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Brian Blueskye

Chino Moreno has a lot on his musical plate—and Coachella attendees will get to enjoy the intriguing work of one of the Deftones front man’s side projects, Crosses (†††), on Friday, April 11 and 18.

The Deftones busted out of the Sacramento music scene in the 1990s and were soon opening for prominent and established metal acts such as KISS and Ozzy Osbourne. The band also shared the stage with groups like Korn and Limp Bizkit, which went on to become their contemporaries. However, the Deftones captivated audiences in ways that Korn and Limp Bizkit never could, and were by no means a band that would be categorized as “nu-metal.” Not only could Chino Moreno scream a brutal assault of lyrics; he had a melodic voice and a fantastic stage presence. In fact, some have called him one of the best metal frontmen of all time.

Crosses is nothing like the Deftones (nor is it anything like Moreno’s alt-rock side project, Team Sleep). Crosses takes listeners on melodic, dark and hypnotic musical journeys, with a little electronica thrown into the mix. In Crosses, Moreno teams up with guitarist Shaun Lopez—who Moreno has known since childhood—as well as producer Chuck Doom. The band put out its first EP in 2011, and followed that up with another EP in 2012.

During a recent phone interview from Austin, where Crosses were slated to perform at SXSW, Moreno explained how Crosses came together.

“Shaun and I came up together early on in the Sacramento music scene,” Moreno said. “He was in a band called Far, and with me being in the Deftones, we played a lot of shows together early on. A few years ago, I ended up moving a couple of blocks away from him in Los Angeles, and he had a little studio in his pad, and I’d always cruise over to see what he was working on. One particular time, he was there working on stuff with Chuck (Doom), which turned into the Crosses stuff. I liked what I heard, and I was like, ‘Yo, let me get up on this.’ One song led to two, and then three and four.”

The first two EPs were offered to fans for free and promoted via social media. The experiment ended up being well-received, and led to a full-length, self-titled release in February. It reached No. 26 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Moreno cited a number of musical influences.

“The first time I heard Kraftwerk when I was a kid, that was something that really caught my attention more than anything. It sounded very futuristic at the time,” he said. “Around the time I was in the fifth-grade, I discovered Depeche Mode, and for me, that really changed the course of my taste in music. To me, that music had a lot of the low-fi electronics that the early rap music had. It had a really cool, sort-of dark melody that flowed throughout it. To me, that was the ultimate music.”

Moreno has said that his lyrics don’t necessarily address specific topics.

“At times, (the lyrics are) dark and desolate—but they’re also warm in places, too,” he said. “… I’m never trying to sell anything or any ideas. With whatever music it is … the music is presented to me, and what you get on there is my reaction to it.”

Moreno stressed that he doesn’t engage in side projects because he feels limited by the Deftones.

“Any of the side projects I do, I don’t do them because I feel like there’s something I can’t do,” he said. “It’s honestly just me working with different people. When you work with different people and do things in different ways, you actually learn from those experiences. I never had any sort of vocal training or music schooling, so playing with different people and playing in different projects has been how I’ve learned—and now, I continue to learn.”

Tragedy struck the Deftones in 2008, when bassist Chi Cheng was injured in a car accident that left him incapacitated up until his death in April 2013. Deftones fans contributed money to go toward Cheng’s health-care costs throughout, and the Deftones proceeded in the hopes that Cheng would perhaps one day recover and return to the band. Moreno said that in the end, the tragedy brought the band even closer together.

“I think it’s as simple as enjoying the people you’re around,” he said. “I’m lucky enough with the guys in the Deftones that we grew up together as kids, and we started in the garage in 1988 when we were 15 or 16 years old. There’s a bond there, and we actually still enjoy making music with each other. I’m most proud of that, and I know most people don’t have that. Chi’s passing was one thing that brought us closer together.”

He said he feels similarly close to his Crosses bandmates.

“I think that natural aspect of it keeps it inspiring,” Moreno said. “It’s not something that’s preconceived. This is what we do. We’re hanging out, and let’s make some tunes.”

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 15:30

The Lucky 13: DJ Baz, aka Barry Martin

DJ Baz (Barry Martin) has great taste in music, and his sets tend to include a variety of types and genres; his answers to The Lucky 13 offer insights into his diverse musical tastes. Catch him Wednesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. at Azul Tapas Lounge, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Visit www.azultapaslounge.com for more information on the place.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Beach Boys. I was working as a magician at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, and my best friend and I drove down to Akron and saw them at the amphitheater.

What was the first album you owned?

Class Clown by George Carlin. It’s not a musical record, but his brand of heady comedy inspired me to question and think about stuff before blurting out an opinion. He also taught me to be funny, and that saved me from being beat up in school. Musically, my first record purchase was the soundtrack to The Return of the Pink Panther by Henry Mancini. Stop laughing … Mancini won 20 Grammys, four Oscars and two Emmys with more than 50 albums. Mancini’s arrangements gave jazz a commercial appeal at a time when disco, soul and R&B were dominating the airwaves. It was also good “show” music for my magic act.

What bands are you listening to right now?

All of them. Now that I’m a DJ beyond the hobby stage, I’m building a respectable library of different genres and nearly constantly listening to and buying music. More to the point, though, I’m suddenly a big fan of the band The 1975. They’re an English alternative/indie band from Manchester.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Thumpy, pedestrian pop/dance music and EDM—the latter being a sonic fad if there ever was one.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Steely Dan. They only toured (originally) for two years, and I was very young then. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were studio perfectionists like Sting. They were unrivaled in their time, with complex arrangements and wry, deeply personal lyrics. Pure musicianship seamlessly blended jazz structures and harmonies with rock.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

For a while there, it was Flight of the Conchords. I got to see them at the Hollywood Bowl, and I’m still a fan, but they seem to be on hiatus lately. That said, my longest-running guilty pleasure is Grace Jones. She’s still got it, both sonically and visually. I saw her legendary show at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011. It was kinda spellbinding.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hollywood Bowl, but only with really great seats (which I rarely get).

