CVIndependent

Wed11252020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Here are two passages from The New York Times’ summary story on the Breonna Taylor case.

A grand jury indicted a former Louisville police officer on Wednesday for wanton endangerment for his actions during the raid. No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, and no one was charged for causing Ms. Taylor’s death.

Brett Hankison, a detective at the time, fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment, both of which were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight.

He is the only one of the three officers who was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Second:

Ms. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had been in bed, but got up when they heard a loud banging at the door. Mr. Walker said he and Ms. Taylor both called out, asking who was at the door. Mr. Walker later told the police he feared it was Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend trying to break in.

After the police broke the door off its hinges, Mr. Walker fired his gun once, striking Sergeant Mattingly in a thigh. The police responded by firing several shots, striking Ms. Taylor five times. One of the three officers on the scene, Detective Brett Hankison, who has since been fired, shot 10 rounds blindly into the apartment.

Mr. Walker told investigators that Ms. Taylor coughed and struggled to breathe for at least five minutes after she was shot, according to The Louisville Courier Journal. An ambulance on standby outside the apartment had been told to leave about an hour before the raid, counter to standard practice. As officers called an ambulance back to the scene and struggled to render aid to their colleague, Ms. Taylor was not given any medical attention.

Can someone explain to me how these two passages jibe? Can someone explain how a woman, who had been sleeping in her own bed, can be shot five times, and then ignored, in violation of standard police practice—with nobody held accountable? How is this justice?

More news from the day:

• If you want to follow more news on the aftermath of the Breonna Taylor announcements today, I recommend checking out the Louisville Courier Journal website. There’s a lot of good stuff therein.

• An update: The Riverside County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted 3-2 to delay by two weeks a decision on whether to push ahead with its own reopening plan—which would mean disregarding the orders from the state. Key quote, from the Riverside Press-Enterprise: “Supervisors also want more details on exactly what state funding would be at risk should the county defy Sacramento’s reopening guidelines. And they seek more clarity on when different types of businesses could reopen.

• Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today banning new gasoline-powered cars in California within 15 years. Hooray for the environment—although there are justifiable concerns over the fact that electric cars are more expensive, among other possible issues. Our partners at CalMatters explain.

Disneyland is crabby that theme parks have not yet been allowed to reopen. In the theme park’s defense, the state has been taking its own sweet time (read: many months) in issuing any guidance whatsoever on theme parks. There’s also this key quote from the Riverside Press-Enterprise: “No COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Legoland and Cedar Fair parks in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan, according to state health agencies and theme park officials.” (The key word there may be “reported.”)

• The Washington Post, via SFGate, looks at a new study showing how the coronavirus has mutated since the pandemic began. Key takeaway: It may be changing to become more contagious.

Dr. Deborah Birx is unhappy with how things are going as the coordinator of the White House coronavirus tax force, according to CNN.

The headline on this piece from The Atlantic is scary … and the words that follow are even scarier: “The Election That Could Break America: If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?”

• Good news: The self-response rate for the Census, both statewide and locally, is picking up. Bad news: A whole lot of people still haven’t responded, and the Census deadline is the end of the month. If you have not yet responded, please head to https://my2020census.gov/ and do so.

How will we know when a vaccine is safe and ready to go? A professor of medicine from the University if Virginia, writing for The Conversation, explains.

• A new CDC study shows that more than 90 percent of Americans remain susceptible to COVID-19. Translation: We’re nowhere close to herd immunity, despite what the president and Rand Paul want to believe. Key quote, from CBS News: “(CDC Director Dr. Robert) Redfield said the CDC is currently conducting a ‘very large’ study in an effort to determine how the country has been affected by COVID-19. He said that some states are seeing infection rates of 15 percent to 20 percent—with one as high as 24 percent—while others are seeing a less than 1 percent infection rate.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blocked a ceremonial U.S. Senate resolution honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Why? (Other than the fact that, you know, he’s Ted Cruz?) He objected to a mention of Ginsburg’s dying wish, as reported by family members, that the current president doesn’t select her successor.

• The swamp is alive and well in Washington, D.C., if this lede from NBC News is any indication: “The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending.”

