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The Sun Runner

The Sun Runner

published in Joshua Tree, California December 2009/January 2010—Vol. 16, No. 1 The Sun Runner Magazine 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)366-2700 •

December 2009/January 2010 The Mysterious Mojave

The Magazine of the Real California Desert

Publisher/Executive Editor: Steve Brown Founding Editor: Vickie Waite Associate Editor: Ed Munson Theatre Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Literary Editor: Delphine Lucas Music Editor: Judy Wishart Calendar & Social Media Editor, Event Production: Barbara Buckland Contributing Writers: Cynthia Anderson •Lorraine Blair David Brown • Steve Brown • John Di Pol Pat Flanagan • Locopelli Jack & Jeannette Lyons Ed Munson • Denise Ortuno Neil Steve Salkin • Linda Saholt • Seth Shteir Paul F. Smith •Judy Wishart Contributing Photographers: Steve Brown • Pat Flanagan Ed Munson • Denise Ortuno Neil Linda Saholt • Judy Wishart Advertising Sales: Carolyn Gordon (760)366-2700, Distribution Manager: Sam Sloneker

The Magazine of the Real California Desert

Inside this Issue:

Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 11 The Tortoise Telegraph News gathered from around the desert – at our own pace ... 12 Letters from ... you! ... 13 Locopelli – Ravenous Dreams ... 14 Desert Art News ... 16 Woven Words, the Authors’ Page ... 22 Operation Sun Runner ... 22 Coachella Valley Confidential, by Denise Ortuno Neil ... 24 The Mysterious Mojave Coast to Coast’s Host on the Mysteries of the Desert & Beyond by Steve Brown & Ed Munson ... 28 The Alchemist, The Secret Fire, & The Philosopher’s Stone by Steve Brown ... 32 Desert Destinations – The Integratron, by Ed Munson ... 35 Ghosts of Camels Past, by Cynthia Anderson ... 37 Desert Survival DeRanger Steve: Walking Sticks ... 39 Historical Perspectives on the California Desert Camels in the Desert, by Paul F. Smith ... 40 Ridgecrest: The Other “Indian Wells” Garlock—A Troika, by John Di Pol ... 41 Ramblings from Randsburg On the Trail of... Bernard Baruch, Old Atolia’s VIP by Lorraine Blair ... 42 Native Americans Desert Archaeology, Shedding New Light on the Past, by Linda Saholt ... 43 Desert Environment The Mysterious Mojave..., by Pat Flanagan ... 44 Eagle Mountain Landfill Victory, by Seth Shteir ... 45 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 46 Film Talk, by Jack Lyons ... 47 Coachella Valley Music News, by Ed Munson ... 48 Hi-Desert Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 49 Sustainable Living Of mice and men and women and dogs..., by David Brown ... 50 The California Deserts Visitors Association CALENDAR Upcoming California Desert Events, Art & Entertainment ... 52 The Last Word, by Steve Brown ... 55

The Sun Runner Magazine features desert arts and entertainment news, desert issues and commentary, natural and cultural history, columns, poetry, stories by desert writers, and a Calendar of Events for the California desert region. Published bimonthly. MAGAZINE DEADLINE: Jan. 15 for the Feb.-March 2010 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, or mail to: Calendar, c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine, 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252. Please include all relevant information in text format. Notices submitted without complete information or in a wrong format may not be posted. Event information will not be taken over the telephone or psychically. SUBMISSIONS: The Sun Runner, 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252. By email: SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/year International). Copyright © 2009-10 The Sun Runner. Permission for reproduction of any part of Cover Art — Rush Hour, by Rick Unger. this publication must be obtained from the publisher. The opinions of our contributors Rick Unger renders his “Improbable Realism” paintings with acrylic are their own and do not necessarily repre- paints on stretched canvas. “My work is driven by the delight I find sent the views of the magazine. We have in rendering the beauty I see in common objects. Because I believe it made every effort to be accurate, but we are not responsible for errors or omissions in was a period of great design aesthetic, I tend to use images from the material submitted to us, nor claims by ad- 1940s and 1950s. While this selfishly evokes memories of my own vertisers. Advertising, press releases, and childhood, it is always an added bonus when my journey to that public service announcements accepted at the magical past pulls along a fellow traveler.” discretion of the publisher. = 8 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 9

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was attending a Christmas mixer for the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce nearly a decade ago when an important local businessman came up to me and began a conversation. He knew I was a journalist, but though he knew it sounded crazy, he told me the story of something he said he had experienced recently. A friend of his, an airline pilot, had gone hiking with him in Joshua Tree National Park. Around dusk, he said, they looked up to see a giant pyramid-shaped craft moving slowly and silently above them. He said they watched in astonishment as the craft made its way past them, and noted there were three exhaust portals on the trailing edge of the pyramid that glowed reddish. Before we got interrupted, he said he didn’t know what to make of it but was insistent that he and his friend were not the kind of people to fabricate a UFO incident. I told him not to worry, that this was not the first, nor likely last, time I would hear of—or directly experience— something unusual and unexplainable, in the desert. It’s 1972, and my father and I are camping up Gamma Gulch somewhere (there were few folks living up that way, north of Pioneertown, at that time, but my parents had once built a homestead cabin there, so they were familiar with the area). We had gone up Pipes Canyon to the campground near the onyx mine, but it was crowded and noisy, so we turned around and went to find someplace a little more peaceful. We made a fire circle, put a grate over it, and began cooking dinner when a light appeared over a hill to the northeast. One by one, other lights popped up into the sky over the hill, until about half a dozen or so were circling. They were silent, but we figured they were helicopters from the Marine base or something, just too far for us to hear.

Then they began doing intricate maneuvers, looping and twisting, still with only one very white light each, and no running lights blinking like you would normally see. The went faster and did a lot of things that one doesn’t normally associate with helicopters of that era. We watched the show with interest, and after quite a long time, the lights began dropping behind the hill one at a time. Giant flashes lit up the sky after each one dropped. Then one light came back up, wobbling around drunkenly in circles. Eventually, it dropped back down with a bright flash from behind the hill. The show was over. The next morning, we headed out to Giant Rock for breakfast. We went down below the rock and met an old man— George Van Tassel—the mastermind behind the Integratron and the UFO conferences that had been drawing tens of thousands of people to the dry lake bed next to Giant Rock. I enthusiastically began telling him about the odd lights we had encountered the night before, but he just scowled and discounted our experience. I think he told us it was probably the military, and he was probably right, but what military craft were doing what, I still don’t have the slightest idea to this day. The Mojave Desert is filled with strange and interesting phenomena, people, and places. That’s part of its allure to some of us—its history and mystery, the place where the paranormal and mundane meet, shake hands, and head to the bar together. Whether it’s the flaming silver and blue object that streaked over my truck and smacked into the desert one night (or the green and gold flaming ball that came down over Morongo Valley another night); the woman with the pith helmet and sunglasses hanging out at the now-defunct Beatnik Cafe late one night, afraid to go back to her campsite in the national park because she had engaged in a spiritual battle with demons

that day, while spiritually defending a sixyear-old girl in the Yucca Valley WalMart (and she knew the demons would return for her soon—I never saw her anywhere in town after that, so who knows—maybe they got her); or the fact that birds deliver messages here, and conversations regularly occur about things that many folks would normally scoff at from shapeshifting to time waves, the Mojave—and the mystery that surrounds it—still appeals to a lot of us today. We wanted a fun way to carry The Sun Runner into our 16th year of publishing, so we’re having a little fun with this issue. I hope you enjoy it. We’ve got plenty of very serious desert issues to tackle this coming year. But for now, we’ll have a little fun with Rick Unger’s great artwork on the cover, including guests George Noory, Coast to Coast AM’s internationally loved host, and Art Kunkin, desert alchemist extraordinaire and founder of the legendary LA Free Press. I encourage you to visit our website,, and check out some new additions and innovations. First, click on the cover of the current issue and visit our online digital editions of current and past issues of The Sun Runner. You can read issues page by page, just like the print editions, download them, and print them out or share them with friends, relatives, and colleagues. Second, check out the online calendar The Sun Runner produces for the California Deserts Visitors Association. We’ve now divided the calendar into eight geographical regions to make browsing a particular area of the desert easier. With over 300 venues currently included, the calendar continues to grow, but now with a quick selection, you can find events just for the hi-desert, just for the Coachella Valley, the Ridgecrest area, Death Valley, Barstow, or Anza-Borrego. Also, join us on Facebook, My Space, and Twitter. We’ll be launching more fun contests and having more fun on our social networking sites in 2010, as well as sharing more desert news with friends from around the world. This holiday season, we urge you to support the charitable causes across the desert, as many of our friends and neighbors struggle. The talking heads in Washington and Wall Street may claim the recession is over, but they’re a long way from here. Please shop your local desert merchants this season—it’s our own communities that we’ll be supporting. Our thanks to all our supporters, and our best wishes for a wonderful new year.

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 11


irst, we have to share our favorite bit of news, even if it isn’t quite news yet. Word is out that if certain legislation proceeds, the desert may have two new national monuments in the near future. One could run from around Whitewater up through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve (one of our all-time favorite places!), Pipes Canyon, and on into the San Bernardino Mountains. The second is reported to be planned along Route 66 to fill in the gap between Joshua Tree National Park to the south and Mojave National Preserve to the north. Maybe Amboy could host the visitor center? And you can get gas at Roy’s if you’re in a pinch. The two national monuments, should the legislation come to pass, will almost certainly be administered by the BLM as most of the lands involved are already overseen by that federal agency. This would give the California desert region two national parks, one national preserve, three national monuments, a large fantastic state park, along with numerous other state parks, historical sites, county parks, wilderness areas, off-road vehicle recreation areas, ghost towns, areas of critical environmental concern, and a lot more cool stuff that most people don’t even know about. Our second favorite piece of news is that of the court defeat of the Eagle Mountain dump. However, Eagle Mountain’s challenges are not over by a long shot. Stay tuned (unfortunately)….. On another note, it looks as if the intersection at Highways 62 and 247 in Yucca Valley are finally getting turn signals installed for drivers trying to turn onto the main drag. It has been a drag trying to get onto the highway from that major intersection for a decade or so, so this belated effort is quite welcome. Now, to get a little more traffic control in downtown Joshua Tree….. Congratulations need to go out to Denise Franklin from Landers for her win at The Rockaoke contest at Fantasy

Springs recently. This isn’t karaoke, but rather the opportunity for singers to belt it out with a live band backing them. As Franklin and her competitor waited to see which one the audience would choose to win the $1,000 prize, Alice Cooper hopped up on stage to emcee the event. As Franklin was declared the winner, Cooper asked Denise if she would sing one of his songs with him. “My mouth dropped to the floor,” Franklin said. “I was just so amazed I won. I was so nervous I actually dropped all the $100 bills on the ground.” Too bad the wind wasn’t blowing a bit harder toward Joshua Tree, but Franklin retrieved her winnings and backed by the band Steel Rod, Franklin joined rock legend Alice Cooper in singing “School’s Out” (we kinda wish it was “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” off Love It To Death, but still…). Franklin now has bragging rights in all the karaoke bars in the hi-desert, and since she has a thousand bucks, rock and roll rules say she’s buying. You can tell she’s not an experienced musician though —she actually dreams about being in a band. Anybody who’s been in one knows better than that… The 15th anniversary of the signing of the California Desert Protection Act was celebrated on Halloween, a date that might seems appropriate to some of the folks who live out near Cima (evidently, living in a national preserve is not always easy). The largest national park and wilderness bill in the history of the lower 48 states, championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (she would appear to have something to do with our lead story as well), has helped protect and preserve a lot of desert lands for future generations of Americans. A new organization (it appears that the desert is fertile enough to grow an abundance of non-profit and community organizations at a rate of roughly two for every human resident) made its first appearance at the celebration held at the

12 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Kelso Depot (you can get a pretty decent lunch there at The Beanery now, five days a week, and the folks are nice). The Mojave National Preserve Conservancy is organized to support this desert treasure filled with stunning Joshua tree forests, cinder cones and lava beds, singing sand dunes, and majestic mountains. Speaking of the Mojave National Preserve, the (needlessly) controversial Mojave Cross appears to have made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Now this may be a first in The Sun Runner’s 15 years of publishing, but we are going to congratulate Newt Gingrich. Yep, that’s right. Mr. “Contract With America” has written a fairly coherent opinion piece on the Mojave Cross for the Washington Examiner, lovingly titled: Radical secularists won’t allow a cross in the desert. And while Gingrich hasn’t always inspired outbursts of support from the Joshua Tree community in the past, in this case veterans, those who support our veterans, and freedom-loving desert lovers everywhere need to hoist a pint or two to the ol’ Newt. Yes, it is stupid that one annoying former National Park Service employee could drive out from Cima and get all worked up because a six-foot-high cross is stuck on top of a rock. It is more stupid because the original cross was placed there by a World War I veteran in memory of his fallen comrades, not by the Federal Bureau of Christian Dogma that put it there to forcibly convert passing atheists, heretics, and agnostics to the true path. It is additionally stupid because the Mojave Cross has had a culturally significant role for decades in the lives of those who live in the area, and who have cared for the cross over the years. It is even more stupid that the ACLU would launch this one former NPS employee’s lawsuit on the grounds that this cross really does violate the constitutional separation of church and state instead of represents an informal, yet historically and culturally significant, monument to our dead soldiers of The Great War. It is inexcusable that the likes of the ACLU have eaten up a gob of our taxes to protect us from this enormous threat to our liberty. They should hang their heads in shame and go hide somewhere appropriate—as long as it isn’t in the middle of the Mojave. While Gingrich rolls out the argument that thousands of other monuments and memorials are in danger from the ACLU should this cross fall, he seems to think it has something to do with a rabidly antireligious agenda. It may be simpler than that, and quite a bit less lofty in nature—

it may be a profit-driven make-work project for lawyers. (Please note: this is merely conjecture on our behalf, and no, you can’t sue us for saying it because we have our own freaking Constitutional amendment, so there!) But whatever the motivation for such an attack on one sixfoot-cross sitting inconspicuously on the side of a lonely two-lane road out in the middle of the desert, the Supreme Court will rule on whether we need to be protected from a simple monument erected in memory of someone’s dead friends who fought for our country, or if we need to be protected from a group of radical secularist lawyers masquerading as protectors of our civil liberties. Oh, and they should have left the phone booth too.

We want you to stay in touch (just don’t ask us for money—that’s what we have kids for). Send us your letters to Tortoise Telegraph Fan Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to reading all the magazines that come my way. Just finished the Oct./Nov. issue and really enjoyed the whole enchilada especially the new Tortoise column. Guess I read it just in time to watch Huell and the Charpieds tomorrow night. That should be a wonderful show. Keep up the good work! Randy Winbigler Cathedral City, California Locopelli on the Road to Ithaca I’ve been an occasional reader for years, but I’ve now signed up as a subscriber. The Locopelli column in the October/ November 2009 issue was the deciding factor. How wonderful to find someone else who loves the poem “Ithaca”—introduced to me in ninth grade English class in Los Angeles County, so many, many years ago. And what a comfort to read

The ACLU has done some excellent work over the years, however, the case of the Mojave Cross, and the sad story of Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley, are two blatant examples of how that organization, not government, can abuse power to the detriment of our citizenry. It is inexcusable, and the court should treat American citizens like adults instead of kindergartners. We can figure out that a modest cross, raised by a war veteran in honor of those who died, does not constitute governmental endorsement of a particular religion, even though the cross is on government land. If you’re up Death Valley way out near the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes inside the national park, check out the new Sand Dunes Visitor Use Area on Route 190, east of Stovepipe Wells. The info/ rest stop had a ribbon cutting in November sponsored by Granite Construction, Death Valley National Park, and Caltrans. You can stop there while debating whether or not you have enough gas to make it to Scotty’s Castle and back to Stovepipe Wells, as the Castle hasn’t offered gas for some time.

In fact, at this point, it doesn’t even offer public restrooms, as the restoration of restrooms at Scotty’s Castle has dragged on months past when they were initially supposed to re-open. Not only that, but it looks like the gift shop and snack bar at the Castle are about as tenuous as Scotty’s famous gold mine that never existed. (Xanterra, the concessionaire for those services, is reportedly packing it in as staff noted that it hasn’t been profitable for the company.) Plans are in the works, however, to re-open the gift shop through another concessionaire. As we prepare to go to press, word has come in that President Obama has committed to send more troops to Afghanistan. The Marines have been chosen as first responders, with some units heading out before Christmas, once again deployed away from their families to the far side of the world. We don’t have the details yet, but the Marines and their families stationed out here in Twentynine Palms are likely to be bearing some of that load. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they head out once again. 

the creative way it was interpreted in the column—less than a month after the tragic passing of my soulmate, who also enjoyed your publication. He did not live long enough to submit to your publication. I hope that, next year, durng the proper timeframe of the “desert writers issue,” I might be able to submit for him. Thank you. Judith Pfeffer Long

I learned the value of local activism long ago, carrying signs in protests against a huge 765 kv transmisson line through my childhood home in the western Adirondacks. Unfortunately, that line was built, and the scars made on that wilderness region when I was 10 years old still exist today, more than three decades later. I know that your efforts have played a large part in not only stopping the illconceived Green Path North, but in raising the awareness that the Morongo Basin area is truly one of Southern California’s most unique and beautiful areas. Continued vigilance is absolutely necessary to ensure that future threats on the Basin’s quality of life, both for humans and others, are turned back. Ken Parsons Fullerton & Idyllwild, CA

Green Path Coverage Thank you for bringing the story of LADWP’s proposed Green Path North project to the attention of many people in the Morongo Basin who might otherwise not have known of it until the entitlements were in place and construction had begun. I spend a fair amount of time in Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, and in the more remote, extremely rural areas near Johnson Valley and Burns Canyon. I hike there, visit Joshua Tree National Park, mountain bike along Burns Canyon Road, and enjoy the artistic, creative, unique communities of the Basin. I am very relieved that LADWP has, at least for now, shelved their proposed alignment right through many of the most pristine, ecologically sensitive areas of the West Basin and Johnson Valley.

Love from the East Coast I love your style. I love the magazine. You rock & roll. My best to you & yours. Alice [Devlin], New Jersey Postcript : I just bought my second house in Joshua Tree. Both tiny but FUN. I hope to meet you on my next trip. The designer. ME. Good weekend. The Writer. I am taking a class present. Peace.