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

From the Billie Holiday song, “You Go to My Head”: “With a smile that makes my temperature rise / Like a summer with a thousand Julys / You intoxicate my soul with your eyes.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Jazz/rock horn player Chuck Mangione, and my reason is multi-faceted. His huge radio hit, “Feels So Good,” had a hook that I couldn’t get out of my young head. It was so rare for an instrumental song to blow up like that on the radio. Of note, he was on A&M Records, which was Herb Alpert’s label. A perfect team was behind Chuck to make a hit record—so they did. Anyway, I bought the album; saw him live in Dayton, Ohio; and went backstage to get him to autograph the cover. I still have it. I took up the trumpet in school because of Chuck. And when the live album from his most excellent Hollywood Bowl concert came out, the photo spread inside the album jacket made me pine to live in Los Angeles some day. I moved to L.A. in ‘91, 14 years after the release of “Feels So Good.”

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Justin Timberlake: “Why didn’t we go steady?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Cycle Song” by cellist David Darling. It’s simply the most brilliant and beautiful piece of improvised music I’ve ever heard. The instruments have a conversation that answers all of life’s biggest questions in 7 minutes and 8 seconds.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Bob Marley’s Legend. I know that my choice is not very original, but it doesn’t matter.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Slow, Hot Wind” by Sarah Vaughan. Trust me. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Thursday, 20 March 2014 15:30

The Lucky 13: Bri Cherry, of Machin'

Machin’ mixes elements of various world and Latin music into what the band’s members call “Spanglish Jive.” Bri Cherry’s violin combines with David Macias’ vocals and guitar, and Andy Gorrill’s upright bass, to set a great mood at the Purple Room Palm Springs (1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive) each Thursday night. For more on Machin’, head to www.machinmilitiamusic.com; for more on the Purple Room, visit purpleroompalmsprings.com. Here are Bri’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Other than the concerts I performed in orchestra or symphony through school, Weezer was my first official concert when they played at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

What was the first album you owned?

A Spice Girls album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I listen to a wide variety depending on how my day is going: a lot of Beats Antique, Grammatik, Gogol Bordello, Hazmat Modine, Rhapsodija Trio, Django Reinhardt, Mumford and Sons, Jack Johnson, Buena Vista Social Club, Weezer, Beatles and Bob Marley. I usually will just let Pandora surprise me with a similar band or two—and, of course, I will listen to Machin’ to enjoy what we’ve created, as well as to listen and see where I can improve.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus stuff.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Beats Antique or Gogol Bordello. Pretty much any of those I listen to would be fantastic!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jamming in the living room with Blue Moon or champagne, and with carne asada tacos.

What’s your favorite music venue?

There are so many good ones. Schmidy’s Tavern is an up-and-coming venue that is really growing on me; their sound system is great, and there’s plenty of room. Also, the Purple Room in Palm Springs is pretty happening and also has a fantastic sound system, good food, good drinks, good times, etc. As of right now, I would have to say these are a tie for me, depending on the act.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Our song, “iEsta Vez No!” mainly because of rehearsals, ha ha!

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I don’t mean to revisit Machin’ because I am in it, but because this group has had the biggest impact on me—not only as a musician, but also in my personal life, helping me practice discipline, and other good morals. David (Macias) has saved me with his music, in a way. I wasn’t going down the greatest path when we met; these days, I can say I’ve been getting my feet back on the ground. That is a powerful thing to do, especially with how stubborn I am.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I want to ask The Beatles, any and all of them, if they were all still alive: “How did you do it? How did you get the whole world to know about your music in a short amount of time?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I would want people to bring their acoustic instruments and find a chord progression or two, and simply jam. The jam can turn into a lick from a jazz standard or a riff, a bit from Bach, etc. I would simply want healing to take place through music. There isn’t any specific song.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

The Beatles, Abbey Road.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Start Wearing Purple” by Gogol Bordello; “iEsta Vez No!” by Machin’; and “Gente Decente” by Machin’. (Scroll down to hear the Machin’ songs.)

We all remember our first job—perhaps an entry-level gig in fast food or retail.

However, John Kevin Scariano had a very different experience: His first job was at a sewage-treatment plant in Chicago. He’s written about that experience in his new book, Marsh Township Sanitary District.

The book begins in 1975. Scariano—now a resident of Albuquerque, NM, who works at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine—at the time was a high school graduate looking for work, so his father phoned a friend, a superintendent with the Marsh Township Sanitary District. The book’s back cover has a quote that sets things up nicely: “Because I was unable to participate in World War II, as it had ended three decades before, my father decided the next-best experience in which I could fully attain manhood would be to spend two summers working in a sewage-treatment plant south of Chicago.”

The details that Scariano shares are, in many ways, deplorable. Topics covered include a lack of safety (Scariano ended up getting an infection due to the fact that he was working with fecal matter) and the blunt, hardcore talk of his co-workers on subjects such as their war-time experiences, race issues, and their sexual fantasies involving Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Scariano notes that he saw himself as much more intelligent than his co-workers; he sometimes corrected them or threw scientific tidbits into conversations—so it’s no surprise they saw him as a snobby, know-it-all brat.

The book also discusses the fact that Mafia bosses were involved with the sanitary district; Scariano goes into great detail as he points out how involved they were. The FBI even makes an appearance.

While Scariano is spending time in crap—literally (one of his jobs was to analyze samples of fecal-matter density)—many of his friends were attending summer programs, traveling in Europe, or enjoying the typical summer experience. His father is not sympathetic in any way, while his mother does show some sympathy by having cold beers ready for him when he gets home. Scariano spends a lot of time contemplating why he wasn’t as fortunate as his friends.

Does Scariano look back on the experience fondly, perhaps appreciating his father for toughening him up by making him take such challenging work? He offers this bit of insight regarding the job and his high school friend Bobby: “Maybe I never did learn the value of the dollar; I’ve never been very good when it comes to money. But I certainly learned the value of good friends.”

Given that the now-Dr. Scariano went on to teach at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine, obviously some of the experience must have been of value. This slim volume is an interesting read—even if the topics can at times be stomach-churning.

