CVIndependent

Sun11172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's minty-fresh weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles finds similarities between Donald Trump and the Grateful Dead; This Modern World ponders Nancy Pelosi's political game of chess; Jen Sorensen wonders how Twitter would have handled past historic moments; Apoca Clips listens as Li'l Trumpy spews racism regarding female members of Congress; and Red Meat teaches a valuable lesson.

Published in Comics

Even if you are a David Letterman fan, let’s face it: You probably decreased your viewing of his Late Show in the final years of its run. As with most late-night shows, you caught some glimpses of it the next day in video snippets—but without a concentrated viewing of Letterman doing his thing.

Letterman’s new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, is a blessed reminder of how damn good of an interviewer the man is. The show is slated to be a monthly program, featuring an hour-long interview. The format loses the desk, the set and the band (although Paul Shaffer does provide the theme music). The result is marvelous.

The first guest of the initial six-month run is some unemployed guy named Barack Obama, a charming, funny, well-spoken guest who Letterman clearly admires. Obama does not directly attack the current president, but he sends some thinly veiled messages to Mr. Trump about doing the job with dignity. It’s an absorbing glimpse at Obama’s life a year out of office—as well as a welcomed return for Letterman.

Other late-night stars—like Johnny Carson and, to an extent, Jay Leno—disappeared after their runs. Thankfully, Letterman is back, and it’s a real treat to see him doing something worthy of his talents when he could just be puttering around his ranch.

Future guests will include George Clooney and Howard Stern.

The first episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman is now streaming on Netflix.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Dear Mexican: I know there’s beef between Mexicans and Trump right now because of the whole deportation thing, but can he really do any worse than Obama did when it comes to deportations?

Obama deported between 2 million and 3 million people—more than any other president. Is there something I’m missing here? Help me out.

Pocho in Plano

Dear Pocho: Why is it that it’s almost always male Tejanos who ask the above question? It’s not a bad one (save your flippant dismissal of “the whole deportation thing”—sounds like you’re the type of pocho whose last connection to the motherland was your grandmother’s tamale recipe that your sister fucks up every Christmas), but there’s a special level of false equivalency among Texan Chicanos regarding Trump that I just don’t see anywhere else.

Yes, Obama deported a chingo of our people, leading National Council on La Raza head Janet Murguia—not exactly the most radical activist out there, despite what the conservative media will have you believe—to label him the “Deporter in Chief.” But the Migration Policy Institute crunched the números to discover that, while the Obama administration’s total deportation figure was about 5.3 million people, it didn’t even come close to matching the figures under Dubya (10.3 million) and Clinton (12.3 million—as if you needed another reason to hate the Clintons, pinches PRIistas).

The 3 million figure frequently cited for Obama refers to the removal of immigrants from this country, and he did significantly beat 43 and Slick Willie in that category, but to treat BHO as somehow more of a Mexican-basher than any president in history is as context-free as saying some guy named Jose Alfredo Jiménez wrote songs.

Can Trump do any worse? When he has already promised a border wall, declared war on sanctuary cities, and brags about his love of “Hispanics” with a taco bowl, I’d say ahuevo. And, of course, #fucktrump.

Dear Mexican: I’m a security guard at an apartment complex. I get out and work hard. I write a lot of people up for rule infractions, much more than they are used to from previous guards—so much more so that many people think I must be targeting them. But the reality is, I write up anyone and everyone I see breaking a safety or courtesy rule. (People quietly drinking outside is not a problem to me; playing music too loud in a car is.)

According to office management, about 25 percent of the residents have accused me of targeting them. But the kicker is: All the complaints come from Mexican women. Not the blacks or whites of either gender, and not the Mexican men. What is the deal?

Parking Lot Policia

Dear Gabacho: NO ONE likes security guards at apartment complexes—y’all are the pendejos too dumb to become sheriff’s deputies or migra. Writing people up for playing music loud? Laughable.

That said, if it’s only Mexican women complaining, it’s because they’re the ones who have it harder than any other group if they’re living in an apartment complex. Let them blast their Romeo Santos—the last thing they need in their hardscrabble vidas is their choni-melter daydream getting them cited by some rent-a-cop.

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

On this week's leaked weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat discusses God's own image with the deity himself; Jen Sorenson looks at GOP alternatives to Obamacare; The K Chronicles goes to the movies; and This Modern World learns that all those right-wing claims about President Obama were actually true!

