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The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert August/September 2010—Vol. 16, No. 4 The Sun Runner Magazine PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)820-1222 • www.thesunrunner.com Publisher/Executive Editor:Steve Brown email@example.com Founding Editor Emeritus: Vickie Waite Theatre/Film Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Literary Editor: Delphine Lucas Music Editors: Judy Wishart, Ed Munson Calendar & Social Media Editor, Asst. Publisher: Barbara Buckland
Contributing Writers (For Desert Writers Issue contributors see Contents) Steve Brown • Barbara Buckland Cosibella Cristenas • Delphine Lucas Jack Lyons • Sandy Scheller •Judy Wishart Contributing Photographers: Steve Brown • Mark Edward Hornish Julianne Reynolds • Judy Wishart Contributing Artists: Shawn Hall • Rik Livingston • Lisa Maher Karin Mayer Advertising Sales: Sam Sloneker, Travis, Puglici, Ryan Muccio Distribution Manager: Sam Sloneker People we can’t live without: Curt Sauer 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: Sept. 20 for the October/November Desert Art 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to: Calendar, c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine, PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252. Please include all relevant information in text format. Notices submitted without complete information or in a wrong format may not be posted. Event information will not be taken over the telephone or telepathically. No exceptions! Bad! Bad! Bad! SUBMISSIONS: By mail to the address above; by email: publisher@thesunrunner. com, or stop us when we’re at the JT Post Office, like everybody else does. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/ year International, $38 trillion Intergalactic) Copyright © 2010 The Sun Runner. Permission for reproduction of any part of this publication must be obtained from the publisher. The opinions of our contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the magazine, if it has any. We have made most every effort to be accurate, but we are not responsible for errors or omissions in material submitted to us, nor claims by advertisers. Advertising, press releases, and public service announcements accepted at the gross indiscretion of the publisher. 8 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert
August/September 2010 The Desert Writers Issue
Inside this Issue:
Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 9 The Tortoise Telegraph News gathered from around the desert – at our own pace ... 11 Letters from ... you ... 12 Desert Art News, by Barbara Buckland & Steve Brown ... 16 Woven Words, The Authors’ Page ... 21 The 2010 Desert Writers Issue Special Section Spiderwise, by Mark Edward Hornish ... 22 Ode to a Tarantula Hawk, by Noreen Lawlor ... 23 Juror Number Thirteen, by Deanna J. Rallo ... 24 The Rattle of a Snake, by Mackenzie L. DeIuliis ... 25 Tree of Tranquility, by Scot McKone ... 26 Ghost Flower, by Ruth Nolan ... 27 Call of the World, by Catherine Svehla ... 28 Abandoned Homestead, by Rik Livingston ... 29 The Dying Oasis, by Wes Fish ... 29 The Devil’s in the Kitchen, Cookin’ up Biscuits, by Michael Phillips ... 29 Desert Essay, by Leslie Faulkner ... 30 Desert Time, by Cynthia Anderson ... 31 Fanfare Generator, by Eva Starsinger ... 32 Desert Writers Issue Book Reviews, by Delphine Lucas Mustang ... 34 No Place for a Puritan ... 35 She Bets Her Life ... 36 Revenge ... 36 Going Through Ghosts ... 37 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 38 Theatre Spotlight If These Walls Could Talk, by Sandy Scheller & Steve Brown, ... 39 Film Talk, by Jack Lyons ... 40 Hi-Desert Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 41 Kirtan and the Bhakti Fest Wave, by Coibella Cristenas ... 44 Summer Concerts, Summer Bliss, by Steve Brown ... 43 The California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar ... 44 It’s the heat talking ... 47 Desert Lodging ... 48
Cover Art — by Steve Brown There’s nothing like a day at the beach—Bombay Beach! Bring along a copy of the Desert Writers Issue and relax with the tilapia and mud volcanoes by the shores of the (Salton) Sea. 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. Are you interested in The Sun Runner Magazine’s 16.5 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.
hat a whirlwind of a summer! I’m glad I’m sitting down as I write this as I seem to have gotten dizzy just thinking about the past couple of months (and those coming up). I want to thank the tent-full of folks who joined us for our first Desert Readers Advisory Group (DRAG) meeting. The meeting was anything but a drag. We had Sun Runner readers from as far away as Los Angeles come out for a delightful evening under the tent at the 29 Palms Inn, and you will begin seeing some changes with the next issue of the magazine, our annual Desert Art Issue. We’re hard at work preparing the official program for the Hwy 62 Art Tours, the enormously popular two-week desert arts event that brings thousands of folks out to visit with more than 100 hi-desert artists in the casual and relaxed settings of their own studios and galleries. Not only is this event an incredible opportunity to mix it up and meet with artists and other arts fans from throughout Southern California (and sometimes, beyond), but it’s a fun way to see more of the area, and it is an economic boon for the entire community. We’re very pleased at The Sun Runner that we were chosen by the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council to produce the official program for this year’s Art Tours, and we hope our businesses and community will put their support behind this year’s event to help showcase our communities. Of course, we’re also starting work on Mysterious Mojave, our first desertthemed comic book, and The Real Route 62 Guide, along with the third edition of
our attractions map for the Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree National Park area. It was difficult to tear a couple weeks out of the schedule to return with my band, There Be Pirates!, to England once more, but I’m glad we made the effort. I got the opportunity to say hi again to Ralph Cross (see last issue’s A Tale of Two Crosses), and enjoy a pint of Old Peculier at the Blakey Lion on the moors. We also were treated to the opportunity to perform at Danby Castle, for a right royal audience, which may have included Catherine Parr, the widow of the late Henry VIII, who resided at the castle after her husband’s death, and Mary, Queen of Scots, who spent time there as well. Some of the more corporeal guests included the Whitby International Pirate Society (see photo above), who made us honorary members. It was all a bit of a blur—Liverpool’s On the Waterfront festival with 50,000 people and the world’s largest gathering of pirates, an encore performance at Scarborough’s Sea Fest, a performance at the historical Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole, a photo shoot with Graham Rhodes, who has shot album covers for the likes of The Police, interviews with the BBC, and just a little time to wander the delightful trails of the North York Moors and eastern coast. Now, it’s back to an entirely different beauty—that of our desert home, and the creative contributions of our desert writers. Thanks to all our poets and writers who contributed, as well as our panel of judges who make this issue a perennial favorite. Enjoy! August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 9
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As long as the grass grows and the water flows... Yeah, right Our nation, as much as we love it, has a regrettably deplorable history when it comes to its dealings with the folks who lived here way back when the ancestors of the rest of us moved into the neighborhood. But that’s the past, and we’ve moved on now to a relationship of mutual respect and reverence for our Native American peoples, right? Wrong. It would be wonderful to think that we’ve overcome the obstacles of centuries of untrustworthy negotiations and backdoor attempts at genocide, but at the risk of speaking plainly, the racism that has so long been inherent in our government’s dealings with Native Americans in our past continues to this very day. It may be dressed up in bureaucratese and buried in hundreds of pages of documentation that does all it can to exclude everyone but other bureaucrats from participation or understanding, but it is there. Case in point is the ongoing saga of the geoglyphs in Blythe that we covered in our April/May issue. These geoglyphs are in danger of being destroyed because a large solar power project has been planned for their locale. Any rational process would note that there appears to be some sites of possible cultural and/or spiritual significance to Native Americans (and really, they should be significant to all of us) at this location and the project, if it is to be built, needs to be built elsewhere. But that’s not what happens. Instead, the process, which is somehow viewed by bureaucrats as being “fair” (using a definition that means “ignoring all public input while providing low cost public
lands to corporations so they can make large profits off the public while the public subsidizes the process) just continues. But our modern kinder, gentler bureaucrats and their corporate brethren have come up with “mitigation” to lessen the impact of the destruction of culturally significant and/or sacred sites. They (and this comes directly from proposed mitigation listed in project documentation), will interview Native Americans about their views on the importance of the sites slated for demolition, and perhaps even toss them a stipend for coming to record those thoughts and reflections. Then, the buldozers will drive in and wipe these sites from the face of the earth. Talk about progress! After all, the process for the Blythe Solar Millennium Power Project, which involved a direct archaeological inventory of the site that somehow managed to not find enormous geoglyphs but did find single stone tools, was fair, wasn’t it? We’ll be blunt. We’ve had our requests for information that we’ve sent to the Bureau of Land Management blatantly ignored—with an attitude that is utterly unacceptable from a public agency. David Briery, a BLM Public Affairs Specialist for the California Desert District, doesn’t even respond to information requests from this magazine. (Didn’t Briery work at Bechtel SAIC in the past? Bechtel wouldn’t be involved in construction of any solar power projects on BLM lands in the California deserts out near Ivanpah, would they? Bechtel SAIC was the joint venture involved in the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility from 2002-2009. Auditors recently uncovered a reported $175 million in “unresolved” charges by contractors
for the Yucca Mountain project, another taxpayer funded debacle.) There appears to be a drive to approve these power projects quickly, no matter the cost environmentally or culturally, so corporations can dive into the piles of cash available (provided by taxpayers on the backs of our grandchildren) for “green” energy projects that aren’t green at all, other than the green going into some pockets... Visit our website to view an excellent introductory video by Robert Lundahl on Kokopilli and the other geoglyphs, as well as other Native American sites that are in danger from this, and other, power projects, with commentary by Alfredo Figueroa and Chemehuevi Tribal Chairman Charles Wood. In the meantime, please send your comments on this issue to us with your full contact information at: email@example.com. We’ll make sure that the folks at BLM and the California Energy Commission get them—one way or another. Eagle Mountain Victory! On July 30, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned back an appeal that could have continued the Eagle Mountain dump saga, keeping the nearly 5,000 acres of desert canyons south and west of Joshua Tree National Park from the likelihood of being filled with millions of tons of garbage from Los Angeles. Feisty longtime plaintiff Donna Charpied noted, “This is the third ruling against this dump and in California, after three strikes, you are out. It is now time for these lands to be returned to Joshua Tree National Park, where they originated.” We couldn’t agree more. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 11
Don’t Be Naïve... Mr. Brown makes some interesting observations in his three off road articles that are worthy of comment. 1. The UK ensures responsible OHV riding via the threat of an impactful fine of $5,000 for illegal riding. If increasing penalties for willful destruction of public and private property is effective prevention, why don’t our state and local officials follow suit? 2. He saw hundreds of thousands of OHVs in the desert but no hikers. This is a similar analogy to the observation that there are 100 cats in the barn but no mice. 3. California City businesses are dying because of the economy. Not necessarily. Off-road recreationists have packed Kern County OHV parks for years, but the majority bring toy haulers and expensive RVs stuffed to the gills with BBQ goodies, beverages, and huge gas cans filled with bargain fuel from the local Sam’s Club in their own neighborhoods. They come to ride not to shop. Mr. Brown neglected to include the fact that it was ORV WATCH KERN COUNTY that labored long and hard to bring the dirt bike destruction of the Pacific Crest Trail to light. As a result law enforcement and other organizations have become involved in working to preserve this national trail dedicated to hikers and equestrians. That said, we thoroughly appreciate the efforts of the Friends of Jawbone to close illegal routes emanating from designated trails. Can OHV enthusiasts and other recreationists co-exist in the desert? Of course not. Noise, dust, fumes, powerful knobby space age tires with monster 12 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
torque engines have little in common with the quiet appreciation of the desert involved in hiking, horseback riding, and packing. Does this mean that OHV riders shouldn’t have places of their own where they can enjoy their sport? Absolutely not. But to suggest that coexistence is a solution is naïve. Cooperation is the necessary ingredient. Mesonika Piecuch, Spokesperson ORV WATCH KERN COUNTY The Other Side of Both Sides of the Issue Although we appreciate the Sun Runner’s attention to the off-road issue in the desert, we are writing to express perspectives that were left out of the discussion. It is popular to present “both sides” of the issue by pointing out the conflict between off-roaders and environmentalists, but this simplistic argument does not address the conflicts between riders and private property owners and those of us who support the protection of public lands. Riders regularly trespass upon and damage private property, ranches, hiking trails, wilderness areas, flood control infrastructure, historical and sacred sites and our public lands. This is not recreation vs. conservation, but lawlessness vs. respect for the law and private property. The myth that only a small minority of riders—the unsubstantiated “10 percent”—violate the law is not based in fact. But even 10 percent of the millions of ORV riders across the country makes a significant impact given the destructive nature of this form of recreation. If you review the statistics on ORV activity found in the documents
used for congressional hearings on the impacts of ORVs on public lands last spring, a survey of riders reported that they breach established routes 70% of the time. This is consistent with evidence on the ground. In addition, federal land use managers testified that off-roading is the number one threat to our public lands including those lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Forest Service. With the assistance of the BLM during their National Public Lands Day, a diverse group of Morongo Basin residents including local residents, riders, members of the local historical society, Marine Corps personnel and conservationists cleaned up and restored the Poste Homestead Natural and Historic Area in Wonder Valley. Thousands of dollars of staff time and materials were employed to remove trash and close a series of illegal routes that were contributing to the destruction of a sensitive dune ecosystem and fragile adobe ruins. “Vertical mulching” disguised illegal routes and helped to restore vegetation crushed by ORVs. A month after the clean-up, a group of offroaders destroyed 90% of the restoration, a part of the old adobe and purposefully breached closed routes. The dust created by ORVs is a significant problem since the Morongo Basin is already out of compliance with state air quality control standards. The release of PM 10 and PM 2.5 (very small particles of dust that lacerate the cells in our lungs) should be of concern for all. Although the Friends of Jawbone likes to claim credit for closing routes to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and “managing the area” when talking to the press, the reality is quite different. The fact is that the group adamantly opposed any law enforcement on the PCT until a local group of residents, the Kern County ORV Watch, obtained federal assistance to do what the local BLM, Sheriff’s department and local off-road groups failed to do. Waldheim complains that inadequate signage contributes to the problem but does not mention that riders regularly remove these signs. In addition, members of the Friends of Jawbone have engaged in harassment, intimidation and retaliation against Kern County residents who are working to protect their private property and public lands from ORV destruction. The same kind of abuse is rampant in the Morongo Basin. Members of the Friends of Giant Rock off-road group have mounted a retaliation campaign against anyone who speaks out against ORV abuse including racist, homopho-
bic and anti-Semitic rants on web sites, cyberstalking and the publication of the location of people’s homes and direct threats to person and property. Those who have suffered from ORV abuse make up the ranks of those who fight against illegal ORV activities in our rural communities. This includes seniors and retired people, former military and police officers, local business people and private property owners of all kinds. We agree that concerned citizens should get together to try to find solutions to problems with ORVs and our organization participated in stakeholder talks in 2006 with CORVA, ORBA and others that led to the county ordinance 3973, an effective tool to control ORV activity in the county. Recently, when Supervisors Mitzelfelt and Derry successfully advocated to weaken the ordinance by removing controls on large stagings of ORVs, Friends of Giant Rock refused to meet with us to try to find a solution that would work for everyone. The Morongo Basin has the largest ORV open area in the entire nation, yet riders are not content with the 189,000 acres in Johnson Valley just north of Yucca Valley and insist on riding and trespassing in our rural communities. Despite requests from the public and elected officials, large ORV vendors refuse to alter their advertising that targets young people with a message of unbridled access. We support responsible recreation, stakeholder processes and the rule of law. This is not an issue of riders vs. environmentalists, but those who obey the law and respect private property and public lands vs those who use their vehicles and the inability of law enforcement to curb their actions to break the law. We are concerned about the impacts of ORVs on emergency services, roads, berms and flood control infrastructure and law enforcement. Everyone pays for the illegal actions of those who use our communities as an ORV open area and we suggest that riders trailer their vehicles to Johnson Valley. We work cooperatively with our local Sheriff’s department and code enforcement to obtain funds for their ORV enforcement teams. encourage all of those who witness illegal ORV activity to call law enforcement each and every time. It is illegal for ORVs to ride on county service roads, to create excessive noise, dust and nuisance, and to trespass on private property without written permission. You may not get an immediate response, but the number of calls determines the amount of funds law enforcement receives and enables
