Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

La Bonita’s Mexican Restaurant did a very stupid thing today—and I couldn’t be any sadder about it.

The owner of the small Palm Canyon Drive restaurant announced yesterday that, as a protest, La Bonita’s would open today for indoor dining, with masks and social distancing. Of course, indoor restaurant dining is not allowed; it will be, at limited capacity, whenever Riverside County graduates from the state’s “widespread” COVID-19 tier to the “substantial” tier. But we’re not there yet.

Walmart and other big corps can have 100’s of ppl inside but restaurants can’t? Enough is enough!!!” said the La Bonita’s social-media post.

La Bonita’s followed through with its plans—and the city promptly showed up and issued a $5,000 fine, according to The Desert Sun. Per the La Bonita’s Facebook page, the restaurant ended the protest after being “forced to comply.”

Again, this was a very stupid thing for La Bonita’s to do, and the comparison of indoor dining to shopping at Walmart is a red herring.

Now that we have that all established, I’d like to share this truly, truly sad quote from The Desert Sun story on the hubbub:

“‘I can’t survive with the current mandates,’ La Bonita's Palm Springs owner Alex Raei said, adding that he was visited by city code enforcement officers around lunch time and was informed of the fine. Raei, who spoke briefly with a Desert Sun reporter at his restaurant Wednesday, was overcome with emotion. In tears, he stopped the interview and walked into another part of his business.”

While I strongly disagree with Raei’s actions, I understand them. Trust me when I say that it sucks to have one’s business existentially threatened by this virus and the resulting restrictions. Most business owners sink blood, sweat, tears and incalculable amounts of time—not to mention retirement accounts and life savings—into their ventures, which are often culminations of lifelong dreams. Many owners also carry the burden of feeling responsible for their employees’ livelihoods.

Of course, all sorts of ignorant, un-empathetic and/or just-plain-terrible people took to social media to slam—not reasonably criticize, but slam and excoriate—Raei.

While I don’t condone it at all, I understand what Raei did. What I don’t understand is the lack of empathy so many people showed regarding Raei’s undeniably heartbreaking plight.

Before the news links: If you appreciate this Daily Digest and the other local journalism produced by the Independent, please consider financially helping out by clicking here and becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Oh, and if you haven’t yet voted in the first round of the Independent’s Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll, please do so by clicking here!

Today’s news:

• Another day, another Trump bombshell: According to The Washington Post, Donald Trump privately told Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward in February that COVID-19 would have dire effects on the United States—while publicly claiming the disease was no worse than the flu. And then there’s this: “Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. ‘I wanted to always play it down,’ the president said. ‘I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.’” That and more horrifying revelations—which are on tape!—will be revealed in Rage, a new book by Woodward.

• These revelations lead to a big, honking question about Woodward: Why in the world did he keep quiet about these TAPED TERRIBLE THINGS said by the president for months and months—until they came out in this book? According to The Associated Press: “On Twitter and elsewhere online, commentators accused Woodward of valuing book sales over public health. ‘Nearly 200,000 Americans have died because neither Donald Trump nor Bob Woodward wanted to risk anything substantial to keep the country informed,’ wrote Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce.”

Clinical trials for one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates were halted after one of the participants developed—eek!—a spinal cord injury. It’s as of yet unknown whether the injury had to do with the vaccine. According to NBC News: “‘Our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee,’ AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine in partnership with the U.K.'s University of Oxford, said in a statement. ‘This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.’”

• Mother Jones reported that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last month may have led to more than 250,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. Key quote: “According to a new study, which tracked anonymized cellphone data from the rally, over 250,000 coronavirus cases have now been tied to the 10-day event, one of the largest to be held since the start of the pandemic. It drew motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country, many of whom were seen without face coverings inside crowded bars, restaurants, and other indoor establishments. The explosion in cases, the study from the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics finds, is expected to reach $12 billion in public health costs.” Yeesh.

• In other mind-blowing national news, there’s this lede from The Washington Post: “A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence reports on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it ‘made the President look bad,’ an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security.”

