1897, when she had been remanded there by her physician due to her health. Nellie and her doctor husband Harry Coffman lived in Santa Monica with their two sons, George, and Earl. Her curiosity had been tethered to the stories of Palm Springs told by Mrs. Keene, and through the years after her summer in Idyllwild, she kept bumping into coincidental reminders of the place she had longed to explore. And 11 years later, she finally did. There were no paved direct roads back then, so if you traveled out to this area, it would take some serious intent, courage, and time. Nellie had all of these
ingredients, with an extra helping of courage and loads of intent. After that first visit, she was instantly harnessed to the desert and knew that it would be the place that she would call home. She decided to convince her husband that it was the place to be, and appealed to his medical calling by suggesting they establish a sanitarium and hotel. It was a perfect place for it, clean dry air, hot springs, and serenity, quite the remedy for a variety of ailments. Her attempts at persuasion paid off and after securing the purchase of some land with adequate housing, she moved her family to Palm Springs in October of 1909, and opened the rustic Desert Inn, in December of that year. But the Desert Inn’s meager beginnings would be short lived; with Nellie at the helm nothing could ever be meager for long. Though life as an innkeeper was challenging, Nellie was undeterred. And when her marriage to Harry dissolved in 1914, she dropped the sanitarium part of her project, and focused on it solely as a hotel, although it would still be a place of April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 15
healing and peace for those lucky enough to traverse its grounds. After a helping hand from frequent guest and friend Thomas O’Donnell’s checkbook in 1924, Nellie was able to make serious renovations and take a quantum leap with the Desert Inn, making it the superstar resort that it became. Throughout the hotel’s illustrious existence, Nellie hosted a variety of clientele including celebrities, politicians, the weak and the strong. And of course the wayward traveler, just like the first two guests she had back in 1909, who came in from the mysterious desert night entering into a welcoming scene of hospitality and warmth. And that was the theme that became cemented into the soul of the Desert Inn, with Mother Nellie at the epic center of it all, ruler and honored queen. Her continued mantra to her employees was, “Treat our guests as if they were guests in your own home,” a line that would be repeated through the life of the hotel. The hotel was steadfast in its popularity and consistency as a first class resort, until Nellie’s sons sold it in 1955, five years after her death. Since then, the place where Palm Springs notoriety was born has changed hands many times, with nobody achieving the longevity of business Nellie had. In all, besides her determination and intent for success, Nellie had an acute sense of compassion and civic duty, often exclaiming her desire to be a better citizen, which she achieved by including herself in the community in a variety of capacities. And what would she say about the current controversy of the dilapidated Desert Fashion Plaza today? I believe she would see it as a great opportunity to band community and commerce together, and to finally give the sacred land a second chance at life with compassion and love behind it, something it has been missing for all of these years, perhaps a reason for its halted development. I believe Nellie would look to the future as she always did, with her faith intact, and her love for the desert. I find it hard to imagine what it must be like to not only be in the military, but to go into combat, and come back home wounded, still reeling from the experience and uncertain about the future. It’s a great deal to handle, to say the least. We’ve all seen movies depicting post-war vets in less than positive realities, being challenged with physical and emotional ailments. But I was pleased to learn that with new programs like the Wounded Marines Careers Foundation, the wounded vets’ reality has taken a turn for the better. I learned about the foundation from James Egan, an award-winning producer/writer and screenwriting instructor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He was recruited to join a project by Judith Paixon and Kev Lombard, key founders of the WMCF, who knew of Egan’s reputation for being involved in endeavors that make a difference. The driving thought behind the foundation, was to give wounded vets a new perspective when they returned back from combat. A revitalized sense of being, in an industry most vets would not otherwise consider: film. The curriculum is set up by award-winning industry trailblazers like Egan, who want to help the vets succeed and learn. During the four week program the vets learn the basics of filmmaking, a “cinematic boot camp” of sorts. They learn everything from screenwriting to lighting, to post-production editing and so much more. The most recent course ended in February at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base. The feedback from the vets involved with the program has been noted as being nothing less than transforming. The creative aspect of filmmaking works like a therapeutic muse, inspiring healing, by the expression of thoughts and emotions. Egan summed up the vets’ review of the program with 16 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Fashionable guests relax and socialize during the heyday of the Desert Inn in Palm Springs.
one word: Grateful. The program not only works as an emotional tonic, but also gives the vets hands-on training in filmmaking, complete with a certificate of completion and job placement. Their films range from stories of combat, to family, to sports, and whatever subject draws them near. The films are shown on base, and of course to their family and friends, with the possibility of having their films entered into local and national film fests. The program also runs at Camp Pendleton and in Washington D.C. Egan looks forward to future courses and stresses the importance of the project. “The vets telling their stories will heal and empower others,” he noted, a most valuable gift to pass on. To learn more about the WMCF, visit www.woundedmarinecareers.org. Well we’re just inches away from good old summertime here in the desert, so take small steps, and enjoy the spring. Have a happy Easter, and for those looking for an excuse to drink (who needs an excuse?) happy Cinco de Mayo! And most importantly, this Memorial Day, remember those who’ve fought and continue to fight for you. CVC, over and out!
Marines learn to make movies through the Wounded Marines Careers Foundation’s “cinematic boot camp” with the help of professionals like James Egan. Tell your stories, share your experiences—Semper Fi! That’s a wrap!
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ART CLASSES & MORE 6847 Adobe Road 760.361.1805 Located across from Barr Lumber
Artwork by Snake Jagger.
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367-1174 • 73487 29 Palms Hwy. DLBOWDEN29@YAHOO.COM
Simi Dabah Sculptures
18 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
29 Palms Art Gallery The Members Show through April 24. Reception: Sunday, April 3, 12-3 p.m. David Greene & Betsey Amador, April 27-May 29. Reception: Sunday, May 1, 12-3 p.m. Classes: Altered Book Making with Bonnie Brady. (Young Artists) April 2, 10-11:30 a.m. third grade and over. Limit 12. Fees (for Young Artists): Students may become 29 Palms Artists’ Guild members for $5 and attend all classes for free, or make a donation of $1 per class. Encaustic Painting with Ida Foreman. (Adult) April 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Encaustic is an ancient art form using colored beeswax. Class Fee: $10 per class. Payment due at registration. Call for more information. In addition to a strong emphasis on the fun of creative expression and skill development, teachers help students meet the California Department of Education Visual and
Performing Art Standards. Students will learn the language of artistic perception, the historical and cultural context for work in progress, and how to make aesthetic value judgments about works of art. Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 12-3 p.m. 74055 Cottonwood Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-7819. www.29palmsartgallery. com. 29 Palms Creative Center “A Retrospective since Notre Dame,” Anne Lear, April 9-May 9. Artist reception, April 9, 3-6 p.m. Anne Lear has been connected with desert all of her life. Throughout the years, the Lear family visited her Uncle Robert, a pioneer of 29 Palms. During these visits Anne learned to appreciate the good weather, wide open spaces, and especially the starry nights, leading her to retire in 29 Palms after her 43-year career in teaching. Anne’s education includes Immaculate Heart College, a degree from
the University of San Francisco, and a Masters Degree in Art from Notre Dame University. Since staking her claim in 29 Palms Anne has been a valuable community volunteer, board member, and a featured artist at the historic 29 Palms Art Gallery & Guild. She was an organizer for the art programs at the Artists’ Workshops, and painted a mural on the inside wall of what once was Kenny’s Drugstore. Art works outside of the community have included 14 woodcarvings for a chapel and a 14foot mosaic displayed at the California State Fair. The 29 Palms Creative Center offers a variety of artistic avenues to the community with art openings, live music and performance art, art sales & classes, and rental studio art spaces for artists. The Creative Center recently added complete Pottery Studio. Classes: Stained Glass with Copper Foil. April 2, 10 a.m.-noon. $30. Hands-On Clay (Part I). April 16, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $30. Part II: Schedule a 2nd day for glazing. $30. Beginning Stained Glass. May 14, 10 a.m.-noon. $30. Copper Foil Stained Glass. May 21, 10 a.m.-noon. $30. Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 74055 Cottonwood Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-7819. www.29palmscreativecenter.com. The 29 Palms Inn, Oasis of Mara Rik Livingston & Andy Woods through April. Open daily. 29 Palms Inn, 73950 Inn Ave. (off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)367-3505. www.29palmsinn.com. Joshua Tree National Park Art Festival Joshua Tree National Park Oasis Visitor Center. April 1 - 3, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Art and nature come together at Joshua Tree National Park’s 19th Annual Art Festival. More than 25 artists representing a wide variety of mediums will be on hand to exhibit and sell their work. The Joshua Tree National Park Association, a nonprofit organization that provides support and assistance to the park’s interpretive, educational and scientific programs, sponsors the festival. 74485 National Park Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-5525. 29 Palms Art in Public Places, City Hall Kelly O’Sullivan: Desert Nature Photography through April. Kelly O’Sullivan is a Southern California native who grew up in Eagle Mountain on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park. The exhibit features
more than 30 images of colorful wildflowers and insects taken by O’Sullivan in the park and around the hi-desert over the last three years. “My favorite time of year is spring because everywhere you look, there are brilliant bursts of color,” O’Sullivan said. “When you take the time to inspect a flower up close, that’s when you discover the real treasures of the season, from ladybugs and dragonflies to spiders and blister beetles. They add so much character to a photo.” The Public Arts Advisory Committee sponsors the Art in Public Places exhibit. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. 29 Palms City Hall, 6136 Adobe Rd., 29 Palms. (760)367-6799. www. ci.twentynine-palms.ca.us. Joshua Tree National Park Oasis Visitor Center Spring Art Exhibition – “Celebrating Joshua Tree National Park.” April 1-June 7. 21 artists of 29 Palms present paintings, photography, mixed media work in honor of the park’s 75th anniversary. Curator: Audrey Gillick. Featured artists: Jacqueline Angove, Robert Arnett, Allen and Mita Barter, Janet Braley, Chuck Caplinger, Ann Congdon, Steve Flock, Audrey Gillick, Gretchen Grunt, Richard Hardman, Perry Hoffman, MaryAustin Klein, Dorothy Knight, Anne Lear, Scott Monteith, Kelly O’Sullivan, Laura Peterson-Volz, Maggie Renfro, Jennifer Ruggiero, and Andy Woods. Reception: Friday, April 1, 5-7 p.m. Monday.-Friday, 9 a.m –5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 73484 29 Palms Hwy, 29 Palms. (760)367-6197. www.visit29.org. JOSHUA TREE Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center Joshua Tree National Park 75th Anniversary Artists in Residence Retrospective, through April 30. Artists included in the exhibition: Jessica Dunne, a mixed media artist from San Francisco, Michael Shankman, a painter from San Francisco, Erin O’Connor, a plein air & studio fine art painter from Wilson, Woming, Dianne Bennett, a mixed media artist from Ojai, Georgia Frankel, a photographer from St. Paul, Minnesota, and Michael Teters, an iconoclastic artist from Plainville, New Jersey. The purpose of the Joshua Tree National Park Artist-In-Residence & Affiliate Artist Programs, now in its 10th year, is to provide artistic and educational opportunities to promote deeper
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April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 19
understanding of, and dialogue about the natural, cultural, and historical resources of Joshua Tree National Park and the deserts of southern California. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Joshua Tree Gallery Crawl Saturday, April 9, 5-8 p.m. The popular event takes place on the second Saturday of each month. Join the crowds as the downtown galleries open their doors to the art and artists of Joshua Tree. Mt Fuji General Store William Loveless. Opens April 9, through April. True World Gallery Luther Broome, abstract landscape paintings, Lorelei Greene, vintage-inspired jewelry. Through April. The Red Arrow Gallery and Lounge New works by Tanner McGuire through April. Art Queen “Life is an Obscure Hitching a Ride on the Omnibus of Life:” Paintings by Jesse Wiedel. April 9, 5-9 p.m., music by Ted Q & TV Giants, The Kittens. Show runs through April. Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG) Fulmer, Burnham, Florek, O’Keefe, Parker, Reese, Reiman, Ross, new artist: Marcia Geiger. Through April. YUCCA VALLEY
TWENTYNINE PALMS ART GALLERY AND GIFT SHOP Desert Art Native American Jewelry and Southwestern Gifts 74055 Cottonwood Dr. (off National Park Dr.) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 www.29palmsartgallery.com (760)367-7819
Open: 12 to 3 PM Wednesday–Sunday Summer Hours: 12 to 3 Friday-Saturday-Sunday
Hi-Desert Nature Museum “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” 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. “Joshua Tree ROCKS! Celebration of Joshua Tree National Park’s 75th “Birthday.” The exhibition exalts the unusually surrealistic, geographically intriguing, stone cold cool “pilesof-rock” formations that characterize Joshua Tree National Park. Whether they climb on them, hike around them or just gaze in wonder at them, no one forgets the big boulders we all love. Now they are honored by local artists. Both run through April 23. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Mondays and major holidays.) Admission is free. Your donation supports the Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s educational mission. 57090 29 Palms Hwy,Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212. www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile/The Sun Runner Store Artists featured in Tamma’s include nature and wildlife photography of David McChesney, Christy Anderson’s license plate and “junk art,” Christopeher Pheyk glass blower and art, Divine Design greeting cards by Barbara Penney, Claire Montrose stained glass windows and bottle crosses, Frederick Ruldolph leather art, and gourd art of Ronald Churchwell. The Sun Runner Store, our own store inside Tamma’s, features the work of desert artists such as Sun Runner hi-desert music columnist, Judy Wishart, this issue’s cover artist, Billy Makuta, former cover artist, Cheryl Kandel, desert survival bandannas from columnist DeRanger Steve, plus desert music CDs and books, including signed books by Deanne Stillman and our Randsburg contributor, Lorraine Blair.
