Indy Digest: May 31, 2021
People tend to look back and reminisce on holidays—especially a holiday like Memorial Day. In that vein, I decided to look back and see what I wrote in this space as we headed into Memorial Day weekend last year.
Coachella Valley retail stores may now let customers in, and restaurants can reopen for dine-in service.
Earlier this afternoon, Riverside County became the 45th of California’s 58 counties to get the state go-ahead to move further into Stage 2. When that fact is combined with today’s reopening of Morongo, Spotlight 29 and the two Agua Caliente casinos … it’s safe to say this is the most significant day the Coachella Valley has experienced during the reopening process, by far.
However, it’s important to remember the news is not all positive. Riverside County announced another six deaths from COVID-19 had been reported in the last 24 hours; hospitalizations also ticked up in the last day. Within a week or so, total reported deaths in the United States from COVID-19 will cross the 100,000 mark. … In other words, we’ve truly, genuinely flattened the curve here in the Coachella Valley. But SARS-Co-V-2 is still out there—as dangerous as ever.
My, how different things are this year. And, my, what a year it’s been.
I was fortunate enough to spend Memorial Day Weekend 2021 with friends on a quick getaway to Los Angeles. We went to a Los Angeles Dodgers game to watch the world champs play a game against the rival San Francisco Giants—and we sat in the “fully vaccinated” section. Afterward, we went to dinner at a fine Italian restaurant, and finished the night with drinks at a lovely bar.
If someone could have shown me a glimpse a year into the future during Memorial Day Weekend 2020, I surely would have broken down into a blubbering, sobbing mess. Some of those tears would have been joyful—the fact I would be joining friends to eat and drink and watch baseball and sit in the fully vaccinated section would have been overwhelmingly wonderful.
Other tears would have been shed in extreme sadness. That reopening, we all know now, did not go well. It was followed by a horrible COVID-19 spike. And later, it was followed by another spike that made the previous spikes pale in comparison.
Then there’s that death-toll number. The U.S. was approaching 100,000 dead then; today, we’re approaching 600,000.
Please don’t let your eyes speed-read past that last sentence. Think about the pain and loss that represents; the population of the Coachella Valley is only 420,000 or so. And that number is only recorded U.S. deaths; worldwide, the death toll is near 3.6 million officially. Unofficially, the number is surely much higher—and in much of the world, SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread, sicken and kill, unchecked.
On this Memorial Day 2021, there is much to be thankful for—and there’s much to grieve.
From the Independent
Shorts Celebrated: The Palm Springs International ShortFest Is Coming Back, in Person, for its 27th Year
By Matt King
May 28, 2021
One of the staples of Palm Springs film culture is returning: The Palm Springs International ShortFest will be back—and in-person—for its 27th year, from June […]
The Villainess’ Backstory: Emma Stone and Emma Thompson Make ‘Cruella’ Disney’s Best Live-Action Take on an Animated Classic
By Bob Grimm
May 31, 2021
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson make Cruella perhaps the best of Disney’s live-action remakes—and to be fair, it really isn’t a remake; this story of […]
June Astronomy: As the Summer Begins, Mars and Venus Engage in a Cosmic Dance with Pollux and Castor
By Robert Victor
May 31, 2021
Fast-moving Mars and Venus make eye-catching arrangements with Pollux and Castor in June, before the twin stars’ annual departure into the evening twilight glow.
By Jimmy Boegle
May 31, 2021
Shame on the Moon offers a classic vibe, and classic dishes—including some of the Coachella Valley’s best crab cakes.
• I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the primary point of Memorial Day—to honor the lives of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in service of our country. A historian, writing for The Conversation, takes a look at the plight of some Japanese Americans who fought in World War II—involuntary soldiers who had to also battle racism at home. Key quote: “Imagine being forced from your home by the government, being imprisoned in a detention camp under armed guards and behind barbed wire—and then being required to join the military to fight for the nation that had locked up you and your family. That’s what happened in a little-known chapter of U.S. history, in which many of those men went on to become American military heroes, some making the ultimate sacrifice. These soldiers, along with all other Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, are being honored with a new U.S. Postal Service stamp on June 3, 2021.”
• This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre—a horrible chapter in U.S. history I first learned about, I am embarrassed to admit, while watching the HBO series Watchmen. (If you’re unfamiliar, The New York Times offers up this fantastic interactive primer.) The Los Angeles Times points out that I am far from alone in learning about the Tulsa Race Massacre via Watchmen, while telling the story of a filmmaker who could not get a distributor for his documentary on the massacre until that show became a hit: “The attack, ignited by a false accusation of assault, has been ignored or downplayed for decades in school curricula, which (filmmaker Jonathan) Silvers thought would give a documentary examination even greater value. ‘I was saddened beyond words that our country had suppressed a key component of our history, a dark era that helps us understand where we are now and who we are now,’ Silvers said of his interest in making the film. But when he and his producing team started pitching the project in 2019, he ran into a wall.” Fortunately, that documentary has been made, and is airing tonight (Monday) on PBS.