Marsh Township Sanitary District

By Dr. John Kevin Scariano

AuthorHouse (self-published)

125 pages, $14.95

Music-promoter Goldenvoice puts on the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals here every year—but that’s not all that Goldenvoice does in the Coachella Valley.

Goldenvoice, in partnership with California CareForce, is holding another free health clinic at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, on April 3-6.

Last year, California CareForce and Goldenvoice provided free medical, dental and vision care to 2,770 people at a cost of just more than $1 million.

During a recent interview in La Quinta, CareForce president Pamela Congdon discussed the specifics of the four-day clinic.

“We’ll have 70 dental chairs and 10 vision lanes, and we can make about 300 prescription glasses per day,” Congdon said. “We give a full eye exam, and with the dentists, we can do extractions, restorative fillings and cleanings. We run it like a mini vision office and a mini dentist's office. Medical will also have acupuncture and a chiropractor.”

Congdon said that they hope to help at least 900 patients a day.

“It’s really the working poor,” she said. “It’s people who have jobs who are good people, and they’re down on their luck. The problem is that if people can afford medical insurance, it doesn’t include dental and vision. Eighty to 90 percent of the people who come through our clinic need dental and vision. Some of these people haven’t been to the dentist in 20 years, and some people have been using an old pair of glasses.”

She told one story about a college student who needed extensive dental work.

“He needed five implants and a bunch of other dental work,” she said. “Good kid, college student—and he had an estimate of $20,000. We weren’t able to do the implants at our clinic, but we were able to remove all of the teeth.

“These are people like you or me. It could be your neighbor coming through—you don’t know. When I went the first time, I thought it was going to be a bunch of homeless people, and it’s not.”

Goldenvoice’s involvement has been essential to providing these services. Congdon said that after noticing the income divide in the area, as well as the lack of medical services and the valley’s spread-out nature, Goldenvoice was eager to step in and give back to the community.

“I think they’ve been so grateful to the community for the Coachella festival,” she said. “They wanted to give back to the community and the people who can’t afford to come to their festivals.”

The people who line up to receive care are also very grateful, even though many of them face a long wait.

“They feel like you have given them hope and their dignity back,” she said. “They will come up to you and say, ‘We don’t know what we would have done without you.’”

Congdon had advice for how people should prepare if they need services at the clinic.

“It’s going to be a long night,” she said. “They need to bring their medication; they need to bring snacks and food, and nothing that’s sugared or anything like that. We want them not to feel stressed. They should also bring portable chairs. We’ll get them through the clinic as fast as we can. Unfortunately, we don’t know any other way for them to get in line and get the ticket.”

Congdon said that the medical professionals ask no questions related to citizenship.

“When they come through, we do patient registration. We just get emergency contacts and demographic information, and whatever of that they want to give us is fine. Then they need to go to triage; we need to make sure their blood pressure isn’t too high. We do diabetes testing; and we ask for their medical history.”

The California CareForce Clinic will take place at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82503 Highway 111, in Indio, from Thursday, April 3, through Sunday, April 6. Tickets will be issued to patients at 3:30 a.m. each day. Only one service number will be issued to each person in line. Patients will be let into the clinic at 5:30 a.m. for registration. For more information, call 877-811-6038, or visit www.californiacareforce.org.

One year after winning the chance to play at the Tachevah block party in Palm Springs, Tribesmen continue to gain notoriety throughout the Coachella Valley.

The group came together through jam sessions scheduled with the intention of forming an actual band. Alec Corral (guitar), Leslie Romero (bass) and Freddy Jimenez (drums) played a distorted style of rock ’n’ roll that Corral compared to that of the White Stripes.

Wilber Pacheco (guitar) was in another band at the time that Tribesmen formed, but soon became interested in what the three members were doing.

“I went to one of their band practices, and they were just going to play rock stuff,” Pacheco said. “I was like, ‘I’ll just hang out,’ and then (Corral) starts playing in this awesome tone. I was like, ‘Holy shit, dude! Does the offer still stand to be in this band?’”

Tribesmen doesn’t have a vocalist, and the band doesn’t plan on adding one any time soon; they originally intended to have a vocalist, but were unable to find one and decided to instead make instrumental music—something that few bands have managed to make work, outside of Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Red Sparowes and a few other groups. However, none of those groups were among their influences.

“We make the songs more along the lines of cinematic scores,” Corral said.

Pacheco explained further why the band doesn’t have a singer.

“We’re very specific,” Pacheco said. “… To be honest, I think (a singer) makes or breaks a band. I’ve heard some really sick (in a good way) intros before, and I think, ‘Oh, this band is going to be sick, I can tell!’ Then the lead singer starts singing, and I’m like, ‘Oh, never mind.’

“I’d rather be criticized at first because people aren’t used to it. We got a lot of criticism after our first shows, and people asked us, ‘Why don’t you have a singer?’ Now, people get it, or they’re starting to get it.”

Corral said the members of Tribesmen don’t necessarily think of themselves as musicians.

“We don’t know all these notes, time, key and all that stuff,” Corral said. “We just play whatever sounds good to us. If it sounds good, we’ll keep playing it and keeping it going.”

Their songwriting process tends to be rather complex.

“When we’re creating songs, we jam for two hours just on random stuff,” Pacheco said. “Either a small clip or just 10 seconds can make us stop and go, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! What was that you just played?’ We’ll just play that, and then we’ll work off of that for the next week or so, trying to make that into a song.”

All of this takes place in a Coachella practice space that has no air conditioning or heat.

“We’re working on it, though,” Corral said. “We’re working on adding more guitar pedals, and an A/C unit to help us out.”

Of course, the heat didn’t stop the band from holding an after-party at their practice space after playing The Hue Music and Arts Festival in Coachella last year.

“It was really hot,” Pacheco said. “I don’t know why, but we felt really compelled to have an after-party in our band room. More people than we expected came through. We had probably like 50 or 60 people; 30 of us were in the band room, and the rest were outside.”

