CVIndependent

Tue07142020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

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.

I’ve written about five different intros in my head so far for this Daily Digest … but instead, I am going to get straight to the point, because we all have a very cool opportunity—to get our questions about this virus, and the resulting societal chaos, answered by a local doctor who is scary-smart and really cool.

I’ve been asked to join my friends Shann Carr, John Taylor and Brad Fuhr tomorrow morning to record the I Love Gay Palm Springs Podcast (via Google Hangout, with all of us at our own homes, thank you very much), with special guest Dr. Laura Rush. She’s a physician with Kaiser Permanente, where sees all patients of all ages, but focuses on HIV, gay, lesbian, and transgender health care. Before she became a doctor, she worked as a financial journalist on Wall Street for a decade, and as a writer, editor and producer covering Internet technology, biotechnology and stem cell research.

In other words … she’s smart; she’s local; and she knows a lot about COVID-19, how it’s affecting the Coachella Valley, and how it may affect us to come.

If you have a question you’d like us to ask Dr. Rush, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.—today/tonight (Wednesday) if possible, or first thing in the morning, before 8 a.m. We’ll ask as many as we can, and the answers will be shared on the next I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast—coming out tomorrow or, at the latest, Friday.

Now, on with the news:

Checks from the feds are probably coming soon.

Most supermarkets and stores are now opening one hour early for senior customers. If you’re not sure if your local market is, call ’em.

If you have an extra bottle or two of rubbing alcohol, this came in from the Greater Palm Springs CVB: “We have received a request for rubbing alcohol from the medical community. There is not currently a shortage, however, the medical community is being proactive and your help is greatly appreciated. If you have rubbing alcohol available to donate, please call 760-899-3279 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule pickup, or you can drop it off at the CVB Office, 70100 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

• There are several lists of restaurants being gathered by local chambers of commerce and others listing restaurants that are open for delivery or takeout. Here’s one from the aforementioned Greater Palm Springs CVB. Check local chambers of commerce websites and Facebook pages for more.

While Palm Springs has ordered “non-essential businesses” to close, that’s not the case in other valley cities. Check the websites or Facebook pages of the various cities to see what’s what. I’d take the time to put together a list, and then it would change, and that list would be worthless … so go directly to the source.

• Current as of yesterday: Here’s what’s going on with local courts, according to the Desert Bar Association.

• The Palm Springs Library is doing a very awesome thing. From a news release that just came in: To make access to all of the Library’s digital resources more easily available to Palm Springs and Coachella Valley residents, including those who do not currently have a library card, the Library is offering a temporary digital card, valid for 90 days. To sign up for a temporary digital card, residents can visit PalmSpringsLibrary.org; click "My Account"; and click on the link at the top of the screen that says “click here to register now.” The digital card provides users access to all of the Library’s digital offerings, including eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, TV, music, homework help, online classes, and more. Visit https://www.palmspringsca.gov/government/departments/library for more.

• You can also stream Broadway shows and other fantastic recorded performances online.

• Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., is having a telephone town hall with constituents tomorrow at 10 a.m. Details here

• Sort of a repeat post, but important: Ralph’s, Costco and other stores are hiring. https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/ralphs-hiring-after-coronavirus-craze-cleans-out-supermarkets/2329329/

• If you’re not a fan of the amazing Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos on YouTube … you’re really missing out. And if your are a fan, and you’re panicked that this pandemic may stop the flow of goodness coming from Claire, Delaney and the rest … calm down. I can’t find a link, so here’s an excerpt from the note, emailed from editor Adam Rapoport: “I’ll answer the question that so many of you on Twitter and Reddit have fretted about—yes the BA YouTube channel will carry on. We have a month’s worth of videos, already shot in the BA Kitchen, in the pipeline. They just need editing. But we will also lean into the reality that we all face—holed up in our homes, cooking every single day. Our test kitchen editors—Andy, Sohla, Molly, Chris, et al—have all been provided with tripods and mics to shoot DIY cooking videos on their iPhones. That means you’ll not only get to check out their home kitchens, but also meet some pets, and perhaps a toddler or spouse or two.” Thank goodness.