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 13


was restless, as has often been the case since Coyote left our desert. I had dreamt the dreams—ravens and buzzards picking at dessicated flesh on a dry lakebed that extended forever—over the horizon, and off into the future. I knew, and did not want to know, what the dreams meant. I had wandered to Carey’s Castle, and through the canyons where the old ones left their mark. I slept in the mountains with the junipers full of berries and remembered the Navajo son of a shaman who told me to always keep the berries with you— you can spit them at the evil things that come in the dark. I strung a necklace of the berries, ready to bite a few off if there was ever the need. As I wandered, I thought about the uneasiness that gripped me in my dreams and my waking state. Often, alone in some isolated arroyo, the veil between the waking and dream world dropped. Oddly, that brought the only comfort I found in my journeys. But then I would think, and the trouble would begin again. Anyone who was half tuned in could sense it: the desert is in danger. The vast wild spirit of this land and sky was hovering on the brink of a new eruption that would change things irrevocably. One obvious sign was the flurry of planned enormous new “green” power projects that were somehow politically correct, even as they stripped bare many square miles of virgin desert. These new projects, designed to cash in on the popular urban PC move toward renewable energy, would bring with them more criss-crossing power lines, while sucking precious water out of the earth to wash down miles of shiny solar receptors. The green sheen of these projects had nada to do with respect for the earth, and all to do with love of money. The power lines, I’ve been told, play host for the ravens, who in turn ravenously devour young desert tortoises. Tortoises once ambled in respectable, healthy numbers around the 14 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

desert. Now, they are scarce, diseased, and in danger of extinction. The raven and the bulldozer are the species of choice now. How can a quiet, unobtrusive, meandering creature like the desert tortoise hope to compete? How much of the desert has to die for the “common good” as our friends at the LA Department of Water & Power put it? How much can our desert take before it is as dead and contrived as Los Angeles itself? Maybe Coyote was right to move on, I thought, as I made my little fire in the shelter of a little cove of big comforting boulders. It was going to be cold that night, so I built a small fire where the breezes didn’t reach. I pulled from my bag what was left of my mesquite cakes, and the dregs of my jug of mescal. I settled down with my back up against one of the cool, timeless boulders and stared into the fire, munching and sipping, and then when the cakes and mescal were gone, just staring. I don’t know how long I had been like that before I started to slowly realize that I wasn’t alone. As my focus shifted from the fire itself to just past the flames where the firelight dimmed into darkness, there were two rather furry looking feet, roughly human-sized, and lightly golden in the firelight. What was attached to those feet remained in darkness. With my back up against a boulder, I had nowhere to go, and I didn’t sense the evil and danger like I did when I came face to face with an out-of-town developer, so I decided to try hospitality. It seemed like the only option available anyway. Until I remembered the juniper berries. I fingered my necklace. Just in case. Skinwalkers and other beasties in the night, like the chupacabras of Bartlett Mountain, could be dangerous, and I couldn’t afford to take chances out here alone. “Uh, hello,” I managed. “Why not come sit by the fire and warm yourself? It‘s going to be a cold night.” The feet shuffled about a bit. A sound, much like the low rumble the Marines make when they start their artillery practice on their base, came from the darkness. I fingered the necklace. “It’s OK,” I continued, now curious as to who, or what, this stranger was. “I’d offer you some food and drink, but it appears my cupboards are bare.” “Ohhhhh…” a low, rumbling voice in the dark said. “Ohhhhhhh Kkkkkkk.” I was a bit relieved. That didn’t sound like the voice of a goat sucker or shape-shifting reptilian, or even a Pennsylvania developer. One of the hairiest individuals I have ever seen, not counting my last trip to New Jersey, crouched down into the firelight. It was covered head to toe with a matted crop of golden hair. His eyes, for it appeared to be a male of whatever species, were deeply golden, like tiger’s eye stones set into a hairy, wizened face. I dug back into the stories and legends I have heard over my life, searching for a clue as to what it… Yucca Man! Of course. Back some decades ago, the story goes that campers at Joshua Tree National Park (then Joshua Tree National Monument) were sitting around their campfire, when in walks this Big Foot of the Desert. In that story, he roared, and, scared out of their wits and presumably without any juniper berries handy, the campers jumped into their car and high-tailed it for civilization (which I find is far more dangerous than taking your chances with the wild). In the stories I heard, these less-than-happy campers babbled something hysterical at the ranger on their way out, but any rangers I spoke with always denied any knowledge of the incident, which led me to believe it was some campfire tale designed to frighten the kids as a kangaroo rat rustled around in the dark scavenging its evening meal.

But here he was, in person. He didn’t look like he was going to rip anyone’s arm off for dinner. I was sorry I didn’t have anything left to offer him. “So,” I said, not really knowing how to converse with this legendary denizen of the desert. “I am Locopelli. I, uh, well, I kind of wander around the desert and keep an eye on things. I am a friend of Coyote, but he has left because he believes the desert is dying. I promised to stay behind and stay with the desert to do what I can.” “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” said the large, unkempt dust mop sitting across the fire from me. “You’re some kind of hospice worker, or something?’” he rumbled. “Not exactly,” I managed to reply, a wee bit stunned by this sarcastic introductory comment. “You see…” “I wander around too,” the mop rumbled. “I see a lot of things. Things I don’t like too much mostly. Your friend, I think he’s right. I think I may leave too.” He looked a little hopeless as if resigned to a fate he’d already come to terms with. “Aren’t you the legendary fierce Yucca Man?” I had to ask. I mean, here was a true desert celebrity. “Huh, huh, huh…” He kind of grumble-chuckled. “Yeah, that’s me. Fierce? What’s the point? If you aren’t human and you’re fierce, they just come hunt you down and kill you. I gave up on fierce long ago. It didn’t seem to do any good for my relatives. Now, there are few of us left, and soon, none. It’s not just your friend who is leaving, you know.” “What do you mean?” I asked. I needed to stay on top of who was going and coming out here. “You think too much like themmmmm, the humans, maybe,” he rumbled along. “They think that when you say you’re going to leave, you are going somewhere else, somewhere that they can point to on a map. But there are places we can go that aren’t on a map, where we can’t be found. Then, maybe, we have some peace.” “Oh, you mean like back in time or something?” I asked, intrigued. “Almost,” mop man replied. “But not quite.” He looked me straight in the eye and smiled a ragged, sad sort of smile. “We go away,” he said, then began chuckling. “You think of ‘away’ as existing no more, but it is a place, sometimes, as good as any. Many of us now are talking about going away.” “Many of us?” He had definitely got my curiosity up. “Us,” he thumped on his chest, “and

others. Tortoise thinks of it. The Joshua trees think of it. The lizards, when they can think, think of it, but they get distracted easily. The bobcat, the fox, the snakes and tarantulas, even the coyotes, they all think about it.” He began chuckling as he poked at the fire’s edge. “But the funny thing ‘bout going away?” he asked rhetorically, as he gazed back up at me. “Is that you don’t have to think about doing it. You just do it. I do it now.” He creakily rose from his place beside the fire, dusting himself off a bit. “Thank you for the fire. And for listening. Maybe you should think about it, about going away?” He turned, and with two steps, vanished into the darkness. “Or maybe… you don’t have to,” he rumble-chuckled invisibly to himself. I felt a chill in the night and fingered my juniper berry necklace in the glow of the dying fire. Maybe none of us have to, I thought to myself. “Wherever you go, go well,” I shouted out into the night after him. I heard nothing. He had gone. In my dreams that night, a raven hopped about on a mound of matted pale yellow hair, vigorously pulling and pulling on something with its beak. The dry lake bed was all around, cracked and eternal. With its last tug, the raven tore its treasure free. The raven turned to face me. In its beak was something that looked like a shiny, grape-sized golden tiger eye. As a cold wind screamed over the lake bed, the raven began to laugh. 

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 15

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29 Palms Art Gallery Ceramic tableware and colorful encaustic paintings enliven the holiday spirit at the gallery through Dec. 27. A reception for the artists, Janet Braley and Ida Foreman, is set for Sunday, Dec. 6, from 12 to 3 p.m. Janet Braley’s high-fire stoneware pottery will be exhibited on tables set for a unique dining experience—plates, bowls, serving dishes, occasional and decorator pieces inspired by the artist’s love of the food ceremony and designed for collectors who enjoy a well set table, desert style. Braley earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from Claremont University in 1964, operated a studio in Jackson, WY, and taught for Laguna Beach School of Art and Central Wyoming College. She has been a studio potter in Twentynine Palms since 1992. Ida Foreman’s paintings are created with an old technique using beeswax, known as encaustic. The paintings have a characteristically brilliant color and unusual texture, and she uses the subject matter as a vehicle to express her love of color. Inspired by her mother’s pursuit of art and her early exposure to art studies as a child in Japan and France, Foreman went on to study at California Institute of the Arts. She currently teaches art at Copper Mountain College and College of the Desert, Palm Desert, and maintains an art studio in Joshua Tree, where she and her husband, Cal Arts graduate David Fick, operate IDAVID GraFicks screenprinting. Open Noon-3 p.m., Wed.-Sun. 29 Palms Art Gallery, 74055 Cottonwood Dr.

16 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

(off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)3677819 or visit: 29 Palms Creative Center Dec. 5 & 12–Holiday Greeting Cards Art Class. Noon to 2 p.m. Make dozens of holiday cards for your loved ones. Jan. 9–Linear Linoleum Cuts Art Class. Noon to 2 p.m. Linear Linoleum Cuts is a relief block print, cut out from your image on an 8 x 10" piece of linoleum. Bring an 8 x 10" photo, sketch, etc. $55/person. Jan. 16–Color-n-Paint Fabric. Noon to 2 p.m. The workshop teaches you how to use acrylic paint to color (dye), then paint with brushes onto any fabric. T-shirts & fabrics will be provided. $55/person. Jan. 23–Viscosity Printing. Noon to 2 p.m. Learn how inks of different oiliness (viscosity) create curiously wonderful layering of textures that can only be achieved with viscosity printing and an etching press. No experience is necessary; all art materials are provided. $55/person. 29 Palms Creative Center, 6847 Adobe Road, 29 Palms. (760)361-1805 or visit 29 Palms Inn, Oasis of Mara Mita Barter’s Small Miracles show is on exhibit. The 29 Palms Inn is open seven days a week, 73950 Inn Ave. (off National Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)367-3505, 29 Palms Art In Public Places Desert paintings by Marilyn Fernald of 29 Palms and Chris Walters of Joshua Tree are featured through Dec. 30 in an exhibit sponsored by the city’s Public Arts

Advisory Committee at City Hall, 6136 Adobe Rd., 29 Palms. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. JOSHUA TREE The Red Arrow Gallery “The Tobias and Brian Show.” Special opening 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Show runs Dec. 5–26. After years of bringing uncensored and uncompromising art to the high desert, The Red Arrow Gallery is now becoming The Arrow Lounge & Gallery and will be opening at its new location at the former Beatnik Cafe on Dec. 5 for The Tobias and Brian Show. Drawing from a relationship that spans over 15 years, Tobias Lane Crabtree and Brian Foster are coming together for a show that puts collaboration at the epicenter of creativity. Gallery hours: Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. New location: The Arrow Lounge & Gallery, 61596 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-3700. True World Gallery Images Born in the Mojave: Paintings by Tina Bluefield. Opening event 7 to 10 p.m, Dec. 5, in conjunction with a Joshua Tree Gallery Crawl with True World Gallery, Mt. Fuji General Store, and The Arrow Lounge & Gallery. Show runs through Jan. 3. Tina’s work has been receiving nationwide recognition, and as her recent success in her New York show at BoxoFFICE demonstrated, she is poised on the brink of art stardom ( True World Gallery 61740 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, (760)366-2300 Hours: Friday, Sunday, Monday 10-2, Saturday 10-4, or by appointment. Joshua Tree Retreat Center Weekly Life Drawing Group The Morongo Basin Life Drawing League meets Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, formerly Mentalphysics. Come for a great evening of drawing–bring your drawing or painting supplies and a drop for the floor. The $40 model cost is split among all who attend (usually 5-6) plus $1 for the facility. No membership or pre-payment required. Room locations are subject to change. Contact Janis Commentz at or (760)365-4955. Art Queen “The Cold, Hard Fiction of Life” paintings by Jesse Wiedel. Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Show runs through December. Art Queen, 61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Studio Godot Sydney McCutcheon, owner of Studio Godot, is closing the gallery in December. The Sun Runner and the California Deserts Visitors Association will continue to be based at the site, and desert art will continue to be shown. A holiday open house will be held Friday, Dec. 18, from 1 to 7 p.m., with DeRanger Steve’s original desert bandannas, desert books and music, and other items on sale, along with refreshments, music, and more. Studio Godot, 61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760)366-2200, (760)366-2700. Glass Oasis Gallery While Studio Godot is closing, a new art studio has opened next door. Glass Oasis Gallery is Paris Birdwell’s new studio. Birdwell began working with glass while a high school student in Tacoma, Washington, in a program that was begun by Dale December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 17

Chihuly. Coming to Joshua Tree by way of Maui, Birdwell draws much of her inspiration from the colors and forms of nature. She has studied art and worked with glass extensively, and has plans to host glass working demonstrations at her studio. Glass Oasis Gallery, 61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (808)268-6731, YUCCAVALLEY

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Hi-Desert Nature Museum Dec. 6–Adult Craft Program. 2 to 5 p.m. Take some time out of your hectic schedule and enjoy an afternoon making crafts for friends and family while you sip a relaxing cup of tea. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, Yucca Valley Community Center Complex, 57116 29 Palms Hwy. Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (760)369-7212 Town of Yucca Valley Community Center Dec. 12–Soy Candle Making Workshop. 2 to 4 p.m. Yucca Valley Community Center, 56711 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)369-7211. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile Dec. 6–David McChesney Reception, 1-3 p.m. Hosted by the Morongo Basin Historical Society. David is happy to personalize a book signing for anyone on your holiday shopping list, and to his out-oftown friends, he will offer shipping at cost through the holiday season. David McChesney: Show through Jan. 31. Tamma’s Magic Mercantile, 55727 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)228-0700. PALM SPRINGS Palm Springs Art Walks The BackStreet Art District hosts their 1st Wednesday Art Walk on Dec. 2, from 6 to

18 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

9 p.m. Participating galleries include Art By Peter, Dezart One, Galerie Mystere, Images By Gideon, Red Dot Gallery, Showcase 5 Gallery, Studio 13, Trevor Goss Gallery, and Ted Phillip Denton Working Studio & Gallery. The BackStreet Art District is on Cherokee Way, just south of East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Meanwhile, the Palm Springs Downtown/ Uptown First Friday Art Walk is scheduled for Dec. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. Desert Art Center The DAC joins other uptown galleries on the First Friday Art Walk, Dec. 4, as the center celebrates the opening of the DAC Holiday Show. Some of the Desert Art Center’s 119 member artists will be on hand from 6 to 9 p.m., showing their new works. Refreshments will be provided. The Desert Art Center, the oldest nonprofit artists’ cooperative in the Coachella Valley, is partnering with Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, and Cathedral City high schools to host a student art show, Jan. 16-23, at the DAC auditorium. DAC also offers art classes, plein air painting days, and monthly artist demonstrations. All events are free, except for classes. Desert Art Center, 550 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. (760)323-7973, Art By Peter Lord Fatius is in the house when Art By Peter hosts children’s book illustrator Lon Levin on Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A book reading is scheduled for 2 p.m. Art By Peter, 2600 S. Cherokee Way, Palm Springs. (760)832-9330. Dezart One Gallery LoveMonsters Aren’t Scary, They’re Just Misunderstood, an exhibition of original LoveMonster drawings by Karen and Tony Barone, runs through 31, with an artists’ reception and book signing Dec. 4, 6 to 9 p.m. These two are at it again!

Dezart One Gallery, Backstreet Art District, 2688 S. Cherokee Way, Palm Springs. and the Desert AIDS Project unveil a red ribbon sculpture to adorn the entrance to DAP’s offices on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. The ribbon sculpture is the work of Linda and Charles Perkins, artists who specialize in hand-made artwork from found objects. The ribbon is a wire-sculpture mosaic, over three feet tall, composed of recycled red glass woven in copper wire. Much of the red glass used in the sculpture was donated by people affected by AIDS. A mother’s Tiffany lamp, a brother-in-law’s vase, a DAP staff member’s Baccarat crystal, and donations from as far away as Michigan have made this sculpture a community project. AIDS activist and TV star Morgan Fairchild, along with Assemblyman Manuel Perez, will speak, while Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet will dedicate the sculpture. The event is open to the public with a reception following. RSVP to (760)323-2118, ext. 257. A limited edition of 100 small glass and copper ribbons are being produced as well, with a portion of their sale donated to DAP. (760)321-9858,, Palm Springs Art Museum The Palm Springs Art Museum has been breaking new ground this season. The museum’s October Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos event set an attendance record of 2,750 attendees for the day. A Certificate of Recognition was presented by State Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez to Irene N. Rodriquez, the museum’s associate director of education, organizer of the event. The museum has a full schedule on the books for December and January. Starting things off, the Contemporary Art Council hosts a panel discussion with international glass artist, Lino Tagliapietra, on Dec. 1 at 10:30 a.m. in the Annenberg Theater. The discussion is held in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition, Lino Tagliapietra In Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass, which is on display until Dec. 27. The museum hosts its Members Only Holiday Sale, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members receive an additional 10 percent discount on top of the regular member discount. Sharon Connor, author of Menus and Music, will autograph gift copies of her cookbooks. Museum membership makes a great gift—at the $125 level and above, members are also entitled to free admission to more than 300 museums throughout North America! Also on Dec. 6, the Artist Council Workshop Fair will offer low key, introductory art classes for adults, led by AC members. Printmaking (Charlie Ciali), Plein-Air Oil Painting (Bonnie Guss, Elaine Mathews), Figure Oil Painting (Louise Passey), Introductory Acrylic (Dan Green), Still Life Acrylic (Nancy Stanchfield), Landscape Watercolor (Bonnie Kondor, Susan Elle), Floral Acrylic (Jean Bradley), Intuitive Acrylic (Shaktima Brien), and Still Life Watercolor (Diane Morgan). Classes are $25 and the fee includes supplies. Call (760)322-4850 to enroll. The museum hosts its Legacy Day at the Museum on Dec. 7, with a lecture at 10:30 a.m., followed by an 11:30 a.m. reception and luncheon in the James and Jackie Lee Houston Atrium. Legacy Circle members Donna and Cargill “Mac” MacMillan will be guests of honor as museum trustee Brian Shea hosts a slide presentation of their promised gifts of art. Attorney Conrad Teitel will lecture on Upbeat Philanthropy in a Down Economy. For reservations, call Liz Chambers at (760)322-4877. On Dec. 10, the museum participates in the Walk of the Inns. Start your tour of Palm Springs’ decorated historic inns at the museum and receive a free flashlight, while dropping off an unwrapped new toy for Toys for Tots. (760)320-9346. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 19

Jean (jewelry, stained glass), & Charles Eric Bevel (painting, wood working), share their work at their studio in Yucca Valley, on the Hwy. 62 Art Tours.