When the band won the chance to play at the first Tachevah block party last year, the members were elated and nervous at the same time. They enjoy having a few alcoholic beverages before they perform, but one of the members of the band Passion Pit had just been through rehab—and the backstage area was an alcohol-free zone.

“They specifically said no beer in the green room or anywhere,” Corral said. “We were just in the green room chilling, just dry as fuck.”

The nervousness led to a bit of paranoia about their equipment.

“Nothing was going to mess up,” Pacheco said. “I opened up my amp and made sure there were no loose screws. I made sure everything was working, and I bought a bunch of new cables.”

Corral said his uncle helped ease their fears.

“As soon as he heard (about the show), he asked me if I needed anything. I didn’t ask him for anything, but when it came down to the wire, I asked him for some new cables. I bought a new amp at time—a tube amp instead of a solid state. We didn’t want to fail to impress.”

However, once they took the stage, the band members felt like they belonged, Corral said.

“It was an amazing experience,” Corral said. “As soon as we got onstage to set up our equipment and heard our sound, we went back in the green room, and we’re like, ‘You know what? We’re not going to play to a bunch of people, because we’re opening.’ As soon as we came back on, there were loads of people everywhere.”

Tribesmen went on to play several local shows in the past year, as well as gigs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A local show with the Sweedish band Truckfighters last fall wound up being particularly helpful.

“They gave us some good advice, along with touring advice,” Pacheco said. “The drummer, Poncho, bought one of our band shirts, and he was wearing it while he was playing the show! I was like, ‘The drummer from Truckfighters is wearing our shirt!’”

The band is hoping to play at the Tachevah block party again this year, and are one of the 10 finalists. (Cathedral City’s CIVX was selected to perform by judges after the March 12 battle-of-the-bands showcase; Tribesmen will play at the second showcase, on March 26.) They submitted a music video that they recorded recently for their song “Alpine.”

“Last year, Bolin Jue from the Town Troubles filmed our video, and we thank him so much,” Pacheco said. “This year, we couldn’t ask Bolin again, because he did it for us last year, and his band didn’t win, so I felt bad. Freddy and I know this guy named Manuel, and we decided to hit him up to make us a music video. Our good friend, Ken Foto, let us use his studio at the Coachella Valley Art Center.”

Corral said they were happy with the end result

“After we saw Manuel’s work, we were sold,” Corral said. “He did a good job with us. He had a good camera, good editing, and all of that. It was entirely last minute, and we told him, ‘We leave it in your hands; whatever you want to do, and we’ll do it.’ He said all he needed was a projector and a warehouse, and we couldn’t find a warehouse, but props to Ken Foto for letting us use his studio.”

As for the future, the Pacheco and Corral said they have a surprise for their fans that they will reveal within the next year, but they wouldn’t elaborate. They did say they’ve begun work on recording a full length album.

“We’ve been having some issues with recording,” Pacheco said. “We’re trying to do it ourselves and then send it out to get mastered. We’re having trouble getting the timing on the metronome. ‘Alpine’ was the first song that we were recording, so, fortunately, it was ready by the deadline to enter Tachevah.”

Corral said the band is continuing to work on new material.

“Definitely more songs,” Corral said. “Vocals, maybe: We’ve been talking about little oohs and aahs and some spoken-word stuff, but only on some songs, and we’re going to drown them in reverb to hide our ugly voices. We don’t want to sound too poppy.”

Tribesmen will join other Tachevah finalists at a show at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 26, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. The show is free.

The season is in full swing, so there are plenty of great March events to talk about—and this is the last hurrah before the craziness of Coachella and Stagecoach set in next month.

The McCallum Theatre will host some amazing theater events during the month of March; you can read more about that in our Arts & Culture section’s theater listings. Thankfully, there are some great music events as well. Michael Feinstein (right) will be stopping by for performances at 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8. Feinstein was mentored by the late Ira Gershwin, and he’s been labeled as the “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook.” This is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $65 to $105. Jazz-vocalist Steve Tyrell will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. Tyrell makes vocal pop classics cool for modern audiences—and has been doing so for more than 40 years. Tickets are $45 to $85.McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events that should be, in a word, huge—on back-to-back nights, no less. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 21, Everybody Loves Raymond stars Ray Romano and Brad Garrett will be performing. The TV show focused on the Barone family, and was based on the real-life experiences of Romano and some of the show’s production and writing staff. It was a huge hit during its entire nine-year run on CBS—in large part due to the talents of comedians-turned-actors Romano and Garrett. Tickets are $65 to $85. In a rather spectacular booking, Liza Minnelli will be coming to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. The daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli has made quite a name for herself both musically and on the big screen. More recently, she became a hit on TV as well, thanks to her hilarious portrayal of Lucille 2 on Arrested Development. Of course, she’s also famous due to some personal issues, including alcoholism and a strange marriage to David Gest, who filed a lawsuit against Minnelli for alleged physical abuse. (The suit was later dismissed.) Still, she’s a true icon—and an inspiration for many famous drag performers! Tickets are $80 to $120. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will host great events throughout March that should draw big crowds. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, Daryl Hall and John Oates will be playing. Hall and Oates are icons of ’80s pop music, best known for “Maneater” and “You Make My Dreams.” Meanwhile, video-game lovers know them thanks to the appearance of “Out of Touch” on the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack. Tickets are $49 to $79. R&B superstar John Legend will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. While many modern “R&B” singers don’t really have a lot of R&B in their music, Legend is a genuine soul singer with elements of Motown and Stax Records in his sound. In 2010, Legend and The Roots teamed up for the album Wake Up, which was a huge hit. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