20 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Tami Wood is the featured artist for the months of April and May at The Sun Runner Store inside Tamma’s Magic Mercantile in Yucca Valley.
The Sun Runner Store’s featured artist for April and May is Tami Wood. Wood’s vibrantly colored and playful desert artwork is reasonably priced and just plain fun. Opening June 4, is “Sawtooth,” a photographic look back half a decade to the summer of 2006, featuring photography by Sun Runner publisher, Steve Brown. The opening reception, which celebrates the start of Brown’s eighth year with the magazine, is slated for 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, June 4, with refreshments, live music, and special guests. The show will run through July. In addition to all the artists, we have Sun Runner Southwest cards, organic jojoba oil, Southwest t-shirts, and new desertmade Southwest style candles and candle holders. The Sun Runner Store is a great place to support independent media, the arts, and non-corporate retail. Plus, the California Deserts Visitors Association and The Sun Runner have teamed up to offer desert visitors information at this location. Easy highway parking, refreshments, visitor info, maps, and restrooms, along with great desert art and gifts, await. Hours are: 10 a.m-5 p.m daily. 55727 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. (760)228-0700. Desert artists, musicians, authors, and others who would like to offer their work through The Sun Runner Store should contact us at email@example.com. MORONGO VALLEY Cactus Mart Various Artists. Leslie Anderson, Cheryl Jordan, Bobette Glass Act, Barb Wells-Roberts, Susan Abbot, Penelope Krebs, Tami Wood, James Hagerty, James Hammons, Renee Schwab. Through May. COACHELLA VALLEY Desertscapes Celebration Desertscapes is a month-long tribute in April to early and contemporary landscape painters. The Coachella Valley has a April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 21
distinct place in California art history and its own style of art known as the Smoketree School. Desertscapes promotes and educates the public about the landscape artists in and around the Coachella Valley. It is a collaboration of major arts and community organizations including the City of Palm Desert, the Living Desert, the Palm Springs Art Museum, College of the Desert’s Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts and the Coachella Valley Watercolor Society. Various locations. Check the website for details: desertscapes.net. DESERT HOT SPRINGS Cabot’s Pueblo Museum Art of the Americas: The Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico Lecture, Sale and Exhibit. April 16 & 17. The traditions of the Seri Indians of Sonora have been nurtured for over 500 years. Their unique craftsmanship includes basket making, woodwork and jewelry making. They live in a coastal area of Mexico and use local plants and trees, like the Ironwood, to create their beautiful work. Up until 1961, their wood carvings were for utilitarian reasons such as musical rasps, animal yokes, and oar blades for their boats. But in 1961, tribal member José Astorga was asked to create a wood carving as a paper weight. Since then he’s perfected his craft, inspired by his environment with sea animals like turtles, stingrays and fish; figurines and other animals. Eventually he taught other villagers and the Seri fame grew. Artists and admirers around the world marvel at the art of the Seri Indians. Entry and parking at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is free. Museum tours are regular price. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, 67616 E. Desert View Ave., Desert Hot Springs. (760)329-7610, www.cabotsmuseum.org. PALM SPRINGS Palm Springs Art Museum 6th Annual “Meet the Museum.” April 8, 6-9 p.m. Membership fundraiser and party at the museum. Food, beverages, art, more. $40. John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective, through June. 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800. www.psmuseum.org. Palm Springs First Wednesday Art Walk April 6, May 4. Hosted by the Backstreet Art District. Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art. Wednesday, 6-9 p.m. Dezart One Gallery Solo Show “Around Every Corner” Marian Moiseyev. Artist reception, April 2, and May 14, 7-9 p.m. Show runs through May 22. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum Photographing the Cahuilla Landscape. Living Traditions class. April 16, 10 a.m. $10, free for Museum members. Bring your own equipment and picnic lunch. Information & registration, Claire Victor at (760)833-8169 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 219 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. (760)323-0151, www.accmuseum.org. PALM DESERT 1st Thursday El Paseo Art Walk. Gallery stroll. April 7, May 5, 5-7 p.m. 22 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
LA QUINTA Art Under the Umbrellas. Saturday, April 9. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. INDIAN WELLS Indian Wells Arts Festival 9th Annual Indian Wells Arts Festival – Where Art is a Happening. April 2-4. $10 Adults; Children 12 and under free. Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells. SALTON SEA Salton Sea History Museum and Visitors Center Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea. Through April as part of Desertscapes. Artists include Bill Leigh Brewer, Cristopher Cichocki, Andrew Dickson, Joe Forkan, Mary-Austin Klein, Christopher Landis, Deborah Martin Eric Merrell, Joan Myers and Kim Stringfellow. Stringfellow reads from her book, Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005, and presents a slide show of the images in the book. Tony Soares: Paddle and Anvil Pottery, April 22, 1-3 p.m. Soares demonstrates paddle and anvil pottery, a style made along the shores of the Salton Sea for a 1,000 years. Eric Merrell, Andrew Dickson, Joe Forkan: The Artist’s Eye: Landscape Painting in the Desert, April 23, 1-3 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibition “Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea,” these participating artists will present a talk on their work that includes their approaches to painting, on-location sketches and materials used to work outdoors. North Shore. www.saltonseamuseum.org.
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RIDGECREST Maturango Museum Lin Moore Photography – “This Goodly Frame: Reveries Among the Origins of Order.” Through May 4. Erik Holland, paintings, May 7-June 29. Reception: May 6, 7-9 p.m, includes a presentation by the artist The Maturango Museum is holding a FUNdraiser April, 30 at the Historic USO building feauturing armchair horse races. Doors open at 6 p.m. with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a no host bar. First race begins at 7 p.m. Proceeds help cover museum operating expenses. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave. Ridgecrest, (760)375-6900, www.maturango.org. BORON Cunningham’s Art Studio Plein Air Painting Class, April 15-17. Local desert art and art lessons by Susan Cunningham. Cunningham’s Art Studio, 27152 Twenty Mule Team Road, Boron. (760)373-0914. BORREGO SPRINGS First Friday Nights April 1, May 6, 5-8 p.m. Borrego Art Institute Community Show. Opens April 9, reception 5-9 p.m. Details on shows are available on the calendar online at www.thesunrunner.com. Send your desert art news to us at: email@example.com.
April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 23
h, there it was again, not far away in the darkness. The familiar haunting call and response echoing across the canyon walls of the oasis. When I hear it, even now it’s almost as if Coyote is still here singing to the moon. I wait, half expecting him to stroll from the blackness into the flickering light of my small fire, taking another pull on the mescal jug. But Coyote’s gone. Long gone. The legendary trickster, the dancer of life, my friend Coyote so loved the desert he was finally compelled to leave it. For Coyote’s eyesight is better than mine. He could glimpse far enough into the future to see that he needed to gather his pack and walk on, away from the looming destruction, away from the pain he knew was coming for those who love this place as we do. You haven’t heard from me for a while. I have been in solitude, walking the ancient trails, the pathways worn thousands of years ago, crossing the desert to hidden sacred places, places where this world and the dream world touch and intertwine, and where you find the dessicated remains of the utterly divine nature of this planet, where humanity and nature once were blissfully at peace, united. Before the holy was soiled, before the word “greed” was uttered and repeated like the powerful mantra it has become.. You may think it a lonely existence, but I assure you it has been anything but. When you walk the trails, you walk with the spirits of those who walked before, and the promise of those who have yet to set out on the path. There is comradery there of the type you just can’t find pushing a cart down the aisles of WalMart. I have been out to the far corners of the desert where orange ribbons are tied to stakes and heavy equipment rumbles, tearing out the life of the desert, smoothing the living landscape into nothing more than dirt, erasing the sacred paths, leaving the spirits who walk them with no trail to follow, and no new company to look forward to on their journeys. I tossed a stone into the small pool at the oasis below and watched the ripples spread, milky in the moonlight. How can I stay any longer? Watching the tortoises vanish, the wild things 24 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
willing themselves to disappear, to go somewhere beyond the ignorant arrogance of humankind, only the opportunists thriving—these signs are difficult to watch. Even the great image of Kokopilli, I recall, is no longer sacred, not even important, a thing to be dismissed after a quick glance at Google Earth, as Google itself funds some of the destruction. Oh the web of death that is woven! Oh to be a liar and a thief and to be gainfully employed as such by the government and corporations! How smug to ignore the words of the elders of the tribes of the river and smother history in tens of thousands of pages of bureaucratic obfuscation, following the law while denying the very spirit of why the law was made into law! And people pay taxes to support these “managers” of their lands as they pick the pockets of the public and give the gain to giant corporations who destroy the desert in the name of saving the environment? What hurts is just how much folks, especially those plugged-in, sophisticated urban types, who always seem to know everything and sleep so well assured, buy into all of it, parrotting some politically “correct” nonsense about how we must destroy the desert to save the world. As if you can destroy part of nature to make another part better..... “Whooooooooooooooooo?” The quavery voice came from up beyond the palm skirt somewhere interrupting my thoughts. “Whooooo is here at the oasis?” A grey form swooped down and landed on a rock nearby. It turned its head toward me, and its face looked almost like a feathery moon, a wise feathery moon. “Hoover!” You just never know when a friend will drop in. “It’s just me, Locopelli.” Though I was preoccuppied with grief that is and grief inevitably yet to be, I couldn’t help but grin. Owls are one of my favorite creatures, though I love them all, and they are indeed wise, in their own bobble-headed way, of course. I suppose things would seem different if I were, say, a field mouse, but things are what they are, and I is what I is. “Whoooooooo has made you feel sorrow?” Hoover was pretty intuitive sometimes, and we’ve known each other for a rather long time. “Whoooooo has done this?” “Pretty much everyone,” I answered, dejected at having to give voice to thoughts I would have liked to deny, as if by saying them out loud gave them power. But I remembered, staying silent provides its own power too. “The government agencies who are supposed to manage this land responsibly, the companies who are using the desire for green energy to launch a new gold rush in the desert, and the environmentalists who stand by and allow it all to go down.” I thought about all the conversations I had with the smug educated urban elite who mouthed an appreciation for nature while only knowing it as an abstract concept—an abstract concept they’d sell out in a heartbeat if someone tweeted a new direction for the herd to run. These self-righteous “environmentalists” somehow got the idea that scraping the desert clear
of its life, its sacred sites, and its heritage, to erect giant fields of unnatural mirrors and towers and turbines, then adding to the criss-crossing humming high voltage lines leaking electric power as it buzzed its way to LA, is the way to save the planet. “We don’t have time to do this right,” one screamed at me. “We must choose between the desert and the planet.” Well, last I looked, the desert was part of the planet, and last I looked, there were plenty of big already-wrecked places around the cities where these crops of mirrors could go, and they wouldn’t need those buzzing lines leaking electricity all over the desert because the power would be where the people are. “Don’t be stupid,” one “activist” yelled at me. “We have to act now to reduce our carbon footprint!” I waited for him to begin frothing at the mouth. It’s happened before. Here were our best and brightest, our last hope for the environment, unable to discern good environmental planning from bad corporate welfare projects. It wasn’t as if you couldn’t see it—you provide public lands for cheap, you provide public funding and incentives, you let the public get soaked for all that mandated “green” energy, and then, when the mirrors aren’t shiny any more, you let the public pay to deal with the mess left behind. A win-win situation for politicians and the corporations they represent. Not so good for you, me, and, of course, the desert. I explained all this to Hoover, and his head sagged down. I guess it all sounded a little too overwhelming for a guy who chows down on mice and hurls out the fur and bones in pellets. “Whooooooooooooooooooooo will stop this? Whoooooooooooooo will save the desert?” Hoover asked, his voice a little uncertain. “I think it may be too late for anyone to stop it, and I certainly don’t see anyone stepping up to the plate to save it, other than some of the Native tribes. The government fast-tracked a lot of this, overwhelming everyone who might have objected with the sheer number and timing of these projects. A lot of what they did was illegal, much of it was immoral, but I don’t see anyone putting the cuffs on them,” I answered. Hoover was silent for a while, restlessly gazing at the small reflection of the desert moon on the oasis waters. Around us, the night sounds continued, but you could almost hear an ominous buzzing as the wires wound tighter around the desert. I took a pull from the mescal jug. Hoover sighed. I’d never heard an owl sigh before. “You know Coyote left, right, Hoover?” I asked. “I’m thinking of leaving too. I don’t think I can bear to stay and watch them carve it all up while they run their commercials telling us just how great they all are because they’re saving the planet. It’s old American philosophy—you show you’re doing something for progress by building some giant dam or conquering nature by carving a highway or railroad through the passes, clearcutting the endless forests, leveling a mountain for a few pounds of gold, or draining all the water from one place and sending it somewhere else. Doing something simple, reasonable, and right just doesn’t figure into the picture. It must be massive on a truly American scale to be seen as forging ahead in the name of progress. I think it’s just dumb. But it’s heartbreaking too, and it’s deadly. They’re killing the desert and they feel good about it because they think they’re saving the planet—not that they know much about how the planet works, mind you—and I just can’t watch any more.” Well, Hoover looked like he got more than he bargained for by stopping by to say hello. He looked like he wanted to hurl up more than a pellet. “Whooooooooooooooo,” he asked after a few moments of owlishly deep thought, “will stay with us as she dies?” Owls