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20 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

The museum’s Free Second Sundays Family Activity focuses on the light and winter solstice in the exhibition, Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor, from Dec. 12 to April 4, 2010. A large-format camera allows Connor to achieve remarkable clarity, frequently using long exposures. Her prints are created by direct contact of the 8x10 negative onto print paper, the image exposed and developed in her garden using sunlight. She then tones the prints with gold chloride. The results are rich in detail, with a warmth and delicacy rare in standard photographic printing. The exhibition of nearly 100 photographs features work Connor produced from 1978 to 2008 in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Cambodia, Egypt, Tibet, Hawaii, and the Southwest. A book, Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor, will be available at the museum store. Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800, PALM DESERT Heather James Art & Antiquities Heather James Art & Antiquities presents Art of Japan, on display until March 2010. The exhibition brings together an outstanding selection of works from the Edo and Meiji periods. Heather James Art & Antiquities, 73-080 El Paseo #5, Palm Desert. Heather James Fine Art New paintings by Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline are on exhibit through March 14, 2010—figurative oil paintings that take the format of classical portraiture as their point of departure. The paintings focus on the depiction of male figures and oscillate between modes of representation and abstraction, produced

A little holiday cheer at Paris Birdwell’s new art glass studio in downtown Joshua Tree.

like collage, using disparate image fragments brought together within the field of painting. Also on exhibit is a world-class Picasso exhibition, with paintings, drawings, and sculptures from several of the artist’s major periods, and highlights an important private collection of 80 pieces of Picasso’s ceramics. Heather James Fine Art, 45188 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. LAQUINTA Art Under the Umbrellas scheduled for November has been rescheduled for Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Old Town La Quinta. Art Under the Umbrellas returns Jan. 16, 2010, with more than 75 artists, free parking, free admission, live music, and wine tasting. For more information from the La Quinta Arts Foundation, visit, or call (760)564-1244. TECOPA Tecopa Basin Artist Group Small Works–Group Holiday Show runs through Jan. 13. Open Book: An Invitational Group Show of the Written Word, opens Jan. 16, with a reception 2 to 5 p.m., and runs to March 3. An invitation is extended to submit your own written words on a letter-sized or smaller sheet of paper, one or two pages, by Dec. 29. Later entries will be included, but may not be displayed on the walls. Send entries to: TBAG, PO Box 25, Tecopa, CA 92389. In conjunction with the Open Book show, a poetry and literature reading will be held at Pastels Bistro, Sunday, Feb. 7, 7 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Tecopa Basin Artist Group Gallery, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, 860 Tecopa Hot Springs Rd., Tecopa. (760)852-4420, Desert Artists Out of Town If you’re heading to New York anytime soon, be sure and catch Randy Polumbo’s show, Satellite of Love, running through Dec.19 at the BoxoFFICE. Polumbo’s back at his best, elegant and provocative, featuring his Love Sacs, glowing lead crystal vessels cast from the iconic Hermes Birkin Bag. And yes, the “Sacs” are filled with vibrantly colorful blown glass sex toy stamens and pistils, glowingly supported by a bed of solar panel petals, evoking the wildly memorable Buttercup. Add Dairy Case, Galaxy, Payflower and Wallflower to the Love Sacs, and you’ve got Polumbo at his best. Yes, he’s only a part-time Joshua Treeper, but he’s gotten this magazine into enough hot water to warrant full time status. Besides, Polumbo’s magnificent Joshua Tree home garnered some big city attention in the New York Times not too long ago. Viva Buttercup! BoxoFFICE, 421 Hudson St., #701, New York. Fridays/Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. (917)669-6098, December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 21

New Book on the Land, People, and Rock Art of the Cosos The Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest has announced its latest publication—Land, People, and Rock Art of the Coso Range, by Alexander K. Rogers, Camille Anderson, and Carolyn Shepherd. The full-color book packs geology, climate, prehistory, history, and the rock art of the Coso Range, along with photos and illustrations, into a mere 42 pages. The book is available at the museum store in Ridgecrest, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, at $12 per copy. For more information, call (760)375-6900. New Edition of Adobe Book Author Pat Rimmington of Twentynine Palms has a new revised edition of her original book, The Adobes of Twentynine Palms, first published two decades ago. Rimmington’s book tells the stories of enterprising builders like the Stubbs Brothers who built many early adobes in Twentynine Palms from the late 1920s to 1940. The new edition features 150 photos and illustrations, updated information about almost 100 adobe structures in the area, and amusing anecdotes about the families and builders of historic adobes. Sid and Pat Rimmington live in the 1929 John Meyer adobe that they purchased in 1977. Faced with the daunting task of repairing an aging mud-brick home led the author to learn about adobe construction as well as the history of other adobe buildings in the Twentynine Palms area. The book is priced at $20, and is available at To Speak, Perchance to Dream... Students in the 9th to 12th grades will be memorizing one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and will perform a monologue from one of the Bard’s plays during the English-Speaking Union of the U.S. Desert Branch Shakespeare Competition 2010. The annual competition will take place Feb. 12 at the Pollock Theater at College of the Desert, 43500 Monterey Ave., Palm Desert, and will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ESU Desert Branch first place winner will receive $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to New York for the national competition held at The Lincoln Center. In addition to competing on a national level, the ESU Desert Branch winner also gets to enjoy a weekend of theater, workshops, and the opportunity to meet 56 other branch winners from around the country. The winner of the National Shakespeare Competition receives a summer acting course at the British American Drama Academy in the UK. Students from high schools in Cathedral City, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Twenty22 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

nine Palms, Blythe, Indio, and El Centro are participating in the competition. The ESU operates 74 branches across the U.S., and more than 50 ESUs around the world. With English as a universal language around the globe (Chinese is just too hard!), the ESU’s goal is to create global understanding through English. Now, if only our politicians and lawyers could learn how to actually communicate using English….. The ESU Desert Branch is also hosting the second annual Nunn-Russo Writing Competition, so listen up high schoolers— there is $1,000 in prize money waiting for your 500-1,000 word essay (see their website at for entry rules and guidelines), should you win the 2010 contest. That’s a whole lot more money per word than you’ll ever make as a hack in journalism, so get busy! Shakespeare Strikes Again—In the arms of love—O, Juliet! The world’s most romantic tale gets a retelling readers aren’t likely to forget with best-selling historical fiction author Robin Maxwell’s eighth novel, O, Juliet, due out just in time for Valentine’s Day, 2010. Maxwell, who lives up Pipes Canyon way, says “It’s set in the year 1444 on the cusp of the lush, dangerous Italian Renaissance.” She uncovered the fact that the “historical” Romeo and Juliet’s drama had been staged in Florence, not Verona, and Maxwell fleshes out the young couple, including their propensity for composing verse. O, Juliet is already receiving rave reviews, and Maxwell wants to hear from you on the topic of, what else? Love, of course. Visit and share your tales of epic romance, and let The O’Juliet Love Games begin.

OperatiOn Sun runner


ver the past five years, musicians and recording companies from the desert, and from around the country, have donated several thousand new CDs to our Marines through Operation Sun Runner. This year, we are once again asking any interested musicians or labels to consider contributing new CDs to Operation Sun Runner. We will be working through the Armed Services YMCA, Twentynine Palms, to ensure these CDs get into care packages and gift packs going to our Marines stationed overseas, as well as to their families living in the desert. Marines stationed overseas often look forward very much to receiving care packages from home. The Armed Services YMCA, Twentynine Palms, provides enlisted personnel a variety of gift items for spouses and families to pick out for care packages. These items are very popular with our Marines and their families. If you are a musician and would like to donate CDs to Operation Sun Runner, please send them to: Operation Sun Runner c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine 61855 29 Palms Highway Joshua Tree, CA 92252 For more information on how to participate, please call (760)366-2700 or e-mail If you are not a recording artist but would like to contribute to Operation Sun Runner, please note that new DVDs, CDs, and family items are also very much in demand. Thanks to all the musicians and labels who have donated to Operation Sun Runner and especially to our Marine families. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 23

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here is no doubt that the desert landscape is blanketed with glorious beauty, but it also possesses a depth of alluring mystery as well. Honestly, with the amount of history that has taken place in this area and the millions of people that have traversed through it over the years, the possibility of there being an indelible footprint left behind is certain. The energy that survives from the past may take different forms, from the deafening silence heard when hiking on one of the many enigmatic desert trails, to entering an obviously spirit-burdened historic building, or even witnessing a paranormal vision itself. The latter is what I experienced years ago on a golf course in Indian Wells—that’s right. I saw dead people. Well, one dead person’s ghostly presence anyway. It was years ago in my youth, when

24 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

the there wasn’t as much nightlife as there is today in the desert, and having a good time took a little creativity. In the coolness of the evening, my roommate and I left our meager dwelling in Palm Desert and drove to a lush, green carpeted golf course in Indian Wells, adjacent to the Indian Wells Hotel and behind what is now the Miramonte, formerly Erwan Gardens. Actually, we were sitting at one of the golf courses that had been used in many Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournaments. So there we were, bundled up in our desert winter wear (a thin sweater and jeans) staring up at the black velvet and rhinestone sky. We quietly slinked over to a sitting wall next to somebody’s house, because the wetness of the grass had filtered through our jeans, making for a slightly uncomfortable night out. We cracked open a couple of beers

to enhance our evening and let the surroundings guide our conversation. It must have been the enjoyment of our banter or the enjoyment of my beer that gave my next reflexes such a natural and loose response. A polite feminine voice spoke to me on my left and asked: “Do you know what time it is?” Without hesitation I responded, “It’s 2:30.” She thanked me, and then, in what seemed like an eternal instance, flashed by us in a white blur and vaporized into the wall. We snapped our heads towards each other and gaped in amazement at what we had just seen. Then, without saying a word, we gathered our belongings lightning fast and threw ourselves into the car as if we were fleeing an alien attack. The ride home was uncomfortably devoid of sound as we both tried to mold our minds around what happened. Who was she? Why did she want to know what time it was? Did she die before she could make her appointment? Maybe she died partying at the old Erwan and missed a date with her lover, or maybe she had something to do with the Cavinish Indians who used to reside in Indian Wells before they were decimated by settlers’ small pox. There were no distinct answers to our questions; the only thing we could say for sure is that we were now believers. The desert can be gloriously unpredictable and holds a multitude of secrets. So if you find yourself taking a late night stroll on one of the many golf courses in the desert, don’t be surprised if you have some unexpected company; just remember to wear a watch. George’s Bar & Grill took my virginity. Now hold on a minute, it’s not what you think (pervs), it was more like an initiation. Read on and you’ll understand. Going out to get a bite to eat, especially for lunch, should be a pretty simple and relaxed event, if you’re going to a simple place that is. That was not the case when my husband and I stopped at George’s Bar & Grill in Cathedral City for one of his famous burgers. My first foreboding message should have been when I read his sign, which clearly says: George’s World Famous Burgers and Insults. Really? Nah, I mean who would be that brazen to put that on a sign for everyone to see? I was about to find out. We were greeted by Kat, who George highly praises as his left hand, because as he says and you guessed it, “She’s left handed” ( ba dump pa). We chose to sit at the end of a short row of red colored booths and then checked out the menu posted on the wall. After pondering our

ADVANCED HEARING AIDS (760) 365-0691 choices, we went with a couple of cheeseburgers with fries, and of course I had to try George’s chili. We must have sounded like novices because we heard the table next to us chime in and say, “We’ve got virgins,” our burger-needy bodies cringed at the thought of what they meant. The food arrived just in time to calm our noisy stomachs. I didn’t know what to devour first, so I thought I’d do a little combo action and put some chili on my burger; little did I know, I had just earned myself an insult. A voice bellowed out from the kitchen, “What do you think you’re doing?” I looked up with remnants of chili on my face and said, “I’m having some chili with my burger.” “No, you’re putting chili on MY burger,” he said as he came out from behind the grill area. I suddenly felt painfully awkward, I didn’t know if I should take him seriously or not. A part of me wanted to blurt out, “Are you kidding?” but with the stern look on his Santa-like face—and the spatula in his hand— I thought it best to basically shut up. George explained that I was defacing his burger by introducing a new ingredient that he had not initially intended for his creation. Don’t get George wrong, you can get a burger with chili if you’d like, but that would be a “chili size,” specifically created to enhance both burger and chili. These lessons I learned quickly, just like the one about not putting ketchup on his burgers or chili (it only belongs on the fries)—a crime punishable by expulsion. The whole virgin comment totally made sense. George’s Bar & Grill has been in existence for over 40 years, established by


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George’s father, George Steven Marinko, so long ago. George took over the business in “99” and continues his father’s legacy, making homemade everything and forming the patties himself every day. Formerly being in the restaurant business myself for many years, I had to ask him how telling off unruly customers felt. It was a question I already knew the answer to—I know it feels great, because I too have had the elation of not taking any guff from a customer. Unfortunately the place I worked for didn’t warn the patrons on their sign—sorry table 12. George’s is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and has customers coming in from around the world, all hoping to get insulted by the man in charge. But as George pointed out, it’s all in fun— just be careful where you put your ketchup. It’s that special time of year and there is so much going on, so hop on the sleigh and let’s go! Coming up on December 4, 5 and 6, is the Latino Film Fest at the Indio Performing Arts Center. Award-winning films and documentaries will be featured at the fest, which is also the same time and area as the Tamale Festival. Lots of love for the tamales, but get there early because the lines for some of the most popular tamales can be longer than a giant churro. For more info on the Latino Film Fest, go to You are going to be seriously busy that weekend because the Palm Springs Festival of Lights is also taking place at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday. If you’re in search of a little ear candy, join the Joslyn Singers at the Rancho Mirage Library on December 18, from 3-4 p.m. where the harmonic seniors will be delighting the audience with “Songs of the Season.” And if you’re looking for something different for New Year’s Eve, the Indio Performing Arts Center can hold you “In Contempt of Court,” an audience participation dinner theatre which spoofs the Riverside judicial system. Talk about a laugh—and there’s even dancing afterwards (760)775-5200. January kicks off with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, where they will be honoring Morgan Freeman and showcasing 250 films from around the world (760)322-2930. After that, the Bob Hope Classic returns for its 51st year and tees off at PGA West in La Quinta, from January 18 thru the 24. Happy Holidays, everyone, and have an absolutely awesome New Year! See you in 2010, for more Coachella Valley Confidential. 

The means more deals online! 26 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 27


f there’s a late night talk radio show that’s perfect for the desert, then it has to be Coast to Coast AM, hosted week nights by George Noory. Broadcast across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Guam, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. our time on about 525 radio stations to roughly three million weekly listeners, as topics ranging from nuclear fusion to time travel, 2012, giants and chupacabras (which have been spotted near Bartlett Mountain in Joshua Tree), are discussed by George’s guests. Tuning in while driving alone through the desert at night can be an exhilarating, and sometimes unnerving, experience. The Sun Runner was able to spend some time talking with Noory, through the painstaking efforts of Ed Munson. And, it sounds as if Noory likes the desert. GN: It is so eerie at night. There is a strange emptiness, a silence that is almost deafening. SR: Weren’t you in this neighborhood not too long ago? GN: Yes, as a matter of fact, I was in Joshua Tree for a conference being put on by Richard C. Hoagland. As we stood out in the dark desert, it all has the feeling of being surreal. Hoagland summarized it with, “Silence carries.” (Hoagland is a frequent guest and science advisor for Coast to Coast). SR: What’s it like for you on the air at Coast to Coast with all those millions of ears out there in the dark, listening? GN: It’s exhilarating. To me, it’s no different talking to one person or five million people. I broadcast to one person on a regular basis and try to reach that person, whoever they may be. It turns out to be millions of people, but it seems to work for me that way. 28 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

SR: You come off very personal and personable, very relaxed. Do you screen the calls, or are you getting random things coming in? GN: What we do with the calls, and in terms of personable and relaxed, I am, that’s me in general. That’s just who I am. You have to be who you are when you’re on the air. You can’t change it, you can’t fake it. That’s who I am. In terms of the phone calls that come in, I have a call screener whose prime responsibility is to make sure two things are happening. That is, the quality of the phone is good, and whoever is calling in is not intoxicated or anything like that. When you go worldwide, and you’re in the wee hours, you get those calls. Not to say some of them might be funny, and some of them do get through. But overall, some of the calls, “I wanna talk ta George,” he won’t put them on. We also try to keep them on topic, depending on what the night is, what the show is. For example, if its open lines, generally anything goes. But if we’ve got a guest on that’s talking about an asteroid coming, we don’t want a guy to call and talk about gun control. SR: You’ve got such a broad variety of people that come on the show. Tonight you’ve got Charles Seife… is it (pronounced) “sife” or “safe?” GN: Sife. But I’ll find out tonight for sure—before he’s on. SR: Here you’ve got an award-winning science writer whose book, I believe, has won an award for being able to describe the science of fusion to the lay person. And at the same time, you’ve got Joshua Warren on, who is not exactly a standard

mainstream scientist. GN: Right. He’s a paranormalist. I think the success of the show has been its variety. Wherever I speak, it will reach all kinds of people with all kinds of interests. I think one of the things that keeps Coast to Coast so successful is that on any given night you’re going to get something different, you’re going to get something you’ll like, and you might get something you don’t want, but you know that you’re going to get that kind of a program that you love. I think that’s what keeps Coast to Coast so exciting and so variable. It’s like that Al Pacino movie, Any Given Sunday. On any given night, we’ll have something on the air that someone will like. SR: Sometimes I’ve heard some of your guests when I wasn’t that sure I was interested in the topic, then I found myself getting drawn in. GN: Exactly. That’s part of our job. To make sure whoever the guest is is entertaining, enlightening, and informative. And sometimes we don’t get that. Sometimes we’ll get a guest on who answers questions by saying “Yes,” or “No.” That’s when you’ve got to really try to draw them out into the conversation. SR: Which is not easy. I recall one interview with country singer Leanne Womack… You’ve also won some Emmy’s for your news coverage, have you not? GN: I’ve won three Emmy’s for television news coverage in my broadcast career. One was a blizzard in Detroit, a high-tech set design before anybody even knew about stuff like that, and another one for production. I’ve worked with a lot of good people who’ve made me even better than I am, I think. SR: But that’s serious media credentials. So when you go in and explore topics that aren’t mainstream, you’re coming in with credentials that are very respectable. GN: I think that news background has helped me a lot in terms of trying to cut through really the mess that’s out there, whether its swine flu or climate change. We said year’s ago that climate change is cyclical, that this planet goes through cycles. We’re not saying there’s not global warming, but we’re saying it’s not all caused by man, and that this planet has been hotter before. You add factories and cars… It goes through cycles, and it’s going through that cycle again. It is interesting that we now get the story of the e-mails from scientists basically saying that what are we going to do to make sure that everyone believe in this. You know, manipulation that’s out there. We don’t understand, for example, why the World Health Organization continues to call the swine flu a panedemic when the seasonal flu kills more people. I mean, there’s the pandemic. What we do, and I think with my background in news, I’m able to sort through some of this and try and present it in a way where our audience understands it and puts it in perspective. SR: Coming from a hard news background, I like when you get into the news. I don’t hear it presented the way I think it ought to be, a lot of times, in the mainstream media. GN: Then you have to question whether there’s a motive behind it. Is there anything that pops out? A lot of money? I mean, what’s going on. There’s that kind of perspective. I don’t get a vaccine. I don’t tell people on the air to, or not

to, I just tell them what I do and they can make up their own minds. And knock on wood, I haven’t had the flu in years. I can’t remember when I last had it. SR: You present a lot of different viewpoints and perspectives. I’m kind of picking up that you don’t buy into all of it. But what is your attitude about presenting these things, especially things you may not personally believe. GN: I think it’s important that we try to balance things. You know, I’ve had people on who believe in climate change. The fact that I don’t is not that important. I believe that this planet, for example, has created its own oil—naturally—not from dinosaurs, plankton, or anything like that. I believe the Thomas Gold theory that this is abiotic oil that comes from the planet. Now, we’ve had people on who believe in peak oil, they think we’re going to run out. They think it comes from vegetation and dead animals. I don’t believe that. There’s too much. It’s too vast, it’s too deep. How did dinosaurs get 5,000 feet under? I mean, I don’t understand this. In rock, you know. So we present different views that I don’t accept, and on the other hand we also do shows that are entertaining, some people who claim to be time travelers and stuff, though the odds are dramatically high that they’re not time travelers. But there’s that little one percent chance that if they had invented time travel in 3,000, why don’t they come back. And maybe they did. So that keeps the window open I think, for people to sit back and go, “Hmmm, that’s possible.” And I think that’s what keeps the program fun. SR: It is fun. You never know what you’re going to get. GN: Like right now you’re interviewing a robot with George Noory’s voice in it and it’s able to carry on this interview and you never knew. I did that once by the way. I put a robotic voice on the air and did a half hour segment as a brand new talk show host that was going to save the industry billions. It was a riot. It was fun until one woman called and said she liked it better than me. SR: That was only one out of millions though. GN: That’s right. That happens. SR: Can we go through a few topics that relate to life in the desert? GN: Sure. SR: UFOs and aliens? We’ve got our history out here with George Van Tassel, and Giant Rock. Are they real? GN: In my mind, we are being visited. We have been visited. Life out there in the universe is teeming. It’s not unreasonable to presume that there are civilizations that are hundreds, if not thousands, if not billions of years ahead of us, have developed means to get to other planetary systems. And I think it’s very, very possible. SR: Are there different kinds of aliens? GN: There are supposed to be a number of kinds of aliens, different species, spanning the gamut from the traditional grays, the reptilians, what they call the Nordics that look human, all December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 29

“I wouldn’t call them ghosts, but they were bizarre little figures, creatures, that looked like armadillos with little antennas sticking out, and they went straight across the road. They weren’t there physically, you know they could have been from another dimension.” ing on simultaneously with different lives. Maybe we’re on all of them—planets in different universes on different time scales, levels. Time is a variable. You know Einstein tried to get close to determining what time meant, I still have a difficult time trying to figure it out. To me, one of the perplexing questions with time is when they talk about the Big Bang theory of how things started, and I don’t understand how something can start—what was it before. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I can understand there was something, a blast or something, but what was before that? And that’s what I don’t understand about time. George in the Coast to Coast studios with one of the Texas rocker varieties of hairy aliens—Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Or could it be a clever shape-shifting reptilian...?

kinds of different varieties are out there. This is from witness testimony. SR: Have you ever had any encounters? GN: I saw two UFOs at a conference last year in San Jose, up on the roof with night vision goggles. Clearly they were UFOs because we didn’t know what they were. But they weren’t animals, weren’t bats, weren’t birds, and they weren’t satellites. These two things were making 90 degree turns and stopping up there. It was truly bizarre. I mean they were way up, they were dots in the sky. SR: How about military aircraft, experimental, stuff like that? GN: No question that some of the things we’ve spotted are probably aircraft that will be unveiled 10 years from now. That’s very possible. SR: Earthquake prediction? We have people out here who think they can predict earthquakes by the colors around the moon and all sorts of things. GN: We’ve got a fellow on who’s a former geologist who seems to be very good at predicting earthquakes. He uses moon cycles and I think earthquakes can be predicted. We may not necessarily pinpoint where, but we can get close some times to knowing when. Jim Berkland, for example, is a geologist who seems to be very good at that. SR: How about time? Is it uniform, or is it like gravity? Can there be variations? GN: Time is something I think we really don’t understand. I think, for example, we could have multi-universes that are go30 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

SR: How about energy vortexes, or lines, or flows? We’ve got the Integratron out here that is supposed to be situated on top of some kind of energy vortex that evidently follows an underground aquifer. GN: There are supposed to be lay-lines all around this planet, areas of high intensity. You know, that’s very possible too. I don’t think there’s anything supernatural about it. I think it’s probably very physical. But there are certain latitude and longitude points. I think down in Florida there’s one, near Homestead, where this fellow by the name of Edward Leedskalnin built this built this Coral Castle, much like the pyramids were built, and he did it all by himself. Nobody understands how. But I think there are what they call “lay-lines” all around the planet—energy vortexes. SR: How about radiation? Can it be healthy at any level? An alchemist here in Joshua Tree believes he may have found the “secret fire” necessary to make the Philosopher’s Stone, and that it’s radioactive minerals. GN: Radiation can be healthy. It kills tumors in some cases. Anything is healthy as long as it’s not abused or overdone. Absolutely. SR: How about ghosts? We’ve got a very good ghost hunter out here in Barstow. GN: It’s something supernatural, of course. There’s no question if one believes there is life after death, you have to believe in a spirit world. And then you’d also have to believe that some of these disembodied spirits just hang around. Who knows? I think ghosts are real. What are they? Maybe when we die we go into these different planes of existence. I believe they’re real. SR: Have you ever encountered anything? GN: I saw shadow rodents crossing the road once.