At Spotlight 29 Casino, comedy trailblazer/legend Joan Rivers will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 1. An amusing personal story: I used to work at the now-late Borders Books and Music in Rancho Mirage, and Rivers stopped by there for a book-signing in 2009. At the time, she was being filmed for the documentary A Piece of Work. Well, I wound up in the film, with her sharing an amusing tidbit about Carol Channing while she personalized a copy of her book for me. Now 80, Rivers’ mouth is as filthy as ever, and she looks like a walking plastic-surgery miracle. Thankfully, she’s also as funny as ever. Tickets are $35 to $55. Country-music star Kenny Rogers will also be stopping by Spotlight 29, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. The star of the ’80s film Six Pack is also well known for that song about how to be a good gambler; perhaps you should listen to it for advice if you plan on gambling that night in the casino. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has yet another busy schedule during the month of March. If you’re in the mood for blues, The Record Company will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, March 14. They’re a group of young, modern-day blues musicians, but trust me: You will enjoy their traditional blues style and sound. I highly suggest listening to their song “Baby I’m Broken” if you want a little preview. Admission is free. The Black Lips will be stopping in at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20. The Atlanta band is a throwback to the days of psychedelic rock, with a low-fi twist—and an unorthodox live show. Vocalist Cole Alexander often vomits during performances due to a medical condition. Other outrageous live antics have included chickens, setting instruments on fire, and a variety of other things that could have them arrested. Tickets are $18. In the midst of an impressive comeback due in part to audiophiles who seek out rare records and then share information about them online, Linda Perhacs will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 29. Perhacs released a trippy psychedelic folk anthem in 1970 titled Parallelograms, which has since been rediscovered by the millennials. The album featured haunting folk anthems that went the way of an Alice Coltrane album at times; “Hey, Who Really Cares?” is enough to give one the creeps. Now, 44 years later, she’s releasing her sophomore album, called The Soul of All Natural Things. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has a couple of intriguing events booked in March. If you had a great time at Tribal Seeds show in February, you may want to attend the Fortunate Youth show at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 8. The Los Angeles-based reggae outfit has played some high profile reggae festivals and has toured with Tribal Seeds and The Expendables. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Cleveland rap legends Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (right) will be stopping by. As a native Clevelander, I remember when E. 1999 Eternal dropped in 1995, and you’d hear “1st of tha Month” and “The Crossroads” playing on every car stereo. “1st of tha Month” would also go on to be hilariously referenced in Chris Rock’s stand-up comedy routine. Plus there was the unforgettable moment in MTV Music Awards history when law enforcement showed up to arrest Bizzy Bone. Tickets are $40 to $100. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Copa Room has some worthy events occurring in March. Comedienne Heather McDonald will be performing at 8:30 p.m., Friday, March 14, and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. McDonald has regularly appeared on Chelsea Lately and is now a best-selling author thanks to her memoir, You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. If you’re a fan of the Broadway musical Rent, catch Adam Pascal (below) at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20, and Friday, March 21. Pascal, who played the HIV-stricken Roger Davis in the original cast, is also a talented rock musician. He played Eddie in SLC Punk, and Jack Black’s nemesis, Theo, in School of Rock. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs will be hosting an Academy Awards screening party at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, March 2. The screening will be part of The Judy Show, and there will be a “purple carpet,” mock paparazzi and a six-course dinner included with admission. Proceeds will go to the AIDS Assistance Program. Tickets are $75. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Powered Wig Machine is an unsigned band from a small Arizona town—but they’re starting to make a big name for themselves, thanks to high-quality music and bar-raising creativity.

See for yourself when they stop by The Hood Bar and Pizza for a show that starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15.

Powered Wig Machine—the name was inspired by a track on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9—was founded around 2007 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a town that’s a 75-minute drive from Tucson. The band consists of Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Brian Gold (guitar), Joey Rudell (bass) and Daniel Graves (drums).

The band’s roots are in “stoner rock,” a term applied to a lot of West Coast bands in the early ’90s—including many of our local desert-rock bands.

“A lot of it goes back to music that came out of the ’70s,” Rudell explained, “(with) the fuzzy guitar and the thicker sludge sound, and bands like Foghat and Led Zeppelin. It is such a broad term. If you play vintage style rock ’n’ roll, it can be considered stoner rock.”

Rudell explained some of the technique behind the sound. “Standard guitar-tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E; a lot of times, you can get a deeper and lower sound by dropping the tuning. Queens of the Stone Age drop it down to a C-tuning, which gives them that deep sound. A lot of it is old tube amps, and tube amps in conjunction with fuzz pedals.”

While the band has a heavy sound, they meld that sound with some rather unique songwriting. Their EP Bearded Goddess featured songs such as “Mullet Man,” “Recipe for Badass” and “Death by Suplex.”

Rudell explained that comic books have inspired many of the songs that he’s written—and that inspiration comes to the forefront on Supa-Collider, the band's brand-new independent album.

“This album is sort of a concept based around a comic-book idea that we came up with a while back,” Rudell said. “It never got to paper, and it never got anywhere besides the creative shelf. All the song titles relate to the story, and all the songs are tied together. It’s less satire and more of a story.”

Rudell said he’s had a lifelong love of comic books.

“I’ve always been a fan of a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out,” he said. “I like The Hulk. There was a series called The Infinity Gauntlet that I’ve always been a big fan of; Preacher; and stuff like Watchmen—all that stuff with the huge story lines. I’ve always been a fan of how intricate comics are.”

The band released a music video for their song “At the Helm of Hades,” a track that will be on Supa-Collider.

“It was real fun,” Rudell said. “I wrote most of the story for that video, and we had a friend of mine who was a film student come in and put in all the effects. We actually spent about four months on it, and we recorded it like it was a comic-book story. There are multiple car chases, old vintage bikes and cowboys. I’m real proud of that, and that we put it out in this last year.” (Scroll down to watch the video.)

While the band’s creative juices are definitely at an all-time high after recording Supa-Collider and the music video for “At the Helm of Hades,” Rudell said the band plans to take things to a whole other level.

“We hadn’t really been searching for a record label,” Rudell said. “With the new album coming out and with the tour, we’ll probably be actively seeking one. Personally, I didn’t think we were ready yet, and we were doing a pretty good job ourselves. Now we’re ready to get that extra push.”

Powered Wig Machine will play with Fever Dog and The Hellions at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/Poweredwigmachine.