• Despite the recession and the pandemic, Palm Springs has been a darling of the airline industry over the last month. Simple Flying sums up the new airlines and flights that are coming to our li’l Coachella Valley.

• Since movie theaters finally opening here this weekend, here’s the Independent’s review of Tenet, including a now-out-of-date headline.

• Finally, Independent cocktail columnist Kevin Carlow is developing a bar program for a Palm Springs hotel, and in the process, he’s been trying to answer the question: Is there such a thing as a midcentury-modern, Palm Springs golden era cocktail? Here’s what he’s come up with so far.

Be safe out there, everyone. If you have the means, please consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will be back on Friday.

Published in Daily Digest

You may have never heard of Nat Reed—but you’ve almost certainly seen his work before. The midcentury modern artist did the poster/cover for last year’s Palm Springs Pride, and he’s been written about in various publications.

At the Palm Springs International Airport, Reed is collaborating with Virgin America to create an interactive modernism exhibit at the airline’s gate that will be on display during Modernism Week, which this year is taking place Feb. 11-21.

During a recent interview, Reed discussed his art, which has an animated feel that includes various midcentury modernism elements: architecture, automobiles and even tiki. 

“It’s all referencing the period and things from that period,” Reed said. “Polynesian exotica and the whole tiki thing was popular in the ’50s and ’60s. … With the tikis, my grandfather was a Polynesian decorator and tiki carver, so I grew up with those all around. Those are really natural things for me to use. As I’ve used tikis in the work, (I’ve learned) they’re really good at distilling the graphic emotion in the piece. I tend to stay away from directly human figures, because for me, that blows the mystery of a piece. It’s just too direct.”

Reed said his childhood surroundings inspired him to do things his own way.

“I grew up in a family of artists, Bohemians, and everyone was always making something. I’m not really that formally educated and drifted in and out of art classes,” Reed said. “It was mostly just my background with my family, and everyone always making things. In a way, formal instruction was sort of: ‘Why can’t you just figure that out yourself?’”

Looking at the paintings in Reed’s gallery, I was curious about his process. The works are definitely computerized, but there’s a certain detail that looks like it could be hand-sketched.

“The pieces on pegboard that I do: Those are paintings. I’m not working through the holes on the pegboard; I’m working around them,” he said. “But after I do my concept sketches, I’m composing them digitally on the computer. I definitely want them to feel like they could be traditionally created, and I work really hard toward that.

“I do all of my own printing and saturate the inks really heavily during the printing process. They have a really rich surface.”

Reed explained what he has planned for the Virgin America gate at the Palm Springs International Airport.

“Marc Joseph at (vintage store) Wonderama is very involved in the retro community,” Reed said. “He was doing a vignette for Virgin Airlines. He asked me if I would put up some art. He asked, ‘What about doing the whole background on a mural?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds good.’ What they’re showing there is digitally mocked up where they took my Palm Springs map and put it in the background. I’m working specifically on a piece that will be the background for his furnishings and vignette.”

Reed’s work resembles the work of modernism artist Shag. Reed said people often confuse their work.

“People often come in and ask, ‘Is this Shag?’” Reed said. “People say they’ve seen that before, and I have a lot of work around town, so people may have seen my stuff before as well. But generally, that’s what people are thinking. My work isn’t character-driven as much as his is, but it’s obviously referencing the same period in very colorful and graphic prints. But if you look at the work, it’s very different. I did the Palm Springs Pride poster, and that really got around.”

Reed said people generally respond positively to his work—and often make a pop-culture reference in comparison that itself is tied modernism.

“That’s what’s so gratifying about this: People come in and go, ‘Ohhhh, this makes me so happy, and it’s so colorful,’” he said. “The other thing that happens so often is people say, ‘It’s like The Jetsons!’ People will barely walk in and say that. They don’t exploit that brand enough. It’s so universal when they’re associating that brand with this style.”

Of course, the star of Modernism Week is the local architecture. Not surprisingly, Nat Reed is a fan—of both existing buildings and structures that have been lost.