SR: Shadow rodents? GN: Yeah. I wouldn’t call them ghosts, but they were bizarre little figures, creatures, that looked like armadillos with little antennas sticking out, and they went straight across the road. They weren’t there physically, you know they could have been from another dimension. That’s probably about the closest I’ve seen to anything like that, that’s considered supernatural. SR: Where was this? GN: Oh God, I was driving on a rural road in Michigan, I believe. Years ago. I was not drinking wine at the time.

“I’m pretty sure I will not be running for the presidency in 2012. I’m going to have my hands tied getting us through 2012 on the air.” GN: …that scares the daylights out of you. SR: It amazes me with the abilities of the special effects people out there. But what do you think is going to happen in 2012, and what should people out here in the desert, being in a rural area, do to prepare?

GN: I think the government wants to be ready if there’s a catastrophe, a disaster, whatever it might be. Whether it’s some disease, or war, or some unearthly calamity that comes from the sky. I think they’re out there. They don’t want to panic people, they can’t announce it to the world, but they’re there in case something happens.

GN: In my opinion, the Mayans were experts in astronomy. They probably had been able to track the sun. How they got this information is up for debate. I believe in 2012 something will happen to the sun. It’s not going to blow up, but I just think it may get more active again. I don’t know. I just think it’s going to be celestial, it’ll probably have to do with the sun. It is ironic that as we get close to 2012, we’ve had minimal sun spots for the first time in years, so it’s strange. But my take is it has to do with something celestial. Not an asteroid from the sky or anything, though that’s always possible. This one lady asked me in a conference, she said, “Tell me for sure what’s going to happen in 2012.” I said, “If I did, you wouldn’t listen to me and I’ve got three more years out of this.” That should be my standard answer.

SR: What about your work with William Birnes? He’s an interesting guy. You’ve done some writing with him.

SR: Just for fun, do you have a strangest on-air experience that you’ve had?

GN: Absolutely. He’s a partner in a number of books that are out. Several more are to come. He’s a New York Times bestselling author and is also one of the UFO Hunters (History Channel), and is publisher of UFO Magazine, and a very good author all by himself as well. Good guy. Hard worker, dedicated, unpracticing attorney, he has a degree in law. He’s a good partner. He’s the real deal. He loves what he does.

GN: I’ve had many. One was a woman who called me from the desert somewhere and she said all the stars were gone. She didn’t see any. I went into my “all right, I’m going to play with her” mode, and I said, “Haven’t you heard?” and she said, “Heard what?” I said, “They’ve all burned out.” And she said, “What do you mean they all burned out?” I said, “Stars have a certain life to them. And all but maybe one has burned out. They’re gone.” And, you know, she started crying. And me being the sensitive one, I went on to another call. There was another woman that called me and said, “George, my husband’s been abducted by aliens. It’s an unbelievable story.” I said, “You’re kidding. What happened?” She said, “He’s never late, he’s never late and he came home really late one night and told me about these aliens.” And I said, “Wow. What else did he say?” She said, “Well he was nervous and he was sweaty.” And I said, “Oh yeah, what else?” And she said, “These aliens, you know what they did to him?” And I’m thinking, I kid you not, I’m thinking what was it, some kind of probe? She said, “They took his wedding ring.” And I went, oh man, I’m not going there. The guy probably had an affair, took his ring off, forgot it and he panicked. We get ‘em all.

SR: OK. I didn’t want to ask. GN: Yeah. That’s why I answered. SR: How about the rumors of government concentration camps. I know there has been some rumored to be out in the Lancaster/ Palmdale area in the high desert.

SR: I know we’ve got limited time here, but I wanted to hit on the fact that it’s been mentioned that you’ve had some political aspirations. Is that for real? GN: There was some talk that I would seriously consider a 2012 run for the presidency. But my plan is to stick with this network on a full-time basis through 2017, and then go part-time after that. So, you know, nine years from now. I’m pretty sure I will not be running for the presidency in 2012. I’m going to have my hands tied getting us through 2012 on the air. But it was kind of interesting. My political aspirations are based primarily on we need people to tell us the truth. I was not a supporter of Bush, and not necessarily a supporter of Obama. I just think their interests far outweigh ours right now, and we just need some people in office who can say, “This is wrong,” and start fixing it. It’s not that difficult to do. It’s based on honesty, no greed. SR: I think they might find it harder than you or I, to do. GN: Perhaps. SR: Now, you mentioned 2012, and there’s that movie out there…

SR: Well anytime you want some more of them, come out this way. I can introduce you to a few. GN: You got it. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 31

32 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010


or as long as mankind has had to cope with the issue of our mortality, there have been tales of elusive ways to remain youthful, to live forever. Throughout the centuries, many have searched for the roots of these tales, some of the more well known following the tale of the Fountain of Youth, whether the restorative waters were located in Florida or Bimini, Ethiopia, or the Pool of Bethesda. Others have searched for the secret fire of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, long sought after by alchemists, including the mysterious Nicolas Flamel and the revered Sir Isaac Newton. The Philosopher’s Stone is an almost mythical substance said to have transmutative powers to change base metals into gold and other metals, and properly used, is said to be able to provide physiological rejuvenation, life extension, even the possibility of immortality. And while modern science often tends to patronizingly discard centuries of work by alchemists, some historical alchemists proved to be among the leading intellectuals of their day, very much like early scientists themselves. Alchemy now tends to be thought of as a quaint arcane practice by many of those living in the mainstream of modern society. Surrounded by technological marvels that most can manipulate, but do not understand, alchemy seems to easily get relegated to the world of Harry Potter or comic books, equivocated with magic and wizardry. Except, of course, in Joshua Tree, where the magic lives on. For it is here, down a twisted dirt road behind the old Mentalphysics complex (now the Joshua Tree Retreat Center), in a weathered mobile home, crowded yet comfortable, lives one of the world’s most famed and respected alchemists in the world today: Art Kunkin. Known by many as the revolutionary creator of The Los Angeles Free Press, the paradigm-shifting newspaper of the Sixties, Kunkin has solid credentials in alchemy as well as in journalism. He has spent three decades or more on his quest for alchemical knowledge—and the Philosopher’s Stone. In 1980, while exploring a number of avenues for spiritual enlightenment, Kunkin found himself interviewing the famed alchemist Frater Albertus (Albert Riedel) at the Paraclesus Research Society in Salt Lake City. Albertus worked with plants and herbs mostly, creating medicines and working to find a plant-based “stone.” When Kunkin returned from Salt Lake, he brought with him a book of biological transmutations to attempt. On his kitchen table, using soil bacteria sampled from a mud puddle at UCLA, Art did it: he performed the transmutation of manganese to iron—twice. “I lucked out,” he grins, sitting in his cozy living room, surrounded by shelves filled with copies of rare alchemical manuscripts, some dating back hundreds of years. “That kept me going for 30 years.” “The first thing I thought was that maybe there was iron in what I was growing the bacteria in,” he explains. “That’s why I did the second experiment.” Kunkin found that an iron-free medium for culturing bacteria had been developed by the Hughes Corporation laboratories. He obtained that culture medium and performed the experiment again. When he did it the second time, the results were the same: the test revealed the presence of iron. Then, Kunkin found that the Army had conducted similar successful experiments while researching battery technology. Though small, evidently this transmutation process produces an amount of energy. Kunkin decided to pursue studies with Frater Albertus and the PRS, and became editor of the organization’s journal, Essentia.

As we talk in this little room, the dying light of the day hits a golden Buddha statue, while a sign over the sliding glass door says, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Who better than 81-year-old Kunkin to discover the Philosopher’s Stone? And in keeping with the spirit of his first alchemical experiments, it’s in the kitchen. For three years now, Kunkin has followed a regimen that puts his discovery of this legendary substance to use: he eats an apple a week. OK, it’s not quite that simple. The apple is stored in a gallon-sized glass jar roughly a quarter filled with rocks. But these aren’t any rocks, they’re Pitchblende, or Uranite. Containing mostly uranium ore mixed with other minerals, Pitchblende is found around the world, including in the desert. The apple, or sometimes a pear, is placed in the jar, and later eaten. “For three years I’ve been eating one apple a week,” Kunkin explains. “If I’m right, this is one of the major discoveries of our time, the answer to the search for immortality. I don’t know how long you can live with this regimen, but I think I’m on to something.” Kunkin, at 81, is looking quite well for his age, and doesn’t look any older than when I first met him nearly a decade ago. He has a head of hair that many a 30-year-old would kill for. “My hair is growing at twice its normal rate, so are my fingernails,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of energy.” Yes, he does. It’s quite evident, especially when discussing his favorite topic. But the evidence, while anecdotal, is intriguing and self-evident. Feeling my thinning hair, I begin to think that maybe I should eat more fruit. Kunkin explains that every cell has mitochondria inside, that use the low levels of radiation that are always present in the environment to form ATP, adenosine triphosphate, which cells use for metabolic energy. He theorizes that by adding more of the low level radiation energy within the body, “I’m feeding the mitochondria, which makes them stronger so they don’t die.” “In the Bible, people are said to live to 800 years old, alchemists in the Middle Ages were reputed to live 1,000 years,” he notes. “They may have worked with this mineral.” Indeed, classical alchemy does refer to the “secret fire.” Could that be a reference to radiation? Though officially radiation was “discovered” toward the end of the 19th Century, Kunkin believes it may. “Radioactivity is all around us,” he says. “Same as a fish that lives in water, the last thing we know about is the water we swim in.” Kunkin is to science as a freethinker is to religion—he’s not married to a dogma or bound to its rules. He’s combining modern scientific knowledge with ancient legends, a vast library of more than 1,000 alchemical works by others who have sought the secret fire and the Philosopher’s Stone throughout the centuries, and his own direct experiences of 30 years of laboratory work. “It’s surprising that I’m the only one speaking like this,” he observes. “I’ve gotten up in front of conventions of alchemists and blown their minds with this.” He admits that he’s a bit uncomfortable being ahead of the pack like this, but then again, believing that a low level regular dose of radiation could be healthy for humans isn’t that, well, unbelievable. Kunkin points out that we readily use radiation in “a killing way,” blasting cancer cells. Meanwhile, there are findings internationally, from Taiwan, including a report from three universities, the Nuclear Science and Technology Association, and the NBC Contamination Prevention Society that was presented in Moscow, Russia, in 2004, that concludes that December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 33

chronic (ongoing) low level radiation is “always beneficial.” Then there is the Merry Widow Health Mine, with its slogan, “Helping people with pain for 50 years.” The mine, in Basin, Montana, is a radon-filled mine, and has been one of many such mines used for healthful purposes for decades, if not for much longer. A 1952 Life magazine story covers arthritics and others coming to the mine by the hundreds, seeking relief from chronic pain and mobility problems. They sit inside the mine shafts, sometimes with sand bags full of uranium ore stacked nearby to increase the radon gas levels in the mine. Some are on crutches, some even on a stretcher. Edna Kirsch, who reportedly could barely stand, arrived wheelchair bound. The magazine noted that she predicted she would walk again. She is pictured walking out of the facility after her third visit. National Geographic ran a similar story on the mine in 2004. Noting that people come to the Merry Widow and nearby Earth Angel Health Mine to breathe in radon-laden air and drink radioactive water to cure their ailments, the story also notes that how the radon in the mines works, or doesn’t, hasn’t been studied, but points to medical studies in Europe that have shown beneficial effects of radon treatments for inflammatory joint diseases, including rheumatism and arthritis. People have been going to the mine to seek relief from everything from gout to migraines. One testimonial reads, “I had to sleep in a ‘sitting position’ and every breath hurt! After 6 visits I can sleep in a normal position and I have no pain.” Another speaks to relief from rheumatoid arthritis. “I had never known a life without pain. After 32 visits in the Merry Widow Mine, I am a totally different person. I would not want to imagine what my life without the mine would be like.” Whatever the disease, the mine’s website offers information in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, for its international visitors. It also notes that radon mines in Austria have been extensively studied, and radon therapy has been used for over 60 years in the former Soviet Union. A paper by James Muckerheide of the Center for Nuclear Technology and Society at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts), and president of Radiation, Science & Health, an international organization interested in radiation health effects science, radiation protection, medical applications, and public policies, outlines how radiation became known as a killer, instead of a useful tool in promoting health. “In 1896, a few months after Rontgen published his x-ray paper, health benefits of low-dose x-rays were demonstrated; along with many reports of high-dose harm. We know now that the response described was primarily immune system stimulation. It cured and prevented diseases, especially infections and inflammations.” Muckerheide noted that the “more is better” approach proved untrue when it came to radiation. Larger doses produced cancers, but data that showed lower doses were beneficial were ignored. An experiment on two guinea pigs inoculated with diphtheria culture was telling. The pig that was not exposed to x-rays died within 28 hours after being injected with the culture. The other, exposed to x-rays for four hours, was still alive eight weeks after its injection, with no evident trace of the disease. “In 1932, Eben Byers died from ingesting radium. At age 51 he found it stimulated his health and well-being. But it produced bone necrosis, gruesome disfigurement, and death after 3 years. Time ran a full page obituary, with pictures. FDA obtained authority over radiation and, without studying health effects in thousands of radium users and workers, FDA limited 34 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

radium and radiation use to medical/pharmaceutical industry.” Could our “understanding” of the dangers of radioactivity come from a misinterpretation of data, or a highly overprotective heavy-handed approach by bureaucrats? Kunkin points out that while radiation itself has not been “known” for much more than a century, people have been using healing spas in Europe for a very long time. As it turns out, these spas have tended to be radioactive. The desert may be an ideal location for further investigation into uses for Kunkin’s Philosopher’s Stone. After all, some wells in Morongo Valley have been closed due to radioactivity, and higher than normal readings have been found in some Pioneertown water, if memory serves. The first uranium ore Kunkin used when he began his regimen was from rocks he found in the Twentynine Palms area around an abandoned mine. He’s since obtained more from a mineral shop, but notes that the costs for his regimen are remarkably low, under $100. Could well-being and longevity be had for such a pittance? If every person could live a healthier, longer life for the average price of a five-minute visit to the doctor, how would that change our world? “If people start using this, it’s going to change the world,” Kunkin observes. He notes increased longevity could initially pose some challenges—overpopulation, for one, while bringing with it changes to the family structure and relationships. But, he’s confident that the positive effects will help speed the right responses to these changes. “Why live longer?” Kunkin asks. “Now when I’m planning, I see new careers in front of me, new projects. The fear of dying causes lots of problems with humans. This is liberation. We’re terribly afraid of dying. What defines God is immortality. Humans have that limitation. All religions are based on the idea of not dying somehow. “I feel like if I have the next 100, 200 years in front of me, I can learn a lot more,” Kunkin continues. “As I’ve grown older, I feel I’ve matured. I understand more, and have compassion that I didn’t have as a teen. If we have people with greater maturity and more experience looking to be helpful, this could be a different world. We could have a chance to pursue spiritual goals—and have the time to achieve them.” But how did historical alchemists know about the concept of a “secret fire” in the mineral world, if they couldn’t test for radiation, and didn’t know it existed? Kunkin has found one possible scenario through the writings of Zechariah Sitchin. Sitchin has interpreted ancient Sumerian myths in a literal manner, and the story they tell through his interpretation is rather different than what other linguists and scholars have found. In Sitchin’s interpretation, the Sumerians tell the story of gods from the planet Nibiru, which orbits the sun every 3,600 years, arrived here on Earth roughly 450,000 years ago. These gods created human beings, through genetic engineering, to be kind of a slave-worker race, evidently to help mine the mineral wealth of the Earth. As Sitchin’s Sumerian tale goes, the descendants of gods from the planet Nibiru managed to blow themselves up some 4,000 years ago—with the help of nuclear weapons. While Sitchin’s interpretation of Sumerian cuneiform language has been skewered extensively by linguistic scholars such as Michael Heiser as being nothing more than highly inventive and unfounded tall tales with no linguistic or historical basis whatsoever, the question remains: What is the secret fire alchemists searched for over the centuries? Whether Sitchin’s best-selling books are glorified historical science fiction or not, there are new archaeological finds being unearthed on an ongoing basis that elaborate on human

history and that change our understanding of where we have come from in the past. That some knowledge of radioactivity may have originated from some advanced civilization in the past remains possible, though whether it was from 450,000 years ago when gods from the planet Nibiru first began breeding human slaves, is something many Sumerian scholars tend to discount. “The secret fire, all the old alchemical recipes spoke of the secret,” Kunkin says. “It seems logical, if Sitchin is right, that there was this knowledge, and when humans developed civilization, it could have been held in a priesthood.” The knowledge, however far removed from its original source, may have been passed down through the Dark Ages through monastic and Arabian learning centers, and while, over time, much of the details could have been lost, the concept of a mineral that contained the secret fire, could have endured in these circles, leading alchemists to search for the knowledge that was lost. Amidst the ongoing discussion of where knowledge of a rock that contained the secret fire began, Kunkin looks forward to what the Philosopher’s Stone can provide for humanity. He notes that some people say they don’t want to live longer because life is too boring, but for him, there is so much that is of interest that remains to be explored, studied, and experienced, he wants to benefit from the longevity the Stone can bring. “If people have an active life, they can see the point to living longer,” he notes. “I’m looking forward to starting new publications, new businesses, and doing what I did when I was 30. I’m looking forward to it.” He adds that having good health is the other required component to successful longevity, but living longer, in itself, could mean that the medical profession could have time to advance to help those living longer. It’s a cycle that could benefit those who do live longer. “As I grow older, I feel I have more wisdom,” Kunkin says. “We have the experience. Older people have great patience, calmness, and wisdom.” I interject that while he has a point, I’m still not sure I’d like to live longer than the present “normal” human life span. I explain that while I still find much to interest me in life, I am also finding that there is only so much frustration, sorrow, and death that I personally want to experience. “You still want to wake up tomorrow, don’t you?” the alchemist asks, as the room grows darker in the dusk of an early winter sunset. I think about it for a moment and nod. 