law enforcement to target problem areas. Phil Klasky Community ORV Watch A Much Needed Balance I want to thank you for your excellent article concerning closing illegal trails in and around Jawbone Canyon by Ed Waldheim of “The Friends of Jawbone.” You struck a much needed balance between most sides of this issue. A balance that is rarely seen reported when discussing OHV and environmentalism. While I agree in principal with Mr. Waldheim’s actions and efforts to keep off highway vehicles on legal trails, I see another side of this issue which needs to be addressed. If you visit the Jawbone Store, just a short distance down the highway from the BLM station where “The Friends of Jawbone” has their headquarters, you’ll find a clipboard hanging from the front door of the store. With many sheets of paper, most a little tattered and windblown like those who frequent this locale, the clipboard tells another side of this story. In just a short time, during the slow season of OHV in this area, on this clipboard, there are already hundreds of names of people who are asking and expecting that the closed trails be replaced. Now I think all of us who use this area, understand and reluctantly agree that Friends of Jawbone is closing illegal trails. There are many reasons why riders went into areas that were technically illegal. It makes no sense at this time to argue or discuss the matter. But what cries out to be discussed, and resolved, is replacement trails for those which have been lost. By the time that all the barricades and fences are installed, the question of where is it legal or illegal to ride will be answered. Who is going to answer the question posed by all those who wrote their names on those windblown sheets hanging from the clipboard? David Beaumont Outlaw OHVs Driving vehicles off roads should be prohibited. Outlawed. Period. It is a needless and selfish abomination. You write as though riding vehicles ‘off roads’ is some God given right, and support that by noting how many people do it, and how much fun they have. It is still wrong, and I’ll tell you why I think so. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 13
Imagine that I enjoy recreational dynamiting. I just love to blow up big rocks with dynamite! It’s fun! And fishing with dynamite always nets us a big catch! And there’s a big bunch of us that love doing this. It’s a great family activity, and gets us all out into nature. And sure, we know that it’s “...unsafe, and disrespectful of the rights of others when it is done in the wrong spirit.” (pg. 11, June Sun Runner) So would you advocate setting aside some wilderness areas where I can go blow up some big rocks? Certain lakes for fishing? If not, why not? Because it causes needless damage to animals, plants and the earth. It would be a needless and selfish abomination. Needless is the key word here. There is no ‘need’ for anyone to drive vehicles off roads. Otherwise, why have roads at all? Just drive where ever you like. You have made the argument that we all drive vehicles, and that they do damage to the environment. And that’s true, but we have all agreed to do it on ‘roads,’ containing the damage, while meeting the very real needs for transportation. And ‘Deranger Steve’ whines that if you don’t let him (and other ORVers) drive wherever he wants, why, that will just FORCE him to drive in other places he wants. “If you tell bank robbers they can’t rob that bank, they’ll just rob the other bank, so don’t tell them they can’t rob the banks they want to!” is the gist of his spurious argument. He blames ‘the politicians’—our elected officials, for forcing him to go out of his way to tear up the desert, or as he calls it “to play off road.” A tiny proportion of the worlds population drives vehicles off of roads for fun. They are wealthy (by world standards), entitled, selfish and willfully ignorant. They must be stopped. Otherwise, why don’t we all just go blow stuff up! At least even BP didn’t do it on purpose, ‘for fun.’ “Indy” Amos Joshua Tree A Great Day! Kudos for a great job on the offroading issue! It’s a great day for readers/thinkers when a controversial issue is thoughtfully covered from many perspectives. Pat Flanagan brought up some pretty important considerations that easily get lost in the offroad debate; who’s looking out for the kids when parents are behaving foolishly themselves? Here’s a few more reality checks: Of the 37,261 motor vehicle deaths in 2008 37% of them were alcohol related. There were 13,050 alcoholic liver disease deaths, and another 22,073 alcohol induced deaths excluding accidents and homicides. That same year saw 2,400,000 tobacco related diseases and cancers and 400,000 deaths attributed to tobacco. Approximately 5 million kids under 18 now will die prematurely due to tobacco. If that’s not bad enough, our children’s generation will be the first to live a shorter lifespan than we will due to obesity related issues. Between two and five years less! Deaths from obesity will take more kids’ lives than all cancers combined. Indeed, where is the fix? Who is responsible? Kent Chambless Yucca Valley Enlightening Discussions Had brunch at the Inn today and read the articles on OHVs in The Sun Runner. Yours (Steve Brown’s) and Richard Meyers 14 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
were the most enlightning discussions on the subject that I have read to date. Congratulations for clarifying the pros and cons. I’m on the Trails Subcommitte of the GPAC for the revised 29 Palms General Plan revision and this subject is one of the most heated. I believe there is a middle ground that may not be all that either side wants but which can accomodate the best for both the OHV’rs and the greens. I’m taking a copy to the City Council meeting Tuesday to be sure the Council gets to read the articles. Larry Briggs Twentynine Palms Don’t Forget the Rest of the Desert An excellent issue. Many thanks for the OHV emphasis. Very much appreciated. Keep up the good work, and keep remembering ‘the rest of the desert’. Perhaps some attention to solar in the desert. A whole lot of square miles are scheduled for destruction, some of it total destruction, some of it almost total destruction. Tom Budlong Don’t (Mojave) Cross Me! Why should it be a cross? If the aim is really to have a memorial for those killed in our wars, why not put up an American Flag? Perhaps one done in stone. Unless there’s some other agenda? The flag is a symbol of our country. The cross is a symbol of certain religions. Did they fight for a certain religion or for our country? “Indy” Amos Joshua Tree Fantastic Job I finally got copy of your magazine and read your article under a tree at Kernville, waiting for the Sequoia OHV Leadership meeting. You did fantastic job putting that together, Congratulations. Will that be on line so I can have folks read it in our communities? Thanks again for taking the time to come to see what we do. Ed Waldheim Friends of Jawbone Editor’s Note: We received several telephone messages from off-road enthusiasts who were upset with my Dry Heat column in The Offroading Issue. They evidently did not pick up on the fact that I was making fun of the stereotypes associated with both off-roaders and environmentalists. I had a number of folks read the column before going to press to ensure that I was being clear, but some folks still somehow missed it. I do hope they do not proceed with their boycotts of the magazine and their wishes that I slip and fall in the shower. As for Ed Waldheim’s question about finding the magazine online, our complete issues are easily found in the digital realm by going to our website at www.thesunrunner.com and clicking on the magazine’s cover image. You can find the past year’s back issues there as well, and you can send a link to friends, download them, print them out, and read them all online. Keep your letters coming. We value hearing from our readers! Thanks, Steve Brown.
August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 15
Shawn Hall, NOLA @ Red Arrow.
ART CLASSES & MORE 6847 Adobe Road 760.361.1805 Located across from Barr Lumber
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367-1174 • 73487 29 Palms Hwy. DLBOWDEN29@YAHOO.COM
Simi Dabah Sculptures
16 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
he art scene in the desert may slow down a bit during the summer, but that’s only in preparation of what’s to come. The Sun Runner is working on the official program for the upcoming Hwy 62 Art Tours, where 100+ artists will receive thousands of visitors in their studios and galleries across the hi-desert. Ridgecrest has their annual open studios tour coming up, and who can forget the return of the classic Weed Show in Twentynine Palms? The Action Council for Twentynine Palms has an exciting new arts event planned for Novermber 5-7, with the presentation of the first Chalk Fest 29. Chalk Fest 29 will host a large chalk art event with live music, arts and crafts demonstrations, activities, artist receptions, and much more, centered around Adobe Road in the heart of the city. Chalk Fest-ivities are planned to begin at 11 a.m., Friday, November 5, when Adobe will be closed to get chalked up. Chalk artists will share the street with other artists such as a six-man team of sand sculptors (let’s hope the winds are with us!), metal sculpting, wood carving, collage making, and some interesting object and rock stacking exercises. Adjacent to the mural of The Flying Constable, Jack Cones, will be the fest’s main midway with booths including a variety of artistic media. Hands-on activities will be available for the younger audience, ranging from face painting and hat making to making mosaics, pencil and pastel drawing, floral arranging, mural coloring, and clay modeling. A food court will be on site, along with entertainment, and quaint hay bale transportation will provide visitors with easy, fun transportation to the Weed Show at the Old Schoolhouse Museum,
the 29 Palms Art Gallery, and the Joshua Tree National Park Oasis of Mara Visitor Center, with an informal tour of the city’s murals possible. Keep up with Chalk Fest 29 at www. oasisofmurals.org. Meanwhile, other desert artists have been busy. The High Desert Test Sites headquarters are open now at 6470 Veterans Way in Joshua Tree, and BoxoFFICE Projects Gallery in New York recently hosted Live from Joshua Tree, a spoken word event performed by Bernard Leibov, Maddy Lederman, Christopher Lawrence, Cheryl Montelle, and Kate McCabe. A limited edition art book, Desert Stories, conceived and edited by Cheryl Montelle and designed by Diane Best, was presented in conjunction with Best’s exhibition, SHACK. TWENTYNINE PALMS 29 Palms Art Gallery The Summer Show is in all three gallery rooms through August 29, exhibiting works by Twentynine Palms Artists’ Guild members—paintings, drawings, collage, mixed media, photography, and sculpture. The gallery is open weekends only—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday— noon to 3 p.m. through August. Sept. 1-26: East Gallery—Harley Baczkowski (Metal and Photography), Pickering Room—Members, West Gallery—Mark Junge (Acrylic). Reception, Sunday, Sept.5, noon-3 p.m. 29 Palms Art Gallery, 74055 Cottonwood Dr., 29 Palms (off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)367-7819, www.29palmsartgallery.com. 29 Palms Creative Center Gallery re-opens Sept. 1 with Group Ex-
hibit: “Raised by Stars (not by wolves).” Artist reception, Saturday, Sept. 18, 6-10 p.m. Variations on a theme by artists: Lorelei Greene, Mikal Winn, Elena Ray, David C Greene, Christopher X Bost, Jane Maru. Gallery hours are MondaySaturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Creative Center Classes Stained Glass Art Classes with Doug Whitfield. Learn how to build stain glass. $65. By appointment. Artist Books. Gretchen Grunt will show you how to set colorful mediums free with primitive printmaking, writing & painting techniques to create a one-ofa-kind handmade book using the leather strap or the raised cord sewing methods. $65. By appointment. Beginner’s Stained Glass Workshop. Sept. 4, Saturday, noon-4 p.m. $65. Doug Whitfield. Learn the basic skills necessary for making a small hanging stained glass keepsake. The Artist’s Book with Acrylics. Sept. 4, Saturday, noon-3 p.m. $65. Gretchen will show how to quickly paint with acrylics on paper that will be randomly cut up, then bound with leather straps or raised cords. Make a keepsake of expressive colors. For any age. Van Gogh Monotypes for Kids. Sept. 11, Saturday, 10-11:30 a.m. An excellent source of “instant-gratificationmake-you-fell-good-art-making” for ages 3rd through 6th grade. Gretchen will show how layers of colorful brush strokes can resemble the dynamic energy of the famous painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Sponsored by the 29 Palms Artist Guild & Gallery. Collaging Monotypes for Older Kids. Sept. 11, Saturday, 12:30-2 p.m. Collaging Monotypes is a combination of “instant-gratification-make-youfeel-good-art-making” and the use of incorporating other paper elements into the surface of your monotype creating a dynamic contrast between your painted textures and a newspaper or magazine image. For ages 8th-12th grade. Bring any paper images you have from your favorite magazines. Sponsored by the 29 Palms Artist Guild & Gallery. Color-n-Paint Fabric. Sept. 25, Saturday, noon-2 p.m. $55. The Color-n-Paint Fabric workshop teaches how to use acrylic paint to color (dye), then to paint with brushes onto any fabric. Paint, T-shirts & fabrics will be provided. 29 Palms Creative Center, 6847 Adobe Rd., 29 Palms. (760)361-1805, www.29palmscreativecenter.com The 29 Palms Inn, Oasis of Mara Gallery open daily. The 29 Palms Inn,
Oasis of Mara, 73950 Inn Ave. (off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)3673505. www.29palmsinn.com. 29 Palms Art in Public Places Rocky Arnold & Pat Quandel exhibit through August. Photographer Patricia Quandel has been a desert resident since 1980 and has been pursuing her passion for photography full time since 2009, after retiring from the Marine base and a 33-year career with the Department of Defense. Her award-winning nature photography has been exhibited in local galleries, and her exhibit at City Hall features photographs of sites in Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park. Quandel is a member of the Twentynine Palms Artists Guild and serves on the board of directors for Morongo Valley Art Colony and the Chaparral Artists. Rocky Arnold of Yucca Valley considers himself “a native high-desert dweller,” having “lived, worked, and played for the last 50 years here” since his family moved him to the desert from Alaska in 1960 at age three. Arnold uses a multitude of mediums, including sculpted projects in wood and stone and paintings in watercolor and oil. His work on display at Twentynine Palms City Hall illustrates his passion for abstract expressionism in the form of large acrylic paintings. Jim Smart shows in September. Smart, of Joshua Tree, is a master of film and digital photography, and several of the images in his City Hall exhibit were captured in Joshua Tree National Park. Smart teaches journalistic writing and photography at California State University, San Bernardino. He has a show opening Jan. 23, 2011 that will run through April at the historic Kelso Depot in the Mojave National Preserve, where he has been named an artist in residence. Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 29 Palms City Hall, 6136 Adobe Rd., 29 Palms. (760)367-6799. www. ci.twentynine-palms.ca.us. JOSHUA TREE Crossroads Café Mobiles and Mandalas. Joshua Tree artist Valerie Davis is exhibiting her colorful, textured mandalas including new works created using hot glue. These paintings are inspired by the energy of the high desert and explore themes of shamanism, nature deities and the earth goddess. The exhibit includes her organic mobiles constructed of wood, glass, hot glue and color infused selenite crystal. Through August 31. Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Coun-
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cil Open Studios show. Sept.-Nov. Crossroads Café, 61715 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-5414. True World Gallery Architexture – New Works by Kim Chasen. Sept. 4-Oct. 6. Reception Sept. 4, 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. True World Gallery, 61740 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)3662300. www.trueworldgallery.com. The Red Arrow Gallery “From the Living Room Inside My Mind:” Visual artist/songwriter, Jeff McClellan provides a glimpse into the life of a middle-aged lounge singer who struggles to come to grips with her flailing career and unrequited love. The show is presented through monologues, telephone conversations and original songs supported by large scale works on paper. Saturday, August 14, 7-11 p.m. “Conceptables” Solo show with Shawn Hall from New Orleans. Sept.1126. Friday 5-8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Red Arrow Gallery, 61596 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-3700. www.theredarrowgallery.com.
Joshua Tree Art Gallery Featuring videos by Diane Best, David Burnam, Steve & Ruth Reiman, Sandra Schulman, G. Shamus Tott, Geoff Tuttle. Videos will be projected in the JTAG window every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from 9-11 p.m. throughout August. Sat. and Sun. noon-5 p.m. JTAG, 61695 #A 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3636. YUCCA VALLEY Tamma’s Magic Mercantile Featured art includes the nature and wildlife photography of David McChesney, Christy Anderson’s license plate and “junk art,” Christopher Pheyk glass blowing and art, Divine Design greeting cards by Barbara Penney, Claire Montrose’s stained glass windows and bottle crosses, Frederick Ruldolph’s leather art, and the gourd art of Ronald Churchwell. 10 a.m5 p.m daily. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile, 55727 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. (760)228-0700. MORONGO VALLEY The Purple Agave Art Gallery Continuing show featuring Cheryl Jordan’s book of black and white photography, “92256, Morongo Valley.” Book proceeds go for scholarships. Show runs through Sept. Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Purple Agave Art Gallery, 49889 29 Palms Hwy., Morongo Valley. (760) 363-6076. PALM SPRINGS Palm Springs Art Museum Modern Masters Celebrate Line and Form continues in the Annenberg Wing through Sept. 26, while Photographing the American West: Selections from the Permanent Collection continues until Jan. 2, 2011 in the Marks Graphics Center and
18 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
Constance Silver, international award-winning wall painting conservator and president of Preservar, Inc., and Professor Pamela Jerome of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, join Byzantine iconographer Delphine Lucas, and His Holiness, Bishop Iakovos, Metropolitan of Mytilene at the Perivoli Monastery on the island of Lesvos, Greece. The church of Moni Perivoli’s wall paintings are being restored through a program supported by the World Monuments Fund. The monastery is one of a dozen churches on Lesvos listed on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. Lucas, a Greek Orthodox iconographer from the hi-desert, worked for five weeks this summer on the restoration efforts, and is slated to return next summer for their continuation.