• And then there’s this: “The Justice Department on Tuesday intervened in the defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her years ago, moving the matter to federal court and signaling it wants to make the U.S. government—rather than Trump himself—the defendant in the case.” Just … wow.

• Now let’s move to some state-level idiocy, succinctly explained by this SFGate headline on a story originally reported by The Washington Post: “California's GOP Senate leader was under quarantine. She spoke with no mask at a huge prayer event anyway.”

• We don’t link to a lot of crime stories, as they tend to get a ton of coverage elsewhere, but this story seems to be flying under the radar, showing just how depressingly desensitized we’ve come to mass murders: Seven people were killed on Monday at an illegal marijuana-growing operation in Aguanga, which is an hour’s drive or so southwest of the Coachella Valley. The Riverside Press-Enterprise has the details on the murders and how they’ve completely rocked the small community.

• Another thing the damned virus may take away this year: Halloween trick-or-treating. Los Angeles County public-health officials yesterday said trick-or-treating would be banned there, before slightly changing their tune today to say it was “not recommended.”

• Meanwhile, in horrifying local news, a new UC Riverside study comes to this conclusion: “Climate change will decimate Palm Springs, Coachella Valley tourism.” Sigh.

• From the Independent: Kevin Fitzgerald recently spoke to all six candidates running for City Council in Palm Desert. Read what the two candidates for the new District 1 seat had to say here, and check out what the four candidates for two District 2 seats had to say here.

• Here’s this week’s Riverside County COVID-19 District 4 report. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and points eastward.) Our numbers are continuing to trend in the right direction, although the mysterious weekly positivity rate remains too high—although that’s finally coming down a bit, too.

• I’d never heard of Lewy body dementia before a couple of weeks ago. However, the disease is in the news all of a sudden following the death of baseball great Tom Seaver, and the release of a new documentary about the death of Robin Williams. It turns out the disease is quite common and often misdiagnosed; a professor of neurology, writing for The Conversation, explains what the disease is.

Also from The Conversation: A professor of engineering breaks down how ultraviolet light can—and can’t—be used to make indoor spaces safer from COVID-19.

I think that’s enough for today. Be safe. Wear a mask. Be empathetic. The Daily Digest will return Friday—and, as always, thanks for reading.

Published in Daily Digest

1. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

3. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

4. Divergent (Lionsgate)

5. A Haunted House 2* (Universal)

6. Oculus (20th Century Fox)

7. Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return* (20th Century Fox)

8. The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate)

9. Rage (Image)

10. A Good Man (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

2. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

3. A Haunted House 2* (Universal)

4. Divergent (Lionsgate)

5. Need for Speed (Disney)

6. God's Not Dead (Pure)

7. Noah (Paramount)

8. Rage (Image)

9. Oculus* (20th Century Fox)

10. The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Divergent (Lionsgate)

2. Need for Speed (Disney)

3. A Haunted House 2* (Universal)

4. Oculus* (20th Century Fox)

5. Noah (Paramount)

6. Sabotage (Universal)

7. The Other Woman* (20th Century Fox)

8. Heaven Is for Real (Sony)

9. God's Not Dead (Pure)

10. Rage (Image)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Garfunkel and Oates (Thursday, Aug. 7, IFC), series debut: New Zealand musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords self-canceled their quasi-autobiographical HBO series partially because it was difficult to write so many songs for each episode. Since Garfunkel and Oates (Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) already have twice as many funny tunes to choose from, maybe they’ll last longer than two seasons. Garfunkel and Oates is closer in spirit to female-centric series like Broad City and the subtly groundbreaking Sarah Silverman Program than the dude-heavy comedies dominating cable right now, and the sparingly used musical numbers are sweet and scathing. (DVR alert: Lindhome and Micucci’s clever wordplay flies fast and furiously.)