Get more information about Art Kunkin, and order his book, Alchemy: The Secret of Immortality Finally Revealed, at: The book outlines how to make the Philosopher’s Stone safely, and details Kunkin’s search for the secret fire. You can also read his blog at


eorge Van Tassel developed the Integratron over 25 years (1954-1978) and called it a “time machine, a rejuvenation machine and an anti-gravity device.” These are large claims and there were many eager to dissuade or debunk him and his theories. Sadly, the brightest minds among us are routinely vilified and called nuts and crazy by everyone else…until one day someone finally says “Hey, that guy is right.” Einstein was not appreciated until rather late in life, though he was certainly a genius all along. Van Tassel was in that category. Van Tassel referenced the Biefield-Brown Effect, the works of scientists George Lakhovsky, George Crile and the works of Nikola Tesla in relation to his work at the Integratron. He and his colleagues studied these pioneers in antigravity, human cell rejuvenation and time travel. While I’m not sure about time travel, I do know about antigravity and human cell rejuvenation as scientists work in these areas today. I’m not going to get into the detailed science of it all. However, a few scientists have said interesting things about the Integratron. One geophysicist described it thus: ”The building, just sitting there, is a mass battery.” Another physicist called the sound chamber “a magnetic room.” When you walk in to the ground floor and look up, you see the joists for the second floor and carefully spaced wires running across the joists and around the center. These are leftovers from when all the equipment was still in the building. In 2005, a scientist verified that in the center of the Integratron, there is a “significant spike in the Earth’s magnetic field.” Van Tassel believed that there are powerful geo-magnetic forces running through the Integraton’s location. The large aquifer underground also conducts electricity and the ground contains a large concentration of quartz, gold, copper, and granite and all these elements combine to form or enhance a powerful vortex. I had come to the Integratron with an open mind. After reading up on the background information at, I became convinced of the veracity of its claims. Back in and around the 1920s, there was an enormous amount of research going on in the field of electricity and its many and varied uses. A look through patents of the time reveals many strange looking devices purported to heal something or other in the body or mind. Nikola Tesla was one of those researchers who saw no limits to electricity’s uses and some of his experiments caught the attention of the military which later seized much of his work. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 35

Angel Canyon Circle in Morongo Valley, above, is another mysterious healing location in the desert. One of seven “interconnected sacred circles” around the world, the “Eye of God” in the center is said to connect you to the energies of all seven sacred circles.

Ready to experience this Integratron, I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule and looked around the open, friendly “back yard.” There were various areas where small groups might congregate and the rustic-built benches looked heavily padded and ideal for star gazing. The vibes were very friendly. The Integratron is privately owned by the three Karl sisters, Patty, Nancy and Joanne. They are committed to restoration of the Integratron and preservation of the archives. Since the sisters began their tenure the Integratron has been opened for the public for the first time in many years. Joanne came out of the small office and introduced herself. There were four or five of us entering the building in addition to Joanne. Shoes come off before climbing the steeply inclined steps to the sound chamber. We took a few minutes to check out the books and things on the shelves. I took note of the crystal bowls that were to be the source of our sound bath. These are bowls of specific sizes, 99.99 percent pure quartz, crushed and heated to about 4,000 degrees in a centrifugal mold. The seven bowls generate powerful and pure frequencies. I had heard somewhere that the seven major notes of the scale correspond to the seven chakras, or major energy centers of the body. The same principles are evident here. The sound from the bowls is intended to harmonize the body’s energy centers, or chakras. When the first bowl began, I was instantly transported nearly out of my body. As the different bowls were ringing, and more together, I felt my head spinning but not like fainting. I could literally feel the sound “washing” through me, not over me. Laying on mats with a pillow under head and feet, relaxation was optimal. Somewhere in there I recall hearing me snark myself awake enough to hear the person to my left in a deep, relaxed sleep with a steady, sonorous snore. This happens. Guests become so suddenly relaxed that they drift off to sleep. Since this is about healing, it is worth noting that the human body only heals properly when asleep, so dropping off is perfectly normal. 38 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

I am not sure when the actual sound bath stopped as it felt like it was continuing to reverberate around the room and through my body after the sound generation stopped. Earlier in the day, my right lower back began to hurt a lot. I had not been thinking of it when I climbed those steep stairs to the sound chamber and it was not until I was outside again after the sound bath, that I realized that my lower back pain was gone. Six days later it is still gone. Something happened up in that sound chamber. I don’t know what it was but a part of me got healed from minor injury. From Van Tassel’s research, and the research of others, it seems that magnetism, gravity and using sound energy for many things, all seem interconnected. I have previously experienced healing directly from magnets, as well as electrical energy, in medical offices. The only time gravity seems to work for me is when I fall into my bed at night. As the story goes, after Van Tassel’s death, “someone” removed all the mechanical and electrical equipment in the building. That would reduce its effectiveness. But it begs the question, who would do that and why? Clearly, the carefully constructed parabolic dome does have an effect on energy. It is noted that most of our very important buildings throughout history have a perfect dome as part of the construction. Some call it sacred geometry. If it goes back to antiquity, who came up with it way back then? Who built the first perfect dome? Van Tassel has said that in meditations near Giant Rock, he received the information and instructions for the Integratron from aliens. Who are we to say he didn’t? It is known that any geometric shape is more effective when its size is “tuned” to the frequencies it will be using. The Integratron is a 38-foot high, 50-foot diameter structure designed to reflect and focus a range of frequencies useful for the rejuvenation of human beings. Mainstream research supports the idea that “We are electrical creatures using a biochemical body to exist in an electro-chemical environment,” as Van Tassel wrote. The name Integratron actually applies to a machine, a highvoltage electrostatic generator that would supply the range of frequencies to recharge cell structure, in this case, within the dome, which was to be sheathed in metal. Added to this are certain magnetic field principles and Nikola Tesla’s technique of creating high ionization static fields. It is well known today that specifically applied electrical frequencies aid in healing and many doctors use a variety of electrical techniques in medical applications. These domes have an effect on energy beneath them. Exactly what that effect is can vary with each and every person beneath it. Each and every person is a complex of various energies so it is not surprising there might be a positive effect. There seems to be a harmonizing of vibrations when the crystal bowls are used. Acoustically, it is a very ”bright” room. Snapping fingers seems oddly loud. Whispers are quite clear across the room. Joanne related that an Israeli band recently rented the building and played in the dome all night and were extremely pleased with their stay. I guess the words “acoustically perfect” may apply. I highly recommend that you call the Integratron and make an appointment for a sound bath in the dome, a memorable experience. The website is loaded with good information or you can call (760)364-3126. Leave a message if necessary. They are closed Mondays. Just remember to keep an open mind. That opens you to a universe of possibilities.

times became feral as well. For generations, wild camel sightings were common in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. Over time they grew less frequent, but the reports never completely stopped. The most notorious story involved the “Red Ghost,” a camel that supposedly roamed Arizona with a human skeleton strapped to its back. Legend has it that Hi Jolly, the renowned camel driver who accompanied the Beale expedition, died in 1902 alongside a camel in the Arizona desert. In the early 1900s, tales of camel sightings circulated in Imperial County, especially around Borrego and the Chocolate Mountains. In 1929, a wild camel supposedly stampeded horse herds near Banning. In 1941, a camel was reported on the shores of the Salton Sea. It’s been said that the last sighting of a wild camel in North America was in Baja California in 1956. But some folks believe wild camels still roam the remote deserts of the Southwest. Stranger things have happened…so if you’re ever out in the back-of-beyond and hear a rumbling growl that sounds like Chewbacca—remember, it just might be a “ship of the desert” plying the sandy seas. Camel Fun


ention camels, and most people think of the Middle East, China, Mongolia—anywhere but Southern California. Yet camels left their mark on this area not once, but twice. The first time was between 44 million and 11,000 years ago, as shown by the fossil record at the La Brea Tar Pits and AnzaBorrego/Joshua Tree National Park. The second time was in the mid-1800s, when the U.S. government authorized an experiment known as the Camel Corps. After winning the Mexican-American War, the United States gained 529,000 square miles of western territory. The cost of feeding horses and mules to cross vast desert tracts was astronomical, so a few forward-thinking individuals promoted using camels instead. They pointed out that camels could carry huge loads, travel long distances without water, and thrive on a diet of native desert vegetation. The idea found a supporter in Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (later president of the Confederacy). In 1855, Con-

gress appropriated $30,000 to import camels and test their abilities. Two shipments of camels arrived in Texas, and in 1857, their moment of truth arrived: 25 of them accompanied an expedition to survey a wagon road to the Colorado River. As pack animals, the camels exceeded all expectations. Expedition leader Edward F. Beale said, “Certainly there was never anything so patient and enduring and so little troublesome as this noble animal.” More might have come of the experiment if the Civil War and the Transcontinental Railroad hadn’t intervened. There were a few half-hearted attempts to make further use of the camels. Some of them remained in military forts until 1863, when the government ordered that they be rounded up and auctioned at Benecia, north of San Francisco. A number of camels ended up in mining operations, others went to circuses, and still others escaped into the desert. Camels imported by civilians during this time period some-

• In 1963, the New Christy Minstrels recorded the song “Hi Jolly the Camel Driver” on their album Ramblin’. • Hollywood latched onto the Camel Corps story in 1954 with Southwest Passage, a 3-D western starring Rod Cameron, John Ireland, and Joanne Dru (not yet available on DVD). There’s also Hawmps!—a 1976 slapstick comedy with James Hampton and Slim Pickins that’s short on history but darn funny. • Camels can be very vocal. A camel growl was one of the sounds used to create Chewbacca’s voice in Star Wars. 

Cynthia Anderson is a high-desert writer who’d walk a mile for a camel. She lives in Yucca Valley. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 37

38 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Walking StickS


ver the years we’ve talked about what can go wrong, what to carry, and how to use tools and skills. Yet there is one item never mentioned: the walking stick. To some hikers it is indispensable. Walking sticks come in all sizes from simple canes to elaborately carved icons over 6 feet tall. They are made of everything from machined aluminum, exotic woods from Africa or South America, to carbon composite models that completely collapse on themselves. The question is, just how usable is a walking stick other than to keep you upright on the trail? There was one such stick. A 4-foot wooden spoon made of ash, crafted over several weekends as I attended school to learn the way of the desert—of its life, diversity, and history before the coming of the Europeans—made for my mentor not as a gift but as a warning. She is a wonderful woman. Knows more about the desert than anyone, and over time I came to love her as a close friend. Yet my mentor had a way of yanking my chain, and that irritated me a little. Biding time, carving on an old piece of ash, I listened, learned, and passed all my classes with high grades. Assigned a tour vehicle, a bright red shiny Jeep, I went along on large tours, always with our mentor as lead. When I made a mistake she was quick to take me aside and quietly admonish me for it, always including a little yank of the chain. Finally it was finished, sanded smooth, oiled, and I took it to work. “What the hell is that, a paddle?” I shook my head. “A spoon?” I nodded my head and went to work without a word. Days went by, one tour after another, each different, each unique. Using my stick as a pointer, to move rocks and dig small holes. Then

it happened, and unfortunately I cannot remember the incident well enough.... Morgan made a rare and glaring mistake. Only a few caught it, including me. I couldn’t help myself, standing with my spoon and as if cooking I started stirring the pot and made some surprisingly witty remark, ending in gales of laughter. The day was saved. Almost. Later that day the lead guide came over to me and informed me of a transfer to his team. When asked why, he responded that he liked me, I was a good guy (“Aww shucks!”), and I had the potential to be an incredible guide. I said thank you, and then he grinned, and said, “Besides, you have a way of keeping the pot well stirred.” For the next several years we had a lot of fun, my spoon and I—using it as a pointer, for balance and support on the trail, turning over rocks to find scorpions, fending off the occasional snake, and showing tourists how to dig a coyote hole to find water or dig a potty hole and cover it up. My stick began acquiring a reputation as tourists asked, “Which guy has the spoon? I want to ride in his Jeep.” The clock turns. A new job, now a tribal ranger in Indian Canyons. Standing there in a shiny new uniform with all my gear meeting the T-rangers for the first time. “I know you,” sez one, “And so do I,” sez another, as I reach into my car and pull out my now aging and venerable walking stick. “Ahh! Haaa!” collectively said, “You used to work for the guys with the jeeps. Welcome aboard.” My reputation? No. My stick’s. These guys didn’t recognize me until I took it from the car. So it went. “Go ask Ranger Steve, the guy with the spoon.” Soon I couldn’t even go hiking off duty without people walking up to me and asking questions. “Is that a snake?” “Where can I find water?” “Where am I?” I’m just a hiker in dirty jeans, fanny pack, walking stick, and, oh yes, my new signature T-shirt, chosen to drive people away. “Why do you ask questions from someone wearing a Tinkerbell T-shirt if this is not Disneyland? What do I look like, a F_____n guide?” The clock turns again, now tours into Joshua Tree National Park and tours in this place and that. One day in 1998, out with a small group, I slipped coming down a hill. Falling, I started to slide. I jammed my stick into a crack between two rocks. Hanging on, I came to a stop. It held. My stick saved my life. I wrote the date on it, April 27, my wedding anniversary. I’ve never told my wife about that incident. Another time on private tour in a brand new Range Rover with a family that

was derisive of me and my gear. I had to listen to the son for hours—why a big knife, why the pack, why the spoon. Until, with him driving, he shredded a tire on a rock on the far side of Pleasant Valley out beyond Geology Tour Road. No help there, no rescue either. The answer was simple, change the tire. However, this kid wanted to lead the effort. After falling off the jack three times, the car now rested on the jack in the dirt with the spare tire trapped under the car. The owner was worried about damage to his car. I tried to get through to him it was getting cold—going below freezing—and dark. The problem was getting out of the backside of the park, not the unchanged tire. But he wanted to lead the rescue himself. After all, it’s a great Jeep adventure. “OK,” I asked, “where’s your shovel?” He didn’t bring it, despite being given a list of things to bring. The son sneered. “How about using that big knife you got and your spoon to get us out.” That’s what I did. Using my knife I chopped up the hard dirt under the jack and used my stick to dig a hole deep enough to properly place the jack and lift the car. Thirty minutes of thoughtful work had the tire changed. Something that could have been done hours ago had they listened to me the first time. They were now mean, dirty, tired, and becoming nasty. For safety’s sake, I drove out Berdoo Canyon in the dark. There was no thank you for saving us, no gratuity, just a lot of tired and angry people because they got caught in a real desert adventure where things do go wrong. I didn’t care. I got them out in time to keep my wife from calling the JOSAR team and for them to make their dinner engagement. The clock turned again. On the news one morning was a story about a guide who had fallen to his death hiking the Skyline Trail. It was James Simons, a close friend, an experienced outdoorsman, not someone to get caught by a mistake. He had done everything by the book, except he went by himself. We all say in public never go alone, but there are times when we have to be alone. I believe that was such a day. James was like me, always stirring the pot. His name and the date of his death are also carved on my stick. And the clock turned one last time. I’m disabled now. I use my stick and a service dog to help get me around. I put my stick down one day while packing the dogs up to go home from a hike. That was the last time I ever saw it. I was very upset, I still am. Is a walking stick useful? It sure as hell is.~

Visit us on the web www. or email December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 39


here are a lot of rumors which have surfaced about cam els in our California Desertmany years ago. The rumors are true and here is the story of how they got here. After the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the discovery of gold in California serious speculation sprang up in Washington on the possibility for adapting camels from the deserts of Northern Africa and Egypt to military use in theAmerican West, particularly the deserts. The Gold Rush provided great impetus to thousands of expeditions which organized to bring prospectors to California. These prospectors needed protection from the Indians and thus the Army needed to establish a serious presence in the relatively unknown West. Jefferson Davis, who would ultimately become president of the Confederacy, was chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Military Affairs in 1851. In that capacity, he requested an allocation of the budget of the War Department to import thirty camels and twenty dromedaries from the Arab countries to be used in the Southwest deserts. His request was rejected by his fellow Senators who had little knowledge or experience with these ungainly looking creatures. One year later in 1852 the Senate approved a request for camels in the appropriation bill. Senator Shields of Illinois commented: “…if camels can be naturalized and acclimated in this country, through the whole South and Southwest, and away to the Pacific, they will perform better service for us than any mode of conveyance that we have yet adopted.” But the House of Representatives was not yet persuaded and rejected the proposal. Jefferson Davis was appointed Secretary of War in 1853 and continued his pursuit of an exploratory camel expedition to the Southwest to ascertain their fitness for military use. He and others became fascinated with the Levant region in the Middle East which comprised the desert stretches of Syria, Iraq, present day Israel, and the Arabian peninsula. Camels were the accepted means of transportation in these areas. Davis pointed out to Congress that the Southwest deserts required an animal like the camel which was uniquely fitted for desert travel. The editor of La Estrella de Los Angeles had this to say about camels in 1855: “We predict that in a few years these extraordinary and useful animals will be browsing upon hills and valleys, and numerous caravans will be arriving and departing daily. Let us have the incomparable dromedary, with Adams & Co.’s express men arriving here triweekly, with letters and packages in five or six days from Salt 40 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Lake and fifteen or eighteen from the Missouri. Then the present grinding steamship monopoly might be made to realize the fact that the hardworking miner, the farmer and the mechanic were no longer completely in their grasping power as at present. We might have an overland dromedary express that would bring us the New York news in fifteen to eighteen days.” Congress finally got the message and an appropriation of $30,000 for the acquisition and transportation of camels from the Arab regions was finally approved in 1855. It is likely that Jefferson Davis and his supporters had no knowledge that the camel had once roamed the central and western parts of the United States but had long been extinct. In the Spring of 1855 Secretary Davis appointed Lieutenant David Porter to command a party to travel to Egypt and the Levant region of the Middle East for the purpose of buying camels and shipping them to Texas. Major Henry Constantine Wayne was appointed to accompany the expedition and received the following instructions: “ . . . . Assigned to special duty in connection with the appropriation for ‘importing camels for army transportation and for other military purposes,’ you will proceed without delay to the Levant, and there make such investigations as, with the knowledge you already possess of the animal, and of the views and intentions of the government in relation to its introduction, will enable you to execute the law of Congress. . . . On your way to the Levant, you may find, especially in England and France, persons whom it would be desirable to consult on points connected with this special service, such as General Marey Monge, Colonel Carbuccia, and other officers of the French Army who were connected with the experiments in Africa on the use of the camel in the military service of France. You had also better examine for your information the stock, training, and breeding of the Barbary camel, imported into Tuscany some two hundred years ago, and which, by careful breeding is reported to have been greatly improved, both in size and strength.” The government appointed the sailing vessel “Supply” to assist the expedition and to ferry camels back to the United States. It was 141 feet long, 29 feet of beam, and was rated at an average speed of 5 knots. Camels would not be easy to load on board. Camels generally weigh between 1,400 lbs. and 2,000 lbs. Preparations included building a barn like structure on deck which was sixty feet long, 12 feet wide, and almost seven and one-half feet high. The party put together two shiploads of camels with a total of 75 animals for the trip to Texas. Lieutenant Porter described the shipboard arrangements to Major Wayne as follows: “You must have air for so many camels otherwise they’d suffocate between decks . . . The two big jobs as I see it are to get the beasts to the ship from the shore, and then to make a comfortable and safe place to carry them on the sea.” The crew put together a harnessing arrangement of strong canvas which could keep the camels steady when faced with rough seas. Bag of hay and other materials were used as buffers to prevent harm to the animals from rubbing or bumping against the sides of the pen or the deck itself. The ship stopped at a number of ports in the Middle East and made many shore-side shopping trips to find just the right mix of animals. Porter and Wayne engaged in serious negotiations with local leaders and merchants. They finally accumulated a full load which consisted of 33 camels of various sizes and kinds including handsome one-humped dromedaries, male and female Arabians, and others. They set sail for Texas on February 15, 1856. It was an eventful trip with some casualties among the camels, and several births, none of which survived. The second expedition started for the Middle East later in the year and came back fully loaded to Texas in February 1857. In this fashion the Army acquired a diverse herd of 75 camels to be used in a military feasibility study in the Southwest deserts.

