CVIndependent

Wed11252020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

I have always been awful at living in the moment.

My mind, left unchecked, is always running—usually pondering something out of my control, or a hypothetical, or something in the future (i.e., a hypothetical).

What is this disaster going to do to my business? Will I be able to pay my bills? This was supposed to be opening week of baseball season; what if there’s no season at all this year? I am worried about my friend who’s coming down with something. I’ll need to go to the store tomorrow, and I don’t want to.

You get the idea.

Earlier today, I took a break and took a walk around the block with a friend who lives in my apartment complex. (Social distancing precautions were taken.) It was nice to be outside, and my friend and I had a good talk … but I couldn’t tell you five details on things I noticed on the walk. It was a gorgeous day, yet my mind was babbling to itself with worry, with fear, with what-ifs? and so on.

Wasted opportunity.

Truth be told, my stomach is feeling tight with anxiety as I type this. But if I take a deep breath, and focus on the moment, the now … everything’s OK.

It doesn’t feel OK, but it really is OK. I am home. I am safe. I am well-fed—and in fact, I am sipping a delicious michelada. I am working on something with purpose while listening to comfort music (i.e. the’80s station on SiriusXM). I am comfortable. The rest of my day is slated to consist of work I enjoy, a delicious dinner (homemade soup, salad and then homemade meatloaf) with the husband and cat, and then all sorts of Bon Appetit YouTube videos.

In the moment, in the now, life is good.

Just going through the exercise of typing this and thinking about its truthfulness has that anxiety knot in my stomach loosening … even if just a little. (Like I said, I have always been bad at this.)

For most of us, for most of the time, for most of this shelter-at-home phase, we will be OK in the now/moment. Yeah, we all need to prepare and plan and work to do our all to make sure our future selves—and our future friends, family, community, etc.—are taken care of. Yes, each of us will have bad moments. But we will all be better off if we are able to actually, for example, enjoy the gorgeousness of our spring weather during a walk around the block.

In the moment, in the now, life is good.

Here’s today’s news.

• Courtesy of our friends at Dig Boston, here’s another recap of COVID-19 coverage from alternative newspapers across the country.

The National Guard is here to help FIND Food Bank make sure the valley’s hungry are getting fed

• Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors reminds you that in California, sheltering-in-place is a requirement, not a recommendation.

• The California DMV is extending deadlines and launching virtual field offices. Watch for updates.

• If you’re looking for statewide news on the coronavirus and its effects, one of the best sources is our partner CalMatters. We’ll be republishing a lot of CalMatters’ coverage at CVIndependent.com, as we always do, but there’s always good stuff there.

• Casey Dolan, over at aggregation website Cactus Hugs, has also been doing a daily recap of COVID-19 news and links; here are his for today.

• Audible has launched a new free service with audiobooks for kids and teens during the duration of this COVID-19 mess.

• The city of Indio reminds you that city parks are open, but the playgrounds are closed.

• Jewish Family Service of the Desert—which is actually non-denominational, by the way—is offering telecare therapy for both existing clients and new, as well as other services. Details here.

• Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times checked in with the legendary Vin Scully during these troubled times. Read the story, and listen to the video to hear words of hope from the legend himself.

• Finally, whether you’re a fan of the TV show Schitt’s Creek or not … some excellent advice above.

Keep washing your hands. Stay at home if you can. Call or message a loved one and say hey. More tomorrow.

Published in Daily Digest

This new normal, alas, is going to last a while—and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Therefore, it’s downright crucial that we make the best of this shit show.

Personally, this has meant two things: First, I am trying to take good care of myself—yes, that means getting exercise (something I need to get better at even during “normal” times) and washing my hands a bazillion times a day, etc., but just as importantly, it means taking care of my mental health. That’s why yesterday’s (mostly) day off was amazing. I slept in. I mostly avoided the news. I ate yummy, healthy food. I watched Bojack Horseman. (Not familiar? Seriously, check it out. Yeah, I know there are animated talking animals. It’s so much more than that.)

Second: Not only am I trying to simply maintain myself; I am trying to better myself. Yeah, our lives have all been disrupted … but that doesn’t mean we should simply waste this time. If the brunt of this, say, lasts three months, it’s not like the universe is going to add an extra three months to our lives to make up for it, after all.

So, yeah. We need to make the most of this time, as crazy as it is.

In that vein, I’d like to highlight an article we just posted at CVIndependent.com. I asked Matt King, our fabulous and talented music writer, to compile a list of songs from local musicians people should get to know. Not only did he do just that; he actually made a playlist with these songs on Spotify and YouTube.

Question: How many of you out there like music? Raise your hands, please. Yeah … almost all of you. Great!

Second question: How many of you out there can name more than, say, five local bands? Hmm. I am not seeing a lot of hands going up in my mind’s eye.

If you’re one of the people whose hands didn’t figuratively go up for that last question, you really should go check out Matt’s Coachella Valley Quarantine playlist. Trust me: You’ll be blown away at the local talent you’ve never heard of. Not every song may be your cup of tea; heck, most of them may not be. But you’ll enjoy one or two or four of them.

When you do find a song you like, go listen to more of that band’s music. Follow them on social media. Send a message complimenting them. Buy their music. And when the bars and clubs open again—oh, what a glorious day that’ll be—go see them. If you throw a party, hire them, even.

If you actually do listen to the Coachella Valley Quarantine playlist today and find a new local band … hey, you bettered yourself, even if just a little. And that’s a very, very good thing.

Today’s news and links:

• Gov. Newsom has asked the National Guard to help make sure food is getting to people who need it. Here’s his office’s advice on how you can help. And if you need help, here’s a list of resources.