Published in Comics

I never thought I’d hear the leader of the free world extolling the virtues of the gay nightclub.

Yet there he was, President Barack Obama, doing just that, on Sunday, June 12, as we all reeled in shock at the news that an idiot had just killed 49 men and women at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live,” Obama said. “The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub—it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

Wow,” I thought to myself when I heard the president’s remarks. “He really gets it.”

Visions nightclub in Reno, Nev., was my place of solidarity and empowerment at a time when I really needed it. It was in the late ’90s; I had just graduated from college and moved back to my hometown after breaking up with my fiancée. I was coming to terms with the fact that I was gay—a fact that would not sit well with many of my friends who, like me, were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon).

I was not out to anyone but a handful of friends. Heck, I was barely out to myself. But every Saturday night, those friends and I could be found at Visions, chatting, flirting and accepting ourselves. Inside this gay nightclub, I was authentic—and I was safe.

I’ve come a long way in the two decades or so since then. So, too, has society. However, for me and many, many others—both gay and straight—bars and nightclubs are still places to come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

The Independent and Brian Blueskye organized nine concerts last year to both promote local musicians and raise money for the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Food Bank. We also assembled a fundraising concert to help out Chris and George Zander after they were senselessly attacked. My softball team and I have hosted two “Thirst for Life” fundraisers on behalf of the Desert AIDS Project.

All of those took place at Chill Bar Palm Springs and the Scorpion Room nightclub. It is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

As always, thanks for reading the Independent. Be sure to pick up the July 2016 print edition, hitting streets this week across the Coachella Valley.

Published in Editor's Note

On this week's Supreme Court-laden Independent comics page: The K Chronicles wonders which line was said by a petulant child, and which line was said by a GOP presidential candidate; This Modern World quizzes the pundits about the death of Antonin Scalia; Jen Sorenson examines the latest Obama scandal; and Red Meet agrees that it's always darkest before the dawn.

Published in Comics

The city of Palm Springs may be a hotbed of midcentury modern architecture—but the valley’s most exciting example of modernism may be found in Rancho Mirage: Sunnylands, the former desert home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

“Palm Springs Modernism Week in February is a real celebration of modernism architecture,” said Mary Perry, deputy director of communications and public affairs at Sunnylands. “(Sunnylands) is a very good example of midcentury modernism. It has a lot of the inside/outside feel.”

Formerly known as the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands has hosted eight U.S. presidents—and it will host Barack Obama yet again on Feb. 14, when the president meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands. (Yes, the president is crashing Modernism Week, in a sense.) It was the spot of a state dinner between President George H.W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu in 1990—the first state dinner ever held outside of the White House. Richard Nixon wrote his final State of the Union Address at Sunnylands, and returned to Sunnylands several months later to wind down following his resignation.

During the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, family members of the shah of Iran were offered refuge within the walls of Sunnylands. Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) had a lunch date with the Annenbergs there. The estate hosted a New Year’s Eve party in the house’s atrium that Ronald and Nancy Reagan attended every year for 18 years.

The estate was commissioned by the Annenbergs in 1963 and completed in 1966, after they chose A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons to design the house. Jones, a modernist architect, was truly an innovator and a man ahead of his time; his designs were sustainable and environmentally friendly, and many were compatible with surrounding wildlife and agriculture. In fact, the Annenbergs believed their home in Rancho Mirage was “bringing the outside in.”

Both Walter and Leonore Annenberg were devoted philanthropists. After Walter Annenberg sold TV Guide to Rupert Murdoch in 1988 for $3 billion, he would go on to give away $2 billion to causes ranging from the public-education system and the United Negro College Fund to art museums. His collection of art, estimated to be worth $1 billion, was given to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art upon his death.

The final thing he donated through the Annenberg Foundation Trust was Sunnylands itself. He left $300 million for upkeep and to maintain it as a retreat for leaders seeking to address serious issues facing the nation and the world. It was opened to the public on a limited basis in 2012.

With Modernism Week approaching, Sunnylands recently granted the Independent a tour of Sunnylands.


After driving through the gates and going down a winding road featuring cacti and gorgeous landscaping, visitors start at the visitors’ center, which sits on 15 acres of the 200-acre property.

When the center opened for limited tours in March 2012, they quickly sold out, yet people still wanted to know what was behind the pink security walls—hence the visitors’ center, which is open to everyone, for free, Thursdays through Sundays.

