Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: March 23, 2023

Get ready to hear a whole lot of news about drag queens in the next month or two.

On the national level: Some states are ramping up their efforts to ban as much drag as they possibly can—led by that alleged bastion of freedom, Florida.

Most of the proponents of these drag bans couch their arguments as “protecting children.” From what, I don’t know. Bugs Bunny? Tootsie? Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger? Can anyone make the case that there’s something, anything, sexualized about Mrs. Doubtfire?

Ah, but some drag queens can be lewd—and as someone who’s seen plenty of lewd drag queens, I can confirm. But I’ve also seen a lot men dressed like men being lewd, and even some women dressed like women being lewd.

The truth is, these actions against drag have nothing to do with sex or being lewd. The Miami Herald reports:

When the historic Plaza Live theater in Orlando hosted an event last December called “A Drag Queen Christmas,” the show drew a full house, noisy street demonstrators—and a small squad of undercover state agents there to document whether children were being exposed to sights that ran afoul of Florida’s decency law.

The Dec. 28 performance featured campy skits like “Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Man Deer” and shimmying, bare-chested men who wouldn’t have been out of place at a Madonna concert. Also a hip thrust or two, similar to what is sometimes indulged in by NFL players after a touchdown. All of it was dutifully recorded by the undercover agents on state-issued iPhones.

But while the agents took photos of three minors at the Orlando drag show—who appeared to be accompanied by adults—they acknowledged that nothing indecent had happened on stage, according to an incident report obtained exclusively by the Miami Herald. …

Still, the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation proceeded to file a complaint against the nonprofit that runs Plaza Live, claiming the venue had illegally exposed children to sexual content. The complaint, issued Feb. 3, seeks to strip the small, nonprofit theater of its liquor license—a serious blow that would likely put it out of business.

It’s all part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide crackdown on drag shows, which could escalate further as legislators draft new laws to tighten restrictions on venues that allow minors into those performances.

Locally, keep your eyes open for information on some events that will be decidedly pro-drag queen—including a “Drag4Drag” rally that’s coming together in downtown Palm Springs on Tuesday, April 18. We’ll have more details in the Digest as the date draws nearer.

We need to do all we can to stop this right-wing demonization of drag queens, transgender individuals, and LGBTQ+ people in general. It’s only going to get worse until it—hopefully—gets better.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

District Drama? Palm Desert Voters Said They Wanted to Move to a Five-District System—but It’s Not Clear the City Council Will Listen

By Kevin Fitzgerald

March 22nd, 2023

While Councilmember Karina Quintanilla says the subcommittee is focused on how to move to five districts, not whether to move to five districts, it seems far from certain that the City Council will make such a move.

The Girl Club: Meet Karina Andalon, a Gen Z Badass Working to Make the Lives of Coachella Valley Residents Better

By Kay Kudukis

March 23rd, 2023

Karina Andalon is a youth coordinator with Alianza Coachella Valley … and so much more.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for March 23, 2023!

By Staff

March 23rd, 2023

Topics touched upon this week include venture capitalists, The Brady Bunch, sleazy politics, digital coupons—and more!

Artists Council Presents ‘Through the Lens’ Photo Show and Sale (nonprofit submission)

By Suzanne Fromkin

March 22nd, 2023

The Artists Council’s first photo show and sale takes place through April 23.

More News

• Here’s your weekly SARS-CoV-2 wastewater stats roundup: In Palm Springs, levels are down slightly: “The average number of copies (per liter) recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant decreased. The average of 423,266 copies/L from the previous week went down to an average of 414,556, copies/L for March 13 and 14.”

But Indio, the opposite is happening: The levels are as high as they’ve been in 2023, or pretty darn close to it. Yikes.

