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17 Aug 2015
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Editor's Note: Allene Arthur died on Friday, July 31. She was 91 years old. Independent contributor Brane Jevric was a dear friend of Arthur's; he often drove her to various social events. And on Jan. 30, 2014 at CVIndependent.com, and in the February 2014 print edition of the Independent, Jevric toasted his dear friend with a story talking about this fabulous woman and journalist. I was so impressed by something Arthur said in the piece—“I write for the reader—not the advertiser or the people being written about, but the reader!”—that it was the motivation for my Editor's Note in that print edition of the Independent, in which I railed about the unethical pay-for-play "journalism" that is so prevalent in our valley and our world. In honor of this amazing woman, we're republishing Jevric's piece below. Allene, you're greatly missed. —Jimmy Boegle After close to a century, Allene Arthur finally came…
24 Jun 2015
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In most ways, Aiden Stockman is a typical 18-year-old guy. The Yucca Valley resident recently graduated from high school. He is just getting his driver’s license, and he’s debating what to do with his life. However, attendees of Palm Springs Pride’s Harvey Milk Breakfast, held in downtown Palm Springs on May 22, know Aiden is far from typical: He and his mother, Kelli Drake, spoke at the event, and had many attendees in tears as they told Aiden’s story of struggle—and surprising acceptance—in Yucca Valley as a transgender youth. Of course, transgender people are all over the news these days, thanks to the success of Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, the Golden Globe win for Jeffrey Tambor playing a transgender woman on the Amazon.com series Transparent, and, most notably, the journey of Caitlyn Jenner. However, Aiden—who was born Victoria Stockman—was dealing with what’s called “gender dysphoria” well…
17 Jun 2015
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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…
18 May 2015
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Kimberly Long spent the day of Oct. 5, 2003, bar-hopping around the Corona area with her boyfriend, Oswaldo “Ozzy” Conde, and their friend, Jeff Dills. The three ended the day at a bar called Maverick’s and then went to the home she shared with Long, around 11 p.m. There, she and Conde got into a fight, after which Long left with Dills to cool off. She returned home around 2 a.m. on Oct. 6. During a recent phone interview from the California Institution for Women in Corona, about 65 miles from Palm Springs, Long choked back tears while talking about that night. “I remember walking through the door, and it was unlocked when I came in. I saw a light on in the back. I kicked off my shoes, and I saw Ozzy on the couch, and I called his name,” said Long, who was an emergency-room nurse at the…
12 May 2015
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Edgar Mitchell is a true American hero: He’s the sixth man to walk on the moon, as part of the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. He’s spoken extensively about his journey to the moon—and he has also spoken at length about his unique views on extraterrestrial life and cosmology. He will be lecturing at Contact in the Desert, a UFO-themed conference at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center May 29-31. During a recent phone interview from his home in Florida, Mitchell said his interest in extraterrestrial life started thanks to the UFO incident in 1947 in Roswell, N.M. Mitchell, 84, grew up in Artesia, N.M., near Roswell, and remembers it well. “The truth about it is that it was real,” Mitchell said. “I was there when the Roswell incident took place. I was on my way to college and had just graduated high school. One day, it was in the Roswell…
11 May 2015
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Felice Chiapperini, a manager and field-services coordinator for the Braille Institute, doesn’t think his organization gets the publicity it needs. “We’re the best-kept secret in the Coachella Valley,” he said. The Rancho Mirage location is one of five Braille Institute centers in California. The organization was founded in 1919 by J. Robert Atkinson after he lost his sight. Atkinson learned to read Braille and managed to transcribe 250 books. “We like to say that we offer services to those with low-vision to no-vision, and everybody in between,” Chiapperini said. “A lot of people have misunderstandings about who we serve, and our name is a bit misleading. ‘Braille Institute’ invokes in people’s minds images of people who are totally blind—images of Helen Keller, and things like that. While we do serve that community, the majority of the people we serve fall into the category of low-vision.” Who qualifies as low-vision? “Anyone…
03 Mar 2015
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If you’ve been to Palm Springs VillageFest, you’ve seen the “Ask the Rabbi” booth. Rabbi Yonason Denebeim has been running that booth for about 25 years—and, not surprisingly, he has many stories to tell. Like, for example, that time when he hosted Matisyahu during Coachella in 2006. Or when he worked with the Navajo tribe on the funeral arrangements of a local Jewish man who was an admirer of the Navajo. Or when he was a tour guide in Israel. During a recent interview at Chabad of Palm Springs, Denebeim—you can call him Rabbi D if his last name gives you trouble—talked about his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, and how he decided to enter spiritual life in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement instead of opting for a more lucrative career. “I had a choice of going into a professional craft like law or medicine, or I could get out in the…
27 Jan 2015
It’s been a long road home for Coachella boxer Randy Caballero. The International Boxing Federation’s world bantamweight champion has been fighting in faraway places for more than a year now. The twisting road led him first to Sunrise, Fla., then to Kobe, Japan, and then finally to Monte Carlo, Monaco, where he seized the world title he’s wanted since he was 8 years old, when he first began boxing under the tutelage of Lee Espinoza, director of the Coachella Valley Boxing Club (pictured to the right). But Caballero is now home, and the first defense of his title will happen in the friendly confines of the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s Events Center, on Friday, Feb. 27. The Independent spent time with him at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club gym, on Douma Street in Coachella. We asked him how it feels to be a world champion. “It feels good, but it…
02 Jan 2015
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The fame that El Gato Classic founder Eddie Elguera’s skateboarding career gave him led, in part, to a drug and alcohol addiction in the early 1980s. (For more on the El Gato Classic, see the main story.) He retired from the sport, and then became a born-again Christian before eventually returning during the boom of vert-skating in the 1980s. He opened the Rock Church, where the slogan is, “Loving people to life.” Elguera was not shy about discussing his fall into drug use. “Basically, when you’re at the top, and you have people throwing money at you, the opportunities are there for people who want to give you drugs and give you alcohol,” he said. “It’s so important to have a good structure around you that helps you to bounce wisdom off of. I was focused for the first two years, and I wouldn’t allow things to come in like…
02 Jan 2015
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Palm Springs will become the center of the skateboarding world Friday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 25, when the area will be taken over by skateboarding’s most legendary riders for the El Gato Classic. At the center of the event is Eddie “El Gato” Elguera, a valley resident who is a pastor at the Rock Church in Palm Desert. Elguera became a professional skateboarder in the late ’70s and went on to be a two-time world champion. He’s a major influence on many current pros, given he created several tricks that skateboarders continue to use today, such as the “Elguerial.” “When I started back in the ’70s, when pool skating and vertical skating was coming out, there wasn’t the recognition that there is today. Now, it’s a lot more mainstream, and there are corporate sponsors like Red Bull,” said Elguera during a recent interview the Rock Church. (For more on…

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