CVIndependent

Fri12042020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

It’s Friday, Oct. 23. The election is 11 days away. COVID-19 is setting alarming records across the United States. Interesting times, these.

Let’s get right to the news:

• A new study out of Columbia University says that between 130,000 and 210,000 deaths from COVID-19 could have been prevented with a better response by the federal government. Key quote from the study, via CNN: “Even with the dramatic recent appearance of new COVID-19 waves globally, the abject failures of U.S. government policies and crisis messaging persist. U.S. fatalities have remained disproportionately high throughout the pandemic when compared to even other high-mortality countries.”

• Related: Today was the worst day of the pandemic in the U.S., as far as coronavirus cases are concerned, with nearly 80,000 new cases reported nationwide. The New York Times is calling it the third surge.

• However, California, thank goodness, is the exception to the rule, as cases in the state overall are NOT surging. As a result, as our partners at CalMatters point out, the state government is receiving praise for its handling of the epidemic: “California ‘holds a lesson for all of us,’ Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, recently tweeted, praising ‘strong leadership’ from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s health and human services chief, Dr. Mark Ghaly. Jha credited the state’s ‘huge boost’ in testing and county-by-county ‘micro-targeting’ as ‘smart policies’ that have helped control the virus. California has averaged nearly 124,000 COVID-19 tests each day for the past two weeks.”

The Palm Springs District 4 City Council race has gotten rather ugly, with some online trolls saying horribly sexist things about incumbent Christy Holstege—and accusing her of lying about her sexuality. As a result, three LGBTQ groups have issued a joint statement condemning the attacks. Read that statement here.

Our partners at CalMatters examine possible reasons why Proposition 16, the affirmative-action ballot measure, may go down in defeat, if recent polls are correct—despite a number of high-profile endorsements. Spoiler alert: Voters find the concept of affirmative action to be confusing, apparently.

Remdesivir has become the first COVID-19 treatment to receive full FDA approval. (It had previously received emergency authorization from the FDA for use.) Of course, because this is 2020, the approval came right as a new study showed that the drug does not seem effective at preventing deaths.

Uber and Lyft suffered a big loss in court yesterday. Per NBC News: “A California state appellate court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling that there was an ‘overwhelming likelihood’ Uber and Lyft had misclassified their drivers as contractors rather than employees in violation of a landmark state law.” However, because of holds and likely appeals, nothing will change for now—and, of course, Prop 22 could REALLY change things.

The Washington Post offers up this update on the confirmation fight over Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Despite the squabbling, it’s likely she will be installed on the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as Monday.

An expert in nonverbal communication, writing for The Conversation, watched the presidential debate last night. Click here to read his rather fascinating observations.

The CDC is planning on using an app to keep tabs on the safety of people who receive COVID-19 vaccine(s), if and when it/they is/are ready. CNN Reports: “Through V-SAFE, which stands for ‘vaccine safety assessment for essential workers,’ health checks can be conducted via text messages and email daily in the first week after a person receives the vaccine and then weekly thereafter for six weeks, according to the CDC’s website.”

• The Washington Post delivers encouraging news about the Moderna vaccine trial: The full number of participants have enrolled, and those participants are fairly diverse: “The coronavirus vaccine trials have been closely watched to ensure they reflect the diversity of the U.S. population at a minimum, and Moderna’s enrollment was slowed in September to recruit more minorities. A fifth of the participants are Hispanic and 10 percent are Black, according to data released by the company. People over 65, a population also at high risk for coronavirus, make up 25 percent of the study population.” 

• Also from The Washington Post: The newspaper followed up a bit on The New York Times’ reporting on the president’s finances—specifically the fact that Trump has a LOT of debt coming due, which leads to a whole lot of conflict-of-interest and even national-security concerns: “In the next four years, Trump faces payment deadlines for more than $400 million in loans—just as the pandemic robs his businesses of customers and income, according to a Washington Post analysis of Trump’s finances. The bills coming due include loans on his Chicago hotel, his D.C. hotel and his Doral resort, all hit by a double whammy: Trump’s political career slowed their business, then the pandemic ground it down much further.” 