Jorgensen Gallery. Colors of the West: The Paintings of Birger Sandzen continues through Sept. 12 in the McCallum Wing. Free second Sundays continue at the museum with free admission and activities. Sunday, August 8 includes the 1956 film, Lust for Life, family activities, Artful Conversations, and Impressionist Masterpieces and the Musical Genius of Claude Debussy, with Dr. Jun won Jin on piano and Nancy Bricard as moderator. Sept. 12 features summer Artist-in-Residence Phillip K. Smith III, and the 2005 film, The Gates. The Palm Springs Art Museum is leasing the 8,400 squarefoot building in Palm Desert that currently houses the Palm Desert Visitors Center, which will move this fall to a site on El Paseo. Plans call for the museum’s new branch to host ongoing exhibitions and an educational program with school tours, artist demonstrations, curatorial lectures, art films, community days, family events, and other learning programs, along with a large outdoor sculpture garden. The $4.5 million building will be known as Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Desert. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 12-8 p.m.; 4-8 p.m. free admission. Closed Mondays and major holidays. 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800. www.psmuseum.org. Palm Springs Art Walk August 5 & Sept.1. Backstreet Art District hosts First Wednesday Art Walk. Galleries include Art By Peter, Dezart One, Galerie Mystere, Images By Gideon, Red Dot Gallery, Showcase 5 Gallery, Studio 3, Trevor Goss, Gallery, and Ted Phillip Denton Working Studio & Gallery. Wednesday 6-9 p.m. 2688 Cherokee Way & Matthew Dr., Palm Springs. (760)328-1440. Dezart One Gallery Group Show—“Nothing More, Nothing Less,” new works by Susan Byers. Artist reception: 7-9 p.m. Sept. 1–Oct. 10. Dezart One Gallery. 2688 Cherokee Way, Palm Springs. (760)328-1440. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 19
Dezart Studio Artist In Action – Open Studio. Watch a professional artist work on a piece of art. August 15, Sunday 1-4 p.m. Dezart Studio, 4116 Matthew Dr., Palm Springs. (760)328-1440. The Wright Gallery Local Photography Show. Through Sept. 15. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The Wright Image Gallery, 125 E Tahquitz Cyn. Way, #100, Palm Springs. (760)322-5777. PALM DESERT Heather James Fine Art Uncommon Commencement: Group Exhibition. Sept. 7-30. Showcases work of recent MFA graduates from Yale University, Hunter College, and the School of Visual Arts, and undergraduates of Otis College of Art and Design. Co-curated by Chip Tom and John Friedman. As of Sept. 7: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m. Heather James Fine Art, 45188 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. (760)346-8926. TECOPA Tecopa Basin Artists Group Gallery Open daily 1 a.m.-4 p.m. TBAG Gallery at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. (760)852-4420. www.tecopahotsprings.org. LA QUINTA
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Old Town Cellar Ric & Tim Vigallon, Metal Sculpture & Bart Aldrich, Photographer. August 1-31. Reception: Tuesday, August 3, 5-7 p.m. Joanne Casey, Mixed Media & Leslee Adams, Painter. September 1-30. Reception: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 5-7 p.m. Presented by La Quinta Arts Foundation. Old Town Cellar, 78015 Main St., Suite 109, La Quinta. (760)771-8950. www. lqaf.com. RIDGECREST Maturango Museum Curator’s Show – Edward Curtis Photogravures. Amazing protraits of Native Americans from the early 1900’s. Through Sept. 8. Folk Dance Costumes. Sept. 11-Oct. 13. The Friday evening of the opening of each show is an “Artist’s Reception” from 7 to 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. there is a presentation by the artist. The art is for sale and a portion of each sale benefits the museum. The museum is open daily (except major holidays), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900. www.maturango.org. BORREGO SPRINGS First Friday Nights. October 1, 5-8 p.m. First art walk of the season. Galleries include Stirrup Road: The House of Borrego Springs; The Center: Liesel Paris Gallery, Matson Gallery, Sally Rosen’s Gourd Art; The Mall: Borrego Art Institute; SoShoMe Gallery; Tumbleweed Trading Company. (800)559-5524. www. borregospringschamber.com. The Sun Runner is seeking arts writers and contributors from throughout the desert. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
f course our big literary news is in your hands right now—The Sun Runner's annual Desert Writers Issue! This year, 60 writers and poets across the desert—and the country—submitted more than 200 pages of poetry, fiction, book excerpts, and essays for consideration. All writers had strong ties to the California deserts and we are grateful for their participation. We received submissions from writers ranging from fifth grade to well into their 70s. Our panel of judges included Liz Babcock, Scot McKone, Ruth Nolan, Cynthia Anderson, and Barbara Buckland. Buckland also served as coordinator. Our thanks for their participation! Book reviews are from Delphine Lucas, our literary editor. Authors from the California deserts, or who have written about the desert, are encouraged to submit review copies. This year marks the fourth annual Desert Writers Issue and we want to thank all who submitted their work for consideration. Unfortunately, there is no Desert Writers Celebration scheduled this September—a victim of our ongoing economic recession. DeAnn Lubell, a writer from Rancho Mirage has received Midwest Book Review's highest rating for her historical novel, The Last Moon. MBR gave The Last Moon a five-star rating. “A riveting read from first page to last,” posts MBR Editorin-Chief, James A. Cox. “The Last Moon is a novel set against the 1902 eruption of Mount Peleé on the West Indies island of Martinique that resulted in the death of some 30,000 people and the seaport town of St. Pierre consumed by fire—an impressive historical novel, author DeAnn Lubell has paid careful attention to detail and accuracy with respect to historical facts... Deftly written from beginning to end, and available in both a hard cover and a soft cover edition, The Last Moon is very highly recommended for community library historical fiction collections.” For more information go to www.thelastmoon1902.com The Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club in Ridgecrest are hosting an open mike night at 6:30 p.m., August 4. Bring a five minute piece to read and share. The event is open to all writers. On September 1 at 6:30 p.m., the Ridge Writers will feature Dick Hrebik, a Florida-based writer. Hrebik is the author of Corps Vet and The Warrior Among Us. Congratulations to Dana Thompson for winning the Ridge Writer’s Allison Aubin Scholarship. Congratulations also to Merrie Giles on her series of coloring books she has published. Thanks to the support of the Ridge Writers, the Desert Writers Issue of The Sun Runner now sees a significant number of contributions from the Ridgecrest area each year. We are grateful for their support. The Ridge Writers meet at High Desert Haven in Ridgecrest. Information is available at www.ridgenet. net/~curtdan./ridgewriters/. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 21
was sitting in the morning shade in my favorite chair, an old rotting wooden lounger, outside my bedroom door. I was drinking coffee from my favorite cup, a wide brimmed, sturdy, yellow ceramic mug, embossed with the image of a smiling cow and the words “La vache que rit!” a phrase whose meaning I do not know. I was reading, as is my usual morning custom. It was a fine day, and peaceful—a Wednesday morning, I think. I was pleasantly alone, in the expansive enveloping quiet of the desert. That is, until I noticed a movement, glanced up, looked towards my storage shed about 20 meters away, and saw an unexpected guest ambling unhurriedly in my direction. My first wild tarantula sighting turned out to a very unalarming affair. The creature seemed in no great hurry to reach me, although, in the next intriguing couple of minutes, it became clear that it had no other destination than me. It crawled easily over and down the slight embankment created by my railroad-tie back patio border, never increased pace, never made any threatening gestures, and never behaved, as we’re all constantly warned wild savage creatures tend to do, in any sort of an erratic fashion. It slowed slightly as it neared me. Prudence convinced me to lift my feet off the ground and prop them on the end of the picnic bench in front of me. I did this not so much from fear or simple squeemishness, as I thought I’d hate to be in this determined critter’s way. But the spider slowed some more, and, as he reached my beloved coffee mug, he, well.... he sat down. I’m not sure arachnologists would concur that spiders actually “sit.” But this was the distinct impression that the little dude gave off. It was much leaner than tarantulas seem to be in pictures, thin and sleek and young looking, not hairy, fat and gruff, like tarantulas tend to look in science journals. He seemed to drop its body a bit lower to the ground, and pulled all its sleek black legs a bit closer to his body. It felt very much like I’d just been visited by a neighborhood cat, looking for some company. If anything, the spider seemed curi22 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
ous. He just, well, sat there, looking at me, in whatever way tarantulas see things, and after a while I figured “ok,” and I returned to my book. I glanced down a couple of minutes later, and he had turned away from me, and now had clearly compressed its body downward and pulled all its legs in. I grabbed my coffee mug, drank, and returned it to my new neighbor’s side. It looked like he, too, was settling in for some morning R ‘n’ R. My new friend seemed content and, in his own spidery way, contemplative. There is a legend that tarantulas all possess one unique piece of wisdom. This is a legend that I thought up, and I am spreading it to you now. An example of a wisdom a tarantula might possess would be: “a stitch in time saves nine!” or maybe just “measure twice, cut once.” Nothing earth-shattering, but still...there’s many a human, I imagine, who can count less wisdoms in his being than the humble tarantula. The reason that tarantulas generally don’t share their wisdom with us is that afterwards, they die. It could be from any number of ways—a truck runs them over, an eagle swoops down and eats them, or a lazy tweeker in the desert shoots them for fun. Therefore, tarantulas are very reluctant to give up their one tiny pearl of wisdom. They don’t know they’re going to die if they say it, they just know they’re not supposed to. My brother once went to look at a house to buy. It was in suburban Palm Springs. The Realtor had warned him that it was in a kind of out of the way area, and that not many people had been to see the property, not recently, anyway. As they toured the home, the neglect was only minorly evident. One nice feature of the house was that the living room’s back wall was glass, and looked out onto a medium sized pool, and the rolling brown desert beyond. The pool itself, from a distance, had a curious quality to it. It seemed oddly colored, as if perhaps the lining of the pool was slate or charcoal grey, or possibly even black, rather than the more common ocean blue. Could it possibly be a tile-inlay? Labor intensive, to be sure, not to mention the maintenance, but if the tile was laid right, it could be a real find, a gem.... he and the Realtor approached the pool. It shimmered on top, and my brother’s eyes couldn’t quite get a fix on the water. It seemed to shimmer, or move somehow, or.... They stepped through the sliding door into the late afternoon heat. It took only another step or so to finally realize what horror they’d discovered: the surface of the pool wascovered, entirely blanketed, with dead, floating, tarantulas. My brother told me that he didn’t even remember leaving the house, that his brain came back to him when he was a good ten miles down the road. He said he pulled his car over,
got out on the side of the road, checked himself to see if there were any tarantulas clinging to his ankles. There weren’t— they were all back at the pool, tiny black ghosts, sunning themselves, quite permanently dead. You know what I would have done if I was my brother? I would have found out, immediately, from the Realtor, the name and address of the person who lived in that house last. I would have contacted that person, sought him out, and made him my sidekick, my running mate, my personal advisor. Why? Because with all those dead tarantulas, that guy must have learned a lot of wisdom. He might just be the wisest man in the world. And here’s what I would do if I were a tarantula. If I were forced, for some reason, to tell my one secret nugget of wisdom to someone, instead of telling them “don’t cast your pearls before swine,” or “look before you leap,” I would think of a riddle. The answer to the riddle is my wisdom. If the person solves the riddle, well, ok then, they can go ahead and smack me with a shovel, or smother me in a jar of mayonnaise, or leave me to the eagles; but if they hesitate? If, as the shovel blade is descending towards my proud, curious, friendly thorax, the person hears my riddle and stops, stays the blow, and says something like, “huh? wait. what?” Well then, that’s the person I bite on the ankle. Then run. My tarantula, I named him Tommy. I finally finished my coffee, finished my chapter, and got up to start my day. I checked on Tommy a couple of times, and found it easy to spot him each time, just wandering around the back desert yard, checking things out, as if he knew he wouldn’t actually find any food that morning, but he wanted to survey the lay of the land, because probably later a couple fat moths would be passing through, and those things would not be so lucky as me.
Ode to a Tarantula Hawk
orange winged devil wasp of malice insect of decadence progenitor of paralysis minion unmerciful needle of doom succubus of terror dancer of rigor stinger of remorse entomber of life succor of sap lay your eggs bite the hairy leg that feeds you without you would the world be overrun with shy tarantulas who look out from their holes and carefully dart from one cactus to another
Mark Edward Hornish is a freelance writer, editor, and podcaster living and working in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. His work focuses on culture, travel, humor, and irony. Especially the irony.
Noreen Lawlor is a poet and an artist who lives with her son and her two yorkies in Joshua Tree. Since moving here five years ago she has been inspired by the desert landscape and the marvelous creatures who survive here(including us). She is currently working on a Joshua Tree series which integrates her poetry and her visual art and expresses her love for the Mojave. She is also a psychotherapist who has a part time private practice in L.A.where she attempts to impart art and poetry and some of the serenity of the desert to those who aren’t lucky enough to live here. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 23
ould you not agree that the removal of air to breathe is not an agreeable occurrence?”
I nodded my head. The defense attorney narrowed his eyes at me, juror number thirteen, and continued. “So you would agree that the elimination of air could be perceived as being . . . unpleasant?” “Yes,” I said.
we not now agree that if we take away all bad air thus allowing only the standard portion of breathable oxygen— commingled with smog from Los Angeles and perhaps a .28 percent alcohol content—that a breathalyzer, given by a police officer to a lone woman whose automobile just so happens to contain 24 empty cans of beer strewn along the back seat, front seat, and lodged under the gas pedal, might in fact be tainted, which, we have just proven, is not positive?”
I am seated in the courtroom with 17 other potential jurors. We are in the process of jury selection. “Suppose we said to you that if it is not beneficial for one to breathe air that is not good, then, in all probability, we could assume, for arguments’ sake, that it is also certainly advantageous for one to breathe air that is, in fact, not unhealthy. Would you not agree that the breathing of air that is good is not bad?”
I must have some sort of condition that closes down my brain when confronted with intentionally confusing communication—Perplexanoia? Stupifidentia? Bafflemeir’s Disease?—because I just sat there, motionless. Minutes passed. All I could think was, “What are you talking about?”
Well, it didn’t matter what I felt or thought because the oily overly tanned DUI attorney said, taking “So, then we can, again for arguments’ sake, state special care to enunciate each word, “Juror number that the removal of air to breathe, whether good or thirteen you are dismissed.” bad, is, in all likelihood, not unacceptable?” Aha! That I understood. “What?” I thought. He stood inches from my chair. I could smell his tanning lotion. He didn’t wait for my response. Again, I nodded.
“Can we not now agree that if we take away all bad air thus allowing only the standard portion of breathable oxygen—commingled with smog from Los Angeles and perhaps a .28 percent alcohol content—that a breathalyzer, given by a police officer to a lone woman whose automobile just so happens to contain 24 empty cans of beer strewn along the back seat, front seat, and lodged under the gas pedal, might in fact be tainted, which, we have just proven, is not positive?” 24 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
Deanna J. Rallo is a short-story writer, aspiring Italian speaker, and flautist who plays with the flute ensemble Opus 111 and with the Desert Winds Freedom Band. She is a full-time resident of the Coachella Valley, with previous long spells in Northern Nevada and San Francisco.
