CVIndependent

Fri08072020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

It’s April 1, no’ foolin. That means one of the most insanely awful months in American history is finally behind us.

How long was March? The obvious, mathematical answer is 31 days. But, man, were those a looooong 31 days.

Here’s how long March was: Remember Pete Buttigieg? When March started, he was still a presidential candidate. Yep: He dropped out on March 1, two days before Joe Biden’s decisive Super Tuesday wins.

Back then, most of us had no idea what in the hell was coming—or if we had any clue, we couldn’t fathom what it all meant.

A story in the print version of the March 1 edition of The New York Times had the headline: “Readiness of U.S. for an Epidemic Raises Fears About Shortages.” It’s worth noting that this story, while on the front page, was below the fold.

The online version of the story had a more search-term-friendly headline and sub-headline: “How Prepared Is the U.S. for a Coronavirus Outbreak?” The subheadline: “The country is better positioned than most but could still face critical shortages of respirators and masks. Hospitals have triage plans in place. State and local governments have broad powers to quarantine.”

Uh … well … yep?

The local BNP Paribas Open was cancelled on March 8, the day before it was supposed to start in earnest. Coachella and Stagecoach were postponed on March 10. The NBA kept playing until a March 11, when a player tested positive, halting a game in Oklahoma City just before tip-off.

That was just three weeks ago. Yeesh.

Now, it’s April … and we’re looking down the barrel of a month virtually none of us could have imagined in our worst nightmares just 31 days ago.

Yet, there are reasons for optimism. We’ve linked to stories in previous days that indicate we’re having success in #flatteningthecurve here in California. And every day means we are one day closer to the end of this, whatever that may mean.

Stay home as much as possible. If you’re one of the “essential workers” who can’t stay at home, God bless you, and be as safe as you can. Enjoy this time, as bonkers as it is, as much as possible.

Oh, yeah, and 1) stop flushing wipes down the toilet, and 2) wash your hands.

On a personal note: Thank you so very much to the 30-plus people who became or maintained being Supporters of the Independent in March (plus today). Whether you gave us $10 or you gave us $500, your support means so much to us.

To Jill Arnold, Morgan James, Ken Alterwitz, Elizabeth McGarry, Alex McCune, Miho Suma, Gustavo Arellano, Howard Goldberg, Richard Fluechtling, Cactus Hugs/Casey Dolan, Debby Anspach, Scott Phipps, John Delaney, Leonard Woods, Michael Herzfeld, Kenneth Theriault, Lynn Hammond/Lynn Hammond Catering, Jeffrey Davied, Harvey Lewis, Vicky Harrison, Joanne Bosher, George Bullis, Joshua Friedman, Darrell Tucci, Scott Balson, Elizabeth Wexler, Deidre Pike, Marsha Pare, Jeffrey Norman, David Ponsar, Lea Goodsell, John de Dios and Anthony Gangloff … thanks for helping us continue to do what we do in these unbelievably tough times.

If you have the ability to join these generous people in helping us continue covering the Coachella Valley with quality journalism, go here for more details … and thank you.

Now, for today’s news links:

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.

• I will again be joining Shann Carr, John Taylor and Brad Fuhr tomorrow on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast with Dr. Laura Rush. If you have any questions about this damn virus and whatnot for the good doctor, send them to me before 8 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

• If you need help, the amazing people at FIND Food Bank are heading to a local town near you to help with its mobile pantry. Get the details and the schedule here.

SiriusXM is offering free streaming through May 15.

• Independent TV columnist Bill Frost points out that a whole lot of the streaming services you normally need to pay for are offering programming for free right now—and he also has information on a dozen streaming services that are ALWAYS free.

• Also from the Independent: What better time is there to go outside and enjoy the stars and planets (as long as everyone is social distancing and stuff)? The Independent’s Robert Victor has the scoop on what to watch for in the heavens in April.

• Related: The Rancho Mirage Public Library and Observatory has moved its Swoon at the Moon program online, starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight!

• Yet another excellent scholarly article from The Conversation offers a silver lining in all of this: Could COVID-19 end the world’s illicit wildlife trade?

• In this era of Zoom meetings, be careful with the filters you have on your phone, lest you wind up becoming a potato.