On the day of our tour, a women’s yoga class was slated to take place outside in the courtyard. The garden there includes various cacti and other desert plants; there’s also a meditative labyrinth through which guests can walk.

The visitors’ center includes interactive multimedia stations with information on various aspects of the estate; there’s also an impressive 3-D presentation (no glasses required) that shows the construction of the home. I highly recommend checking it out before you hop in the shuttle for your tour.

As the shuttle passed through part of the golf course to get to the estate, the guide explained the story behind the pink walls: Leonore Annenberg favored the color pink—especially pink oleanders. In the early ’90s, pink oleanders were starting to die off worldwide; meanwhile, added security was needed for a visit by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—so when the needed wall was built, it was pink.

The wall is not the only pink element of Sunnylands: The pink pyramid-style roof was inspired by the Mayan pyramids, according to our tour guide.

When the shuttle pulls into the cul-de-sac in front of the estate, and the doors open, the view is breathtaking. Digitalized replicas of the original artwork that used to belong to Walter Annenberg are on the walls in the same locations as the originals. (The replicas were made by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Original furniture and sculptures are spread out through the atrium. A giant sculpture, complete with a fountain and pink flowers, sits in the middle of the atrium under the skylight.

The Room of Memories is a study-like room, with a sprawl of photos of everyone from Bob Hope to various presidents sitting on the shelves. While visitors are given time to inspect the various photos and objects, it’s nowhere enough time to take in all of the details—like the Chinese-influenced art underneath the glass top of a coffee table, for example.

The master bedroom suite has a spectacular view of a cactus garden and the grounds. When asked why the master bedroom does not offer mountain views, the tour guide explained that those views were reserved for guests—one of many hospitable acts by the Annenbergs. The guide also said that Walter loved birds so much that he had a microphone placed on a birdfeeder—with the sound sent into his dressing area, so he could hear it every morning as he started his day.

The vast majority of the furniture throughout the estate does not have modernist appeal; instead, much of it is what the tour guide called “Hollywood Victorian.” Walter Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, which led to the Annenbergs living in London from 1969 to 1974—and when they returned to Rancho Mirage, they added a royal-themed sitting room to the estate and replaced most of their furniture with pieces inspired by Victorian furnishings. However, they did keep many of their beloved Qing Dynasty-inspired artifacts.

In the Yellow Room—a guest room in which the Reagans, Henry Kissinger and Bob Hope stayed—the yellow décor is overwhelming. The guide explained that the Annenbergs almost always had weekend visitors—and only weekend visitors. One of the embroidered pillows on the sofa in this room lightheartedly stresses that the guests will be leaving on Sunday—a personal rule that Walter Annenberg had for visitors to the estate.

As the tour ends, visitors are led around the estate’s nine-hole golf course where Walter Annenberg played golf with Ronald Reagan and Charles, Prince of Wales. Leonore Annenberg also enjoyed the course, holding a ladies’ only golf day that included Dinah Shore.


There’s no doubt the Annenbergs lived an elegant, expensive lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine what living there must have been like.

Today, Sunnylands remains a retreat for world leaders, including a meeting last year between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, it’s not just world leaders who come to Sunnylands; it is also the site of other types of retreats, high-level conferences and seminars—all related to world affairs and issues involving education. The Sunnylands estate does not charge for these retreats and seminars.

“We partner with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and we held a two-day retreat here,” Perry said, offering an example of a recent event at the estate. “We hold this retreat for emerging filmmakers from all around the world who come to talk about how film can change the world. So, certainly, their topic fits in with our retreat. We’ve had medical; we’ve had education; and we’ve had some health-care retreats focused on HIV and the research that has just come out.”

Of course, Sunnylands is a modernist’s dream come true: On 200 acres, the 25,000-square-feet midcentury modern house, with many original art pieces still in the home, is a marvelous spectacle. It’s also a place that’s in demand: Tours require advance booking—and, alas, all of the Modernism Week tours are sold out. (During February, tickets for some March tours will go on sale.)

“The reason you have to buy them way in advance is because we always have to be ready for retreats,” Perry said. “… We need to be able to cancel tours if we have to—although we don’t like to cancel tours.” It's likely, in fact, that Obama's Feb. 14 visit will result in some tour cancellations.