August/September 2010 â€“ The Sun Runner 25
utside Amboy about five miles east, a willow stands alone with its humbled dead crown bent low to the earth. Even though it’s a desert willow, it appears to weep under the burden that so many placed upon it. It was named, “Tree of Tranquility.” Estimated at nearly 100 years old, it is said to have died from the abuse of modern travelers, who traveling the lonely strip of asphalt that passes alongside it, defiled it with hundreds of pairs of shoes and boots slung over its outstretched branches. And while no mystery remains as to how the Tree died, it is the history of the Tree that’s most telling. And that’s where we begin…. In the spring of 1919, barely six months after the Great War ended, a man stepped off the train in Amboy, and his boots, the ones that carried him through the mud-filled trenches of France, settled deep in the sands of the Mojave desert. Looking to the desert as a source of solitude to mend his frayed emotions from terrible things he’d seen in war, he surveyed the expanse surrounding him: Rising to the north, the boulder-strewn hills of the jagged-peaked Coxcombs; to the 26 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
east, a sprouting sea of creosote reaching to the edge of the horizon; and west, sitting silent beyond a littered landscape of black lava rock, the burned-out cinder-cone remains of a long extinct volcano. Retreating to the shade of a water tower standing close to the tracks, the man rummaged through his duffel bag. Hidden alongside his meager supplies of canned sardines, stale bread, empty canvas canteen and thin wool blanket, a small leather pouch revealed his most valuable possessions: $132.00—roughly twenty-four cents for each day spent overseas; a faded photograph of his parents—both deceased; a hand-medown double-bladed jack-knife with one blade snapped off; his victory-service medal awarded to all veterans who served in the war; and his dog-tags. Scraping away the embedded mud in the lettering of the tags they read: Ellis, Samuel J., Corporal, U.S. Army. With east looking to hold the greatest promise to scratch a few flakes of gold out of California’s southwest desert, Ellis tucked the dog-tags in his boot, replaced the pouch with its contents back in the bag, and following the railroad tracks about a half-mile, he came upon a stand of Tamarisk with a clearing in the center. To one side, a half-dozen mules stood in a makeshift corral of stripped Tamarisk branches while the runt with flopped-over ears and bowed front legs eyed Ellis as he approached. On the other side of the clearing, sitting in the shade of the Tamarisks, a group of sweatstained prospectors listened where another gray-bearded miner with the crust of the desert hanging heavy on his filthy white blouse spun the legend of Ayers’ gold and his tobacco-eating donkey Gus. As the story went, in 1901, somewhere between 29 Palms and Amboy, an ex-sailor named Bill Ayers stumbled upon a fist-sized chunk of gold and after stowing the gold in a saddlebag, Gus spooked and bolted during a sandstorm with the bag strapped to his back. And while Ayers, who had a pegleg for a left-leg with a right-footed boot laced to it went in search of Gus and the gold, none were seen again. The miner swore though, that on one warm summer evening with shadows lengthening on the floor of the desert, he followed two fresh sets of tracks in the sand: On one side, a pair of mismatched right-footed boot-prints, and alongside those, four freshly planted hoof-prints all ending at the base of the Tree. And that night, with the miner readied to bed down near the Tree, a thunderstorm rolled in, and with a thick blanket of clouds covering the light of the moon, he startled in the darkness when a sharp bolt of lightning flashed
the image of a man with a donkey by his side. Ellis shrugged off the story as quackery and figured the miner was delusional with desert-induced sunstroke. Inquiring about provisions, the old miner pointed Ellis in the direction of the outfitter’s shack. In the shape of a three-sided hut with the open front exposing leftover railroad timbers supporting rusted tin-siding, Ellis bartered a trade with the keeper of the shack. Swapping his duffel bag for a saddle-pack, he added a spare canteen, a wide brimmed hat—so as not to suffer the same fate as the miner, a canvas tarp for a tent, a few more tins of sardines, cans of peaches, a copper-bottomed pot, a few pounds of coffee, ten pounds of cornmeal and beans, a pick and shovel, and for twenty- five dollars, the bow-legged mule who eyed him in the corral. With saddle-pack loaded, and his mule named Mule following, they headed east in the direction of the Tree. Near evening, within sight of the Tree, a welcoming breeze ruffled the Tree’s newly budded leaves. Coming closer, Ellis found in the sand a depression holding a small pool of water. Scooping sand out from around the pool, the larger depression filled with more water, and removing a bit more sand, it filled to a bathtub-sized pool of water. Ellis and Mule spent their first night in the desert under the Tree. At sunrise, a dove perched in the Tree awakened Ellis with its call while another sipped water from the pool. Setting up camp just outside the banks of the wash where the Tree stood, Ellis pruned a few branches from the Tree, and with narrow strips of canvas lashing the limbs together, pitched his tent over the framework. For the rest of that day, and throughout the summer, Ellis called the Tree home. Dry-washing buckets of sand from rivulets of washes by day, he’d return to the Tree in the evenings with leftover tailings, and using water from his pool, his wet-pan yielded a few tiny flakes of gold dust. Leading into the desert monsoon season, Ellis continued to pan with the summer months waning. One evening, while under the Tree, clouds swirled in from the south, and with gentle pelts of falling rain, sweet smells of creosote filled the air. But then, the storm worsened: With the distant low rumble of thunder giving way to sharp flashes of lightning, a donkey in the distance brayed. Mule, with lead rope tied to the Tree, reared against the rope, and with ears standing tall, snapped the rope clean and ran free. Another sharp crack of lightning unleashed a torrent of rain, and flooding the wash where the Tree stood, the silhouetted figure of a fear-stricken man waved at Ellis to run. Watching the man, Ellis stood in the deepening trough of water where caught unaware, a wall of water and mud curled up from behind and slammed him downstream. Roiling, and caught up in the current, he tried to scramble free, but unlike the war in France where he was able to free himself from the mud-filled trenches of the battlefield, he could not loosen the grip of suctioning ooze and was lost. The next day, Mule showed up in Amboy alone, and the old miner, the one who told the story of Ayers, headed in the direction of the Tree to find what had become of Ellis. Approaching the Tree, one thing looked out of place: A mud-filled boot dangling in the branches. Retrieving the boot, the miner dumped the mud and found Ellis’ dog-tag. Kneeling, the man placed the boot at the base of the Tree, and stringing the boot’s lace through the tag, hung it on the Tree. Through the years, the Tree gained the reputation as a memorial of sorts between war buddies: If one or the other did not make it home from the battlefield, the other promised to return and hang his buddies dog-tag on what became known as the Tree of Tranquility.
shivering by day and glowing at night the flower with curled wings wrapped around a tiny moth at center--as if by firelight--this desert by eclipse named by a western explorer and chronicled by a reclusive botanist for whom a series of deep Mojave caves is named, this flower talks with a lisp-not entirely solid-forever hard to find unless you tiptoe by And in fulfilling that promise, returning veterans did find tranquility where as the number of tags in the Tree filled, they chimed in the solitude of the desert. In the end though, with tags disappearing to the pockets of souvenir hunters, and hundreds of pairs of shoes and boots weighing down the branches of the Tree, it was defiled along with the memory of those who came before it. And as time went on, with the Tree not able to bear the burden of shame that others placed upon it, they say it died. And there is this last thing: Shortly after Ellis disappeared, the old miner swore that on one warm desert evening near the Tree, he along with Mule followed two right-footed boot-prints and four freshly planted hoof-prints. And where the prints ended, about a quarter-mile away, he found erected in the sand two tiny willow branches lashed together in the shape of a cross, and nestled next to that, two prized possessions: A victory-service medal and a double-bladed jack-knife with one blade snapped off…. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 27
C a l l o f the World
ast April, I went to the Earth Day festival at the Yucca Valley Community Center. As I walked across the parking lot, I heard a bird call. The sound was marvelous, melodious, and unfamiliar. I stopped and looked up, following the sound, and saw several large, dark birds in the trees. Black, and also faintly iridescent in shades of purple, the birds sang and fluttered from branch to branch. I glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed the sound. Yes, one other woman had also paused in her rush to get from here to there. We smiled at each other. We stood together. We listened, instant companions in an otherwise oblivious crowd. A few moments later, a more knowledgeable friend happened by and told us that they were great-tailed grackles in search of a mate. A relative of the blackbird, oriole, and cowbird, the grackle is considered a nuisance in some parts of the country. It is one of the few birds that can mimic the sound of a human voice. To hear a bird song is a relatively simple thing, easily a daily occurrence. But this short event has become a kind of touchstone for me, a memory that provides a little comfort when I turn away, disheartened and angry and sickened, from news and images of the ongoing slaughter in the Gulf of Mexico. We all have our opinions about who or what is to blame for the oil spill. We all have our opinions and theories about how to prevent another catastrophe of this sort and what will be required of us in the future. Some of us may be right about the unholy marriage between frenzied consumerism, convenience, corporate greed, and a hubristic faith in technology. But I find myself thinking about the grackles and the moment that I paused to cock my ear and feel the breeze. What can heal the world, I wonder, and restore the relationship between human beings and the rest of nature? Where can we start? ****** One of the great challenges and mysteries in life is negotiating the relationship between self and Other. The birth of human consciousness involves the split between self and world, and between what we imagine to be inner and outer. The Western modern self, (for it has not always been this way) pursues self-reliance and oscillates uneasily between a desire for individuality and longing for union. In 1979, Christopher Lasch wrote A Culture of Narcissism, a psychosocial analysis of American culture that is still worth reading. If anything, the dynamic relationship between self-absorption and insecurity that Lasch describes has only gotten more pronounced. We’re bombarded, cajoled, inspired, and harassed by ideologies of the self and dogmas of self-improvement and self-fulfillment. Worldwide catastrophes loom but as self-made individuals, we’re told, we either don’t need Others or they don’t really exist, because the Other is the self. (My world reflects my consciousness and/or we’re all one, meaning, significantly, we’re all “me.”) Narcissus, from whence comes the term “narcissism,” is a figure from Greek mythology. In the Greek myth, Narcissus is a beautiful young man who is too proud to accept any of the many offers of love that he receives. One day Narcissus comes upon an absolutely clear pool, with no floating leaves or ripples or stones. He bends down to take a drink and sees his own reflection. Mesmerized by the image of his own beauty, Narcissus finally falls in love, with himself, or rather, with his self-image. Of course he cannot fully possess what he sees. In one version of the myth, Narcissus gazes into the pool and simply pines away. In another, he kills himself. 28 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
Interpretations of the myth typically focus on the pool and the reflected self-image, but I find myself thinking about the significance of Echo. Before the clear pond and the fateful date with his reflection, Narcissus met this lovely nymph. When Echo saw Narcissus, she was completely smitten. Because she had no voice of her own, Echo followed the young man and tried to attract his attention by echoing his words. “Let us come together” Narcissus called to his friends, and Echo replied, “Come together.” She joyfully rushed to join him but Narcissus cried, “I would never make love to you.” “Make love to you…” echoed Echo, with arms outstretched. But he turned away. Rudely rebuffed, Echo dies of grief, leaving only the fading sound of her voice. The story turns on the death of Echo. Narcissus falls under the fatal spell of his self-image after he loses his Echo. She is not just any nymph. She is his resonance with the outside world. An “echo” is a sympathetic response, a complementary vibration, a pattern of receptivity. Resonance is a form of recognition, a deep reverberation of identification that is the first step in harmonious relationship. Paradoxically, the resonant, receptive self is lost and found when it opens to the Other. Perhaps Narcissus, in rejecting the nymph Echo, also rejected a life-affirming form of self-love. The strongest heart may be the one that beats in concert with the heart of an Other. ***** When we no longer hear the grackle or the rustle of the leaves, we have lost our Echo. When we no longer hear, see, or feel our way into the life of the Other, we are like Narcissus, pining away by the still pool. But the gifts of attention, sympathy, and love are still available as long as we have the heart and imagination to receive and resonant with the world. In her poem “Wild Geese,” Mary Oliver connects the call of the world with the human self. “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things” she writes. The devastation and slaughter in the Gulf is one dramatic outcome of a much slower and quieter process of ecological death, a death that is both physical and psychological, that touches self and Other. Public discussion focuses on the insane greed and gluttony, on the underwater depth of the wells, poor regulation, and a host of other important factors. But the root is our collective alienation from the world and a preoccupation with self that makes us less than human. Whether nymph, goose, or grackle, stop and listen, and answer the call. . Catherine Svehla Ph.D. is a writer, artist, and storyteller. She lives in Joshua Tree and is the leader of the High Desert Mythological Roundtable, which meets the last Tuesday of every month, 7-9 p.m., at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Contact Catherine via her blog, Cultural Mythology: American Notions of Self and Country, at www.catherinesvehla.com.
Starry, Starry Wonder by Lisa Maher
the devil’s in the kitchen, cookin’ up biscuits
the flames jump orange and red sometimes even blue struggling to force themselves from the box
ken boards, glassless windows,
c r e a k i n g s
whispered, whisking away on withering winds.
Like a dead man’s
empty but for the cobwebs that stick like nearly hidden hints of the life that once was there.
THE DYING OASIS Shaggy-headed palms rustle in the wind, guardians of the pond beneath their feet, waving skeletal fronds at ancient ghosts, wayfarers once, who never reached the shade. With roots fanned shallowly in the sand, the palms face a desiccating death, slowly turning jaundiced in the sun as their water struggle gets harder each year. Too soon these harbingers of desert life, sentinels of searing days and starry nights, will join those silent spirits from the past, to drift eternally through this shifting land. By Wes Fish, Graduate of Twentynine Palms High School, 1962. Came to desert in September, 1958 and still has ties to 29 Palms as a life member of the Historical Society and ownership of his boyhood home in Harmony Acres. Currently a substitute teacher in Ventura County, living in Ventura since 1977. He has been scribbling verse since about 1960 or so with a few items published in small private magazines or newsletters.