I could list a bazillion other things, but that’s enough for now. Send me your questions for Dr. Rush. Wash your hands. And please don’t flush your disinfectant wipes down the toilet.

For social media, it is the best of times; it is the worst of times.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in these unsettling, frightening times, can be beautiful things. They offer us a way to share information, pool resources and, well, sort of be together at a time when we can’t actually be together.

However … Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in these unsettling, frightening times, can also be heinous things, due to all the misinformation, ignorance and selfish stupidity spewed forth by certain individuals. Like the person who made this comment in some group the other day: “Imagine the possibilities and the happiness we could create if we just boycott the news.”

Sigh …

Comments like these—claims that all these COVID-19 precautions and closures taking place not because of the severe public threat, but instead because the media incited some sort of panic to “sell newspapers” or whatever—are offensive to me, because all of this isn’t “selling” newspapers; it’s killing them.

I belong to a couple of organizations of smaller, local independent media, and the overriding sentiments among the editors and publishers I know are 1) a push and desire to cover and serve our communities better than ever during this unprecedented time; and 2) complete fear over the fact that almost all our organizations are facing an existential threat right now.

Virtually overnight, the Independent lost about three-quarters of our advertising revenue, maybe more. I know of newspapers around the country that have suspended their print versions, because almost all the ads are gone. I know small online news publishers who work from home and are taking about not being able to pay their rent.

I say this not to complain, because a whole lot of others in varied businesses are in similar dire situations. However … those other varied businesses aren’t being blamed for causing this—hence my rant.

I’ll share more info with you in the coming days about the Independent’s plans, at least as they stand now. (I will tell you this, though: We are gonna be here serving this community. We aren’t going anywhere.)

Now, onto the news:

• Just announced: The city of Palm Springs has ordered all non-essential businesses to close. Don’t be surprised for the same thing to happen in our other valley cities here soon. They’re basically following San Francisco’s guidelines on what an essential business is; find the list of what’s exempted from that SF order here. Watch Councilwoman Christy Holstege’s page, among others, for updates.

• Two resources to share for you if you fear you may be sick: Call Eisenhower at 760-837-8988 or the Desert AIDS Project at 760-992-0407 before you go anywhere. More info on Eisenhower’s hotline is below.

• Just as we were about to post this, we received word that the Agua Caliente tribe is closing its two casinos, the Indian Canyons Golf Resort, Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyon. Employees will be paid for the time being. Watch http://www.aguacaliente-nsn.gov/ for updates.

Hey, freelancers and independent contractors: Check out this amazing “an aggregated list of FREE resources, opportunities, and financial relief options available to artists of all disciplines.

• Here’s a great to-do list on how to minimize risk while grocery shopping, from Consumer Reports.

• BusinessInsider.com has a great list of resources for restaurant workers and bartenders who need some help, including the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. A toast to Jameson for donating $500,000 to it. 

The Desert Water Agency says there’s no need to hoard water.

• While we’re at it, stop hoarding toilet paper, you goons!

• You have an extra 90 days to pay your federal taxes.

AIDS/LifeCycle 2020 has been cancelled.

• Don’t forget to make sure your phone is as clean as possible

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands, and call up a loved one or three to see how they’re doing. More tomorrow.

We’re not in the business of sharing misinformation here at the Independent. In fact, the whole point of these Daily Digests is to share good info from reliable resources, because there’s a whole lotta crap floating around out there.

However, bear with me as I share a really stupid post from a Facebook friend … that has a really important point embedded within it.

This Facebook friend (a person I don’t actually know; because of the newspaper, I accept friend requests from pretty much anyone with whom I have mutual friends) wrote, in part: “Banning all fun activities while quarantining an entire population is a very, very BAD IDEA. What worked in Chinaor Korea will not work for America. What I feared has already come to pass: an increase in spouse abuse, children abuse, suicidal attempts … and we’re just 4 days in.”

