Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: April 3, 2023

CBS News—on both its website and its CBS Sunday Morning TV show—just did an incredible piece on Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman and his battle with depression.

The senator recently left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being treated for severe depression. Fetterman—who had a stroke last year while he was campaigning for the Senate seat—plans on returning to the U.S. Senate floor in two weeks.

The story is incredible because—thanks to Fetterman’s willingness to speak openly about what he’s been going through—it beautifully and accurately conveys what depression can be like. An excerpt:

(Fetterman) went to Washington, and on January 3 was sworn in.

(Host Jane) Pauley said, “People who know you say that that day you looked miserable and lost.”

“Yeah. Well, I was definitely depressed,” he laughed.

Gisele (Fetterman’s wife) said, “I think with depression, you’re always waiting for, ‘Oh, that’s the thing that’s gonna change it,’ right?”

She read as much as she could find about depression: “He just became a Senator, he’s married to me! He has amazing kids, and he’s still depressed? And I think the outside would look and say, ‘How does this happen?’ But depression does not make sense, right? It’s not rational.”

I’ve talked in this space before about my dealings with depression. Fortunately, what I deal with is nowhere near as bad as what Fetterman has had to endure. (The stroke almost certainly played a part in his depression; the CBS News story mentions that one in three stroke patients develop depression.)

The last paragraph of the excerpt above is what really hits the figurative nail on the head: Depression is not rational. You can have the best life in the world, and still get hit with it.

A while back, I was at dinner with a decent-sized group of good friends; we were celebrating a birthday. I had just sent an excellent issue of the Independent to press. I was sitting next to my amazing husband, sipping a tasty Manhattan. Physically, I felt good. Nothing at all was wrong; in fact, everything was right. And all I felt was despair.

Depression is not rational.

Fortunately, that feeling passed in a day or so. Depression is treatable, and the medication I am on, while not perfect, helps.

Despite the ignorant and cruel things some pundits have been saying about Fetterman, his story is full of valuable lessons: Depression can hit anyone, at anytime; it doesn’t necessarily matter how good or bad life is, rationally, at that moment. However, help is available—and depression can be treated.

Thank you, Sen. Fetterman, for speaking out.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Restaurant News Bites: Sammy’s Meatball Fest Is Back; Get Ready to Dine Out for Life; and More!

By Charles Drabkin

March 31st, 2023

The latest local food news, including two new French cafes; a new Coachella bar and grill; and a lot more!

The Venue Report, April 2023: Journey, ‘Come From Way,’ Ozomatli—and More!

By Matt King

April 1st, 2023

A look at some of April 2023’s entertainment offerings in the Coachella Valley and high desert.

Fantasy Fun: ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ Works Thanks to Its Breezy, Comical Approach

By Bob Grimm

April 3rd, 2023

This Dungeons and Dragons effort works thanks to a breezy, comical approach, with Chris Pine heading a small team of thieves as they face off with various beasts (some quite chubby), interrogate corpses (hilarious) and cast spells.

The Indy Endorsement: The Heart Attack Appetizer at Otori Sushi

By Jimmy Boegle

April 1st, 2023

The Heart Attack appetizer at Otori Sushi is a mashup of two lovely things: jalapeno poppers and sushi.

Another Odenkirk Win: AMC’s ‘Lucky Hank’ Offers Great Performances and Plenty of Dark Humor

By Bob Grimm

April 3rd, 2023

In Lucky Hank, Bob Odenkirk plays a professor at a middling college who basically loses his patience with his job and his students, putting him in a precarious position with young adults and his peers.

Michael Pacas Headlines Cabaret Fundraiser at Palm Canyon Theatre (Nonprofit Submission)

By Cara Van Dijk

March 31st, 2023

Hailing from Louisiana, “Big Daddy” Pacas promises a decadent evening of Southern bawdiness and beads at Palm Canyon Theatre on April 19.

More News

• Gannett, the parent corporation of The Desert Sun, has been laying off employees at a breakneck pace, treating the employees who remain rather shabbily, and selling off everything it can to pay off a massive debt load. But the company’s high-level executives continue to pay themselves rather handsomely … or perhaps obscenely. Media Nation’s Dan Kennedy reports: “According to Gannett’s just-released proxy statement for 2022, (Mike) Reed, the newspaper chain’s chair and CEO, received nearly $3.4 million in total compensation last year, down from $7.7 million the year before. That’s a decline of 56%, but it’s still a healthy pay package for someone who has wreaked so much destruction on the local news business. It’s also 66 times more than the median salary ($51,035) earned by Gannett employees in 2022, as Don Seiffert observes at the Boston Business Journal. Seiffert broke the news about Gannett’s latest numbers on Friday afternoon. … Gannett’s chief financial officer and chief accounting officer, Douglas Horne, received nearly $2.2 million in 2022, up from about $1.75 million the year before. And all but one of Gannett’s nine non-executive board members continued to receive in excess of $200,000 for their part-time work—which, as I reported last August, was at least generous, and perhaps excessive, when compared to other publicly traded companies. You’d think that would especially be the case for Gannett, whose stock price opened 2022 at $5.54 a share and closed the year at $2.03. (It’s now down to $1.87.)”