containing them in such a small space only intensifies their rage which is the idea, after all they try to expand and lash out they have a furious need to roam but they have been denied and they won’t go quietly even the strongest of them inevitably shrink, fade and disappear from the effort but their remains will glow as red and ghostly as the skies of hell until I throw more wood into the stove it’s a Vogelzang republic boxwood model BX26E wood stove a fancy name for a pig-iron box made in Holland, Michigan with four spindly feet a door in front and two discs on top (I assume they are used to cook your possum stew or other vittles) but I only want it for the heat it gives off because these desert nights can be cold 20 degrees on this cloudy, starless winter solstice so I feed the beast I feed it all the wood it wants I keep fueling the little war going on inside the box because a good, well managed war is sometimes all you need to keep you going Though Michael Phillips is no longer a full-time desert resident, he says, “As soon as I can swing it, I’ll be out there to stay until they put me in the ground.” He has seven or eight books in print, with a short story collection and novel-length memoir on the way. You can find his work at mjpbooks.com. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 29
ou see, it’s kind of laughable. No. It IS laughable where I find myself on this lazy Colorado day in 2010. Let me introduce myself. My name is Leslie Faulkner and actually, I am embracing the possibilities of healing my newly single, 49-year-old psyche in the Southern California desert. And part of that process, is to ditch Faulkner and go back to Papalia my given name—pronounced in radio-speak as pap-ah-lee-ah. I’ve decided that Papalia just sounds…fun. Like, ‘Let’s go Papalia-ing around the pool in our underwear.’ Besides, keeping the Faulkner name just because I write, as my ex-husband would like me to do, is silly. Faulkner is not an easy speller even to librarians who should know better. Faulkner sounds like it should have an exclamation point at the end. It’s like the German word urlaub! Pronounced urr-lob, which by the way, means a leisure vacation. See what I mean? So here I am on the verge of closing my lingerie boutique, beaten to a blubbery mass of self doubt by The Great Recession, on food stamps and utility assistance (of which I am grateful), ducking the repo man for 4 months until I said hell, just go 30 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
ahead and take the damn thing, without boyfriend whom I call endearingly The Irish Jerk because he broke my heart drop-kick Murphy style, unable to look for work until my Chapter 7 is filed and suddenly facing…a brand new life amidst the cacti and twisty Dr. Suess trees. Yippppeeeekiyiyay! What, you don’t think that sounds wonderfully alluring? You don’t? Really? In May, my 18 year old and I went on a graduation trip to Southern California paid for by my ex husband (the Faulkner!) The first thing I did when I got to the desert besides turn on the air conditioning was to make an appointment with Shannon, the psychic on Main Street, Yucca Valley. Maggie, the dutiful daughter, listened in to rate Shannon’s ability to foretell my future. Shannon laid out a bunch of tarot cards, read my palm and my mind in tandem, which was very impressive. She then proceeded to say four things that actually gave me goose bumps in my mouth: Leslie, you have a problem with alcohol in your life (Well, I did 3 and a half years ago.) Leslie, you don’t know how to ask for help even from those closest to you and when help is given you don’t know how to receive it (correctamondo Shannon.) You are a writer and you are going to write a book very soon (wow, really?) You have fought so hard for life and love but you are completely unfulfilled (this is where I would have wept uncontrollably except I wanted to spare my daughter the agony). Afterwards, Maggie was dumbfounded. Why didn’t you ask if the Irish Jerk is going to come back? If you will be rich? What the damn book is about? If the Celtics were going to beat the Lakers? (Maggie didn’t ask this but I wanted to know.) Honestly, I couldn’t tell her why I just sat, mouth agape and literally drooling like I was listening to Nostradamus or something. But this, I can tell you—When a just under 50-year-old woman is thinking about waving the white flag on life and she gets spine zapping affirmations from a psychic in the desert, she just kind of nods her head and listens…like her life depended on it. Returning home to 6800 feet and 65 degree summer days wasn’t easy. I couldn’t move to the desert permanently but maybe, just maybe I could hang out in Yucca Valley for a few months. To get well? To get right? To just get my sh*t together? I wasn’t sure but I was feeling like I was onto something. Many people recovering from or in active addiction take the Geographical Cure which simply means instead of giving
up the drink, drug or negative thoughts, they just relocate—anywhere. And once they get to where they are going they wake up one day and realize they just dragged the problem (themselves) right along for the ride. So, even though I hadn’t had a drop in over 3 years, I wondered if this wasn’t exactly what I was doing. It’s kind of like this: An executive whose life is burning to the ground from too many martini breakfasts gets an offer to winter in Fargo in a shack with no running water and only bow and arrow to kill his food. He figures it will be a great place to meditate while he’s waiting for his liver transplant. Plus the beer will always be cold. Seriously, I had real fear I was taking the Geographical Cure in the desert. I was terrified I would sit around crying about how poor and sad and heartbroken I was night after desert night. And then my cell phone rang. My best friend, who has the uncanny knack for lending a hand and cracking a joke simultaneously, called to say her roommate was moving out August first. Bring the dog! Have the kids visit! I’m not going to charge you! Stay as long as you want! Suddenly my glass started feeling half full which is as natural for me as replacing an entire car engine. And I began hearing Oprah in my head wagging a finger: Girl, you can buy a park pass and hang out under Joshua Trees every single day if you want to! Bring your hot, single self to the Cracker Campout this year and shake that Italian booty! You bet you can sashay around in shorts and flip-flops at 2 am while he’s scraping ice barnacles off his windshield! Those young alcoholic women need your help! Take those damn guitar lessons he decided you didn’t have time for! And girl, you might just meet your soul mate wiping off balls at the Pioneer Town bowling alley! You may write that book… And today, as I wait for the filing of my bankruptcy and the liquidation of my business, I cling to healing desert thoughts where I think even the perpetual dust is stunningly beautiful. I am terrified and lonely and have crippling self- pity at times. But what I don’t have is regret. That stomach churning regret you get when you crashed a wedding the night before but you can’t remember. Being true to myself and trusting my instincts is usually anything but painless. I’m starting to embrace this Geographical Desert Cure like some kind of unsteady rope bridge metaphor in an Indiana Jones movie. The path to my new life sways wildly over snapping crocodiles and guys with movie cameras that are giving me one last take. As scary as it is, everyone is cheering me on to reach the other side. I like to think the first Colorado transplants to the desert said something like this when faced with sweltering heat, lizards and gigantic rocks: Well Ma, It ain’t much but I see possibilities in that there twisted up tree. I wonder if there are a few Papalias hanging out behind the cacti? Now, that would be fun!
Desert Time For months I want to take out the stumps of the dead yucca. It’s what I can’t see that stops me. I wiggle the largest, and a lizard darts out, the size of my pinky, and a fraction as wide. What’s the hurry? I decide to wait until winter— maybe longer. The more I wait, the more the stumps look like rock— And the earth around them cracks and sinks. They will not last forever. by Cynthia Anderson Cynthia Anderson is a writer and editor living in Yucca Valley, and a contributor to The Sun Runner. Her poems have appeared in The Sow’s Ear, River Poets Journal, Stone’s Throw, Phantom Seed 3, and others. Her collaborations with photographer Bill Dahl are online at www.rainbear.com.
Raven flies on strong Wings. Mockingbirds surround him— Go hunt somewhere else!
– Linda Saholt August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 31
he dance of windowpanes wakes me up at dawn. Bomb exercises at the Marine base again? I listen: nope, it’s just the frigging wind. Oh well, it’s a new day in which to be me, happy and free. I press a button on the Fanfare Generator. TAH-DAH! Every morning now, before making tea or feeding Lily the dog, before I even get out of bed, I play a fanfare. I do this partly to alert any lurking nocturnal household fauna (camel spiders, mice, snakes, and scorpions) to the fact that the Human is now up and about. The other reason is that it instantly puts me in a good mood. You can’t be glum when you wake up to a fanfare! TAH-DAH! Lily doesn’t like it. She stares up at me, sighs, and curls up with an expression that clearly says “Would you stop that please?” My companion Eric, who is an inventor, built this wonderful device for me when I told him that I might be more motivated to get out of bed if I felt there was going to be some immediate reward, no matter how small. Not a hearts-and-flowers kind of guy, this is his version of a romantic gesture, the grandness of which is not lost on me. The Fanfare Generator is a modified cell phone on which each numbered button has been programmed to play a different fanfare. Its salutary effect is addictive. I remembered to buy toilet paper when I was in town: TUM-TA-TA-TUM! I must be careful to dole out my fanfares judiciously so that they don’t lose their illusory yet effective quality of reward. Plus I don’t want Eric to get fed up with me praising myself all 32 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
day for the most mundane of actions. He might take my Fanfare Generator away. My favorite is one that sounds like the iconic MGM movie fanfare, right before the lion roars. I save that for really big stuff, like playing the Beethoven Sonata in C# on the piano without screwing up. I slide my sun-and-sand toughened feet into a pair of orange rubber flip-flops melted nearly flat by a recent music video shoot out at Giant Rock in 100 degree heat, and head for the bathroom just as the top of the rising sun suddenly blams over the hill. The nerve-fraying wind is producing polyphonic screams and howls in the hollow poles of the property fence. At first I was fascinated by this weird pan-pipe phenomenon and even spent hours trying to discern useful patterns in the sound for future song ideas. But now it just makes me crabby. “Shut up, fence!” Lily, faithful dog, follows me to the bathroom. Showered, I throw on my favorite sun dress. The Fanfare Generator goes in my pocket. Oh, God, I can hear banshee screeching somewhere near the kitchen, which means the back door isn’t latched. There will be dust all over everything again. Suddenly something large hits the side of the house with a BANG and hurtles away across the sand. Eric wakes up. “What was that?” he calls out. “I don’t even want to know.” “Probably the movie screen again.” He sighs. Last year Eric built an enormous screen behind the house, our own personal drive-in movie theater. Within a week the movie screen was reduced to ribbons, as were the hammocks
and the above ground pool we erected in the excitement of creating a poor artist’s paradise. Eric rises, and discovers that Lily has chewed up his only real pair of shoes. His shoulders drop, his face crumples. “Why? Last week she ate my projector lens covers! And it’s still windy,” he adds, “Damn it!” “I’m sorry!” We both start to cry and just stand there for a minute. “Can I have a hug?” he finally asks. I get out the Fanfare Generator. TA-TA-TA-TUM! We both crack up laughing. This wind had better let up soon. We’re both basket-cases. We moved to the remotest part of Joshua Tree precisely because there are no neighbors to disturb with Eric’s new invention, the ECHO 6 (the loudest musical instrument in the world, DA-DA-DUM), modified sirens powered by a jet engine. Observing that there are many abandoned houses here, we assumed that people left the area because of loneliness, but after a year, we know why, despite the area’s proximity to rock climber’s paradise and UFO Central, this is the cheapest place to live in southern California: the wind. Eric dons flip-flops to anchor down the rogue movie screen, and I brave the gale to see how my car is holding up. After only a year, my poor Neon looks like a war vehicle, pocked, dented, paint eroded by sun and blowing sand. When I go to recording sessions in image-conscious L.A. someone will inevitably remark, “Euw, why don’t you do something about that disgusting car?” In response I glued rhinestones all over it, which was a lot of work (and funny) but after only two weeks of desert sun they popped right off. The car is uglier than ever, but our driveway is most attractively sparkly! “Why do you live there?” ask my city friends. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Sometimes, like now, I wonder the same thing. Five acres of open desert 18 miles from town was never my idea of paradise. And lately, despite our monumental perseverance, the wind is wearing us down. Eric comes back to the house looking defeated. BAP-BADA-BAAAAA! “What did you do?” Eric says, a smile beginning. “I cleaned the kitchen, genius. So we can have salmon for dinner.” “Yay! (Clapple, clapple, big hugs). Now you can ignore it for another month!” He’s kidding. I’m not that bad. I wait for him to come out of the shower. TAH-DAH! He pretends to be offended. “Hey! Are you calling me a slob?” “But darling!” “Don’t you ‘but darling’ me!” He notices my computer bag and other writing gear. “Going to the office?” he jokes. “I’m going to try it.” “Good luck!” Whenever possible, I write in an old trailer that sits two acres from the house, because Eric’s work tends to be rather loud. Crossing the open to the trailer can be hazardous. I settle in unharmed, but the trailer is rocking so violently every page I finish feels like a major achievement in mental focus. The city voices come back to haunt me: “Why do you live there?” I have thought about this. I need the city sometimes, but I always come back for the same reasons. I live here because my advertising-slogan tortured eyes are healed by vistas unmarred by asphalt and bad architecture. I live here because the air smells deliciously of mind-clearing creosote. I live here because the life-giving water from our well is better than champagne. I live here because when I walk outside at night and see heaven
glittering with stars, my soul remembers that I am part of this perfect, vibrant creation, not some award-seeking, anonymous bill-paying consumer. Because I can hear, I can really hear, in the deep silences between the purifying winds…hey wait. I can hear! The wind has stopped. I throw open the trailer door and play a fanfare. BA-BABA-BA-BAAA! My call is answered, much louder, by Eric on the ECHO 6. The hills respond, accompanied by distant cheers of neighbors we didn’t know we had, friends not yet met. Soon we hear the sound of engines as people begin to arrive from all over, seeking the source of the sound that echoes their own joy.
Eva Starsinger is a prolific songwriter and performer, and is the author of “Hollywood Bimbo,” previously published as “Tarnished in Tinseltown.” She is currently recording an album with Phil Jones, shooting music videos, and writing a new book, “The Awareness Function of X,” due to be released in 2011. She lives in Joshua Tree.
August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 33
“With all due respect to our official icon, the eagle, he of the broad wing-span and the ability to see across great distances, of patience born of the ages and majestic flight, it is really the wild horse, the four-legged with the flying mane and tail, the beautiful, big-hearted steed who loves freedom so much that when captured he dies of a broken heart, the ever-defiant mustang that is our true representative, coursing through our blood as it carries the eternal message of America.”
bought Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West a while ago at a gathering of authors and poets whose work was published in a previous edition of The Sun Runner’s Desert Writers Issue. Deanne Stillman, who also wrote “Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave,” read to the audience from her new book, and I was taken by the sheer force of her words. Because the book is so powerful and often disconcerting, it took me over a year to read it. This is not a quick read. This book requires concentration as well as reverence, because Ms. Stillman gave her heart and soul to writing this well-researched and well-documented saga. The book starts at the beginning of the story of horses, indigenous to North America millions of years ago, who disappeared ten thousand years ago during the ice age. Their reintroduction from Spain took place when America became the New World. Horses then became an integral part of the lives of conquistadors, Indians, cowboys, and even the U.S. Cavalry. The wild horses on the American plains today, descendants of these same horses who were abandoned, escaped, or left to die on battlefields, have their DNA linked with North American pleistocene horses. Stillman details the relationships of horses with life of people in the New World. Soon afterwards, thousands of wild horses were pressed into service not only for Indian warfare, but for use in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. An entire chapter is devoted to Comanche, the fabled horse from the Civil War era, who was born on the Great Horse Desert of Texas, where hundreds of thousands of mustangs, who bore the markings of early Spanish horses, roamed wild. Comanche 34 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
was a survivor of the Little Bighorn battle, a battle that resulted in horrific horse carnage. Custer had his men shoot their horses to make a wall to help protect them from the ensuing Indian attack. Dead and injured horses are often shown in epic oil paintings from this time period, where more horses died than humans in battle. Even Paul Revere’s horse, the one from his famous ride, had mustang bloodlines. Almost to the halfway point of the book, Chapter 5, “All Roads Lead to Buffalo Bill,” you are taken to the late nineteenth century when wild horses take their place in show business. When highly popular wild west shows took to the road, hundreds of mustangs, buffalo, and burros went along on long train rides to such places as Madison Square Garden in New York City, as well as venues all over the U.S. These shows eventually found their way across the Atlantic, taking a large toll on not only the horses, but the Native American participants as well during long sea journeys. After these shows, came the rodeos, and then the Hollywood epic westerns, where hundreds of horses were used. Stillman devotes three chapters to the history of the horse for performance purposes, some of which will be quite familiar. The last two chapters bring us into the heart of the book. Stillman came upon the story of the 1998 Christmastime massacre, the gunning down of 34 horses just outside of Reno, Nevada. When she looked further into the whole picture of the disappearance of the wild horse from the American plains, she discovered that a government “management” campaign was part and parcel of the story. That’s when she decided to write her book. She thought, “...maybe I could do something to stop
No Place For a Puritan The Literature of California’s Deserts
Edited by Ruth Nolan
Mustang: the bleeding, although I realized pretty early on that my book was really an elegy.” The book, which took her ten years to write, ends with an extensive sixteen page bibliography of her research sources. Stillman has been a champion for the protection of wild horses long before she wrote this book. However, since the publication of the book in 2008, she continues to tour around the country, speaking at bookstores, libraries, and fundraisers for wild horse and burro organizations. Her audiences at these talks include people from all walks of life who want to do something to help, even old mustangers who come to apologize for their role in the decimation of wild horse herds. This book has resulted in a new piece of legislation, the ROAM act (S1579), which would restore and broaden protections for wild horses and burros. It has already passed the house and now awaits sponsors in the senate. You can help by going to www.govtrack. us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-1579 and asking your senators to co-sponsor this bill. Mustang is an important book that will join the classics of western literature and histories of the American West.