Garlock boomed. Eight stamp mills and cyanide plants were erected, as were hotels, eating places, schools, etc. Population grew into the hundreds. Garlock’s heyday lasted for three years. By 1899, the Yellow Aster had developed its own source of water and pumping plant at the Goler Gulch and Iron Canyon sites, as well as a 30stamp mill in Randsburg, all equipment delivered courtesy of the newly arrived Randsburg Railroad. The bottom fell out of Garlock’s economy, with only few families remaining by 1900. A minor resurgence occurred in the early 1920s with mines opening up in Iron Canyon, the salt plant in Koehn Dry Lake, etc., but this was short-lived, and Garlock slipped back into the shadows of time.

Garlock Fault from the air. U.S. Navy photo.

GARLOCK—A TROIKA A Name he townsite of Garlock, located astride the cut-off road between Highway 395 and Highway 14 on the south side of the El Paso Mountains in eastern (desert) Kern County, is marked today by a historical plaque, a few ramshackle wooden structures, and a private residence. But it was not always so. Reel back to the 1860s. Serious prospecting started in that part of the El Pasos with the alleged discovery of a rich deposit by John Goller (Goler). As the legend has it, Goler was on his way south from Death Valley, stopped in a canyon to drink from a spring, and, lo, found several nuggets of gold. He rushed to Los Angeles, organized a group of interested investors, returned to the El Pasos, but, alas, could never relocate his discovery. The legend of the “Lost Goler Mine” was born. As had happened with other legends, numerous prospectors were drawn into the area, stretching from Red Rock Canyon in the west to the Summit Diggings in the east. In the 1870s, a freight and stage road from Mojave to the mines in the Panamints passed through the area. A way station and supply point for prospectors, called El Paso City, was established at a place where ground water could be obtained from shallow wells. Concurrently, cattlemen began using the area, and by the early 1890s, the name El Paso City disappeared and the settlement became known as “Cow Wells.” In 1893 a real strike was made in a canyon three miles east of Cow Wells (the Lost Goler Mine?). Miners poured in, settling in the canyon (later called Goler’s Gulch) and in Cow Wells. Many deposits opened, mostly placer, some lode, and the Goler Mining District was established. In 1894, an amalgamator from Tehachapi, Eugene Garlock, brought in a stamp mill to Cow Wells. The miners at Goler’s Gulch began referring to “down to the Garlock mill,” then “down to Garlock.” Thus the name transitioned from Cow Wells to Garlock, and the name became official with establishment of the Garlock post office in 1896.


A Place In the meantime came the big strike, the Yellow Aster, in the nearby Rand Mountains in 1895. Ore production started in 1896, but water was scarce in the Rands. Ore was hauled down to Garlock for processing.

A Fault The Garlock Fault, second largest earthquake fault in the State of California, lies a scant 15 miles south of Ridgecrest. Starting at its intersection with the great San Andreas Fault in the mountainous area near Frazier Park, the Garlock Fault runs in a westto-east direction and can be traced 150 miles east to the southern end of Death Valley. The Garlock is a dominant fault zone that has had a great effect on the California landscape and was instrumental in creating the mountain ranges forming the northern edge of the Mojave Desert. From its connection with the San Andreas, the fault runs through the Tehachapi Mountains, along the base of the southern Sierra Nevada and El Paso Mountains, as far as the northern end of the Avawatz Mountains south of Death Valley. According to some authorities, the Garlock was once very active; its left-lateral displacement totals as much as 40 miles. The block north of the fault uplifted several thousand feet to form the Tehachapi and El Paso Mountains escarpments. Further east, the uplift is reversed, and the southern block forms the Avawatz Mountains escarpment . These same authorities state that not a single great earthquake during recorded history can be blamed on this huge fracture. However, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Seismology Lab at Caltech say the Garlock is still an active fault, and they have several monitoring stations along its length. Here in the Ridgecrest area, the fault is crossed by Highway 395 about at the point where the Garlock Road branches off to the west. The Garlock Road parallels the fault along the El Pasos, and offers numerous opportunities to observe the fault’s surface features. Incidentally, the escarpments near the Garlock townsite were responsible for giving the fault its name. Also, if you were aboard a low-flying aircraft following the connecting road out to China Lake’s South Range Area, you would cross the fault a short distance from the Christmas Canyon entrance gate. If you looked to the east at this point, you would see the fault as a trench heading east and disappearing over the horizon, a trench as straight as if it were made by Paul Bunyan’s plow with his blue ox, Babe! 

John Di Pol, Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 41


ave you ever thought about how towns grew and developed in the barren remoteness of the high desert? The dream of finding gold, silver, and even tungsten strewn across the desert floor was not the only lure… desert settlements in the early 1900s were sometimes, with persuasive hyperbole, professionally marketed. As one example, the Santa Fe Railroad ran a “Special Excursion Number” to Atolia even as The Atolia News of the 20th of May 1916 encouraged potential investors: “…the man who is able and yet makes no investment here will probably always regret it as the town and camp [are] going to be as long lived as any town of the desert, or perhaps in the valleys. That it will continue to grow…is unquestionable. To be sure it, like many other towns, all in fact, may have its ups and downs. There may be times when Atolia may be very quiet but it will never be [quiet] for long.” Atolia’s history may have begun in 1903 when Charles Taylor and Tom McCarthy identified the tungsten deposits south of Johannesburg as something more than just an annoyance to placer gold miners. The Mining and Scientific Press of the 21st of October 1905 wrote that Taylor and McCarthy shipped a load of tungsten to Germany netting $8,000 after expenses. (Tungsten had become an extraordinarily important commodity after the German development of super hard “tungsten steel” for use in armaments.) Several additional shipments of tungsten to Germany followed. In February of 1906, the claims were sold, with Mr. DeGolia and Mr. Atkins purchasing them for $114,000 with $27,000 cash down. Their names were combined

to designate the new town: Atolia. Moving in this scenario was Bernard Baruch, whose stock investments had made him a millionaire by the age of 30. Baruch was known for devoting much time and personal wealth to public affairs and was an advisor to President Wilson, who appointed him Chairman of the War Industries Board. Meanwhile Atolia boomed! Atolia Mining Company’s shaft No. 1 struck a vein reportedly 10 to 20 feet wide. One source described it as “like digging up minted dollars.” Bernard Baruch was a major stockholder and his dividends were superb. However, as a result of being named to the War Industries Board, Baruch said he: “…felt it my duty to give up my seat on the Stock Exchange and to sell every share of stock and every bond I owned in any enterprise that might benefit from government contracts or purchases.” Whilst Baruch retained the shares in Atolia, he gave all (tungsten) dividends to what he considered “patriotic charities,” including the American Red Cross. Baruch reportedly retained his Atolia Mining Company holdings so that he could “patriotically monitor” activities at the mine, making certain no more tungsten found its way to Germany. Smart move…a later Senate Committee investigation of Baruch could not prove any charges of war profiteering. Tungsten prices fell after the war’s end, and Bernard Baruch suffered a significant loss when he then sold his shares. The Atolia Mining Company has changed hands several times since Baruch’s day, and few buildings remain of the “town and camp [which are] going to be as long lived as any town of the desert.”

42 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Atolia is privately owned and trespassing WILL NOT BE TOLERATED by the company which owns it. However, some buildings, including the magnificent Atolia Mining Company Staff House, can be seen from the shoulders of Highway 395 a few miles south of Johannesburg. The now silent mines and miners of Atolia once had a major influence upon the world…a reminder to us all of the curious nature of this sometimes maligned desert. 

Writer Lorraine Blair’s small books about Randsburg are in the permanent collection of the Historical Room, California State Library.

Dr. Alan Garfinkel, left.


hen you think of the desert, what comes to mind first? Sand? Thirst? Tumbleweeds? How about ... archaeology? Turns out the desert is a “happening” place for some of the latest archaeological research. Savvy Native Americans utilized desert resources extensively for thousands of years before settlers arrived. The more I learn about how they managed under tough conditions, the more I admire the elegance and practicality of their lifestyle. If you’d like to know more, check out a new book now in stock at the Maturango Museum gift shop in Ridgecrest. Dr. Alan Garfinkel has written Archaeology and Rock Art of the Eastern Sierra and Great Basin Frontier, published earlier this year. In one volume, Garfinkel has detailed a wide range of factors that affected the people of the Eastern Sierra, to give as complete a picture as is currently possible of how they lived, how they coped, and what might have inspired them to create the wonderful rock art that is their legacy. Four main tribal groups are known to have utilized the area from about the southern edge of Owens Lake, South Fork of the Kern River, Red Rock Canyon State Park, to the western third of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. These tribes were the Owens Valley Paiute, Panamint Shoshone, Tubatulabal, and Kawaiisu. All had different languages, customs, and rock art styles. All four tribes were hunter-gatherers, who moved systematically throughout their territory, as wild plant resources ripened. They wove yucca fibers into sandals and crafted clothing of woven fibers as well as from skins and furs. From the many archaeological sites studied, Garfinkel compiled statistics comparing which kinds of animal bone remnants were found in camp middens from different times. Turns out most of the bones were from large animals from about 4,000 years Before Present to about 2,000 years B.P. But the occurrence of bones from large animals dropped to nearly zero by more recent times, while bones of small animals became more prevalent. Between climate change and over-hunting, there were apparently few large game animals, but lots and lots of rabbits. And it is still that way today.

At the same time, there is evidence that hard seed use went up sharply from about 2,000 years ago to the present. This correlates with a change in hunting technology. About 2,000 years ago, the bow and arrow appeared on the scene. The previous weapon, the atlatl, or dart thrower, took great skill to manage and could only be used in a standing (and exposed) position. With a bow and arrow, a hunter could bring down an animal from farther away, with greater safety and accuracy. This new weapon could be used from a crouching position. The bow can launch an arrow with twice the velocity the atlatl does, so the arrow has a flatter trajectory, and better penetration of whatever it hits. A few hunters, plus hunting dogs, could bring down as much game as a group of hunters armed only with atlatls. Garfinkel theorizes that, over time, the combination probably wiped out the local Big Horn Sheep population. So what did all those guys do, who weren’t needed to hunt? Aaaahh—that’s where the dramatic increase in rock art comes in. The majority of the spectacular and world-famous Coso rock art is estimated to date from about 2,000 years B.P. up to the early 1900s. One theory is that religious practices expanded at the time. Men may have created spiritually-based rock art while the women were busy gathering, processing, and grinding hard seeds. There are many theories about why the rock art was created, and what it might mean. Garfinkel advises that all theories may be partially valid; that rock art’s use probably changed over time; and to be suspicious of any theory that claims to account for all the images. In archaeology, scientists are faced with a few remains sturdy enough to survive (hard evidence, like stone tools and rock art), but have no way to reach back in time and catch hold of insubstantial evidence like ideas and spiritual concepts. Much wonderfully exact data is known about stone tools, projectile points, and how rock art was made, and Garfinkel presents loads of this delicious data. But what do these enigmatic rock art figures actually mean? What was their context to their creators? “I encourage people to be open to various interpretations. Humans have varied motives, and these are expressions of ancient peoples,” said Garfinkel. “It is unlikely we will ever fully understand the cognitive world of the people who made the images.” If this whets your intellectual appetite to learn more, check out Garfinkel’s book and the Maturango Museum. Located at 100 E. Las Flores Ave. in Ridgecrest, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (760)375-6900 for more information or to order Archaeology and Rock Art or any of Maturango Press’ other fine publications. 

Writer Linda Saholt lives in Ridgecrest. December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 43

Answer #6 About 35% of the desert plants are annuals which depend on seasonal (winter or summer) rainfall to germinate. Some may not be seen for years. Answer #7 Only about 1% of the desert has actually been completely surveyed, meaning in both spring and summer and over the number of years it would take some species to make an appearance. Answer #8 At the current rate of discovery, we can anticipate finding 151 new plant species by 2100.


he theme is the Mysterious Mojave … madness, mayhem, murder, mining … mysterious certainly sucks you into its meaning. However, alliteration and onomatopoeia aside, I prefer “surprise while baffling efforts to comprehend or identify.” (Electronic dictionary)

And the trails. Trails are equally silent unless they are made by known footprints of denizens like rabbits, or connect with known housing like packrat middens, and then they shout out their maker’s name. All the trails show fresh traffic, including the multiple patterns of boot soles I am following. Baffling.

Taking a walk is the surest way I know to enter into the mysterious Mojave. Driving through Joshua Tree National Park, I look for a wrinkle, a break in the ridgeline that promises an unexplored wash. I find one that also includes an official place to pull over. I’m curious and baffled, why this place? It’s beautiful but I don’t see any obvious destination. Perfect. I descend the slope and notice the diversity of plant life—Joshua trees, Mojave yuccas—many different kinds of shrubs and cactus all with, as Edward Abbey noted, a “generous gift of space.” There is a faint but nonetheless well traveled trail to the wash below. Wherever this wash goes, lots of people have wanted to get there.

I think about this as I move along…I am always looking for hints to the questions that might point in the direction of understanding the complexity of this place. I don’t even care about the answers so much; if one slapped me on the side of the head before I arrived at the question, I probably wouldn’t get it. Actually I just got a head full of answers, and they plague me as I walk.*

It’s winter so I don’t anticipate wildlife, new green, or the color and faint perfumed odors from blooming flowers. It is so quiet. The only sound I will hear is a small fly that appears and follows me for a few yards. Midway I do see a smallish dragonfly with burnt orange wings, but it doesn’t make a sound. And, of course, there are the holes. Holes are notoriously silent, although they often scream questions like “Who made this?”

Answer #1 Twentynine million acres or 28% of California’s landmass is desert. Answer #2 • The coastal redwoods in Del Norte Co. contain 90-125 plant species per 2.5 acres. • An eastern Mojave Desert bajada has 85–120 plant species per 2.5 acres. Answer #3 The California deserts have 2,341 known native plant species or 37% of the 6,300 native plant species in all the state. Answer #4 About 350 species are listed by the California Native Plant Society as threatened, endangered, or of special concern. Answer #5 Of the listed species, 140 plants flower in the fall so are unlikely to be found during the spring survey season.

44 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

This multitude of plants produces the carbohydrates that an even greater multitude of animals rely on for their food, either as the first consumers or as predators on the consumers. Some of that multitude will also pollinate the flowers, fertilize and aerate the soils, use the shade and shelter, and process the dead material. The complexity of the desert ecosystem is dazzling but we remain shy of the right questions to guide us toward understanding its value. More that 1.3 million acres of government land in the California Desert are under consideration for industrial solar and wind development—the acreage will be scraped clean. The selected lands are mostly pristine, not previously degraded or permanently fallowed agricultural land. It is a deep and tragic reality that we could destroy this mysterious landscape without identifying and comprehending our loss…it’s madness, mayhem, murder, mining. The only answer I found on my walk was where the trail went. I’m willing to tell you that it involves an old mine, other than that, it’s yours to unravel. 

*Recent Plant Discoveries in the California Desert, Power Point presented by Jim André, director of the Sweeney Granite Mountain Research Center, at the November 2009 Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee meeting, Whitewater Preserve, California. Writer Pat Flanagan is Resource Advocate for the Mojave Desert Land Trust. She lives in Twentynine Palms gives naturalist tours of the Oasis of Mara at the 29 Palms Inn.

Calling all artists and graphic designers – The NPCA is holding a Green Business Logo Contest! Win $150 and an image credit by designing the winning logo! Submit your entry by December 14 to Seth Shteir Senior Program Coordinator, NPCA


oshua Tree National Park’s Eagle Mountains conjure up images of re mote desert peaks, a boundless blue sky, and the namesake bird of prey that soars above pristine canyons. But for many of us, Eagle Mountain brings to mind the proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill, to be located on lands belonging to Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc., and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which also happens to be surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park wilderness. The dump would be the nation’s largest: bringing in 20,000 tons of trash daily, 6 days a week, 16 hours a day for more than a century. Refuse would be shipped from various communities in Southern California via rail and, to a lesser extent, by trucks. The project has been promoted by Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc., and the Los Angeles County Department of Sanitation as a solution for the Los Angeles area’s burgeoning trash problem. “Development of this massive landfill could devastate significant portions of the park’s wilderness with noise and light pollution of the night sky, impair desert vistas, and destroy the solitude of the wilderness setting for park visitors. It would also undermine efforts to help recovery of the threatened desert tortoise by inflating the population of predators and scavengers such as ravens that prey on the iconic species,” says Mike Cipra, Desert Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. In 2005, Judge Robert Timlin ruled against Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc., and

the BLM in a suit filed by the National Parks Conservation Association and Larry and Donna Charpied to protect Joshua Tree National Park from the devastating effects of a landfill. Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc., and the BLM appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently ruled in favor of the National Parks Conservation Association on several key points. First, the recent decision states that the BLM undervalued the land it would trade with Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc., to make the landfill possible. At issue was the appraisal that was conducted for the land swap, which concluded that the “highest and best use” of the BLM land was “holding for speculative investment.” The term signified that there were no specific development plans for the property when it was common knowledge that the land would be used for the Eagle Mountain Landfill. The court also found that the BLM’s Environmental Impact Statement did not adequately address the issue of nitrogen enrichment resulting from landfill operations. Nitrogen deposition from landfill operations would alter the nutrient cycles of the fragile desert ecosystem, harming plants and wildlife that call the desert home. Finally, the court found that the BLM’s Environmental Impact Purpose and Need Statement, a section that outlines project objectives, was narrowly defined by Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc.’s business interests and resulted in a nar-

row range of alternatives to the construction of the Eagle Mountain Landfill. With narrowly defined objectives, the BLM failed to adequately explore the possibility of developing a landfill on other Kaiser properties, assessing the impact of increased waste diversion on the need for additional landfills, and considering other offsite landfill locations that would not impair park land or threaten desert wildlife. “We thank the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic for their outstanding legal work on this case, and acknowledge the longtime advocacy of Larry and Donna Charpied, who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the proposed landfill for more than two decades,” said Cipra, who points out that this is a victory not only for environmentalists and park visitors, but also for generations of national park enthusiasts to come. 

Seth Shteir is senior program coordinator at the National Parks Conservation Association in Joshua Tree, CA.