• We will be talking more in coming days about the mind-blowingly important work the Desert AIDS Project is doingthey created a whole new clinic to help people with COVID-19 in a matter of days, and revealed late Friday night that three of that clinic’s patients have so far tested positive for the coronavirus. Here is DAP’s regularly updated Q&A page on COVID-19.

• Rep. Raul Ruiz has created a list of federal and local resources for his constituents while we deal with all this craziness. 

• The San Francisco Chronicle has created a list of events you can stream from the Bay Area during this time. Know of local events? Drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

• This website, created by all sorts of smart people, shows state-by-state predictions on what’s going to happen with the COVID-19 spread. It’s kinda scary, but I found some hope in it—because if it’s right, California may be doing OK at #flatteningthecurve.

• The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating piece about the online diary of Fang Fang, a writer who lives in Wuhan, China. Again, kinda scary, but with some hope.

If you deal with anxiety like I do, this HuffPost piece has some great advice—nothing hugely revelatory, but lots of good reminders.

More tomorrow. Check in on a friend. Wash your hands … and try to make the most of this time.

Published in Daily Digest

We’re under an emergency shelter-at-home order in California, with a lot of businesses closed down—meaning many people are now without a steady income, including the Coachella Valley’s hard-working, talented musicians.

Many of us also now have a lot of time on our hands … so why not use that time to get to know the local music scene better—while supporting these musicians in the process?

Also, remember that music can be a healer of wounds! For me, music can turn a terrible day into a great day—so I hope that this list can bring you joy in this uncertain time.

Because of all this, I’ve compiled a “Coachella Valley Quarantine” playlist of some of my favorite songs by valley bands. By streaming their songs on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or any other service, you will also assist them financially … not much, but every little bit helps!

Click here for the Spotify version of the playlist.

Click here for the YouTube version.

“Last Day,” Captain Ghost

I started the playlist off with this one, because the only way to transition into the apocalypse is with roars and sick guitar riffs. This song is as heavy as it is funky—dare I say, with perhaps a hint of ska? The screamed-out chorus lines of “set forth your hands / like it’s the last day on Earth” make this song a perfect soundtrack for the end times. You can read more about Captain Ghost in the interview I did with them last year at CVIndependent.com; facebook.com/CaptainGhostBand.

“Coachella Gold,” Giselle Woo and the Night Owls

After being announced as part of the 2020 Coachella lineup, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls’ profile in the music scene became bigger than ever. Alas, the postponement of the festival means the world will have to wait to experience in person the greatness we’ve seen evolving over the past few years. “Coachella Gold” makes you proud to live here—and a sense of community is definitely something we all need during this time. Learn more about Giselle here; facebook.com/GiselleWooandTheNightOwls.

“Beat Up Your Mom (Sides One and Two),” Sleazy Cortez

In these times of mass hysteria and paranoia, you really could use a good laugh. Sleazy Cortez’s comedy stoner-punk jams are a perfect 20-second hand wash to take your worries away. You don’t even have to worry about too many lyrics, because the only words to this song are: “Beat up your mom.” Side One’s fast punk transitions beautifully into Side Two’s slow-burning blues groove for an epic 3 1/2-minute track. Learn more about Sleazy Cortez here; sleazycortez.bandcamp.com.

“Alone,” Black Water Gospel

“This is how it feels to be alone,” sings Lance Riebsomer in the chorus of this song. The desperation in his voice echoes many people’s uncertainties in this time of isolation—yet this song has one of those guitar solos will help you feel amazing. It’s hard to describe, so just listen. I challenge you to not bob your head at least once throughout the entire track; it may be impossible. Read more about Black Water Gospel here; facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

“Back on Track,” Brightener

Whenever I listen to Brightener, I can’t help but smile. Will Sturgeon has a voice that just makes you happy, and any track from his band will lift your spirit. It’s no wonder the band has played many top-notch gigs in Los Angeles, not to mention Coachella in 2016. “Back on Track” is one of Sturgeon’s funkier songs, and will make your stay-cation a lot dancier. Learn more about Brightener here; brightener.bandcamp.com.

“Gallium,” Calico Wonderstone

Calico Wonderstone dominated the backyard music scene, but has only played a few shows at local venues, so the band’s name is unknown to many. The band dropped a five-song EP, but has not played a show since releasing it, meaning it has been severely underappreciated. “Gallium” is an indie-rock jam, and lead singer Ramses Lopez’s unique vocal style adds an edgier tone to the groove; soundcloud.com/calicowndrstne.

“Mainframe,” Fever Dog

Fever Dog has brought full effort into each of the genres the band has pursued. The group’s first two albums were heavy stoner rock, and then in 2017, Fever Dog released the Mainframe EP—three tracks of psychedelic jams. The title track sounds like something straight out of Pink Floyd, and is the perfect track to let your mind wander away from the negativity. Learn more about Fever Dog here; feverdog.bandcamp.com.

“Elevator Dance,” The Flusters

The Flusters offer a perfect mix of dreamy grooves and rockin’ choruses. Take “Elevator Dance,” for example; the verses are very Doors-esque, with lead singer Doug VanSant’s reverbed voice haunting the listener’s ear. But then, the guitar turns up for the choruses—and turns the slow groove to a full-on jump-around-and-dance vibe. Check out more about The Flusters here; theflusters.com.

“Wao Wao,” Ocho Ojos

Ocho Ojos’ catalogue features the best of the best when it comes to psychedelic cumbia. The band has played Coachella twice, and has performed at pretty much every venue in the valley—a handful of times—while sprinkling some out-of-town shows in between. The Latin rhythms shine bright on “Wao Wao,” and the 4 1/2-minute banger features synth player Danny Torres and guitarist Cesar Flores trading off solos in epic fashion; facebook.com/ochoojoscv.