One more thing from the Post: Less than two weeks before Election Day, “President Trump this week fired his biggest broadside yet against the federal bureaucracy by issuing an executive order that would remove job security from an estimated tens of thousands of civil servants and dramatically remake the government.” Wow.

• From our partners at CalMatters, via the Independent: “A controversial new law that takes effect next year will dismantle the state’s current juvenile justice system and transfer responsibility for convicted youth back to counties.” Even advocates of the plan, which is being pushed by Gov. Newsom, admit it has problems.

Well this is a horrifying headline from NBC News: “Minnesota AG investigates company accused of recruiting armed guards for Election Day.”

• Finally, I returned as a guest to this week’s I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast, where I chatted with hosts Shann Carr, John Taylor and Brad Fuhr about drama in downtown Palm Springs, our November print edition, Taco Bell’s unforgivable elimination of the Mexican pizza, and more.

Have a safe, sane weekend, everyone. Please, if you can afford it, consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent; all the news we do is free—but it costs a lot of produce, publish and distribute. The Daily Digest will return next week.

Published in Daily Digest

Dear Mexican: Mexicans always reference the Reconquista. However, I think you should be invading Spain instead.

The Spanish did to the Native Americans in Mexico what the whites did to the Native Americans in America. In fact, we treated the Native Americans better: We gave them reservations; they pay no taxes; they have the right to gambling, etc. We also treated the Mexicans a lot better than the Spanish. The Spanish slaughtered the Native Americans in Mexico, and I believe their indigenous cultures have been totally destroyed. Let’s not forget the Spaniards’ great gift of syphilis.

If “Mexicans,” Spanish illegal immigrants, are going to go back 160 years to hold a grudge against Americans, why don’t they hate Spain, too?

Heep Big Jerk

Dear Gabacho: I had to give the respuesta to my former college profe, Paul Apodaca, a professor of sociology and American studies at Chapman University and the scholar who turned me on to one of my all-time favorite books: Richard Drinnon’s Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building, which perfectly explains gabacho foreign policy.

“American Indians pay federal and sales tax like other U.S. citizens but do not pay state income tax while living on their federally recognized reservations,” Dr. Apodaca says. “The United States did not give land to Indians any more than England gave freedom to the U.S.; both governments recognized the God-given rights of men.

“Millions of Indians in Mexico speak their own languages, cultivate their indigenous foods, practice their folk arts, continue their histories, have participated in two revolutions and retain the entire country of Mexico as members of a nation they formed. Indians have traveled across North America for thousands of years searching for resources for their families. Time changes every culture, and Mexico reflects those changes, but the people are continuing, and that is something wonderful to celebrate, not begrudge.”

Pressed for something funnier, Dr. Apodaca concluded, “The fellow has conclusions but no accurate premises—simply opinion. His use of the word ‘grudge’ is Freudian, as I make clear in the last line. Some folks don’t see the forest for the trees or the Indian for the Mexican.” BOOM!

Dear Mexican: Do Mexicans resent meaningless, wannabe Spanglish advertising slogans like Taco Bell’s “Live Más”? This gabacho finds it rather offensive. Sniff. Shouldn’t such odious assaults on language(s) be outlawed?

Shepherd of Shakespeare

Dear Gabacho: This Mexican resents Taco Bell’s meaningless, wannabe Mexican dish called the Doritos Loco taco—leave it to a company founded by a guy who ripped off a Mexican family’s recipe to earn his billions (true story—read my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America) to fuck up what could’ve been an amazing dish. Hard-shell tacos are Mexican; Doritos were created by Mexicans at Disneyland (again: in my book). Yet the Doritos Locos taco is too salty and has little Doritos flavor—and then there’s the “beef.” Guacatelas!

As for your complaint: Some Mexicans do despise Spanglish, but those Mexicans need to get laid more often. Anecdotally, Mexicans like Spanglish advertising if it’s clever, and “Live Más” was OK enough to not spur a yaktivist revolt.