No Place for a Puritan:
ne of my favorite genres of writing is desert writing. When I heard Ruth Nolan had put together another collection of stories from desert writers, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy and settle in for some great reading. A couple of the stories from her previous book, Inlandia, a similar collection of stories, published in 2006, still continue to resonate within me. This collection, No Place for a Puritan, is even better. The stories in this book are organized into seven thematic categories, beginning with the seductively inviting, “The Dangers of the Desert.” One of my favorite stories of this particular theme, and possibly the entire book, is the excerpt from Desert Country, a book published in 1941 by Edwin Corle. The only problem was that it was an excerpt. I’ll have to order a copy of the book now, and maybe even other books by Corle to get the entire experience of reading this author’s compelling work. John C. Van Dyke was one of the first writers of modern literature to characterize the desert as a place of poetry in his book, The Desert, first published in 1901. An excerpt from his book is presented under the theme, “The Lure of the Desert.” That is the thing with this collection. Each story and poem is just a taste of a much larger experience, but most are wonderfully delicious bites. Reading this collection is a great way to be introduced to a large, ethnically diverse and interesting group of writers, hailing from the past to the present. There are the writers some of us may have heard of, but never read; the writers we get to meet and discover that we never would have found; and, some of our favorites. I loved rereading an excerpt from one of my favorite books of all time, Joan Didion’s, Play It As It Lays. At the beginning of each story, Nolan has written a short biographical paragraph about the writer, and lists the writers’ other works, so when you become so taken with one of the excerpts that you absolutely must have more, you know which direction to head. As a desert inhabitant, reading these stories and poems has expanded my vision and understanding of the desert. As the experiences of each writer and poet included in No Place for a Puritan has touched them enough to write about it, their experiences, in turn, have touched me enough to want to order entire books of their work so I can continue reading and learning about the desert. That’s an impressive accomplishment for a collection of writings, but as the desert inspires, so does the work inspired by the desert. Thanks to Nolan for yet again collecting and assembling some of the best in desert writing. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 35
She Bets Her Life:
s soon as I read Mary Sojourner’s autobiographical story of gambling addiction, She Bets Her Life, I passed the book on to a friend who has been struggling with a serious gambling problem of her own. I wanted to get her reaction. The end result was a two hour conversation about the book, which we both agreed was well-written, powerful, and decidedly compelling. The only problem with the book, my friend thought, was that it made her want to go to the casino because of Sojourner’s naturalistic writing style describing her decade-long struggle with compulsive gambling. Sojourner really brings her addictive behavior to life with her writing. The book begins by explaining that with casinos popping up nearly everywhere in America, gambling has become a serious problem, particularly with women. Women tend to prefer the anonymity of slot machines, sometimes refered to as “the crack cocaine of gambling,” and also the biggest money-maker in terms of revenues brought in by casinos, in order to enter the “zone.” This “zone” is the mental place where there are no thoughts of sorrow, suffering, or pain. It’s the same zone that people who are addicted to video games seek out as well. What makes this book particularly engrossing, is that Sojourner not only tells her own story, but since she has a master’s degree in physiological psychology, she includes the most up-to-date research of the mechanisms at work in the brain involved in addiction. In other words, there is an addictive brain, where the uptake receptors for dopamine, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters, do not work properly. She explains this in a detailed, easy to understand 36 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
manner, without being patronizing to the reader. Sojourner tells us gambling addiction has the highest rate of recidivism of any addiction, and like other addictions there is the similair pattern in the excitement of thinking about the addictive behavior. In the case of gambling, it’s remembering previous wins, the ritualistic behavior of gathering together the objects needed for the trip to the casino, and then entering the smoky glass doors into another place in time. Finally, as in other addictive behaviors, comes the remorse, when there is a loss, and then the cycle begins again. A chapter entitled, “Getting Her to Sit Down,” tells how the gaming industry invests in the mathematical design of machine payouts, the specific design of space and light down even to the specific design of the carpets. Nothing in a casino is left to chance. Everything is created to keep people in their chairs playing—and losing—as long as possible. There is a women’s support group in Desert Hot Springs, the Scheherazade Sisters, which was tremendously helpful in getting Sojourner to end her decade-long addiction to gambling. This is a group where women write down and share the stories of their lives, forming human bonds, non-alienating bonds, something other than the alienating behavior of addiction. I decided to trace a few of Sojourner’s steps somehow, to experience what she writes about in her book, to try to understand what it feels like to enter the “zone” of casino gambling. I looked for and found her favorite slot, the Cleopatra Machine, in a nearby casino and inserted a $20 bill. I could see why she liked the machine. It was decidedly seductive with beautiful graphics and a voice that said nice things to you, especially when you were winning. However, I am not a gambling addict. I lost my $20 and did not enjoy the experience very much. I read She Bets Her Life over a two day period. It was so interesting and unique that I could not put it down. It is an important book, especially for people who want to move past gambling addiction, and for friends and family of gambling addicts who want to get some insight into the problem. The book also includes a comprehensive list of resources to get started on the road to recovery.
Revenge by J.H. Hardy
his is a short book, almost a short story really, about a modern day outlaw, written in the first person. He describes himself as “scab on the ass of society.” The first chapter leads the reader through his thought processes as he premeditates the murder of someone who talked smack about him. The end result of stalking this person is a double homicide. The description of the murders is graphic and, in fact, gratuitous, like something from the movie Pulp Fiction. This man, who remains nameless, feels as despicable and reprehensible as the Judge in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I asked myself at this point, do I want to go on reading this? The book had none of the redeeming qualities of McCarthy’s literature. It didn’t take me into another time and place, and I couldn’t stand the thought of continuing to read more of the same. I did persevere, however, and Chapter 2 brought on an entirely different tone. The story turned into a treasure hunt
Going Through Ghosts:
ifficult to get into, but once in, you care about Maggie, Sarah, and Jesse, the main characters in the story. Going Through Ghosts, Mary Sojourner’s new novel, however, is too choppy and fragmented. Right as you get into what’s going on, you cut to someone else I found myself thinking, who was that again? Oh yeah,OK, cool. Get into this character and situation. Cut. The whole book was like this. for some paintings owned by the screenwriter, who was one of the men who was murdered. The murderer finds verses in the screenwriter’s Post Office box in Twentynine Palms that take him one place at a time in the desert to find the next clue. The beauty and magic of these places almost seems to humanize this man and makes the book easier to read. However, this was somewhat incongruous. A man who will actually piss on his own dog just for the hell of it isn’t the sort who would connect with nature. As the story continues, more people get involved. The murderer sees the clues and treasure map as a way to scam some LA people into going in on the deal with him, a con game. The book is paced well. It’s a lot like watching television, mindless, but you do want to find out what happens, so you keep reading. Much of the setting takes place in high desert places: Landers, Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree National Park, as well as
This was definitely the weakness of this book. Other than that, the friendship between Maggie, and her new friend, Sarah, who was brutally murdered, then Sarah’s ghost, is quite compelling and interesting. The closest time in their friendship took place during the period when Sarah was still connected to time and space as a spirit. Sarah shares her purpose on the other side with Maggie, while still struggling to find her way as she did in life. This friendship is well-drawn and believable. It takes you into the spirituality of Navajo culture, without being patronizing. Jesse, a Vietnam vet and Maggie’s love interest, is a tormented soul, suffering from PTSD, who grasps hopefully to put his life together. You feel compassion for him as he deals with the death of his best friend and his new friend, a sick old homeless dog whom he names Ralph Too. Maggie, exorcises her demons of a failed marriage, loneliness, and an estranged relationship from her son, by playing slots. After reading She Bets Her Life, you see how Sojourner incorporates her own issues with gambling addiction into this character. Maggie and Jesse find each other, struggling throughout the book, wanting to come together in a real and meaningful way. Some of my favorite parts of the book were the beautiful descriptions of the desert; the sky, light, land, mountains, animals, and rain. It is not easy to capture the simultaneous emptiness and fullness of the desert. Sojouner succeeds, capturing the essence of desert air with color, words like painting. The setting of the book is Creosote, a desert town with a casino, which employs locals and transient residents who part with a significant portion of their earnings by gambling at the slots and blackjack tables. Times are changing. The little personal casino that was more like a community center is going corporate and things are getting ugly. One remaining weakness of the book is the inclusion of too many characters, and their comings and goings seem to serve sometimes as annoying interruptions. Some of them come and go so quickly, you wonder why they are there at all. Who were Spooky and Zach? What were they about? And the woman with the sex-change operation? It’s hard to get interested in them, because they are not well-developed. You want more time with the main characters, not to get interrupted by small bit players. For example, why is Maggie estranged from her son? Why is she so sorry for that estrangement? For all the time you spend in Maggie’s head, heart, and soul, even down to her thoughts about her vibrator, why are you looking in as an outsider into her relationship with her son? some areas nearby that might not be as familiar to locals. It was interesting for me to read about where I live in a book, and see how the settting is used to drive the plot of a story. I decided to watch the cult classic A Man and His Dog, halfway through reading this book, because I wanted to experience visually what I felt I had been reading. I wasn’t far off. This book will have appeal for those who would like a quick read set in the desert.
Sun Runner Literary Editor Delphine Lucas has produced our Desert Writers Issue book reviews for two years. Lucas is an avid and voracious reader, a teacher, parent, Byzantine iconographer, and is married to Sun Runner Publisher Steve Brown. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 37
Desert Theatre Beat
By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor
he warmer temperatures we wished for during the winter have arrived with triple-digit vengeance. Why it’s almost enough to drive you into a theatre to cool off as well as to enjoy a live theatrical performance... Hi-Desert Theatres Theatre 29 – Twentynine Palms This year-round theatre is currently presenting the Tony Award winning musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” with music and lyrics by William Finn, and book by Rachel Sheinkin. The show, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, was first thought by Broadway producers to appeal only to young teenagers, but adult audiences took to it as much, if not more, than the younger audiences. It went on to nab a Tony Award, underscoring the show’s message that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. It’s tuneful, offbeat and, at times, heartwarming. Goodness knows we have a pressing need for great big doses of feel-good messages these days. The show performs on Friday and Saturdays at 7 p.m. in the John Calveri Theatre through September 25. In a new wrinkle for Theatre 29, the theatre will present a unique and one-ofa-kind dance performance, “Love with the Soul,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 14, featuring Chilean dancer Lolo Darrigrandi. Darrigrandi’s performance called “Beautiful Contemporary Belly Dance,” incorporates elements of tango, salsa, and pilates infused with Darrigrandi’s creative, positive, and spiritual energy. For reservations and information call the Theatre 29 box office at (760)361-4151. The Groves Cabin Theatre– Morongo Valley The tiny, highly honored theatre is on hiatus for the summer. They will reopen Saturday, October 2, with the Tina Howe play, “Painting Churches,” directed by
38 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
Desert Theatre League Award winner, Bob Harrison, and starring DTL awardwinning actors: Vicki Montgomery as Maggs, Joy Groves as Sandra Church, and John Corley, as Gardiner Church. The play will perform Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through October 24. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at (760)365-4523. Low Desert Theatres It is always sad to lose a friend of the theatre. In this case, it’s an entire theatre. The Thorny Theater of Palm Springs lowered its curtain on July 31 and closed its doors for good. As a victim of the economy and high operating costs, it was, according to theatre founder Arch Brown, “one of the hardest and saddest things I ever had to do.” Arch poured his heart, soul, his health, and his pocketbook into providing the desert with quality gay-themed productions for four seasons. But the venture proved too untenable to sustain in our current economy. I’ve seen some wonderful performances over their fouryear run and their productions will be missed. With the Thorny’s final curtain now “a fait accompli,” there is no longer a live theatre venue to serve the GLBT community in the Coachella Valley. A final thought on Coachella Valley theatre closings… With Thorny gone, the number of live theatre companies to “bite the sawdust of the stage,” now comes to four since the first of this year. That’s way too many theatrical companies and performers who are no longer practicing their craft when we so desperately need their talents and the arts in our society. Please support the arts and local theatre whenever and wherever you can. Palm Canyon Theatre – Palm Springs The flagship theatre of Palm Springs is currently involved in their summer camp program; making teaching acting and dance classes available to students. The theatre recently announced the first production of their 2010/2011 Season will be the Broadway blockbuster and audience favorite, “Cats,” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Tony Award-winning musical, directed by Dr. William Layne, opens Friday, October 8 and performs on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through October 24. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at (760)323-5123. Rubinsky Productions – Palm Springs Popular cabaret producer and impresario Irwin Rubinsky, presents the incom-
parable Yve Evans, the Queen of Jazz musicians and singers in the Coachella Valley, on Saturday, August 7 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Rock Garden Café, 777 S. S. Palm Canyon Blvd. in Palm Springs. It’s a great package for aficionados of jazz, standards, and blues music for only $14. Accompanying Yve, are Bill Saiita on Bass, and Andry Fraga, Jr. on drums. There is a special dinner available for $ 9.95. I’ve checked out past shows and believe me, it’s a great deal. Evans has performed her piano and song-styling magic all over the world, and her performances are some of the best. Those who attend are in for a real treat. If you miss the August 7 date, you’re still in luck. Evans and her trio will perform another show at the café, on Saturday, September 4. For reservations and information call (760)327-8840. Script2Stage2Screen – Rancho Mirage A new arts organization of playwrights called “Script 2 Stage 2 Screen” has been launched by co-artistic director/ playwrights Burt Peachy and Michael Craft whose mission statement proclaims they will produce all original works never before seen anywhere. “Our project aims to stimulate both creative impulses of our ensemble and to arouse our audience’s consciousness through focus on issues related to 21st Century society and the human condition,” said playwright Peachy. The new group has an ambitious production plan and schedule, which include a series of stage readings of original work to be performed at The Unitarian Universalist Church, 72425 Via Vail, Rancho Mirage, by local playwrights Burt Peach, Brian Delizareaux, Dan Spencer, and Jason Hull. The first “Script 2 Stage 2 Screen” production will be an original gaythemed comedy play called “Pink Squirrels,” by Michael Craft and Burt Peachy. The play will be staged at the Joslyn Senior Center’s Arthur Newman Theatre on September 10-12 and then will become a film project produced by local independent filmmaker Brian Delizareaux. The film’s premiere is planned for April. For information and reservations on “Pink Squirrels” at the Joslyn, contact Script2Stage2Screen@gmail.com or call (760)345-7938. When one door closes (in this case, the Thorny Theater), another opens. Case in point, Script 2 Stage 2 Screen productions. We enthusiastically welcome this new live theatre venture and wish them the best of luck in their endeavors. See you at the theatre.
