I’ve been fortunate enough to have a varied and always-interesting journalism career over the last 25 years—but it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’ve covered some stories that were downright brutal in terms of their emotional impact.
When I worked for The Associated Press in the San Francisco bureau, I was one of the first handful of people to know that John Denver had perished after his small, experimental plane went down in Monterey Bay on Oct. 12, 1997. When I was a reporter for the Daily Sparks Tribune, I covered the first trial of Siaosi Vanisi, who sits on death row in Nevada after randomly ambushing and murdering University of Nevada, Reno, police officer George Sullivan with a hatchet, on Jan. 13, 1998.
And then there was Jan. 8, 2011, when a mentally ill 22-year-old opened fire outside of a Safeway in Tucson, killing six people and injuring 13—including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who somehow survived despite being shot in the head at point-blank range. I was the editor of the Tucson Weekly at the time.
Now, there’s this. The pandemic hasn’t been as dramatic or as sudden as any of the horrible events I’ve covered before—but in terms of the breadth of the death and devastation, it’s been far worse.
It’s not easy to cover these things … actually, that’s an understatement: It’s downright wrenching to cover these things. But it’s rewarding—because it means we, as journalists, are fulfilling our duty to our readers.
This brings me to the coverage the Independent has done since the reality of the pandemic set in—much of which is compiled into our May print edition, which hit the lonely streets this week. From Anita Rufus’ piece on the importance of advance directives/living wills, to Kevin Fitzgerald’s heartbreaking pieces on the struggles of our local senior centers and domestic-violence agencies, to Matt King’s looks at how various schools and teachers have adjusted to this time, to Valerie-Jean Hume’s piece on Alcoholic Anonymous’ transition from in-person to Zoom meetings, to Brett Newton’s introduction to homebrewing beer … I could go on and on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say I’ve never been prouder of anything else in my career.
As April comes to a close, there’s one other thing I’m proud of, and humbled by—the amazing reader support we’ve received since this whole mess started.
Thank you to Ken Alterwitz, Debby Anspach, Gustavo Arellano, Jill Arnold, Scott Balson, Joanne Bosher, George Bullis, William Campbell, John Carney, Jeffrey Clarkson, Mark Cohen, Jeffrey Davied, John de Dios, John Delaney, Casey Dolan, Jim Flanagan, Richard Fluechtling, Joshua Friedman, Howard Goldberg, Lea Goodsell, Edward Guzman, Michael Herzfeld, Morgan James, Tony Gangloff, Jeff Hammerberg, Lynn Hammond, Vicky Harrison, Richard Hart, Laura Hein, Mark Horvath, Stephen King, Harvey Lewis, Shari Lipman, Alex McCune, Elizabeth McGarry, Jeffrey Norman, Alexis Ortega, Marsha Pare, Deidre Pike, Scott Phipps, David Ponsar, Roy Schaefer, Virgina Schubert, Ann Sheffer, Michael Strockbine, Miho Suma, Kenneth Theriault, Bryan Tosi, Darrell Tucci, Cara Van Dijk, Lydia Walker, Beth Wexler, Richard Wilson, Dennis Wodzisz and Leonard Woods for becoming Supporters of the Independent in recent weeks. (If I somehow missed someone, please accept my apologies.)
Again, thank you. Your support makes all the work—even when it’s emotionally trying—worth the effort. And then some.
• Let’s start with more encouraging news on the increasing amount of science showing that drugs can indeed beat down COVID-19.
• Last night, a memo to police chiefs around the state said that Gov. Newson was preparing to close all beaches and state parks, following crowding issues here and there last weekend. Well, turns out he didn’t do that: Instead, he decided to pick on Orange County by closing ONLY the beaches there. Needless to say, this is NOT going over well in Orange County.
• I was again a guest on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast/videocast with the gang, as well as Dr. Laura Rush, Desert AIDS Project Director of Development Darrell Tucci, and LGBT Center of the Desert CEO Mike Thompson. Check out the increasingly alarming state of my hair herein.
• This is happening in the Coachella Valley, too, alas: The New York Times reports that restaurants have become an enticing target for burglars.
• The Palm Springs International Shortfest won’t take place in a physical way come June, organizers announced today, but the show will go on online.
• One of the most vexing elements regarding the battle against the coronavirus is that so many people who have it—and can spread it—show no symptoms. The Conversation breaks down how this is possible, and what it all means.
• And then there’s this piece, from the Los Angeles Times, about a man who had the virus in his body for 40 damn days. Yeesh.
• April has been, I think we can all agree, awful … yet the stock market had its best month in three decades. What are they smoking on Wall Street, you ask? Let’s overextend this metaphor with this answer: They’re smoking lots of sweet, sweet government cash.
• In other news, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are getting government cash to party like it’s 1969, and take man back to the moon. (Since there is no coronavirus there, can we all go?!)
• What’s the difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant? Wait, is there a difference? According to CBS News, yes, there is.
• To nobody’s surprise, there are problems with some banks’ mortgage-forbearance policies. For example, as the Los Angeles Times reports, one man was told he could skip payments for six months … but he’d then have to pay all those missed payments in one lump sum. Yikes.
• Finally, Tom Hanks, America’s dad, is literally giving a part of himself to help save us all.
That’s all for now. Wash your hands. Buy our local-art-filled Coloring Book. Keep your fingers crossed that May is better … and congratulate yourself on the fact that a few hours from now, you will have survived the crapfest that was April 2020. Be safe. Back tomorrow.