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 45

Desert Theatre Beat

By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor


n January 1, a new decade begins. Let’s hope 2010 will be the start of a great decade for our country. With the season underway, what our theatres need now is our support. The arts play an important role in our lives and in those of the younger generation. Take your family out to see a live theatrical production this season! Let me congratulate all of the nominees and winners of the 21 st Annual Desert Theatre League Desert Star Awards for the 2008/2009 Season. We are fortunate to live in communities so rich in talent and performers. Here’s to an even better 2009/2010 live theatre season. HI-DESERTTHEATRES Hi-Desert Cultural Center, Blak Box Theatre–Joshua Tree Award-winning director Rebecca Havely has a special holiday show up her sleeve —White Christmas in the Blak Box, a musical revue the entire family can embrace. You can even bring Grandma and Grandpa. The show features holiday songs and dances plus scenes from past award-winning Blak Box holiday productions: A Farndale Christmas, the Christmas Eve scene from Another Day in Baghdad, as well as never before seen or released material from a new Christmas play written by NBC producer Rob Loos. Also look for surprises from the Cultural Center’s President Jarrod Radnich and Vice President Craig Knudsen Director Havely, who sings in the show as well, says the theatre will receive a visit from the Jolly Old Fellow in the Red Suit. So bring your cameras. As an added attraction, show business legend Kaye Ballard will be there to meet and greet the audience and sign the CD set of her life memories, My Life, In My Own Words, With My Own Mouth, which was recorded in Joshua Tree this summer. All this Christmas merriment and entertainment takes place from Dec. 11 through 20. Performances are given on

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets for this annual show go very fast so call the Kaye Ballard Theatre Box Office at (760)366-3777 to reserve your tickets. Theatre 29–Twentynine Palms Director Les Taylor promises that audiences coming to see the current production at Theatre 29 are in for a familyfriendly treat. The Dinosaur Musical, which is a madcap, jazzy prehistoric fantasy musical, will please all, but especially the little ones. The show is currently performing through Dec. 19 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. The first production of the 2010 Season is the classic Noel Coward comedy of manners Blithe Spirit, directed by Butch Pelfry. It’s the story of Charles Condomine, a successful British author and the problems he encounters with his deceased wife, who is unwittingly summoned from the “other side” to haunt Charles and current wife by a visiting medium, the dotty Madame Arcati. (The role of Madame Arcati won Angela Lansbury her fifth Tony Award this summer on Broadway.) It’s a witty and hilarious comedy. The show opens Jan. 15 and performs Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. through Feb. 13. There is one Thursday night show Jan. 28 and one Sunday matinee, Feb. 7 at 2:30 p.m. Call the box office at (760)361-4151 for tickets. Groves Cabin Theatre–Morongo Valley The Groves is dark December and January and opens Confidential Hairball, an original comedy play written by local hidesert resident Wendy Cohen, on Saturday, Feb. 13. Cohen is a multiple Desert Theatre League (DTL) award-winning actor and director who says her play is just wacky enough to keep everyone intrigued. “There is a cat, two women, a New York Times reporter, and the brother of one of the women, plus delicious tasting cookies. To say any more would be telling.” Her play performs Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through March 7. With only 23 seats at the Groves, reservations are a must: (760)365-4523.

his novels and stories exposing the exploitation of England’s under-classes and children that brought about new and socially conscious laws. Oliver is Bart’s most well known work. The musical, directed by Palm Canyon Theatre founder William Layne, has tons of songs and dance numbers. Who can forget such haunting songs as “Who Will Buy? Boy For Sale,” or the bouncy, “Consider Yourself.” Oliver performs Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through Jan. 13. A Chorus Line, directed by Rod Thethal and one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, makes an encore appearance at Palm Canyon Theatre beginning Jan. 29 and performs Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Feb. 14. If you like dancing and great theatre, this is the show for you. For tickets for both shows, call their box office at (760)323-5123. Joslyn Players Theatre–Palm Desert The music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David will be heard on the Palm Desert theatre stage in a warm and comical tribute to the two music legends responsible for such classic hits as: “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” What’s New Pussycat?,” “Alfie,” and many more. The revue, directed by Gina Bikales, performs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Jan. 7 to Jan. 24. For tickets, call (760)340-3220, ext. 109.


La Quinta Playhouse–La Quinta The holiday show this year is called Home for the Holidays at the S. Claus Talent Agency and opens on Thursday, Dec. 10 performing Fridays, Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 20. Ron Young stars in the adult comedy. Eric Frankson is the musical director. Bring your sense of humor to the theatre. The January production is the Herb Gardner comedy I’m Not Rappaport, directed by playhouse artistic director JoAnn Reeves. Rappaport opens Thursday, Jan. 8 and runs through Jan. 31. For ticket information, call (760)360-9191.

Palm Canyon Theatre–Palm Springs December finds a visitor from England making a stop at the Palm Springs flagship theatre: Oliver, Lionel Bart’s immensely touching and entertaining musical version of the Charles Dickens’ story revolving around of a group of London pick-pocketing youngsters and thieves led by the notorious Fagin. Dickens was quite a social activist of his day. It was

Thorny Theater–Palm Springs Thorny, the only valley theatre serving the GLBT community, has two one acts currently in production. May 27, 1995, and Dudes, written by Dan Clancy and directed by Jim Strait, is performing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 20. In January, theatre founder Arch Brown, a playwright and director, will

46 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

present his play Two Married Men. Brown, the author of more than 20 plays, bills this production as “a scary S&M comedy about power, compliance, and control.” The play opens Jan. 1 and performs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Jan. 24. The Thorny Theater is an adultthemed venue, with occasional on-stage nudity. Before bringing the kiddies or grandma to a show, call the box office to get the content rating. (760)325-0538.

film, The Purepecha (the poorest of the poor). In addition, filmmaker Chris Hume, director of the controversial documentary film This Is Cuba, will attend and participate in a Q & A panel discussion. Hume’s film screens at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. There is a lot happening at this festival, including incredible opening and closing night festivities. For complete information on the Festival visit

Indio Performing Arts Center–Indio IPAC is planning a New Year’s Eve special event in conjunction with the opening of their new comedy Contempt of Court by David Landau. On Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), patrons will enjoy a delicious dinner, followed by a performance of the play. The audience will also ring in the New Year with the cast including champagne, music, dancing to a five-piece band, and dessert. The cost is $75 per person, fully inclusive. According to IPAC Artistic Director Pat Melvin, who is also the play director, Contempt of Court is an “actor/audience interactive play collaboration and just might be the first time anyone has had a good time in court.” The play is set in a courtroom with defense and prosecution lawyers, witnesses, bailiffs, and a “Judge Judy” type actor who keeps order and keeps the cases moving along. The audience become the Jury and will render the various verdicts. Sun Runner “Spotlight On” columnist Jeannette Lyons plays the “Judge Judy” character. (I’d better watch my Ps & Qs or I may find myself in “contempt of court” at home–ouch). Performances of the zany comedy are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. from Jan. 15 to Jan. 24. For reservations to New Year’s Eve or other performances, call (760)775-5200.

On Jan. 5, the 800-pound gorilla of film festivals, the 21st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), thunders into the desert city of Palm Springs for a 10-day stay. The city fathers expect the population to swell by an additional 130,000 film junkies during the period. Why? Because, we’ll be looking at more than 400 screenings of more than 200 films from 60 countries, that’s why. The festival presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards, as well as a large number of American independent and international features and documentaries making their North American or U.S. debuts. Screenings will be held at 15 screens throughout Palm Springs. There will be panel discussion groups, filmmaker parties, seminars, screenings, screenings, and more screenings. Plenty of schmoozing also takes place, and it becomes a great opportunity for you to get up close and personal with actors, writers, and producers—the whole nine yards. This year’s Career Achievement Award honoree is Hollywood star Morgan Freeman. The accomplished Academy Award winning actor’s latest film— to be released Dec. 11—is Clint Eastwood’s biopic Invictus. It’s the story of Nelson Mandela and is the crowning achievement in Freeman’s long and distinguished film career. Anna Kendrick, one of Hollywood’s younger actors, also is being honored with the Rising Star Award for her work in several films, but mainly for her most recent film Up in the Air. When Hollywood and the world cinema show rolls into our fair city, there will be stars, glitz, and glamour galore, and many memorable film moments you won’t want to miss. Here’s how to join the excitement: Contact PSIFF at (760)322-2930, (800)8987256, or visit

College of the Desert–Palm Desert The Opera Department of COD has a reputation for presenting exciting and quality operas and musical productions, and recently garnered 14 individual and production awards at the Desert Theatre League DTL Desert Star Awards. Their latest production opens Thursday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m., for six performances—the Johann Strauss II comic opera Die Fledermaus, directed by Mark Almy. The opera stars Julie Rosser and Kaley Smith in the role of Rosalinda (the show is double-cast with two of the desert’s finest sopranos). Tickets are $15 general and $13 seniors and students, cash at the door of The Pollock Theatre on campus, or at 

FADE IN: December and January are two months that are sure to please devotees of the movies. Dec. 4 marks the debut of the first Coachella Valley Latino Film Festival (CVLFF). Considering the demographics of the high and low desert communities, it’s a bit surprising that a Latino film festival took so long to arrive in the area. It will be a three-day event comprised of films, Latino movie and TV stars, discussion groups and panels with the filmmakers, and audience participation. It all takes place at the Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC), on Tamale Fest weekend! The Coachella Valley Latino Film Festival runs Dec. 4 through 6. The Festival is a fundraiser to benefit two nonprofit organizations: IPAC and the National Hispanic American Educational Fund. Janie Hughes of Q3Telecom, Inc. is the president of the event, with Florence Ren Figueroa as regional producer for the Festival. Figueroa also heads up Under One Sky Productions, and has extensive ties to the film industry. All of the films will be screened at the Indio Performing Arts Center located at 45-175 Fargo Street in “Old Town” Indio. The festival will be a gathering place for many Latino film and TV stars whose films are part of the festival. In addition, there will be Q & A sessions and panel discussions with the stars and other industry professionals. Television star Gregory Cruz of the “Saving Grace” series will attend and participate in panel discussions. Local news anchor Tamara Damante of KESQ will moderate a panel discussion following the screening of Cheryl Leader Quintana’s


December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 47

Indian Wells Jake’s Lounge at Indian Wells Resort, 760-345-6466, presents The Songwriters Experience, “Happy Hour Workshop and Performances” hosted by Danny Sheridan each Tuesday 5-7 p.m. You will enjoy complimentary hors d’ouevres until 6 p.m. The Coachella Valley Songwriters Experience on Dec. 10-12 will bring together some of the best emerging and veteran songwriters, artists, and producers with top music managers, label executives, booking agents, and publishers. Visit or call 760-972-0960. Jake’s Lounge also presents vocalist Paul Elia on Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7 p.m.


he Christmas and New Year’s holidays are soon upon us and the valley is virtually stuffed to the gills with talent excellent enough for even the most discerning. If you are accustomed to seeing your favorite performer at a particular location, don’t assume they will be the one(s) playing for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or any holiday parties in between. Most New Year’s Eve talent was booked last spring, and a lot can happen between then and Christmas. Casino entertanment: Agua Caliente Casino, 866-923-7244, Dec. 4–Brian Wilson, Dec. 11–Craig Chaquico, Dec. 31–New Year’s Eve, Montgomery Gentry, Jan. 12–Tony Bennett, Jan. 22–Styx. Each Sunday, you can enjoy locals Mike Costly and Pat Rizzo in the lounge. Fantasy Springs Casino Resort, 800827-2946, Dec. 4–Willie Nelson, Dec. 5–British singing sensation Morrissey. Call the box office 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for details. Free concerts outside at the Rockyard. Spotlight29 Casino, 760-775-5566, Dec. 5–Temptations, Dec. 11-13–Pow Wow, Dec. 16– Brian Setzer & Orchestra, Dec. 31–KC & The Sunshine Band, Jan. 23–Bobby Vinton, Jan. 29–The Nelsons. Morongo Casino, 800-252-4499, Nov. 27– My Tam & Dam Vinh Hung. Each Friday and Saturday you can find live music in the Mystique Lounge. Spa Resort Casino, Palm Springs, 888-999-1995, In the Cascade Lounge–College football

Blues master Kal David, in action, above.

every Saturday 10 a.m., NFL football Sunday 10 a.m., live entertainment all week. Non-casino entertainment: Palm Springs Space 120—the club space that was formerly known as Blue Guitar, 760-3259575, offers a variety of live entertainment Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m. They also have a Sunday Jam. Tony’s Copa Lounge, 760-327-1773, is celebrating 20 years with 25% discount on food and drink. Mike Costley sings on Thursday; Pat Rizzo and Dennis Michaels play Friday and Saturday. If you love music from the Rat Pack era, you’ll enjoy Tony’s Pasta Mia. Sammy G’s, 760-320-8041, is the new name for St. James, now featuring 1,000 members of the Evaro family …no, not really. Jerry and Jimmy Evaro perform Thursdays 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., with guest appearances by Roxanne and Reonna Evaro. There are Evaros scattered all over this valley—what a musical family! Get your Rock on at Village Pub, 760-323-3265, with Dude Jones, The London Trio, and the Michael James Band (Mondays) and with John Stanley King (Tuesdays). Rockin’ starts around 9 p.m. Get your Dance on at Dink’s Ultra Lounge, 760-327-7676, Friday-Saturday 10 p.m. DJ Dirty Ish-Nate Campbell and a guest spin your favorite dance tunes. Jazz is featured with the Mirage Trio (Joel Baker, Piano; Jeff Stover, Bass; Andy Fraga Jr). on Wednesdays. Nancy Franklin and Denise Motto perform on Saturdays at 7 p.m.

48 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Rancho Mirage And now for something different… The Commissary, 760-202-0524, 69620 Hwy. 111. How about a New Orleans Gospel Brunch by their house band every Sunday at 11 a.m. The “All You Can Eat Cajun Buffet” prepared by Chef Russ Olden asks only $19 per person. In addition to the house band, Olden is also delightful on the harmonica. A family event. Cathedral City La Tablita Restaurant, 760-321-5935, 68369 E. Palm Canyon Drive, now features entertainment by the duo Organic Sol Music, vocalist Lynne with guitarist-percussionist Kamau every Friday 7 p.m. Jazz standards, Blues, Pop, and Latin music. Studio One11, 760-328-2300, 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, features some of the valley’s best pianists, with Bruce Mangun Friday 5-8 p.m. Vocalist-pianist Lori Donato entertains at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Denise Motto performs Monday-Wednesday 5-9 p.m. and with vocalist Nancy Franklin Sunday 5-9 p.m. Thousand Palms In the mood for an acoustic jam? The Club at Shenandoah Springs Village Country Club, 32-700 Desert Moon Drive, features guitarist Terry Williams leading the acoustic jam SSV Unplugged each Wednesday at 6 p.m. There is a sound system, drummer and bass player. Bring only acoustic instruments that can mic through the system. That means voices too. So re-string your vocal chords and grab your guitar and head on over to The Club on Wednesdays. 


tribute to Gram Parsons was held at the Joshua Tree Saloon in September. The acts included Victoria Williams, Tom Freund, The Sin City All Stars, and Ronnie Peer, who was the music director for Guns and Roses and Ozzy Osbourne. Ronnie played his new song “Gram Parsons (You’re not Dead).” I felt like Gram was in the room and smiling. Congratulations to Ted Quinn for his one year anniversary of Super Ruby Tuesdays at the Saloon, and to Gerard for the venue for an open mic night. Legendary Leon Russell once again played Pappy and Harriet’s, running through so many hits in two hours. Although he didn’t say much to the crowd, it was hard not to get nostalgic during “A Song For You.” Opening for Leon were Brad Mercer and The Acquitted. Joshua Tree’s Ricochet Vintage Wears has become a great new outlet for live music. With their stage outside, Tim Easton and the Joshua Tree Army played while Robert Mitchum’s Night of the Hunter was beamed behind them. There was also a show with Techno Hillbillies. Thank you, Tawnja Pflueger, for opening up your store for some great shows. Gram Rabbit’s Miracles and Metaphors is on its way to mastering, and I can’t wait! They once again put on their annual Grim Rabbit Halloween show at Pappy’s and had a song on my new guilty pleasure, “Sons of Anarchy,” on FX. Devils Stil played an outstanding show at Pappy and Harriet’s and packed the house. Rising from the ashes of three great bands—Fetish, Purple Mountain Matinee and Colorfinger—they were a

crowd pleaser and will be playing another show soon. Also on the bill were Johann Wagner and Trevor Reichman. My dream has always been to open up a rock-androll bed and breakfast so traveling musicians could stay with me. I got to try it out when Johann and Trevor were here, but since my house is so small all I could offer was bed and no breakfast. But my cat and I did get a private house concert. Celebrating the kickoff of their fivemonth national tour of Canada and the U.S., San Diego’s Pop/Punk band, A Dull Science, came to Joshua Tree for some serenity and rock climbing. They were so enthusiastic and fun and have picked up sponsorship from Red Bull and Axe. I almost quit my job that day and ran off with them to join the rock-and-roll circus. Bob Forrest and Thelonious Monster reunited for a show indoors at Pappy and Harriet’s. The last time I saw Bob and the Monster was in 1986. Playing such classics as “Sammy Hagar Weekend,” I felt so blessed that they reunited in our town. The next night, New York Indie rockers Vampire Weekend played to a soldout house. What would we do without Robyn and Linda who own Pappy’s??? Nowhere Now, The Ballad of Joshua Tree finally aired on PBS. I had a blast helping with the movie when they were here filming, but did feel a lot of people were left out or were out of town—so they need to make a sequel. True World Gallery and Mt. Fuji/ Starlite Courtyard kicked off the Open Studio Art Tours with music all day from the likes of Shawn Mafia, Ted Quinn, and Judy Van Ruggles. We would all like to

A Dull Science hits the streets of JT, top left; Leon Russell serenades at P&H, top; Thelonious Monster, above.

wish Chantale Doyle from Mt. Fuji a speedy recovery from her broken leg! This is the first year that I had to miss the Joshua Tree Roots Festival due to work obligations, but I promise not to miss the Joshua Tree Music Festival in May. Once again Barnett and Kris did an amazing job. Steve Lester’s Songwriting Poetry and Rhythm club has moved to Rattlesnake Jake’s in Morongo Valley on Wednesday nights. This is an amazing night, so please come support Steve and all the local musicians involved. Thanks to everyone who supports this column and gives me so much positive feedback. I do it all for the love of music and the talented people who choose to call this home. 

December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 49

Sustainable Living

Simple Times in a Simple Place “Of mice and men and women and dogs...”