OK … the first part of that post, we can all agree, is bonkers nonsense: Viruses and epidemiology don’t change based on location and nationality. On-the-ground horrific happenings in several countries prove that the social distancing and staying at home we’re enduring right now are, well, REALLY GOSH DARNED CRUCIAL.

However, the second part of that post … it rattled me: While I have not seen any hard evidence that spousal abuse, child abuse or suicide attempts are already on the rise, they’re inevitable consequences of people being forced to stay inside with someone who’s abusive (and stressed to boot). And all this chaos, as I touched upon yesterday, is seriously triggering some people with mental illness.

So … how do we fix this? I don’t have a complete answer for that. I doubt anyone does. And that chills me to the bone.

However, I do have a partial answer: We all need to ask for help if we need it. And we all need to check in with friends, loved ones and neighbors who may need help but be afraid or unable to ask for it.

I participated in two calls with various community leaders today, and this point came up multiple times: We all need to look out for each other in this unprecedented, crappy-ass time. And we need to make sure we reach out when we, ourselves, are in need.

To that end, Palm Springs City Councilwoman Christy Holstege has started a new Facebook group, Coachella Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors Through COVID-19. The page includes Google Docs where people can sign up to volunteer—and sign up to request needed help.

My friends … if you can volunteer your time, or goods, or anything, please sign up. (Oh, and check out the governor’s Volunteer California site, too.) Even more importantly, if you need help right now of some sort, please sign up.

Beyond this admirable Facebook effort … we need to really live up to the meaning of the word “community” right now. To repeat: Now is the time to be there for each other—and now is the time to reach out if we’re in need.

Please.

Now, for some news:

• For the last couple days, I’ve promised the Independent was publishing a piece that covered the heartbreaking decisions local theater companies endured heading into what was supposed to be one of the busiest theater weekends of the year, as the news got crazier and crazier. At last, here’s that piece, and I am quite proud of it.

• Breaking casino news: Fantasy Springs is closing down through the end of the month (and paying employees during the closure; great move), according to a news release we just received. Meanwhile, the Agua Caliente locations are remaining open for now. Morongo and Spotlight 29 also remain open as of this writing.

Clark’s Nutrition is opening an hour early for elderly and disabled shoppers, at least for the next few days. This is a fantastic idea, and I hope other grocers follow suit.

• If you want or need lunch from Mizell Senior Center, they offered to-go meals today, and may do so in the future. Watch the Facebook page for updates.

• If you suddenly find yourself with extra downtime, why not consider taking a free college course online?

Safeway is hiring in Northern California. The same thing is happening at some local grocery stores, too.

Amazon, too, is hiring in a big way.

• Max Brooks has an important message to share from him and his father, Mel Brooks.

• You’re stuck at home. Museums are closed. But due to the wonders of the internet, you can now visit some museums from home! Even in Paris

• And finally, what happens when a zoo is closed, and they give penguins free run of the joint? Adorableness!

That’s enough for today. Stop hoarding toilet paper. (Really, people. I had to give a friend an extra pack so she could avoid a 25-person-long line at Walmart. Sheesh.) Wash your hands. Check in on someone who may need someone to check in with them. We’re gonna get through this together … and think of the whackadoo stories we’ll all have from this era one day.

Before I get to the news of the day—and, boy howdy, it’s been a big news day—I wanted to say something to those of you out there who, like me, suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of what’s looped into the category of mental illness.

Hang in there. Please.

Speaking (or, well, typing) to everyone now: All the shit that’s going on now is trying and traumatic to all of us, not just people who battle mental illness. A whole lot of people lost jobs today, at least for the time being. We can’t go to many of our favorite places right now. And people who are 65 and older were advised to not go anywhere, period.

My particular forms of mental illness are, fortunately, fairly minor: I am not even currently on medication for my anxiety and depression. I’ve been off of them for several years now, as I’ve successfully found a way to use hobbies and interests to get myself into a calmer place. For example, I am a huge baseball fan—go Dodgers!—and I play softball (poorly, yes, but dammit, I play).