“Funk Jam,” Desert Rhythm Project

This is a pretty self-explanatory track from Joshua Tree favorites Desert Rhythm Project. Funk is a healer of many things; in fact, I’ve been told there’s nothing a little groove can’t fix. Lead singer Mikey Reyes' soothing voice guides listeners through this song; it’s almost as if he’s checking in with us after every extended groove to make sure we’re OK. And this track is packed tight with groove, as it’s a six-minute song that features every essential funk instrument—horns, bass and, of course, a talk-box solo; desertrhythmproject.com.

“Sand Dune,” FrankEatsTheFloor

Shameless self-promotion: This is my band, and a song I wrote—of which I’m particularly proud. I used our desert landscape to represent how lonely you can feel in a situation of unreciprocated love. I wrote it when I felt lonely; I was sitting inside all day staring at the sand dunes, but now that I have to stay inside, I truly understand how lonely it can be living in a sandy jungle. The bassline is prominent, primarily because I wrote the song around the riff—but also because it sounds cool. Learn more about us here; facebook.com/FrankEatsTheFloor.

“Tied Up,” Instigator

We’re all tied up at home, so why not throw on this aptly named metal tune from local rockers Instigator? The intro riff has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it; about 40 seconds into the song, the headbanging begins in full effect. Leader Mark Wadlund just posted on Facebook: “‘Coronavirus’ is a great name for a song on a heavy-metal concept album about disease,” so maybe something good will come out of this situation. Read more about Instigator here; facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

“Isolated,” Israel’s Arcade

Speaking of aptly named songs, this indie-rock track from Israel’s Arcade is the perfect song for your isolation blues. “Don’t come find me … let me rot,” sings Israel Pinedo over a melancholy instrumental—featuring some sweet saxophone backup. The standout part of this track is the lead guitar, as its back-and-forth rhythm, while extremely catchy, elicits a true sense of loneliness. Learn more about them here; instagram.com/israelsarcade.

“Strange,” Ormus

Ormus’ first album was a collection of hard-hitting metal-punk tracks, complete with frontman Martin Posada’s death growls. But “Strange” sounds like something straight from the ’70s, with Posada and bass-player Serene Noell sharing vocal duties on a rock track that’s very Black Sabbath-esque. However, Ormus’ signature sound comes back in the middle of a song, for a minute-long metal-punk death-growl interlude; facebook.com/ormusband.

“Bad Conscience Blues,” Plastic Ruby

Plastic Ruby’s unique “Desert Jangle” sound slows down a bit on “Bad Conscience Blues.” Lead singer John Marek’s reverb-caked voice sings over a slow-burning psychedelic-blues track that is as groovy as it is bluesy. The three-minute-long jam would not be complete without the organ solo, however—as everybody knows that you can't have psychedelic jams without an organ. Learn more about the band here; plasticruby.com.

“King Street,” Pescaterritory

“King Street” is one of those songs that makes you feel cool. The pounding rock beat of the song may just lead you to strut around your isolation chamber. Halfway through the song, guitarist Jason Zembo steals the show with what may be one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. The best way to beat the virus is with rock ’n’ roll! Read more about the band here; facebook.com/pescaterritory.

“Ppl Like U,” Throw the Goat

The first release from Throw the Goat after a recent lineup change proves that the same ol’ Goat is still there. It’s a punk outcry against hypocrites and the current state of the world—a perfect song for letting out your rage. The band is setting up for a full album about the political nonsense, appropriately titled Vote Goat 2020. Read more about the group here; facebook.com/throwthegoat. (Photo below by Keleigh Black)

“The Death of a Gentleman,” YIP YOPS

The Yip Yops’ recent lineup departures left the group as a two-piece—but the boys are determined to not change the sound that much. “The Death of a Gentleman” is an ’80s-style synth-rock gem that sounds so much like Depeche Mode. It’s groovy; it’s danceable; it even has somber moments. A lot of ground is covered in three minutes, and will cover many of the moods you are feeling during this time. Read more about them here; yipyops.com.

“Baby’s Breath,” Koka

Another notable band in the backyard-show scene in the valley is Koka, an indie-rock group with soothing melodies that offer a bedroom-pop vibe. Their sounds have brought them Internet attention, with “Baby’s Breath” nabbing more than 37,000 listens on Soundcloud alone. Lead singer Edith Aldaz’s vocal lines are catchy; singing the oohs of this song’s chorus will definitely help alleviate some stress; instagram.com/koka.wav.

“I Wanna Be Over You,” The Hive Minds

The last song on this playlist ends things on a high note. A happy instrumental is met by lead singer Derek Jordan Gregg reminiscing about the good times: “Remember the way that I fell when I held you, December.” Gregg wants to go back to “feeling himself”—don’t we all? This song is cheery and proves that music can be a source of joy, even in times like these; www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

Man, you know it’s been a crappy week when you’re quoted not once, but twice in national stories about the sudden demise of your industry.

Bleh.

But you know what … screw the negativity. There’s enough of that going around. Let’s focus on the positive elements—or at least the potentially positive elements—of the havoc COVID-19 is wreaking worldwide.

Positives? you may reply. There are positives in all this awfulness?!

While I don’t want to diminish how bad things are for many people—and how truly awful they may get in the weeks ahead—yes, there are some small, tiny, slivers of silver linings here.

For starters:

• The pandemic is finally forcing the state to take immediate, drastic action on the homelessness problem. What if, just maybe, we come out of this having made some progress on the huge issue?

• The worldwide shutdown has already drastically lowered the amount of pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions on the planet. Maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity?