have always referred to the desert as a “she.” It is one of those things that just are, and have always been. Hoover looked as resigned as I felt. I know he loves this place as much as I do. He looked long and intensely at me, the way only owls can do. There’s definitely something very old in their eyes. “Whooooooooooooooooooooooo will sing the songs for us?” he asked, not breaking his gaze. “Whooooooooooooooooooooooo will sing them, the songs that must be sung?” I knew the songs he meant, and I knew what he meant. With Coyote gone and the desert dying, the songs must be sung to guide the spirits of the desert as they depart. I shuddered. Few knew the songs any more. They were old—ancient and forgotten by most. I closed my eyes and looked within. They were there, down in the soft darkness, these songs in a language so old that almost no humans could understand them, but all the denizens of the desert would hear them and add their parts, for the song was a song that came from us all. “Whoooooooooooooo will sing them?” Hoover asked again, pointedly. I chuckled a bit as I thought about Coyote. No wonder he left. He saw this night coming and knew. Coyote is a dancer, and the songs of departure and dying don’t exactly move one to get down and boogie. I looked up at Hoover who was still staring at me as if he was intent on boring a hole in my head with his eyes. Some would say being asked to do this is an honor. Well, if it’s an honor, it’s one I’d gladly pass on. But I can’t. I realized this is why I couldn’t leave when Coyote turned to walk his path away from here. “I will,” I said, nodding to Hoover. “I will sing the necessary songs.” I inhaled a deep breath of the desert night air, sweet with the perfumes of spring. “I will sing, but you must go find the others who know the songs. There aren’t many, but the more voices, the more life the song will carry. We will need everyone who knows the songs to sing.” Hoover nodded soberly, then he leapt off his perch into the night, his wings silver with the moon, almost a ghost. We are almost all ghosts now. I took one more pull of mescal from the jug and set it down. Inside my pack, I found my rattle, handed down to me from one of the singers of old. I unwrapped it and held it high in my hand toward the moon, beating out the rhythm with my feet in the dust. I cleared my throat, and I began to sing. Will this be Locopelli’s final passage? What do you think? Should Locopelli stay and watch the desert die, or should he sing other ancient songs—songs that may bring her back to life? Support our fundraising drive starting May 1 on www.ripple.com and you’ll be helping Locopelli share his love of the desert in our new Mysterious Mojave comic book. You’ll also be eligible to receive a hand-carved Locopelli sand-cast candle from one of the top candlemakers of the desert, or one of numerous other incentives you’ll love. All of us at The Sun Runner greatly appreciate your support for this magazine as we work to bring you the real California desert in all its wonder and mystery. There are many ways you can help us grow (which in turn helps us serve you and the desert better). Please visit our website at www.thesunrunner.com for quick, easy, and painless ways you can be a part of sharing our incredible desert home with those who love it, errrr..... her, the way we do. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 25
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here is an old anecdote about putting a frog in a pan of water on a stove, then heating the water slowly. As the fable goes, because the temperature of the water in the pot increases gradually at an almost imperceptible rate, the frog doesn’t realize the danger its in. As a result, froggy doesn’t try to jump out and save himself as the water begins to boil. Modern scientists have come along and spoiled the story by pointing out that frogs actually do jump out of pots of water as they get hot, but the story still has its metaphorical value. Say you put a human being in a pot like froggy’s, and turned the burner on low. Then, say you started giving the human some convenient, fun, distracting things—lights, a radio, then a TV, stereo, and VCR at first. As the pot warms, you drop in a cell phone, wi-fi network, cordless phone, and a laptop, and the more the person used them, the higher the burner went. As time went by, the person occasionally noticed the water was getting hotter, but then he’d get a text message, a Facebook post, or a YouTube video that told him that there were no safety hazards associated with the water he was sitting in, and only crackpots thought the water was getting warmer. As the water begins to boil, and the human looks back and forth between the pot as it starts bubbling and his electrical accessories, finally making the connection between his toys and his predicament, will he jump out of the pot and save himself, or will he convince himself he is in no imminent danger so he doesn’t have to give up all the convenient, entertaining, nifty toys he has become accustomed to, and reliant upon? What is so useful about the poor frog in a pot story, is that we can see ourselves sitting in the pot in so many ways. So
now, imagine that the water in the pot isn’t there. It’s just air. Now, add those devices I’m talking about—turn them all on and keep adding more to the mix. You can’t see anything different in the air about you, but it’s just like froggy’s water—and that water is gradually heating to a rolling boil. What if what we can’t see can kill us? I’m out with Dr. Sam Milham, a retired epidemiologist who served as an epidemiologist for the State of Washington for decades. We’re in downtown Joshua Tree, and Milham is measuring the amount of electricity eminating from the ground below our feet. What? There’s electrical current running through the ground? Doesn’t that mean there’s electrical current running through us too, since we’re standing on the ground? The answer is a quick, “Yes,” to both questions. Five volts or more are flowing from the ground below our feet. Milham explains that Southern California Edison is using the earth as the return part of the electrical circuit that brings power to our homes and businesses. Well, at least it’s dirt cheap—cheaper than upgrading the grid to carry the return power back to the substation. Milham is studying “dirty electricity,” a phenomenon that can be directly traced to our love of technology. Problem is it looks like it also may be at the root of a lot of what ails us these days. We’ve managed to pretty much ignore it, especially since we can’t see it, and most of us, anyway, can’t seem to feel it—at least not enough to be able to clearly and authoritatively identify and label what we’re feeling. As I stand on the corner watching the meter Milham’s
April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 27
Dr. Sam Milham, above, researching dirty electricity in Joshua Tree.
holding go up and down with readings of voltage flowing beneath, and through us, and listen to his experience researching the history of electrification, cancer clusters, the illnesses of civilization, and electrical pollution, I start wondering about the frog. Will we jump? Can we? Or will we just get cooked? Which, as it turns out, isn’t all that far off from the reality of the fact that what we can’t see can indeed kill us. This is just the first step of our investigation into the world of the unseen— EMF/RF pollution, dirty electricity, ground current and more. Think of this as an introduction, and, perhaps, a call to action. – Steve Brown Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization Dr. Milham conducted a historical analysis of electrification and disease incidence in the United States through residential electrification in the first half of the 20th century. As an epidemiologist, he compared urban and rural electrification with cancer mortality and arrived at some startling conclusions. By 1920, 34.7 percent of all U.S. homes had electrical power, but only 1.6 percent of farms. By 1940, 78 percent of all homes and 32 percent of farms had power, meaning roughly three quarters of the population lived in dwellings with electricity, while one quarter still did not. By 1940, Milham noted, “almost all urban residents in the U.S. were exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in their residences and at work, while rural residents were exposed to varying levels of EMFs, depending on the progress of rural electrification in their states.” Milham examined mortality records for urban and rural residents, and found “the critical variable which causes the radical changes in mortality accompanying industrialization is electrification.” Milham added that he believes that historically, distributed electricity has carried high frequency voltage 28 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
transients “which caused and continue to cause what are considered to be the normal diseases of civilization. Even today, many of these diseases are absent or have very low incidence in places without electricity.” Examining studies of mortality, Milham found that in 1900, heart disease and cancer were fourth and eighth in the list of the ten leading causes of death. By 1940, heart disease was in first place with cancer in second, and the two have remained at the top ever since. In highly electrified states, urban and rural death rates were similar, while in low electrification states, urban death rates were systematically higher than rural rates. In the end, Milham’s study found a strong correlation between electrification rates and cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and suicide rates. So why has this correlation gone relatively unnoticed? Milham noted that at the time, epidemiologists were primarily concerned with the effects of infectious diseases, and now, with nearly everyone globally exposed to EMFs, it has become more difficult to isolate its effects. He compared this situation to smoking. “The mortality from lung cancer in two packs a day smokers is over 20 times that of non-smokers but only three times that of one pack a day smokers,” Milham wrote in his study. “After 1956, the EMF equivalent of a non-smoker ceased to exist in the U.S. An exception to this is the Amish who live without electricity. Like rural U.S. residents in the 1940s, Amish males in the 1970s had very low cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.” The bad news Milham delivers with his study is that if his hypothesis and findings are even, as he noted in the conclusion, “partially true,” the explosive increase in radiofrequency radiation and high frequency voltage transients from cell phones and towers, antennas, wi-fi, broadband Internet over power lines, and our personal electronic equipment suggests “that like the 20th century EMF epidemic, we may already have a 21st century epidemic of morbidity and mortality underway caused by electromagnetic fields.” The good news? If we want it bad enough—more than our toys and convenience, that is—much of this epidemic is preventable. “Dirty” Electricity So, what is dirty electricity? In his book, Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization, Dr. Milham takes us back to the history of electrification, and through his own personal history of epidemiological research and investigation. Milham is a medical doctor and epidemiologist specializing in public health, with more than 100 scientific publications to his record. He served with the State Department of Health in Washington from 1968 to 1992, as an epidemiologist section head, receiving the Washington State Public Health Association Annual Award in 1986. He has served as a professor at Albany Medical college, the University of Hawaii School of Public Health and Medical School, The University of Washington School of Public Health, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He’s the kind of “outspoken” that’s dangerous—when he speaks out, he does so with credentials, experience, and the ability to back up his assertions with data. Dirty electricity, Milham explained, is the inclusion of high frequency voltage transients in our supply of electrical power. Earlier in the history of electrification, this “dirty” electricity tended to come from electrical motors with commutators, carbon brushes, and split rings which injected the transients into the electricity being generated and distributed. Today, with the explosion of the number of electrical de-
Milham measures the RF emissions of an SCE Smart Meter in action. While the RF emissions ranged greatly over time, going extremely high during the meter’s “bursts” when it broadcast its data to the “Smart Grid,” Milham noted that it never seemed to stop emitting radio frequencies.
vices we use in our everyday life, we have numerous sources of dirty electricity. Much of today’s electrical equipment operates with interrupted current flow, using switching power supplies. The constant interruption of the power leads to a jagged peaks in the electricity you can easily see against the normal sine wave flow of alternating current when you view it on meters such as the one Milham and I were using in Joshua Tree. Equipment that generates dirty electricity include dimmer switches, compact fluorescent lights, halogen lamps, electronic transformers converting alternating (AC) current to direct (DC) current, and most electronics made since the mid-1980s. Dirty electricity can be generated any number of places from substations to within the home or office and then distributed throughout electric wiring, as well as through ground rods and conductive plumbing, or through the ground itself. Currents and Cattle A long way from the desert, Dave Stetzer, an Air Force veteran who was highly trained in military electronics and had a top secret clearance, and who has specialized in power control in industry, municipalities, and motor control centers in the private center, began to focus on power quality analysis. He founded Stetzer Electric in Wisconsin with $400 in 1975, and has built it into a multi-million dollar company. Stetzer’s involvement with electrical pollution, stray voltage (as the use of the earth as the neutral ground return is sometimes described by utility companies), and dirty electricity came to the fore when he was asked to troubleshoot a “stray voltage” problem on a farm in 1997. He identified the problem as ground currents originating from a neighboring farm due to the utility using the earth as its ground return. Stetzer has since investigated ground current issues on farms in multiple states and recorded the reactions of thousands
of cows, while examining hundreds of miles of distribution lines, distribution facilities, and substations. Stetzer has pointed out in court testimony on behalf of the Michigan Attorney General that the National Electrical Safety Code mandates that current leaving a utility substation (over wires) should return to the substation over neutral wires. But Stetzer found something with the cows he observed on dairy farms that is disturbing. “I have observed damaged cows with swollen joints, open sores, and other maladies, as well as aborted and deformed calves,” Stetzer said in his testimony. “I have even observed aborted twin calves, one of which was fully developed while its twin was grossly deformed. Ironically, the grossly deformed twin was the one directly in the current flow pathway between the cow’s back legs. “Is this absolute proof? Maybe not, but these are still my actual observations and real and undeniable events. In addition, I have also observed stressed cows, cows reluctant to enter certain spaces, including barns and milking parlors, and even cows reluctant to drink water, such that they lap at the water instead of sucking it up as they normally do. I have seen numerous cows fall over dead for no apparent reason. I have observed cows whose entire sides and muscles spasm uncontrollably... These symptoms and impacts are not limited to Wisconsin; they appear everywhere I have found ‘dirty power.’ “I have made hundreds of observations and captured hundreds of waveforms in homes, schools, and other locations. Invariably, the waveforms I capture seem to be related to the health and well being of people residing in these locations. This is perfectly consistent with what farmers have observed in their herds for years.: there is no reason whatsoever that forces affecting cattle should not also similarly affect other life forms in the same vicinity. It would defy logic to expect otherwise. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 29
Electro-Magnetic Fields – What are they and why should you care?