Of course, baseball and softball are both cancelled for the foreseeable future. Gulp.

So … yeah. I’ve been an anxious mess today. After watching the announcement from Gov. Newsom (more on that in a minute), I crawled into bed with the hubby and the cat to calm my ass down. I relaxed, did some breathing exercises, and even nodded off for 15 minutes before getting up to send out this Daily Digest. And after I am done with this, I am going to unplug from social media, order some food from a local restaurant that needs the business, pour myself a bourbon, and watch some distracting, fun TV with my family. This means some really fantastic stories that are in my inbox will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry about that. But taking care of myself today will mean I am in a much better place tomorrow—and trust me, we’re going to be posting some great stories at CVIndependent.com tomorrow.

The bad shit happening now means we’re doing what we can to get through COVID-19 as painlessly as we possibly can, as this graphics piece from The Washington Post brilliantly illustrates. (But, yeah, there’s still gonna be a lot of pain.) And to those of you with mental illness … do everything you can to take care of yourselves, like I am. We’re gonna get through this. Really.

Hang in there. Please.

Now … here’s today’s news. I am going to get the bad-but-important things out of the way first, and then list some good, uplifting or funny things, because, jeez, we all need good, uplifting and funny right now.

• If you haven’t already heard … earlier this afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all Californians 65 and older to stay home. And he directed all bars to close down. And he—just as the city of Palm Springs did last night—directed all restaurants to cut occupancy in half in a social-distancing effort.

Most grocery stores are limiting their hours, so they can clean and restock. For example, Ralph’s is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Stater Bros. is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aldi ran out of stuff, basically, and closed early today. Yeesh.

Augustine Casino is temporarily closing its doors. 

OK. That’s enough depressing stuff for now. Let’s get on with the good, uplifting and funny:

• Good: You know how people are panicking and hoarding stuff right now? Well, our supply chain is in good shape, so we’re gonna be OK. Really.

• Also good: Spectrum is offering free internet and WiFi to households with kids or college students who need it.

• Uplifting: A shout-out to Jeannie Kays, the Palm Springs Library director, for posting this fantastic learn-from-home website Scholastic is offering, so kids who are stuck at home can keep on learnin’. www.scholastic.com/learnathome

• Funny (if also a little sad): As someone put on Twitter (paraphrasing): Who had “monkey gang wars” on your COVID-19 consequences bingo card?

• Funny, but “political,” so if you’re someone who is triggered by humor with a political bent, for the love of god, please don’t click, but if you actually do have a sense of humor, please do click: Randy Rainbow has finally weighed in on the pandemic.

Support local businesses, including your favorite independent local newspaper. Wash your freaking hands. Find happy things. Hang in there. Please.

Last night, I met friends for drinks at a bar on Arenas Road, in downtown Palm Springs. I haven’t been out much this week, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

As we drove down Arenas, unsuccessfully looking for a spot, I was surprised to see that most of the bars appeared to be packed.

“I don’t know if I have ever had more mixed feelings about something in my life,” I told my husband.

On one hand … I was elated to see that all of these small, locally owned businesses were getting much-needed business. It was good to see the servers and bartenders making good money. I was proud to be part of that needed cash infusion.

On the other hand … I kept thinking: Should all of us be out and about like this?

After drinks, we wandered down Palm Canyon Drive and got dinner at a local restaurant. While the street wasn’t dead, it certainly was getting quieter as the night went on.

Again, mixed feelings.

After I hit send on this Daily Digest, I am going to get ready to head to CVRep in Cathedral City, to do a review of The City of Conversation—the only play currently running in the valley that has not yet been shuttered by the pandemic. (More on this below.) Then I am going to meet friends at a charity art event, and go to dinner at Lulu. I am going to savor it like it’s the last good night on the town I have for a while … because it might very well be.

I hope it’s not. But it might very well be.

Here’s today’s news.

• The Desert AIDS Project just announced something huge: It’s opening a COVID-19 triage clinic.