Scheller and Becket.
ust when you think you are in the middle of nowhere—you realize you have discovered a magical place where beauty, art, and culture come alive with a commitment that could only come from 44 years of performances of mime, dance and drama, driven by one woman and her dreams. This middle of nowhere is the Amarogsa Opera House. The woman is the incomparable Marta Becket. People from all over the world travel to Death Valley Junction to see Becket perform at her legendary Amargosa Opera House and tour her murals, the hotel, and taste the homemade pies at the Amargosa Cafe. Although Marta continues to paint regularly, her ballet shoes have been hung in the theater due to a fall last year. Marta continues to perform on Sundays at 2 p.m. in “An Enchanting Afternoon with Ms. Marta Becket.” This show is shared with her dear friend and costume mistress of the Amargosa Opera House, Sandy Scheller. Sandy’s creation and performance of her one-woman show, “If These Walls Could Talk,” is a tribute to Becket’s desert career. This delightful show features different parts of the murals Becket painted on the walls of the Opera House coming to life. In this show there is mime, drama, comedy, gypsy, flamenco, videos of Marta and Sandy talking about the murals and audiences may even see Marta dance on her toes. Music is in five languages. This 45-minute presentation has received standing ovations and has truly made the opera house come alive once again. With the addition of the Sunday afternoon show, Scheller notes, “Last
year was the first time that performances were performed in the afternoon and the response was tremendous. We are learning that folks wanted to come see us but they did not want to drive at night.” Marta Becket was born in New York City in 1925. Even as a child, she knew she wanted to dance. She loved the theater, going frequently with her parents. Becket studied not only dance, but art and piano as well. As an adult, she supported herself and her mother, by dancing, modeling, and doing freelance artwork. She danced at Radio City Music Hall in the corps de ballet and won small parts on Broadway. But Becket wanted something else, something more. She wanted more control of all aspects of her dancing, including choreography, costume design, and stage design. So she did. Marta Becket went on the road with a one-woman show. Fate intervened when Becket and her then-husband Tom Williams were on a camping trip in Death Valley in 1967 during one of her tours. When they got a flat tire at Death Valley Junction, Becket fell in love with the dilapidated adobe buildings there, particularly the theater. Becket had found a home for her and her shows. The fact that she and her theater were out in the middle of nowhere did not daunt her. She would dance regardless of whether people came to see her or not. Since Becket sometimes performed just for herself during the early years, she decided to paint all her guests on the walls and ceilings so that she would always have an audience. This audience, however, came from the 16th century. There are nuns and monks, courtesans and
gypsies, children, and a dancer gracing the walls of the Opera House. American Indians perform for the delight of the king and queen. On the ceiling, Becket painted the four winds, cherubs, and lady musicians playing period musical instruments. If Becket had to, she would perform solely for the enjoyment of these people from her imagination. But people came to her shows more and more as her reputation grew. Scheller was born in San Diego. She studied mime and dance, and was the winner of the top female mime at the National Mime Festival in 1975 and 1976. She performed on Sesame St. and Reading Rainbows and taught mime at the elementary though college level. She came upon the Opera House 16 years ago while filming an MTV video. She was so taken by the Opera House that each year she and her husband Mark, made it a point to visit Marta and Tom on their anniversary. They saw every show and the real pleasure was spending time with Marta after the show. During the weekdays, Sandy works in Las Vegas at Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity in the wardrobe department along with assisting The Flying Cranes, an aerial trapeze act based in Moscow and the U. S. Her boss at Zumanity understood the relationship between Sandy and Marta, allowing her to make the 100 miles of travel every weekend possible so that performances and the tradition of the show would continue. During creation of the show, Marta was instrumental in making sure the music and ideas would be suitable since this was the first time someone else would be performing on her stage as a regular performer. Sandy was aware even if no one showed up, the performance would continue. Luckily, this never happened. Sandy’s love for the Opera House has grown into Amargosa Valley volunteering as a performer in the schools and making students aware of reading and enjoying theater productions. Shows are Saturday at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. The 2010-2011 season begins the first weekend in November and ends in May. August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 39
FADE IN: It’s hard to be hot and bothered inside a frosty theatre watching a good film and munching on popcorn. The real challenge is in finding the right film to enjoy. Good screen stories are hard to come by. There seems to be a shortage of quality screenwriters or storytellers in mainstream American movie production. There are filmmakers masquerading as storytellers, but they mainly rely on action scenes, car chases, explosions, and special effects to tell their stories. Let us not forget the digitally top-heavy vampire and sci-fi franchise. It sometimes feels like actors and stories are an afterthought. If you’re a discerning, sophisticated film connoisseur, then foreign films will not blunt your enjoyment of what we purists call “character” and/or plot-driven stories. Lucky you. The Desert Film Society screens foreign films 95 percent of the time at The Camelot Theatres, Palm Springs. Their next screening date is August 21 and the film title is, “La Refuge” (The Hideaway). The drama is in French with English sub-titles, and tells the story of Mousse and Louis who are young, beautiful, rich, and in love. Drugs have invaded their lives. One day, they overdose and Louis dies. Mousse survives, but soon learns she is pregnant. Feeling lost, she runs away, far from Paris. Several months later, Louis’ brother Paul joins her in her refuge. Isabelle Carre, who plays Mousse, gives a mesmerizing performance in this compelling story that relies completely on her character, and she handles the difficult role beautifully. The September 11 screening, “Carmo, Hit The Road,” is a Brazilian adventure/drama/romance road film in Portuguese and Spanish with English sub-titles. Marco is a lonely, disabled Spanish smuggler, driving along the Brazilian border of Bolivia and Paraguay, on a mission to shift some of his “merchandise,” when two bandits assault him and rip-off his goods. He is miraculously saved following the assault, by Carmo, a sassy and sexy young woman. Together they embark on a lawless, reckless journey to find the men who have hijacked Marco’s loot. “Carmo, Hit The Road,” is full of gangsters, adventures, a little love and sex. The story pulls you in and holds on until the end. Spanish superstar Fele Martinez plays Marco. Carmo is played by Portuguese actress, Mariana Loureiro. Admission is free to Desert Film Society members, and $15 to non-members. Doors open at 9 a.m. for complimentary refreshments, with movies starting at 9:30 a.m. Discussions follow. No passports or visas required. FADE OUT: 40 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
The Shadow Mountain Band at the cemetery, blues monster Glenn Patrik with Judy at Lander’s 3rd of July festivities.
he annual Memorial Day BBQ and concert was once again held at the Mountain Valley Memorial Park in Joshua Tree. With amazing music from The Shadow Mountain Band, Shawn Mafia, and Rabbit & Rutherford, the event was the largest ever and people now know that it is all right to celebrate at the cemetery. 90’s heartthrobs and teen sensation Hanson gave a surprise show at Pappy and Harriet’s in June. With only a 24-hour notice online, the place was packed. Brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac have grown into handsome young men. These guys are still pros and sounded great and were cordial to all their fans after the show, taking pictures and signing autographs. I spent some time with them and they were really into the history of Pioneertown and begged me to get the bowling alley open. The Sadies also came to town from Toronto to play Pappy’s. Brothers Dallas and Travis Good blend 60’s country rock and psychedelia and transform it into their own unique sound. A special surprise at their show was when Actress/Artist/ Bongwater front woman Ann Magnuson joined them for her timeless version of Rocky Erickson’s “You Don’t Love me Yet”. It was breathtaking! The JT Pride festival was a huge success this year and included performances by The Country (a side project of members of Gram Rabbit). It was a special night that celebrated the right to choose! Gram Rabbit were also in-studio guests on Nic Harcourt’s Morning Becomes Eclectic show on KCRW and had their record release party for their new CD Miracles and Metaphors at the Troubadour in Hollywood. The place was packed with people wearing rabbit ears. We so love our Bunnies! Glenn Patrik rocked Landers at the 3rd of July fireworks. We sure miss Glenn since he moved to Las Vegas, but he still calls Joshua Tree “home.” Another treat at the fireworks was the return of Damian Tiner and his new band “Dirt Boys.” Damian had one of the best hard rock bands around Joshua Tree called Asylum and we welcome him back with open arms. They have been playing Stumps in 29 Palms and Kokopelli’s in Yucca Valley. I don’t usually venture out of my comfort zone of the desert, but did just that to go see Concrete Blonde in Los Angeles and I am glad I did. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their CD “Bloodletting,” locals Johnette Napolitano and Jim Mankey, along with drummer Gabriel Ramirez, played two hours to a sold out crowd. Since I broke my leg I could not stand for two
hours and sat in the balcony. It was an outstanding show that ended with “Still in Hollywood.” Napolitano and Mankey still rock with the best of them. I did not even mind getting pulled over in Beaumont on the way home (Note to others: you cannot make a right on red at the Beaumont exit off the 10). Thanks to the officer who just gave me a warning and laughed when I said “I really have to pee and was looking for a safe Denny’s.” The Best Campout Ever, the 6th annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven concert will be held at Pappy and Harriet’s on September 10 & 11. This year’s Campout includes sets from Gram Rabbit, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and the Dangers, with more to be announced. I am so excited they decided to do another Campout this year! The 5th annual Joshua Tree Roots Festival will be held at the Joshua Tree Lakes and campground on October 9 and 10. Put on by the same folks that bring you the Joshua Tree Music Festival, it is another outstanding festival that is family friendly. Ted Quinn gave an intimate acoustic show at the Harrison House in Joshua Tree and has just finished his book of songs. He also has taken over the Local Music Show on Sundays from 4-6 p.m. on Z107.7. Some of you may have heard Ted and I are working on a book about the music of Joshua Tree past to present. It is an overwhelming task and we just did an amazing interview with the legendary Ted Markland. I also would like to thank David Butterfield and The Poison Okies who played before Hanson, and shared some of their time with them. Local music store Vista Music is closing down as Manny and Rose retire. Summer is in full swing and I’m looking forward to more exciting musical suprises! August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 41
t is a luscious feeling – being in a room full of people singing kirtan—full body immersion into a warm pool brimming with the liquid sounds of love. Ecstatic, sublime, intense, subtle—the energy emanating while people are chanting together is irresistible, tangible, and powerful. It swirls and permeates; it amplifies and uplifts; it purifies and transforms. Once submerged, no one surfaces unchanged. Hearts are opened, minds become clear, and feelings of peace and happiness abound. But these are the secondary rewards—the side effects—and with a fuller understanding of the nature of chanting, our experience deepens. Shyamdas, Vedic scholar, prolific author, kirtan wallah, explains: “The sacred name we are chanting is identical with God, so that when you understand the name well, then you understand that presence, that form, that personality, and that relationship with all sentient beings: that creates within an individual an awareness of the Oneness of all things... The name provides that state of enlightenment without hankering for it... It is done for the sake of God’s pleasure, not our own, and, of course, if you can please the Supreme,then everything follows in a perfect and natural manner.” Now imagine hundreds of people coming together to chant sacred mantras—singing with a unified and passionate intent to be, express, and share love, peace, and joy. Let that crowd swell and become thousands, chanting for hours, even days—without ceasing—all in the name of love. A massive surge of devotional energy builds, reaches a crescendo, and spills out from its source. What happens with this energy—the bhakti—generated by so many open hearts? What is the impact upon individuals and upon humanity while that love wave is being created and as it enters the collective consciousness? What transformations are made possible? In the days when all the scriptures were sung, the rishis and sages understood that chanting the sacred word was an offering to God for the well-being of the earth and all its creatures. They knew that the human voice chanting sacred mantras has 42 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
healing power and that these pure sounds actually replenish the universe, create harmony, and keep the universe healthy. – Swami Vasudevananda Such an event as the one now being envisioned surely has the makings of a defining moment in the evolution of human consciousness—an opportunity to be a part of the movement and an event not to be missed. The Center for Spiritual Studies produces Bhakti Fest, an annual festival held in Joshua Tree, which celebrates kirtan and yoga. Inspired 20 years ago by a dream to bring together the most inspiring kirtan singers, spiritual teachers, and yoga teachers, Sridhar Silberfein (a director of CSS) is dedicated to creating a festival that provides people with opportunities to deepen and strengthen a connection to the Divine and to share and express that love through song and action. “It is really immersing oneself into the beauty of the Divine—returning to the innocence, the love, and the compassion that we all long for. It is all about getting back to the bhakti—the devotion, and the love—and diving into that space,” he explains. “I have had this vision since Woodstock to bring together all the families of spirituality in one venue to explore raising the consciousness and moving more fully into the sadhana...” At Bhakti Fest, there is every opportunity to be part of conscious evolution. The program starts at noon on Thursday and is continuous until midnight on Sunday with two shaded stages and two yoga halls. A superb range of kirtan singers will chant for more than 85 continuous hours, the best yoga teachers in the country will be teaching classes, augmented by a diverse lineup of speakers, health practitioners, performers, and green vendors devoted to creating an inspirational and transformational experience for all. There will be great vegetarian food, various accommodation options, and nearby mineral springs. For those who have a desire to express devotion through song and movement, to begin or deepen their yoga practice, to delve into spiritual and environmental issues, or to simply luxuriate in the atmosphere of devotion and joy, Bhakti Fest will be held from September 9 to 12 at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. For more information, go to www.bhaktifest.com.
he Town of Yucca Valley sometimes gets overlooked or under appreciated for not being as cool as “JT” down the highway a piece, but this modest hi-desert town has for years offered some of the best and most wholesome familyfriendly entertainment and cultural events in the area. Much of the town’s cultural life revolves around the grounds of the Community Center, with the little gem of a museum, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, at its core. This museum, with its excellent staff and exceptional programs, is nothing short of superb and should be a continuous source of pride for the town. The annual Starry Nights Festival is also impressive with its down-to-earth gathering of international astronomers and its opportunities for families to gaze at the desert’s night skies in the company of those who may have discovered comets within its depths. One of the most enjoyable series of events in Yucca Valley is their eminently laid-back, free Summer Concert Series, that provides a low-key musical night out on the grass of the ballfield (grass being a desert novelty in itself) on summery Saturday evenings. The concerts offer up a little something for everyone, ranging from blues, jazz, Caribbean, Western, and other styles of music, to the traditional seasonal concert of patriotic music from the Marine Corps band stationed down Route 62 in Twentynine Palms that concludes each summer’s series. It’s hard to beat a cooling summer’s night under a desert sky transitioning to twilight, your toes in the grass, something cool to drink (no alcohol) in hand, a light breeze off the mountains, and a good band on stage. Kids run around and older folk hold hands while teens skateboard at the nearby skate park and a mixture of young and old dance up front by the stage. If the Town of Yucca Valley is inherently really good at something, it may well be creating exceptional, unpretentious events like these where a spirit of community welcomes all. We’re proud to be sponsors of the Town of Yucca Valley’s Summer Concert Series and look forward to this seasonal tradition every June. If you really want to get a feel for what the folks of Yucca Valley are like, grab your folding lawn chair and blanket and join the summer fun down at the ballfield.