lectricity. We love it and can’t get enough of it. It’s amazing stuff, invisible, yet lighting and heating and cooling our homes, powering motors, connecting us, entertaining us, protecting us, even allowing us to produce magazines without setting lead type. We’ve come to rely on it as an integral component of modern life. And everywhere there is electricity, there are electro-magnetic fields. They’re all around us. Slowly, an awareness is rising, from individuals who suffer directly from sensitivity to our increasing use of modern tools and toys, to top scientists and the World Health Organization, that EMFs may not be as benign as we’d like to think. Health effects attributed to EMFs include sleep disorders, vision problems, flu-like symptoms, chronic fatigue, muscle pain and spasms, memory loss, brain fog/confusion, attention deficit disorder, headaches and migraines, slowed healing of wounds, tingling extremities, carpal tunnel syndrome, skin disorders, arthritis complications, asthma and allergies, cancer, leukemia, fibromyalgia, candidiasis—the list goes on. But certainly there can be other causes for these symptoms, so how do we pin them on EMFs? Therein lies part of the problem. Certainly, EMF pollution interacts with numerous other environmental factors. EMFs are so common now that it is almost virtually impossible to conduct a study on their health effects with a control group without removing the group from all traces of modern society. However, you can measure EMFs, so you can detect their strength in your home or office. Turn on an AM radio near your DECT cordless phone. Can you hear the radio through the static? That static, the same as when you drive through Yucca Valley, for instance, with the AM radio on, is the sound of a strong EMF presence. Electro-magnetic fields are part of nature, but human beings have ratcheted up their presence in our lives. Look around your home. The wiring in the walls creates an EMF, the appliances, phones, TV, stereo, computers, video games, microwave oven—they all generate EMFs. Now, look at your cell phone, your wi-fi router, your digital clock next to your bed. We tend to dismiss EMFs as a possible source of illness. After all, we can’t see it. Well, chances are you can’t see the MRSA virus either, but after you’re infected with it, you’ll definitely know it is making you sick. The best way to avoid EMF exposure is to avoid places where you find EMFs. Power lines and cell phone towers are good places to avoid. “The irony is the proliferation and complete public denial about the dangers and inadvisability of cellphones. The cellphone proliferation has necessitated the myriad placements of new cellphone (radio) towers...ironically in the middle of many unsuspecting neighborhoods and with the complete abridgment of public protection or review due to corporate lobby power and deception. The basic analysis is simple,” says Gary Duncan of Smart Shelter Network. “Would you buy a house next door to a radio tower? No. What do you think is right underneath the radio antennae on your cell phone? Duhhhh. I don’t bother explaining this to a defensive cellphone owner. I just tune my EMF meter to radio frequency and lay it on the table. They lay their cell phone next to the meter and punch the “on” button. I watch as the phone logs onto the cell tower. In a minute the meter pegs as the phone makes a connection.” Duncan has a straightforward and highly entertaining introduction to EMFs on his website, www.smartshelter.com. We heard from him while he was here in the desert, searching for locations away from EMF “electrosmog” pollution. 30 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
“Electricity is a recent innovation in human history. We ‘consume’ it effortlessly, and make no concerted effort to determine whether it is being delivered safely. We assume that it is confined to wires and that it goes only where intended. As I have found on farms, this assumption is dangerously incorrect. “In the areas I have visited, there is no systematic effort to measure the electrical forces, such as ground currents, in a region. Just the opposite is true—there is a concerted effort not to measure these forces. I can cite numerous observations in which I have noticed that human health appears related to the type of electrical forces that people experience on a daily basis...” Stetzer said he initially thought that utility companies would welcome his findings, but instead found that, “In meeting after meeting, the utilities and their consultants professed ignorance of the basic concepts of harmonics, transients, and voltage sags and swells. I redoubled my efforts to explain, always with the same result. They denigrated my findings and my competence. They ridiculed the plight of farmers. I used to state that there wasn’t an electrical problem that I couldn’t solve. Now I say there isn’t an electrical problem that I can’t identify. It’s an important and disturbing distinction.” Stetzer obtained a patent for a devise to measure electrical current flowing through cows. Along with Dr. Martin Graham, an emeritus professor of electrical engineering at UC Berkeley who had also worked with dairy farmers, and Dr. Donald Hillman, professor emeritus at the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University, Stetzer co-authored a paper about milk production decreased by transient voltage events—dirty electricity. Graham patented the Graham/Stetzer meter that measures those high frequency transients on electrical wiring simply by plugging it into an outlet. Graham and Stetzer then developed a capacitor filter to help reduce dirty electricity emanating from wiring. My package from Stetzer Electric arrived about two months ago (as of our publication date). I immediately plugged in the meter, which measures the volts per second present, an approximation for the high frequency energy. It fluctuated between 75 and 95 units in the kitchen area. Other rooms resulted in higher and lower overall readings. As I put the STETZERiZER filters in outlets around the house, the meter readings decreased. They have consistently remained between 48 and 35, sometimes dipping into down to the mid-20s, a level deemed “marginally acceptable” for most people, other than those who are electrically sensitive. The meter has traveled elsewhere around the hi-desert in the past couple of months, obtaining readings over 600 units, where two filters reduced the readings down to 200 units. It is important to note, however, that these meters and filters deal with dirty electricity arriving through electrical wiring. They do not measure or reduce electrical or magnetic fields generated by what may be plugged into the outlets at the end of the wires. As a result, Dr. Milham referred to the Sun Runner office as a “death trap” due to the emissions he picked up from the three computers, two universal power (backup) systems, and the wi-fi router, not to mention the postage meter, and cordless phone. Milham explained that he has gotten rid of the wi-fi system at home after seeing the radio frequency (RF) emissions it broadcast. I was reminded of a paper by Magda Havas, associate professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, connecting Stetzer’s work with improving the milk yield of dairy cattle through a reduction in dirty electricity reaching the cattle, and a Toronto woman and
her daughter who were electrically sensitive. After some renovations, Havas reported, the daughter became ill. An electrician fixed an electrical problem, which resulted in an improvement of the girl’s health, but she continued to experience frequent headaches, trouble thinking, depression, chest pain, and nausea. The woman’s niece had developed chronic fatigue after moving to a farm in Wisconsin, and was aware of Stetzer’s work. The Toronto woman installed filters and noted that her family’s health improved—including that of the family dog. But her daughter still felt sick when she went to school. The principal agreed to installing filters at the school, and the woman asked Havas to conduct a study to monitor the effectiveness of the filters. Havas said she was skeptical, but designed a questionnaire and went ahead with a “blind” experiment. She measured the EMF environment in the school with and without the filters. The filters remove the dirty electricity but don’t change the EMFs. The study lasted six weeks, three weeks without, and three weeks with, the filters. Of the 26 regularly responding teachers during the study, four did not change, and four were “slightly worse,” while 18 responded that they improved when filters were installed. Nearly half the teachers said they experienced less fatigue and were less frustrated, while more than a third said they were more satisfied with their work and had a greater sense of well-being. Around a quarter said they were less irritable, had more energy, and experienced less body pain, while almost 20 percent noted they had fewer headaches. Analysis also showed that in elementary school, student disruptions were reduced, though high school results were less conclusive. A later study involving Havas, conducted at three Minnesota schools, saw similar results. Of 38 symptoms measured, 79 percent were better, 13 percent were worse, and eight percent remained the same when the filters were installed. But there were more results. Asthma improved among teachers, similar to results in a Wisconsin school that had experienced “sick-building” syndrome. In that case, students with asthma no longer required daily use of their inhalers. The studies go on and on. But while school districts recognize concerns about mold, asbestos, chemical sensitivities, and food alleries, they appear reluctant to take exposure to electrical pollution seriously. And that leads us straight to La Quinta. A Cancer Cluster in the Desert In 2003, teachers at La Quinta Middle School complained that they felt they were experiencing a higher rate of cancers than what they thought was normal. In 2004 a local tumor registry epidemiologist made the claim there was no cancer cluster or increased cancer incidence at the school. Dr. Milham wasn’t so sure. Milham said his initial requests for access to the school grounds and the teachers’ information were denied by Desert Sands School District, but with help from the teachers, the cancers the faculty experienced were characterized. Invited on campus by a teacher after school, it was possible to finally measure both EMFs and dirty power levels. In all but one room, located near the electrical service room, classroom magnetic field levels were low. Dirty electricity levels, however, were high, with many “overload” readings. When informed of the readings, Milham noted, Dr. Doris Wilson, then superintendent, threatened him with prosecution for trespassing and the teacher who invited his team onto the school grounds was given a letter of reprimand from the district. This form of reaction, it seems from talking with Milham, has
Dr. Milham’s meter on overload reading the earth current in downtown Joshua Tree. Electrical power travels in a circuit. After it goes through our home or office wiring, what isn’t used is supposed to return to the grid through a neutral wire. SCE and other utility companies nationally use the ground as the means for returning power back to substations through means like that shown above. “Up to 70 percent of the power goes back in the ground,” Milham noted. “The California PUC (Public Utilities Commission) is corrupt. This is completely illegal. The regulations say zero power should be returned this way. That it’s only for lightning or emergencies. But the PUC lets these bastards use the ground as a return.”
been fairly typical, unfortunately. But in this case, the teachers filed a California OSHA complaint, leading to a thorough measurement of magnetic fields and dirty electricity at the school by the California Department of health Services, along with useful comparison data and expedited tumor registry confirmation of cancer cases. Using California cancer incidence data, the teacher data, and the dirty electricity exposure data, Milham’s team calculated cancer incidence and risks. A higher than expected presence of dirty electricity was found (one teacher reported that 11 out of 15 outlets in his classroom overloaded the meter). Three more teachers were diagnosed with cancer in 2005, adding to the initial 11, and another former teacher’s cancer was reported. The study found cancer risk increased with length of employement on site, with a single year of employment at La Quinta Middle School increasing a teacher’s risk of cancer by 21 percent. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 31
Overall, the attributable risk percentage at the school was calculated at nearly 64 percent, with those teachers who worked on site for over 10 years and who had worked in a room with an overload reading having a much higher rate of cancer. This group comprised only 7.3 percent of the cohort (a group of individuals sharing a common characteristic and observed over time), but accounted for nearly 40 percent of the cancers. Milham attributed much of the resistance to acting to protect those exposed to dirty electricity, to fear of liability. But resistance, as they say, may be futile, for more people are coming forward, including a fellow teacher at Vista del Monte elementary school in Palm Springs, where a cell phone tower had been located near classrooms since 2005. There, dirty electricity readings were measured higher than those in La Quinta. The 12 cancers among 75 personnel employed at the school since 1990, were over-represented in the rooms closest to the cell tower base. Diabetes became a problem for one teacher who endured a below-the-knee amputation. When he retired in 2009, his blood glucose levels returned to normal. Milham’s investigation into the health effects of dirty electricity is continuing—and expanding. What’s so “smart” about Smart Meters? I have to confess. When I learned that Southern California Edison was going to install “Smart Meters” in the desert, I immediately began worrying. I suppose it comes from personal experiences with SCE, things like them taking a year and a half to return a phone call about getting electrical service to a home in Landers, stuff like that. But then I began doing a little research and decided to try an experiment. I read some of the Smart Meter protest websites up in PG&E country, and did what they recommended. I put a label on our regular old electric meter that said, “Do not install Smart Meter.” As a regular citizen, I sent an e-mail to SCE asking about my alternatives to having a Smart Meter installed. My predictions for what would happen both came true. First, I was informed there was no choice about having a Smart Meter installed, health, and other concerns be damned, and that I could not prevent SCE contractors from coming onto our property and installing one. My statement about them accepting full liability for any negative consequences of any such action received no response. Then, I returned home from giving a lecture at a local museum one day to find the Corix (SCE contractors) quickly departing my property. They had snatched away my old, reliable meter and replaced it with an apparently non-UL-listed new Smart Meter. My label was nowhere to be seen. I’m not necessarily electro-sensitive, but I do have health concerns ranging from heart arrhythmia (alleged to be influenced by radio frequency (RF) energy given off by Smart Meters), to asthma (ditto), and utility conmpany willingness to forcibly install Smart Meters over the health objections of citizens is not earning them friends. “I came home one day and saw all these installers installing a Smart Meter on my house,” said author John O’Melveny Woods of Leucadia. “That night I began to get a really big ringing in my ears. The next couple days it got worse. “I went out and got the name of it, went online to the manufacturer and found out the wireless transmitting meter transmits all day, 24 hours a day, and further, I found out that it does that sending out radio frequencies in your house. This floored me, so I called up San Diego Gas & Electric and said that I don’t want this meter, and I don’t think you have a legal right to send radio waves through my house. They said they were required by the State of California to put them in and 32 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
that’s the way it is. “Two days later, I’m talking to the postman and he mentioned he was tired, that he hadn’t been getting much sleep the last week and was waking up around 3 a.m. Him too!,” Woods said. The author sprung into action, adding that he distributed fliers about the meters to every neighbor within two miles. Standard utility responses are that the meters transmit on a limited basis (while Milham measured our Smart Meter’s RF output, it went up and down, but never stopped emitting) and pose no threat. They cite that the new meters RF output falls well below federal standards. What they don’t mention is that federal standards are thermal standards, measuring how well RF energy actually cooks you, not whether lower levels are interfering with bio-chemical processes in your body. This means that while RF emissions could be altering your DNA, as long as you aren’t actually sizzling, you’re all right. A growing number of local governments are either asking for more information, or just banning Smart Meters outright, citing concerns ranging from the fact that they don’t appear to be Underwriter Laboratory (UL) listed, and have been alluded to as the cause of a small number of house fires, to numerous health concerns, and privacy concerns (they broadcast two ways—from your home, and into it, and the overall wireless system is likely to be as secure as the southern California urban water supply system that took hired hackers all of one day to break into, according to a recent cybersecurity story in the L.A. Times). Meanwhile, Woods installed a Faraday cage to block the meter’s RF waves from coming into his house, while not interfering with the meter’s ability to broadcast to the SDG&E network. Two days after he installed it, he said a couple of unmarked white SUVs arrived at his home with representatives from the utility company. Woods launched www.SmartMeterDangers.com, and yes, the ringing in his ears went away. Woods said he was told that the Smart Meter was no worse than using a cell phone. But, as he noted, using a cell phone is your choice... And that is one of the points Cindy Sage is making. Sage, an environmental consultant and public policy researcher is broadly experienced with EMF issues. Her summary for the public prepared for the BioInitiative Working Group in 2007 is both enlightening and horrifying, as is her essay, “Tragedy of the Commons Revisited: The New Wireless Commons.” Sage noted that Smart Meter RF output is an “obvious health hazard,” that can interfere with medical equpment, and violates FCC limits. In her story, a work that takes Garrett Hardin’s 1968 classic on the limits of resources and applies it to RF proliferation, she points out the new “commons” is all around us, the new threat: emissions from wireless technologies. She stressed that, in general, the human body may be able to deal with a certain cumulative amount of EMF/RF exposure. But where, precisely, is the tipping point, which is almost certainly different for each individual? Smart Meters are part of a new program to have RF emissions broadcasting from everything from your toaster to your clothes dryer, with their useage all broadcast back to your wi-fi laptop, so you can monitor your home energy useage. Smart Meters, in turn, broadcast to antaennae on the street, creating an ever-growing web of RF energy around us. How much will damage our children’s DNA, or help that new tumor on its way, we just don’t know. Once, you could retreat to your home and it offered some level of protection. But it seems now, even the walls of our own homes may offer little shelter. Will we hop out as the temperature rises? Or will we be cooked in a soup of our own making?
even years ago Ruth Davis came to the Smart Shelter Network following six months of complete sleep deprivation (later identified by a Colorado physician as terminal). She possessed no knowledge or belief in electromagnetic fields or their toxicity. We removed her to known safe environments 19 times. Nineteen times in a row, she reacquired normal sleep within three days. The light dawning regarding the reality of this disability (in which it is not the sufferers, but their environment which is sick) began a wrenching dismantling of her life, leaving her destitute in remote reaches away from towns. These are the insights into ElectroSensitization in her own words. Her courage, tenacity and commitment to integrity and the environment have taken this 55-year-old gray-haired Southern Baptist grandmother of three into a lifestyle of living off the grid, migrating with the seasons, becoming a professional activist, rekindling her art (photography) in a sustainable modality, educating and assisting hundreds of ES sufferers, building not just one, but two complete safe domiciles for herself, learning the mechanics for restoring her 1976 Toyota Chinook back to life, becoming a native plant herbalist and contra dancer (she’s Welch) A documentary film script about her life as an ES refugee and the spiritual transcendance out of a decimated life is in development. Her courage is unprecedented. Only fools would think that this could never happen to them. This is the legacy of the wireless age. It’s incidence is escalating out of control. – Gary Duncan, Director, Smart Shelter Network
hat is it like....living with severe environmental allergies? How can you truly explain a debilitation that effects every single aspect of your life and yet is nearly invisible to persons you meet? On the outside, I look very much the same as I did before. Before, I was what most people would call ‘normal.’ I was a 52-year-old grandmother, healthy, had tons of energy, slept well every night, had a good job, friends, lived in a nice apartment, could travel, go to any social event I wanted, eat in any restaurant I pleased, spend time in libraries reading and researching, go to friends houses with impunity. And then, suddenly, overnight, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stand to be in my apartment (or even in town), had to quit my job (after collapsing from it), was constantly exhausted, couldn’t travel...and my friends and family think it’s all in my head. What do we who have environmental allergies go through?