While many great local bands have come and gone, The Hellions are still going strong after 16 years.

Fans will get several chances to see them in March. They’ll be opening for Powered Wig Machine at The Hood at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and they’ll be headlining the benefit show I am putting on for The NestEggg Food Bank, at Bar in Palm Springs, starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28.

When The Hellions came together 16 years ago, they didn’t anticipate becoming an ongoing, serious band. Angel Lua (aka Angel Shakedown, lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Bob Llamas (aka Bob Smack, drums) remembered how the band began to come together.

“I think the way we met was Angel was one of the only people in the desert who had a leather jacket,” Llamas said. “(Former member Christian Reyes) and I had leather jackets, and we met Angel because he had a leather jacket. He was into the same bands that we were—The Cramps, Social Distortion and other old punk bands and rockabilly music. He stood out, because wearing a leather jacket out here in the summer isn’t too common.”

Lua said fate led him to meet Llamas and Reyes.

“The cool thing about it was we met, and we never asked each other, ‘Hey, you want to play music?’ or anything like that,” Lua said. “We knew on instinct that we were musicians, and we were going to play music. We had common interests in movies and music, and it was weird.”

The Hellions first played at house parties—and anywhere else they could.

“There wasn’t anything out here,” said Llamas. “There was no place to get music or find cool shit. We both somehow found ways to get all the cool shit, and we had a lot in common that way. Back then, there was Record Alley, but even back in those days, we’d have to go in and ask them to order us stuff. That was also back when there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done over the Internet.”

Lua said he remembers those days well.

“You had to have money,” Lua said. “We had to drive two hours to go to the record store in places like San Bernardino or Ontario, and make a whole day out of it. You’d come home with hours and hours of music.”

Llamas and Reyes were already playing music. They invited Lua to come over one day; they began to write songs as a band. Because some of the members were younger than 21 at the time, they couldn’t play in a lot of places. One of the few was the former Rhythm and Brews in Indio, owned by Mario Lalli of local-band Fatso Jetson.

Eventually, the band added Jamie Hargate (aka Colonel Lingus, guitar). They soon discovered their band name was not all that unique.

“Later on, thanks to computers, we started finding other bands who were called The Hellions,” Lua said.

Hargate chuckled when he brought up one band that e-mailed them.

“We were threatened with a lawsuit once, but that was 10 years ago,” said Hargate. “(It was) some metal band, and they went away; they didn’t try too hard.”

“Generator parties”—often thrown in the desert, with the help of generators—helped launch Kyuss and some of the other desert-rock-scene bands.

“I did a shitload of those,” Hargate said. “I was inspired as a kid going to these parties with older friends. We would drive to these parties in the middle of the desert, and I was blown away every night by these rad bands like Kyuss and Unsound. I caught the last wave of their parties, so I tried to do what I could in high school to bring that back. My stepdad had a generator; I would take it, put it in the back of my little Honda Civic, and drive to the middle of the desert. … Today, you can’t do that—you’ll get arrested.”

While The Hellions are known for energetic shows, they’re also known for their trademark denim jackets. The jackets pay homage to the Norwegian band Turbonegro. “Turbojugend,” which is printed on the back of their jackets, references the Turbonegro’s “Navy” of fans. Turbojugend chapters have popped up all around the world, and The Hellions make up the Palm Desert chapter.

“We came across Turbonegro in late 2003,” Lua said. “I used to read this magazine called Gearhead, and they had a lot of punk and rock ’n’ roll shit in it. There was this chick in there who used to do all these reviews of records, and she talked about Turbonegro, who were broken up at the time. I said, ‘Fuck it; I’ll buy a CD or whatever I could find.’ I bought their Apocalypse Dudes album at Virgin Records in Ontario. On the way home, I put it on, and I was blown away by it.”

That album led The Hellions out of a hiatus.

“There was a point where the original drummer went to school, and Christian moved to Texas, and we almost stopped playing,” Llamas said. “When Angel came over and played us that CD, we started jamming again. That’s where we got Travis, and really got something going. That album really inspired us to keep playing.”

When the band first added Travis Rockwell (Travis Rawkhard) on bass, he had never played the instrument.

“I couldn’t even play standing up,” Rockwell said. “I had to sit for the first seven months, because standing up and trying to play was just too hard—and I’m still learning. … It took a couple of months before I was comfortable playing during practice. I’d fuck up a lot, but I just learned and kept going with it.”

One fabled bit of the band’s history came when they played at a Video Depot Christmas party—with Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes on the drums.

“Somewhere, someone has a video of that, but I’ve yet to see it,” Hargate said. (In fact, if anyone has footage of that show, the band would like to hear from you.)

Since Rockwell joined The Hellions around 2004, the band has been playing on an ongoing basis. They’ve played shows out of town, and have opened for some of the national acts that have passed through town—most recently The Angry Samoans.

The band also recorded six songs at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio up in the high-desert; it’s the studio responsible for some of the recordings of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and the Arctic Monkeys. The sessions led to a three-song demo.

“The only time we’ve really recorded and finished something was at Rancho de la Luna,” Llamas said. “We all took the weekend off and did that for a few days. It was awesome. You go up to that place, and you don’t feel like you’re in a recording studio; you feel like you’re in someone’s home.”

Right now, their only release is a self-made EP on a CD-R, which the band selectively distributes.

“That’s the Best of The Hellions at this point,” said Hargate. “That has about four songs from the Joe Dillon era, when Joe Dillon played guitar. … There are three songs … we did at Rancho de la Luna, and then a live song. We made it just to show everyone how we’ve progressed over the years and what’s available.”

They’re looking toward the summer, when they hope to write more songs and finally make it into the studio to record a proper album.

“We’re writing, rehearsing and figuring things out for a new release,” said Hargate. “We finally have some coin in The Hellions fund, and we look forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in five years. It’s time to get back in the studio and give our fans a proper release.”

The Hellions will play with Powered Wig Machine and Fever Dog at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook. They’ll also perform at The NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; $5 suggested donation.