Being a brand-new parent in the age of the coronavirus leads to a whole bunch of surprising worries, as this story from friend of the Independent Gustavo Arellano illustrates.

Why is Dolly Parton a national freaking treasure, besides, you know, the obvious? Is it because of her amazing generosity? Or is it because she’s going to start reading bedtime stories to us all every Thursday? You decide.

• Another, albeit very different national treasure, Samuel L. Jackson, encourages you to Stay the F**k at Home.

• Need some quick, relatable laughs? Make sure you’re following Leslie Jordan on Instagram.

• LGBT folks and allies, take note: A whole bunch of pride-festival organizers, including Greater Palm Springs Pride’s amazing Ron deHarte, will be hosting an online Global Pride on June 27.

That’s all for today. Wash your hands. Reach out to a loved one. Tomorrow’s a new day. Now go wash your hands again. More tomorrow.

Published in Daily Digest

As the July print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent hits the streets this week, I have decidedly mixed feelings.

On the good side … I am pretty happy with the issue. One of the news stories inside of it is Kevin Fitzgerald’s update on the legal drama surrounding California’s End of Life Option Act. In recent weeks, the law—which gives terminally ill people with less than six months to live the chance to get life-ending drugs and then use them, if they so choose—was ruled unconstitutional and suspended, before being reinstated on appeal. The ultimate fate of the End of Life Option Act probably won’t be decided for a while—in fact, it probably won’t until the Supreme Court of California gets involved.

Speaking of Kevin’s ongoing coverage of the End of Life Option Act: We just learned that it has won a national award. The Association of Alternative Newsmedia has named Kevin and the Independent as a finalist in the Beat Reporting category for publications with a circulation less than 40,000. This is the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, that the Independent has won an AAN Award—despite the fact that we’re one of the smallest publications in the association. I couldn’t be more proud.

On the not-so-good side … I felt disheartened when I looked over this year’s list of AAN Award finalists—because a whole lot of amazing journalism was done in 2017 by publications that have since been gutted. The Houston Press nabbed eight awards—largely for work done before the owners laid off almost the entire staff and eliminated the print edition after a loss of business due to Hurricane Harvey. LA Weekly won seven—for journalism done before new ownership took over late last year and annihilated the staff.

Meanwhile, here at home, the Independent, like many Coachella Valley businesses, is trudging through the economically slow part of the year. Let me make it clear: We’re on firm financial footing, and we aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean our figurative financial belts aren’t tighter than we’d like them to be.

Therefore, I am asking all of you brilliant, insightful readers for your financial support. We don’t charge for our content, online or in print; it’s free and open to all, and always will be. That said … great stories—like Kevin’s End of Life Option Act coverage—cost money to produce, edit and publish. So, if you have a buck or two to spare, I ask you to consider heading to our Supporters of the Independent page—or, heck, send us a check. Even $5 or $10 is greatly appreciated.

Whether or not you have that extra buck or two to send our way … as always, thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any feedback.

Published in Editor's Note

It’s been an eventful month for me and the Coachella Valley Independent. Here are some notes and thoughts.

• I was fortunate enough to attend the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful gathering of motivated independent journalists from around North America.

Make no mistake: Some (but not all) independent local newspapers are struggling. However, those of us in the industry are working on finding new ways to bring readers the news they need—and coming up with innovative ways to pay for it.

Some alternative newspapers—from Boston to Little Rock to Santa Fe to Baltimore—are starting nonprofits, opening doors to grants and other journalism-funding sources. Others are using new technologies to tell their communities’ stories in fascinating new ways. It was truly exciting to see the energy and excitement displayed by so many editors, writers and publishers.

Oh, and one more tidbit from the conference: I’d previously mentioned that the Independent was a finalist for a national Association of Alternative Newsmedia award. Well, I am elated to report that Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” took first place in the Column category for smaller newspapers. In other words, in the eyes of contest judges, “Know Your Neighbors” is the top column in alternative newspapers with a circulation of less than 45,000 in the entire country.

• We celebrated Anita’s columns, as well as all sorts of other great work the Independent has done over the last five years, from Aug. 1-20 during our Supporters of the Independent membership drive.

