Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: April 21, 2021

In recent weeks, life has started to feel a lot more … well, normal.

And this is a blessed, lovely thing.

Over the weekend, I played my first softball game in 16 months, when the Palm Springs Gay Softball League returned to action after a pandemic-forced hiatus of more than 13 months. I was rather emotional before stepping on the field for two reasons: 1) the fact that the resumption of play signifies the waning (?) of the pandemic, and 2) a year ago at this time, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to play softball again.

I missed the spring 2020 season—all two weeks of it, before COVID-19 shut it down—after dislocating my right (dominant) elbow. My doctor told me I’d probably need UCL reconstruction, aka Tommy John surgery, because my ulnar collateral ligament was completely torn. If I didn’t have the surgery, he said, I’d probably never again be able to play softball at my (admittedly rather low) accustomed level.

At this time last year, I rehabilitated my busted elbow with physical therapy three days per week, working toward a return to normalcy that I wasn’t sure would ever come, both due to the pandemic and my elbow.

Fortunately (?), it turns out that my UCL has probably been torn for, well, more than two decades, and I am able to throw just fine without it. Even more fortunately, those vaccines that scientists were feverishly working on this time last year work.

It’s because of these vaccines that I’ll be able to see my mom and my in-laws this weekend—for the first time since Christmas 2019. All of our 2020 gathering plans were cancelled by, well, you know. But we’re all fully vaccinated, so we can get together (with appropriate cautions, of course).

Being able to see my mom … hooray for normalcy.

This leads me to a scheduling note: Barring anything unforeseen, the Daily Digest will be taking Friday off, because I’ll be traveling at the normal time I’d be putting it together. (I’d do one tomorrow, but I am also on deadline for the May print edition. Ah, the life of a newspaper editor in 2021.) We’ll be back as scheduled on Monday.

Thanks for reading … and I hope normalcy, in a good way, is returning for you as well.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Cannabis in the CV: California’s Native American Tribes Are Largely Excluded From the State’s Cannabis Industry

By Jocelyn Kane

April 20, 2021

After voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016, the state developed a hefty set of regulations and enforcement mechanisms to allow cities and counties to permit […]

A Desert Painter: Terry Masters Turns His Attention Toward Portraits and Larger-Scale Works After Closing His Palm Springs Gallery

By Cat Makino

April 21, 2021

Terry Masters is known for his gorgeous landscapes. But after closing down his own gallery and moving his works to Jones and Terwilliger Galleries, he’s […]

The Indy Endorsement: The Fried Chicken Sliders at Wilma and Frieda Palm Springs

By Jimmy Boegle

April 21, 2021

Wilma and Frieda is known for delicious comfort food with a twist—and the fried chicken sliders are a perfect example of the restaurant’s tasty fare.

Confidence Through Creation: Hip-Hop Duo BluVarity Measures Success Via Progress—and Has Big Hopes for 2021

By Matt King

April 20, 2021

Juan “Kudaa” Rodriguez and Sebastian “Sebas” Flores—also known as BluVarity—have for several years been working on concocting a unique brand of experimental hip hop.

The Lucky 13: Sean Cox, New Owner of Finders Keepers Records in La Quinta

By Matt King

April 20, 2021

Mean Sean Cox, the owner of the former Finders Thrift and Vinyl, reopening as Finders Keepers Records on May 8.

And Now, the News

• In the aftermath of the George Floyd murder case, The Conversation tapped four experts to react to Derek Chauvin being found guilty—when so many other police officers tried for murder have been acquitted. Key quote: “The police brotherhood—that intense and protective “thin blue line”—enabled a public murder. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, unusually, broke this code of silence when he testified against Chauvin.”

Our partners at CalMatters askWill (the) Chauvin verdict prompt California police reforms?” Emily Hoeven explains: “Many of the sweeping police reforms promised in the wake of Floyd’s death and nationwide protests stalled or were watered down in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature (in 2020), raising questions as to whether things will be different this year. Lawmakers are currently considering at least 10 bills touted as police reform, including most of the proposals that failed last session. Among them are bills to decertify bad cops and establish an officer duty to intervene when witnessing excessive force, both of which members of California’s Legislative Black Caucus identified as priorities at a Tuesday gathering at the state Capitol.”