If you do get a coveted tour spot, dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be standing for 45 minutes to an hour as you walk through the house. There is no photography inside the home due to what’s explained as national security reasons, but visitors are free to photograph at the visitors’ center.

The entrance to Sunnylands is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The Sunnylands Center and Gardens is open for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Tickets for tours of the house and grounds are released in half-month blocks, and cost $35. For more information, visit sunnylands.org.

Published in Features

On this week's historic yet fragrant Independent comics page: The City tackles news items including Dick Cheney's daughter and the return of the Twinkie; Red Meat stews in its own juices; The K Chronicles urges you to go see a documentary, A Band Called Death; and Jen Sorenson puts ignorant tweets in historical context.

Published in Comics

President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Interior, Sally Jewell, is historic––not for who she is, but for who she is not.

She is a mountaineer; an ultra-marathon runner; the CEO of REI, the outdoor-gear giant; and a former bank executive and oil company engineer. She appears to be some kind of archetypal über-woman of the Pacific Northwest, jogging up Mount Rainier on coffee breaks.

Jewell’s résumé is as richly complicated as the heady concept of “ecosystem management,” and it sounds like she has plenty of experience in both arenas. Those interested in “ecosystems” will look toward her years with REI and the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association; those leaning toward “management” will note her careers in the petroleum and banking industries.

Another Seattleite (former Mayor Richard Ballinger) has been interior secretary before (albeit 100 years ago), and so has a woman, Gale Norton. But what sets Jewell apart is that she is not, and has never been, a politician. For many decades, the Secretary of the Interior has been the plum post of the classic Western politician: men (usually) like Donald Hodel, Cecil Andrus, Harold Ickes, Ken Salazar, Stewart Udall, Bruce Babbitt and Dirk Kempthorne. All shared a background in politics, either as an elected official or by dint of holding some position high in the apparatus of government or partisan machines.

Interior is bloody political turf, because the stakes are so high, and the money is so big. Land is wealth, and the Interior Department manages millions of publicly owned acres, from sagebrush scablands to national treasures such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. The land includes oil and gas and wildlife and rivers and ski resorts and other precious resources. When folks compete to divvy that up, they do it with sharp knives.

The mere fact that Jewell is President Obama’s candidate shows that a more mature view could be emerging about the department’s role and mission. Jewell knows there is more than one way to wrest wealth from land. Yes, there’s a place for using the land to provide food, fuel and fiber. America needs all that.

But in the modern world, other values rise like cream to the surface as well. Jewell’s billion-dollar company, REI, is part of a much larger outdoor recreation industry. America’s great public landholdings are valuable not only for crude oil, natural gas and livestock feed, but also for providing scenic getaways for weary urbanites, fishing and hunting spots for blue-collar families, streams for salmon and a host of other species, and clean water for millions of people.

Plus, our public lands are increasingly understood to provide a priceless setting for business owners and other investors. Economists are getting better at putting dollar signs on that, but it still represents a shifting mindset. The glimmering chrome-and-fir-tree temple of REI in downtown Seattle is testimony to the fact that recreation and quality-of-life dollars add up to real money.

It’s hard to trace Jewell’s record to assess how she might approach natural resource disputes in our public lands. But clues point toward a mind that understands the value of consensus and fair solutions.

Jewell’s kneejerk critics, like Utah’s Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, will immediately scent an environmentalist conspiracy in anything that smells more like pine needles than gas fumes. That kind of thing gets him re-elected in Utah, but his views don’t represent the broader American experience.

In her home state of Washington, Jewell’s reputation is that of a pragmatist, not an ideologue. She’s supported efforts like the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, a classic example of centrist groups, representing both conservation and agriculture, getting down to brass tacks to compromise and solve serious problems. In consequence, local farmers will get the water they need for irrigation, and valuable runs of sockeye salmon will be restored.

Hard-core folks on both extremes throw rocks at solutions like the Yakima plan, which accept the need for collaborative conservation in order to get things done.

Can Jewell’s kind of professional experience survive—let alone accomplish good things—in today’s Washington? Is the fortitude that got her to the highest peak in Antarctica enough to help her endure the posturing and politics of Congress? A good guess is that Jewell’s appointment—a refreshing departure from the old politics—signals that Obama is setting the stage for a new kind of conservation legacy. And if she is confirmed, Ms. Jewell can count on one thing: She is headed for the adventure of a lifetime.

Ben Long is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News. He lives in Kalispell, Mont.

Published in Community Voices