• The efforts being made to fight the virus and adjust to our shelter-in-place reality may lead to scientific advancements, a decline in individualism, a return to a faith in true experts, and all sorts of other good things. Politico Magazine asked more than 30 brainy folks on how COVID-19 will change the world, and what they came up with was mostly positive.

• On clear nights, we can go outside and enjoy the universe. Yes, we’re allowed to go outside and look up at the heavens, and Independent astronomy columnist Robert Victor has some advice.

“In the southeast, about an hour and 15 minutes before sunrise on clear mornings, you’re sure to notice bright Jupiter with two companions nearby. The rest of March will be excellent for following Mars, as it passes Jupiter and Saturn. (You can really notice the reddish color of Mars, from oxidation of its iron-containing surface material!) From March 20 to 31, all three planets will fit within the field of view of low-power binoculars. After that, next chance to see all three in the same binocular field together won’t be until 2040!”

So … yeah. It’s not ALL bad. While we prepare for more horrible things, let’s all hold on to the hope that better times—truly better times—will follow.

Here are today’s updates … almost all of which are positive in some way or another:

• Around the time I hit send on yesterday’s Daily Digest, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was extending the shelter-in-place order—already in place in Palm Springs, but not the rest of the Coachella Valley—to the rest of the state. And therefore the rest of the valley.

• I like this idea: The city of Rancho Mirage is giving some help to the city’s restaurants that stay open and offer delivery and takeout during the shelter-in-place order. 

• In a similar vein, the state is making it easier for those restaurants to sell liquor, too. Key quote: “Bona fide eating places (i.e., restaurants) selling beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks or cocktails for consumption off the licensed premises may do so when sold in conjunction with meals prepared for pick-up or delivery.” Yes!

• First the feds moved the tax-payment date. Now the tax-filing deadline has been extended three months, too.

Netflix is setting up a $100 million fund to help the people who work on Hollywood productions. Awesome move.

• Computer owners: Your machine can help contribute to the fight against the coronavirus.

• Local drag star Anita Rose is doing online drag shows—and promoting others’ online drag shows, too!

• Late-night star Conan O’Brien—who should have never been fired from The Tonight Show—will resume doing full shows the week after next … using Skype and an iPhone.

• Finally … since I started off with the bad news about the continent’s alternative newspapers, I’ll end with the good: These papers are doing amazing work, even as the future looks dire. My friend Chris Faraone of Dig Boston did a roundup of how we’re covering this shit show.

That’s all for today. Just a heads-up: In order to save my sanity, and make my work better moving forward, we’ll probably take tomorrow off from the Daily Digest. But if we do, never fear: We’ll be back Sunday. Now, I have to go finish the April print edition and send it off to press. I’ll have more details on that later—but above is a sneak peak of the cover. I asked my amazing cover designer, Beth Allen, to find an image that sums up these … interesting times, and even though that was pretty much an impossible ask, I think she pulled it off.

Published in Daily Digest

Apologies for the relative lateness of this Daily Digest; the hubby and I had, as we only-half-jokingly call it, couple’s physical therapy late this afternoon.

About eight weeks ago, the hubby slipped and fell after grocery shopping on a rainy day; he broke his kneecap. Two weeks later, he had surgery to repair the damage.

The day after his surgery, I fell while hosting an event and dislocated my right elbow. Yes, really.

Six weeks after that, we’re well on our way to recovery—but still at least a good six weeks away from anything resembling “healed.” The hubby wants to walk normally again; I want to be able to lift more than five pounds with my right arm and throw a softball again. So, even in this time of sheltering at home and avoiding as much in-person contact as possible, PT is important—a necessity, even, worth braving COVID-19.

We go to physical therapy and doctor’s appointments. We go out to get groceries and prescriptions (especially now that the delivery services are overwhelmed). I, on somewhat rare occasions, venture out for work reasons. That’s pretty much it, and we’re OK with doing all of that, while taking all possible precautions—even if we have our concerns.

(A moment to thank all of you—health care professionals, retail workers, etc.—who can’t work from home. God bless you. I can’t thank you enough right now.)

However, as far as the hubby and I are concerned … what about the small gathering of six close friends one of those friends has proposed for the weekend? No hugging or touching—just sitting in a room while having drinks, chatting and watching a movie while washing our hands a lot and trying not to touch our faces? Is that OK? Does the fact that this gathering would do so much to lessen my anxiety after this horrendous week matter?

Or what about having another dear friend over to our place—the one who lives in our same apartment complex? What if I tell you that friend is living with his elderly, frail father?

Frankly, we’re not worried about ourselves; we’re more worried about possibly spreading COVID-19 to one of these amazing friends, and doing our part to #flattenthecurve. After all, we are in PT twice a week—and even though the physical therapy folks are doing an amazing job of wiping things down and using hand sanitizer non-stop—how do we know they didn’t miss a spot that an asymptomatic patient touched after brushing his nose with his hand? Heck, how do we know one of us isn’t asymptomatic?

Honestly … the hubby and I don’t know what we’re gonna do.

Anyway … on with today’s news and links. A lot of them are from the Independent—we’ve posted a lot of great stuff the last couple days, and I forgot to post our own stuff from yesterday in the Wednesday Daily Digest. So sorry, not sorry.

The I Love Gay Palm Springs Podcast with Dr. Laura Rush is here! Thanks to all of you who wrote in with your questions. Due to technical difficulties, we weren’t able to get to a question or two—but we may do this again next week; watch this space! And we promise better audio next time (and props to John Taylor to making it sound as good as it does!).

• The Certified Farmers’ Markets—with all sorts of precautions—are reopening!

• The Independent’s pets columnist, Carlynne McDonnell, says that if you own pets, you should have a plan for them in case something happens to you—COVID-19 or not.