The spot that once was home to downtown Palm Springs’ Desert Fashion Plaza—and before that, the legendary Desert Inn—is under construction. It’s slated to eventually become home to a shopping center and a Kimpton Hotel, under the direction of developer John Wessman.

One man has been leading the charge against the project as it is planned: Frank Tysen, the owner of the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Because of his opposition to what many consider “progress,” some city officials—most notably Mayor Steve Pougnet—have harshly criticized and even demonized Tysen, who has been a fixture in various Palm Springs development battles now for more than two decades.

On Jan. 16, during his State of the City speech, Pougnet issued his most vicious public attack on Tysen to date. He referenced a series of letters that Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels, was supposedly sent by Tysen and Tysen’s colleagues. Pougnet characterized the letters as “vile.”

“You know what that reminds me of? ‘We don’t want people here,’” Pougnet. “It’s something we got over in Palm Springs. We’re over it: ‘We don’t want Jews; we don’t want gays; we don’t want blacks; we don’t want Agua Calientes.’ We’ve moved past that kind of rhetoric that Frank Tysen continues to spew.”

Given all the controversy surrounding the proposed Hotel Palomar, the Independent decided to take a closer look at Tysen, his motivations and his future plans.

In a recent series of interviews with the Independent, Tysen denied sending any letters to Depatie that were in any way hateful or vile. (More on that later.) We found Tysen to be far from hateful; in fact, he comes off as polite and even charming. He’s also brilliant: In 1966, he was a Guggenheim Fellow due to his work in architecture, planning and design.

While Tysen is passionate, knowledgeable, resourceful and opinionated, he also has a point of view on the city of Palm Springs that may very well be antiquated. Most notably, he criticizes attempts by some city officials and business leaders to aggressively pursue business from younger professionals.

“The stupid thing that goes on is that City Hall has become obsessed about bringing in the millennials,” he said. “What makes this town work is basically an older crowd, because the older crowd has the time to come in mid-week; young professionals don’t have the time to come in mid-week, because they work.

“Every year now, they’re putting on this rock concert called Tachevah that they call a block party. I went there last year to take a look, and I saw all these youngsters from Coachella and Indio. These aren’t people who are staying here; it’s not going to fill the beds during the mid-week.”


About 25 years ago, Frank Tysen and his business partner were shown the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn. Tysen immediately fell in love.

“I thought it would be fun to have a little hotel here,” Tysen said. “(Palm Springs) was dead at the time, and there was nothing happening. Palm Springs was at a real all-time low in the ’80s.

“People complain now, but there’s nothing to complain about, because the town is hopping,” he said with a laugh.

“I loved the whole feeling of the place and the natural beauty, but also the lovely architecture, the beautiful estates, and so on. (Casa Cody) was in shambles because it was run like a flop house. We saw the potential and started to restore it. It’s been a nonstop restoration ever since. We’ve added three other properties … over the years.”

Over the last two and a half decades, Tysen has watched as Palm Springs has evolved.

“Several people came to the city (around the same time that I did) and started picking up the old inns and fixing them up,” he said “Basically, that started what I believe is the revival of Palm Springs in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. People started to discover it again.”

Flash forward to November 2011, when voters in Palm Springs approved Measure J, a 1 percent increase in the sales and use tax, with that money dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Palm Springs. Tysen said he was supportive of the measure.

However, as plans for the old Desert Fashion Plaza emerged, Tysen soured on that portion of downtown redevelopment. One of his main complaints involves the design of the Hotel Palomar, slated to be operated by Kimpton. In particular, the modernist design and height of the hotel was questioned and opposed by Tysen. (Most reports say that the hotel is slated to be six stories tall; however, Tysen insists that he’s seen plans showing the hotel could rise up to nine stories.)

In May 2013, Tysen and his group, Advocates for Better Community Development, filed a lawsuit to block hotel construction; the group also started to collect signatures to force an election on the hotel plans. The group eventually submitted 2,700 signatures—seemingly enough to send the matter to voters. However, the city refused to place the matter on the ballot, claiming the issue was not subject to voter approval. In December 2013, a Riverside County Superior Court judge ruled in the favor of the city; Tysen and his group appealed.

Then came that Jan. 16 State of the City address by Mayor Steve Pougnet. In addition to calling out Tysen’s “rhetoric,” Pougnet shocked the crowd by announcing the city would send the hotel decision to voters after all—during an April special election.

Then on Jan. 29, the city made yet another about-face, agreeing to pay Tysen and ABCD $50,000 (apparently to cover legal fees) to drop the lawsuit, and canceling the April election.

Tysen said he decided to drop the lawsuit because it felt like the right thing to do.

“At that point, there was such a show of hysteria,” said Tysen, who reportedly received a death threat after the State of the City speech. “The city, especially, approached me to drop it. So I tried to look for another way we can solve these problems.”

However, that doesn’t mean it is clear sailing for the redevelopment of the old Desert Fashion Plaza: A remaining lawsuit, also filed by Tysen and ABCD, challenges various approvals of and changes to the redevelopment project.

As for Pougnet’s claims that Tysen and his fellow hotel opponents were sending rhetoric-filled letters to Kimpton hotels, the matter remains unclear. However, Tysen provided the Independent with a copy of a letter that he sent to Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels. The letter is well-written and politely lays out Tysen’s concerns about the hotel, with no “vile” rhetoric to be found.

“I am very much aware of the wonderful reputation of your company and the sensitive way in which you have fit your hotel in historic areas such as Alexandria, Virginia, and I hope for something like that,” Tysen wrote. (See the letter for yourself at the story's bottom.)

The Independent left multiple messages with Pougnet to discuss Tysen and his opposition to the downtown redevelopment project; the mayor did not return the calls.

What is the point behind Tysen’s opposition to the hotel? He said it’s all in the design.

“The whole thing started off fine,” Tysen said. “Everything looked like it was going to be exciting. There was no mention of a nine-story hotel in the visioning sessions. It was completely different and looked very European, very low-key; they talked about world-class architecture. … Then, suddenly, the mayor decided to drop the eminent domain and started working with a developer (John Wessman), and what came out of that had no relation to the visioning sessions.”