What do we live with on a daily basis? Imagine the worst case of flu you’ve ever had...remember the exhaustion and weakness that lingered for days afterwards...imagine that never going away. Exhaustion so mind-numbing the only thing you can do is simply sit, and do nothing. Think of the worst headache you’ve ever experienced, and then imagine getting into your car, knowing that it will produce one, and get more and more intense the longer you try to drive. Remember fingernails on a chalkboard. Think of that shivering, screeching pain that goes on and on and on....unless you get out of that building. Try holding on to a bare electric wire....think of that feeling...and then transfer that feeling to your hands whenever you touch a computer mouse, and your right leg as you press down on the accelerator of your car. Make it grow to a sharp, shooting pain that is so intense you can’t keep your foot on that accelerator, you can’t touch that mouse. Ever had someone sit on your chest and felt as if you were being crushed? Ever had asthma or pneumonia? Experience that horrifying shortness of breath whenever you get a whiff of some candle, perfume, fabric softener, hair spray. Then magnify that feeling a hundred times for new carpet, new building materials, aromatherapy products, herbicides and pesticides. I’ve always been one of those people, who, when dealing with a cold, flu, or some other malady, could just ‘grin and bare it,’ and in time it would pass. Reactions to environmental toxins are not like that. Reactions we have while being exposed are intense and cannot be ignored. They continue to grow, becoming more and more intense. Our immune systems are screaming at us to get out of that toxic environment, and then makes staying there so painful that we have no choice but to do just that... get out. But the reactions and pain don’t stop when we leave. The headaches, pain, sleep deprivation and exhaustion can, and often do, linger for days, weeks, if not months, after. The longer and more intense the exposure, the deeper our reactions, and the longer it takes to recover. Those who live in constantly polluted environments, never do. In addition to the pain...now try to imagine the loneliness, isolation and frustration forced upon you because of the bombardment of toxins that now permeate our modern society. You can no longer go to your favorite social function, be it a meeting, church group, art event, whatever, because they just installed new carpet and you can’t breathe. The cafe with the best coffee in town just installed wi-fi that gives you a splitting headache. The auditorium which produces educational and stimulating programs that you crave is so toxic you can’t stand to be there for more than five minutes. Even your favorite picnic place or park is now inaccessible to you because a cell phone tower now looms over it. Imagine trying to find someplace safe to live with no chemicals, electricity, wi-fi, or cell phone towers...which is a story by itself, but one that I won’t go into here. If you think it sounds like a miserable existence...you would be correct. Many afflicted try to drown their pain with alcohol or cover-up symptoms with mind-numbing drugs. Some decide, from the depths of despair, that the only way to stop the pain is to finally end it all. I am one of the fortunate few who have found a way to live relatively free from the environmental toxins with which man has polluted the land. Although an isolated and difficult lifestyle...few could do it...it is the only way I can survive. But you’d better learn. As the bombardment of man-made toxins escalates, so do the cases of environmental allergies. Yesterday, I was like you...but tomorrow, you could be me. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 33
In fact, because of what we now know about electromagnetic and radio frequency/microwave radiation, there is no living thing, be it human, insect, bird, wildlife, or tree, that is not effected, whether you can “feel” it or not. Researchers now know that the frequencies being used by wireless communication is the very same as that is used between cells in our bodies. It’s broadcasting in the very language of DNA. Think about that one for a while. One of the most disturbing problems I am constantly confronted with, when dealing with other hypersensitives or when people find out about my own sensitivity, is that everyone wants to “fix” us. Everyone has something to sell that will “cure” us. Just take this, or do that. But the last thing they want to talk about is doing something to fix what is really wrong, fix what we’re poisoning the planet with. There is nothing wrong with us. We don’t need fixing. What is wrong is with what we’re doing to ourselves, and the entire planet. What needs fixing is our environment. Think of us as a sensitive, sophisticated alarm system. If you had just spent $10,000 on an alarm system for your house and it went off, you wouldn’t think, “Oh, must be something wrong with the system,” You’d get busy to find out what it was screaming about. Our bodies are doing exactly what that alarm system is doing—screaming that there is something terribly wrong with this environment, and we’d better get busy and fix it. For more information about Ruth, her lifestyle, or environmental allergies, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.smartshelter.com. Visit www.onaravenswing.com for more information on Ruth, and her investigation into how EMF pollution from high voltage power lines and cell phone towers may be implicated in killing nearby trees, and possibly harming wildlife.
34 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
End Note: We first began delving into the subject of electricity in the desert back when the first sightings of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power helicopters filled with survey teams started coming in. DWP’s poorly thought out Green Path North was defeated, aided by the high-handed arrogance of their own officials and a determined and organized local resistance. This issue is just a beginning, a scratching of the surface of the topic of electrical pollution in the desert. We’re launching a fundraising drive in May for precisely this reason—we want to expand our coverage so we can bring readers more in-depth explorations of desert issues impacting all of us who live here, and the experiences of those who visit. We’ll go where most media won’t, and we’ll do it with a distinctive desert perspective. The magnitude of the issues that confront the desert today are overwhelming. In our next issue, we’ll address those issues facing Joshua Tree National Park. We won’t just focus on the negative though, as there have been some positive developments that show that while we may not be able to “fix” everything, and the desert is definitely changing, we can strike a balance sometimes that preserves at least part of the unique beauty and life found in the California deserts. We will also include more discussion on electrical pollution in the desert. This is such a highly charged topic, on something as pervasive almost as the air we breathe (and just as invisible), with far-reaching implications, that I think this will become an ongoing topic in this magazine. We’ll include SCE’s comments on smart meters and earth return, and we’ll talk with the California Public Utility Commission, as well as more scientists and consumer advocates. You can read more source documents and get more information on this topic at our website. – Steve Brown
Sunnyvale Suites, top; Jesse Cancel, of Yucca Valley Hydroponics, below.
usinesses are increasingly looking for ways to cater to an increasingly environmentally aware customer base, and to “go green” themselves. Some changes are as simple as adopting recycling programs, while others are moving some professions into completely new and more environmentally sound and efficient modes of operation. Agriculture, for instance, is undergoing an indoor revolution where plants are raised in a completely human-controlled and managed environment. The practice of hydroponics, growing plants with a nutrient-rich solution, in water, sans soil, is one such approach toward this new agriculture. Hydroponics can trace its roots back into the 17th century when Fancis Bacon’s book, Sylva Sylvarum, was published in 1627. Bacon had discovered that plants grew worse in distilled water than water that wasn’t as pure. Bacon would, no doubt, be impressed by how far this science has come since his time, and he’d probably enjoy meeting Jesse Cancel and his crew over at Yucca Valley Hydroponics. Cancel has worked as a plant biologist at UC Riverside, and earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and an MBA. “I’ve been a gardener forever,” he notes. Cancel is precisely the person you want to seek out if you want to investigate the science of hydroponic growing, and he can discuss the ins and outs of everything from how most commercially grown vegetables are “super-plumped,” and are grown to emphasize visual appeal, not flavor or nutrition. “They gas them with ethylene, a plant hormone,” Cancel explains about commercially grown fruit and vegetables. He says when produce ripens naturally, the flavor develops near the end. Commercially grown produce is picked pefore it gets to that stage and then is gassed, adding that , “the flavor never had a chance to develop.” With hydroponics, you control the nutritional flow to plants, the light cycle, and climate—including CO2 levels. With the right equipment, you can control just about every aspect of the plant’s growth cycle. The variety of variables you can adjust and control seem almost endless—and expensive. But while it can be costly to get a hydroponic garden underway,
there are benefits. More nutritious, tastier produce, faster controlled growing cycles, fewer problems with insects, and water conservation and recycling. “I think we’ll eventually see the $10 bell pepper,” says Cancel as we discuss the future of agriculture and the pros and cons of the varieties of international bat guano on sale in the shop. The bottom line with growing your own food? “It’s rewarding when its yours.” Variants of gardening using all or part of the components of hydroponics are being hailed as the future of agriculture, with “farmers” able to grow produce in multi-story urban greenhouses built near supermarkets (eliminating the need to gas unripened produce and ship it to market), with accelerated growing cycles, complete nutrition, no pesticide use, and water conservation (by eliminating the loss of water through the soil and evaporation, this method of gardening can use significantly less water than traditional methods of agriculture). Down the highway in Twentynine Palms, Sunnyvale Suites is engaging in common sense practices that help the hotel conserve energy and water while local government balks at one simple measure that could help save water. Tony Naraval, Sunnyvale’s general manager, has turned to evaporative coolers instead of air conditioning, reducing the hotel’s electrical requirements and eliminating CFCs used in air conditioning units. He has also installed compact fluorescent lighting, further reducing electrical useage. But Naraval’s biggest change has been the replacement of the hotel’s toilets with new dual flush toilets that allow guests to easily reduce water useage. Single flush toilets are mandated to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. But dual flush toilets can use either 1.6 gallons or just one single gallon, per flush. This change has led to the hotel using over 60 percent less water, according to Naraval. Dual flush toilets have been mandated internationally in countries like Australia, and are extremely popular in Europe and Asia, Naraval says. So, he took the initiative to ask the City of Twentynine Palms to mandate dual flush toilets in all new construction within city limits. “The best part of it is that the cost is not more expensive than traditional toilets,” Naraval notes. “We’re trying to be green. I went to the city council and the planning commission to ask them to mandate these in new construction. I even went to the water board. And nothing. I haven’t heard for a year now. I give up.” Maybe it’s true. Maybe it ain’t easy being green. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 35
confess. I’m absolutely terrified of flying in small planes and it’s not just that I can’t sit back and drink a beer or watch a movie—it’s the vulnerable feeling of floating over the earth’s surface. But there’s no better place to think about the “big picture” of Joshua Tree National Park than flying several thousand feet above the southern boundary of the park as I had the good fortune to do last month. What struck me as we flew over the crenulated mountains, sloping bajadas, and sandy playas was how the landscape is really a seamless, interconnected tapestry. The checkerboard pattern of development encroaching on the southern boundary of the park foreshadowed the sweeping winds of change blowing through the California desert called utility scale renewable energy development. There’s no doubt that America needs to develop renewable energy projects that will help us kick our addiction to foreign oil, buffer us from climate change, and promote national security, but we need to develop these projects in a way that doesn’t damage our national parks or other ecologically sensitive areas. Destroying the ecology of pristine public lands to save them from the specter of climate change is counterintuitive. Wind, water and solar renewable energy projects should be sited in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize national parks’ wildlife, scenic vistas, cultural and historic sites, air quality, night sky viewing or water resources. That’s important because since the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 we’ve gone to considerable effort to protect our national parks. Recently, the federal government has initiated the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS) process to identify where solar energy development should occur on federal lands in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. The 11,000 page document contains three alternatives: business as usual for siting utility scale solar development; an alternative that opens up 22 million acres of BLM land for solar development, but prioritizes it in special Solar Energy Zones, and an alternative that focuses all solar energy projects in solar energy zones. The federal government has identified 24 Solar Energy Zones in the six western states covered by the Solar PEIS, with the Riverside East SEZ in the California desert being the largest 36 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
at more than 200,000 acres. Out of these three alternatives, the National Parks Conservation Association believes the one that best protects the national parks limits solar energy development to solar energy zones. But while concentrating solar development within specified zones makes sense, some of these Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) threaten the resources of some of our most iconic desert national parks like Death Valley and Joshua Tree. What’s needed is a common sense approach that protects our spectacular national parks, their abundant wildlife, pristine night skies, scenic vistas, clean air, and water resources. This could mean eliminating certain SEZs or reconfiguring the boundaries of SEZs that would disrupt wildlife corridors, cause air and light pollution, impair spectacular vistas and drawdown water resources. An additional important step would be for the Bureau of Land Management to consult with the National Park Service on how far solar development should be pushed back from national park boundaries. In the case of some national parks this may be further than others, but it should be guided by sound science. The view from my Cessna flight helped me understand how public policy shapes development near Joshua Tree National Park. As we fly over a section of the 200,000 acre Riverside East SEZ, I’m reminded of an old environmental science professor of mine who used to say that, “Ecology is the science of unintended consequences.” What he meant is that humans can try to predict how development will affect the environment, but we’re rarely 100 percent correct. And there’s no shortage of examples to back up this assertion. As we consider developing large areas in the California desert expressly for the purpose of solar energy development it’s more important than ever to move forward with a sense of humility and restraint.