Scientifically, don’t believe the hype: Most studies done on whether young Mexican Americans prefer advertising in English, Spanish or Spanglish is laughably biased. Take “The Bilingual Brain: Maximizing Impact with English- and Spanish-Speaking Millennials," a 2014 study involving Nielsen and Univision that unsurprisingly found that advertising in Spanish “offers a unique advantage for brands striving to connect with bilingual Hispanic millennials”—the most foregone conclusion since Mexico underachieved in the last FIFA World Cup.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Coming Soon: Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

After many months of construction, Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise—located at 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, surrounding the Starbucks at the Tahquitz Canyon Way intersection—is getting closer to opening.

The signs for the much-delayed restaurant are up; several photos of the interior have been posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, too.

Gyoro Gyoro will be a sister restaurant to Oto-Oto, which includes locations in Monrovia and West Covina; and the Gyoro Gyoro in Encino. The menu posted online at otootorestaurant.com will make the mouth of any Japanese-food-lover water: A wide variety of sushi, sashimi, ramen dishes, rice clay-pot entrées and appetizers are listed, as are many other goodies.

There’s an interesting story behind Gyoro Gyoro and Oto-Oto. According to otootorestaurant.com, the restaurants are owned by Ramla Inc.: “Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1980 by Akira Murakawa, Ramla has grown … into Tokyo’s third-largest restaurant operator. With 154 restaurants comprised of 32 brands, Ramla’s restaurants span a spectrum of cuisines ranging from traditional Japanese, to French, to Italian, to Spanish and more. … Ramla is embarking on an ambitious expansion into the U.S. with its plan to bring 150 Ramla-branded restaurants to American cities both large and small.”

Beyond Thai food, downtown Palm Springs is in serious need of more Asian-food offerings—so count us as excited. If you’re excited, too, follow Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise on Facebook for updates.

Now Open: Smoke Tree Supper Club

The Funkey Family has done it again: The folks behind Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta and downtown Palm Springs’ Bar have finally opened the much-anticipated Smoke Tree Supper Club.

The restaurant—located next to Giuseppe’s at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—appeals to lovers of grilled meat: In addition to starters and salads, the menu features reasonably priced steaks ($18 to $23), a 12-ounce pork porterhouse ($17) and slow-smoked baby-back ribs ($16), as well as a burger ($11), salmon ($16), a sea-scallop skewer ($16) and a pounded free-range chicken breast ($16). Prime rib—$26, with two sides—is the house specialty.

Vegetarians, take note: Aside from the aforementioned salads, you can enjoy a jumbo marinated portobello mushroom burger on a brioche bun ($10).

The Smoke Tree Supper Club is open for dinner every day but Monday. For more information, call 760-778-6521, or visit www.stsupperclub.com.

New: Nothing Bundt Cakes Opens in Palm Desert

Veteran Southern California chef Jeffrey Tropple, along with partner Ellie Koch, has opened the valley’s first Nothing Bundt Cakes location, at 72216 Highway 111, No. F-3, in Palm Desert.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is a chain, based in Las Vegas, with about 90 locations in 20 states. The Palm Desert location celebrated its “soft” opening on Friday, April 11.

The concept behind Nothing Bundt Cakes is simple: The bakery sells bundt cakes, 10 flavors of ’em (nine regular, with one flavor of the month thrown in), in various sizes. That’s it.

What Nothing Bundt Cakes does may be limited, yes, but they do what they do well: Store manager Lauren Bright offered us a sample of the cinnamon swirl cake, saying it was her favorite flavor. Why is the cinnamon swirl her favorite, as opposed to the carrot, or the red velvet, or the pecan praline?

“Because it’s amazing,” she said.

Turns out she was right: The moist, yellow cake with cinnamon, sugar and a signature frosting was indeed amazing. In fact, it was one of the best cakes we’ve had in the valley.

More good news: Tropple and Koch are celebrating the grand opening of their locally owned store by giving a little something back. On Friday, May 2, 20 percent of sales will go to local no-kill shelter Animal Samaritans.

For more information, call 760-346-3440, or visit www.nothingbundtcakes.com.