Tysen insisted the architecture is not appropriate for Palm Springs.

“If you see the pictures, it looks more like downtown L.A., in the area near the Staples Center,” Tysen said. “It certainly doesn’t look like Palm Springs. … It’s really nothing that people are going to come and look at. It’s a glass box.

“The whole thing is very dense. Also, the whole surrounding retail … is another stupid thing to do, because we already have so many vacancies that haven’t been filled. To add another couple hundred thousand feet of retail makes no sense.”

Several times, Tysen insisted that the voices of tourists and part-time residents are being ignored—in part because they are unable to vote in local elections.

“The tourists are shocked,” Tysen said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have any voice in it. If they asked the tourists, they wouldn’t build it. Somehow, there’s a group of people in town who are so tired of nothing happening for 10 years, that now, suddenly, they think we should do anything that comes along. To me, it’s something you just don’t do. You do the right thing instead. … The people who are really affected don’t vote here. The tourists and the second homeowners—all these people coming in don’t have any idea of what’s going on.”


Some of Tysen’s critics have speculated he is fighting to protect his own interests, because his hotel is just a few blocks away from the redevelopment site. Tysen insisted that’s not the case; he said he simply believes that the hotel is a bad fit for Palm Springs.

“If anything, we might get more business if people walk around, and they see a small place that looks charming,” Tysen said. “It’s going to affect the feeling of the town and those who do or do not come here. The world is getting so crazy, crowded and congested, and right now in L.A., you can’t even move around anymore. People go to places like Catalina, Carmel or Santa Barbara to get away from all that. People come here to savor the nature of it, and also the feel of a small town. To have this thing sitting in the middle of it—it’s a terrible mistake.”

Tysen also said he believes the proposed hotel and shopping center are bad ideas because the millennials who are coming to the city are not spending any money. He claimed that most of the corporate hotel chains in Palm Springs are suffering through too many vacancies.

“The average occupancy at the Hyatt Hotel in Palm Springs is no more than 50 to 60 percent,” Tysen said. “Palm Springs, like many resort cities, is a seasonal town. The high season is February, March and April. Most of the hotels fill up during those few months of the year. With the young market, the Hard Rock Hotel was selling rooms in November for $59 a night during the middle of the week, and that’s the ‘hot, crowded Hard Rock.’ The Saguaro was selling rooms for $69 during the middle of the week in November. The Riviera was selling Thanksgiving for $109. There’s a lot of foolish stuff going on. This would be a big, subsidized thing.”

The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism did not respond to requests from the Independent for demographics and specific hotel-vacancy information.

“You can’t do everything, and I think … Palm Springs has spontaneously become very popular with young people. They enjoy coming down here, so we’re doing fine, and I’m not worried about it. But these people who say, ‘We need more millennials!’ don’t understand that they have no time or money to spend in the hotels!”

Tysen claimed Palm Springs’ quiet, lovely nature attracts more visitors than anything else.

“Everyone is so impressed by what’s going on at the Coachella festival once every year. Coachella is Coachella, but Palm Springs is Palm Springs. There’s no one at the Palm Springs International Film Festival under the age of 40. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg! Don’t kill the flavor of the whole town.”


John-Michael Cooper, the general manager of Palm Springs Rendezvous and the president of Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS), has worked closely with Tysen, a fellow SHoPS board member. He said portrayals of Tysen as a radical are off-base.

“People judge Frank in a very general way,” Cooper said. “There are a lot of things about (Tysen) that are completely ignored.”

Cooper said he’s worked with Tysen on various matters for five years now. While he does not always agree with Tysen, Cooper said he has a lot of respect for him.

“He’s one of the founding members of the association of which I’m now president of, and he’s a very skilled hotelier,” Cooper said. “We’re all in favor of Measure J, and he’s been very accommodating. But he is very motivated in what he does, and he’s super-passionate. I’ve agreed with him on a lot of sides of this thing that is known as Measure J. I can’t say I think one way or the other about (the proposed hotel and shopping center), because it is pretty multi-faceted—but I have a lot of respect for Frank.”

Tysen said people are quick to make assumptions about him.

“The real sad thing is there are a lot of people who have a lynch-mob mentality,” said Tysen. “You know, ‘Oh, let’s go get him—the son of a bitch! He’s stopping progress and everything.’ Most of the time, they don’t even know what’s going on; they don’t even know the issues. It’s scary to see people crawling out from under the rocks. I came to Palm Springs because I liked what I see. I don’t know why they came to Palm Springs—they could have gone to Las Vegas if they liked that kind of stuff.”

Make no mistake: Agree or disagree with Tysen, he’s no dummy. In fact, before he became a hotelier, he had a long career in urban design, planning and architecture. He also has a history of public opposition to controversial projects.

“I taught for many years at USC in urban and regional planning. I have done lots of studies about all of this. I was a Guggenheim Fellow, and I spent time in India (working) on master-planning in Calcutta. I worked with Gov. Ronald Reagan and had a lot of impact in not moving the (main L.A.) airport from Los Angeles to Palmdale. I was very instrumental in stopping the freeway that was going to go through Malibu and Santa Monica, and I stopped two oil refineries when I was on the … environmental council, in Beaumont and Banning. So I’ve tried to protect the environment all throughout California. It’s not just that I own a small hotel.”

He also took credit for helping make Palm Springs a successful destination.

“The reason this town is so special is because people like me have fought these battles,” Tysen said. “It starts when Nellie Coffman owned the Desert Inn (which was located on the Desert Fashion Plaza site); they fought an asphalt plant that was going to be up the street. There was a group here called Citizens United that had a building moratorium here.

“All kinds of battles have been fought. Pearl McManus would cancel an escrow if somebody built something she didn’t like. All this stuff has been going on, and that’s why this town is special. It isn’t special by accident. Otherwise, it would look like Beaumont, or it would look like Fontana. It’s special because people like me have fought these battles.”

Photo by Kevin Fitzgerald