After yet another bicyclist was killed on local roadways, local bike advocates are pleading for more awareness. The Palm Springs Post reports: “Speaking Wednesday at the site of the latest fatality—the intersection of East Ramon and Compadre roads—members of Coachella Valley Cycling Communities said motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians could all play a role in decreasing the risks that lead to fatalities. So, too, can elected officials. ‘All of us need to be aware of each other,’ said John Siegel, who organized the meeting attended by Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner, Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Karina Quintanilla, and cycling advocates. ‘People use the roads in our valley 24 hours per day. We should always watch for car, bike, and foot traffic and always be visible.’ It’s no secret that long, flat desert roadways encourage speeding, and that many streets are poorly lit—both contributing factors to pedestrian and bike fatalities—but cyclists can increase their chances of being seen, one advocate noted, if they had access to essential pieces of equipment and some information about safer ways to navigate Palm Springs and other valley cities on two wheels.”

• If you’re like me, your eyes glazed over regarding the news that the Fed just raised interest rates a quarter point—but ONLY a quarter point—in the aftermath of the recent bank failures. Here, in The Conversation, some economists explain what in the heck this means in plain English. A taste: “This muted rate hike signals that the Fed is being cautious in order to steady the financial sector, which has been struggling since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10, 2023. But the fact that the Fed raised rates at all acknowledges that the fight against inflation will need to continue. While still an increase, it’s more of a pause … because until the recent banking turmoil, the central bank was expected to lift rates by a half-point. Inflation has remained stubbornly elevated even though the Fed had jacked up rates 4.5 percentage points before the latest hike. … But the aggressive rate rises left some regional banks like Silicon Valley Bank vulnerable because they drove down the value of tens of billions in assets they held. Silicon Valley failed because it didn’t have enough assets to meet withdrawals.”

• There were tornadoes in L.A. and Santa Barbara yesterday. Yes, really. The Los Angeles Times looks at the history of tornadoes in SoCal, and reveals that they’re not common—but they’re not that uncommon:There are an average of one or two tornadoes per year in the four-county area including Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and an average of seven to 10 per year across the state. ‘It’s not like the Midwest; they are very weak, but they are tornadoes,’ (meteorologist Carol) Smith said. ‘They do have rotation.’ The tornado that hit Montebello this week, damaging at least 17 buildings with wind gusts up to 110 mph, was the strongest to hit the Los Angeles area since March 1983, according to the weather service.”

The Washington Post takes a disturbing look at the nation’s organ transplant system. I learned a lot from this article, and chances are you will, too. The lede: “The government announced plans Wednesday to overhaul the troubled U.S. organ transplant system, including breaking up the monopoly power of the nonprofit organization that has run it for the past 37 years. If successful, the proposal would leave little unaffected in the sprawling, multibillion-dollar network that sends kidneys, livers and other organs from deceased donors to severely ill recipients. That system has long been criticized as inadequate: Nearly 104,000 people are on waiting lists for organs, most of them kidneys; 22 people die each day awaiting transplants, with poor and minority patients generally faring worse than affluent and white people. Carole Johnson, administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the agency responsible for the network, is proposing to break up responsibility for some of the functions performed by its nonprofit manager, the United Network for Organ Sharing. UNOS is the only entity ever to operate the U.S. transplant system.”

• And finally … Skittles could soon become illegal in California. Why? The Los Angeles Times explains: “Last month, (Assemblymember Jesse) Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) introduced AB 418, which would ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of foods containing chemicals that have been linked to health concerns including decreased immune response, hyperactivity in children and increased risk of cancer. The bill would make California the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of foods containing the chemicals, according to a release from Gabriel’s office. The chemicals, currently banned in the European Union, are found in numerous snack staples including Skittles, Ding Dongs (with red heart sprinkles) and a host of other ubiquitous food items. However, Gabriel doesn’t mean to deprive Californians of Skittles and other treats. … ‘What we’re really trying to get them to do is to change their recipes,’ Gabriel told The Times on Thursday. ‘All of these are nonessential ingredients.’”

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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...