• VillageFest will be returning to the streets of Palm Springs. From the city news release: “Palm Springs VillageFest, the city’s wildly popular street fair which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held every Thursday night in downtown, will return on Thursday, July 1. … The City Council approved re-opening VillageFest … with a smaller footprint and safety protocols in place. The street fair is expected to expand to its original length in the coming months. During the summer, VillageFest hours of operation will be 7-10 p.m. Starting July 1, Palm Canyon Drive from Amado Road to Tahquitz Canyon Way will be closed for VillageFest. Additionally, Museum Way between Palm Canyon Drive and Belardo Road, and Belardo Road between Andreas Road and Tahquitz Canyon will be closed. Tahquitz Canyon Way will remain open to east and west traffic. And there’s more good news! The Council additionally approved a one-time mini-Village Fest on Tahquitz Canyon Way between Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15 to celebrate ‘Palm Springs Back in Business’ and the re-opening of California.”
• Texas Democrats have temporarily killed a bill that would severely restrict voting in that state. The Washington Post explains how the bill would put up large hurdles especially for people of color: For starters: “Senate Bill 7 outlawed two kinds of early voting methods established last year in Harris County, home of Houston, to give voters more opportunities to vote safely and crowd-free during the pandemic: drive-up voting and 24-hour voting. Chris Hollins, the former Harris County clerk who oversaw those programs last year, said that 130,000 voters took advantage of drive-through voting, and an additional 10,000 voters cast ballots during the 24-hour voting marathon the county offered in the final week before Election Day. An analysis of the Harris County vote showed that voters of color made up more than half of those who used drive-through early voting and the 24-hour early-voting window, Hollins said. That was a higher share than in early voting overall, when Black and Latino voters accounted for just 38 percent of all voters, he said.”
• The latest shortage to hit the U.S. may affect your summer pool time. Bloomberg News explains: “Demand for pool upgrades and new construction skyrocketed during the pandemic as stuck-at-home consumers focused their spending power on sprucing up their backyards. Even pool owners who didn’t do any extra work started using their pools more; what else was there to do? … The chlorine market likely would have been able to keep up were it not for a fire at a BioLab chemical plant in Louisiana last August in the wake of Hurricane Laura, Stuart Baker, vice president of business development at Hayward, said in a phone interview. The damage rendered the plant inoperable, taking out a facility responsible for a significant portion of the popular chlorine tablets produced for the U.S. market. There are few alternative domestic sources of supply, and Chinese imports are complicated by freight issues fouling up other parts of the global supply chain and U.S. tariffs, industry experts say. About two-thirds of the 5.2 million residential in-ground pools in the U.S. use traditional chlorine systems, and that means the problem will affect the vast majority of pool owners, Baker said.”
• Who knew Idaho politics could be so shady? This happened in Boise last week, per ABC News: “With the governor out of the state, Idaho’s lieutenant governor issued an executive order Thursday banning mask mandates in schools and public buildings, saying the face-covering directives threatened people’s freedom. Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is acting governor while Gov. Brad Little is at the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, Tenn. … Last week, McGeachin announced her run for governor, challenging the first-term incumbent Little. McGeachin is on the far right of the political spectrum in the conservative state, and her order could bolster her support as a candidate for governor. Little’s office said McGeachin did not make him aware that she planned to issue the executive order. The office didn’t say what Little would do when he returned, but it did say residents value local control.”
• We’ve mentioned studies regarding the ability of dogs to detect COVID-19 in this space before. Well, it turns out those studies are revealing that dogs are actually very good at it! The New York Times says: “Three Labradors, operating out of a university clinic in Bangkok, are part of a global corps of dogs being trained to sniff out COVID-19 in people. Preliminary studies, conducted in multiple countries, suggest that their detection rate may surpass that of the rapid antigen testing often used in airports and other public places. ‘For dogs, the smell is obvious, just like grilled meat for us,’ said Dr. Kaywalee Chatdarong, deputy dean of research and innovation for the faculty of veterinary science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. The hope is that dogs can be deployed in crowded public spaces, like stadiums or transportation hubs, to identify people carrying the virus.”
• Longtime valley resident Gavin MacLeod has passed away. He was best known as Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as Capt. Stubing on The Love Boat, but he was in a lot of local productions in recent years, most notably Dezart Performs’ On the Air! series. He was 90. Here’s NPR’s remembrance. Our deepest sympathies go out to all who knew and loved him,
• And finally, our friends at Triad City Beat in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C., offer up this sound advice that is just as applicable here in the Coachella Valley: “Don’t be a d*ck!: How to be a good diner in a late-COVID world.” A taste: “Restaurants used to be well-oiled machines with a lot of moving parts that needed to work seamlessly in order to make the operation run. These days, the machine is missing a few gears and cogs; the pieces that are in motion are actually wedges of cardboard stuck underneath the table legs to make it look like it is running smoothly. As restaurants are being pushed to their limits while people are re-entering society, a new standard of dining out rules has emerged. The old rules are gone. It’s time for customers to have a reckoning with themselves and with their dining haunts. Restaurants have always received customers as guests. When you visit someone’s home, you don’t put your feet up on the coffee table, hog the remote and destroy the bathroom, do you? So would you do it at a restaurant?”
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