• The LGBT Community Center of the Desert is offering some fantastic online programs open to ALL members of the community. “Social Caring in the Face of Quarantine” will take place at 11 a.m., Thursday, March 19 (http://bit.ly/thecentersocialcaring) and 11 a.m., Monday, March 23 (http://bit.ly/thecentersocialcaring2). “Managing Emotions During a Pandemic” will happen 11 a.m., Friday, March 20 (http://bit.ly/thecentermanaging) and 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 (http://bit.ly/thecentermanaging2). Watch www.facebook.com/thecenterps for more.

• Independent columnist Anita Rufus—a senior who medical professionals consider “vulnerable” to the coronavirus—talked about her struggles as the news got more dire, and the world began to close down. A lot of you will be able to relate. 

• The Desert Sun’s Colin Atagi and Melissa Daniels did a fantastic job of breaking down the varying ways the valley’s nine cities are dealing with the virus. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a doctor, wants all cities to temporarily close all non-essential businesses; so far, only Palm Springs has.

• The Independent’s Matt King looked at how the closure of bars and clubs has rattled musicians—and devastated their pocketbooks. However, the music may play on via social media

• The Independent’s Kevin Carlow worked as a bartender for one of Palm Springs’ most popular bars and restaurants. Well, he did until he was laid off—like so many others were. Here’s his dispatch from the service-industry front lines.

• Need some animal cuteness? Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live cams.

There’s soooooo much more, but it’s time for me to go ice my elbow. More tomorrow, including a sneak peak at our April print edition.

Published in Daily Digest

At noon on March 17, the city of Palm Desert’s public information officer, David Hermann, issued a statement with the headline “Palm Desert Declares Local Emergency—Temporarily Closes City Hall.”

“In response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly evolving public health guidelines, City Manager Lauri Aylaian on Tuesday announced the declaration of a local emergency in Palm Desert,” the statement read. “Palm Desert City Hall and other municipal facilities are closed, effective at noon on March 17, and will remain closed pending a public health risk re-evaluation on April 3.”

On this crazy day, Hermann—displaying an impressive degree of professionalism—also took the time to respond to a few inquiries the Independent made regarding the status of the Palm Desert district-creation process for upcoming elections.

To recap: Palm Desert residents Karina Quintanilla and Lorraine Salas sued the city, accusing Palm Desert of not complying with the 2001 California Voting Rights Act. Similar lawsuits have forced cities across the state, including several in the Coachella Valley, to switch from at-large to district-based election systems. Quintanilla and Salas reached a preliminary settlement at the end of 2019—launching a public-participatory process.

That process began with an open-house presentation on Jan. 15, including a somewhat-misleading characterization: The city presented the creation of a system with just two districts as pretty much a done deal, which was not the case.

There was another, more-candid open-house presentation in February, followed by a public hearing in City Council chambers on March 12.

Then the pandemic reality arrived.

After one more public hearing, scheduled for March 26—during which remote input is allowed via cityofpalmdesert.org—the city has scheduled its final public hearing for April 16, when the City Council is slated to select the district map that could define the structure of electoral representation for the foreseeable future. (It is worth mentioning the plaintiffs have approval rights over the district boundaries in order for the lawsuit to be settled.)

The Independent reached out to Hermann to ask if the city has considered postponing the rest of this process until the COVID-19 threat has subsided.

“A postponement is not feasible given deadlines for the November election and the settlement agreement’s requirement that districts be in place for that election,” Hermann replied.

Of course, things are changing by the day, and it’s possible the city and plaintiffs could indeed agree to delay implementation of the district system, given the unprecedented circumstances. But as of this writing, the process is racing ahead toward that April 16 due date.

As of the March 12 public hearing, 10 maps had been submitted for consideration. Seven of them came from five different residents, while three were created by the National Demographics Corporation—a third-party vendor experienced in electoral district-map creation hired by the city—to reflect the city’s input.

At that next-to-last public hearing scheduled for March 26, at least two more map submissions will be considered as well.

All of the maps so far call for the creation of just two districts: One encompassing 20 percent of the city’s population in a majority-Latino area, with the other district encompassing the other 80 percent of the city’s population. The first district would be represented on the City Council by one member, while the second district will elect four members. No maps have yet been submitted illustrating three, four or five districts.

During the public-comment period of the March 12 meeting, Quintanilla expressed concerns that the online map-creation tool provided by the city was not intuitive or easy to utilize, even for someone as digitally savvy as she considers herself to be; as a result, she had not been able to submit the five-district option she would like to see implemented. Councilmember Kathleen Kelly suggested that instructional support be provided to residents if possible.

The Independent asked Hermann if map submissions could still be made. He replied: “Maps for City Council consideration have to be submitted prior to the March 26th hearing.” So that leaves residents, including Quintanilla, without much time—all while dealing with the uncertainty and distress of the pandemic threat.

On multiple occasions, Douglas Johnson, president of the National Demographics Corporation, has mentioned at public sessions that whatever district boundaries are adopted by the city will likely need to be redrawn next year based on the results of the 2020 Census. However, Hermann said this is not by any means a certainty.

“The districting map will only be adjusted in 2021 if it proves to lack the requisite population balance,” Hermann clarified.

What happens next? Stay tuned.

Published in Politics

It’s not very often a cocktail columnist for a desert newspaper gets to pretend to be an “in the trenches” correspondent. It’s pretty chill here, and I write about drinks.

Now here we are.

It’s Sunday, March 15. I am sitting in an empty hotel bar with my computer, practicing social distancing, conversing about the situation with my buddy the bartender, as well as a tattooed stranger from L.A. We’re all at least six feet apart. The pool outside hasn’t slowed, however. Dozens of half-naked people still touch, breathe all over each other and swim in the communal water.