“Both of the banks down the street, especially the Bank of America and the Chase Bank, are just beautiful examples of elegant modern architecture.” He said. “The old canopy at the Spa Resort Casino that they tore down, that was elegant and perfectly made. I was so sad to see that go. The liquor store at Vista Chino, too. I’m so mad because the ARRIVE hotel that they built right next to it—I don’t know what planners think, but they let them build it with that zig-zag roof line rising above the roof line of the liquor store, which ruins that beautiful roof line.”

Reed concedes that he’s surprised how big Modern Week has become.

“It seems like five years ago is when it started to explode,” he said. “Three years ago, it was even bigger, and I was so surprised.”

Reed is participating in Modernism Week in one more way: His home is part of a Modernism Week tour. If you check out his home in the Racquet Club Estates, expect to see both him and his art there.

“I really sort of restyled the house to be more themed with Modernism Week, so I’m on the tour, and I’m going to be there,” he said. “I’ll probably do some signing and have some artwork in the house. Event-wise, that’s what I’m focusing on.

“I might do something in the gallery for the airport piece and have a reproduction here. I’m sort of last minute on things.”

For more information on Nat Reed, visit his gallery at 333 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 108B, in Palm Springs; call 323-304-8822; or visit www.natreed.com. For information on Modernism Week, visit www.modernismweek.com. Below: Just a few pieces of art at Nat Reed's gallery.

Published in Visual Arts

When in the military, our servicemen and servicewomen often miss the comforts of home.

That’s where the USO comes in. A lot of military members come through Palm Springs to get to and from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms—and the Bob Hope USO at the Palm Springs International Airport is there to fill the need. It has been in operation since December 2006.

During a recent visit to the Bob Hope USO, center manager Teresa Cherry offered a tour of the facility. It seems small at first, but once you get past the sign-in counter, the canteen, TV area, game room and other areas are sizable—and comfortable.

She explained why the Bob Hope USO in Palm Springs came to be.

“We have Marines and Navy (members) at Twentynine Palms, and when they were getting off the airplanes here, or were coming down here from up there, they had nowhere to go while they were waiting for their flights,” Cherry said. “So the Bob Hope USO provides them with a home away from home where they can come in and get something to drink, something to eat, and take a nap if they want to.”

During holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Bob Hope USO stays open all night and provides accommodations, because hotel rooms are often sold out or too expensive. Cherry said that up to 400 active military members will come through the center during those times.

Cherry, who is retired from the military, shared a story about serving with the USO in Iraq. At one point, the USO ran out of white bread to use for peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches—which caused a bit of chaos. However, the problem was solved adequately enough when USO volunteers located some rye bread.

“Peanut butter and jelly is one of those comforts from home they miss,” Cherry said.

On top of the services the USO provides at the airport, the organization is also active on the base in Twentynine Palms.

“We do homecomings and deployments. When a battalion comes back, we will meet them at the base. We’ll go up and provide hamburgers, hot dogs and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and keep everyone occupied until their loved ones come from the gate,” she said. “When the unit deploys, we’ll go up there and make brown-bag lunches for all the Marines and Navy who are getting on the buses, because they don’t know when their next meal will be, as they go from airport to airport. We’ve hosted the holiday party for the hospital, and we’ll do family days where we go up and provide the food for them. It’s just to let the families know that the United States of America is behind them.”

Cherry explained that one of the best ways for people to support the troops is to donate to the USO, because the organization provides services directly to troops and their families.

“The local USO will know what the family’s needs are, and what the unit’s needs are, and (the USO) can put together the family day or the outing or whatever they are going to do,” she said.

The families of servicemembers who are deployed often find themselves stressed and in need of a connection. The USO does all that they can to provide comfort to those families.

“A lot of the times, it’s because they don’t know where their loved one is, and because of operation security, (the military) can’t tell them where they are,” Cherry said. “They ask things such as, ‘Is he ok?’ or, ‘I heard there was a bombing.’

“There’s a program that the USO does called United Through Reading. The servicemember can go in, pick out a children’s book, and read the book; it’s being videotaped and stored on a mini-DVD, and then the book and the DVD is given to their child. (The children) can see Mom or Dad read to them, and they get story time. The big thing is staying connected, keeping the families busy, and helping the time go by quickly. Six months is a long time.”