And NBC News reports: “The Justice Department on Wednesday launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, acting less than 24 hours after a jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. The investigation will determine whether the department engages in a pattern or practice of policing that violates the Constitution or federal civil rights laws.”

Riverside County’s COVID-19 case levels, in the words of the county director of public health, “have ticked up just slightly.” The Press-Enterprise says: “On Tuesday, the county’s adjusted case rate was 4.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents—up from 3.6 cases the week before, and 3.5 two weeks ago. … ‘We do think that that is to be expected given some of the re-openings, spring break, some of the recent holidays, so we’re keeping a close eye on that,’ (Kim Saruwatari) said.”

It seems the phrase “ticked up just slightly” also applies to COVID-19 in the Coachella Valley, according to the latest weekly Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report. (District 4 includes the valley and rural points to the east.) Cases went up just a smidge during the week ending April 18 (146, compared to 131 the week before), as did the positivity rate (2.5 vs. 2.1) and hospitalization numbers (between 13 and 20, compared to between 10 and 16). One new death was reported during the week, bringing the total reported tally to 1,028. Sigh.

• How are things on a statewide level? The Los Angeles Times has the answer: “California’s coronavirus case rate is now the lowest in the continental U.S., an achievement that reflects months of hard-won progress against the pandemic in the aftermath of the state’s devastating fall-and-winter surge. The state’s latest seven-day rate of new cases—40.3 per 100,000 people—is dramatically lower than the nationwide rate of 135.3 and edged only by Hawaii, 39.1, over that same time period, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the other end of the spectrum is Michigan, which has far and away the highest seven-day case rate in the nation, at 483 per 100,000 people.”

• Are you on Team Pfizer? Team Moderna? Or are you, like me, one of the relatively select members of the J&J Team? The New York Times explains what in the heck I am talking about: “A friendly rivalry has taken hold across America with vaccinated people professing loyalty to the brand they happened to have received. Selfies with vaccine cards now come with the caption #TeamPfizer or #TeamModerna. TikTokers making fun of the brands they didn’t receive are going viral. And some people joining in the playful rivalry are questioning their privilege, asking themselves why they care and how their posturing might look to others in the world who have no vaccine at all.” (And, yes, there’s merch, god help us.)

A recent poll by Axios-Ipsos shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans think the “pause” on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was wise. “In our weekly national survey, 91% of respondents were aware of the temporary pause recommended by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention. Of those, 88% said the pause was a responsible decision. Republicans were almost as likely to support the pause as Democrats, an indication this issue hasn’t been politicized. The fact that 91% knew about it within the first few days is an extremely high level of awareness for a news event, and indicates how closely Americans are following vaccine news.”

• We’re not sure what to make of this, so we’re going to point it out and then walk away. Yahoo! News (?) reports: “The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News. The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as ‘inflammatory’ postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.”

• If you’re thinking of getting away to Yosemite, now is the time to make a necessary reservation. According to SFGate: “If you want to go to Yosemite this summer, you need a reservation and you better act fast. The national park released an initial round of day-use reservations for May and June on Wednesday morning. When we checked the booking system at at 11 a.m., there were still hundreds of spots available on all days except weekends in May. It’s unclear whether May weekends are already fully booked or the park will release these dates later. The park is requiring visitors to have a reservation beginning May 21, the start of the busy summer season, to manage the number of people in the park and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The park typically doesn’t require reservations for day-use visitors; this is a special system launched amid the pandemic.”

• And finally … we don’t know what people are drinking in Poland these days, but it must be really, really powerful stuff. BBC News says: “When animal welfare officers received a report of an unusual animal lurking in a tree in the Polish city of Krakow, they were not sure what to expect. ‘People aren’t opening their windows because they’re afraid it will go into their house,’ the woman reportedly said. But a visit to the area showed the creature in question was not a bird, or even a reptile—but a croissant.”

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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...