I just found out I am unemployed.

I was planning on writing a little piece about how moving Coachella to October would affect the bars and restaurants in this town. I was excited about that for a couple of reasons. Through some informal polling, I got some good takes on why that could, in the long run, be a good thing for the local economy.

Now I am being told, in real time, that I need to move from the empty bar to the pool area, which is crawling with people. It’s not the manager’s fault. They’re following the letter of the law, and I completely understand that. Nobody knows what to do.

Let’s flashback a few days. I had taken Wednesday off as a precautionary measure—I wasn’t feeling great, and though I had no COVID-19 symptoms, one can’t be too careful. I felt great Thursday, but due to slow business at work, I left around 8 p.m. and walked most of the way home to get a feel for things.

There was no VillageFest. A few people were walking around; a couple of the local dives were half-busy. It wasn’t eerily quiet or anything; I am used to Palm Springs being quiet at night. It’s part of the reason I like it here. It felt like a Tuesday instead of a Thursday—otherwise, not too jarring.

On Friday, I rode my bike into work. It’s a 25-minute ride, slightly uphill, and it was into a strong headwind, just in case anyone wanted to question my being healthy. (That sounds petty, but I didn’t want anyone at work to question that I would ever put their health in jeopardy over a shift or two.) I was scheduled at the restaurant, but the bar had two staff members stay home as a precaution, so we were a little short-handed overall. Only a few parties cancelled, and we stayed busy most of the night. People still fought over the limited seating at the bar—standing two deep behind the chairs, breathing and leaning all over each other. We can only do so much; if the guests wish to be unsafe, that’s their prerogative. Behind the bar, we used the strongest sanitizers, washing hands in between even the slightest possible contaminations. Our hands were chapped from the soap and hot water. We took the situation very seriously and parsed every possible vector of transmission. Do we toss the pens after each use? Do we sanitize them? What about the menus … do we recycle them after each use?

I went over to help next door at the bar. A wedding party of 40 had walked in, taking over a whole side of the room—hugging, sharing drinks, sneezing and coughing all over the place. To a co-worker, I referred to them as “plague rats” and “zombies,” and finally “plague zombies,” which felt the most accurate. Regulars were trying to shake hands with me and hug me; a couple of drinks makes the pandemic go away, after all.

On Saturday, there was a slight dip in the number of covers at the restaurant, and frankly, we three bartenders were beginning to get bored—but once 9 o’clock hit, the zombies were back. People were three-deep at the bar, breathing on each other, up close and personal. Regulars were sick of watching the news and coming in for a friendly face and a bite to eat—all jockeying for those precious seats.

I had mixed feelings. Not knowing how many shifts I would have left, the way things were going—or even if people would leave the house for two months—I felt fortunate that we were still busy. There are no easy answers here. A medical crisis or an economic one … who is right, and who is wrong? How the hell am I going to make money for the next month, or two, or year? Is it right to choose to save a small percentage from death only to put millions upon millions out of work? I started thinking of my college political-philosophy 101 classes and John Stuart Mill for the first time in decades.

I had a guest sarcastically tell me my expensive undergrad degree was “doing me a hell of a lot of good” as a bartender recently. Well, pal, when you’re right, you’re right.

Coachella … who the hell cares right now?

Now it’s Sunday. I went for a ride on my bike to this hotel, to write in the dark and have a burger. Now it’s hard to write by this pool, although I am 20 feet from anyone. All of these skinny people here are from Los Angeles, escaping the grim realities of that city for a day or two. It’s hard to blame them. I am imagining them in six months, smashing store windows in Silver Lake for toilet paper and White Claws.

It’s hard to write this; I am worried for myself. I’m worried for my parents back in Massachusetts. Worried for the local economy. For my friends who work at bars, or own bars, or just work with the public at all.

My mind keeps going back to almost 10 years ago, when I was working at an outdoor bar in downtown Boston when the marathon bombing happened. Restaurant and bar managers were trying to make decisions on the fly as to whether they should close on the spot, or not. Everyone was looking suspiciously at strangers. Soon after, the governor and mayor told everyone to effectively shelter in place. We sat at home glued to the news, police scanners and social media.

That only ended up lasting a couple of days, and things got better. With California’s tourism-based economy, and this little desert realizing it has lost a desperately needed season, it’s hard to stay hopeful. We’d already lost a new bar, Glitch, in town before this hit, and many more are teetering as it is. I fear the landscape here is going to be bleak this summer. The labor crunch will be over, if there is a silver lining, as places go out of business and lay off workers. The corporate hospitality groups will feast on the remains, and I fear fast-casual brands will slide like hermit crabs into the dead shells of mom-and-pop places. Perhaps I am being too gloomy; a friend commented the other day that New Englanders panic better than anyone. Maybe this will all just blow over, and I will look like a Chicken Little. I certainly hope so.

Riding home, I have the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” in my head. I’ve got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days.

Now it’s late Sunday night, and we’re with a small group of friends saying goodbye to a local bar that fills a lovely niche space in this town. It didn’t take long for the fallout to start.

I’ll see you on the other side. Cocktail of the month, straight shot of whiskey.

Kevin Carlow can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Cocktails

On this week's laid-off, shut-in, sad, but determined-to-get-through-this weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World gets pandemic advice from the Invisible Hand of the Free Market; Jen Sorensen looks in on the Coronavirus Spring Break; (Th)ink ponders Fox News' five stages of the coronavirus; Apoca Clips finds itself rather empty; and Red Meat has a disturbing idea from Earl.

Published in Comics

Although I had been following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, it still seemed somewhat remote from the life we live in the Coachella Valley. It was in that state of mind that I decided to go see a comedy show at a local theater.