People often think that the USO only provides entertainment to troops during war time. However, the USO is so much more than that.

“The USO was started in 1941, and we’ll be celebrating 75 years next year,” Cherry said. “When the USO was founded, six other organizations (came together) to form the USO. They were all doing similar things, and President Franklin Roosevelt said, ‘I need you to come together as one organization for the troops.’ Back then, it was about entertainment—Bob Hope, the USO on every corner, the dances with the service members and that kind of thing. As time went on, the USO had to evolve to meet the needs of the service members. Entertainment is a very small part of what we do.”

The Bob Hope USO provides services out of four Southern California airports, and it depends on the public’s help to survive.

“We’re a charter USO, and pretty much what that means is that we’re a franchise out of the national USO. … Being a charter center means that we are responsible for our own sustainment,” Cherry said. “We don’t get any financial assistance from the national USO or from the government. We are a nonprofit organization. Here in the Coachella Valley, we rely on the generosity of the people, organizations and corporations to continue doing what we do. It’s always (about) the donations and volunteers, because it is a volunteer organization, and I’m the only paid employee. When people donate to the Bob Hope USO here in Palm Springs, it stays locally, from here all the way up to the base in Twentynine Palms.”

For more information or to donate, visit www.bobhopeuso.org.

Published in Features

Two days before the highly publicized recent New York prison break, a local K-9 apprehended a suspect who was wanted for questioning regarding a robbery in Palm Springs.

There were no cameras present. There were no reporters on the scene. There was not an army of police officers, nor were there numerous K-9’s tracking the escapes.

There was just one police dog and one officer patrolling Indian Canyon Drive after 9 p.m. Kane, the 5-year old Belgian Malinois, who has been with the Palm Springs Police K-9 unit since 2011, simply did his job: As the suspect ran from the scene, Kane was released by his handler, officer Luciano Colantuono, and Kane caught the suspect a short distance away.

I briefly met officer Colantuono while he was patrolling with Kane. As I spoke to Colantuono, Kane was inside the SUV barking—and the sheer force of his movement was shaking the whole SUV. Yes, the power of a trained Malinois K-9 is formidable.

Israeli Special Forces have used these dogs for years now to fight terrorism, and the U.S. Secret Service combs the White House grounds with these exceptional dogs as well. They look like German Shepherds, but are a bit smaller—though their abilities are legendary: A Malinois is capable of jumping a 10-foot wall.

“The Palm Springs Police department has been utilizing apprehension K-9s since 1980,” said Lt. Gustavo Araiza, the lead officer of the K-9 program. “In 2003, we started utilizing bomb-detection K-9s at the Palm Springs International Airport.”

Kane is one of two Malinois currently on the force. Once upon a time, there were four K-9s with the department. Kane has never been injured during a patrol related incident, nor has he taken fire.

However, Kane has been fortunate.

“Kane replaced K-9 Ike, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011,” recalls Lt. Araiza. “Ike was shot by a suspect.”

Ike is the only Palm Springs police K-9 ever to be killed in the line of fire. Officer Colantuono, who was also Ike’s handler, was wounded in the incident. The officer is media-shy, does not seek publicity and is a man of a few words.

When off-duty, Kane lives with Officer Colantuono, a 10-year PSPD veteran.

“I’ve been with Kane since day one when he came to the department,” Colantuono said.

The bond between Kane and his handler is unbreakable. The officer is the only person who feeds his K-9. They work four days a week, and they often train together—and they train hard, as you can see in the photo. 

Kane is not a simple family pet. A police service dog is extremely active and requires a diet formulated to meet its increased energy and nutrient demands. Simply put, it takes a lot to take care of a K-9.

“The cost of a dog with handler training runs approximately from $15,000 to $18,000, and the fee for the K-9 is generally paid through donations,” said Lt. Araiza, a 15-year department veteran.

Public donations for the K-9 program are accepted at the Palm Springs Police K-9 Unit, P.O. Box 1830, Palm Springs, CA 92263-1830.

For more information, visit the Palm Springs Police K-9 Unit Webpage.

Published in Features