I am happy to report that we received some great support during the drive—but not as much as I was anticipating. A sizable handful of readers signed up for memberships at higher levels, but few readers signed up for memberships at the smaller levels.

However, I was honored and touched by the expressions of appreciation we did receive from readers. Take, for example, the letter we received from Eva Mansell, along with a $20 check. “Hi and THANK YOU for what you all do! Wish it could be more, but I’m on a low, fixed income … but I (so) appreciate the (astronomy column), the local issues/politics and articles.”

Thank you, Eva. That letter made my month.

It’s not too late to join Eva in supporting the Independent. Visit CVIndependent.com/Supporters, or write us at the address at the top left.

• Season is almost here … so that means the Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll is here, too! First-round voting in some 130-plus categories is now under way; click here to vote! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions!

As always, thanks for reading. Also, keep your eyes open for the September 2017 print edition of the Independent, hitting the streets of the Coachella Valley in 380-plus locations this week!

Published in Editor's Note

Let’s face it: August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley.

If there’s onetime during the year that a restaurant will be closed, it’s probably going to be in August. August is the most popular month for us locals to take vacations—in part because the weather is scorching, and it’s already been scorching for several months, and we’re tired of it.

However, most of us are still here in August. Therefore, news and arts and foodie stuff still happens—and that’s why those of us here at the Independent don’t take the month off, and instead keep working as hard as we always do.

Still … August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley, and that goes for us here at the Independent, too. That’s why we have decided to hold our first-ever Supporters of the Independent membership drive this month—and while doing so, we’re going to celebrate some of the great journalism the Independent has done in our almost five years of existence.

From today through Aug. 20, we’ll highlight a story from our archives on our social-media platforms each day. Today's piece is the first-ever print edition cover story in the Coachella Valley Independent: "Coachella Valley 2035: Our Region Is Becoming Older, More Latino and a Lot More Crowded," published on March 29, 2013, and the cover story in the April 2013 issue. This piece analyzed local growth projections and talked about the future our valley faces—including serious problems and challenges.

To help us continue doing great stories like this, we are asking you to join our Supporters of the Independent program.

Our content is offered free to all, both in print and online—and it always will be. We don’t have pay walls, and we don’t sell subscriptions. However, a Supporters of the Independent membership gives readers a chance to contribute directly to the Independent and our mission statement: “The Coachella Valley Independent is the valley’s source of independent news, arts coverage, commentary and culture. We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain. We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

I hope you’ll consider joining our Supporters of the Independent program; you can join for as little as $10, and all members get cool perks. For more information, visit CVIndependent.com/supporters.

Also: Please pick up the August 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, now in 380-plus locations across the valley. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

We are living in unprecedented times, as far as national politics is concerned.

This thought kept coming to mind as I read the latest installment of Democracy in Crisis published by the Independent. Writer Baynard Woods, simply and briefly, lays out 13 anecdotes that show how authoritarianism is on the rise in our country.

Reporters arrested. Protesters arrested. Conflicts of interest being flouted and going unchecked. Sigh.

However, there’s at least one silver lining I’m finding in all the chaos: It’s clear that great journalism is alive and well in the United States.

Some of the reporting we’ve seen from The New York Times and the Washington Post, just for starters, has been amazing. In recent weeks, these papers exposed the fact that our president apparently revealed classified information to the Russians—jeopardizing, at the very least, relationships with countries with whom we partner on intelligence. They reported that our president apparently asked our FBI director to lay off of an investigation of him—before the president would go on to fire that very FBI director.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles Times in April published an unprecedented six-part editorial series titled “Our Dishonest President,” which made the clear case that Donald Trump is unfit for office.

As always, smaller news outlets are doing great work, too. Take Democracy in Crisis as an example; it’s a joint project of alternative papers around the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent.

While it’s inspiring and amazing to see all of this great journalism, it’s important to point out that these aforementioned newspapers are operating with a fraction of the resources they had, say, 10 or 15 years ago.

That’s why it’s vital that you support great journalism: Buy a newspaper subscription, or two, or three. Advertise. Pay for online articles. It costs money to do well-reported, well-written, well-edited stories.

In that vein, if you like what the Independent is doing, consider throwing a few bucks our way. Both our print version and CVIndependent.com have always been and always will be free to all—but you can join our Supporters of the Independent program for just $10, or even less. Find details at CVindependent.com/supporters.