Black Jesus (Thursday, Aug. 7, Adult Swim), series debut: What’s Aaron McGruder been up to besides not working on the final season his own show, The Boondocks? Making a whole new series to piss off Whitey: Despite the drama surrounding the long-long-delayed/contracted Season 4 of The Boondocks, which Adult Swim finally went ahead and just produced without him, McGruder’s still in business with the network—and really, who else would run a show called Black Jesus? A live-action series starring Gerald “Slink” Johnson, who provides the voice for Grand Theft Auto character Lamar Davis, Black Jesus finds The Lord “living in present day Compton, Calif, on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood.” Black Jesus looks like it was filmed for $75 and is more concept than comedy, but since it’s already outraged Christian ’Merica, score.

The Knick (Friday, Aug. 8, Cinemax), series debut: Ready for another brilliant-yet-troubled handsome rogue of a doctor who’s addicted to drugs, sex and narcissism? Wait, come back—what if it’s Clive Owen? In 1900s New York? Directed by Steven Soderbergh? Now you’re interested. The Knick is short for Knickerbocker Hospital, where Dr. John Thackery (Owen) has reluctantly inherited the role of chief surgeon—a rough gig for a cocaine-and-opium-addled wreck who’s pushing the boundaries of medicine while trying to pull the hospital from the brink of financial ruin. Add race and gender politics to the old-timey medical-science steam-punkery, and The Knick is one more TV obligation in The Summer of Too Many Shows. It’s good, but it can wait.

Outlander (Saturday, Aug. 9, Starz), series debut: A married World War II nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is mysteriously transported from 1945 to 1743 in the Scottish Highlands, where’s she’s held captive by hunky Scottish warriors in an even more patriarchal, misogynistic society than in the ’40s. Outlander, based on a best-selling book series, is equal parts romance, sci-fi, history and bodice-ripping ridiculousness—and, thanks to the direction of Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), probably the smartest and most female-friendly Starz series ever. Which isn’t saying a hell of a lot, but good for you, Starz.

4th and Loud (Tuesday, Aug. 12, AMC), series debut: As I ranted about a couple of weeks ago on an episode of the TV Tan podcast (which you should be subscribing to on iTunes, Stitcher or Spreaker, just sayin’), it’s bad enough that The Band Who Still Calls Itself Kiss is now in the arena-football business, but in Los Angeles? Could have at least tried to salvage some of that old East Coast cred and bought a New York franchise, Bat Lizard and Starchild. And why is Paul Stanley, who refused to appear on Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels because it was a “fake” reality show, now all too happy to appear on this fake reality show? And why call the team the L.A. Kiss instead of the far-more-intimidating L.A. Destroyers? Or at least the L.A. Love Guns? So many questions, so few weeks until cancellation.


Frankie and Alice

A 1970s stripper (Halle Berry) struggles with dissociative identity disorder and keeping her other two personalities—a 7-year-old girl and a Southern white racist (!)—under control. Inspired by a true story and a fantastic afro. (Lionsgate)

Hateship Loveship

A young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) forges romantic e-mails between her widowed father (Guy Pearce) and their lonely weirdo housekeeper (Kristen Wiig) with sad-music-montage results. Also starring Nick Nolte as … the voice of reason? (MPI)

Low Winter Sun: Season 1

Remember that cop show that AMC tried to force you to watch by showing promos for next week’s Breaking Bad during the episodes? You know, the show that was then rejected out of spite and subsequently canceled? It was actually pretty good. (Anchor Bay)

Muppets Most Wanted

On a European tour, the Muppets get caught up in an international crime caper headed by Kermit’s evil double and his evil-er sidekick (Ricky Gervais). Also starring Tina Fey, Ty Burrell and nobody else from that other Muppets movie. (Disney)


In his 74th straight-to-DVD release this year, Nicolas Cage stars as a father whose daughter has been taken (but not, as per the lawyers, Taken), so he tracks the scum down with a unique and violent set of skills. (Again, talk to the lawyers.) (Image)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 12)

Bitten: Season 1, The Blacklist: Season 1, Breathe In, Bunnyman Massacre, Crawl or Die, Filth, The Girl on the Train, A Haunted House 2, Hell’s Caretaker, Kilimanjaro, The Midnight Game, The Moment, Proxy, The Railway Man, Swelter, William Shatner’s Get a Life!

Published in TV