(By Pasquali via David Brown)


any persons think that my good friend Claire is a bit eccentric. She lives in a round tent and she can talk to coyotes and other animal people and, who knows, maybe even the plants as well. All who live on the outskirts of our cities and man-made-up places. Elders say in the older times this was common and not so eccentric. This is one of the many reasons I like her so much. For her “differentness.” Drumming to a different beat. Well then, por favor, most gracious friend, pass me a small drum, and perhaps a harmonica. What is the wrong in this tune of differentness? Perhaps this makes my person an eccentric as well. I, too, hear the musique of the coyote and see the spirit in the trees, when there are trees to see. If not, a cactus or creosote will do most fine, and a lizard or a bird or a dog companion. But a person sharing their life with a good dog already knows all of this. Living in this way is not for everyone, this “differentness,” and it is not easy. Simply, it is all about “opening up” to the many unseen and unnoticed things which surround all of us, if we take the time to look. My person is one of those lucky ones, or at least I look at things this way, for the opportunity to work and relax in the out-of-doors and in many different places with varied peoples. So life becomes like an open book of simple poetry. It is a song, with crescendos and quiet parts and complex movements. I want to sing it all day long, like I wish for you to sing your song as loudly and proudly as you would like. And with this in mind, even some of the trying or less satisfactory events in life become part of this great song. It is all good, is it not? There are times, like today, when I have been performing many works and

feel hunger. I have been pruning fruit trees with the most care, in order to let them grow and be healthy and produce more fruit with lesser water needs. After all, much of our world is a desert, or at least seems to be becoming one. This is how I spent most of the morning, along with raking up small twigs and branches left grounded from a windstorm that visited here just a few days ago. My own way, and living for this day. Each day having its own reason. I am both craftsman and thinker. Both feed each other. Other days may be filled with line work, or fencing. Dig a hole with an auger or post digger. Then, with a stick or old paintbrush, coat the part of the post that will be placed into the ground with roofing tar. Termites hate this stuff, and it is much more “friendly” than you may think it is, compared to its alternative or two. Coat that post good—you do not need to be a cheapskate, as tar is not that expensive. Oh yes, my friends, wear old rubber gloves and try to keep this stuff away from your good clothes or expensive hat if you should wear one! With this out of the way, I place the pole into the hole, using my great skill and eye to ensure it is level. I am just joking! One should use a plumb level, as the eye may play many tricks upon our persons, this being just one of many! When filling the hole, I place a spade full of gravel about the pole. Then a spade full of dirt. Then more gravel. Add a small bit of water, and then using the handle of the spade, tamp it all down into the hole. Watch the tar and try to keep a clean shovel handle. Perhaps you could use a scrap piece of wood instead. Watch for splinters! This material hardens and is compacted and small gravels work hard to keep the post from moving about or being forced out. This is a time-tested way, around far longer than hardware stores with packaged concrete. You will repeat this simple process until the hole is nearly filled, all the while checking for plumb. When you are finished, move on to the next one, there is no time like now! Unless of course, it is siesta time or a good friend or dog or even coyote has arrived with a jug of refreshment. You may use this method to place fencing, cabanas, banner poles,

almost anything. And, without using concrete, it will not rot as easily; and when it does, it is easily enough replaced. At least when compared to digging out a few hundred kilos of concrete! Other days may be taken with masonry or some other manual task. It is a simple way and a way I personally enjoy. Yours may be a different path and that is good also as long as it fills you with the same joy and love for life as my simple tasks provide for me. Bueno! And hunger is fed only one way. Sit my friends. Go ahead, this is an old table and that is an old bench. It is comfortable and many persons have used it for their pleasures. Much “product of the vine” has been consumed in this place along with laughter and food stuffs. Partake of this simple meal, a “plowman’s lunch” as it is known in some places. Good and fresh bread with water and citrus if you have some. A small amount of cheese from a goat. A jug of red vina! Some apples would be nice, or a pomegranate or a fruit so sweet. After which, I find my person becoming weary with sleep. When the opportunity may present itself, I take advantage of it. With a benevolent sun in attendance, I lay with my back in contact with a generous mother earth for a pallet, shirt rolled up under the neck as a pillow, and draw a wide brimmed straw hat over my now closed eyes. This is a simple life. Much is said about simplicity; however, in these modern times, often it is about “new technologies” or some similar talk. This can be good in many ways, such as saving fuel and recycling material, but at least for me, my friends, it always starts with an open simple mind and an appreciative simple heart. This is many times easier said than done. We live in a world full of distractions and some are not at all very pleasant, are they? Most of the unpleasantness in life is what we have not only made, but in many cases have paid for as well. There are many times when men or perhaps women, or even dogs, need a little bit of good time to themselves. Students of science often say we are all social creatures, and trust me, my friends, this seems to be the truth most of the time. We need our companeros and paisanos as much as they need us. This goes for those of

Ride with Shawn Mafia down the unlit back roads of the

Dark Desert

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50 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

you who may be dogs as well. How boring would a slice of goat cheese and a pomegranate, a jug of wine, a Frisbee toss and a rawhide treat, or a wonderful tarantella be if not shared with a like individual, or better yet a group. And what would romance be “a solo?” This is why we must not become too attached to the “invisible network” as some call it, this thing like “tentacles in the trash can” circling about us in an invisible yet menacing way. The promise of labour saved and new horizons. Was this not what the autocar and atomics promised, and look where that has placed us. What we really need is real and simple experience to be sure. It is the “joy of life”! Lying upon the ground, I begin to contemplate some things about my person. There are many solutions presented to us these days. How to produce more food stuffs so there is no starvation. There is plenty of food, it is a “distribution” problem, “they” say. Who are “they?” I say “Ok then, fix it!” Some say not with genetic modification, as some call it. To take a seed of the earth, give it lawyers or business persons and the “invisible network” who make it patented, and then take something made for all creatures as gratis and make all pay for it. Perhaps because it has a new label on it? An elder may say, “What would the Great Spirit think?” How would a monk contemplate such reality? How do you contemplate it? I say “absurdas!” Perhaps I am being, how do you say, “subversive?” None of it is natural or real. Once when I was working a ranch, I learned a lesson about what is called “carrying capacity.” I believe it means the amount of sheep or cows or horses a piece of land can hold without becoming a wasteland. It is complex mechanics of water and plants and soil and populace. It was explained to me as such... A certain man had left a sack of oats for his horse open in an outbuilding. It was a pleasant early summer’s day. When it became dark and the time when the little people come out from their hiding, along came a rather simple little pack rat. “Hmm,” said he, “a bounty for my soul! I shall place oats from the bag within my mouth and take them back to my house.” As he was doing so, along came a kangaroo rat wearing her little Aussie hat and she said, “G’day mate, I got a wee bit o’ food to take back to me place,” and away she went. Many more little creatures of the still and the night came and went and ate the oats. This went on for several days. After a short time, the little creatures moved in closer and closer to what seemed to be this wonderful endless and easily obtained food source. “Kanga” abandoned her little spot in the outback and brought a few of her mates with her! Pack the rat did the same thing. So did all their other little friends. Life was “easy street.” More and more little folk made this outbuilding their home as the endless supply of easy food became lower and lower and lower in the sack. Nobody knew, gnawing holes in the bottom and no one using the effort to look down at the top. Then one day, the oats where all gone. Miss Kanga stared dumbfounded at the empty space. So did Pack the rat. So did all their little friends, who had now multiplied “like the stars in heaven” and “by the fruit of their labours.” May you have plenty of oats and peace in your travels! –Pasquali 

Letters From London

by Isabel Bass

Art • Theatre • Music • Travel

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December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 51



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52 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Dec. 1 – Christmas Tree Lighting. 5:45 p.m. Veterans Park next to City Hall. Mayor Joel Klink, affectionately known as “The Singing Mayor,” serves as master of ceremonies. 6136 Adobe Rd. Twentynine Palms. For more information contact Irene Cruse at (760)6684594, or Cindy at City Hall at (760)367-6799. Dec. 3 — City of Indio Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. 6 to 7:30 p.m. City Hall, 100 Civic Center Mall, Indio. (760)391-4175. Dec. 5 – Christmas in Calico Ghost Town. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Christmas Tree Lighting, reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Christmas carol karaoke and local Elvis impersonator, David E. Prezley. Shops are open. Exit I-15 at Ghost Town Rd., Yermo. (760) 254-2047. Dec. 5 – Sixth Annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Run. 10 a.m. In support of the Rotary Clubs of Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms and the Toys for Tots program of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Park officials have generously allowed this year’s participants to enter the Joshua Tree entrance to the park and come out through the Twentynine Palms gate at no charge. Meet at the Hutchins Harley-Davidson, 55405 State Route 62, Yucca Valley. Register online at Dec. 5 – Arts & Crafts Fair. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Twentynine Palms Art Gallery. 74055 Cottonwood Dr., Twentynine Palms. Contact Anne Lear at (760)3624150 or the gallery at (760)367-7819. Dec. 5 – “The Tobias and Brian Show.” Special opening show: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Show runs Dec. 5 – 26. Gallery hours Fridays 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. *New location:* The Red Arrow Lounge & Gallery, 61596 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3700. Dec. 5 – Images Born in the Mojave: Paintings by Tina Bluefield. Opening event 7 to 10 p.m, shows runs through Jan. 3. True World Gallery, 61740 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760)366-2300. Dec. 5 – Gallery Crawl with True World Gallery, Mt. Fuji General Store and The Red Arrow Lounge and Gallery. 7 to 10 p.m. True World Gallery presents Tina Bluefield. 61740 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760) 366-2300. The Red Arrow Lounge & Gallery presents “The Tobias and Brian Show,” 61597 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760)366-3700. Food, drink, and more in the Starlight Courtyard, behind Mount Fuji and True World Gallery. Dec. 5 – Ken O’Malley, Songs by a Winter’s Hearth: Memories of My Irish Christmas. 7 p.m. Joshua Tree Celebration Center, 6393 Sunset Road, Joshua Tree. (760)902-9366. Dec. 5 – 15th Annual Olde Fashioned Christmas. 10 a.m., parade at 4 p.m. Downtown Needles, on Broadway. (760)326-2050. Dec. 5 – Holiday Greeting Cards Art Class. 12 to 2 p.m. (December 5 & 12) Make dozens of holiday cards for your loved ones. 29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery, 6847 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms, (760)361-1805. Dec. 5 & 6 – International Tamale Festival. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. One of the top 10 “All-American Food Festivals” in the nation. Every type of tamale one can imagine. Activities include festive holiday parade, carnival, Tamale eating contest, Mexican Folkloric dancing, variety of live entertainment for all ages. (760) 391-4175. Dec. 6 – Adult Craft Program. 2 to 5 p.m. Make crafts for friends and family. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 57090 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212.

Dec. 6 – Reception for Janet Braley, “Mini Show” by Guild Members, Ida Foreman. 12-3 p.m. / Twentynine Palms Art Gallery. 74055 Cottonwood Drive, Twentynine Palms. Contact Anne Lear at (760)362-4150 or the gallery at (760)367-7819. Dec. 6 – “The Cold, Hard Fiction of Life,” paintings by Jesse Wiedel. Fridays and saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Show runs through December. Art Queen, 61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Dec. 7 – “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Shopping Spree. 5:30 p.m. Refreshments and chauffeured transportation. Yucca Valley businesses. More information: Yucca Valley Chamber at (760)365-6323. Dec. 8 – “Singing Stars of Yesterday and Today.” 7 to 9 p.m. An Evening of Opera, Operetta and Broadway favorites. Joslyn Senior Center, 73-750 Catalina Way, Palm Desert. (760)340-3220. Dec. 8 – Agua Caliente Cultural Museum Annual Holiday Open House. 6 to 8 p.m. You are invited to bring an ornament with a Native American or desert theme. Ornaments will be hung on the tree in the Museum, with your name attached, then saved for the following years’celebrations. Refreshments served. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, 219 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. (760)778-1079. Dec. 10 – Art Guild Annual Christmas Party Luncheon. 12 p.m. de Anza Country Club, 509 Catarina Drive, Borrego Springs. RSVP at (760)767-5303 or (760)767-7484 by Dec 8. Dec. 10 – Thursday Morning Hikes. 9 to 11 a.m. Arrive 15 minutes before departure time. / Learn about the plants, animals, and geology that make the desert area so unique. Bring water, wear sun protection and sturdy footwear, and come ready to hit the trail. Hikes take place every Thursday through April 24. Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, 51-500 Hwy. 74, Palm Desert. (760)862-9984. Dec. 11 – Ritmo Loco Afro-Cuban Jazz Quintet. 7:30 p.m. Pappy & Harriet’s. 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. Dec. 11-20 – A White Christmas In The Blak Box. Holiday Musical Revue featuring a variety of Holiday songs, dances, and special select scenes from past award-winning Blak Box Holiday Productions. Showtimes are: Dec. 11 - 8 p.m., Dec. 12 - 7pm, Dec. 13 - 2 p.m., Dec. 18 - 8 p.m., Dec. 19 - 7p.m., Dec. 20 - 2 p.m. Hi-Desert Playhouse, 61231 Hwy 62 in Joshua Tree. Box Office, (760)366-3777. Dec. 10-12 – Coachella Valley Songwriters Experience. 3 p.m. Peer-to-peer environment designed to explore and improve every aspect of the songwriter’s total life experience. Indian Wells Resort Hotel, 76-661 Highway 111, Indian Wells. Rob Brondell: (760)972-0926 or Dec. 11 – 9th Annual Spotlight 29 Casino Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Native American Land Conservancy. 9 a.m. Registration is currently open. The Golf Club Terra Lago, 84-000Terra Lago Parkway, Indio. (619)825-910. Dec. 11 – Imperial Chamber’s 7th Annual “Parade of Lights.” 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Imperial Avenue, Imperial. Email or call (760)355-1609. Dec. 11 & 12 – Kcymaerxthaere: A Global Work of Three Dimensional Storytelling with Eames Demetrios. 7:30 p.m. Dezart One Gallery, 2688 S Cherokee Way, Palms Springs. (760)322-0179. Dec. 11-13 – 13th Annual Winter Gathering Pow Wow. Presented by Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison St., Coachella. (800)827-2946. Dec. 12 – Christmas in Rand Camp. 9:30 a.m. Hist.html. Morning and afternoon sessions. Guided tour, Christmas carol singing, PowerPoint presentation of “When Santa Rode into December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 53

Support Desert Businesses & Organizations Shop Locally This Season And Every Season! 54 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Randsburg.” 25 people per session. RSVP due to space limitations. Randsburg. Lorraine Blair at or Bruce Wertenberger at (760)608-3240. Dec. 12 – Calexico Christmas Parade. To participate or for more information contact the Calexico Chamber of Commerce at (760)3571166. Dec. 12 – Harvey House Holiday Music & Craft Fair. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Food and craft vendors, local choirs and other local entertainers. Christmas Tree Lighting at 4:30 p.m. Historic Harvey House on N. First Ave., Barstow. (760)256 - 8617. Dec. 12 – Rock~n~Roll Bike Ride 2. 7 p.m. With The Ryan Bradley Affair, Robbie Davis Band, Kings of The Wild Frontier, Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss, Rachel Dean & War Children and Sangre Sangre . Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. Dec. 12 – Soy Candle Making Workshop. 2 to 4 p.m. Yucca Valley Community Center, 56711 29 Palms Hwy. Yucca Valley. (760)369-7211. Dec. 12 – Holiday Greeting Cards Art Class. 12 to 2 p.m. Make dozens of holiday cards for your loved ones. 29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery, 6847 Adobe Rd., Twentynine Palms, (760)361-1805. Dec. 13 – Pappy’s Allstar Band. 7 p.m. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. Dec. 13 – Tehachapi Community Orchestra presents G.F. Handel Messiah. 4 p.m. Free. St. Malachy’s Catholic Church, 407 West E St., Tehachapi. (661)821-7511. Dec. 18 – 50th Anniversary Holiday Soiree. 6 p.m. Our Lady of Guadalupe San Juan Diego Parish Hall, Calexico. Contact Monica Cortez: (760)768-5641. Dec. 18 – David Arkenstone. 8 p.m. 3-time Grammy Nominee David Arkenstone and band’s popular “Winter Solstice” show. Palm Springs Art Museum. 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. (760)3224800. Dec. 18 – Joe and Mustard, Improvisational Comedy. 7:30 p.m. Free. Dezart Galley, 2688 S. Cherokee Way, Palm Springs. (760)328-1440. Dec. 18 – Rockabilly Swing with The Big Fat Steve Band. 7:30 p.m. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. (760)365-5956. Dec. 18 – Jan. 2 – The Living Desert Premieres Wildlights and the Endangered Species Carousel, “Marilyn’s Merry-GoRound.” 6 to 9 p.m. (Dark Dec. 24 & 25). WildLights is a festive light display and the Endangered Species Carousel features animals custom created to replicate many of The Living Desert’s animal species on display; a giraffe, cheetah, mountain lion, camel, zebra, hummingbird and more. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert/Indian Wells. (760)346-5694. Dec. 19 – “Happy Trails to You” 12th Annual Festival of Lights Parade, Yucca Valley. 5:30 p.m. Parade route start at Germino and Santa Fe Trail, Yucca Valley. “After Parade Party” with free puppet show, Mr. & Mrs. Santa and refreshments at the Elks Lodge, 55946 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley. Wanda Stadum: (760)354-0044. Dec. 19 – Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce Hosts 15th Annual Light Parade. 5:30 p.m. Stag-

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

The Last Word


K, last issue it was The Last Rant, but this issue marks the end of our 15th year of publishing, and the beginning of our 16th. It was back in January 1995 when Vickie Waite decided to launch this magazine to cover the arts renaissance of Twentynine Palms. That was a brave, maybe even foolish, thing to do. Anyone with an MBA could have told her that it simply couldn’t work. A culturally-oriented magazine in a small desert community just couldn’t make it. Good thing she didn’t talk to any MBAs. Instead, Vickie’s love for her community, the arts, writing, and creating something everyone could be proud of, won out. The magazine grew over the next nine and a half years through the hi-desert, covering arts and culture in unpretentious black and white. Five and a half years after I came on the scene, the magazine continues to grow by leaps and bounds. We’ve now increased our readership three times over what it had been when I came on—to over 45,000 readers per issue. That’s well over a quarter of a million readers per year. And the magazine is found in hundreds of locations across the desert, and increasingly across Southern California. We have just added distribution locations up Highway 395 into the eastern Sierras, as well as more spots in Orange County and Los Angeles. We reach two military bases now, and another is set to begin soon. People are enjoying the magazine everywhere, it seems—a subscription from Beverly Hills, a call from Balboa Island, and this week from a filmmaker working near Shoshone who picked up the magazine there and wanted to share his story with us. I invite you to share what stories you want to see included in these pages ( I asked our printer how many pages they could handle, and somewhere around 200 is the upper limit. That means we can have as many stories as we want, as long as I can figure out how to pay for the pages. The desert has a wealth of great stories and the essential ingredients necessary to keep creating more. I believe there are quite a few folks—in the desert, and outside it—who love to read something that’s not run by some multinational corporation as impersonally as possible. We’re still human beings, despite some of the best attempts to turn us into mindless automatons, and I think some of us still enjoy a human touch to what we ingest, whether it’s what we read, or what we eat. Your suggestions and comments are not only welcome, they’re eagerly anticipated. Come by and visit us in Joshua Tree. Studio Godot is departing, with our friend Sydney McCutcheon too overwhelmed to dedicate the time and energy to running the gallery on top of his insane job in Hollywood (we’re going to miss him—Sydney is one of the truly great people I’ve had the privilege of meeting since arriving in the desert nearly a decade ago). But The Sun Runner is sharing offices with the California Deserts Visitors Association, and we’ll be establishing a comfy little visitors center here where folks can drop in, relax, and learn about the incredible opportunities that the California deserts offer. Vickie has moved on, and she only drops by to help with production once in a while. I always feel better when she’s had a look at the pages though, and though growing this magazine hasn’t always been easy, I’m still grateful Vickie talked me into it. Thank you Vickie, to our helpers, contributors, advertisers, subscribers, and thanks to all of you too. It’s been a great first 15 years, and there is no shortage of adventures on the horizon. From all of us at The Sun Runner, we wish you a most merry Christmas, a joyous Chanukah, and a very happy new year.  December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 55

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

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

High Desert Motel

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


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

56 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

2 artist-owned cabins with boulder & panoramic desert views, minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, with all amenities, including wireless Internet. A favorite of musicians & artists, and dog friendly. 909-224-8626 or 760-366-1331

Harmony Motel

Country Inn

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

Roughley Manor

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. 74744 Joe Davis Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3238

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

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

Pop legends U2 stayed at the Harmony, why not U too?

2005 newly remodeled rooms with TVs, kitchenettes, hot spas, swimming pool, break room, copier, fax and Internet service is free. Best value in town. 71161 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3351 •

Sunset Motel

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

96.3 FM December 2009/January 2010 – The Sun Runner 57

Amargosa Opera House & Hotel

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

Now you can reach 45,000 readers each issue with your ad in The Sun Runner Magazine (and reach even more online with our!)

Joshua Tree National Park

Mojave National Preserve

74485 National Park Drive (at Utah Trail) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 Park Info: (760)367-5500 •

Death Valley National Park Beatty Information Center, Beatty, NV (775)553-2200 Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum (760)786-3200

29 Palms Chamber of Commerce 73660 Civic Center, Suite D Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3445

Barstow Chamber of Commerce

Anza-Borrego Foundation

Find the best in desert lodging at and The best of the California deserts 58 The Sun Runner – December 2009/January 2010

Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 1-800-847-4830

Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority

Fine Food and Lodging at the Historic Oasis of Mara

Family Owned and Operated since 1928


(People have lived at this natural oasis for thousands of years.)

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


PAID 29 Palms, CA 92277


December 2009/January 2010 Issue: The Mysterious Mojave  

The Sun Runner, The Magazine of the Real California Desert, celebrates its 15th birthday with an issue on The Mysterious Mojave (Desert). J...

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