Local drag star Stefan Grygelko—best known as Heklina—has died. The awful news was first shared by Joshua Grannell, aka Peaches Christ, via social media. The Bay Area Reporter says: “The two were in London where they were appearing in the ‘Mommie Queerest’ show there, Grannell wrote, adding that he had gone to pick up Heklina that day. ‘I do not know the cause of death yet,’ Grannell wrote. ‘I know this is shocking news and I am beyond stunned, but I wanted to let folks know what has happened. Heklina is not just my best friend, but a beloved icon of our community.'” Local radio station KGAY 106.5 posted on Facebook: “All of us … send our condolences to Heklina’s family, friends, fans and all who were touched by her humor and humanity. R.I.P. beautiful soul. You will always be in our hearts.”

Democrats are targeting Rep. Ken Calvert as a Republican they think is beatable in next year’s election. NBC News explains: “Democrats have targeted 31 Republican-held districts in their fight to retake control of the House in 2024, laying out an aggressive map and signaling early plans to go on offense. The list … is a blend of ultra-competitive districts in places like New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island, including the seat held by Rep. George Santos; areas President Joe Biden won, like the Omaha-core seat held by Rep. Don Bacon; and conservative-leaning districts where the party sees an extreme and vulnerable GOP incumbent, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado.”

Harold Matzner is stepping down as the chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. News Channel 3 reports: “Matzner has served as the chairman of the festival since 2000. Nachhattar Chandi was named the new chairman. Chandi is the president and CEO of Chandi Group USA. The company operates numerous franchises across the Coachella Valley including several AMPM gas stations in addition to its involvement in real estate development.”

CNN reports that seven federal investigators looking into the health impacts of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment got sick … a month after the derailment had happened. The details are stunning: “The investigators’ symptoms included sore throats, headaches, coughing and nausea—consistent with what some residents experienced after the February 3 train derailment that released a cocktail of hazardous chemicals into the air, water and soil. The investigators who experienced symptoms were part of a team conducting a house-to-house survey in an area near the derailment, and they immediately reported their symptoms to federal safety officers. ‘Symptoms resolved for most team members later the same afternoon, and everyone resumed work on survey data collection within 24 hours. Impacted team members have not reported ongoing health effects,’ a CDC spokesperson said in the statement. The illnesses are coming to light after repeated assurances by government officials and representatives from Norfolk Southern, the company that operated the train, that the air and drinking water in East Palestine (are) not hazardous to health.” Yikes.

The federal government kindly requests that you refrain from eating uncooked flour, or things (like cookie dough) that contain raw flour, because, well, salmonella. CBS News reports: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an investigation notice published on Thursday that flour is believed to be the source of a multi-state salmonella outbreak that has sickened about a dozen people and hospitalized three. It’s not clear what brand the outbreak could be related to, the agency said. … Most flour is raw, meaning that it hasn’t been treated to kill germs that cause food poisoning. When flour is mixed into dough or batter and baked, salmonella germs are killed in the process, but people can get sick from the raw dough or batter. No deaths have been linked to the outbreak at this time, the CDC said. Sick people have been identified in California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia.”

Wired Magazine has revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using an “obscure legal tool” to get data from all sorts of places—possibly breaking the law in the process: “A WIRED analysis of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) subpoena tracking database, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that agents issued custom summons more than 170,000 times from the beginning of 2016 through mid-August 2022. The primary recipients of 1509s include telecommunications companies, major tech firms, money transfer services, airlines, and even utility companies. But it’s the edge cases that have drawn the most concern among legal experts. The outlier cases include custom summonses that sought records from a youth soccer league in Texas; surveillance video from a major abortion provider in Illinois; student records from an elementary school in Georgia; health records from a major state university’s student health services; data from three boards of elections or election departments; and data from a Lutheran organization that provides refugees with humanitarian and housing support. In at least two instances, agents at ICE used the custom summons to pressure news organizations to reveal information about their sources.”

And finally, because why not: Could human/AI relationships become a thing? Like, a real thing? Two communications experts write in The Conversation that, yes, indeed they could: “With rapid advances in AI technology over the past few years … norms may well evolve to include sex, love and friendships with AI-equipped machines. In our research, we look at how people use technology to form and maintain relationships. But we also look at how people bond with machines—AI-equipped systems like Replika that essentially operate as advanced chatbots, along with physical robots like RealDollx or Sex Doll Genie. … A common misconception is that people who are lonely and otherwise unsuccessful in relationships are the most likely to turn to AI-equipped machines for romantic and sexual fulfillment. However, initial research shows that users of this technology differ in only small ways from nonusers, and there is no significant connection between feelings of loneliness and a preference for sex robots. … People are drawn to AI-equipped machines for a range of reasons. Many of them resemble the reasons people seek out relationships with other humans. But researchers are only beginning to understand how relationships with machines might differ from connecting with other people.”

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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...