Seth Shteir is the California desert field representative at the National Parks Conservation Association in Joshua Tree.
Cecil Rhodes, above, and in Rhodesia in 1896, below. Yellow Aster assay, 1904, bottom.
oday’s Randsburg might seem to be just a bump on the road…not even a bump on the highway since this (very) small town lies a mile away from well traveled north/ south corridor of Highway 395. It is easy to drive by the turnoff to Randsburg, hands gripping the steering wheel in your quest to GET THERE…wherever THERE might be for you. As my family and I first learned in the 1970s (on journeys between Orange County and Lake Tahoe) when you finally drive that mile off Highway 395 you discover a remarkable and remote place. But has Randsburg always seemed so remote? Not if national and international notice count. We discover from century-old publications that New York, England and Africa all knew about the rich mines of the California Rand; the gold produced by the Yellow Aster Mining and Milling Company was particularly famous. Even Cecil Rhodes, whom you may know as the author of Rhodes Scholarships and founder of the African nation of Rhodesia, was aware of the great Yellow Aster. In the Los Angeles Times of the fifth of November 1898, it was mentioned that: A representative of Cecil Rhodes, the great South African capitalist, armed with the proper credentials, visited the camp last week and inspected the Yellow Aster mines. Why? Why send someone to the other side of the world from South Africa to inspect a mine? The quarter-century following the mid-1890s was termed the “Golden Age of American Mining Engineers in foreign countries,” by Herbert Hoover. Knowing this, Rhodes may have sent a representative to ‘inspect’ the engineers as well as the mine, perhaps to entice them to lend their expertise to South Africa. Or simply poach them. California mining engineers were known for being versatile, self -reliant, and experienced in deep level mining which was crucial in South Africa. The San Francisco Call newspaper reported on the first of January, 1899 that Californians John Hays Hammond and Charles Hoffman were currently working in Africa with the goal of bringing gold production to $100,000,000—far above California’s “high water mark.” Perhaps Rhodes thought there were mining engineers of the same caliber working at the Yellow Aster who wouldn’t mind trading the California Rand for the Witwatersrand. We may never know. Travel between California and Africa was quite an ordeal a
century ago yet many people journeyed the long distance from one gold-field to another. Next time you drive on Highway 395 make that short one mile trek off the highway to Randsburg for a remarkable adventure. It isn’t remotely difficult…and the destination may prove golden….
April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 37
Chef John Muccio, owner of Tecopa’s friendly, laidback gourmet restaurant, P a s t e l ’s B i s t ro , a n d general manager Shelley Scott take a photo break as they prepare for the first Tecopa Music & Arts Festival. Tecopa, along with nearby Shoshone and China Ranch, is one of our favorite desert getaways, and makes a great base for Death Valley explorations with art exhibits, star p a r t i e s , g re a t f o o d , soothing natural hot water baths and comfy lodging.
ot so very long ago the best that could be said of the tiny desert hamlet of Tecopa was that it had withered and fallen into decline. The desert around it, of course, remained as stalwart and true, as vast and wide and deep and pure as it had ever been. The hot water that runs under it flowed as fast and as furious as it had ever done. But in between the wide open sky and the fast flowing water, the people walked or soaked or talked in a somber sort of way, without a shared vision or purpose. This, however, while it looked like a slow slide into nothingness, was only a lull. For like most mining towns, Tecopa was born of the visionary spirit that brought hundreds of men to this unlikely place to sweat under the grueling sun until they turned over enough dry desert dust to find the riches underneath. And its history, while only scantily recorded, includes some sort of desert visionary in just about every generation. Like Harry Rosenberg who, much like the town itself, was left adrift when the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad ceased operations here in the early 1940’s. Harry, whose wife and two small sons had lived with him in a boxcar traveling up and down the tracks, had given close to 30 years of his life to the railroad and called this desert home. It occurred to him, as it did to so many Western entrepreneurs in the time when everyone wanted to be Roy Rogers for a day, that Southwest tourism and hospitality were the answer to the mining bust and the decline of the railroads. So Harry, who was one of the first to begin working for free public access to the Tecopa Hot Springs years before, and a few other visionary souls, built small resort businesses on this salty soil, relying on the water to bring the people in. For, unless a person could truly appreciate a sky full of stars and the red brown color palette of the desert, there was little else to call them so far off the beaten path. But the water was enough. The lame hobbled into what was then little more than a mud hole, and if they stayed long enough, walked away strong and whole again. Another mining boom in the 1970s and 1980s and the town became so lively that the people marched in annual parades down the main thoroughfare. Tecopa even had its own newsletter then, the only real source of recorded history in its well over a hundred years of existence. But when that boom went bust the town again fell into decline. Fewer and fewer people came. The resorts fell into disrepair. After Harry Rosenberg was swept away in a rare flooding of the Amargosa River, the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort lay vacant for many years with only scorpions and jackrabbits 38 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
visiting the in-room hot springs pools. And then came Amy Noel with an expansive vision inspired by a passionate love for the desert landscape. Noel left a job in the city, gathered together a pool of investors and bought the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort in 2001. As Noel and her partners worked under the hot desert sun to bring the decrepit resort back to life, a new wave of interest seemed wash over the town. In the following decade, Delight’s Hot Spa, another popular resort in earlier times, was updated with an oddly incongruous Greek Revival makeover, and China Ranch Date Farm—creation of visionary Brian Brown—became home to Tecopa’s first ever bed and breakfast (not to mention the best dates—and date shakes—in the desert). And yet, while all these things came to pass, the town still seemed to lack cohesion. Privatization of the previously free access community hot baths in 2004 left many locals grieving and closed the doors on their last central meeting place. That is, until John Muccio, a five-diamond chef, fled Las Vegas in 2006 with his teenage son in search of a quieter, saner way of life. And in opening the doors of Pastel’s Bistro in Rosenberg’s old café at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, Muccio gave the town the one thing it lacked—love on a plate served hot in a central location where everyone came to visit, to see and be seen, to listen to poetry readings and, ultimately, to feel a part of something larger than themselves. The heart of Tecopa began beating again not long after the Muccios arrived and the rhythm grows stronger every day. The Tecopa Hot Springs Resort has become home to yearly BBQ fundraisers for the Southern Inyo Fire Protection District and the Death Valley Academy school and this year hosted the first Tecopa Music Festival. A monthly potluck at the community center brings people together, where they come bearing not only hot meals to share, but canned goods to stock the local pantry for when their neighbors fall on hard times. And this year, Tecopa even saw construction of its first ever two-story structure. There is life in this town yet. Under the wide open sky, live music fills the air at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort and dancing feet stir up the desert dust while something delicious is cooking in the kitchen and its tantalizing aromas make people breathe in a little deeper. And underneath all that, of course, the hot water flows along its course, rushing ever onward toward the future.
his story’s title is a little piece of folk wisdom my mother would recite whenever my brother and I would act up. Its literal meaning—to take on the persona of the rooster—is a characteristic that holds true in many of nature’s relationships. In the desert, the relationship between two of its main characters, the coyote and the jackrabbit, is an excellent example of a predator and its prey taking on the persona of the rooster, each for its own reasons. These two characters essentially wear the same shirt; that is to say they use the same type of camouflage; however, they are camouflaged for different reasons. The coyote uses camouflage to make a kill and the jackrabbit uses it to try to avoid being killed and thus begins our discussion of nature’s “Shirt of the Rooster.” As we examine these two characters further in depth, we also learn a lot more about their environment, the desert. To begin, one needs to understand that the coyote and the jackrabbit have different roles. The coyote is the predator and the jackrabbit its prey. Instinctively, they know their respective roles. Therefore, in one way or another, everything they do comes down to the struggle between predator and prey. The most obvious characteristic of the jackrabbit are its large ears which give them an exceptional ability to hear. What’s even more remarkable is they are able to determine exactly where sounds are coming from and whether or not those sounds are getting closer. Sound, among several other attributes, is one that alerts him to imminent danger. Not to be outdone, research has shown that the coyote can detect sound hundreds of yards away and is able to determine the sound’s location is within an inch or two of its exact position. Though their ability to hear is very similar, they do not share the same similarities when it comes to vision. At first look, the most obvious difference is eye position. The coyote’s eyes face forward, a distinct feature of the predator. Forward facing eyes are a feature universally shared with humans and other predatory animals that is so distinct that eyes, simply drawn alone on a sheet of paper, can be drawn in such a way that it would trigger a sense of threat in prey. One of the reasons a predator, the coyote in this instance, possesses forward facing eyes is because they move forward in search of prey. What’s behind a predator is not concerning as they don’t expect to be hunted. On the other hand, the jackrabbit does. With their eyes spaced more widely apart, the jackrabbit has the ability to see both in front and almost directly behind as well. Being a creature that is preyed upon, the jackrabbit must worry about
not only where he’s going, but where he’s been. A coyote can approach from any direction. It is also very important to understand the differences in the way animals view the desert. In many respects, it is much different than ours. For example, we can be walking through the desert across an alluvial fan filled with creosote bushes and think that because of its open and dry appearance, there couldn’t possibly be any places to hide. However, if we were to lie on our bellies, down to the level where both the jackrabbit and coyote play, you would get a better idea of their perspective and find a very different desert. You would find a seemingly desert forest of creosote bushes that one can only see through for 15-20 yards in any direction. This change in perspective has a significant effect on how the game is played. Now, no discussion of these two characters would be complete without discussing their sense of smell. While not famous for his sense of smell, the jackrabbit’s sense of smell is actually well developed. If you’ve ever watched closely, you may notice a jackrabbit working his nose, sometimes in an awkward position toward the ground and other times sitting on his hind legs sniffing the air as high as he can. To many it may come as a surprise, but a jackrabbit emits a scent plume, so to speak, and most jackrabbits are aware that they leave their scent across the landscape. This fact is of great concern to the jackrabbit as the coyote has a legendary sense of smell. Amazingly, a coyote can come across a scent trail left on hard rock and still know the direction in which the animal is traveling. Whether hunting during the night or day, the coyote is always using his keen sense of smell. There is a significant difference in the ways in which a coyote uses water versus the ways in which a jackrabbit does. The coyote must always have water available where he can drink and is tied to that location. You can often find water by following coyote tracks. The jackrabbit however is very different. While he will drink water if it is available, he can extract all the water he needs from the plants he eats. With the exception of puddles left following a thunderstorm, some jackrabbits may never visually see water. A jackrabbit may live 10-15 years tops and a storm of this magnitude may only occur once or twice in their lifetime. For instance, the vast majority of jackrabbits in the Mojave Desert are not dependent on a natural spring or any other water source, but the coyote is always tethered to a reliable water source. Now, let’s explore the ways in which predator and prey move around their environment. The coyote’s movement can be described as poetry in motion. Now let’s break it down and take a look at each part. Of course, with his keen sense of smell and exceptional vision and hearing, the coyote is well-suited to hunt at night. The fact that he walks on four legs is another very important attribute which is helpful in assisting him to get around. If you’ve ever walked the desert at night you know how dangerous it really is for a two legged person. It is easy to fall, injure or even kill oneself. Even in the daylight, this four-footed creature has amazing abilities. He can smoothly transition from a walk to a high-speed run and everything in between with ease and efficiency. Indeed the coyote can trot or lope alone for hours and in doing so cover many miles. The jackrabbit on the other hand is a curiously built animal. Even if you were able to give him a normal set of ears he would still look rather funny, mostly because his hind legs are abnormally large in respect to body size. In fact, his hind April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 39
legs hinder his mobility. If the jackrabbit wants to move 10 or 15 feet he does so in a very awkward inefficient manner. If you’ve ever seen one try and walk, then you know what I mean. The jackrabbit is not able to lope along or trot which affects how it uses the desert immensely. Despite not having the coyote’s grace and mobility, he can go from a sitting position to traveling at full speed at the flip of a switch. While at full speed, the jackrabbit is amazingly agile and able to make almost instantaneous course and speed adjustments which is a distinct advantage in a close quarter game of cat and mouse. In the classic encounter with a coyote, a victory won by the coyote is typically luck or as a result of a mistake made by the jackrabbit. Let me bring it all together for you now, it goes a little something like this. The coyote sees or smells the jackrabbit and his entire body snaps to attend to the situation. Soon thereafter, he has acquired a fix on the rabbit and takes off at full speed. The sound created by this movement alerts the jackrabbit. From whatever position he is in, the jackrabbit bolts straight away and continues in that direction until he attains his top speed. The coyote is also at his full speed to the jackrabbit’s rear and is either catching up to or losing him. At this point the jackrabbit will make a sharp turn to the either his left or right. All things being equal, the jackrabbit is faster than the coyote but cannot run as long. And so, this is the game. The jackrabbit exerts one immense burst of speed and then turns to his right and left in hopes of survival and loses the coyote in the creosote forest. As soon as the jackrabbit gets two or three turns on the coyote and is beyond his sight, the game is over and the jackrabbit wins. While rapidly breathing from the pursuit, the coyote no longer has his keen sense of smell. With his heart pounding loudly, he is unable to hear as well as he did just moments ago and his moment of concentration is gone. There’s nothing left to do but trot off, find another jackrabbit and do it all again. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a few of the ways of coyotes and jackrabbits and their relationship. Recognizing their unique abilities and understanding their relationship to one another is just one aspect in better understanding the ways of the desert. We welcome Carlos to The Sun Runner and encourage you to visit his website, www.thewayofthings.org, where you can deepen your desert experience through his video lectures and stories. 40 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Desert Theatre Beat
Saturdays at 7 p.m. through June 4. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at (760)360-4151. LOW DESERT THEATRES
By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor
ith spring now in full swing some theatres have moved into a reduction or holding pattern when it comes to how many performances or how many productions to mount this season, thanks to the economy. HI-DESERT THEATRES Groves Cabin Theatre – Morongo Valley The Groves, flush with acclaim from their just closed production “Wit,” follows up with the sentimental crowd pleaser “Grace and Glorie,” written by Tom Ziegler and directed by Rosemary Mallet. The play stars theatre founder Joy Groves as the 90 year-old Grace Stiles, and the Groves’ artistic director Vicki Montgomery as Gloria Whitmore, her caregiver of sorts, in a bittersweet dramedy that allows Groves and Montgomery to show off their acting stuff. The play opens Saturday, April 16, performing Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through May 8. For reservations, which are a must, as the Groves has only 22 seats and they go fast, call the box office at (760)365-4523. Theatre 29 – Twentynine Palms Theatre 29 is the only community theatre in either the high or low desert that remains open all 12 months of the year. Now in their twelfth year of producing family-oriented entertainment at the John Calveri Theatre on Sullivan Road, the theatre opens the hilarious farce “Barbecuing Hamlet,” directed by Ron Wanless, on Friday, May 6. What if Shakespeare’s Hamlet was updated to the wild and wooly American west, and underwent a few more changes like: turn it into a melodrama with sponsors’ names, and sell barbecue ribs prior to the beginning of the performance, all the while adding other minor changes? To find out how how all the silliness turns out, make sure you catch the show. The show, which opens May 6, will give performance on Fridays and
The Palm Canyon Theatre – Palm Springs The Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT) is presenting the Lerner and Lowe Tony winning musical “Camelot,” starring Mark Almy as King Arthur, Se Layne as Guenevere, Brent Schindele as Lancelot, and Peter Mins as Merlin and as King Pelllinore. Directed by Scott Smith, the musical opens Friday, April 8 and performs on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays, at 2 p.m. through April 24. I seriously doubt there is anyone on the planet that doesn’t already know of the Arthurian legend upon which the musical is based. Whether you do or not, you will still enjoy the songs, music and dancing of one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at (760)323-5123. Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC) – Indio IPAC is presenting the Stephen Schwartz musical “Godspell,” directed by Bob Reinhagen. This Tony-winning musical starring Cliff Plummer in the role of Jesus and Rob Reinhagen as Judas, performs on weekends, April 1-17. Curtains are: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $20 and Friends of IPAC are $15. For group rate tickets, reservations, and information call the box office at (760)775-5200 or go online to www.indioperformingartscenter.org College of the Desert (COD) – Palm Desert The Theatre Arts program under the tutelage of Tres Dean, has his charges performing Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” in the on-campus Pollock Theatre, directed by Ryan Landman, on April 1-3, and 8-10. Curtains on Fridays and Saturdays are at 7 p.m. Sunday shows start at 2 p.m. The annual COD spring production this year is the Cole Porter classic musical “Anything Goes,” choreographed and directed by Sha Newman, with musical direction by Darlene Romano. Starring local favorites Julie RosserTryce, Ben Reece, and Lou Galvan, and a host of local performers and students, “Anything Goes” is one of Cole Porter’s
Geppetto (Marv Schmelling) and Pinocchio (Lizzie Schmelling) show how happy they are when Pinocchio becomes a real boy in the Theatre 29 production of the children’s classic. In addition to being a fine actor and woodcarver, Marv is also one of the desert’s most talented musicians. Photo by John Wright photo.
