Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: March 14, 2022

The Coachella Valley has a serious reputation problem in the sports world.

Our beautiful landscapes and weather have brought us a PGA golf tournament, an LGPA major golf tournament (that is, alas, departing after this year), and arguably the biggest tennis tournament outside of the Grand Slam majors—the BNP Paribas Open, which is taking place in Indian Wells through Sunday.

While the BNP Paribas Open often is viewed as tennis’ “fifth Grand Slam,” it has a bit of a reputation going back to an ugly incident in 2001.

Here’s what’s known for sure: After Venus Williams pulled out of the tournament due to a reported injury—one which some people thought was fake—her sister, Serena, made it to the final. As Brane Jevric wrote for the Independent back in 2014: “(The audience) booed Serena (and Venus, as she watched) from the start to the finish of the match, which Serena won. In my 18 years covering this tournament, I’ve never seen such a fiasco! After the match, Richard Williams claimed that a fan insulted him by using a racial slur. Ever since, Venus and Serena Williams have boycotted the Indian Wells tourney.”

Because of the mess, Serena would not return to the tournament until 2015, and Venus would not return until 2016.

Whether the 2001 incident was caused by racism, or a crowd feeling cheated by Venus’ withdrawal (or perhaps a combination of both), is up for debate.

What’s not up for debate is that 2001 was on the mind of Naomi Osaka when she took the court in Indian Wells on Saturday.

Osaka is a former No. 1-ranked player in the world, who took some time off last year after being fined for refusing to appear at a French Open press conference. As a result, she bravely spoke out about her mental-health challenges.

Osaka is now back on the court. And this is what happened Saturday during her second round match, according to The New York Times, after she was heckled by someone in the crowd:

Osaka, the Japanese star who has struggled with her mental health and with ambivalence toward professional tennis, spoke to the crowd directly at her request after her 6-0, 6-4 defeat against the No. 21 seed, Veronika Kudermetova.

Fighting for composure, Osaka explained that the heckler, who shouted, “Naomi, you suck!” after the opening game, had made her flash back to footage she had seen of Venus and Serena Williams being booed and jeered at Indian Wells during the tournament in 2001.

“To be honest, I’ve gotten heckled before, and it didn’t really bother me,” Osaka said. “But, like, heckled here? I watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here, and if you’ve never watched it, you should watch it.

“And I don’t know why, but it went into my head, and it got replayed a lot,” she continued, apparently referring to Saturday’s match.

Osaka then thanked the crowd, slung her bag over her shoulder and left the court.

Los Angeles Times columnist Helene Elliott penned a beautifully written column about the Osaka incident, explaining how it’s just the latest on an “ever-growing list of incidents involving spectators who believe the price of admission buys them the right to go beyond routine booing to launch personal insults.”

Elliott concludes her column by saying: “Before the tournament began, Osaka said she felt like she was at peace with herself. Unfortunately, that peace was too fragile to last, broken by a few words that did nothing to make the world a better place and everything to inflict needless hurt.”

As someone who deals with depression, I feel for Osaka. And I hate the fact that our valley is developing a deserved reputation for inflicting needless hurt.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

The Foilies 2022: Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government Transparency

By the Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock News

March 14, 2022

In honor of Sunshine Week, the 2022 Foilies are here to identify the most surreal document redactions, the most aggravating copy fees, and all the other ridicule-worthy attacks on the public’s right to know.

Ryan Reynolds Being Ryan Reynolds: Netflix’s ‘The Adam Project’ Is a Decent-Enough Time-Travel Flick

By Bob Grimm

March 14, 2022

Netflix’s The Adam Project is a time-travel yarn that not only gives us Ryan Reynolds, but a 12-year-old version of himself.

How He Does It: Howie Mandel Returns to Live Standup Comedy, Despite Pandemic-Caused Discomfort

By Matt King

March 12, 2022

While Howie Mandel is best known these days for hosting Deal or No Deal and being an America’s Got Talent judge, he got his start as a standup comic—and he’s coming to The Show at Agua Caliente.

Panda Problems: ‘Turning Red’ Is Bright and Fun, Even If It Isn’t One of Pixar’s Best

By Bob Grimm

March 14, 2022

Turning Red doesn’t even make the upper half of the Pixar films ranking list—and the fact that it is still good and a lot of fun is a testament to how great Pixar films usually are.

More News

• The levels of SARS-CoV-2 in Palm Springs wastewater last week were quite low. According to testing done March 8 and 9, there were an average 65,688 copies of the virus per liter of wastewater. That’s about 1 percent of the levels we were seeing in early-mid January. Good news, indeed.