It all started on Monday, March 9, when six of us—Carol and Denny, Casi and Tom, and Rupert and me—got tickets for the afternoon performance of Old Jews Telling Jokes on Saturday, March 14, at the Indian Wells Theater on Cal State’s Palm Desert campus. Afterward, we planned to go to Carol and Denny’s for a light supper.

Then, increasingly, the reality of the coronavirus unfolded.

I am, unbelievably (to me), heading toward my 79th birthday in May. I had a heart “incident” last Thanksgiving that forestalled a heart attack and resulted in a stent being placed in one of my arteries that was blocked up after a lifetime of smoking. I could go on, but in other words, based on age and underlying conditions, I'm one of the vulnerable.

An email on Monday suggested that maybe we should see about getting a refund on the tickets. We’re all of a certain age, and perhaps going to a theater with a crowd of people wasn’t such a good idea, with the virus news getting more disturbing every day. I said I’d look into it.

I called the ticket broker through whom the tickets were purchased—and was told they were nonrefundable. In spite of my pleas about being a senior on a fixed income who couldn’t afford to either simply forfeit the price of the tickets or take the chance on going to the theater, the broker (who was very polite and understanding through it all) said—preposterously, it seemed at the time—that unless a national emergency was called, the show would go on.

I did manage to joke with the broker that given the virus’ circumstances and the older local population for such a show, perhaps our group attending would be no problem, since nobody else would be in the theater. He laughed politely … but held his ground.

I then called the theater box office, but a voice message made it clear their season was over, and therefore, they were not able to respond. Next, I sent an email to Cal State and asked if they planned to close down the campus, including the theater—after all, they are local, and I assumed they would act responsibly in the best interest of the public, to say nothing of their students. They did respond, but only to say the show had been contracted as a theater rental, and the campus had not closed down—so I had to work it out with the ticket broker.

Next, I had planned to drive into Los Angeles Tuesday morning to attend the memorial for a dear friend who had passed after three years in a nursing facility. It would be at a hotel on the beach in Santa Monica; after lunch, we’d watch a plane drop my friend’s ashes into the Pacific. I had even been asked to say a few words. Then, I was planning to spend Tuesday night with my daughter and two of my grandchildren. My grandson, who lives with his dad in Texas, was flying in to spend his spring break with his mom and sister; I was staying over to see them. Finally, on Wednesday, I had an appointment to audition for a game show, after which I was to return the desert.

My daughter was concerned about her son taking a flight with all the coronavirus news, so she cancelled his visit. She also expressed her concern about me attending an event where many of the people there would have flown in from around the country. 

Monday afternoon, I made the responsible decision, and I sent my regrets. I felt badly about not attending, but felt as if I had ultimately made a decision in the best interest of my own health.

Tuesday involved more emails about whether my friends and I would still go to Saturday’s performance; finally, I made it clear that it was up to each of us individually whether to attend. Clearly, eating the cost of the tickets would not destroy any of our lives. I indicated that I probably would go, but Rupert might not, given his underlying physical conditions. Casi and Carol said they would probably go, but their spouses probably would not. It’s interesting that the women, not the men, seemed willing to chance it.  

On Thursday, I had scheduled an interview with one of the next subjects for this column. I called on Wednesday to cancel—and the subject was actually thankful, given that the news was getting more and more alarming with each passing hour.

My high school group that gets together for lunch annually was supposed to meet on St. Patrick’s Day in Los Angeles. On Thursday, I begged off that as well. Of course, they ended up cancelling until later in the year.

Despite all of this, on Thursday night, it seemed all of us had decided the hell with it: We were all going to throw caution to the wind and attend Saturday’s show, hoping it would at least provide some laughs and lighten up the angst we were all feeling.

Then, on Friday the 13th, President Trump declared a national emergency. 

True to their word, we received emails indicating the show had been cancelled, and our ticket price was being fully refunded. It was honestly the first time in more than three years I felt good about something coming out of the Oval Office.

I got my nails done on Friday, while the manicurist downplayed the threat of the virus based on her belief that it was all being hyped to damage Trump. It was an oddly lucky visit, however: The beauty-supply rep was there, and I ordered a box of 100 plastic gloves, the type stylists use to apply hair dye. At least I may be able to avoid trying to find hand sanitizer for now.

My regular weekly shopping trip to the pharmacy and the market on Saturday was definitely “a trip”: Why is everyone going crazy over toilet paper? Why aren’t all stores limiting purchases of certain items? Is it really true that people are physically fighting over cleaning supplies? Yikes.

The six of us met for dinner at Carol and Denny’s Saturday evening. We were glad to be together, partly because we’d all been avoiding public contact as much as possible, and it was lovely to have some relaxed, friendly time. We hugged before we said good night. Yeah, I know, social distancing, but sometimes you have to be willing to die to have good friends and love in your life. 

The best news of the week was learning that quarantined Italians are singing and making music on their balconies… and that public health workers are risking their lives to help wherever needed.

What a week it was. And who knows what the future holds?

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs weekdays on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

DEAR READERS: I live in Seattle, the first U.S. epicenter of the novel coronavirus epidemic, with my family. A lot of my readers wrote this week to wish us well. We are fine—scared, but fine—washing our hands compulsively and staying close to home.

I’m going to keep churning out the column and recording my podcast, while being careful to maintain a safe social distance from the tech-savvy, at-risk youth. I’m hoping the column and podcast are welcome distractions.

Please take care of yourselves; take care of the people around you; and wash your damn hands.

I’m wondering if you know of a word that describes the fetish of getting off from talking dirty. I’ve searched a lot, and I can’t find a label for this kink or fetish. While googling around, I did learn some new terms, like “katoptronophilia” (being aroused by having sex in front of mirrors) and “pubephilia” (being aroused by pubic hair), but I can’t seem to find one that describes my kink.