Mark Speer Automotive
Roy’s Tires best shows. Performances will be given on May 12-14 at 8 p.m., and on Sunday May 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.mccallumtheatre.com. Cabaret Theatre West – Indian Wells The Coachella Valley cabaret theatre group located at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells present the final cabaret program of their second season beginning Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. The group’s first two shows of this season—“Lullaby of Broadway” and “Cole Porter – Night and Day”—were sensational sell-outs. Producer Jane Treacy recommends early reservations for “The Sensational ‘60s,” the final show of the 2011 season. The ‘60s featured the songs and music of The Beatles, Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary, Chicago, and a host of others. Relive those fabulous moments and entertainers by catching one of these shows. Performances by a fabulous company of 10 performers who sing and dance as they bring back memories of “The Sensational ‘60s” are given on April 15-16, 21-23. Call for reservations and ticket information at (760)568-0024. Dezart Performs – Palm Springs The staged reading company of actors, writers, and directors is presenting its Third Annual Play Reading Series beginning Friday, April 15 at Dezart One Gallery, 2688 S. Cherokee Way, in the Palm Springs BackStreet Art District. The plays to be read are: “The
Grade,” by Seth Freeman, “Let There Be Light,” by Judy Lockhart DiGregorio, and “Crazy Eddy,” by Bob Canning. On Saturday, April 16, “The Legacy” by Adam Siegel will be performed. On Friday, April 22, two plays: “Favorite Son,” by P.L. Cranfield, and “Snowbound,” by Brent Engler will be read. All curtains for the series begin at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information call (760)328-1440. Rubinsky Productions – Palm Springs Award-winning cabaret producer Irwin Rubinsky presents singer David McBride in his award-winning show “Icons,” at the Rock Garden Café on Saturday, May 28 at 7 p.m. The show is $20. McBride’s show pays tribute to singers: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, and Michael Buble (himself, a Sinatra tribute singer). For reservations and group ticket information call (760)861-7749. Before we sign off for this issue, I want to encourage parents, students, and friends, to support our high school arts programs and high school student actors. These young people are America’s future actors, writers, directors, and technical artists. Some also will become our future audiences. Without audiences, there can be no theatre. We have some highly talented theatre programs and some excellent young performers at the high school level here in the desert. Please encourage and support the arts and attend the performances whenever you can. You won’t be disappointed.
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April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 41
hilah Morrow and her “Sin City” posse from Austin, Texas rolled into town with their Cosmic American Roadshow at Pappy and Harriet’s in January. With outstanding sets by Maximum Ludwig, Ruby James and Deadman, the place was rocking. Onstage that night was the Gilded Door by William Adair from the Joshua Tree Inn where people could leave messages for Gram Parsons. The door is scheduled to be burned on November 5, and a special concert is being planned. A special treat for the local kids when members of There Be Pirates! put on a family show at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum. They mesmerized the crowd with songs and tales and had a variety of instruments for the kids to play, as well as arts and crafts. The band’s Shanghai “Steve” Brown lectured at the museum on piratical history, from a pirate’s point of view, earlier in the week. Billy Bones Makuta, who plays in There Be Pirates! also created the cover for this issue of magazine. Keirda Baruth’s documentary “Bob and the Monster,” about our own Bob Forrest had its debut at SXSW to wonderful reviews. The documentary tells the story of Bob’s addictions when he was in Thelonious Monster to his current sobriety, with testimony from many of his friends including Courtney Love and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We are so proud of you Bob! Happy Birthday to Los Angeles Free Press founder, alchemist, and the man who will outlive us all, Art Kunkin! Art has been a great supporter of local music as well as a wonderful friend and mentor. The Sibley’s have been shaking things up out at The Palms in Wonder Valley with many cool shows including one recently with The Smoke Brothers and Stephen Ray Leslie. Tim Easton and The Freeland Barons are proud to announce the release of their new record “Beat the Band” which returns Easton to his rocking roots. On a sadder note, Tim’s prized classic electric Sunburst Gibson ES-355 guitar was stolen after one of his sets at SXSW. (It was recovered by press time.) 42 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Also spotted around town on their way to SXSW were Salt Lake City’s “The Devil Whale.” A contingent of Los Angeles musicians descended on Pappy and Harriet’s for Jeff and Laurie LeGore’s birthday bash in March. The place was packed and the show went on way into the early hours with a selection of bands that included Chris Laterzo and Buffalo Robe, The Psychedelic Cowboys, Bret Jensen’s Death Valley Jubilee, Nicole Gordon, Paul Inman and City Fritter. Some incredible shows are coming up at Pappy’s—May 6, Grammy Award-winner Jim Lauderdale, May 7, Mike Stinson, and May 8, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood (yes Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes!) Playing with Chris will be our dear desert friend Neal Casal! Get your tickets early as this show is sure to sell out. Spring is upon us and that means it is festival time starting with the 9th annual Joshua Tree Music Festival on May13-15 at the Joshua Tree Lakes and Campground. The California Celts have just been added to an amazing line up that includes Rubblebucket, Sean Hayes, The Lions, Scott Huckabay and many more! This is a festival not to be missed and growing larger every year, lots to do for kids too! Ben Vaughn is hosting a new show, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, at 3 p.m. Sundays on 107.7 FM. Ben, who lives in Wonder Valley, created the theme songs for “That 70’s Show” and “3rd Rock from the Sun,” will provide listeners with a mix of rock, blues, jazz and folk. Following Ben’s show is Ted Quinn’s local music show from 4-6 p.m. Be sure to check out Big Blue Tractor with our desert favorite Jim Austin who will be playing one Sunday a month at Pappy and Harriet’s. Looks like it is going to be a summer filled with surprise! Although I have not been there yet, Willie Boy’s Saloon in Morongo Valley has hosted shows by the California Celts, Evaro and The John Linn Band. There will also be a special night with Concrete Blonde on April 16. Some of our local talent has been playing at the Date Shed in Indio, including Gram Rabbit and Evaro, and some have also been playing at the newly refurbished Indio Performing Arts Center’s “Desert Rock Shows.” Looks like they have been working hard to re-open Water Canyon—we all really miss that intimate setting. I saw some amazing shows there and met some of my now-best friends who were just passing through town. Here’s wishing everyone a magical, musical spring!
Simple Times in a Simple Place One Old Hippie
The Driftwood Singers, top, dished up some great Americana, along with Olentangy John at Pappy & Harriet’s recently. Chris Laterzo and Buffalo Robe, above, Paul Inman and company, below, and Bonnie and George Kopp with William Adair’s Gilded Door, bottom.