In Brief

While some restaurants have struggled in what is considered “downtown” Cathedral City—for example, Picanha Churrascaria never found its footing after moving from Palm Desert to 68510 Highway 111, next to the IMAX theater, before closing last year—fast food seems to be taking hold there: A Subway recently opened not too far from the Mary Pickford Theatre, and a Taco Bell is on its way. … Another sad note from downtown Cathedral City: Daniel Webster Jr., 44, the man who owned Big Mama’s Soul Food, has passed away, reportedly due to a heart condition. His highly regarded restaurant closed late last year. Our condolences go to Webster’s family and friends … Farm, the lovely breakfast/brunch place located in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza, is expanding, sort of: Just around the corner is Farm 2, a spot that will be offering “super foods and juices.” … On Tuesday, April 8, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, located at 71800 Highway 111, No. A176, hosted the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Child Abuse Awareness Lunch at the center, located on the Eisenhower campus at 39000 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The luncheon offered thanks to detectives, prosecutors and other professionals who fight child abuse.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Dear Mexican: I was surprised on a trip to Mexico earlier this month that I only ever found the holiday referred to as “Dia de Muertos,” whereas in the States, I’ve only ever heard it referred to as “Dia de los Muertos.”

I’m really curious as to why there’s a difference north/south of the border. Do Chicanos include the “los” so that it better matches up with the English translation? Do Mexicans use the phrase so often that the “los” has just fallen by the wayside? Is “los muertos” actually more (historically?) correct grammatically? In Spanish, do you actually NEED the “los,” or does the word “muertos” effectively include the article?

I’ve asked friends, but no one seems to know the reason for the difference; knowing your love of etymology and history, I was hoping you could give a definitive answer. Sorry for the long letter!

La Catrina

Dear Gabacha: Now let’s not put any blame on those mongrelizing Chicanos, one of whom (Michael Orozco) just helped the U.S. soccer squad save Mexico’s ass from World Cup elimination by scoring a goal in the Uncle Sam’s Army’s epic 3-2 triumph over Panama.

Both “Día de los Muertos” and “Día de Muertos” have been used in Mexico since the 16th century, although I’m noticing Chicano yaktivists and their fresa cousins are preferring the latter, most likely because they feel too many gabachos now know about the holiday and therefore prefer to use something the gabachos won’t understand—kind of like how Mexicans began using gabacho once gringos started calling themselves gringos, you know?

Both are technically right: “Dia de Muertos” is the literal translation of All Souls’ Day, the Catholic holiday from which Mexico’s veneration of its faithful departed is partly derived. (Notice how it’s not called “All of the Souls Day,” even though that makes more sense.) On the other hand, the day before Día de los Muertos, All Saints’ Day, is almost universally known in Mexico as Día de Todos los Santos (which literally translates as “Day of All of the Saints”) instead of Día de Todos Santos.

Confused yet? Don’t be: The Mexican propensity for elision is as notorious as our love for agave-based spirits and confusing the hell out of gabachos.

The other day, I went to Taco Bell and hit the drive-through. At the window, I ordered something with jalapeños. When I spoke the sacred “jalapeño” word with my gawky gringo accent, the illegal Mexican at the cash register corrected my pronunciation by repeating the word slowly and condescendingly with his own accent—“hah-lah-pen-yo.” Kind of annoying. True, I only suspect he’s Mexican, and I suspect he’s illegal as well. But I find that his almost complete inability to speak English offers some kind of clue, wouldn’t you say?

I wonder: Is this dude so ignorant that he doesn’t understand people pronounce words differently depending on where they’re from? Or was he intentionally getting rude ’cause he just hates gabachos? Or was he kindly instructing me as to how words will be expected to be pronounced once the Reconquista fulfills its promise? I’ve seen the stats, and I have no illusions; if you Mexicans keep reproducing like bunnies, y’all will eventually rule the whole continent.

Home Fry

Dear Gabacho: Let’s just set aside por un poquito your preposterous assumption that the guy taking your order is undocumented—Taco Bell uses E-Verify to ensure only legal citizens and residents prepare its slop.

The guy took your order, right? Which means he knows English. If anything, the Mexican was being charitable—you’re obviously the last gabacho left who doesn’t know how to pronounce jalapeño correctly, which means you’re as clueless about Mexican affairs as Damien Cave, The New York Times’  Mexico correspondent whose stories seem like press releases penned by the PRI.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

Published in Ask a Mexican