• Related: The federal government wants to make COVID wastewater testing more widespread. However, not all state and local governments are going along with the plan. Politico says: “Probing poop can help public health officials more quickly identify and respond to clusters of COVID or other viruses. But lackluster participation leaves gaping holes in what public officials intend to be a comprehensive early warning system for infectious diseases, rendering the country vulnerable to the next COVID-19 variant or public health crisis, according to POLITICO interviews with state health officials and wastewater experts across 17 states. ‘If you enjoyed the way this pandemic worked, you can expect to have that again,’ said Ted Smith, the director of the Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil at the University of Louisville’s Environment Institute. ‘That’s what’s at stake here.’”

An expert in supply chains, writing for The Conversation, says the war in Ukraine, and the resulting isolation of Russia, “could drastically reshape global supply chains in a way the pandemic never did.” Key quote: “The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a true believer in globalization, in 1996 famously theorized that no two countries that both have a McDonald’s would ever fight a war against each other. His point was that countries with economies and middle classes big enough to support a McDonald’s ‘don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.’ It was also based on the belief that rational economic calculations will always triumph over geopolitical conflicts. … Friedman now concedes Russia’s action has shattered that theory. I agree, and in fact the world may now be on the cusp of a new type of supply chain Iron Curtain with Russia and its allies on one side and the West on the other. Companies will no longer be able to separate business from geopolitics.”

Time magazine appropriately points out that the insane real estate market is hampering some employees as they’re told they need to return to the office: “More than a third of jobs—often but not always ones performed by people with a college degree—can be performed from home, according to a University of Chicago analysis. What these workers hear when their employers call them back to the office is that they’re expected to either pay a big chunk of their paychecks to live close to the office or save money on rent and weather longer—and more expensive—commutes, as if the last two years of work-from-home hadn’t happened at all. Around 46% of companies had workers back in their offices in January or February of this year, compared to 29% at the end of 2021, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey.”

• Oil prices fell today to below $100 per barrel at one point, well below the $130 high not long ago. However, you shouldn’t expect gas prices to fall for a while—or for very long. CNN reports: “If oil prices stay at current levels, the national average price for regular gasoline would likely dip by about 20 cents a gallon, (Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Analysis), said. That would mean gas prices are still high—and above $4 a gallon nationally—but below record highs. … Unfortunately, any relief at the pump may not last long. Kloza still expects gasoline prices to rise this spring and summer as demand recovers, with the national average climbing to around $4.50 a gallon. … Ryan Fitzmaurice, energy strategist at Rabobank, similarly believes oil prices have not yet set their highest levels of the current cycle. ‘Ultimately, we’ll see new highs before all is said and done,’ said Fitzmaurice. ‘Given how big and important Russia is, we will probably breach those all-time highs set in 2008.’”

• Related: Our partners at CalMatters take a deep dive into the various state proposals to give Californians a break from sky-high gasoline prices. Right now, the state gas tax, paid by suppliers, is 51 cents per gallon: “California Republicans have proposed wiping away the whole 51 cent tax in the short term. Last year, Republican state senators proposed suspending the tax completely for a year; this year, Granite Bay Republican Kevin Kiley proposed getting rid of the tax for six months. The six-month proposal would cost the state somewhere between $4 to $4.5 billion in lost revenue, according to estimates from Assemblymember Kiley’s office. … But because the tax applies to gas suppliers, the price of gas would go down only if gas sellers actually pass the savings along to consumers by reducing the price of gas. And there aren’t any guarantees on how much of the savings they’d pass along.” 

• Home values are climbing the fastest in the state of California … in Landers and Joshua Tree? Yep. The San Francisco Chronicle says: “In California, the ZIP codes with the fastest average growth in typical home values during the pandemic were in the … High Desert—by an overwhelming margin. That’s according to a Chronicle analysis of data from real estate listings company Zillow. In the No. 1 spot in the region—which is not formally defined but runs from northern Los Angeles County through the Mojave Desert basin to the east, including parts of San Bernardino, Kern and Inyo counties—was the community of Landers, where home values soared 84% over the past two years. Joshua Tree, which saw home values grow 69% during the pandemic, was in second place, followed by Twentynine Palms at 63%.”

• And finally … if you 1) have an iPhone, 2) are still regularly masking up, and 3) are annoyed that facial recognition doesn’t work while you are masked, we have some good news, conveyed here by CNBC: “Apple released iOS 15.4 on Monday. Users can now download the update in their iPhone settings app. The new software includes several features for existing iPhones, including the ability to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask, new emojis and a service that allows iPhone users to accept credit card payments without additional hardware. The software update will likely be the biggest iPhone software update of the year, except for iOS 16, which is expected to be announced in June at Apple’s developer conference.” Ooh. New emojis!

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...