(By Pasquali via David Brown)
hilst our hero, John the Hippie, along with his equally heroic compadre Allan, with”duppie” in tow or vice versa, joined also by Coyote and Rabbit (who are hiding), jointly contemplate the philosophy of freedom and quite possibly the use of safety pins to negate falling towels, my person, for it’s part, is thinking mostly of some sort of nourishment. I am “powerfully hungry, Tom,” says the Huckleberry Finn in me. In this case, as my friends are so distracted with the pursuit of accedemia, I for my part, am rather greedily interested in a mad pursuit of one (of many) Pasquali weaknesses and more hedonistic pleasures—food! Sure, you may be thinking to yourselves, even out loud—“hedonistic and pleasure” from a preacher of simple living? Yes, and why not, says I! What is wrong with a little celebration, some wine and song, a festival for life and liberty and health upon the event of every meal? Why cheat one’s self of such a glorious pleasure as good food? I ask of you, is this such foreign a thought? After all, a good chef is just as important as a good doctor or advocate, and a hell of a lot more impressive in daily life, I think (with a slight Western twang mixed with my Sicilian/Pyrennese accent). My own culture is known to celebrate such a noble cause, and who am I to blow against the wind?” Step One: A simple explanation of the science of free energy “Just place those paws of yours up on this here rock and you will soon see, or at the very least, feel, what I am a’ talking ‘bout doggie. Ah shucks, come on, you can’t a keep that thing a tucked up under there like that forever, can ya? Sure, that sand is may keep them mighty nice and cool, at least in the shade. But up here pardner, well that is an entirely different manner.” “Now, don’t you go on being affeared there my amigo, there is not a thing to fear! It’s only about 80 degrees or so down there where you may be a standing, or layin’ for that matter, and so that good ol’ ground temperature is already goin’ to be about a hundred or so. In about another hour, it will be about 120! Your friends, the desert iguana, will be up in the bushes by then. That’s how you’re agoin’ to know how hot it is on the ground. Ya, yer friends are smart lil’ devils! So, there is nothing in any of this you have not had to deal with before. Hell, I’ve seen ya out and about yonder, a prowlin’ round and getting yerself into all sorts of trouble on such days, and nights as well. You know I ain’t a fibbin!” “Just think about that! One hundred and twenty on the top of that there rock, or maybe even the sands around it! One fourty? Then one sixty! And the air still ain’t hit 110 yet! Imagine bein’ inside a little metal box sittin’ on a’top of that there rock. Only gonna be one place hotter than that, and I reckon sooner or later we’ll see ya there!” Step Two: Put yourself in some hot air! “Place that there burrito, a simple and a wholesome stone ground, non GMO tortilla Tom, filled with presoaked beans and rice, and even better yet if there’s a chili and some a pepper mixed in, and a bit of goat cheese ... or similar fare perhaps, wrapped up in some re-used tin foil or better yet some basic granny wear plates (Ben Franklin interrupts—“No waste!”). April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 43
Then, yous’ put it inside that “box” ol Mista Sun was just a talkin’ about and leave it all in the sunlight for a spell. Hey, yous’ got nothin but time, so just ago about yer business as they says—you know, domestic chores or perhaps a nap like Pasquali would do (“Si Huck,” says I). Remember to keep the container off the ground and out of the way of any varnmints, any who may “seize the moment” and take off with yer foodstuffs, no matter hot they may be.” Interviews with Assorted Users “I used an old metal breadbox myself for such things,” relates Claire. “I am not as handy as perhaps my ex-paramour Allan is when it comes to such things so building one is out of the question.” Why not invite him back? wonders I— a hopeless romantic and seeker of good things. Are there really ever any problems, at least between lovers and friends, which cannot or should not be solved? “If you place one of those old enamelled, versus enamoured, things outdoors on a good warm day, well the inside just gets swelterringly hot in a manner of hours! Is that proper grammar? I use a wonderful old “green moss” coloured thing acquired from a secondhand store, a veritable work of industrial art made someplace far away like OZ or maybe Elk Creek, Kansas, back when I was a little innocent kid unfettered by age, knowledge, or romance. Yes, I know what I am looking for and looking at, having payed dearly for it as well, just like most other things worth having around. Oh yes, it’s got to be metal—no bakelite or plastic, but you knew that didn’t you?” “I screwed down a set of old handles onto to the side of it, so I could move it about, tracking the sun in a simple way. A nice pair of pot mittens is nice, as those handles get some heat as well. And, remember to pick up a breadbox with a pleasant face ... for when not set up outside warming veggies and the like, it will still have to look good sitting in the kitchen of a yurt, 44 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
casita or even an Airstream trailer maybe.. I am after all, a self proclaimed lady of grace and appreciation, which is another reason I choose to live the way I do.” “After much thought and deliberation on the matter, I simply built my own,” adds Allan, “fabricated from thick sheet metal stock, at least 20 gauge or better (OK, 26 in a pinch), otherwise you may have to add an evelope of masonite or similar heat resistant material to “stiffen” it up, and there is no real advantage in making more work for one’s self. Use your brain and think creatively as well. In the past, workers with the “United Nations” have sent simple “Solar Convection Cookers” to developing nations made of stiff cardboard lined with a thick tin foil like substance. Don’t laugh, such a simple contraption does work, and brings the power of solar cooking to those who would normally be unable to cook without scrounging for firewood or worse, ‘imported’ fossil fuel.” “Do you think they still do that?” I ask. “Maybe if the project isn’t funded by the IMF or the World Bank! Where would the profit be in such a thing? However, that is another matter. My solar cooker is shaped like a bread box, Claire’s better idea, only larger and a wee bit more complex— mine having a glass panel mounted in the door. The glass came from a discarded oven donated to the county transfer station. No salvaging (some laws better practised by breaking—am I advocating subversive thought?). Yeah, tell that to the choir. This way, I can see inside without opening the door and losing heat, not to mention the glazing makes a great heat conductor as well. The unit is large enough to hold a good sized pot. Try to make the thing no larger than what you normally would need—a prudent design consideration for most anything. After all, the larger the cooker, the more energy it takes to heat the interior to a given temperature, and henceforth, the longer it takes to cook lunch. Being a vegetarian, I have never cooked anything “animal” in it, however, given enough time and hot enough temperatures, I would surmise it would be possible. Recorded inside temperatures on a 100-plus day have been high enough to melt goat cheese, even in a little bread box like Claire’s!” “That makes me think of those ol’ timer yarns ‘bout cookin’ eggs on a rock in Death Valley!” A tall tale most likely, Huck. “When it ‘taint hot enough to cook with the sun, such as on days when there are clouds a flyin’ (“What? Clouds in the desert?”) or during them wind storms yous’ have where the sand and grit rise up like a cloud of locusts over Egypt, I use what them ol’ timers called a “hobo stove.” I built mine out of an old coffee grind can, I am a thinkin’ about a gallon size worked out just right. Usin’ the can opener on my lil’ Swiss scoutin’ knife, I punched some triangled holes evenly along the sides at the bottom.. These is the “drafting holes.” Fire’s gotta have a good drafting to draw up them flames inside. The top’s a got a wire grid across it to hold a coffee pot or small pan, maybe even a lil’ skillet. The top’s also the end with an opening. Yous’ gather up some dry twigs and small branches and make a lil’ fire inside the thing, then cook away. My travellin’ pardner seen some guy make one out of a charcoal startin’ contraption he buyed at a hardware store. My pardner and me seen lots of strange and interesting stuff out here a plyin’ the back country on float boats and the soles of our shoes when crossin’ land such as deserts...” “And let us not forget about outdoor “horno” style ovens,” says I... “but first, it is siesta time and I have found a most luxuriant shade tree to lay under, and oh—here comes a burro along with a coyote to talk with afterwords.” Peace and laughter be with you, no matter how hot the water! – Pasquali
APRIL Apr. 2-3 – Spring Plant Sale at the Living Desert. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Annual sale with desert native & adapted plants, garden decor, books, pottery, benches, & fountains. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-5694 x2000. www.livingdesert.org. Apr. 1-4 – The Dinah Shores Week/Palm Springs Women’s Weekend. Palm Springs. www.thedinah.com. Apr. 8 – Palm Springs Art Museum’s “Meet the Museum” Party. 6-9 p.m. Kicks off “White Party XXII.” Food, open bar, music, more. 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4825. www.psmuseum.org. Apr. 8-11 – White Party. One of the biggest gay celebrations in the nation. www.jeffreysankertickets.com. Apr. 9 – Party for the Planet: Earth Day Celebration. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free for members, ½ general admission. Build solar robots, enjoy BBQ, entertainment; bring recyclable item in exchange for a desert plant. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-5694 x2000. www.livingdesert.org. Apr. 9 & 30. Wildflower Hikes. 12:45 p.m. $10, kids free. By Mojave Desert Land Trust, led by desert naturalist Pat Flanagan. Hike in MDLT’s Quail Mountain Project land bordering Joshua Tree National Park. Bring water, hat, walking shoes, camera & binoculars if you want. Meet at parking lot of the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree. (760)366-5440. www. mojavedesertlandtrust.org. Apr. 10 – Palm Springs Art Museum Free Second Sundays. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission 2nd Sunday monthly. Family activities, theater & gallery performances, films, docent-led talks, artists at work, & more. 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. (760)322-4800. www.psmuseum.org. Apr. 16 – Earth Day at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Family-oriented event includes music with Ritmo Loco, dancing, kids activities, artists & environmental education resources. Community Center Complex, 57116 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212. www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org. Apr. 15 – Stevie G. 6-9 p.m. The Inn has music nightly, Sundays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for brunch. 29 Palms Inn, 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms. (760)367-3505, www.29palmsinn.com. Apr. 15-17 – Bhaktifest: Spring OMmersion. Deep relaxation, yoga, Thai partner massage, laughter yoga, meditations, desert hike, labyrinth...more. Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (866)992-4258. www.bhaktifest.com. April 15-17 – Coachella Music Festival. Ticket prices vary. Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio. www.coachella.com. Apr.15-17 – Ridgecrest Widflower Festival. Exhibits, Museum store, xeriscape demonstration, petroglyph tours, labyrinth & human sundial, Death Valley Tourist Center, Northern Mojave Visitor Center. Maturango Museum & other locations, Ridgecrest. www.maturango.org. Apr. 16 – “Grace & Glorie.” 8 p.m. $10. Through May 8, Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Starring Joy Grove & Vicki Montgomery, directed by Rosemary Mallett. Groves Cabin Theatre, 8768 Desert Willow Tr., Morongo Valley. (760)365-4523. www.grovescabintheatre.org. Apr. 16-24 – National Park Week. Free admittance, special events at all national parks. www.nps.gov/jotr. Apr. 18 – Full Moon Drum Circle. 7-9 p.m. $5-10. Facilitated by master percussionist & Sun Runner team member, Sam Sloneker. Friendship Hall, Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)365-8371. Apr. 18 – 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. April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 45
y hope is that this article will encourage you to visit Desert Christ Park located on the north side of the Town of Yucca Valley. It would be an experience you would never forget. It was better than 60 years ago that Pastor Eddie Carver invited artist/sculptor Frank Antone Martin of Los Angeles to bring his 15-foot statue of The Christ to Yucca Valley with the promise that Pastor Carver and his church members would erect it on the side of the hill overlooking the town. Martin accepted the invitation and that decision was the start of something good. Today better than 55 larger-than-life statues dominate the less than four acres that make up Desert Christ Park. There are groupings of disciples listening to the Sermon on the Mount, apostles and other biblical characters in discussion or contemplation. The bright alabaster sculptures of followers tend to face away from the sun, while the Messiah images all face the bustling Town of Yucca Valley. There is a Tomb of Christ, a Garden of Gethsemane, a well and women drawing water from it. One more thing must be noted. Despite the obvious religious themes, Antone Martin maintained that his sculptures were inspired by his devotion to peace on earth and not because of any particular religious doctrine. Desert Christ Park is operated by the non-profit Desert Christ Park Foundation. Directors include Dennis Verseman, Burke Le Sage, and Debbie Steiner. If you are interested in becoming involved with this important on-going project, telephone Burke, (760)366-7315. Photo: Desert Christ Park Board Member Burke Le Sage at the park, photo by Mike Lipsitz.
46 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Apr. 22 – 2nd Annual Earth On Edge Earth Celebration. 6 p.m. Donations benefit S.C.R.A.P. Gallery. Documentary, art exhibit, silent auction & SCRAPPY Hour reception. The GreenZone, 75-181 Mediterranean, Palm Desert. www.coachellavalleygreen.com. Apr. 23 – Jr. Ranger Day. JTNP offers special children’s activities for National Junior Ranger Day. www.jtnp75.org/parkevents. Apr. 23 – Second Annual Earth Day Birding Challenge. Individuals & teams compete to identify as many bird species as they can in a 24hour period in the 4 counties included in the Palms to Pines Birding & Nature Trail. (760)568-9918. www.friendsofthedesertmountains.org. Apr. 23 – 18th Annual Egg Hunt and Spring Fling. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Ages 12 & under, $1 per child. Spring fling bazaar, vendors, games, photos with Easter Bunny. 650 W. Oak Valley Parkway, Beaumont. (951)845-9555.www.bcvparks.com. Apr. 23 – Desert Eco-Fest. Earth Day celebration. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Benefits Cabot’s Pueblo Museum & Desert Hot Springs Community Garden Project. $2 donation. Butterfly tent, activities, education, concert. Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, 14500 Palm Dr., Desert Hot Springs. (760)329-4481. www.DesertEcoEvents.com. Apr. 23 – Saturn: Lord of the Rings. 7-9 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Desert Skies Outdoor Lecture Series. Astronomer Dennis Mammana. Nierenberg Plaza, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center. www.theabf.org. (760)767-0446. April 23 and 24 – Easter at Calico. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m, Saturday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday. Games, Easter Bunny, family-friendly music. Egg hunts 11:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. & 1 p.m., Sunday. Children are encouraged to bring Easter basket for eggs. Calico Ghost Town, Yermo. (800)TO-CALICO. www.calicotown.com. Apr. 30-May 1 – Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio. www.stagecoachfestival.com. Apr. 30 – Wildflower Hikes. 12:45 p.m. $10, kids free. By Mojave Desert Land Trust, led by desert naturalist Pat Flanagan. Hike in MDLT’s Quail Mountain Project land bordering Joshua Tree National Park. Bring water, hat, walking shoes, camera & binoculars if you want. Meet at parking lot of Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree. (760)366-5440. www.mojavedesertlandtrust.org. Apr. 29&30 – Bio-Hunt. Bio-diversity Treasure Hunt at Joshua Tree National Park. Park HQ, 29 Palms. www.jtnp75.org/parkevents. MAY May 2 – Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Guided Tours. Free. Daily. Weekdays, 11 a.m., weekends: 10 a.m., 2 p.m. 15101 Lancaster Rd., 15 miles west of Lancaster. www.parks. ca.gov/?page_id=627. May 7 – Mike Stinson & Jesse Dayton. 8 p.m. Shadow Mountain Band, 5-7 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, www.pappyandharriets.com. May 7-8 – Bluegrass in the Spring Festival at Calico. Bluegrass festival & hootenanny. Bring family to enjoy music, food, & games. Calico Ghost Town, Yermo. (800)TO-CALICO. www.calicotown.com. May 11–14 – 20th Annual Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras. Weeklong festivities include a Mariachi Idol Competition, arts & crafts sale featuring artisans from Mexico, Saturday night concert. Calexico. (760)357-1166. www.calexicochamber.net/mariachi. May 13-15 – 9th Annual Joshua Tree Music Festival. $40-100. Joshua Tree Lake Campground, 2601 Sunfair Rd., Joshua Tree. (877)327-6265. www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com. May 14-22 – San Bernardino County Fair. 12-11 p.m., weekends; weekdays 4-11 p.m. San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, 14800 7th St., Victorville. (760)951-2200. www.sbcfair.com. May 28 & 29 – 2nd Annual Ho’olaule’a. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free, parking $5. Hawaiian/Pacific Islander festival. Entertainment, island food, traditional arts & crafts workshops. Noble Creek Community Park, 650 W. Oak Valley Pkwy., Beaumont. (951)534-375. www.bcvparks.com.
For the most comprehensive event listings for the California deserts, please visit www.thesunrunner.com. To include your desert event listings on our online desert-wide calendar, please e-mail complete event information in text format to: email@example.com. To stay in touch with desert happenings, sign up for our free Sun Blast newsletter and join our online desert community at www.thesunrunner.com. Friend us on Facebook and My Space too.
April/May 2011 â€“ The Sun Runner 47
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
EL RANCHO DOLORES MOTEL
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
48 The Sun Runner – April/May 2011
Bed & Breakfast Inn. Gorgeous 1928 stone manor on 25-acre historic Campbell Ranch. Gardens, elegant guest rooms, fireplaces, grand piano in great room, fine linens, gourmet food, catered functions. Gary & Jan Peters. 74744 Joe Davis Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3238 www.roughleymanor.com
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
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
April/May 2011 – The Sun Runner 49
“Best Desert Magazine Ever...” We didn’t say it – one of our readers did
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Published on Apr 18, 2011
Our annual Desert Ecology Issue looks at electricity in the desert - Smart Meters, dirty electricity, and electro-sensitivity. Plus Locopel...