This just arrived in my inbox, from CEO David Brinkman:

“In the next 48 hours DAP will take a bold step and we ask you to please have our backs. Last week, we opened our new clinics for DAP’s day-to-day healthcare operations, leaving our original clinic temporarily vacant. Today, I worked with our infectious disease doctors to develop an emergency plan of action to ensure the health and well-being of all we serve. The original clinic will be transformed this weekend into a specialized COVID-19 triage clinic. This will allow our medical experts to screen patients demonstrating symptoms in a quarantined space, while also allowing our non-symptomatic patients to continue having their health needs met without potential exposure.

“This is no small undertaking. Desert AIDS Project is the healthcare home to 7,000 of our friends and neighbors, most of whom live at 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below. And, the majority of our patients are of an age with significantly increased risk. We already are seeing a dramatic increase in inquiries and we must be able to meet the need as it grows in the coming weeks.

“This new clinic will cost DAP $575,000 to operate over the coming months.”

Wow.

See the full announcement—and make a donation while there, if you can—here.

• As for those plays: Yesterday, we reported that Desert TheatreWorks, Palm Canyon Theatre and CVRep were moving forward with their productions. This morning, however, Desert TheatreWorks announced last night’s production of The Producers would be its last until April 10, while Palm Canyon Theatre announced it was cancelling the final two planned performances this weekend of The Pajama Game. As of now, PCT plans on proceeding with the rest of its season—Sordid Lives is slated to open Thursday, March 26—but noted that this is a “very fluid situation.” This makes CVRep the last theater company standing: As of this writing, The City of Conversation will continue at least through this weekend.

Read more about all of this tomorrow in the second Installment of the Independent’s Pandemic Stories series. Yeah, I said yesterday that story would be available today … and then things changed. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

• All schools in Riverside County are closed for the next three weeks, per county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. More info here.

• Good news: During the closure, kids in need within the Palm Springs Unified School District can still get free meals. School buses will be delivering them on normal morning routes, or they can be picked up at schools. Get the details hereDesert Sands and Coachella Valley Unified are also making meals available to kids at schools.

• The United Way of the Desert has launched a very good information page, chock full of resources and phone numbers people may need during this crisis. View it here

• This is amazingly cool: Yesterday, we reported that the Certified Farmers’ Markets had been suspended for the time being. Today, the organizers have started posting direct contact info for the various vendors (with their blessing) on the Certified Farmers’ Market Facebook page, so people can directly contact and buy from the vendors if they so choose. Get all the 411 here.

• The Palm Springs Art Museum has decided to close for the time being. More info here.

That’s all for now. Please, support local businesses. Be a good neighbor. Stop hoarding crap. Be smart and diligent and caring. More tomorrow.

Welcome to the first-ever Coachella Valley Independent Daily Digest. The goal for this Daily Digest is to round up reliable, vetted news related to COVID-19 and the accompanying societal changes. There’s too much unreliable information floating around on social media (and even coming out of some elected officials’ mouths)—and in this space, we'll sort through it all to get to truthfulness and sanity.

In addition to news updates, we’ll also highlight good things happening—specials from local businesses (that REALLY need your support right now), enlightening comments from members of the community, and so on. Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have anything you think should be included.

And with that ... here's the news.

• As we were getting close to clicking send on this, the Palm Springs Unified School District announced it would be closing schools the next two weeks. They're moving up Spring Break, essentially. Parents are receiving this message right now: "Hello PSUSD families. This is Supt. Sandy Lyon. I wanted to provide you with an update on the coronavirus situation as it relates to our District. You may be aware that over the past day, there has been an increase in the number of confirmed cases here in the Coachella Valley, and there are a number of tests pending that could result in several other confirmed cases. Additionally, both the Riverside County Department of Health and Governor Newsom issued a directive to suspend gatherings of over 250 people. As a result, Palm Springs Unified School District is moving its two-week spring break. It will begin on Monday, March 16."

• Eisenhower Medical Center announced earlier today that visitors will no longer be allowed at EMC for the time being. More on what EMC is doing to protect the community can be found here.