By the way, pick up the June 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week and early next week. As always, thanks for reading—and if you have thoughts or feedback, email me anytime.

Published in Editor's Note

A few weeks back, a fantastic discussion ignited in one of the alternative-newsmedia e-mail groups to which I belong. The topic was readership campaigns—advertising campaigns by newspapers to promote themselves to their own readers.

Some of the slogans being used in these campaigns are brilliant—especially the ones created by our friends at The Austin Chronicle in Texas.

You need us. We need you. Support free press. Read us, follow us, advertise with us.

No news is bad news. We need each other.

Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake. We report the news at no cost to you, and no matter the cost to us.

We here at the Independent will be, uh, “borrowing” some of these ideas (with The Austin Chronicle’s blessing, of course).

These truly are unprecedented times in which we’re living. The attacks on the press by the Trump administration are simply shocking. Beyond the insults and slights, Trump and other members of his administration are picking and choosing which reporters get basic access—of course, less-critical media sources get dibs—that is, if any reporters get access.

(The same thing happens on the local level. We recently reached out to Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon to talk about the downtown redevelopment project and its current entanglements; we got a response from the city PR person saying Moon and other city officials were not giving any interviews regarding the criminal proceedings involving the downtown redevelopment project. Three weeks later, Moon and others sat down with KMIR for a special regarding these very topics. Apparently, Moon and the city PR folks feared what types of questions we’d ask. Read more here.)

On the positive side, these unprecedented times have forced many media sources to drop the outdated, dishonest myth of “objectivity,” and instead start calling, as the saying goes, a spade a spade. It’s been downright refreshing to see CNN, The New York Times and other mainstream media sources start calling lies, well, lies. Sometimes, there is no “other side” to a story. Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake.

As another of those Austin Chronicle ads says … we really do need you. Without our readers, the Independent is just paper or pixels. I hope you feel like you need us, too. Please, tell your friends about us. Give us feedback. Support our advertisers—and tell them you saw their ad in the Independent. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, please go to CVIndependent.com/Supporters and sign up for our Supporters of the Independent program.

The April 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent—our special Music Issue—is hitting streets valley-wide this week. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me.

Published in Editor's Note

There’s a lot of great stuff going on here at Independent World Headquarters (i.e., my apartment in downtown Palm Springs).

For one thing: We’ll be launching our Supporters of the Independent Program within weeks. We don’t charge a thing for our great content, whether it’s delivered online, via email or in print—and we never will charge a thing for our great content. However, we understand that some readers would happily contribute a small amount of money to the Independent, be it monthly or annually, to help us do what we do. The Supporters of the Independent Program will help readers do just that—while receiving some cool perks in return.

We’re still setting things up and working out the details. Watch CVIndependent.com, as well as our weekly e-Edition, for those details.

For another thing: We’ll be opening up Round 1 voting for the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 on Monday, Aug. 31. We’ll ask you, our readers, to share your top choices in 120 or so categories. We’ll compile the results, and then launch a second round of voting, starting in October, among the top vote-getters in each category. The winners of that poll will be honored and celebrated in our December print issue, and at CVIndependent.com in late November.

Finally … I have a little bragging to do.

The results of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) 2015 Altweekly Awards were announced on Saturday, July 18, at the annual AAN conference, held this year in Salt Lake City, Utah—and the Independent was one of the papers honored.

Brian Blueskye won an award in the Arts Feature category. He earned third place for his coverage of the Palm Springs mural ordinance, which he covered throughout 2014.

While journalism awards are a dime a dozen, the Altweekly Awards, given out each year by AAN, are a fairly big deal. (As of now, this is the only journalism contest the Independent enters.) Seventy-one publications across the United States and Canada, almost all of which are bigger in terms of resources than the Independent, entered this year’s contest. In other words, there’s a lot of competition, so it’s quite an accomplishment to win one.

Congratulations to Brian on the award. Here’s hoping it’s the first of many awards for him—and the Independent as well. Heck, maybe he’ll win one for his most recent big story for the Independent, “In Defense of DHS,” which serves as our August print cover story. Who knows?

In any case, as always, thanks for reading what we do.

Published in Editor's Note