Dirty Talker

I’m old enough to remember when people who needed to feel a strong emotional connection before they wanted to fuck someone got by without a word or a pride flag of their very own. They just said, “I’m someone who needs to feel a strong emotional connection before wanting to fuck someone.” But now they can say, “I’m a demisexual,” a five-syllable, vaguely scientific-sounding term that first popped up in an online forum in 2006. Unfortunately, when someone says, “I’m a demisexual,” the usual response is, “What’s that?” And then the demisexual has to say, “I’m someone who needs to feel a strong emotional connection before wanting to fuck someone.” So leading with “I’m a demisexual” seems like a waste of time to me. But it does extend the amount of time the speaker gets to talk about him/her/themselves … and who doesn’t love talking about themselves?

Anyway, DT, you’re someone who enjoys dirty talk. There isn’t a special term (or pride flag) for you that I could find—I did a little half-hearted googling myself—and I don’t think you need one. You can get by with: “I’m someone who enjoys dirty talk.”

My wife and I have been married for a little more than two years. We both have demanding jobs, but she admits to being a workaholic and spends almost every night on the couch answering e-mails and binge-watching Bravo. I’ve resorted to getting high most nights to cover up for the fact that I’m very unhappy. Despite being overworked, she’s started a side hustle selling skin-care products to her friends, most of whom she rarely sees in person.

Bottom line: I didn’t sign up for this. I’m beyond bored and want to travel and explore. But she refuses to give up the side hustle and dial back her work or her drinking. We both earn comfortable salaries, and we don’t need the extra income.

Would I be justified in leaving because of her newfound hobby?

Basically Over Redundant Enrichment

Side hustle or no, BORE, you aren’t happy, and that’s reason enough to leave. And while you won’t (or shouldn’t) be doing much traveling anytime soon, you can find a lawyer; search for a new apartment; and initiate divorce proceedings while your wife sits on the couch answering work e-mails and pushing skin-care products to her friends. I would typically encourage someone in your shoes to risk telling the truth before walking out—you’re unhappy; you’re bored; you don’t want to live like this anymore—but it sounds like your mind is made up. So use your time at home over the next couple of weeks to make your escape plan.

I’m a young white woman, and my last boyfriend, a black man, left me two weeks ago. Ever since, I have been masturbating only while thinking about black guys.

My question is: Do I have a “thing” for black guys now? I’ve accepted that our relationship is over, but it was really intense. I feel disgusting after I masturbate, because it feels gross and not respectful toward my ex somehow. What do you think?

Desperately Horny For Black Men

Masturbate about whatever the fuck turns you on, DHFBM, and if you’re worried someone would find your masturbatory fantasies disrespectful … don’t tell that person about your masturbatory fantasies.

I suppose it’s possible you have a “thing” for black guys now. (What’s that thing they say? Actually, let’s not say it.) Unless you are treating black guys as objects and not people, or you fetishize blackness in a way that makes black sex partners feel degraded (in unsexy, nonconsensual ways) or used (in ways they don’t wish to be used), don’t waste your time worrying about your fantasies. Worry about your actions.

I’m a 35-year-old woman in a long-term cohabitating relationship with a man. We opened our relationship about six months ago, and it’s going very well; we both have FWBs.

My primary partner and I are going to be getting engaged soon, and I’m wondering what my responsibility is to my FWB of five months. Do I make a special effort to tell him about the engagement—on the phone or in person, like I plan to tell family members and close friends? Or is it OK if he finds out via social media like other people I’ve known for only five months or less would? My getting engaged (or married) won’t prevent me from remaining his FWB.

Wanna Be Ethical

Golden rule this shit, WBE: If your FWB got engaged, would you want to find out via social media, or would you want him to tell you personally? I’m guessing you’d rather hear it from him.

You’ve known your FWB for only five months, it’s true, and other five-months-or-less friends don’t rate hearing it from you personally. But you aren’t fucking your other five-months-or-less friends. A little more consideration for your feelings is—or should be—one of the benefits.

I used to live in a college town. I’m a guy, and while there, I hooked up with a gorgeous guy. He had an amazing smile, a nice body, and the most perfect natural dick I’ve ever seen. (Can we please stop saying “uncut”? It’s so disgustingly plastic surgery-ish.) We hooked up a couple of times, and he was so much fun.

A couple of years later, in another town, he showed up out of the blue at my new job. It was awkward at first, but it got better over the couple of years we worked together. I always wanted to just sneak him into the bathroom and give him another blowjob.

He still lives in the same town, and I want to message him to see if he’s up for some more fun. We haven’t spoken in years—and last I heard, he was still not out. I want to message him, but I’m wondering whether there’s a time limit to reconnecting with someone. Fuck, man, he was so hot, and his natural, big, veiny dick was maybe the most perfect cock I’ve ever seen.

Big Ol’ Dick

Seeing as you haven’t spoken to this man in years, BOD, I’m going to assume you no longer work together. And seeing as you hooked up more than once back in that college town, I’m going to assume he liked your blowjobs. And seeing as there’s a worldwide pandemic on, and seeing as life is short, and seeing as dick is delicious, I’m going to give you the OK to send this guy a message.

Social media has made it possible for people to reach out to first loves, exes and old hookups. And so long as the reacher outer is respectful, has reason to believe their message won’t tear open old wounds, and instantly takes “no” for an answer (and no response means “no”), there’s nothing wrong with reaching out. And while social-distancing protocols will prevent you from sucking that gorgeous natural dick anytime soon, BOD, who doesn’t need something to look forward to right now?

On the Lovecast, love drugs! How therapeutic are they? Listen at savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love