• As of this writing, local theaters have made a split decision on whether to stay open or not. While Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, Coyote StageWorks and the Desert Rose Playhouse have cancelled or postponed shows this weekend, Palm Canyon Theatre, CVRep and Desert TheatreWorks are letting the shows go on. Read more about this in the second installment in the Independent's Pandemic Stories series tomorrow (Saturday).

As for that first Pandemic Stories installment: Kevin Fitzgerald talked to the owner of Piero's PizzaVino about the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tourney, and how that devastated her and her staff. Piero's is one of the few local restaurants to have a pop-up location at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, alongside big names like Nobu and Spago.

• As for closures and cancellations: The Palm Springs Gay Softball league has suspended practices and play through March, and the national NAGAAA Cup tourney the league was hosting at the end of March is cancelled. Other recent cancellations/closures include the Palm Desert Food and Wine fest, all Certified Farmers Markets through at least March 30 (though the Palm Springs Cultural Center remains open for now), the Palm Springs Library (though the Palm Desert Library remains open), and shockingly, The Abbey down in West Hollywood.

• From our partners at CalMatters: As the coronavirus toll rises, so do concerns about health-care workers' safety.

• Earlier today, President Trump declared a national emergency. The press conference was ... well, fascinating. At one point, after Trump said he didn't take any responsibility for the pandemic, a reporter from PBS asked him about his firing of the national pandemic response team. His response was that he didn't do it, and that this was a "nasty question." As for that firing, Snopes says it's true that it happened.

• Support local businesses! If you're comfortable with going out (while taking all the precautions that you should be), local bars and restaurants need you right now. If not, order food from a local restaurant on GrubHub or one of the apps!

• Alternately, consider buying gift cards from local businesses. Some places are offering 20 percent bonuses.

• If you found this email helpful, forward to a friend, or have them email us and we'll add them to the list. Please consider supporting the Independent, too ... we could use it!

Until tomorrow ... stay safe; support local business, and wash your hands!

I’ve been an anxious mess the last few days. There’s a good chance you have been as well.

What we’re all going through right now is completely unprecedented. There hasn’t been a pandemic like this since the Spanish flu ravaged the planet a century ago—and that pandemic happened in a time without significant commercial air travel, the Internet and so on.

As we endure the pandemic and all of the disruption that it’s bringing, we here at the Independent will keep doing what we’ve been doing for our seven-plus years of existence—telling the Coachella Valley’s stories. In fact, we’re going to do our best to do even more.

First, we’re launching a new series of pieces called Pandemic Stories. These pieces will tell slice-of-life stories on how the community is being affected by the coronavirus and all of the societal changes taking place as a result. We posted the first one yesterday—a piece by staff writer Kevin Fitzgerald, on what the last-minute cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open meant to Piero’s PizzaVino, one of the few local restaurants that opens a satellite location at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the tourney.

Second, later today, we’ll launch a new daily feature at CVIndependent.com—also available via e-mail (it’ll go to all of our e-Edition subscribers to start)—that rounds up reliable, vetted news related to COVID-19 and the accompanying societal changes. There’s too much unreliable information floating around on social media (and even coming out of some elected officials’ mouths)—and we will help sort through it all to get to truthfulness and sanity. In addition to news updates, we’ll also highlight good things happening—specials from local businesses (that REALLY need your support right now), enlightening comments from members of the community, and so on. Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have anything you think should be included.

As we strive to do more, however, I need to be frank: This pandemic poses an existential threat to the Independent. (The same can be said for all sorts of other local businesses, as well as virtually every independent news source around the country.) Our advertising base is made up largely of local businesses—the very same businesses getting their asses kicked right now by all of the cancellations and social distancing. So … that’s where we really need your help: If you value the work the Independent is doing, and you can afford it, please send us a few bucks to help us keep the news coming. Learn more at www.cvindependent.com/index.php/en-US/supporters. Please consider becoming a supporter, either with a one-time payment, or if you can, by sending us a few bucks each month. The strength of the support we get from readers who can afford it may very well determine whether the Independent makes it or not.