August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 43
AUGUST Aug. 1 – Guided Nature Walk at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Saturdays/Sundays though Labor Day. 11 a.m or 1:30 p.m. Meet at the bottom of walkway by Mountain Station. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 1 Tramway Rd., Palm Springs. (760)325-1391. www. pstramway.com. Aug. 3 – Super Ruby Tuesday Open Mic with Ted Quinn. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. 21+. Joshua Tree Saloon, 61835 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-2250. Aug. 4 – Inlandia Creative Writing Idyllwild Summer Session Workshops. 5-7 p.m. Free. Register: inlandia@inlandiainstitute. org. Idyllwild Public Library, 54185 Pine Crest Ave., Idyllwild. (951) 369-1564. www.inlandiainstitute.org. Aug. 5 – Farmer’s Market in Tehachapi. 4-7 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 19. Music, produce & goods from local businesses. Railroad Park, 125 East Tehachapi Blvd., Tehachapi. www.tehachapi.com. Aug. 6 – CLOTA: “Cabaret.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 15. $12/10 seniors, $8 opening night and Sunday matinee. CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 N. Inyo St., Ridgecrest. (760) 446-2411. www.ridgecrest-arts.org. Aug. 6 – The Ryan Bradley Affair. 8 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Aug. 7 – Lora Woodhead Steere: A Retrospective of her Art and Life. 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Free. Idyllwild Arts’ Beloved 1st Teacher honored by students, Nobel Peace Laureate, historians & musicians. Krone Museum, Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Rd., Idyllwild. (951) 659-2171. www.idyllwildarts.org. Aug. 7 – Blues for the Zoo. 3-7:30 p.m. $30 advance/$35 gate, under 10 free with paying adult. Delta Guitar Slingers, Café R & B, Guy Davis. Benefits Moonridge Animal Park. Swim Beach Outdoor Amphitheater, 41220 Park Ave., Big Bear Lake. (800)424-4232. www. bigbear.com. Aug. 8 – Pappy’s Allstar Band. 7 -10 p.m. Sundays. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Aug. 9 – Brown Bag Lunch Seminars. 12:15-12:45 p.m. Free. Mondays. Presentations while you eat your lunch. Beaumont Library, 125 E. 8th, Beaumont. (951)845-1357. www.bld.lib.ca.us. Aug. 10 – Out Of This World Art Workshop. 8:30 a.m. & 10 a.m. $12. For kids in grades 1–6., Seating is limited. Session for grades 1–3, 8:30 a.m.; grades 4–6, 10 a.m. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900. www.maturango.org. Aug. 10 – New Moon Drum Circle Under the Stars. 7-9 p.m. $510. Facilitated by Sam Sloneker. On the large patio in front of the Sanctuary. Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)365-8371. Aug. 11 – Desert Gathering. 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Alternative friendship, support & holistic healing network. Contact: Victoria at Artfeast1@verizon.net. 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree Retreat & Event Center, Joshua Tree. (760)365-8371. www.desertgathering.com. Aug. 12 – Steve Poltz & Raina Rose. 8 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Aug. 13 – Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party. 8 p.m.-12 a.m. $45 for members of Mojave Desert Land Trust, $50 non-members (includes membeship). Benefits MDLT. Live music, deep space telescope projections, Integratron sound bath, raffle, dessert & coffee bar. Integratron, 2477 Belfield Blvd., Landers. (760)366-5440. www. mojavedesertlandtrust.org. Aug. 14 – Love With The Soul. 7 p.m. $5. Lolo Darrigrandi, contemporary belly dance. Threatre 29, 73637 Sullivan Rd., 29 Palms. 44 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
(760)361-4151. www.theatre29.com. Aug. 15 – Elvis Tribute Concert. 2-4 p.m. $30. Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, 1350 Ladera Circle, Palm Springs. (760)322-1192. www. elvishoneymoon.com. Aug. 17 – Big Bear Lake Farmers Market. 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays. The Convention Center at Big Bear Lake, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake. (909)585-3000. www.bigbearevents.com. Aug. 19 – Slackjawed. 7:30 p.m. Free. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. www. pappyandharriets.com. Aug. 20 – Chuck Mead. 8 p.m. Founder of 3-time Grammy nominated BR549. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Aug. 19-22 – Big Bear Cowboy Gathering and Storyfest. Free-$50. An event to honor and teach the Cowboy Way, the Gathering features outstanding musicians, authors, storytellers and poets. Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center, 39707 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake. (909) 649-3492. www.cowboygathering.net. Aug. 21 – Second Annual Desert Experimental Music Festival. 3 p.m.-12 a.m+. Free. The Palms Bar & Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Rd., Wonder Valley. (760)361-2810. www.myspace.com/thepalmsvw. Aug. 21 – Guide Dogs of the Desert 16th Annual Summer Fling. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $30. Dinner, Opportunity Drawing and Silent Auction. Proceeds Benefit Guide Dogs of the Desert. Valle Vista Community Center, 43935 E. Acacia Ave., Hemet. (760)329-5920. www.gddca.org. Aug. 21 & 22 – 47th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival. Arts & crafts show, food, entertainment, carnival, 1-mile walk & 5K/10K runs, parade, car show, PRCA rodeo, pet parade, gem & mineral show, VFW dinner & dance, more. Philip Marx Central Park, 311 East D St; Rodeo Grounds on Dennison Rd. www.tehachapimountainfestival.com. Aug. 25 – Holcomb Valley Off-Road Tour. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Ages 10 and up, $90. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 4x4 adventure, historical sites, explore gold rush historical region. Lunch, water & snack. RSVP. Big Bear Discovery Center, 40971 North Shore (Hwy. 38), Big Bear Lake. (909)866-3437. www.bigbeardiscoverycenter.com. Aug. 27 – Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series. Noon. Free. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 57090 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212. www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org. Aug. 28 & 29 – 17th Annual Jazz in the Pines. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $60/ day. David Benoit, Tom Scott, Kenny Washington, Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet, more. Idyllwild Arts Academy, 52500 Temecula Rd., Idyllwild. (951)500-4090. www.idyllwildjazz.com. Aug. 30 – Ted Quinn’s Reality Show. Mondays. 7-11 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. SEPTEMBER Sept. 2 – Summer Films at the Palm Springs Art Museum. 5:30 p.m. Free. Thursdays through Sept. 9. 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800. www.psmuseum.org. Sept. 2 – Morongo Basin Life Drawing League. Thursdays. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $40 split + $1 per person facility fee. Contact Janis Commentz for room location: email@example.com or (760)365-4955. Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760) 365-4955. www.jtrcc.org. Sept. 3&4 –Sara Petite & The Sugar Daddy’s. 7:30 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Sept. 6 – Borrego Birders. First Mondays. 8-10 a.m. Christmas Circle, Borrego Springs. (760)767-3098. www.borregospringschamber.com Sept. 9 – Film Premiere Benefits Desert AIDS Project. 7:30 p.m. $25. Film “Expecting Mary.” Starring Elliot Gould, Della Reese, Cloris Leachman, Q&A with stars and filmmaker, champagne & dessert reception. Camelot Theater, 2300 East Baristo Rd., Palm Springs. (760)323-2118 ext. 266. www.desertaidsproject.org. Sept. 9-12 – 53rd Annual Stagecoach Days Festival. Sept. 9&10, 5-11:30 p.m., Sept. 11&12, noon-midnight. Wild West Events, Parade, Cowboy Church, arena, carnival, entertainment, contests, blacksmith contest, food, more. Dysart Equestrian Park, 2101 W Victory Ave, Banning. (951)922-3240. www.banningstagecoachdays.com. Sept. 10 – Star Party. China Lake Astronomical Society, Ridgecrest. Signs out 8:30 p.m., 9 p.m. viewing. Directions/info: Carroll Evans (760)375-5681. Sept. 10&11 – 2010 Annual Campout Music Festival. $52 weekAugust/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 45
end/$27 day. All Ages. Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, Pitchatent Records. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Sept. 10 – Friday Nights in the Village. 5-8 p.m. Family entertainment, shopping, dining, arts & crafts, live music. Pine Knot Ave. and Village Dr., Big Bear Lake. (909)866-4607. www.bigbearlakevba.com. Sept. 11 – Pioneertown Posse. 2:30-3:30 p.m. Free. Saturdays. Old West re-enactment group performs thru October. Family-friendly free gifts for kids at end of show. Mane St., Pioneertown. (760)365-4096. Sept. 12 – Palm Springs Art Museum Free Second Sundays. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Family activities, theater & gallery performances, films, docent-led spotlight talks, artists at work. Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800. www.psmuseum.org. Sept. 15 – Mexican Independence Celebration. 6-11 p.m. Free. Booths, food, music and “El Grito” ceremony by Mexican Consul. Rockwood Plaza, Caliexco. www.calexicochamber.net. Sept. 17 – 11th Annual High Desert Economic Summit. 7:15 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Economic forecasts from Mark Schniepp, P.h.D, Director of California Economic Forecast, & representatives from Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville & San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. Victor Valley College, Performing Arts Center, 18422 Bear Valley Rd., Victorville. (760)245-6511. www.vvchamber.com. Sept. 17 & 18 – 4th Annual Clean Air, Clear Stars Music Festival. $20 presale weekend pass, $15 day pass at door. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. www.pappyandharriets.com. Sept. 17 & 18 –Tom Foggia, Classical Guitar. 7 p.m. $10, $6 children 12-. Contact Fran Rogers: (760)375-4271. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900. www.maturango.org. Sept. 18 – Sheryl Crow. 8 p.m. $60-100. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino, 32-250 Bob Hope Dr. Rancho Mirage. (800)585-3737. www. HotWaterCasino.com/The Show. Sept. 18 & 19 –Tehachapi Valley Arts Association 27th Annual Fall Harvest Fair. Tehachapi Blvd., Tehachapi. (661)822-6062. www. galleryngifts.org. Sept. 17-19 –11th Annual Big Bear Lake International Film Festival. $5-85. Films, awards, screenwriting competition, workshops, seminars, meetings with industry. Big Bear Performing Arts Center & The Village Theater North, 39707 Big Bear Blvd. & 602 Pine Knot Ave., Big Bear Lake. (909)866-3433. www.bigbearfilmfestival.com. Sept. 18 & 19 – Palm Springs Fiesta Days – A Celebration of Latino Culture & Heritage. Music festival, Latino arts & crafts, books, apparel, accessories, food, more. O’Donnell Golf Course, 301 N Belardo Rd., Palm Springs. (760)702-0448. www.psfiestadays.com. Sept. 24-26 – 20th Annual Morongo Pow Wow. Indian market, dance contests, drum contests, bird singers, gourd dancing, drum call, food, more. Off I-10 in Cabazon, follow signs. (800)252-4499, ext. 23800. www.morongocasinoresort.com/pow_contact.cfm. Sept. 25 – Car Caravan to McFarland Toll Road & the Greenhorns. 7:15 a.m. for 7:30 depart. $35 members/$50 non-members and guests. With Phyllis Hix. Tubatulabal site, other attractions. 4X4 and some strenuous walking. Sign up by Sept. 20. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900. www.maturango.org . Sept. 25 – Hi-Desert Medical Center Annual Gala Dinner and Auction. 6 p.m. $125. Black tie. Live/silent auction, live dance band. Helen Gray Education Center, 6601 White Feather Rd., Joshua Tree. (760)366-6324. www.hdmc.org. Sept. 25 – 9-25 Summer Annual Wildflower Wanderings. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. $60 ($50 JTNPA/PINE members). Fall blossoms in JTNP. Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-5535. www.desertinstitute.homestead.com. Sept. 25 & 26 – Rock Art 101. Training classes, field trips. Don Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan Garfinkel at avram1952@ yahoo.com or (661)444-6029. Room reservations: Heritage Inn, 1050 N. Norma St., Ridgecrest. (800)843-0693. Sept. 26 – Desert Snakes: Fang, Rattle, & More. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $60 ($50 JTNPA/PINE members). Venomous and non-venomous snakes of Southern California’s deserts. Black Rock Visitor Center, Yucca Valley. (760)367-5535. www.desertinstitute.homestead.com.
For the most comprehensive event listings for the California deserts, please visit the California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar produced by The Sun Runner Magazine, at www.thesunrunner.com. 46 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
It’s the heat talking...
f there’s one thing other than the desert sun during summer that can get at you right down to your very core, it’s the wind here. The sun bakes relentlessly into you, day after day, while the wind, well, the wind blows straight through you on its way elsewhere, rendering you utterly inconsequential. Though they are both physical manifestations of the natural world, it would be simplistic to think they just operate on a physical level. Between the two, they bake into, and blow through your body, your brain, your psyche—your soul. After a while, it alters you on an elemental level. You’ve heard directly from immortality itself, after all, and felt it boil inside, and whistle through you—all of you. You’ve heard the timer go off on the convection oven of forever and sensed you may be, in fact, a fully cooked side dish on the menu of eternity. This is all well and good on a lofty, somewhat ambiguous quasi-spiritual plane, I suppose, but it can produce significant changes in one’s day-to-day philosophy that have practical ramifications for life in the mundane reality surrounding us. After all, if we’re eternally ethereal wisps of steam at one with the universe already, then what difference does it matter if the cable TV bill is two months past due? Or three? While this may all sound strange to some folks, especially those who do not summer in the desert or venture beyond the bar at the country club during the months of July and August, it explains quite a bit of what I encounter on a daily basis. People here aren’t just dealing with a perpetual economic reccession, a county government we never see, and an almost complete disconnect from the rest of Southern California and the “real” world. They’re dealing with the fact that they have been popped into the toaster oven of destiny and they’re not quite sure why, though they do feel the slow fluid melting of the cheese... This may help to explain why so many folks seem stunned here this time of year, dazed as if in a waking dream, especially right now, in the heart of the heat of the summer. Adding to the surrealness of it all are the hazy chemtrail patterns appearing runelike in the sky, the rumblings of artillery in the distance, the swinging light fixtures of an earthly tremble, the sand-pitted windshield, and the blank gaze of the mangy coyote as he trots by haphazardly on his way to nowhere at all, his tongue hanging long, dry and pink from his panting mouth. It is now when you must adapt the attitude of the long distance runner, eyes fixed on a point on the horizon only you can see—if you want a chance at finishing. This is no foolish inconsequential sprint, this is a tendon-shredding, lungsearingly cruel marathon with the finish line still far out of sight and a heavy bet waiting on the outcome (kind of like the AdventureCorps Badwater Ultramarathon). Even the cholla and the creosote hunker down for the final stretch of August, the distant crack of lightning balanced against the smell of the taunting possibility, however distant, of rain. This is it—this is the time when you learn if you really do have what it takes to live here in the desert, or if you’re just visiting, even if for decades. Do you embrace the relentless sun and haughty wind and the eternally uncaring yet starkly beautiful landscape all around you? Can you face the miles of sun and wind yet to come? Or do you know you’re a poser? It’s not personal. The desert isn’t “against” you, after all. It doesn’t even know you’re here. It sees in a different spectrum altogether, where humans and all our plots and ambitions don’t even register. The rolling wavelengths in that spectrum are longer, so much longer than a human life, forming an utterly different form of life outside of the biological context we espouse. But if you stand outside long enough in the sun and wind of August, you can feel the long wave roll as it passes through.
August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 47
29 Palms Inn
Fine food & lodging since 1928. Lunch, dinner, continental breakfast, Sunday brunch. Art-filled dining room, bar. Heated pool, poolside patio, adobe bungalows. “Oasis of Mara” and trails, near JT National Park headquarters and visitor center. Paul & Jane Smith, Innkeepers. 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3505 www.29palmsinn.com
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites
Free Smart Start breakfast, free local calls, fast DSL Internet access, heated pool & spa, fitness center, business center. Andy Patel, General Manager. 71809 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-4009 • 1-800-HOLIDAY www.hiexpress.com/twentynineca
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
48 The Sun Runner – August/September 2010
At the foot of Joshua Tree National Park in downtown 29 Palms. Pool, direct phones, TV, HBO, refrigerators, complimentary coffee, full kitchens available. A/C. microwave oven. Friendly, European-style hospitality. Owner: Jan. 73842 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3484 email@example.com
EL RANCHO DOLORES MOTEL
Circle C Lodge
Private oasis offers 12 spacious guest rooms nestled in a lush garden courtyard with heated pool, spa, BBQ pit. Full kitchen, A/C, HBO, phones, continental breakfast. AAA, extended stay available. 6340 El Rey Ave., 29 Palms, CA (760)367-7615 • 800-545-9696 www.circleclodge.com
Complimentary Continental Breakfast. Pillow top matresses. Business Center with fast DSL Internet Access, Data Port/Fast DSL Access in all rooms. FREE local calls. Outdoor pool, some Jacuzzi Rooms, Kitchenette Rooms. TV w/remote, iron, coffee maker, hair dryer, clock radio. Friendly, professional staff. 71829 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-0070 • (760)367-9806 Fax
A respite for desert travelers since 1940, downtown 29 Palms. Swimming pool, courtyard, A/C, direct phones, satellite TV/HBO. Refrigerators/microwaves, kitchenettes available. Ken Patel, Manager. 73352 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3528 virtual29.com/a-z/dolores
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
August/September 2010 – The Sun Runner 49
Amargosa Opera House & Hotel
Historic Spanish Colonial style adobe hotel with Marta Becket murals, gift shop, AC. Reservations recommended. (760) 852-4441 www.amargosa-opera-house.com
Mojave National Preserve Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive (at Utah Trail) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 Park Info: (760)367-5500 www.nps.gov/jotr
Joshua Tree National Park Association www.joshuatree.org
Death Valley National Park
Beatty Information Center, Beatty, NV (775)553-2200 Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum (760)786-3200, www.nps.gov.deva
Death Valley Chamber of Commerce www.deathvalleychamber.com
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park www.parks.ca.gov
Anza-Borrego Foundation www.theabf.org
Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association www.abdnha.org
California Deserts Visitors Association www.californiadeserts.org
50 The Sun Runner â€“ August/September 2010
29 Palms Chamber of Commerce 73660 Civic Center, Suite D Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3445 www.29chamber.org www.visit29.com
Barstow Chamber of Commerce www.barstowchamber.com/visitors
Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 1-800-847-4830 www.visitdeserts.com
Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce www.ridgecrestchamber.com
Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism www.visitpalmsprings.com
Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority www.palmspringsusa.com
The Sun Runner Magazine www.thesunrunner.com www.desertfuncoupons.com
Fine Food and Lodging at the Historic Oasis of Mara
GEOFFREY PRESTON PHOTOGRAPHY
Family Owned and Operated since 1928
The Sun Runner
• Lunch, Dinner, Cocktails, Sunday Brunch • Charming Adobe Bungalows with Fireplaces • Heated Swimming Pool • Entertainment Friday and Saturday Nights • Available for Special Events • Tour our extensive fruit and vegetable garden and grape arbor. • See California Fan Palms, Oasis Lagoon, Barn Owls, Roadrunners, Gambel’s Quail, Bunnies and Jackrabbits and other delightful things!
73950 Inn Avenue, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 • 760-367-3505 www.29palmsinn.com
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE
29 Palms, CA 92277