Thanks for reading. Tough days are ahead, but we’re going to get through this, Coachella Valley, as long as we continue to uplift and support each other.

What: The fish tacos

Where: Barrel District, 35939 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $15

Contact: 760-537-7431; barreldistrictpizza.com

Why: These tacos are big and tasty.

Regular readers of this space know I am a fan of properly prepared fried fish. I love it on a good sandwich; I adore it served alongside yummy fries.

And, of course, I crave it in a well-assembled taco.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my attention was piqued when the server at Barrel District praised the fish tacos during our recent lunch visit. I was torn between the fish tacos and the sesame-crusted ahi burger ($13, with fries), but Kevin, my dining companion, was also interested in the ahi burger, so I picked the tacos in the spirit of food diversity, even if I was a little skeptical of the $5-per-taco price tag.

When the tacos arrived, that skepticism went away: The three tacos were huge—packed with deep-fried cod, along with tomato, avocado, cabbage, cilantro and aioli. I made a mess while devouring them, but it was a happy mess, thanks largely to the delicious beer-battered cod.

Here’s an endorsement within an endorsement: Kevin raved about his sesame-crusted ahi burger, served with onion, avocado, tomato and tartar sauce on a ciabatta bun. He was kind enough to give me a piece of the rare tuna—and it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, even though we were at Barrel District at the height of lunch hour, we pretty much had the place to ourselves; only a couple of other tables were occupied. Why the dearth of customers? I have no idea, as it’s located in a recently revitalized and now-busy strip mall; the menu offers an intriguing selection of starters, pizzas, tacos, salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrées; and the service, at least on our visit, was just fine.

Maybe the restaurant needs to advertise more. Perhaps the place needs better word of mouth. Regardless, Barrel District has a new customer in me.

A recent Independent story, which serves as the cover story in our March print edition, examines the mess that Assembly Bill 5 has made for independent musicians.

As the headline says … it’s a shit show.

You can read the specifics in the story—by my friend Kevin Allman, who recently moved to Southern California after a 12-year stint as the editor of the Gambit weekly in New Orleans—but I wanted to point out something I discovered while editing and fact-checking the piece: This AB 5 mess marks the first time that a lot of young adults have had to seriously deal with the consequences of a new state law … and they’re pissed. One tongue-in-cheek comment I saw on a social-media account sums it up: “Yay California. Way to lift people up. Regulations is just what we need!”

Actually … AB 5 was needed. It was just badly executed. In April 2018, in response to a case against a transportation company, the California Supreme Court ruled that a worker could only be considered an independent contractor (rather than an employee) if the worker met three specific criteria. As a result, the Legislature needed to step in and craft new law to clarify things … and that led to AB 5.

Well, AB 5 arguably made a bad situation worse: In an attempt to “protect” Lyft and Uber drivers, as well as drivers for services like Postmates and Grubhub, by making sure they were classified as employees, Rep. Lorena Gonzalez pushed through legislation that, with neither rhyme nor reason, exempted some gigs, while not exempting others. Graphic artists and fine artists were exempted … while musicians were not. Freelance writers were exempted, but only if they write 35 pieces or fewer for a publication/website in a year.

Why 35? I have no idea. Neither does anyone else.

Take the situation Independent music scribe Matt King now faces. Matt, for the most part, decides what he writes about; he suggests story topics, and I say yea or nay while giving him a deadline. He works when he wants, where he wants, and is paid more than a minimum-wage equivalent for his work. Yet barring a change in the law, I’ll soon need to either bring him on as an employee, or let him go, if we want to comply with the law.

Matt is also a musician and a band leader—and according to AB 5, he should be considered both an employee and an employer at his gigs now: He’d be an employee of the venue, and the employer of his band mates.

It’s a shit show.

The state and Democratic lawmakers are making a terrible impression on a whole lot of young residents as a result of AB 5—and who knows what future electoral consequences this may have?

As always, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. Feel free to email me with feedback—and be sure to pick up the March 2020 print edition.